HOW TO WORSHIP GOD
Exodus 20:4-6 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
Introduction: The first commandment tells us who must be worshiped. The second tells us how, He is to be worshiped. The first commandment forbids all false worship. This second commandment strictly forbids bowing down before any image. Eg. Statues of Jesus, Mary, wooden crosses, etc.
1. Man's Instinct for worship -- Man realizing his weakness and littleness, reaches out toward an object of worship, a being greater, stronger, wiser than himself. Plutarch said, "You can find cities without walls, without letters, without money, without houses, without theaters, but man has never seen and never will see a city without temples, gods, prayer, oaths, prophecies and sacrifices." This is one thing this commandment tells us -- man is going to worship something!
2. What this commandment does not forbid -- It does not forbid sculpture and paintings. Solomon's temple was ornamented with images of open flowers, pomegranates, palm trees, oxen, lions, and cherubim. II Kings 6. When the temple was completed God was pleased.
I Kings 9:3.
3. What is expressly forbidden -- We are not to bow before anything for the purpose of religious worship.
A. Does this mean we are not to bow down in prayer? No. We bow before God and as we do, we look by faith into the face of God. The best way for us to have communion with God is to close our eyes to everything that can be seen with the natural eye and open the eyes of our spirit toward our heavenly Father.
B. The danger in using an image to bow before. When a person fixes his gaze upon the image rather than God, he gets absorbed in the picture and loses sight of the person. When a person bows repeatedly before an image, it becomes a habit. He soon can go through all the ritual from memory and never think about God. He then loses sight of God.
C. An image of God degrades our conception of Him. It drags God down to our level. Even humans are sensitive to photographs. No one wants a bad photograph of himself in circulation. How much more, then, must a holy God be filled with a holy wrath when we make an image of Him, because He in reality is so much higher and greater than any image that can be made of Him.
D. Image worship limits God. It limits Him to one place and He is omnipresent. An image visualizes God and He is invisible. He is spirit and a spirit cannot be pictured. You cannot take a picture of your soul, so every image of God is false and misleading.
4. God's warning about this commandment --
a. God is a jealous God -- verse 5. If a man's wife transfers to someone else the affection which is due him and if he loves her, he will be jealous and righteously so. As Christians, we are married to Jehovah. Romans 7:4. We commit a great sin when we give to the world the love which is due to Christ. I John 2:15-17.
b. The Punishment -- God does not say that he will condemn the children just because their parents are evil. But when the sons follow in the evil footsteps of their father, they must suffer for their sin. God says that the sins of the fathers will be visited upon the children. If the fathers are wayward, the children will very likely be wayward.
c. The Mercy. God says if we love Him and keep His commandments, He will show mercy to thousands. If we worship God aright, our children will likely do so. Joshua 24:15.
Conclusion: How shall we worship God? In spirit and in truth. John 4:24. Our worship must be spiritual. Worship is simply a child of God having sweet communion with His heavenly Father. The more we worship Him, the more like Him we become.