What Is Idolatry, and Do I Practice it?

When we think of the Ten Commandments, probably the “law” that seems the most out-dated is “Thou Shalt Not Commit Idolatry,” or put another way, “Thou Shalt Not Make Unto Thyself Any Graven Images!”

Whew! Well, thank goodness we no longer carve images out of wood and bow down to them. But, look at those wacky Catholics! Boy, they sure didn’t get the memo! As for most civilized people, we’re waaaaay beyond that primitive stuff.

So, did God write a law akin to the law that if your car spooks a horse you need to hide it until the animal settles down? (that’s actually a law in Pennsylvania). Or, maybe it’s like the law in Missouri against driving down the highway with an uncaged bear. Or, laws that require a woman to get her husband’s permission before going to the stylist in Michigan!

Something tells me that God wasn’t short-sighted. He is the first and the last. Nothing is outside of His awareness and we don’t “out-grow” God’s laws. When He tells us that idolatry makes the top ten, we better understand that it’s a problem.

But, you might say, I don’t have any carved idols. In fact, I haven’t bowed down to anything since the time Justin Beeber was in town! And, his acting is wooden, so touche!

No, really, who worships carved idols? Nobody except some Aborigine somewhere, right?

WRONG!

We know the answer that people will worship their cars (what a sweet ride!) or sports (gotta have my ESPN!). The Sunday School answer is that anything that takes our attention away from God is idolatry.

That’s true, I might add. But it’s not the whole story.

How about our desire to know the future? Sure, we don’t put much stock in it, right? I mean, those fortune cookies are just lame. But, how about horoscopes? How about visiting mediums? Or rares? *rimshot*

Seriously, how many times have we seen some supposed Christian “declaring” what is going to happen? Something super-specific like “There will be an amazing event this year that will shake you to the core!!” Or maybe, “An old world leader who’s riddled with cancer will die this decade!” Or, “I’m seeing thousands of mis-matched socks that will be found right after you spend money on new pairs!”

Do you ever get sucked into believing the “predictions” of some “prophet” or sooth-sayer? Do you think that they are tapping into some force that allows them to predict the future?

If the answer was a “nooooo, not really,” then it’s probably really a “yes, I do!” And it shows the idolatry of our hearts more clearly than someone who waxes their car every day or follows all the sports stats religiously.

Idolatry, after all, is trying to tap into God’s power apart from God. This definition is synonymous with paganism. It’s believing that there’s power out there that does what only God can do, but God is trying to chase us away from it. Sound familiar?

It should. It’s what Satan told Eve in the garden. If she’d eat the forbidden fruit, she’d become like God, her eyes would be opened, etc. The same is true with idolatry. We start to believe that there’s this power we can tap into. We can speak things into existence. We can declare the future, and it will happen. We can invoke God’s power by our own will.

That’s straight up idolatry. It’s blasphemy. Our words cannot create anything. Only The Word of God creates. It is through Christ that all things were made and in Him sustained. (Col. 1:16-17). And yet, there are so-called Christian preachers who tell people this stuff. They tell them that they can declare money into their accounts (and then pay the pastor, I suppose). They tell them they can declare health to themselves (though the Apostle Paul couldn’t heal himself of the thorn in his flesh and couldn’t heal Timothy of his stomach issues).

These false teachers are wolves. They prey upon our natural desire to have money and health. They’re snake-oil salesmen who claim to offer a power that only God work. Anyone who believes them commits idolatry.

So, do you think there actually is this power? Do you think God has warned us away from witches because they can tell the future and affect things magically? If so, consider this passage:

Set forth your case, says the LORD; bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob.

Let them bring them, and tell us what is to happen. Tell us the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, that we may know their outcome; or declare to us the things to come.

Tell us what is to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; do good, or do harm, that we may be dismayed and terrified.

Behold, you are nothing, and your work is less than nothing; an abomination is he who chooses you. Is. 41:21-24

The idols and the false prophets cannot tell the future. They cannot explain the past. They cannot do harm or terrify anyone. Their works are ‘less than nothing,’ and those who believe in them are an abomination.

Short version: God has all power and he doesn’t share it with idols and false prophets. Idolatry is ascribing the power or attributes of God to anything else.

Do Witches Actually Have Power?

President Trump has been targeted by witches. No, really. The hexing kind. Evidently, they will be casting ‘binding’ spells each month during a certain phase of the moon. I assume they used the term ‘binding’ to differentiate from all those spells they cast that don’t work? Just a thought.

So, they’ll march around, chanting against the President and I assume anything negative that happens will be claimed by these women as fulfilling their hex.

Rolling Stone has a story about this how Trump is awakening the rivalry between Christians and witches. CNN covered this story, too. It’s all over the place. I heard that, in some instances, Christians are marching with the witches. So, apparently the President is bringing people together, too.

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I’m wondering if that circle on a pole is the same as Ted Dekker’s “circle series” logo. Just a thought. Maybe.

Here’s my problem with this: Do people actually think witches are doing anything? If they are, then maybe we just need pails of water.

For a moment–just a moment–let’s consider what the Bible says about witches.

I Samuel 28:7-15 contains an account of King Saul when he sought the Lord’s guidance, but couldn’t get any answer:

Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.”

So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments and went, he and two men with him. And they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Divine for me by a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.”

The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the necromancers from the land. Why then are you laying a trap for my life to bring about my death?”

But Saul swore to her by the LORD, “As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.”

Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” He said, “Bring up Samuel for me.”

When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul.”

The king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.”

He said to her, “What is his appearance?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and paid homage.

Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.”

A little background: Saul had been killing witches to prove how righteous and obedient he was to God. Of course, God hadn’t commanded him to do that, he just threw it in. In fact, he’d openly disobeyed the command of God (while claiming to be obedient). Saul is an example of a worldly man, tall, powerful, good-looking, religious … but rebellious against God and cut off from God’s counsel.

He sought the Lord’s counsel when he was in trouble. The Philistines were surrounding him. His doom was sure. But when he sought the Lord, the Lord was silent.

At this point, he might have been humble and repented of his willful disobedience and sought the mercy and Grace that God offers to all. Instead, he seeks out a medium, or witch.

Remember I said Saul was killing them as he found them? That’s because the Law said they were to die. God warned His people that they were to have nothing to do with witches or mediums or sorcerers (Deut. 18:11-12, Lev. 20:27). They are an abomination to the Lord.

The key thing we should consider is this: Was God warning His people away from witches because they actually did things with magic? 

No. God warns us away from things that are false hope for us and dishonoring to Him. Our only hope is in Christ our Lord, not in empty incantations, moons, rituals and the like. Our purpose is to honor our Creator God. When we seek supernatural solutions from each other, believing we can be like God if we say certain words, kill certain animals, or invoke some spell under an alignment of the stars or phase of the moon, we’re blaspheming.

This is why I wrote the blog asking if God’s people should find Doctor Strange entertaining. Why would we find open depictions of sorcery entertaining? Do we find any other named sin entertaining? Maybe that’s a bad question to ask.

Back to the witches. They don’t affect anything with their words. Only God can curse or bless. His omnipotence is indisputable (though often hard to understand).

If we believe witches can invoke some curse against someone by saying words under a crescent moon, are we to believe this is outside of God’s sovereign rule of the cosmos?

Is God afraid of witches? What’s the qualification of witches, anyway? In movies and stories they need to find some object that imbues them with some special power. Or, perhaps they’re just born with it? Maybe they have a mole on their nose? Perhaps a special hat?

It’s absurd. They are to be pitied for actually believing in what they’re doing. And Christians should be ashamed for believing they have any power whatsoever. Rather, we should be treating them like the “good witch” in The Wizard of Oz and say, “Be gone, you have no power here.”

Or, to go back to the Bible (a far better source than the Wizard of Oz, by the way) we might consider Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

1Ki 18:27  And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”

1Ki 18:28  And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them.

Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal. They cried aloud, cut themselves, did all kinds of incantations and … nothing happened.

Was God stopping Baal from doing something? No. God didn’t have to stop Baal any more than parents have to stop the monster under their toddler’s bed.

Still not convinced? Take a look back at the incident of the witch at En-dor. When she called for Samuel, she cried out when Samuel rose up from the ground. She immediately realized that something different was occurring. She also realized that only Saul would want to talk to Samuel. She was first terrified that a spirit was really appearing in front of her (because she was used to doing cold-readings on people and making stuff up). Then, she was aware that only Saul would want to talk to Samuel, and Saul was killing witches.

This account tells us that spirits don’t rise or speak to mediums. This should be no surprise to anyone. How many exposes do we need to have on these spiritually sensitive charlatans before people realize that they’re all frauds. They’re not getting voices. They’re not in touch with the spirit world. They’re in touch with how to fool people and draw out details to fill in their spooky narrative.

President Trump has nothing to fear from the witches. Rather, he should fear the Lord. This is the same fear we should all have. We should never give more credit to the enemy than he deserves. Satan is far more clever and destructive than the obvious things like statues of Baphomet, witches marching on Washington, or even the Satanists with their spooky emblems and incantations.

Satan’s victory is getting people to believe that incantations and spells actually do anything. Satan wins when Christians believe that walking around a building seven times creates a blessing on that building. Or when Christians say things like, “this room is soaked in prayer,” as if we create spiritual energy by praying.

Satan wins when someone turns to Benny Hinn for healing. Satan wins when people follow a so-called minister who tells everyone he/she got a direct message from God (and it so happens to reinterpret or replace Scripture).

Remember, Satan is a defeated foe. His power is broken. His head has been crushed. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world (1John 4:4).