Worship God the Right Way Exodus 20:4-6

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1 Worship God the Right Way Exodus 20:4-6 Our initial inclination may be to write off the second commandment as irrelevant because we don t have carved images of God in our lives, but when we understand this also refers to any man-made representation of God we realize it hits closer to home than we initially think. Why does God care about how we think of & worship Him? False representations & thoughts of God, sincere as they may be, lead us away from God. God sets the terms for how we think of Him and worship of Him. Misrepresentations of God begin when we attempt to define or redefine God based on our preferences, needs & desires. Mental Idols What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness. The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy). God doesn t give us the option to define or redefine Him. We must not focus on certain aspects of God, because in doing so we think of God in a way other that he is. We seek to limit a limitless God. This is our mental idolatry.

2 1. Mental idols discard God s uniqueness. God is Spirit. God is God. There is none like Him. He is altogether distinct. God says: I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me (Isaiah 46.9). 2. Mental idols distort God s attributes. We distort God s attributes & character when we seek to redefine Him according to our preferred thoughts of Him. If a person believes in a God of love but not justice, or holiness and not mercy, that person s understanding falls short of the biblical God and so he or she is actually an idolater, worshipping a false god (Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods). 3. Mental idols limit God s glory. There is no true & complete image of God in all the universe. There are only things that point to & give us a glimpse of His majesty (i.e. thimble full of the ocean). We cannot totally comprehend on contain God. To dilute & discard any part of God is to deny who God is. How do we know what God is like? The Bible His Word to us. If we do not know God s Word we cannot know God. We live in a visual age, and this creates issues when it comes to thinking about and understanding God. God is not be thought of

3 in images or pictures. He has revealed Himself through words that He has given us in the Bible. What about the image of Jesus? God the Son took on flesh. Hebrews 1.3 says that Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint [character] of his nature. A few things to remember: 1. God gave us a human image of Himself the eternal (uncreated) Son of God. We didn t make it, God did. 2. Even the incarnation did not fully represent God s physical attributes. 3. Today we have not seen Jesus with our own eyes nor do we have an accurate picture of Jesus. Think of all the various paintings and drawings of Jesus. Each of them present aspects that are not accurate about Jesus. The point is this We know God by hearing & knowing His Word. We must read the Bible. We must let His Word shape our thoughts of God. This is why one of our Core Values is: We are Biblical. It is by His Word that we know who God is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do. When we make mental idols of God we seek to redefine God, even if our intentions are good. Furthermore, when we redefine God we redefine our worship of God. Mental Idols & Wrong Worship 1. Redefining God leads to the wrong worship of God (20:5a; cf. Exodus 32:1-8).

4 Notice that the Israelites did not claim to have another god, but said the idol they made was the God who delivered them from Egypt. Even while God s voice was still ringing in their ears from speaking the Ten Commandments to them, the people rebelled against Him. 2. Wrong worship has real & lasting consequences (20:5b). Wrong worship is giving glory to something other than God even if it is intended to be a representation of God. Wrong worship is spiritual adultery. Wrong worship also has a domino effect the generational impact of disobedience. Sin has real & lasting consequences and not just for us, but for generations that follow us. Parents: What are you teaching & showing your kids about God? Are you passing on the true understanding of God? Are you teaching your children who God truly is? But there is good news You are not predestined to follow in the rebellious steps of those before you. 3. The cycle of wrong worship can be broken. There is a hope! (20:6). This hope is realized through repentance & faith. If you turn away from sin & self and turn to God, you will receive His grace & mercy.

5 God is a pursuing God. God pursues you. He desires you to desire Him. God steadfast & pursuing love is realized in the person & work of Jesus Christ. He came as the visible image of the invisible God to rescue & redeem. How do we worship God the right way? We worship God the right way by listening to His Son, by hearing, knowing, and obeying His Word. In John 4.23, Jesus said: the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking [pursuing] such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. God is divine & distinct. He is everywhere and He knows everything. We cannot tie Him down to a place, we cannot confine Him by rituals & legalism, and we cannot redefine Him to according to our preferences. Therefore, we must worship God in spirit & truth because He is spirit & truth. In spirit = our entire life (mind & soul) is transformed by Him new life in Christ. In truth = our worship (thoughts & actions) are defined by Him His Word, the Bible. Do you know Jesus? If you do not know Christ we cannot know God. If you do not know God we cannot worship God. Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God. He is how we worship God in spirit and in truth.

6 Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Only Jesus perfectly loved & kept God s commandments. Only Jesus in His death washed away our sins. Only Jesus resurrection brings new life to all who believe in Him. Only Jesus as our Great High Priest intercedes with God the Father on our behalf. Only Jesus brings us to God. Only in the name Jesus do we worship God in spirit & truth. We worship God the right way not by remaking God into our image, but being remade into His image, into the image of His Son. We worship God, not by worshipping our own preferences of God, but by worshipping Him as He has revealed Himself in the Bible. Christian, we worship Him who is not seen, yet in our worship of Him He is seen.

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