The Malady of Spiritual Idolatry
Part 2: The Idolisation of Authority
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 1 January 2005
Click here for Part 1
I welcome you this Sabbath Day in Yah'shua's (Jesus') Name as we gather together to once more reflect on the theme of idolatry as spoken by Yahweh's Word. Before I do I thought I would share a few words on the tradition of celebrating the 'new year' on 1 January which is today.
Last night people in Scandinavia were up until midnight, partied, had a firework display, and generally enjoyed themselves as only the world knows how. What almost everyone didn't know, however, is that 1 January is a Druidic Feast Day and a high Satanic Day on which human victims, usually between the ages of 15 and 33, are sacrificially offered to Satan. The fact that the world celebrates the 'new year' on 1 January is not therefore a coincidence - the enemy of our souls has ensured that the world, totally ignorant of demonic agendas, is mindlessly celebrating that which they do not know. Indeed, without knowing it, they are participating in great evil. For those of us who know the truth, this is just another ordinary day. Yahweh has His own calendar and His New Year begins in the Spring, not in the height of winter. And for those of you who may be wondering if the secular 'new year' has a name, it has: it is called Janus, named after the two-faced Roman god of the gateways or 'janitor', also known as the two-faced Jupiter, one of the names of the devil. This, brethren and sisters, is known as 'Satan's Day', the reverse side of the double-face being known as Jana. This androgynous 'god' derives from an even older tradition, to the pagan demoness 'goddess', 'she who looks backward and forward', 1 January being her festival. In mediaeval Naples, the word for a witch was not the usual Italian strega but 'janara', the demoness spirit of January. Indeed, that is where we get our word 'january' from. The Roman Catholics created the mythical 'St.Januarius' at ... yes, Naples.
Brethren and sisters, Yahweh has established one divine calendar, for all time, in which we are to celebrate the changes of the seasons. Satan has his counterfeit which glorifies him. We have all, at one time, been fooled by it, but those who love Yahweh are repenting and changing their ways. For us, then, 1 January is just an ordinary day, but for the enemy of all of us, is a time of great evil. For many of those we are caring for, coming out of Satanism, this is a day they have long dreaded. For those who have been delivered, it is a day we have turned our backs on. We want nothing to do with Janus and other pagan idolatries. Yahweh is generous, merciful and forgiving with us in the days of our ignorance, but once we know the truth, we are without excuse if we do not change our ways. I am at least glad that today is a Sabbath, and so I hope all of you will join with me in giving this day to Yahweh to whom it rightly belongs.
What strange creatures we humans are. As a boy I can remember my parents taking me to a Hindu festival in Malaysia. At that time, devotees in hypnotic trances stuck knives and needles in themselves and walked over red hot coals. Satanists force their victims to do similar things - indeed we know of one lady who was forced to walk over red hot coals and was severely traumatised by the experience. The world looks on in amazement and admiration at these feats and forget that they are directing their honour and praise to the devil. Some of you may have seen gurus sitting on beds of nails and marvelled. But have you ever paused to think what all this means? What has all this self-mutilation got to do with godliness? And what is it we are actually admiring? We look at various so-called 'supermen' - karate experts who can dismantle walls with their bare hands, conjuring artists who can apparently saw up people and then reassemble then, and we gasp in wonderment. But what are we really doing? What are we really admiring? What deep down are we longing for when we see these great escapades? Is it not true that we also wish we could do these things? Does not some part of us wish we could do some great conjuring trick and win the applause of an admiring audience? If we are honest, what we are participating in is, yet again, the spirit of idolatry. The responses we give are of the carnal man which wants man to be in control.
I remember talking to a highly demonised SRA (Satanic Ritual Abuse) victim who was able to perform such wonders. Even though she had been horribly abused, and knew it, she yet lapped up the admiration of those she performed in front of, especially if they were people of rank and influence in the world like kings and presidents. Did you know that a great many of the magicians you see in the media today are Satanists who possess demonic powers? Now I am not speaking about the traditional conjurers who by sleight of hand, trick your eyes into believing they are seeing something which they are not. I am speaking of those who manipulate occult forces. I can sense it when I watch them perform. Many of their 'tricks' are occult shamanistic practices from Asia and Africa. This is Satanism and when we admire it, we are sinking into idolatry. And the idolatrous force that operates on us is the flesh's desire to be independent and in control of its own destiny. How different this is from the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and the man or woman controlled by Her! The first principle of genuine worship is that we relinquish control of self and give it to Yahweh.
After telling the parable of the talents, Yah'shua (Jesus) concludes with some amazing words which to some might seem harsh. He says:
"For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me" (Luke 19:26-27, NKJV).
"Bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me." Strong words indeed, but who said them? The nobleman who gave his servants different amounts of money to multiply while he was away. Who does the nobleman represent in this parable? Our Heavenly Father, Yahweh-Elohim. Who are the servants? Us, of course. He has given every one of us gifts and 'gone away', that is, sent us down to earth for Kingdom service, so that we could, by our own efforts, multiply them for him. It is to Him we must give account. This was, may I remind you, one of Yah'shua's (Jesus') 'Kingdom' parables.
Within every man and woman is a fallen nature or disposition that wants to be independent and self-governing and which prides itself in such things. It is a nature that does not want Yahweh to "reign" over them, even less His servants. It is an inner disposition to retain sovereignty over our own lives. Idolaters admire this quality in people and praise it. And it is true that with willpower we can achieve many things. But when we try to achieve for ourselves or for others independently of Yahweh all we are doing is building a kingdom for ourselves that cannot stand. We cannot take it with us when we die. Indeed, we leave this world as naked as when we were born into it. And then comes the Judgment.
Idolatry consists of those dispositions and feelings that lead us to reject His sovereignty and to proclaim independence from Him. That is called Satanism, whether raw or subtle it does not matter, but it is Satanism nonetheless. Anyone who rejects Yahweh's sovereignty in his or her life is declaring themselves an enemy of God and a friend of the enemies of God. It may sound brutal to say this, but the truth is often unpleasant, and I would be untrue to my own testimony and conscience if I did not say it. Worse, I would have your blood on my heads if I tried to pamper your egos and win your carnal accolades. I can by no means do that. The issue is an eternal one. Our decision in the matter of sovereignty determines whether or not we will place ourselves in the sphere of eternal safety and happiness or not.
Last week I spoke much about idolatry in marriage and how husbands and wives wound each other when they set each other up as idols, and especially wives their husbands who are their natural heads. But in truth we do this with all kinds of authority figures. We make gods of pastors, evangelists, presidents, teachers, political leaders, parents, and our counsellors too. And the tragedy is we crucify our gods! We make scapegoats of authority figures, projecting our sins and all blame onto whoever is handy. Unconsciously we hate our sin in the other person and crucify it. Any pastor worth his salt has suffered from being idolised and consequently persecuted, and if he has not, it is probably because he was not preaching the true Word of Yahweh.
Whenever Yahweh's ministers truly preach the Word, that Word is sweet to the taste but bitter as gall to the stomach (Rev.10:9). It enters the heart and disturbs it. Its truth exposes sin and forces a decision on us. Peoples whose lips honour Him but whose hearts are far from Him (Mt.15:8; Mk.7:6) find themselves idolising their pastor for the greatness of his ministry, but then so often choose to persecute him rather than face sin and die on the Cross. Thus Solomon would write: "A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgement" (Prov.18:1, NKJV). Or as the Revised Standard Version puts it so well, "he ... seeks pretexts to break out against all sound judgement".
I don't know how many criticisms I have received as a pastor both home and abroad. Some of them are utterly absurd. Indeed, I and my fellow ministers have been painted in the darkest, deepest dye imaginable because I have sought to preach the plain truth of Yahweh's Word. The world, and the spirit thereof, tries to force its carnal decisions on those who seek to honour Yahweh. But it is the world that must change, not the messengers. The world, because it is driven by satanic carnal lusts, is compelled to either change or to find something wrong with the messenger - anything, no matter however trivial or small - in order to justify not being willing to face sin.
Within us is this insatiable hunger for truth, righteousness and holiness. That is why teenagers who do not truly worship Yahweh fasten such devotion upon rock stars. We must worship something. Worship is built into us as fundamentally as breathing is. You can't stop it without dying. That hunger rushes to locate somewhere, fasten onto something, and express itself. There is a cult, as you may know, that worships the memory of Elvis Presley! It is incorporated as a church in the United States! There are those who believe that Elvis was the reincarnation of Christ. I have met fundamentalist Mormons who believe their founder, Joseph Smith, was the reincarnation of the Holy Ghost. And there are Rastafarians who believe Ethiopian Emperor Haile Sellasse was the reincarnation of Christ. Deluded masses of New Age followers believe that their gurus are great reincarnated Avatars with the status of godship. All of this is a symptom of the need to worship correctly.
The charismatic movement is a classical example of idolatry. See how each charismatic figure is idolised. And far too many of them have lapped up this worship and relished the godhood status afforded them. They live for their audiences, the bigger the better! But that is not how Yah'shua (Jesus) works - He works in small groups and on a one-to-one basis because that's the only way you can meet Him personally. Big crowds drown out the personal and all you are left with is 'power'. Yah'shua (Jesus) is not about power, even though he is All-powerful - He is about Ruach (Spirit), that gentle spiritual wind that moves upon the soul that is still enough to perceive it. It is so easy for shepherding and discipling, important as these are, to lose their balance. Many of these supposed 'great ones', who once had flocks of adoring millions, have gone, their ministries shattered. Why? Because idolatry was inherent in their anti-Torah theological systems, and the spirit that drove them was often a false one. Though paying lip-service to God, it was more often than not a man-centred witness. But will believers learn their lessons? Sadly, they look for more idols to worship and move from one disappointment to another until in the end they lose the Gospel and end up as little more than Satanists with a Christian dressing on.
Disillusioned people often throw their faith away when their idols fall and disillusionment breaks the hearts of many. It need not be so. The confusion and division that comes from false teaching, false spirits and idolatry causes the Body of Christ to fragment more and more. Our message to these saddened and disillusioned masses is that all of this could have been avoided had they been willing to follow the narrow way of Yah'shua (Jesus). Sadly, many if not most want an instant, fast-food, short-cut Gospel - one which does not exist. There is only One Way and it is tough but absolutely worth it. And that One Way is faith in Yah'shua (Jesus) and obedience to Torah, Yahweh's Law. There never was any other Gospel, and never will be (Rev.14:12; 22:14).
We have the unpleasant job of being watchmen lifting up a prophetic voice. You cannot be successful in these end times unless you are walking the Way properly. Walking with clay feet just leaves muddy trails behind and we succeed only in cutting ourselves down as we seek to witness in our own strength and according to our own interpretations instead in Yahweh's.
I would like to end today by suggesting eight areas identified by John and Paula Sandford that are indicative of a spirit of idolatry and the way we relate to authority figures. Let's run through these now:
1. Inordinate defensiveness. "Don't you dare criticise that man!" Scripture tells us to be prepared always to make a defence of our faith (1 Pet.3:15) and that there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Prov.18:24), but idolatry is indicated when defence, usually with rancour, continually blocks out what should be heard and heeded.
2. Bias which blinds. True relationship is not naïve. It sees both the blessings and sins of friends, and loves anyway. But those in idolatry gloss over faults. Their eyes are full of stars of fancy. They make excuses for faults rather than confront in love.
3. Persecution complexes. This involves seeing reactions of people to our idols not as possible warnings of error but as persecution for righteousness. Since sometimes persecution is indeed because of righteousness, the distinctive factor is unwillingness to see both possibilities. It has to be persecution. That conclusion is seized without waiting for all the facts or for clarification or verification from either the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), or honest witnesses, or both. Error is ruled out, and with it repentance.
4. Martyrdom. True martyrdom ordinarily is not sought. It happens to the saint despite his attempts to live quietly (1 Thess.4:11). True martyrdom gives glory to Yahweh. Somehow those who idolise only sniff the winds of possible martyrdom and trumpet the cause so that the hero receives the glory. 'You're making a martyr of him!'
5. Sexual confusions and attachments. Both men and women are tempted to throw themselves at figures they idolise. How many times have you heard of some minister whose ministry was growing well and who suddenly came tumbling down because of fornication, adultery or marriage vow-breaking? Sexual trouble is the natural end of idolatry, as surely as water flowing downhill must eventually find a body to rest in. Conversely, true servants seldom find godly people attaching to them sexually or trying to seduce them. What emanates does not send such signals. Flesh attracts flesh. Spirit attracts spirit. "For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life" (Gal.6:8, NKJV).
6. Twisted teachings. Too much emphasis begins to be placed on a few scriptures, which become more and more understood out of context. This is so whether the teacher him- or herself is out of balance, puffed up in his own arrogance, or defiled by the idolatry of others. What started out as truth goes too far, and the weak and immature suffer.
7. Anger. Somehow, everyone seems to become over-invested in the project and becomes quickly or inordinately angered. Just as fury overtook Nebuchadnessar (Dan.3:9), anger, sometimes followed by violence, is a sure sign of the presence of idolatry.
8. Each man to his own tent. When idolatry is not present, participants can hear the sound voice of Gamaliel to wait and see whether this thing is of God. If not, it will die down of its own accord or evolve into overt satanism, like the Toronto Movement. If we oppose it right away, we may find ourselves opposing Yahweh (Ac.5:34-39). But, when idolatry is present, there is no waiting. Participants must choose sides right away.
We all know that Satan wishes to divide and conquer. We at NCCG are ever aware of the dangers of idolatry. I can still remember to this day, and cringe whenever I think about of it, of an incident in the early days of our movement. We had converted a woman from one of the cults and in her public prayers she would repeatedly thank Yahweh for sending me as a prophet to guide and lead her and the church. She had simply transferred her idolatrous worship of the former cult leader to me. In the end I had to take her aside and instruct her on what she was doing wrong, and to stop exalting me. Sadly, she never did overcome her idolatrous tendencies and in the end left us.
Please be under no illusions: idolatry is iniquity, and the scripture says that iniquity will be visited with judgement. Moreover, it is a generational problem - those who do not overcome idolatry pass it on to their children:
"For I, Yahweh your Elohim (God), am a jealous Elohim (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" (Deut.5:9-10, NKJV).
The children and grandchildren of spiritual and political leaders who received and accepted idolatry have suffered all kinds of tragedy. Look at the Kennedy family in the USA. David Smith, the son of Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, went mad. Idolatry is a killer - flee from it! But to those who renounce idolatry, and choose humility, Yahweh shows tremendous grace to their descendants, blessing thousands of them, whether they are their literal or spiritual offspring. Solomon therefore said: "a good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children" (Prov.13:22, NKJV).
The work we are engaged in is not just for us but for our children and our children's children. We want to leave them a spiritual inheritance that results in a flood of blessings for them. But to accomplish this we must renounce and anathematise idolatry in every and any form. Therefore we shall teach with all the passion our souls can muster:
"Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our Elohim (God), Yahweh is echad (one)! You shall love Yahweh your Elohim (God) with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength ... I, Yahweh your Elohim (God) ... show mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Deut.6:4-5, 5:9-10 NKJV).
All of them. This is the message of the New Covenant Church of God, and we have no other. Hallelujah! Amen.
John & Paula Sandford, Healing the Wounded Spirit, Victory House, Tulsa, OK: 1985, ch.12.
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