I. LITTLE CHILDREN, KEEP YOURSELVES FROM IDOLS.
A. We must not think of an idol as a little image carved out of wood or molded of silver or gold.
1. Though often in the ancient world the people made little images to worship them, idolatry is something that is a person's heart.
2. From the word image, we have the word imagination and imagery. That is something that is going on in a person's mind.
3. God knows what is going on in your mind, and He is concerned with the imagery that is in a person's mind.
a. Ezekiel the prophet tells how the Lord led him into the inner chambers of the minds of the leaders of the people.
And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.
Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about.
And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.
Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.
B. If we think of idolatry as worshipping an image, we will all plead innocent, we will say the injunction of John does not apply to me.
1. But what is going on in your mind?
2. You remember how that Jesus said, "You have heard that it has been said, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery,' but I say unto you whosoever looketh upon a woman and lusteth after her in his heart has committed adultery already."
3. David said, "You have searched me and known me, You know my downsittings and uprisings, You understandeth my thoughts in their beginnings." He then prayed, "Search me O God and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts and see if their be some way of wickedness in me."
II. THE FIRST TWO COMMANDMENTS.
A. "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."
1. A god is a primary interest, or longing, or desire.
2. It is the master passion that governs a person's life.
3. God wants to be first in your life.
B. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the 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;"
C. These are probably the most commonly broken of all of the commandments.
1. These are basic, and the basis of most of the other commandments.
2. If your life is controlled by anger, then anger is your god.
3. If your life is controlled by your fleshly lusts, then lust is your god.
4. If your life is controlled by greed, then greed is your god.
5. Your god is whatever controls your life.
6. As the psalmist said, "The gods of the heathen are many."
D. In the ancient times there was a greater honesty than there is today, for they made images of these various passions and desires and gave names to them and openly worshipped them.
1. Today because we have no images, we often deny the idolatry that is in our hearts.
2. As God looks into the imagery of your mind tonight what does He see?
3. What are the controlling passions.
4. What are the dominating ambitions.
E. This was one of the most common sins of God's people. Though warned against it they seemed to be constantly falling into it.
1. Before Moses could even get down from the mountain with the two tables of stone on which God had engraved the commandments, the people had already made a golden calf, and were dancing around it when Moses returned to the camp.
2. Throughout their history they were always setting up images and altars to their false gods.
F. The chorus that we sing is such an important prayer,
"To keep Your lovely face, ever before my eyes,
This is my prayer, make it my strong desire,
That in my secret heart, no other loves compete,
No rival throne survives, and I serve only You."
III. GUARDS THAT WE NEED TO PUT UP IN OUR LIVES THAT WE MIGHT KEEP OURSELVES FROM IDOLS.
A. Like David we need to ask God to search our hearts and know our thoughts.
B. We need to examine ourselves and judge ourselves as best we can.
1. Not in the light of others, but in the light of Jesus Christ.
2. Compared to me, you might not look too bad, but when you stand next to Christ, how do you look?
3. He is the standard by which we will be measured.
4. Paul wrote to the Corinthians,
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
5. Twice in Haggai God told the people to consider their ways.
Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.
C. You might start making a record of your time in a week.
1. How much time did you spend in seeking entertainment?
a. TV; Movies; Sports page; or any other form of mental relaxation.
b. Compare that with the time spent in prayer and in the word.
c. Naturally if we are keeping ourselves from idols, and if God is first in our lives, then as we add up the minutes, the time spent with God will far exceed the time spent in other pursuits.
2. You might take a look at your bank account statement.
a. How much money was spent of frivolous things to satisfy the desires of your flesh.
b. How does that compare with how much you invested in Lord's work.
3. We often say one thing, and even believe what we say, but what we are doing often contradicts what we are saying.
D. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. This injunction is just as important in Moses and Johns day as it is today.
E. When Jesus said to His disciples that one of them was going to betray Him, they all began to ask, "Master, is it I?" I think when we read an injunction like this we also should ask, "Master is it I?"
1. Am I guilty of idolatry?
2. Are there images that are in my mind, that have superceded my love and desires for the Lord?