Many pastors are afraid to speak against the image worship today, but the Bible is very strong and clear that that image worship is an abomination to the Lord.
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth, thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6)
The second commandment is the manner of our worship towards God. The acceptable way of worshipping the Lord. God is Spirit and there fore we need to serve and worship him in Spirit and truth. He gave us the second commandment so we will not go according to our ways or will not be deceived.
Let us see the content of the commandment.
1. Worship belongs only to God, and we are not allowed to worship even anything that which is in heaven above. Heaven is the home of God, and there are the angels and the Christians who have died to be with the Lord. Then there is the second heaven, the sun, moon, stars and the birds.
2. That which is in earth, the people, animals, mountains, sea, and the trees.
3. That which is in the waters under the earth, all creeping animals, insects, all kinds of fish.
The Roman Catholics say, images can bring us closer to God.
No, for we should not be wiser than God, who will not have His people taught by dumb idols, but by the lively preaching of His Word. Only his word can bring closer to God.
Jeremiah 10:8 But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.
Habakkuk 2:18 What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?
Habakkuk 2:19 Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.
Habakkuk 2:20 But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
The second commandment is given to the church that we are not to tolerate any form of religious service but only what is approve by God. We should not tolerate a false religion and should not make any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever and worshipping. This kind of worship should not be received by tradition, custom or by superstition.
Today we see the second commandment is clearly violated by the Roman Catholic Church. The other non-Christian religions of course have violated this commandment ignorantly, as I was a Buddhist before and never had a Bible or had gone to a church but I worshipped many images. But the Roman Catholic Church has violated this commandment knowingly.
Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Romans 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
Romans 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Let us remember, that the first 400-500 years, during which Christianity was in sound condition, and the doctrine was pure. The church was very strict in discipline as the church rested on the moral principles of the Bible. Christian churches were completely free from visible representations, no image worship nor even a hint in the early church. In the early times, churches were not adorned with pictures or statues; for Christians were at first afraid to have any ornaments of the kind, as they did not fall into idolatry like the heathen. No such things as images or pictures of our Lord, or of His saints, were known among them. There was a man named Epiphanius, (Around 300 or later AD) a famous bishop of Salamis, in the island of Cyprus, he tore a curtain which he found hanging in a church, with a figure of our Lord, or of some Christian had, painted. He declared that such things were altogether unlawful, and desired that the curtain might be used to bury some poor man in.
Then in 324 AD, Constantine after his victory over Licinius, Constantine declared himself a Christian. The church was in poor and simple now became powerful, instead of poverty now there was luxury in the church. The church, which was highly discipline in moral values, was weakened in disciplined and there was a decline in discipline of the church. The persecuted church before Constantine was the victorious church, and the church saw the Lord in heavenly glory on the right hand of the Father, but with Constantine came the first step towards images. Images of Christ and images of the saints crept into the church. Augustine who lived during this period was against the worship of images.
Another was the fashion of going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, in which Constantine’s mother, Helena, set an example which was soon followed by thousands, who not only fancied that the sight of the places hallowed by the great events of Scripture would kindle or heighten their devotion, but that prayers would be especially pleasing to God if they were offered up in such places. And thus great numbers flocked to Palestine from all quarters, and even from Britain, among other countries, and on their return they carried back with them water from the Jordan, earth from the Redeemer’s sepulcher, or what they believed to be chips of the true cross, which was supposed to have been found during Helena’s visit to Jerusalem. Even today the modern church is guilty of this as they go on special trips to Jerusalem and many think they would have a special spiritual enlightenment. This is more like a superstitious idea; the only enlightenment comes from the word of God.
The council of Trent commanded the worship of images in session 25, and appealed to the second council of Nicea, which pronounced an anathema upon all who do not worship the images.
In the first commandment worshipping a false god is forbidden;
In this, worshipping the true God in a false manner.
Q96: What does God require in the second Commandment?
A96: That we in no way make any image of God, nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded us in His Word. (Heidelberg)
1. Deut. 4:15-19; Isa. 40:18, 25; Rom. 1:22-24; Acts 17:29
2.I Sam. 15:23; Deut. 4:23-24; 12:30-32; Matt. 15:9; John 4:24
God is Spirit.
To make a true image of God is impossible. God is a spiritual essence and, being Spirit, he is invisible.
John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
De 4:15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:
16 Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
17 The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,
18 The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth:
19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.
We see how plainly God declares against all figures, to make us aware that all longing after such visible shapes is rebellion against him.
The majesty of God is defiled to a fiction, he who is invisible to a visible image; he who is a spirit to an object; and he who fills the entire Universe to a piece of wood or stone. Whatever statues are set up or pictures painted to represent God are utterly displeasing to him, an insult to his majesty.
Isaiah 40:18 To whom then will ye liken God? Or what likeness will ye compare unto him?
Isaiah 41:7 So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the soldering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.
Isaiah 41:29 Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing: their molten images are wind and confusion.
Isaiah 46:5 To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?
Isaiah 46:6 They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship.
Isaiah 46:7 They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble.
Isaiah 46:8 Remember this, and show yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors.
Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.
When Paul was in Athens he was greatly troubled when he saw all kinds of images of gods. He told the people, “ Acts 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.”
How can any paint the Deity? Can they make an image of that which they never saw?
God is to be adored in the heart, worship in the spirit and truth, an inward worship so God should be adored in the heart and not painted to the eye.
A visible statue or an image cannot represent God. This is superstition, and we cannot changed the glory of God to a man made image. Only the heathens do this. For we know that the Sun was worshipped by the Persian. As many stars as the foolish nations saw in the sky, so many gods they imagined them to be. Then to the Egyptians, every animal was a figure of God. The Greeks, again, plumed themselves on their superior wisdom in worshipping God under the human form, But God makes no comparison between images, he rejects, without exception, all shapes and pictures, and other symbols by which the superstitious imagine they can bring him near to them.
To worship God by an image is really stupid. Is it not an absurd thing to bow down to the king’s picture, when the king himself is present?
I want to say it again, that image worship is against the word of God. It is an act against the authority of God. Do not think you can please God if it is contrary to the scriptures. The Roman Catholic priests are liars, their teachers are not from God, but from the devil, as they are not telling the truth, they have clearly violated the word of God.
Le 26:1 Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.
De 16:22 Neither shalt thou set thee up any image; which the LORD thy God hateth.
Ps 97:7 Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.
Josiah became king only when he was eight years old and he was loyal to the Lord. He did what was right in the sight of God. At the age of eight he devoted himself to the Lord. Not like today’s kids to the TV or other silly worldly games. This is a good lesson for the parents and for the children. Parents do not wait until your child grows old for him to understand the things of the Lord. Then when he was twelve he made war against idolatry. He burned every single idol to ashes. (2 Kings 23)
Romanism allowed the people to erect images and worship them, but the true Christians destroyed them. In history we see when the Christians disobeyed Romanism they were put to death. They chose to die rather than to worship a dumb idol.
The Romanists say they make use of an image to put them in mind of God. This is like a woman whose husband has gone far a way on trip until he comes back she keeps company with another man to put her in mind of her husband. This is adultery.
When I was in the Philippines I went to a Roman Catholic bookstore, there I saw images of saints, Mary and all kinds of other images. There are some that are less expensive and does not look very attractive, then there are others, which are very expensive, as they are carved with more expression on the image and they are big. Roman Catholics believe if an image is small and inexpensive then your god is small and limited in answering prayers. But if your image is expensive and big, you believe that image has more power than the small image. Why do people go on pilgrimages to worship huge images, they have the same image but very small at home? Some of these Roman Catholics are doctors, engineers, lawyers but see how foolish they are when it comes to worshipping images, the devil has certainly blinded their minds, because they believe what tradition say and not what the Bible say. In Psalm 115 we see these people praying to images.
Ps 115:1 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.
2 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?
3 But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.
4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.
5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:
6 They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:
7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.
8 They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.
9 O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.
11 Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.
Roman Catholics say, but did not Moses make the image of a brazen serpent?
That was done by God’s special command. ‘Make thee a brazen
Serpent.’ Numb 21: 8. There was also a special use in it, both
literal and spiritual. Does this justify setting up images at your home? The serpent was not a portrayal of God not of the saints, it was an external sign to show that all who have sinned and have fallen by the cause of the old serpent the devil would be saved if they would look and believe in Christ, the seed of the woman who would bruise the head of the devil, it was not erected to worship and honor. But when people began to worship and honor this serpent was crushed and destroyed. 2Ki 18:4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.
Also the Romanists say, God ordered Moses to make cherubim in the temple.
Ex 25:18 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
The blinded Romanist priests cannot understand that the Cherubims as well as the palm tree associated with the temple were but shadows, they were neither images of God nor the saints, nor honor was given to the cherubims. This was the earthly sanctuary. (Hebrews 9:1) The most glorious building upon the earth, where only the high priest entered once a year.
“Who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” (Hebrews 8:5)
Can I ask the Roman Priest, “Has God given the image maker a pattern and a divine commandment to make an image?” Again this glorious temple was a shadow pointing to Christ Jesus.
Joh 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (The Greek word there is that Christ Jesus tabernacle among us.)
But how shall we conceive of God aright, if we may not make any
Image or resemblance of him?
We must conceive of God spiritually. (1) In his attributes - his holiness, justice, goodness - which are the beams by which his divine nature shines forth. (2) We must conceive of him as he is in Christ. Christ is the ‘Image of the invisible God’ as in the wax we
See the print of the seal. Col 1: 15. Set the eyes of your faith on Christ-God-man. ‘He that has seen me, has seen the Father.’ John 14:6.
Dare not join in marriage with image-worshippers. Dare not to live under the same roof with them, or you run into the devil’s mouth. Solomon was a man of wisdom; his idolatrous wives drew his heart away from God. The people of Israel entered into an oath and curse that they would not give their daughters in marriage to idolaters. Neh 10: 30. For a Protestant and Romanist to marry, is to be unequally yoked (2 Cor 6: 14); and there is more danger that the Romanist will corrupt the Protestant, shall hope that the Protestant will convert the Romanist. Do not mingle wine and vinegar; the vinegar will sooner sour the wine, than the wine will sweeten the vinegar.
Take heed that idolatry is devil-worship.
Eze 20:27 Therefore, son of man, speak unto the house of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass against me.
28 For when I had brought them into the land, for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they made their sweet savour, and poured out there their drink offerings.
29 Then I said unto them, What is the high place whereunto ye go? And the name thereof is called Bamah unto this day.
30 Wherefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? and commit ye whoredom after their abominations?
31 For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be enquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be enquired of by you.
32 And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone.
De 32:16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.
17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
1Co 10:19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?
20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.
Satan’s policy, to dress up a carnal worship, fitted to carnal minds? Just like the Israelites were delivered from Idol worship form Egypt the Reformation delivered us from the idolotary of Romanism. ‘Flee from idolatry.’ 1 Cor 10: 14.
If you search through the whole Bible, there is ones sin that God hated the most and that is idolatry, the Jews have a saying, “that in every evil that befalls them, there is an ounce of the golden calf in it. Hell is a place for idolaters. (Rev. 22:15) Someone said, the devil is a rejoicer at idols, because the image worshippers help to fill hell. Do not be afraid to tell our relatives and friends of the danger of Roman Catholicism, if you really care for them tell the truth. They may get angry with you, and persecute you, but in the sight of God you are doing the right thing. We need to please God rather than man.
God is called the husband and the church as the wife. The husband will take notice of the conduct of the wife and if she does not behave herself properly he will be overcome with jealousy will chastise her. The Israelites were chastised severely when they practiced idol worship. Not only they were punished but also punished their children. God dealt this way in the Old Testament. During the flood, not only the adults were destroyed but also God drowned all including children as the sin is like a cancer and it has to be taken out completely. All the descendents of Eli were punished because of his sin. Eli compromised with his sons’ sins, and honored the sons more than God. (1 Samuel 2:28-31)
Love and obedience, like two sisters, must go hand and hand. ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’ John 14: 15.
‘To obey is better than sacrifice.’ 1 Sam 15: 22. In sacrifice, a dead beast only is offered; in obedience, we are a living sacrifice to God.
May the Lord give you grace to speak boldly to the Roman Catholics.