in the Christian Library
Making The God Of MY Choice (1)
John L. Kachelman, Jr.
I. The "Spectre of the Brocken" is a phenomenon seen on
a certain mountain in Germany. At dawn you can stand on the topmost ridge
and behold a colossal shadowy spectre moving on the summits of the distant
hills. The ancients saw this and concluded that it was a supernatural god.
Fear captured their hearts and religious fervor offered sacrifices to this
god who appeared only for a brief time in the early morning hours. In later
years it was discovered that this spectre was in truth only the shadow
of the one who stood on the summit. As the sun would rise, the person's
shadow was projected upon the morning mists and it would move as the excited
spectator would nervously move trying to gain a better viewpoint. This
aptly illustrates how man's folly has ascribed "deity" to those things
which are a mere reflection of himself. Such is the truth of idolatry!
That which is ascribed to "God" is actually a mirrored reflection of self!
The folly of idolatry is that many never see this Truth.
II. At the beginning of the 10 Commandments is the sin
of idolatry. This is the "sin of sins" for once begun man's understanding
is forever befuddled; the Truth of God is polluted; all is lost! Idolatry
remains man's greatest threat!
1. Modern man will not become an idolater in the sense of the pagan mythologies of the Greeks, Romans, and Norse. These bowed down to a material image crafted with hands from precious metals or sacred wood/rocks. Modern man is too far "advanced" for this.
How do you answer? Just WHO is God? As your mind's eye
looks at God, what is seen? Isaiah 40:18-25 -- Underscored is the power/majesty
of God. The exclusiveness of the one, true God is clear and mankind has
been informed of this great God since creation. The exalted position of
God and the insignificance of mortals (v. 22-25) reveal that man is foolish
when he tries to make anything comparable to God. Here is the divine attitude
toward anyone who attempts to re-design the God of Scripture. One has characterized
these verses as "withering sarcasm poured upon the infatuation of idol
framers and worshipers" (W.E. Vine, Isaiah, 94).
Isaiah's repeated question emphasizes the position of
God -- God can be compared with nothing! Here is the heart of genuine faith.
God is incomparable. In our thoughts of God we must be careful to keep
in mind this infinite separation. To re-make God in our minds so He becomes
something that bridges this infinity is idolatry; to break this absolute
distinction is blasphemy (Is 55:8-9).
Our series is a sobering study. It forces us to ask/answer
an uncomfortable query -- Am I guilty of idolatry?
The traits of idolatry.
A survey of Scripture reveals that idolatry is characterized
by the following traits. Look at these traits. Observe how they characterize
those who bow down to graven images but also those who re-design God in
A. The Supernatural is recognized.
The existence of God is not denied. In fact there is a
willing confession that mortals are dependent upon a supernatural force
that is beyond them (cf Ro 1:21; Ex 32:4b; 2 Ti 3:1-5; 1 Ki 20:23). The
admission of the supernatural is true of our modern society. God is not
denied, just re-defined to be something that is totally different than
B. The biblical "God" is re-designed.
Cf Ps 81:9; Is 43:12 -- "strange" comes from the root
which means "to turn aside from." The basic thought that is suggested is
that of non-acquaintance; non-relatedness. One has taken the basic idea
of something and in a process has "turned aside" from the true meaning
and fashioned something totally different!
C. It is selfish.
Those who practice idolatry are motivated by selfish interests.
They reject the God of Scripture because He does not interest their selfish
interests. In thus turning away they fashion a "god" which can co-exist
with their selfishness (cf Amos 7:10-17; 3 Jn 9).
D. It is sincere.
This is ironic because of the involvement of selfishness.
This "sincerity" is not truthful but a delusion (cf 2 Ths 2:10b-11). Ignorant
of the prodding of selfishness, the idolaters perform their religion in
sincerity but in opposition to God (cf Mt 7:21-23; 1 Ki 18:28). This trait
is readily seen in our day -- "sincerity" seems to be the only criterion
by which one's religious beliefs/practices are judged. If one is "sincere"
then even the worst practices are allowed for "them." However, the God
of Scripture does not require only sincerity (cf 1 Ki 13:21).
E. The Truth of God is changed.
This is consequential to re-defining God. The only way
the biblical God can be re-fashioned is by altering or ignoring the biblical
Truth about Him (cf Ro 1:25; 2 Ti 2:17-18; 3:8; 4:3,4; Jere 23:16). This
aspect of idolatry is clearly seen in our modern day. Many today say there
is NO truth that truth is only real in the individual. Therefore "truth"
about the biblical God is only "individual." What may be "true" to one
is false to others. One's concept of God is thus built upon an ever-changing
foundation (cf Mal 3:6).
F. Perplexity/Inconsistency marks their practices/ beliefs.
Because they are not following Truth, they will constantly
change beliefs. This will lead them to be confronted with the inconsistencies
in their belief system. They will not be able to "prove" all things; they
are unable to "test" teachings in an objective manner. When asked to give
answers to religious beliefs, they will be confused (cf Jere 23:19). This
trait is found in Psalm 97:7. The term "confounded" (KJV) or "ashamed"
(NASB) come from the Hebrew word BOSH. This term means "to be ashamed;
put to shame; disappointed." The primary meaning is "to fall into disgrace
through failure, either of self or of an object of trust." "Involved here
are all the nuances of confusion, disillusionment, humiliation, and brokenness
... The prophets normally use the word with this sense, promising Israel
that unless she repents of her ways and turns from her idolatrous ways,
she will certainly experience the shame of defeat and exile ... Intimately
associated ... is the question of trust. If Israel seeks to insure her
own glory by refusing to trust in God but rather trusts in idols (Is 1:29),
she will not get glory, but shame and disgrace" (Theological Wordbook
Of The Old Testament, 222-223).
Modern idolaters show this trait. When asked about beliefs
they either get upset for being asked or try to explain with irrational
feelings instead of confident facts. Their departure from the biblical
God brings them to shame. Ultimately they become upset because they are
asked to give a reason. They prefer to be left alone with their idolatry,
never confronted (cf 1 Pt 3:15).
G. Quick identification.
Those who reject the biblical concept of God can be quickly
identified by those who use the Scriptures (2 Ti 3:8-9). There is a clear
and unquestioned difference because of one's belief about God (cf 1 Ki
H. Stubbornness restricts their religion.
The only reason one rejects the biblical concept of God
is to follow self. When we refuse to crucify self (Lk 9:23) we will submit
to our selfish desires. This selfishness soon re-designs God so that one
feels s/he has divine approval (1 Sa 15:23; Jere 23:17; Lv 10:1-3). The
selfish person looks at the biblical teaching regarding God but he does
not like what he sees. He then whittles upon the biblical concept until
a more appealing "god" is found. This stubbornness fuels the individualism
that feeds idolatry. Modern man seeks to find God in "his own way; by his
own experience; with his personal meaning." When one is told that God is
not individually tailored to personal tastes, the stubborn heart balks
(cf Ac 26:14)!
I. Lev 19:4 -- It is tempting to construct a "god" that fits my personal
tastes; that is comfortable for my lifestyle. This temptation
has swayed mankind ever since Eden, but it is false and brings damnation.
It is rebuked with clarity by God's simple statement, "I AM THE LORD YOUR
GOD." "I am" refers to His eternal presence; His never-ending existence.
He does not change. The Truth regarding Him is never altered. Fashions
will constantly change; color schemes will come and go; man's concepts
will always be fluid, but not so the God of the Bible.
II. How do you view "God"?
Someone once said to me, "That's my grandmother's god;
the god of the past generation. That picture just doesn't work for me --
I need something more." And so he constructed a "god" of his choice and
individual tastes; one who was non-judgmental, non-threatening, non-restrictive
but all-inclusive -- it was a comfortable god. But it was not the God of
the Scriptures. He worshiped his god; served his god; gave money to his
god, and, prayed to his god. But it was not the God of the Scriptures.
On the Judgment Day he will bow before the God of the Scriptures and profess
to have served, worshiped, and honored the only God but he will hear a
startling statement -- "Depart, I NEVER knew you!" (Mt 7:21-23). What a
great tragedy all because he practiced idolatry (cf Lv 26:30).
III. How do you view God? (Is 40:17-25). Is it a negotiable portrait?
Is it crafted to personal tastes? Is it according to the
Truth of the Scriptures? We may not like certain aspects of God presented
in the Scriptures. We may not like the emphasis upon God's rules, laws,
and commands. We may not like the fact that the God of Scripture is the
Sovereign and thus has a right to demand that we do some things and not
do other things.
According to Scripture. It does not matter what you/I
like or dislike about God. God is and He will not change. He is the "great
I AM." All we can do is accept Him as He is and obey His will (1 Jn 5:21).
No other choice!
The reality is that modern man has not accepted the simple
description of God in the Scriptures. Modern minds have crafted a pantheon
of gods. The members of this group are popular in the lives of modern men.
Sadly, some Believers have re-designed the biblical God to occupy a position
in this group. Our next lesson will begin examining some of the more popular
"gods" who have been re-designed.
Copyright 1999 by John
L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no
cost to others.