The bible makes it clear we are to avoid idols. Sometimes the distinction between an idol and an image becomes distorted. We have to be very careful because we could be touching the unclean thing and in doing so we become unclean. The disgusting thing as you will see is false worship especially idolatry.
(2 Corinthians 6:16-18) 16 And what agreement does God’s temple have with idols? For we are a temple of a living God; just as God said: “I will reside among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 “‘Therefore, get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing’”; “‘and I will take you in.’” 18 “‘And I will become a father to you, and you will become sons and daughters to me,’ says Jehovah, the Almighty.. . .
We are told to flee from idols and to guard ourselves from them.
(1 Corinthians 10:14) 14 Therefore, my beloved ones, flee from idolatry. . .
(1 John 5:21) 21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols. . .
We are told to not bow down to images because God requires exclusive devotion.
(Isaiah 42:8) 8 I am Jehovah. That is my name; I give my glory to no one else, Nor my praise to graven images. . .
(Exodus 34:12-14) 12 Be careful that you do not make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you are going, or it may prove to be a snare among you. 13 But you are to pull down their altars, you are to shatter their sacred pillars, and their sacred poles you are to cut down. 14 You must not bow down to another god, for Jehovah is known for requiring exclusive devotion. Yes, he is a God who requires exclusive devotion. . .
If we have faith then we do not need images because God is a spirit and we must worship in spirit. True faith requires us to focus on the things we cannot see, not the earthly and material things.
(2 Corinthians 4:17, 18) 17 For though the tribulation is momentary and light, it works out for us a glory that is of more and more surpassing greatness and is everlasting; 18 while we keep our eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen. For the things seen are temporary, but the things unseen are everlasting. . .
(2 Corinthians 5:6, 7) 6 So we are always of good courage and know that while we have our home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, 7 for we are walking by faith, not by sight. . .
These idols or graven images are an identifying mark of false worship. In order to flee from false worship we must learn to identify when an image is just an image and when it is being used in a way that would offend God. Idol worship can take many forms as I will do my best to show the many forms it can take.
(Isaiah 21:9) 9 Look at what is coming: Men in a war chariot with a team of horses!” Then he spoke up and said: “She has fallen! Babylon has fallen! All the graven images of her gods he has shattered to the ground!”
(Jeremiah 51:52) “Therefore look! the days are coming,” declares Jehovah, “When I will turn my attention to her graven images, And throughout all her land the wounded will groan
If we do not want to share in Babylons destruction we must learn to avoid the images that could deceive us into worshiping with Babylon not only that but we could be afflicted with the same distorted viewpoints of Babylon in which Jehovah declares has made the nations go mad.
(Jeremiah 51:6, 7) 6 Flee out of the midst of Babylon, And escape for your life. Do not perish because of her error. For it is the time for Jehovah’s vengeance. He is paying her back for what she has done. 7 Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of Jehovah; She made all the earth drunk. From her wine the nations have drunk; That is why the nations have gone mad.
Idol worship caused God to abandon Israel into the hands of Assyria.
(2 Kings 17:7-15) 7 This happened because the people of Israel had sinned against Jehovah their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the control of Pharʹaoh king of Egypt. They worshipped other gods, 8 they followed the customs of the nations that Jehovah had driven out from before the Israelites, and they followed the customs that the kings of Israel had established. 9 The Israelites were pursuing the things that were not right according to Jehovah their God. They kept building high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city. 10 They kept setting up for themselves sacred pillars and sacred poles on every high hill and under every luxuriant tree; 11 and on all the high places they would make sacrificial smoke just as the nations did that Jehovah had driven into exile from before them. They kept doing wicked things to offend Jehovah. 12 They continued to serve disgusting idols, about which Jehovah had told them: “You must not do this!” 13 Jehovah kept warning Israel and Judah through all his prophets and every visionary, saying: “Turn back from your wicked ways! Keep my commandments and my statutes according to all the law that I commanded your forefathers and that I sent to you through my servants the prophets.” 14 But they did not listen, and they remained just as stubborn as their forefathers who had not shown faith in Jehovah their God. 15 They continued rejecting his regulations and his covenant that he had made with their forefathers and his reminders that he had given to warn them, and they kept following worthless idols and became worthless themselves, imitating the nations all around them that Jehovah had commanded them not to imitate.
So we will discuss what makes an image an idol in God’s eyes and how we can avoid them. This is taken from the Watchtower Societies Insight books.
*** it-1 p. 1167 Idol, Idolatry ***
An idol is an image, a representation of anything, or a symbol that is an object of passionate devotion, whether material or imagined. Generally speaking, idolatry is the veneration, love, worship, or adoration of an idol. It is usually practiced toward a real or supposed higher power, whether such power is believed to have animate existence (as a human, an animal, or an organization) or is inanimate (as a force or lifeless object of nature). Idolatry generally involves some form, ceremony, or ritual.
The Hebrew terms used to refer to idols often highlighted the origin and inherent worthlessness of idols, or they were derogatory terms of contempt. Among these are words rendered “carved or graven image” (literally, something carved out); “molten statue, image, or idol” (literally, something cast or poured out); “horrible idol”; “vain idol” (literally, vanity); and “dungy idol.” “Idol” is the usual rendering of the Greek word eiʹdo·lon.
God made it very clear to the Israelites that they were to make no images to be used in their worship of him. He also made it clear man could not adequately make an image that would represent him.
(Exodus 20:4, 5) 4 “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. 5 You must not bow down to them nor be enticed to serve them, for I, Jehovah your God, am a God who requires exclusive devotion, bringing punishment for the error of fathers upon sons, upon the third generation and upon the fourth generation of those who hate me,
(Deuteronomy 4:15, 16) “Therefore, watch yourselves closely—since you did not see any form on the day Jehovah spoke to you in Horʹeb out of the middle of the fire— 16 that you may not act corruptly by making for yourselves any carved image having the form of any symbol, the representation of male or female,
(Isaiah 40:25) “To whom can you liken me to make me his equal?” says the Holy One.
(Acts 17:29) “Therefore, since we are the children of God, we should not think that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone, like something sculptured by the art and design of humans
There is a time God had Israel make an image. They were to look at the image. One could speculate because they most likely developed a deep fear of serpents that looking at the image of one would fill you full of fear unless you had faith that God would heal you. But later the image had to be destroyed because they had crossed the line from looking at the image to worshiping it.
(Numbers 21:7-9) . . .with Jehovah so that he may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded on behalf of the people. 8 Then Jehovah said to Moses: “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and put it on a pole. Then when anyone has been bitten, he will have to look at it in order to keep alive.” 9 Moses at once made a serpent of copper and put it on the pole, and whenever a serpent had bitten a man and he looked at the copper serpent, he survived. . .
(2 Kings 18:1-6) 18 In the third year of Ho·sheʹa the son of Eʹlah the king of Israel, Hez·e·kiʹah the son of King Aʹhaz of Judah became king. 2 He was 25 years old when he became king, and he reigned for 29 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Aʹbi the daughter of Zech·a·riʹah. 3 He kept doing what was right in Jehovah’s eyes, just as David his forefather had done. 4 He was the one who removed the high places, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the sacred pole. He also crushed the copper serpent that Moses had made; for down to that time the people of Israel had been making sacrificial smoke to it and it used to be called the copper serpent-idol. 5 He trusted in Jehovah the God of Israel; there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah after him nor among those prior to him. 6 He held fast to Jehovah. . .
Israel fell into the trap of using an image in their worship. They even justified it by saying that it was in celebration to Jehovah. You can clearly see the similarities between what occurred in the past and what is occurring now with many of the traditional holidays that they claim is to honor God.
(Exodus 32:5, 6) 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. Then Aaron called out: “There is a festival to Jehovah tomorrow.” 6 So they got up early on the next day and began offering up burnt offerings and presenting communion sacrifices. After that the people sat down to eat and drink. Then they got up to have a good time. . .
(Exodus 32:8) 8 They have quickly deviated from the way I commanded them to go. They have made for themselves a statue of a calf, and they keep bowing down to it and sacrificing to it and saying, ‘This is your God, O Israel, who led you up out of the land of Egypt. . .
(Jeremiah 10:1-10) 10 Hear the word that Jehovah has spoken against you, O house of Israel. 2 This is what Jehovah says: “Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Because the nations are terrified by them. 3 For the customs of the peoples are a delusion. It is just a tree of the forest that is cut down, Worked by the hands of the craftsman with his tool. 4 They adorn it with silver and gold And fasten it with hammer and nails so that it will not fall over. 5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, they cannot speak; They have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not fear them, for they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good.” 6 No one is like you, O Jehovah. You are great, and your name is great and mighty. 7 Who should not fear you, O King of the nations, for it is fitting; Because among all the wise ones of the nations and among all their kingdoms, There is no one at all like you. 8 They are all unreasoning and stupid. Instruction from a tree is an utter delusion. 9 Silver plates are imported from Tarʹshish and gold from Uʹphaz, The work of a craftsman, of the hands of a metalworker. Their clothing is blue thread and purple wool. They are all made by skilled workers. 10 But Jehovah is truly God. He is the living God and the eternal King. Because of his indignation the earth will quake, And no nations will endure his denunciation.
Many will be misled and fall because of their refusal to abandon idol worship and accept pure worship that is right in God’s eyes.
(Revelation 9:20, 21) 20 But the rest of the people who were not killed by these plagues did not repent of the works of their hands; they did not stop worshipping the demons and the idols of gold and silver and copper and stone and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders nor of their spiritistic practices nor of their sexual immorality nor of their thefts.
Greed takes many forms whether it is greed for power, money or material things, it can become a form of idolism if we leave it take president over spiritual things. Sexual imorality can also be considered a form of idolism if we let it overtake us. Even hurtful desires that can bring emotional , spiritual or physical harm to others can be a form of idolism.
(Colossians 3:5-11) 5 Deaden, therefore, your body members that are on the earth as respects sexual immorality, uncleanness, uncontrolled sexual passion, hurtful desire, and greediness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of those things the wrath of God is coming. 7 That is how you too used to conduct yourselves in your former way of life. 8 But now you must put them all away from you: wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech, and obscene talk out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another. Strip off the old personality with its practices, 10 and clothe yourselves with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, foreigner, Scythʹi·an, slave, or freeman; but Christ is all things and in all. . .
King Solomon eventually fell into idolism because he associated with and got involved with those from the nations who participated in it. This shows the dangers of even associating with ones who participate in forms of idolism.
(1 Kings 11:3, 4) 3 And he had 700 wives who were princesses and 300 concubines, and his wives gradually inclined his heart. 4 In Solʹo·mon’s old age, his wives inclined his heart to follow other gods, and his heart was not complete with Jehovah his God like the heart of David his father. . .
(2 Kings 23:12-15) . . .. 13 And the king made unfit for worship the high places in front of Jerusalem that were to the south of the Mount of Ruination, which Solʹo·mon the king of Israel had built to Ashʹto·reth the disgusting goddess of the Si·doʹni·ans; and to Cheʹmosh the disgusting god of Moʹab; and to Milʹcom the detestable god of the Amʹmon·ites. 14 He broke the sacred pillars to pieces and cut down the sacred poles and filled their places with human bones. 15 He also tore down the altar in Bethʹel, the high place that Jer·o·boʹam the son of Neʹbat had made that caused Israel to sin. After tearing down that altar and the high place, he burned the high place, ground it to dust, and burned the sacred pole. . .
We know that God requires exclusive devotion. Having wealth or material possessions is not wrong. God even blessed those who put true worship first with wealth at times. We are in the last days so Satan and his peoples attacks will be severe for those who pursue true worship but we cannot leave that wear us down and get us to give in to those devoted to destruction who have been deceived by what this system has to offer. We need to keep in mind this is all temporary and will be done away with very soon. We cannot slave for two masters, we either slave for our heavenly father Jehovah or for Satan and his system of things which is temporary and will be gone very soon.
(Exodus 34:14) You must not bow down to another god, for Jehovah is known for requiring exclusive devotion. Yes, he is a God who requires exclusive devotion.
(Matthew 13:22) As for the one sown among the thorns, this is the one hearing the word, but the anxiety of this system of things and the deceptive power of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
(Luke 16:13) No servant can be a slave to two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves to God and to Riches.”
Those who get involved in idolatry will not be a part of the Heavenly Kingdom which is gong to restore the earth to the glory that it was meant to be and will fulfilled the command given to Adam and Eve and that was to fill the earth and spread the paradise like garden through the entire earth.
(Ephesians 5:5) 5 For you know this, recognizing it for yourselves, that no sexually immoral person or unclean person or greedy person, which means being an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of the Christ and of God.
Here is a link to even better information on why we should not use images in our worship. If you search for idolatry you can get a much clearer picture on how to avoid it. Many use the cross in their worship which is a form of idolatry.
Jesus did not scratch peoples itchy ears and just as in times past I know my post will anger those with hardened hearts, the apostles also angered those with hardened hearts. We must shake the dust from our feet and keep going forward the rest is between the one receiving the message and God.