Tag Archives: 2 Corinthians 6:17

Remove The Idols

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Exodus 20:1-6 NKJV    

“And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image- any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.’ ” 

          We serve a jealous God. Jealous mean requiring complete loyalty or faithfulness. He will not share you with anyone or anything. He requires that you are loyal to Him and that you are faithful to Him. In order to draw close to God (and be intimate with Him) you must remove the idols in your life. You must be faithful and loyal to Him and to Him alone. You must not play the part of a harlot.

2 Kings 18:4  NKJV    

“He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke to pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan.”

          Hezekiah called for the people to remove all the idols that they (corporately and individually) had erected. He called for them to remove the high places, to break the scared pillars, to cut down the wooden images, and break (and utterly destroy) the bronze serpent.

I. Remove The  High Places:

Hezekiah removed the high places. Like Hezekiah, we must remove all the ‘high places’ in our lives. A high place was a place of worship on a hill or on a platform in a temple. The Canaanites usually built their places of worship on a hill. They considered the high places a gateway between them and heaven. It was their ‘way’ to their god. Some Israelites began to use these same places to worship God. The people used the high places to worship God, Baal and Asherah all at the same time. Trying to mix the two types of worship (true and false) together eventually led to idolatry.

The kings before Hezekiah had failed to destroy the high places. The high places had been allowed to remain.

2 Kings 15:34-35  NKJV    

“And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord; he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done. However the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.”

          When you know that God is calling you to turn toward Him and worship Him and you refuse to get rid of  the things that He is telling you to, you are allowing “high places” to stay in your life. You are defiling yourself. When you defile something you make it filthy or dirty, you destroy the purity or cleanness of it, you stain or dishonor it or you violate it.

Ezekiel 20:30  NKJV   

  “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: ‘Are you defiling yourselves in the manner of your fathers, and committing harlotry according to their abominations?’ ”

          God does not desire for you to defile your worship to Him. You cannot minister to the Lord (or serve Him) and dabble with sin at the same time. You cannot serve two masters.

Matthew 6:24  NKJV   

  “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

          When we began to mix the things of the world with our worship to God it can lead to idolatry in our lives. God has called us to be separate and to destroy all the ‘high places’ in our lives. We are not to compromise our worship with sinful values or practices. We must maintain integrity in all parts of our lives, including our worship.

2 Corinthians 6:17 NKJV    

“Therefore

Come out from among them

And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean,

And I will receive you.

I will be a Father to you,

And you shall be My sons and daughters,

Says the Lord Almighty.”

          The Israelites used the excuse that they did not have a place to worship God in order to use the high places.

I Kings 3:2  NKJV    

“Meanwhile the people sacrificed at the high places, because there was no house built for the name of the Lord until those days.”

          The high places were defiled and therefore not an acceptable place for worship for God. God had specifically told the people (in the Ten Commandment) that He would not accept defiled worship. The people tried to justify (defend, to make right) their sinful actions. God tells us that obedience is better than sacrifice. Sincerity (freedom from pretense or deceit; honesty) and obedience (doing what one is told, submission to authority) are the prerequisites for worship that pleases God.   Disobedience in our worship is idolatry because we are putting our will before God’s will.

1 Samuel 15:22  NKJV   

“So Samuel said: ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,

As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,

And to heed than the fat of rams.’ ”

          Today people still try to justify their sin. As long as we dabble with high places (mix the things of the world with our worship to God) we will set ourselves up for pain, trouble and eventually judgment. Denying God’s authority (even concerning worship) always has consequences.

Leviticus 26:30  NKJV   

  “I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you.”

Psalm 78:58  NKJV     “For them provoked Him to anger with their high places And moved Him to jealousy with their carved images.”

          Before entering the land that God had promised the Israelites, they were instructed to abolish all the high places where idols were worshiped.

Numbers 33:52  NKJV    

“Then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places.”

          We too, must abolish (do away with, put an end to) all the ‘high places’ if we want all that God desires for us. The Canaanites thought that their ‘high places’ would lead them to their god- it was their pathway to their god. Today there are many people that are trying to reach God through many different ways, other than the pathway that God has given us.

John 14:6  NKJV    

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

          High places are ‘footholds’ that you allow the enemy to have in your life.

II. Break the sacred pillars:

Monuments dedicated to one of the pagan gods were referred to as sacred pillars. The pagans believed that the false gods had power concerning fertility. The sacred pillars were objects for idolatrous worship and behavior. When God was renewing the covenant with Moses, He instructed the people to break down the sacred pillars.

Exodus 34:13-14  NKJV    

“But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images. (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God)”

Deuteronomy 12:3  NKJV    

“And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wood images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place.”

          God prohibits us from setting up sacred pillars in our lives.

Deuteronomy 16:22  NKJV   

  “You shall not set up as a sacred pillar, which the Lord your God hates.”

          We are not to try to rely on (depend on, put our trust in) things for the power that only God has. Sacred pillars come in many different forms. Some may be people, money, jobs, or self. Anything that you depend on, or put your trust in, other than God is a sacred pillar that you have erected in your life.

Psalm 62:11  NKJV   

  “God has spoken once,

Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God.”

Revelation 19:1  NKJV    

“After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,

‘Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!’ ”

III. Cut down the wooden images:

Wooden images were poles or trees dedicated to the goddess Asherah. They were used as a representation of fertility gods.

Deuteronomy 16:21  NKJV   

  “You shall not plant any tree, as a wooden image, near the altar which you build for yourself to the Lord your God.”

          The wooden images were statues representing false gods. God has instructed us in His Word not to make images to worship.

Exodus 20:4-5  NKJV   

  “You shall not make for yourself a carved image- any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them…”

          Wooden images were substitutes for God. Religion is a ‘wooden image’. There are many people that use religion as a substitute for a relationship with Jesus Christ. They go to church, they do all the right things, but their heart condemns them. They worship religion  (or going to church, praise and worship, fellowship with others, being seen) instead of the Lord.

We must remove everything that distracts us from worshiping the one and only living God. We must remove the ‘wooden images’ (substitutes for God) from our lives and prepare our hearts to seek the Lord.

2 Chronicles 19:3  NKJV   

  “Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your hearts to seek God.”

          What have we dedicated our lives to, religion or relationship?

IV. Shatter the bronze serpent:

We must never allow symbols or objects (or things that God gives us) to become something that we worship.

Numbers 21:8-9 NKJV   

  “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when they looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.”

          The people had taken something that God had instructed them to make (the brass snake) for a specific purpose and they began to worship it instead of God. After a period of time the people began to look only to the brass snake instead of God. The brass snake became an idol. Many people do the same things today. They put things, people and programs (works) before God. The people sought healing, but they did not seek the Great Physician. The same can be said of some people today. They seek things other than the true and living God.

Some people seek healing, but they don’t seek the Healer.

Some people seek deliverance, but they don’t seek the Deliverer.

Some people seek finances, but they don’t seek the Provider.

Some people seek blessings, but they don’t seek the One Who Blesses.

Conclusion:

We must remove all the high places, scared pillars, wooden image, and  bronze serpents in our lives and in our churches. We are not to have anything in our lives that will distract us from exclusively worshiping the living God. If we are desperate for a relationship with the Lord, and if we are desperate for a habitation of His presence, then we must remove all the idols (anything that you receive your strength from or give your strength to other than the Lord / anything that you put before God) in our life.  Worship of the one and only true God must not be mixed with any pagan ritual or reminder of paganism.

Deuteronomy 12:1-4  NKJV    

“These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wood images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things.”

          If you are desperate for more of the Lord or a deeper intimacy with Him you to must remove the ‘high places’ in your life (you must use the pathway that God had provided), break down your scared pillars (don‘t rely on the things of this world for the power that only God has), cut down the images you have erected in your life (remove the substitutes for God in your life), and shatter all idols (get rid of the things that take the place of God).

Josiah wanted a deeper relationship with the God of his father David. He knew the type of relationship that David had with God and he desired the same thing.

2 Chronicles 34:1-6  NKJV   

  “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, and the carved images, and the molded images. They broke down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars which were above them he cut down; and the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images he broke in pieces, and made dust of them and scattered it on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. And so he did in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, as far as Naphtali and all around, with axes.”

           The Bible tells us that Josiah walked in the ways of David. Josiah sought God with all his heart, then he began to remove all the high places, wooden images, carved images, altars, and molded images from all the surrounding areas. Everyplace that the enemy had gained a foothold (through idolatry) was destroyed.

2 Chronicles 34:7  NKJV   

  “When he had broken down the altars and the wooden images, had beaten the carved images into powder, and cut down all the incense altars throughout the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.”

        We too, must seek God, remove all the idols/altar/images from our lives and return to Jerusalem (a place of true worship). We must be faithful and loyal to God. Our intimate relationship with the Lord must not be defiled by idolatry. Spiritual adultery is just as much a sin as physical adultery. We are the bride of Christ and we must act like it.

Hebrew 13:4  NKJV    

“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”

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Shepherds

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Shepherds

hard places - Copy      Shepherds

          A shepherd is a man who takes care of, protects, and guides sheep. Sheep without a shepherd wander, get lost, encounter predators and even die. God chose Moses to be the shepherd over His people. Moses was to lead them in their journey to the promised land. Toward the end of Moses’ life, he ask God to give them a new shepherd. One that would take his place after his death.

Numbers 27:15-17  NKJV

“Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying: ‘Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.”                             

 

     In this country we see less and less spiritual leaders that exhibit selfless, sacrificial service. A true shepherd, according to the Word of God, does not put themselves or their needs, wants or desires above the flock that has been entrusted to them. Godly leadership is not self-serving. A true shepherd does not seek to gain position or wealth at the expense of the flock.

Ezekiel 34:1-4  NKJV

“And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: ‘Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.’ ” 

          A true shepherd will seek to serve, not to be served. Jesus is the greatest example of a True Shepherd. A true shepherd knows his position and his power, however he does not flaunt it over those that he is leading. He chooses to serve his flock rather than being served by his flock. According to the above Bible passage, a good shepherd will feed the flock, strengthen the weak, heal those who are sick, bind up the broken, bring back those driven away, and seek the lost.

Ezekiel 34:5-6  NKJV

“So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.”                

          When a group of believers or a church (a flock / sheep) does not have a true shepherd several things happen. They are scattered, they became food for the enemy, they wander through all the mountains, and they go up on every high hill.

 

I. Without A Shepherd The Flock Is Scattered

Matthew 9:36  NKJV

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”   

          A flock (church) is thrown here and there without a shepherd. They are separated and driven off in different directions.

Scatter means to throw here and there; sprinkle; strew; separate and drive off in different directions; dispel. It can also mean to separate and drive away so that an original form or arrangement is lost.

          Without a shepherd many things change within a church. People can be “scattered” in their thoughts, ideas, goals, purpose, mission, and vision for the church and still be sitting under one roof. This “scattering” leads to disunity. Disunity is disunity, no matter how quiet it is. God does not bless disunity, nor does the Holy Spirit move in disunity. All the blessings that the church receives comes from unity.

Psalm 133:1-3  NKJV

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is

For brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head,

Running down on the beard,

The beard of Aaron,

Running down on the edge of his garments.

It is like the dew of Hermon,

Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing–

Life forevermore.”   

II. Without A Shepherd The Flock Becomes Food For The Enemy

Paul knew that when a shepherd is taken away from a flock that the enemy will move in and devour the sheep.

Acts 20:29  NKJV

“For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.”  

          A wolf will threaten sheep in two ways – from without and from within. The same is true concerning the church. The enemy will threaten the church from the outside and from the inside.

The enemy will attack from the outside. Unbelievers are a dangerous threat from the outside when we do not walk in the Spirit and begin to listen to worldly opinions. Especially when we make alliances with them.

 2 Corinthians 6:14-18  NKJV

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.’Therefore

‘Come out from among them

And be separate, says the Lord. And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you,

And you shall be My sons and daughters,

Says the Lord Almighty.’”  

          The enemy will also attack from within. Self-serving people are a threat from inside. During a period of time without a shepherd, the sheep must be very careful to guard them selves against false prophets (a person speaking in the name of God) who seek to build themselves up and to turn the people away from the truth.

Matthew 7:15-20  NKJV

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs  from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” 

III. Without A Shepherd The Flock Wanders Through The Mountains

Without a shepherd the flock (sheep) wanders throughout the mountains in search of grass to eat. If good food cannot be found they will eat what ever they find in an effort to stay alive. Sometimes the food that they find to eat is bad and will eventually take their life.

When a church is without a shepherd they become hungry and begin to seek out food for themselves. After being hungry for an extended period of time they will “eat” whatever is placed in front of them – good or bad.

Proverbs 27:8  NKJV

“Like a bird that wanders from its nest

Is a man who wanders from his place.” 

          When we wander away from sound doctrine, and partake of whatever comes along, it means losing our security and becoming open to new and powerful temptations. Partaking of whatever comes along will eventually lead to spiritual death.

 

IV. Without A Shepherd The Flock Goes Up On The High Hills

The high places are on the high hills. Without a true shepherd the sheep will wander up to the high places. In the Bible “high places” were places of worship on a hill or on a platform in a temple. The Canaanites usually built their places of worship on a hill. They considered the high places a gateway between them and heaven. It was their ‘way’ to their god. High places are ‘footholds’ that you allow the enemy to have in your life.

Some Israelites began to use these same places to worship God. The people used the high places to worship God, Baal and Asherah all at the same time. Trying to mix the two types of worship (true and false) together eventually led to idolatry.

Many times when a flock does not have a true shepherd they will begin to do what is right in their own sight, other than what is right in God’s eyes. They will begin to mix their own ideas and beliefs in with their worship of God.

When we allow “high places” in our lives and in our churches, we are defiling ourselves. We loose our purity and play the part of a harlot.

 Ezekiel 20:30  NKJV

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: ‘Are you defiling yourselves in the manner of your fathers, and committing harlotry according to their abominations?’ ”   

     God does not desire for us or our churches to defile our worship to Him. We cannot worship God in Spirit and in truth up on the “high places” (the high hills). When we began to mix the things of the world with our worship to God it can lead to idolatry in our lives. God has called us to be separate and to destroy all the ‘high places’ in our lives and in our churches. We are not to compromise our worship with sinful values or practices. We must maintain integrity in all parts of our lives, including our worship.

2 Corinthians 6:17 NKJV

“Therefore

Come out from among them

And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean,

And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you,

And you shall be My sons and daughters,

Says the Lord Almighty.”   

          The Israelites used the excuse that they did not have a place to worship God in order to use the high places. Without a true shepherd, there will be some people that begin to make excuses about the compromises that are being made.

  I Kings 3:2  NKJV

“Meanwhile the people sacrificed at the high places, because there was no house built for the name of the Lord until those days.”   

          The high places were defiled and therefore not an acceptable place for worship for God. God had specifically told the people (in the Ten Commandment) that He would not accept defiled worship. The people tried to justify (defend, to make right) their sinful actions. God tells us that obedience is better than sacrifice. Sincerity (freedom from pretense or deceit; honesty) and obedience (doing what one is told, submission to authority) are the prerequisites for worship that pleases God.

When some churches find themselves without a shepherd (or with a shepherd that is not a true shepherd) they begin to mix things of the world in with their worship to God and they too, make excuses for it. They seek to justify their “watered down” religion. They have not headed to the instructions of keeping themselves separate from the world. Disobedience in our worship is idolatry because we are putting our will before God’s will.

 1 Samuel 15:22  NKJV

“So Samuel said: ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,

As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,

And to heed than the fat of rams.’ ”   

          When a person or church begins to dabble with high places (mix the things of the world with our worship to God) they will set themselves up for pain, trouble and eventually judgment. Denying God’s authority always has consequences, even when we have no shepherd!

Psalm 78:58  NKJV 

“I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense alters, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you.”    Leviticus 26:30  NKJV

“For they provoked Him to anger with their high places And moved Him to jealousy with their carved images.”  

          When we find ourselves as sheep without a true shepherd, must be careful to stay away from the high hills. The Canaanites thought that their ‘high places’ would lead them to their god- it was their pathway to their god. Today there are many people that are trying to reach God through many different ways, other than the pathway that God has given us. A true shepherd  keeps everyone (the sheep) on the right path and to keep them off the “high hills”.

John 14:6  NKJV

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”    

Conclusion:

A church needs a shepherd. Without one the church and the people suffer. Shepherds go before their flocks and lead them. they do not “drive” the sheep in front of them. A true shepherd will feed, protect, and guide their sheep.

Jeremiah 3:15  NKJV

“And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”