Today I want to write on a subject that can be very controversial; Idolatry and or paganism
Deut. 12:29 The LORD your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, 30 and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” 31 You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.
Deut. 8:19 If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.
In the Old Covenant GOD tells us over and over that we are NOT to bow down to other gods; HE also goes on to say that we should not worship HIM the way the pagans worship their gods. We are to worship HIM alone and worship HIM the way HE wants!! Idolatry and paganism ran rampant at the time GOD spoke those words. GOD wanted a clear distinction between HIS people and the people who didn’t belong to HIM. You see then and now God wants our heart, minds, soul, spirit, strength; clearly HE wants all of us for HIMSELF!
If by having contact with anything even remotely related to paganism/idolatry; causes me to be in disobedience to GOD; I would basically have to give up just about everything. O.k. not everything but please keep reading to see why I used the word everything. If I can’t have anything to do with anything remotely related to paganism than I couldn’t have anything to do with hearts, eagles, triangles, stars, the moon, crescent shape, the sun, a stick person, a circle, swirly lines, arrows, crosses, lightning bolts, bulls, lizards, frogs, bunnies, eggs, pumpkins, mirrors, elephant trunks, wheels, an eye, the word cereal, the days of the week, months of the year, trees, water, candles, wreaths, snakes, birds, evergreens, rams, pots, fire, wood, the color red, fish, peace symbol, earth symbol, wedding rings or rings period, the word Amen, the typical prayer position, hymns, praying, singing carol’s, church buildings, alters, temples, etc, the pie symbol, cats, singing, chanting, pentagon shape, a Chinese restaurant named buddha, raising arms up, a table, rocks, alters, a kiss, swords, dreams, roots of a tree, knives, salt, cups, variety of flowers, crystals, pictures, dancing, drumming, healing, visualizing, oil, cords, the forest, herbs, a blessing, ice, bread, honey, milk, laughing, the color white, the word mother, facing East, variety of shapes of buildings, alters, clasping hands in front of you, walking clockwise and counter-clockwise, clay, gates, walking to the left or to the right, groves, mud, fire pits, etc. Though I could go on and on; I am going to stop now! (You will easily find everything I mentioned above on Pagan websites under pagan symbols or rituals.)
I believe what GOD wanted to get across back then and also to us now, is that we are NOT supposed to worship (be devoted to, intensely love, hold in high esteem, and greatly value) anyone or anything but HIM. As I stated above HE didn’t want the Israelite’s to worship HIM the way the pagans worshiped their gods; such as sacrificing their children or having alter prostitutes. Today He wouldn’t want us to do that either; of course today we do not have to actually be bowing down to, singing to, dancing before, lighting candles and chanting to other gods to be walking in disobedience to GOD. Today if we place our job, ministries, kids, friends, spouses, hobbies, cars, entertainment or any thing above HIM than we are committing idolatry. Nothing and no one should ever come before GOD in our hearts and lives.
If we believe that based on what I mentioned GOD spoke in the Old Covenant; it is wrong to have any contact with, or use anything especially in worship to the LORD, that has been used by, or done by pagans than we really couldn’t do much at all in our everyday life or in worship to GOD. You see pagans use candles in their rituals, does that make candles pagan, therefore does that mean we couldn’t use a candle for any reason and especially in worship of GOD; such as: while saying a prayer? Since pagans chant in their worship does that mean that chanting is pagan and therefore I couldn’t chant “Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves”? Since pagans have had crosses in their symbols does that mean that a cross is pagan, and we shouldn’t have anything to do with them? Pagans dance, sing, laugh, pray and lift their hands in worship of their god, so does that mean we can’t do these things in regular life or in worship to the one and only real God?
Is paganism only in the eye of the beholder? Yes, I believe that to be true. The only ‘eye’ I am concerned with is my Father’s in Heaven. He declared what He made was Good! He created the circle, square, eagle, lizard, frog, pumpkin, rabbit, rocks, trees, eggs, the forest, groves, clay, walking, dancing, singing, shouting, HE gave someone wisdom to create a candle so we could have light when it is dark, etc., and all these things have been used by pagans. When I am lighting a candle and telling my boys that Jesus is the light of the world, I am not doing anything wrong just because pagans have used and still use candles. Just because supposedly pagans use circular shaped things in their rituals or in observance of their gods; does not mean I am being sinful if I hang a wreath or have a wreath on my table with candles in it that I light when I talk about Jesus being a gift from the father, that He is the prince of peace and that knowing Him brings us Joy. I also do not believe I am being disobedient to God by bringing a (fake) evergreen tree in my house to hang decorations on just because at one time pagans cut trees; carved them into images, decorated them and worshiped them as gods. I do not bring the tree in, carve the tree into an image and make it a god that I worship, and I do not bow down to the tree in worship to GOD. I may use it as an object lesson but it is not being used in worship. Of course you could say that as a believer our entire lives; choices, actions, thoughts, attitude should be an act of worship to our GOD. Therefore there should be no separation in how my everyday life honors God and how my specific acts of worship honor HIM. In everything I do, I should do it, as unto the LORD. If GOD is first in my heart, my life, and I am allowing the HOLY SPIRIT to direct my steps than I believe GOD sees, knows and directs my steps. Will I make make mistakes; sure I will but He will forgive me and lovingly lead me where I need to be. So I do NOT believe God sees me as a Pagan or an idolater because I have in some way come in contact or had association with some of those things listed above that pagans have at one time or another used in their fun, games or worship of their god.
My next post will address the question Is Easter and Christmas Pagan?