Are We Preparing for the Latter Rain?– Part XXXVI
A Sabbath-Keeping People (continued)
“THOU SHALT NOT MAKE UNTO THEE ANY GRAVEN IMAGE.” Read the whole second commandment as spoken and written by God’s own finger in Exodus 20: 4-6; Deuteronomy 5:8-10. Graven is from the Hebrew pecel andpacal, “carved (graven) images;” “to carve, whether wood or stone.” See the following verses on idolatry: Lev. 26:1, 2; Deut. 4: 15-19; Judges 17: 1-6; 2 Kings 17: 41; 2 Chronicles 34: 7; Psalms 78:58; Isaiah 40: 19, 20; Jer. 8: 19; Hosea 11: 12; Micah 5: 12-15; Nahum 1: 14; Habakkuk 2: 18, 19; Acts 17: 29; 1 Cor. 8: 1-13. The prophet says: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” 1 Samuel 15: 23, K.J.V.
“The second commandment forbids the worship of the true God by images or similitudes. Many heathen nations claimed that their images were mere figures or symbols by which the Deity was worshipped; but God has declared such worship to be sin. The attempt to represent the Eternal One by material objects would lower man’s conception of God. The mind, turned away from the infinite, perfection of Jehovah, would be attracted to the creature rather than to the Creator. And as his conceptions of God were lowered, so would men become degraded.” – Patriarchs & Prophets, Ellen G. White, p. 306.
The Bible, human and church history chronicles the fatal danger of “zeal not based on knowledge” (Rom. 10: 1-5) which inevitably breeds intolerance and condemnation of the people of non Christian religions such as Islam or polytheistic religions, as idolaters. And yet in God’s sight they are far guiltier because they have full and free access to the light of God’s word and His law but continue to be idolaters, as will see.
First, let all plead and allow the Holy Spirit work in us before He fully withdraws when His appointed work is fully accomplished as Christ’s vicegerent on earth. His appointed mission is to: comfort, impart grace, give godly sorrow that works repentance to salvation, convict, guide, enlighten, recall truths learned, “helps our infirmities for we know not what to pray for as we ought; but the Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8: 25); imparts wisdom to comprehend the deep things of God and discernment to detect counterfeits from the genuine; gives us the power to resist “making any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the waters under the earth” to “bow down and serve them.” This propensity for idolatry is one of the greatest weakness of our fallen, sinful nature—one of the most subtle and deadliest of Satan’s temptations.
While many no longer have images in their homes and churches which they used to venerate, Gentile religions still sadly do so late into earth’s history and the fault lies at the door of the churches for failing to enlighten them by living examples of this truth. Cain-like, they are guilty of still building spiritual “high places,” altars of worship of their own making.
The world and the churches today are almost wholly given over to the end-time forms of idolatry—“love of this world and the things of this world” (1 John 2: 15-17]—idols without and within such as: pride, selfishness, vanity, worldly honor and reputation, love of money and riches, cherished objects such as “overpowering and gushing love for human objects,” earthly possessions and treasures, appetite, lust, sinful habits, intemperance, houses, clothes, fashion, entertainment, life of selfish ease, addiction to stimulants including caffeine and tobacco; human opinions and institutions, philosophical idols and false doctrines–anything and anyone that replaces supreme love for God, assumes the form of an idol.
These must be expelled from the heart. Mere profession of faith and maintaining the “forms of godliness” may impress others, including self but these will not pass the searching scrutiny of the Searcher of the hearts. Jer. 17:10; Ps. 139: 23; Eccl. 12: 13, 14; Heb 4: 12, 13.
Self exaltation and will-worship dethrone God in the mind and heart and self rules even if we say we have accepted Christ and our names are enrolled in the church books. It is thus that self is our greatest enemy. This great temptation is deeply embedded in the first temptation. Satan, in disguise, said to Eve: “You will be like gods, knowing both good and evil.” Genesis 3.
Jesus, the divine Physician, diagnosed this spiritual malady to the Pharisees then, and now: “They that be whole need not a physician.” Matt. 9: 10-13; Mark 2: 17; Luke 5: 31.
“The most hopeless, the most incurable of all sins is pride, self sufficiency. This sin stands in the way of all advancement, all growth in grace. It has caused the ruins of thousands upon thousands of souls. A man may be a great sinner, but if he realizes that he has sinned against God, if he repents and confesses his sins [1 John 1: 9; Prov. 28: 13], and strives [Luke 13: 24; 2 Tim. 2: 5] to make restitution of the past, he will receive forgiveness. God declares, “Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.’ John 8: 37. His promise to the contrite, repentant soul is ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’ Isa. 1:18.
“But when a person is so filled with self-sufficiency that he cannot see his faults, how can he be cleansed from sin? ‘They that be whole need not a physician.’ How can a man improve when he thinks his ways are perfect? Self-sufficiency was the ruin of the leaders of Israel . They did not come to Christ [but faithfully went to their synagogues!], because they did not think they needed a Savior [from sin, Matt. 1: 21]. They refused to admit thatthey cherished sins which needed to be repented of and forsaken.
“We must have a knowledge of ourselves, a knowledge that results in contrition, before we can find pardon and peace. It is only he who knows himself to be a sinner that Christ can save. We must know our true condition, or we shall not feel our need for Christ’s help. We must understand our danger, for we shall not flee to the Refuge. We must feel the pain of our wounds, or we shall not desire healing.
“Human nature is ever struggling for expression. He who is made complete in Christ must first be emptied of pride, self-sufficiency. Then there is silence in the soul, and God’s voice can be heard. Then the Holy Spirit can find unobstructed entrance. Let God work in and through you. Then with Paul you can say, ‘I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me.’ [Gal. 2: 20]. But until self is laid in the altar, until we let the Holy Spirit mould and fashion us according to the divine similitude, we cannot reach God’s ideal for us.
“God will breath this life into every soul that dies to self. But entire self-renunciation is required. God accepts those who crucify self and makes them vessels unto honor [2 Tim. 2: 21; 1 Thess. 4: 4]. They are in His hands as the clay is to the Potter, and He works His will through them.” – E. G. White, “The Crucifixion of Self,” Signs of the Times, Apr. 9, 1902, p. 233.
The Idol Sabbath. – Since “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3: 23) and “All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isa. 53: 26) all sabbaths other than the only one which the Creator made for man, specified in His law, and He himself kept and magnified during His mission on earth as the Lord of the Sabbath, is a counterfeit. While many claim the first day “Christian sabbath,” Sunday, points to the first day of creation weekwhen light was created and to the glorious resurrection of Christ on the first day of the week “after the Sabbath,” neither events were commanded to be kept as the Sabbath–the memorial of creation. It is man-made and therefore, the idol-sabbath.
While mainstream Christianity claims that the Ten Commandments were done away with at the cross and that obedience to the moral law has been replaced by “grace-keeping,” the Papal Church hasn’t. It still maintains that it keeps the Ten Commandments. But what many are still unaware of is that she was prophesied as “the fourth beast, the fourth kingdom that shall “think (intend, N.K.J.V.) to change times and laws.”
Dan. 7:23-25. She removed the whole second commandment forbidding the making of images, leaving only nine but made it up by splitting into two the tenth commandment forbidding covetousness. But these do not fulfill the prophecy of Daniel. It is the changing of the fourth commandment—which alone contains time and identifies who God is. I quote from one of the original copies of an authoritative Catholic book, Faith of Our Fathers, which I have in my library [emphasis mine]:
“Third—A rule of faith, or a competent guide to heaven, must be able to instruct in all the truths necessary for salvation. Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths which a Christian is bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obliged to practice. Not to mention other examples, is not every Christian obliged to sanctify Sunday and to abstain on that day from unnecessary servile work? But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.”- James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore, Eighty-third Revised Edition, May 1, 1917, John Murphy Company, Baltimore, Maryland, p. 89. Here’s more:
“Did not the [Catholic] church have a right to change the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday? My priest showed me these words: ‘We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.” –Peter Geiermann, The Convert’s Cathechism of Catholic Doctrine, 1957 edition, p. 50. (Continued next week)