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1 John;- Keep yourselves from idols (Index thread)

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posted on Sep, 1 2017 @ 05:02 PM
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“You shall not make for yourself a graven image” was the second of the commandments given at Sinai, following on from “I am the Lord your God… You shall have no other gods before me”.
In fact they are the same injunction, expressed in different ways; “You shall be faithful to the One true God” and “You shall avoid all his competitors”.

This goes back to the most fundamental premise of Biblical teaching, viz. the profound difference between the Creator God and the created world.
The distinction between God and the not-God is basic to the Bible (which makes it incompatible with any kind of monism).
Cleaving to God and cleaving from the not-God is the essential running theme of the Bible, and the first epistle of John brings it under close examination.

God is light (ch1)

So the starting point, in the first chapter, is the nature of God.
God is Light, the opposite of darkness.
This may be taken as representing a number of distinctions;
God is Truth, the opposite of falsehood.
God is Life, the opposite of death.
God is righteousness, the opposite of sin.

This means that we can only be in fellowship with God, cleaving to God, if we are “walking in the light”.
We are not in the light if we are in sin, because sin is not of God.
On the other hand, we are not in the light if we claim not to be in sin, because falsehood is not of God.
The solution to this dilemma comes through Christ, who deals with our state of sin.

The old and new command (ch2 vv1-11)

So the key to having fellowship with God is to be in fellowship with Christ.
This means, necessarily, being in fellowship with everyone else who is in fellowship with Christ.
Therefore our love to “the brethren” is the marker which indicates the quality of our union with Christ. They are the visible portion of the group which contains Christ, and we need to show that we are part of that group.

Do not love the world (ch2 vv12-17)

One way of separating ourselves from God is to get caught up in “the world”, which is by definition the opposite of God. “The lust of the flesh” is an attachment to something which is not-God, and which cannot live in his presence.

Many antichrists (ch2 vv18-29)

The ”many antichrists” have separated themselves from God more directly, by separating themselves from Christ. The first visible sign was that they separated themselves from the brethren who belong to Christ. But this was a symptom of the more fundamental separation, that they were refusing to recognise Christ as Christ.
They are denying the Son.
And since they are denying the Son, they cannot be in fellowship with the Father. They have detached themselves from God.


The children of God (ch3 vv1-10)

John’s readers have been told what they need to avoid, in order to remain in fellowship with God, but how can they be sure that they are succeeding?
Part of the answer comes in terms of the “doing of righteousness”. Since God is righteous, they should know that everyone who “does right” has been born of him.
They should be resembling Christ in their conduct, and will become even more like Christ when he finally appears to the world and we can see him “as he is”.
In the meantime, they need to be improving the resemblance by continuing the process of ridding themselves of active sin. The fact that no-one who is “born of God” is committed to sin will give them a good start. They are already without sin in God’s eyes, so it becomes a question of living up to that standard.

The child of the devil (ch3 vv11-24)

An important part of “doing righteousness” is loving the brethren.
They must shun the example of Cain, who hated his brother to the point of murdering him, which qualifies Cain to be called a child of the devil, the not-God, rather than a child of God.
Instead, they should model themselves on the example of Christ, who loved his brethren to the point of giving up his life for them.

If anyone remains uncertain about their status as children of God, the best answer is that “God is greater” and knows us better than we know ourselves. Even if our hearts are condemning us and questioning our love, his awareness that we are in fellowship with him is strong enough to outweigh our uncertainties.

We may know that we abide in God through the Holy Spirit which he has given us.

Test the spirits (ch4 vv1-6)

We must make sure, though, that our guidance comes from the right kind of spirit.
We may know the difference from the fact that the Spirit of God will “confess” that Christ has come in the flesh, while the spirits of the false prophets will deny that teaching.
That is also the test of the difference between those who belong to God and those who don’t.
Those who know God will be listening to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, but those who are not of God will be listening to the teachers who belong to “the world”.


Perfect love casts out fear (ch4 vv7-21)

Then John comes back to the importance of love.
We ought to love one another in response to the way that God has loved us, by sending the Son to deal with our sin.
Our love is the guarantee of our relationship with God.
For if we are abiding in God, then God is abiding in us, which means that God’s love is abiding in us.
And if we are abiding in God, we have confidence in facing the day of judgement, because our sin has been dealt with.
And that is how perfect love casts out fear- that is, the fear of judgement.


Faith and witness (ch5)

Finally, John sums up the themes of his epistle.
There is the importance of our love for the brethren.
There is the importance of the fact that sin and “the world” have been overcome.
There is the importance of believing in the identity of Christ, as the Son of God, which ties together the first two themes.
This faith stands on three key witnesses, namely the water (of our baptism), the blood (of his death) and the Holy Spirit.
The key point is that God has given us eternal life, and this life is bound up with the gift of his Son.
So anyone who has the Son has life.

Believing in the Son, and walking in the light, and loving the brethren, are all different aspects of cleaving to God, which is the essence of the first commandment.
Conversely, denying the Son, and walking in the darkness, and hating the brethren are different aspects of cleaving to the not-God, which is what we are warned against in the second commandment.
So the final injunction to “keep yourselves from idols” is not an afterthought or a casual anti-climax, but a summary of the real meaning of the entire letter.


edit on 1-9-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)




posted on Sep, 1 2017 @ 05:05 PM
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I must acknowledge again that while the wording of these threads has been my own, the commentary of B.F. Westcott has been an essential guide to the original meaning of the texts.



posted on Sep, 1 2017 @ 05:06 PM
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My previous threads on ATS include a number of other series based on the New Testament.

There are several threads on different aspects of John’s gospel, including the series on the “Truly, truly” sayings;
The Son sent by the Father

There is the series on the highlights of 1 Corinthians;
The blueprints of the church

The series on Galatians;
Their faith had saved them

The series on Hebrews;
The complete self-offering

The series on James;
Teacher of faith and wisdom

And of course the grand-daddy of them all;
Revelation

edit on 1-9-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 1 2017 @ 05:21 PM
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“You shall not make for yourself a graven image” was the second of the commandments given at Sinai...


But the People went out anyway and made themselves an image of a 'golden calf' and worshipped it.

Well it looks like gold, but its really made of Bronze and today sits on a street in New York. The worshipers don't worship it, but what it represents...

Money...



posted on Sep, 1 2017 @ 06:01 PM
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originally posted by: intrptr


“You shall not make for yourself a graven image” was the second of the commandments given at Sinai...


But the People went out anyway and made themselves an image of a 'golden calf' and worshipped it.

Well it looks like gold, but its really made of Bronze and today sits on a street in New York. The worshipers don't worship it, but what it represents...

Money...



Yes, money and the "things" of the world money buys including power and influence over others.

I read this and think of the "prosperity gospel" con-men and how they would never preach this sermon. How many people are being led astray from these false teachers.....



posted on Sep, 1 2017 @ 06:19 PM
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a reply to: infolurker



How many people are being led astray from these false teachers.....


Billions.



posted on Sep, 1 2017 @ 06:39 PM
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Would a cross, or crucifix, or a picture of the anglo saxon hippie Christ be a graven image. You can't drive down any street in America without seeing some sort of religious symbol.



posted on Sep, 1 2017 @ 06:46 PM
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a reply to: olaru12
The intention of the command is evidently "Do not worship something else instead of the one God". To what extent are these symbols "instead of" God?



posted on Sep, 1 2017 @ 06:57 PM
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originally posted by: olaru12
Would a cross, or crucifix, or a picture of the anglo saxon hippie Christ be a graven image. You can't drive down any street in America without seeing some sort of religious symbol.



Only if you venerate the cross more than God.

God should always hold first place in your heart.

The idea of relics in the Catholic church could come close with the idea of assigning miraculous powers to inanimate objects because they are holy. In truth, any holiness and power would come solely from God, not any object derived from a dead saint.



posted on Sep, 1 2017 @ 07:01 PM
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originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: olaru12
The intention of the command is evidently "Do not worship something else instead of the one God". To what extent are these symbols "instead of" God?



They are a detraction to the purity of purpose. The attitude toward a symbol distorts the intended purpose and foments a nonconstructive, almost morbid nonreligious psychological, that is to say false archetype.



posted on Sep, 1 2017 @ 07:06 PM
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a reply to: olaru12
I don't think it's about getting ideas as abstract as possible.
It's about "commitment". It's about the difference between God and the not-God and what belongs to them both.



posted on Sep, 1 2017 @ 07:12 PM
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originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: olaru12
I don't think it's about getting ideas as abstract as possible.
It's about "commitment".




Right....



It's about the difference between God and the not-God and what belongs to them both.


No abstractions there....






edit on 1-9-2017 by olaru12 because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 1 2017 @ 08:14 PM
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a reply to: olaru12

Pretty simple.

Tangible things are not-God.



posted on Sep, 2 2017 @ 03:27 AM
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originally posted by: DISRAELI
The ”many antichrists” have separated themselves from God more directly, by separating themselves from Christ. The first visible sign was that they separated themselves from the brethren who belong to Christ. But this was a symptom of the more fundamental separation, that they were refusing to recognise Christ as Christ.
They are denying the Son.
And since they are denying the Son, they cannot be in fellowship with the Father. They have detached themselves from God.


Being obsessed with Christ is being detached from God. God came first. Jesus came second. Jesus is a false idol. Every cross and Jesus model is a graven image of God. Jesus is a false idol. Worshiping Jesus is idol worship. There is only one true all-powerful all-loving God. And that God is God. True belief in God not only embraces the son, but the daughter, mother, and father. God is all things. Seeing the World through the lens of Jesus is missing the true face of God. There is only one God. And that God is God. There is no other word than the word of God.

So when you have faith in the one true God sin becomes irrelevant. An omnipotent God knows every choice we will make before we make it. An omnipotent God knew exactly what was going to happen to the apple in the garden with naked woman prancing about. Biting the apple is by God's design. This is because God's love is unconditional in spite of knowing all our choices. There is no amount of evil God will not tolerate in order to preserve our free-will. Clearly as shown by man's day to day suffering God is pro-choice. Otherwise God would everyday be involved in the affairs of man bellowing his voice from the heavens on what is right and what is wrong. Just as the Bible is the word of man sin is an artificial construct created by man. What is "right" and "wrong" is cultural. Being humble and spiritual before God is for each of us to define. Nobody speaks for God. Pretending to speak for God is beyond the greatest hubris and possibly man's greatest possible sin. God speaks for God for those who listen.

Obsession with words about religion is not religion. Obsession is obsession. When one is obsessed with something they are no longer capable of listening. People obsessed with Jesus have stop listening to God. People obsessed simply do not hear what God is saying to them because their mind is only focused on their obsession. You simply can't hear what you refuse to hear. Just because you can regurgitate a mathematical formula doesn't mean you understand the math. People telling you what to regurgitate is not a religion.


edit on 2-9-2017 by dfnj2015 because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 2 2017 @ 03:55 AM
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a reply to: dfnj2015
This thread is based upon Biblical theology, your comments are not.
As long as the thread is valid on a Biblical basis, I'm not concerned about any other standard of judgement.



posted on Sep, 2 2017 @ 06:08 AM
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a reply to: infolurker


I read this and think of the "prosperity gospel" con-men and how they would never preach this sermon. How many people are being led astray from these false teachers.....

Accruing wealth became okay after greed renamed itself thrift.

The analogy behind idols isn't really about statues per se, more about idolization of material things. We don't 'worship' money, we idolize it (the slogan "In God we trust" appearing on our currency, aside).

The ruse handed down to us from religious dogma is 'they' used to worship 'idols', making it safe for us today to idolize money, cars, jewels, whatever.

After all, a million dollars isn't an 'idol', is it...



posted on Sep, 2 2017 @ 06:13 AM
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a reply to: ketsuko


God should always hold first place in your heart.

Thats selfish. Others should take precedence in our hearts.

Good Samaritan comes to mind. In the parable, the victim was a complete stranger of a lesser class.



posted on Sep, 2 2017 @ 06:51 AM
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a reply to: intrptr
I don't understand the objection. God is the "other" who is taking precedence, necessarily so. He is also the source of the demand that human "others" should be treated as of equal importance to ourselves.



edit on 2-9-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 2 2017 @ 09:34 AM
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originally posted by: intrptr
a reply to: ketsuko


God should always hold first place in your heart.

Thats selfish. Others should take precedence in our hearts.

Good Samaritan comes to mind. In the parable, the victim was a complete stranger of a lesser class.



I don't understand how this is selfish. The idea of God taking precedence in your heart.

Look at the scripture about husbands and wives where wives are to submit. The flip side is that husbands are to be as Christ to their wives. If we take that Christ is basically God, then examine the whole of Christ's work on earth and it was always to put others first before Himself.

If you love God, then it should be apparent that you will love others as you love God and as you love yourself meaning you will put the needs of others before your own selfish, worldly desires.

That is the lesson of the good Samaritan.



posted on Sep, 2 2017 @ 09:48 AM
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It boils down to the assumption that the Bible is divinely inspired. That's a yugggeee leap in faith.

And even if it is....the translations were just another way to distort the original intent, thus my reference to a false archetype.



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