Those who fashion a graven image are all of them futile, and their precious things are of no profit; even their own witnesses fail to see or know, so that they will be put to shame. Who has fashioned a god or cast an idol to no profit? Behold, all his companions will be put to shame, for the craftsmen themselves are mere men. Let them all assemble themselves, let them stand up, let them tremble, let them together be put to shame. Is. 44:9-11 NASB
There are people in this world of ours whose lives are consumed with their idols which they have made for themselves. Some of these people, or perhaps many of them, have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and some of them may even be pastors, deacons and elders within our church congregations. Yet, they are “image-makers,” in the sense that what they portend about themselves is a lie. They are pretenders, actors in a play, whose goal it is to deceive and to take advantage of others who are not wise to their deceptive tricks. They especially prey on the innocent and the naïve.
They are fallen, immoral, bitter, liars, adulterers, haters, insolent, and corrupt. They are driven by the flesh, feeding only themselves, acting as though they are free in Christ while they are still bound in slavery to their sins. Their graven image is that of themselves as good, moral and upright, all the while they are living a lie, and are lying about the evil things they have done and are doing. They are sowing to please the flesh and not the Spirit, and they are sowing seeds of discord by the lies they tell others.
Is There Not a Lie?
They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend. No one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!” He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?” Is. 44:18-20 NASB
They will sometimes make a show of following the Lord in obedience, but they are still being controlled by the flesh. They may even hear the Lord speaking, and they may even begin to move his direction, but will stop short of full obedience, because that would mean revealing more about their lives than what they are willing to admit. They are not willing to leave it all behind to follow Jesus, but they put limits on what they will allow God to do in their hearts and lives. Thus, they are those who quench the Holy Spirit as soon as the Spirit of God gets too close to their idols which they are holding on to.
There is a phrase which describes this type of behavior, and it has to do with throwing someone a bone, which means “Do something to appease someone, typically by making a minor concession” (Oxford), while withholding something they are not willing to reveal or to own up to, i.e. “to provide (someone) with a usually small part of what has been requested, especially in an attempt to placate or mollify” (thefreedictionary).
But, we can’t throw God “a bone.” He is not interested in our minor concessions or confessions; with us only providing a small part of what He has requested. If we only confess a small portion, we are still living a lie, while holding out on God and what he has asked of us, which is death to sin and living to righteousness. He is not ok if we give him just a little bit of our lives. He wants it all, surrendered to him, on the altar, as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, which is our reasonable and acceptable worship of him.
“Remember these things, O Jacob,
And Israel, for you are My servant;
I have formed you, you are My servant,
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me.
“I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud
And your sins like a heavy mist.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Is. 44:21-22 NASB
Many of these people were brought up attending gatherings of the church or they are presently attending worship services with a local congregation. They go through the motions of religious exercise, but their hearts are far from God, and their worship of him is lip service only. They know the truth. They have heard and are hearing at least some of the truth.
Like I said, some of them may even be Bible teachers, pastors, deacons or elders within a local church fellowship. They are not lacking in knowledge, though, but they are lacking in obedience, for they have told God, “This far, but no farther!” They have said “No!” to the Spirit, and have held tight to their idols, their images of themselves, or their secret sins, and the lies they have told themselves and to others.
Many of them know the way of salvation from sin but have bought into the lie, instead, that allows them to keep sinning, or to not own up to sin, for they use God’s grace as a scapegoat to keep them from having to be honest about their sins, and to give them permission to hold on to their idols.
So, even though Jesus Christ died on that cross, and poured out his blood for us so that we could go free from our addictions to sin, many, although pretending to accept his sacrifice for their sins, shun his invitation to be cleansed of their sins and to have pure hearts and minds given over to the Lord to walk in his ways and in his truth. They want their idols more. They want the slave woman more than or in place of desiring the free woman. So, they say “No!” to God and they remain in their prisons still captive to their sin and not able to breathe the breath of life that is ours through faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord. For, they are still dead in their sins.
Let sleeping dogs lie
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb…
“It is I who says to the depth of the sea, ‘Be dried up!’
And I will make your rivers dry.”
Is. 44:24a, 27
These people who resist the Holy Spirit and who choose the lie over the truth, and their idols over God, and the slave woman over the free woman, because they are not willing to let go of their images they have made for themselves, are in deep water, i.e. they are in trouble, and one day God will judge them. My hope is always that, when they are judged by God, that they will repent of their sins, and that they will turn their hearts to Jesus Christ, even if it is the last minute as they are snatched from the fire and are saved.
But, we can’t force obedience in anyone. And, God does not force people to obey him, either, though certainly he will judge, and he will bring people down from their lofty positions. So, sometimes he lets sleeping dogs lie, and he turns them over to their own devices, hopefully to knock sense into their stubborn minds and wills. If people put their hand up to God and say “Stop!” he will stop trying to move them to obedience. And, he will let them go their own way and suffer the consequences for their rebellion and their bitterness.
But, we all have a choice, don’t we? We can either listen to God and obey him and do what he says to do, or we can resist him, and tell him “No.” We can either choose life, or choose death; the way of salvation from our sin, or enslavement to sin. When he shows us the way of salvation, though, we should take it, for only in him will we truly ever be free from our prisons.
Because He Lives
I was dead in the grave
I was covered in sin and shame
I heard mercy call my name
He rolled the stone away
Because He lives
I can face tomorrow
Because He lives
Every fear is gone
I know He holds my life my future in His hands
Friday, February 2, 2018, 5:03 p.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your word. Bring it home to our hearts, I pray, in Jesus’ name.