The Second Commandment is, “You shall not make for yourself any carved image” (Exodus 20:4). This command means that we shouldn’t make a god to suit ourselves, either with our hands or with our minds. Someone once said that God created man in His image, and man has been returning the favor ever since. Most of us are guilty of fashioning a god in our own image. Our god doesn’t mind lust, or a fib here and there. He doesn’t have any moral dictates. In truth, our god doesn’t exist. He is a figment of our imagination, shaped to conform to our sins.
We are also guilty of idolatry when we picture God as a benevolent Santa Claus figure who dispenses good things and won’t punish us for our sins, believing that He is too loving to send anyone to Hell. But consider what the Bible reveals about our Creator. The book of Genesis tells us that God killed a man because He didn’t like his sexual activities. He commanded Joshua to kill every Canaanite man, woman, and child, without mercy. He drowned the whole human race, except for Noah and his family, in the Flood. He killed a man for merely touching the Ark of the Covenant. In the New Testament, He killed a husband and wife because they told one lie. That God is not so easy to snuggle up to.
“Most of us are guilty of fashioning a god in our own image. Our god doesn’t mind lust, or a fib here and there. He doesn’t have any moral dictates. In truth, our god doesn’t exist. He is a figment of our imagination, shaped to conform to our sins.”
Rather than wondering why God would kill a couple for telling a lie, we should ask, “Why didn’t God kill me when I lied for the first time?” God simply treated them according to their sins. When we did wrong for the first time and didn’t get struck by lightning, we concluded that God didn’t see or didn’t care about what we did. With our erroneous image of God, we became bolder in our sin. For that reason, idolatry is perhaps the greatest of sins because it allows us to engage in unrestrained evil.
If we caught a true revelation of our Creator, we would fall flat on our faces in terror. We tend to want to steer clear of these thoughts when it comes to teaching our children about God, but we should instead do the opposite, and instill in them a healthy fear of God.
“Idolatry is perhaps the greatest of sins because it allows us to engage in unrestrained evil.”
Drop the Egg
To help your children understand the nature of God and His Moral Law, talk to them about some of God’s natural laws. Call your kids over to the refrigerator and take out an egg. Then, while they are watching, drop it onto the kitchen floor. I know what you are thinking: I can’t drop an egg on the floor! Yes, you can; it’s easy. Your children will forget the thousands of eggs that you carefully handled, but I am sure they will remember this one because it was deliberately dropped. Perhaps even in years to come, each time they take an egg from the refrigerator they will remember the valuable lesson they learned this day.
Maybe you are frugal, or you are a neat freak like me, but drop the egg anyway. It will be worth the cost and the mess (let the dog lick it up). Go on. Drop it. Let Humpty Dumpty fall.
Now ask your children why the egg broke. Ask what would happen to us if we jumped out of a plane without a parachute and landed on the ground. Many an optimistic, shallow-thinking skydiver has ended up like the egg on the floor, because he was foolish enough to toy with the invisible law of gravity. His cheap thrill cost him his life.
Explain the law of gravity to your kids. Look up “gravity” on the Internet or in a book, and then relate it to God as the Creator of the natural laws. Remind them of the fate of the egg, and let their eyes widen a little at the thought of transgressing its precepts.
The consequences for breaking gravitational or electrical laws are fearful. But they pale in the shadow of transgressing the eternal Moral Law of God. My feeble words can’t express what God is like, but His Law gives us insight into His holy nature. The Law reveals utter holiness, supreme righteousness, and absolute truth. God has a terrifying and violent passion for justice. The Israelites were terrified when God spoke to them on Mount Sinai—and at the time He was merely giving them the Law, not revealing His anger when they broke its commands.
What has your own understanding of God been like? Do you tremble at the very thought of His power and holiness? Have you seen Him in the light of the Holy Scriptures, or have you made up a god to suit yourself? If it’s the latter, then you are guilty of idolatry and you don’t want to lead your children into the same fatal error. The Law’s sentence for idolatry is death, and according to the Scriptures, no idolater will enter the kingdom of Heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9,10). Ask your children if they have ever been guilty of this sin.
Excerpted from How to Bring Your Children to Christ…& Keep Them There (Genesis Publishing Group).