Your Conviction Will Be Tested (1)
IT is often easy to make very lofty claims about our faith in God, until we face a stiff test to prove our conviction. This is where many people buckle under, and literally speaking, eat their own words. The Jews, while in captivity in Babylon, faced such a test, when “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold” and commanded that everyone should “fall down and worship the golden Image.” He threatened that “whosoever falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” He boastfully asked the worshippers of the true God: “and who is that God that shall deliver you out my hands?” (verses 1, 5, 6, 15).
Despite His great testimony and public affirmation of the true God at the end of the second chapter (Daniel 2:47- 49) Nebuchadnezzar was still a sinner, an idolatrous sinner, a proud sinner, a great sinner, a blasphemous sinner, an open and flagrant sinner, a cruel and wicked sinner, an unashamed, unpretending sinner. Public testimonies only go so far, but often, not far enough to reveal genuine conversion.
True believers must not be deceived and we must not take every public confession of Christ as an unmistakable sign of genuine conversion. There are many who “have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof”, many who “profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” There are many who claim to “believe in His Name,” but Jesus will “not commit Himself unto them, because He knows what is in man.” Many, indeed, have “a name that thou livest, and art dead.” “They feared the LORD, and served their own gods … Unto this day they do after the former manners.” Many of these religious sinners will deceive themselves and also deceive others until the final day of reckoning. They would proclaim, “Lord, Lord”, but Jesus Christ will declare to them, “I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 1: 16; John 2:23-25; Revelation 3:2; 2 Kings 17:33, 34; Matthew 7:21-23). Nebuchadnezzar’s earlier emotional public declaration was superficial. Most Christians would have been deceived by such declarations and testimonies today. We must be watchful and “try the spirits whether they are of God” lest we fill the church with hypocritical, idolatrous sinners.
Idolatry is consistently and severely condemned in the Word of God. Both the Old Testament and The New Testament condemn it. It is an abomination to God and all unrepentant idol worshippers will be punished in the eternal lake of fire forever. Idolatry is vain and foolish, unprofitable and defiling. Idolatry is substituting anything or anyone for the true God, worshipping something or someone instead of the only true and living God. Taking the whole Biblical revelation into consideration, idolatry consists of making images to represent God, bowing down to and worshipping images, sacrificing to idols and devils, serving, worshipping, swearing by, fearing, speaking in the name of other gods, worshipping angels, worshipping the hosts of heaven, worshipping devils, worshipping dead men and enquiring from spirits of dead men. These forms of idolatry can be noticed through their outward or external activities of worship but idolatry may be internal, too.
There are men who “set up their idols in their heart” (Ezekiel 14:3). This internal form of idolatry, loving anything – money, men or material things – above God, is severely condemned by God and will be judged by God as severely as all other forms of idolatry. “The love of money is the root of all evil” and “covetousness, which is idolatry” ensures that “the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience” (1 Timothy 6:10; Colossians 3:5,6).
Nebuchadnezzar set up an image of gold and commanded all the citizens of Babylon and the captives from Judah to worship it.
He was the king, ruler and benefactor. He had trained, employed and promoted some of the Jews. He had provided them some material resources; now he wanted to bring them and everyone else under the control of a unifying, idolatrous state religion. Rulers, employers and political leaders who give us jobs sometimes also offer us their idolatrous or occultic religion. We must know where to draw the line. We work and make our daily living under an employer without ever bringing our souls into the bondage of idolatry or occultism.
Further Reading (King James Version): Daniel 3:1-3; Exodus 20: 1-5,23; Deuteronomy 7:25; 12:29-32; Hosea 8:3-6; Habakkuk 2:18-20 Matthew 4:8-10; Acts 15:28,29; 17:29-31; Romans 1:21-28; Revelation 9: 20, 21; 21:8.