When Israel was delivered from the hands of the Egyptians, not long after Pharaoh and his mighty army were buried by the waters of the Red Sea. They met at the foot of the mountain to swear fealty to the Lord of Hosts; to worship the God of all the earth. However, within a very short period of time they forgot about God, about Moses and demanded that an idol be fashioned for them. For what purpose? To what end? They wanted a representation of the gods that had delivered them. One the golden calf that they could see, the other the invisible Lord they could not see (Exod 32.4). To these gods they gave offerings and sacrifices and had a feast in their name. They ate, they drank and practiced in devilry (Exod 32.5-6).
What you are witnessing as you read this section of
Scripture is an act of syncretism, a combining or joining of two beliefs
systems in equal status. The problem is when such worship is offered, even if
the name of the Lord is mentioned, it is an act of false worship. In truth,
such practices have nothing to do with worshiping the God of heaven and earth.
Instead, they have everything to do with worshiping the idols of the heart.
The Israelites were not alone, for the Bible says people in
general participate in this practice.
- “For although [human beings] knew God, they did
not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their
thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they
became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling
mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them
up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies
among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and
worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!
Amen” (Rom 1.21-25).
In short, idol worship is common practice for sinners.
Rather than give praise, honor, and glory where they are due, sinners in their
zeal, offer these things to lesser beings.
Well, the answer is simple enough but few want to accept it.
When Adam sinned in the garden he did no less than the Israelites recently
freed from Egypt, for he too sought to give praise, honor and glory to a lesser
being—himself. In fact, I would argue that what our forefather did was much
worse (cf. Rom 5.14). His sin was what introduced sin into earthly
- “Therefore, just as sin came into the world
through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because
all sinned” (Rom 5.12; cf. Gen 3.17-19, 22-24; Rom 8.19-22)
On that day Adam experienced death. The promise given to him
by his Creator proved true (cf. Gen 2.17). This confuses many people today. We
read the word “death” and we assume cessation from life; entrance to the grave.
As I have taught previously the Bible does not define death that way. Death in
Scripture means “separation.”
And on that day in the garden both Adam and his wife Eve experienced true
They were immediately separated from God in their hearts.
This is demonstrated by their attempt at covering their nakedness (Gen 3.7);
which, is an illustrative way of showing their attempt to cover (atone for)
their sin (shame). And, they hid from
the Lord when He made His presence known in the garden (Gen 3.8-10).
The final illustration of this death is found in being driven from the garden
of the Lord; being denied access to the Tree of Life (again separation, not
cessation). The only hope of life now would be at the mercy of their Creator.
The death of Adam was the antecedent to the rest of humanity,
as his offspring we all experience this death (the consequent). “The wages of
sin is death” (Rom 6.23). As sinners we are separated from our Creator, from
life, from righteousness and holiness and goodness. Ultimately, we are
separated from properly imaging God in this world.
I pointed out a couple posts back that our responsibility is
to love God with our minds. This is true because God is meant to be sovereign
over our minds (our reason[ing]). What exactly did sin effect in the Fall (Gen
3)? If we could put a percentage on sin’s effects on the human nature, the
human mind, then what should our numbers be? 50%? 75%? 100%?
Pelagius who argued with Augustine believed it was zero.
Most evangelicals won’t go that far. Neither will Rome. Yet, few today desire
to say 100%, but on what grounds?
What’s the Bible say? I know that is not the standard many
wish to appeal to. Not many want to be dependent on that source entirely. It leaves little wiggle room.
And, we love room to wiggle!
Regardless of our preferences we are left with the following
statement of truth. Before we were made alive in Christ Jesus we were all dead
in trespasses and sins (Eph 2.1, 5). Even we who are truly born again must
admit that we “once walked, following the course of this world, following the
prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of
disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh,
carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children
of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph 2.2-3). Even though we were originally
made upright that is not our default position (Eccl 7.20, 29). For the only
offspring that we can produce now is something unclean and hell bent (Job
15.14; Psa 58.3).
READER: “Wait a minute, Kris…you said in your last post that
you were going to talk about Psalm 115. What does any of this have to do with
Psalm 115 is a song of
The focus of Psalm 115 is the Lord above (as depicted in
verse 1, but we’ll get to that a little later). The writer offers the
rhetorical question of the nations, “Where is their God?” (Psa 115.2). For
those unfamiliar with the history of the period, gods and goddesses ruled over
the nations in their own localities. More often than not the gods of the pagans
were not limited to a monotheistic model, preferring a polytheistic pantheon of
gods/goddesses instead. Each nation attributed victories in battle, blessings
of the field and womb, wisdom and knowledge, and many other desirable venues to
the particular deities of their choosing. I say “of their choosing” because
these people groups would fashion a god or goddess after the likeness of their
own imaginations, going to great lengths to cover all their bases (see Acts
Israel was different. Israel’s God was not like the rest of
the nations, for making an image of any kind was forbidden. Theologically, this
makes perfect sense, since God created mankind to be His image bearers in
creation, and Israel was set-apart by God to be a light to the nations (cf.
Exod 19.5-6; Deut 4.5-8; Isa 49.3-6).
Of whom, Jesus the Christ is said to be the perfect representation of the
invisible God (Heb 1.3; Col 1.15), the light of the world (John 8.12), the true
Adam (1Cor 15.45) and image bearer. What Christ is, man ought to be.
Because Israel was different, the nations mocked. They made
light of the God of Israel. But, the psalmist answers their question with the
- “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he
pleases” (Psa 115.3).
In other words, our God is not like your little gods or
goddesses. He does not merely rule over the skies, or the battlefield, or this
city or that state. His domain is not limited to the land of this nation or
that nation. He doesn’t concern Himself about this group of people over here,
or that flock of animals over there. No…He rules it all. He sits above the
circle of the earth far beyond the sight of mere creatures. He is king over all
that is in the heavens and that which dwells on the earth.
- “[Your] idols are silver and gold, the work of
human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They
have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do
not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they make no sound in their throat” (Psa
In other words, you claim that your gods are gods, that they
are mighty in power and deed. You cower before them, and offer them sacrifices
and prayer. You have festivals in their honor and dedicate your children to
them. You pretend that they are alive, that they are living, but they are dead!
They are unseeing, unhearing, unfeeling, unable to smell or speak or move. You
claim that your gods are gods, all the while mocking our own, but you worship
dead things. Things created by your own hands. Things created in your own
What are idols? They are reflections of the minds of man.
What are idols? They are image bearers of fallen man. What are idols? They are
representations of their creator.
- “Like them are their makers, every one who is
trusting in them” (Psa 115.8; YLT).
Like the one who created them, these idols are dead things.
Scripture uses various expressions to state that people are spiritually dead.
They are said to have ears and not hear (i.e. deaf), eyes and not see (i.e.
they are said to have legs, but are incapable of walking (i.e. lame);
they are said to have hands, but are incapable of feeling (i.e. leprous);
freedom appears to guide their lives, but it does not (i.e. slaves);
wisdom appears to guide their minds, but it does not (i.e. fools);
knowledge is what they profess to have, but they do not (i.e.
What’s my point?
The biblical testimony of the Triune God (Father, Son and
continually mocks and ridicules the idols of human beings. He chides foolish
people who believe (trust) in them. What we need to understand is that these
idols are accurate representations of their creators. Not physical
representations, but mental representations of the imaginations of fallen image
We will worship anything other than the Lord God. We will go to great lengths to fashion a god of our choosing, to bow down to. It doesn’t matter if the object is made of wood, precious metal or stone (cf. Isa 44.8-20). We may even take a portion of the truth revealed in the Bible, profess faith in God or in Jesus as incarnate deity, acknowledge the divine person-hood of the Holy Spirit, but then turn around and form and fashion Him into an idol of our own choosing (comp Matt. 7.21-23).
In short, fools beget fools. Idols are birthed from the
hearts of dead men, and as God points out repeatedly those idols are an
accurate representation of a non-living being. “The question of man’s depravity
considers not the extent of his guilty before God, but the extent of his
corruption in sin.”
So radically corrupted is the human mind, due to its dependency (i.e. bondage)
to sin, that though the truth of God may be clearly perceived internally (cf.
Rom 2.14-16) and externally (cf. Rom 1.18-20), man prefers to offer allegiance
to anything other than the Lord—i.e. idols fashioned in the crucible of fallen
What Troubles Me…
Is that in our rebellion we deny the very fact that the
Bible so clearly reveals, human reason is broken, left as a tattered remnant of
what it once was. The battle for man’s ability to reason correctly was lost in the garden, and unless some other
victor comes marching on the field to bind that corruption that has dominated
our hearts we are powerless to ever come to the knowledge of the truth (cf. Luke
11.21-22; Eph 2.4-6).
Unfortunately, I have now stepped into turbulent waters.
There is no greater affront to our fallen minds, than to attack the sacred
golden calf of human reason. And yet, should we not—we who profess that we know
God (Rom 10.9-11; John 20.28)—declare with the psalmist:
- “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name
give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and our faithfulness!
…You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! …The heavens are the Lord’s heavens,
but the earth he has given to the children of man. The dead do not praise the
Lord, nor do any who go down into silence. But we will bless the Lord from this
time forth and forevermore. Praise the Lord!” (Psa 115.1, 11a, 16-18).
How much glory, how much praise, how much fear and trust do
we show in the Lord, when we present the truth of God to fallen mankind in a
manner that makes the man the judge (reasoner) over and above the Creator? We
present light to men whose eyes have been gouged out, ears that have been
blown, expecting them to see and hear without the Lord first giving them eyes
to see and ears to hear…what folly is this?
Should we not rather, as we carefully/prayerfully consider
our fallen brethren’s plight, present to them the truth as definable within a
biblical framework trusting that the Lord is mightier than their fallenness.
Should we not refuse to present evidences or facts at the feet of fallen image
bearers allowing them to sit in a seat of judgment as if they were a god;
rather, confronting them with evidence of their willful suppression of the
truth. God is judge, not mankind. God sits on the throne not mankind. The
evidence and facts of the Christian faith present the rightful condemnation of
all (cf. Rom 3.19); they are only delightful truths to members of the faith,
not the other way around.
Should we not let this weight burden their hearts, providing the Lord the
opportunity to grant repentance?
As Christians we have no right, whatsoever, to pander to the
pride of unbelievers. We are not to be peddlers of the Word of God (cf. 2Cor
2.17), but are commanded to present the truth. In this only Christ Jesus will
reserve the right to boast, for the salvation of fallen image bearers is the
work of God…not man (cf. 1Cor. 1.28-31; Php 3.3). We are ring bearers, nothing
 The chief of sinners was
already in the garden before the man and woman fell—Satan; the devil; that vile
serpent of old (Rev 12.9). The focus of the biblical account is earthly in that
it is given on man’s behalf; from our vantage point. Even though, it is
completely accurate to refer to the Word of God as God-breathed (theopneustos); an accurate retelling
from God’s vantage point—to/for man.
 The reader needs to
understand that “death” in Scripture does not mean cessation—i.e. ceasing to
exist. Death in the Bible conveys the idea of separation. Therefore, death is
described in the Bible in at least three different ways: 1) separation from our
Creator (cf. Gen 3.8); 2) separation from being a slave to sin (cf. Rom 6.4);
3) separation from the body, what we describe as physical death (cf. Eccl
hiding from the sound of the Lord was an act of rebellion. Adam admits that
fear drove him to this course of action. No doubt, fear of His holy Creator and
of the complete death that rightfully awaited him did make the man seek some
refuge where God might not find him. However, the Lord made the man accountable
for his actions. Even though he desired to be away from God as far as possible,
the Lord made him answer for his offense.
 All other false religious
belief systems attempt to mimic this truth, but in a watered down, distorted
 The ESV like some other
translations present this verse in the following pattern: “Those who make them
become like them; so do all who trust in them.” The order is logically
inconsistent, for an image bearer represents the image for which it was
created, not the other way around. The fact that people desire to make idols
based upon their own imaginative minds shows that the idols accurately
represents its maker—a dead thing.
 Cf. Deut
29.4; Matt 15.14; Rom 11.8-11; 2Cor 4.4; 1John 2.11; comp Isa 42.16
 Cf. Lev
21.18; Prov 26.7; contrasted with Isa 35.5-6; Matt 15.30.
 Cf. Lev
13.2-3, 44-46; Num 12.10-12; 2Sam 3.29; contrasted with 2King 5.1-17; Luke
4.27; Matt 8.2-3.
Many misunderstand the significance of these blemishes
(including all that I have included before, above) found in the human body as a
picture of sin. These individuals were cut-off from the congregation in Israel
and access to the sanctuary of God via the priests. The only person who could
remove this malady from them is the Lord God. His healing made them clean and
grafted them into the fellowship of the covenant community. The purpose of
Jesus’ healing in the N. T. is a highlighting of this fact. He brought healing
in his wings. He alone could heal the nations (people). Jesus alone as the High
Priest could declare what was clean versus unclean. Thus, the underlying
foundation of the signs which he performed contrary to many “word of faith”
preachers or liberal theologians today.
 Cf. Job
14.4; John 8.34; Tit 3.3; 2Chron 6.36
 Cf. Psa
14.1-3; Eccl 9.3; 1Cor 1.20.
 Cf. Deut
32.29; Prov 1.22, 29; 1Tim 6.20.
Stress needs be laid on the doctrine of the Trinity—the One God revealed in
three coeternal/coexistent persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Not three
gods, but One Being; for the Father is not the Son nor the Spirit, neither is
the Son the Father or the Spirit, nor can we say that the Spirit is the Father
or the Son. They are distinct in functionality, but united in purpose and
essence. In terms of salvific history, the Father sends the Son and gives to
the Son the elect; the Son gives His life in honor to the Father for the life
of the people given to Him; the Spirit is sent out from the Father and the Son
in order to represent the Son in exaltation to those given by the Father and
received by the Son, preserving and perfecting the elect for the final day of
presentation. Therefore, God alone deserves the glory, honor and praise.
Richard D. Phillips, What’s so Great
about the Doctrines of Grace? (Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing,
2008), 24, Adobe Digital Editions.
Contrary to fallen image bearer’s own attestation: “Many a man proclaims his
own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?” Or as this verse is
rendered in the KJV: “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a
faithful man who can find?” (Prov 20.6).
 “Speculation which is
independent of God’s word cannot lead a rebellious sinner to a proper knowledge
of God. For the believer, the Christ of Scripture is the basis of human
knowledge; He is the necessary starting pint for knowledge, or else man’s
intellectual efforts will lead to utter skepticism.” Greg L. Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and
Defended, ed. Joel McDurmon (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press
& Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Press, , 2011), 29. Adobe Digital
“Facts and logic are meaningful and useful to man within the context of Christ’s word.” Ibid, 29. Italics added.
case this last analogical reference is misunderstood, allow me to explain. The
ring bearer presents the ring of union to the bride and groom. The two rings
represent one life. The gospel is the ring that we bring forth to fallen man,
but only the husband may put the ring on the one he has taken to be his bride.
This act is an act of devotional love bestowed on the woman. The man is the
first to act because he has preeminence, the woman follows suit because without
the husband movement towards her (i.e. his putting his love on her), she would
not be able to respond. Unfortunately, the beauty of this act is lost somewhat
in our generation because of the feminist theology that pervades human thought
(both inside and outside the church).