Let us examine ourselves this morning in light of the Second Commandment:
You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments (Ex. 20:4-6)The reason we are given this commandment is because the greatness and glory of God cannot be properly expressed by an image. An image necessarily distorts our understanding of God; it limits him; it debases him.
It is not likely, I suppose, that any of us are guilty of breaking this commandment by actually bowing down before a block of wood or stone carved into a physical representation of God. But then again, this isn’t the only way the commandment is capable of being broken.
The commandment is also broken when we willfully ignore or purposely distort the Bible’s teaching about God and his will for us, so that we conceive of him according to our own imagination. Someone once said, “In the beginning God created man after his own likeness; and then man promptly returned the favor.” It’s a humorous way of putting it, but it’s sadly true. We have a tendency to refashion God after our own likeness—to imagine that he is like us, that surely he must think like we do. In the 50th Psalm the Lord rebuked Israel, saying, “You thought that I was one like yourself” (v. 21).
And so I ask you, what is the source of your understanding about God? Is it the Scriptures? Or is it your own fallen reason? Or maybe your imagination or your wishful thinking? How do you conceive of God? And what is the source of your understanding of him?
Beloved people of God, we must be very careful to think of him only according to the way in which he has revealed himself in the Scriptures.