Idol-Forming Worry

If you put your concerns before God, it is a kind of idolatry. You don’t have to bow down before a brass idol to be an idolater.

Scripture: Acts 15:14, 1 Corinthians, Amos 9:11-12


Alright, thank you very much. And hello friends, How are you doing today? Trust everything’s okay at your house. Some of you already left your house haven’t you and you’re on way to work. But whatever you’re doing and however you’re feeling, do remember that the Lord knows about you, and He cares about you. Casting all your care upon Him, says Simon Peter, “For He careth for you.” The Lord Jesus said to his disciples, I’m sure with a smile one day when talking about little sparrows that were sold in the food market to the very poor people who would come for just a bite of some kind of meat, He would say, “Fear not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” And I suppose if we had been saying it today, we’d say, “You birds are more valuable than those little birds.” [chuckle] God cares about you friend, He knows about you, He loves you, look up today and trust Him. Well, let’s look into the Word of God. We’re in the Book of Acts, we’re in the 15th Chapter of that book. We’ve been looking at what James is saying, at the close of a rather long discussion based upon the idea presented by some people, that in order to be a true Christian, you had also to keep all of the Mosaic Law.

And they’ve been talking about this. They’ve established the fact that God is doing something among the Gentiles, that they are getting saved. Whatever’s going on, they are getting saved. And as a result, the focus was brought forth there that Salvation is by faith not by works, anyway, whether it be Jew or Gentile. Peter said this. He’d learned some big lessons, hadn’t he since before Calvary? Ah, yes. And now James is summing things up and he says in Verse 14, Simon declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name. Now, this is a fact, God did something, it’s an established fact, and no one’s going to dispute it. Second, he says that the Bible says something about this to disagree the words of the prophet, as it is written. “After this, I will return, will build again the Tabernacle of David, which is fallen down. I’ll set up… Build again, the ruins thereof, and I will set it up that the residue of men might seek after the Lord and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord who doeth all these things.” It’s a quotation from Amos Chapter 9 Verses 11 and 12. A couple of thoughts strike me here. James had marshalled his thoughts to the place where he knew what really bore upon the problem at hand, he had thought about the facts, he had also read his Bible.

When you’re going to come to a public meeting or to a committee meeting or whatever it may be, and try to approach a given problem, be sure that you have done your homework. I’ve been in many a meeting where somebody got up and spouted off, and his facts were inaccurate. He just didn’t know the score and somebody had to set him straight. I hope gently and say, “Now Brother, we appreciate your earnestness, but it would seem that the facts are these, and you’d have to set the facts straight.” And then, I’ve been in meetings where people, again, hadn’t done their homework and they tried to make a spiritual application that was skewed in the direction of their own ignorance of the Bible and it just didn’t add up. And again, somebody would have to say, “Well now, that’s a very good passage, but perhaps another passage here and here and here might have more bearing on the problem.” If you’re going to correct people do it very gently will you? This is something I need to learn, and re-learn, and re-learn. My opinions oftentimes arrived with hobnail boots on them, I’m afraid. How about you? But if you’re going to do this, it has to be done very gently and always say, “we,” don’t say, “you.” If you’re going to give praise say “you,” if you’re gonna give criticism say “we,” okay?

That’s a good idea, but I wonder if we haven’t forgotten something. Just remember the “we”, okay? I’ll give you a couple of little trade secrets here as we go on. Things that have worked for me through the years. Well, anyhow, I say, some people arrive at a meeting not having done their homework in terms of the facts, they just don’t know the score. They can’t really help too much. Other people who know the facts are mistaken perhaps in terms of what the Bible teaches about the facts and they too have become a source of distraction rather than a direction. James had both of these things, he knew the facts and he also knew the Scriptures. Now, this really is part of the illustration of what the Lord Jesus said when He remarked to people in His time on earth, He said, “You do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” Error, error comes from two sources, one, ignorance of the Scriptures, and two, ignorance of what God is doing or can do. You do err, He said, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. Two sources of error, one, ignorance of the Scriptures, two, ignorance of the power of God and what God can do or has done.

Now you see, how beautifully James fits into the positive side of this. He knew the power of God, and he knew the Scriptures, and so then he could bring his judgment and his opinion to the situation and do so helpfully. “Known unto God,” says he are all His works from the beginning of the world.” Other versions like the Living New Testament and Phillips and some of the rest put it this way, “God makes these things known who has planned His works from the beginning of the world.” I think that’s the way Phillips puts it. Let me look once and just make sure. May I? So I don’t lead you astray here by remembering something that I never forgot. [chuckle] Yes, he says, “Saith the Lord who maketh these things known from the beginning of the world,” yeah, I have got it right. That’s the way they put it. Well, you can have it either way, because it makes sense either way. It’s true, either way, “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.” Of course, he knows what he’s going to do. Of course, he’s planned from all eternity what He’s going to do. And of course, He’s made them known through the Word of God. So either way, it works all right.

“Saith the Lord who maketh these things known from the beginning of the world.” That’s the American Standard Version rendering of it. Okay, the point is, the point is God is doing something and God has revealed in His prophetic Scriptures the fact that He was going to do this, and He has planned to do it from the beginning of the world. Now, that’s the logic of what James is saying. Now, the third thing that he brings to this situation as I remarked to you the last time we got together is sanctified common sense. The best combination for solving any problem is get at the facts, what has God been doing. Second, get at the Scriptures, what does the Bible say. And third, what is the best common sense judgement you can bring to bear on the situation? You’ll find that you don’t go too far wrong with that kind of a combination. Leave out any one of those three factors, and it’s like trying to sit on a two legged milking stool, it just doesn’t stand up. So he says, “Wherefore, my opinion is, that we trouble not them which from among the Gentiles are turned to God, but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols.” There’s the first thing that every believer is going to be cautioned about, idolatry, second abstain from fornication.

The second thing that every believer is cautioned about is immorality and third from things strangled, and from blood. The third thing that every believer is gonna be cautioned about is unsafe and unhealthy practices of daily life and diet. Now, this is an interesting setup to me. Interesting because, they took the background of their own Jewish law, and they took out from it those things which generally are agreed upon all over the world, to this day, I mean. So that He says, “Abstain from idolatry, abstain from immorality, and protect your dietary practices, so that you’re not eating things that are bad for you.” It’s a pretty good idea isn’t it, when you stop to think of it? Of course. You know of course, that you wouldn’t buy meat at the butcher’s shop that hadn’t been properly bled, you know that. Why? Well, because that’s just a fact of the way life is, and it’s one of the basics and you can generalize from that, not only from that specific statement, but you can generalize from it, as being the point of view of a Christian, he’s going to try to eat that which is healthful to his body, which is the temple of the Holy Ghost.

And you’re not gonna take into your body those things which would not be good for it, right? Well then, he says, “Here’s my opinion,” he said, “Let’s not put a yoke on the neck of these believers, let’s not trouble them, bother them, upset them. Let’s just encourage them in the faith and tell them that there are certain guidelines that everybody ought to adhere to. One is, stay away from idols. Now idolatry is putting anything or anybody first before God. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” It is a form of idolatry to put things and the money to buy them before God. The Lord Jesus was cautioning about that in Matthew Chapter 6 from which I just quoted. It is idolatry to put worries before God. He says, “Why do you worry about things, because you can’t by worrying either turn your hair white or black or you can’t add one cubit to your stature, you can’t change the facts of life by worry, so why do it?” But the point is, if you put your concerns before God, it’s a kind of idolatry, you don’t have to bow down before a brass idol to be an idolater.

Money and the things to buy them worries and the things about which we worry, are a kind of idolatry, isn’t it true? Pleasure and the way to achieve it, is a kind of idolatry if it comes before God. Anything or anybody that is first before God is idolatry. Okay, he said, “Now this is something you want to watch. Stay away from idolatry. Stay away, in other words, from anything that would take the place of God as first place in your life.” A pretty good advice, wouldn’t you say? Second, he says, “Stay away from immorality.” Why? Well, because Paul points out in 1 Corinthians, that when you sin in your body immorally, fornication and adultery in other words, and all of the forms of sexual sin and perversion that were and are known in that day and in our day, we’re quite parallel actually, to the culture in which these words were written. Okay, any of these sins in the body really are sins against the Holy Spirit of God because He lives in that body. He said, “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?” Shall I take the members then of God, and the temple of God and make them a partner in sex sin? He said, “Oh God, forbid.” He said, “I don’t wanna do that. You grieve the Spirit of God, and insult Him that way.

So they said, “Stay away from immorality.” Why? Because the Holy Ghost is living in your body and you grieve Him when you do that. You know this yourself, I don’t have to tell you that. When you’ve gotten in wrong either by thought or word or deed, you know, the poor, sick, hurt feeling you have in your own heart, that’s the Spirit of God grieved, because you’ve insulted Him by de-filing his temple. “Don’t do it”, they said. Then they said, now, the matters of diet, just use the common sense that Moses has laid out, and if you abstain from things strangled and from blood, you’ll do well. A pretty good idea, a pretty good idea for a general layout of how to get along in this world in your Christian life. So far as the guidelines of what to do and what not to do, wouldn’t you say? Now, let’s pray.

Dear Father, I do pray that God Himself will be honored and glorified in what we say, what we do, all of the habits of our lives and all of our relationships with people today. I ask in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen. Amen, God bless you dear friend all the way.

That’s all for now, till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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