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Catechism Class – H/C LD34B Q94 – 95. Idolatry 

09/07/2020

H/C LD34B Q94 – 95. Idolatry 

Text.  Exodus 20:3 You shall have no other gods before me.

 

 

Q 94 What does the LORD require in the first commandment?

That for the sake of my very salvation I avoid and flee all idolatry, witchcraft, superstition, and prayer to saints or to other creatures. Further, that I rightly come to know the only true God, trust in him alone, submit to him with all humility and patience, expect all good from him only, and love, fear, and honour him with all my heart.

In short, that I forsake all creatures rather than do the least thing against his will.

Note the importance of this 1st Commandment.  The catechist is adamant.  This is no trivial matter – this is life and death.  ‘For the sake of my very salvation.’    So what is the first commandment in the Decalogue? 

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In Egypt, the land which the Hebrew slaves had recently left, there were many false gods.  Even cats were worshipped as ‘gods’ in Egypt!  That won’t do for God.  He doesn’t want to be a part of some pantheon of deities. He is the One and Only True God and he wants the complete loyalty, allegiance and  devotion of those with whom he has entered into covenant relationship.  Paul would write in that stark passage in 1st Corinthians 6, ‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 

To give allegiance to any other god, other than the Lord, is to commit idolatry.  It is from this sin, idolatry from which we are to flee.   So let’s see how our instructor helps us to understand the breadth of this vital precept:- 

  • What we must flee from.  The catechist helps us to understand those things which are idolatrous and an abomination to God.  He lists the prevalent practices that were found among the pagan cultures of the day.  They are the essence, the root of every form of idolatry:-
    • Witchcraft,  Lev 19:31  
    • Superstition.  Deuteronomy 18:9 
    • Prayer to saints or to other creatures.  We think of the RC Church with its superstitious weeping statues and holy relics and adoration of the Virgin Mary.  But our own pagan culture is no better, for superstition is rife in the culture.  When people stop believing in the one true God, they don’t just stop believing, they believe in some false god instead.  Yet even in heaven, we can worship no-one but the Lord!  Revelation 19:10 
  • Who we must flee to.  We flee to God, through Christ!  Here’s what the catechist advises:
    • That I rightly come to know the only true God, John 17:3,  It is not enough to know ABOUT God. The Hebrews at Mt Sinai had been delivered from slavery by him, and they were being daily led by Him.  We come to know the Only true God through Jesus, and no other way.   John 14:6.
    • Trust in him alone,    Jeremiah 17:5, 7. 
    • Expect all good from Him alone.  It is an idolatry to claim to be ‘self made’ – to attribute any good things in this life to ourselves, to our own abilities, to ‘luck.’  Every good gift that we have in this life is given to us by our Heavenly Father, and we should expect Him to love us so much that he daily provides for us.
    • Love, fear, and honour him with all my heart.  That’s hard, when our hearts are so divided and so sinful.  But that brings us back to what we learned in our last lesson, – that the first purpose of the law is to strike our conscience, to make us realise that we are dreadful sinners who cannot love for God in our natural state, and drive us to Christ, to drive us to Him again and again.  When we come to realise that we are incapable of loving God with all our hearts, we can turn to Christ, who alone rendered  to God perfect obedience, at the cross – for us.
  • How we must live – Seek to do the will of God.  In fact that I will put everything and everyone away, in order to seek the will of God.  The catechist writes, In short, that I forsake all creatures rather than do the least thing against his will.

Don’t think that God doesn’t know about your idolatry.  He does. The commandment is that you shall have no other Gods BEFORE ME.  Everything we do is done before God, done in His sight, and he sees our deeds, hears our words and reads our thoughts and knows our desires and sinful urges.  We must flee from all wickedness, and run to Christ, to know him as Saviour and Lord.  So, before we finish let’s ask our next question.   

 

Q.95 What is idolatry?

Idolatry is having or inventing something in which to put our trust instead of, or in addition to, the only true God who has revealed himself in his Word.

Just as the catechist stressed the importance of this first commandment, he stresses the breadth of the danger that we face, by the temptation to idolatry, that lies within our own wayward hearts. We must be alert.  We cannot congratulate ourselves that as Protestants we don’t do idolatry, for even if we don’t have idols erected in our place of worship, we are in danger of inventing them.  The God who has revealed himself in his Word is One God, there are no others beside him, and we must serve and worship him, and him alone.

In everyday life this will bring us into conflict with the world and its values, and force us to make difficult choices.  The obvious moral choices, on sexuality, gender, abortion, identity politics – all the big issues of the day.  God demands our complete obedience and loyal wholehearted devotion.  What about money or a business or career?  If that comes before the Lord it can become a little god, an idol.   

For further reading:  1 Cor 6:9, 10; 10:5-14; 1 Jn 5:21., Lev 19:31; Deut 18:9-12., Mt 4:10; Rev 19:10; 22:8, 9., Jn 17:3., Jer 17:5, 7, 1 Pet 5:5, 6, Rom 5:3, 4; 1 Cor 10:10; Phil 2:14; Col 1:11; Heb 10:36, Ps 104:27, 28; Is 45:7; Jas 1:17, Deut 6:5; (Mt 22:37)., Deut 6:2; Ps 111:10; Prov 1:7; 9:10; Mt 10:28; 1 Pet 1:17, Deut 6:13; (Mt 4:10); Deut 10:20. Mt 5:29, 30; 10:37-39; Acts 5:29.

1 Chron 16:26; Gal 4:8, 9; Eph 5:5; Phil 3:19.

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