How do we respond genuinely to God?
We were created to know Him and love Him. He has given us His word where He has revealed Himself to us; His love, mercy, character, His dealings with mankind and much more. It has been said, we will spend an eternity with Him and just scratch the surface in our knowledge of Him. To me, this is exciting. But since the fall of Adam, mankind’s natural awe and wonder for God was ruined. God in His great love and mercy provided a remedy in Jesus. In Christ we regain the awe and wonder of God. We may offer Him faithful worship as He so rightly deserves.
The opposite of faithful worship is idolatry. It is sinful and dangerous. It is sinful because it denies God of His rightful place as Lord and Savior in our lives. It is dangerous because it will lead us into more sins.
John the Apostle warned us in his first epistle. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen (1 John 5:21).
This letter was written to believers in Jesus. Is it possible to have an idol in our life? But we are Christians. I gave my life to Christ. I read and study the Bible.
How is that possible? Let’s go back to verse 18 of 1 John.
We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. When a person is born again he is given a new heart and new desires. He wants to read the Bible and learn about God. Most importantly he received the Holy Spirit to dwell within him. So when John says “whoever is born of God does not sin.” he is saying that person’s lifestyle is not characterized by sinful living. We still have a sin nature. We find ourselves sinning after we have confessed Christ as our Savior. The big difference is that the Holy Spirit convicts us now. We cannot go on sinning if we are listening to Him. We grieve Him when we do not repent of the sins He points out. His Spirit is quenched too.
Remember Paul battled with sin as he explained in Romans 7 7:20-25 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is not longer I who do it, but sin
that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God - through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with my flesh the law of sin.
Paul battled with sin after his conversion.
Because of Jesus sin no longer has dominion over us (read Romans 6:14).
If you are battling with a sin - Say aloud - “That sin no longer has dominion over me!”
1John 5:18b- 19 and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one We belong to the Father and He is protecting us. Anything we face has been allowed by Him or is His will for us. He intends good for us and to bring glory to Himself.
v 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Jesus has come to give us understanding of Himself and of His Father. He accomplishes this through the Word of God and by His Spirit.
Jesus declared when He was speaking to His disciples, “If you had known Me,
you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him (John 14:7).
In Jesus’ high priestly prayer He prayed to His Father, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3) “Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth” (John 17:17). After having known God, how can we entertain the idea of having an idol?
It comes from worry and doubt. We worry or doubt whether God will provide for our needs.
He tells us: “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat,’ or ‘What shall we drink,’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For Your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matt 6:31-34).
We worry about what direction to take in our lives including what person should I marry, what job should I accept, should I go to college etc.?
He tells us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5,6).
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in His way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand (Psalm 37:23, 24).
These questions and struggles are tough. Often there is no easy answer.
Sometimes two paths look equally good.
In all these struggles we face, the Lord is growing us. We are learning to trust in Him more. We are learning by our experiences with Him that His is faithful and true to His word. I think this is one of the main lessons here: Will I trust God? We create idols in our minds when we trust in something other than God to meet our needs.
One author wrote:
“We enjoy God to the degree that we worship him faithfully. Faithful worship - including praise, prayer, obedience, and faith - matters because idolatry, in whatever form, satisfies neither God nor us. Worship does not require that we perfectly understand everything about God but that we respond genuinely to the true God who makes himself known to us.” (Kapic, A Little Book for New Theologians, pg. 21)
Idolatry satisfies neither God nor us. What would be satisfying? This author tells us. Faithful worship will satisfy God and us.
Faithful worship including:
1. Praise. - For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared
above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the
heavens. Honor and majesty are before Him; Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. (Psalm 96:4-6)
2. Prayer - Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this
is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). The
effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16b).
3. Obedience - 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” (1 Samuel 15:22).
4. Faith - For without faith it is impossible to please God. He who comes to Him
must believe that He is and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
How do we respond genuinely to God? We worship God faithfully in praise, prayer, obedience, and faith.