Simony is the sin that takes its name from Simon the Sorcerer...who tried to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from Peter with the laying on of hands. It refers to the sin of buying spiritual power and ecclesiastical office and functions, or to the charging of fees for the benefits of receiving the Word and Sacraments. (181)
The Greek word is hierosuleo meaning to rob a temple, i.e., to rob God. So then, sacrilege is theft directed against God. Malachi 3:7–12 gives us an example of sacrilege—the robbing of God by not paying Him the “tithes and offerings” due Him. (182)
"For the church to be derelict in its duties is thus sacrilege. This need not be obvious theft and adultery as in the case of these two priests. God is robbed and sacrilege is committed where antinomianism [a distaste and disregard for Biblical Law] is taught and tithing denied, where modernism [with its critical approach to the Bible and situational ethics] prevails and a so-called new theology and new morality are preached, where to any degree the churches arrogate to themselves the authority due unto God alone, and wherever authority is used for anything other than lawful, godly ends. 261. Rushdoony, Law and Society, 39–40. (184)
All neglect [of]… the worship and ordinances which God has appointed is also a transgression of the Second Commandment. When a person neglects to worship God regularly according to His Word privately, with his family and especially with the congregation of the Lord publicly, it is disobedience to God, who commands us repeatedly in the Bible to worship with His people, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near” (Heb. 10:25). (185)
What would cause “the habit of some” to become the “forsaking of ourselves together?” Apostasy from the faith, which Hebrews was written to warn against, and negligence and the lack of diligence and conscientious care to regularly attend to the worship and ordinances of God, are the two leading causes. Other causes include: Fear of persecution, ridicule and slander in those who prefer their reputation, prestige, ease and comfort before Christ and the duties we owe Him in the gospel; Unbelief deceitfully and secretly working within gradually moving the negligent person to full apostasy, which is the way “an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” shows itself—in the neglect of worship, first of private worship, then family worship and congregational worship; and Spiritual laziness which is excused with a variety of phony reasons. (186)
If merely neglecting the worship and ordinances of God is sinful, how much more heinous is all… contempt [for] the worship and ordinances which God has appointed. There are two ways of treating the worship and ordinances of God with contempt. First, by not attending worship and using the ordinances regularly and often in faith with a holy, humble and proper frame of spirit,
"which the solemnity of the duties themselves, or the authority of God enjoining them, or the advantages which we may expect to receive by them, call for. When we do not seriously think what we are going about before we engage in holy duties,
or watch over our hearts and affections, or when we worship God in a careless and indifferent manner; we may be said to draw nigh to him with our lips, while our hearts are far from him. 274. Ridgeley, Commentary on the Larger Catechism, 2:331. (190)
Any attempt to hinder or to put a stumbling block in the path of anyone from worshipping God, especially from congregational worship, or from worshipping God publicly in the way He commands in the Bible, is guilty of breaking the Second Commandment and, unless he repents, will be judged by God. This applies to parents hindering their children from worship, friends hindering friends, the civil government hindering Christians, the church hierarchy hindering true worship by the imposition of ordinances not commanded by God or by outlawing the use of ordinances commanded by God... (194)
If hindering people from coming to the worship and ordinances of God is sinful, how much more wicked is it to be involved in overtly opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed. (199)
second commandment, the more to enforce it?
The reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments; are, besides God’s sovereignty over us, and propriety in us, his fervent zeal for his own worship, and his revengeful indignation against all false worship, as being a spiritual
whoredom; accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations; and esteeming the observers of it such as love him and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generations.
This addresses the "appendix" to the Second Commandment, which is a both a sanction and a blessing:
A person who breaks the Second Commandment will see the consequences of his idolatry among his descendants: the father’s sins will be imitated in his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and so God’s judgment will fall upon his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren: “visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.”
On the other hand, a faithful believer who obeys the Second Commandment will see the gracious blessings of his obedience among his descendants: “showing lovingkindness to thousands [of generations], to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” “All the way to the most extended generation imaginable, God will show favor to those who are faithful to Him and keep His commandments.”295 Because David was faithful to God’s commands, his dynasty continued for generations. 295. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 57 (205-206)
Although we can speak of a collective working out of these curses and blessings, they do not work automatically. If a father sins, that does not mean necessarily that his descendants are doomed. And if a father is faithful to the Lord, that does not automatically guarantee that all his children will be faithful. (206)
The appended sanction and blessing, however, is not the first reason given for obeying the Second Commandment. The first reason is God’s sovereignty over us—for I, the Lord your God (Ex. 20:5). (207)
God is our Creator and we are His creatures. God is the Lord of creation and we are His subjects whose reason for existence is to glorify and enjoy Him in whole hearted obedience to His commands for Jesus’ sake. (208)
Because He is Elohim, our Almighty Creator, He owns us—the human race in general and each individual particularly—“The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world and those who dwell in it” (Ps. 24:1). The Creator is our Proprietor. Because He is Jehovah, which is His covenant name—He is the God who is for His covenant people, who controls all things for their sake, who reveals Himself to them and whose presence is in their midst—His people are doubly His. (208)
By virtue of creation, we are His; and by virtue of His covenant of redemption, we are His: “for you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). We are His redeemed servants to live for His pleasure and to do His revealed will. (209)
We are to obey the Second Commandment for the God who gave it is “a jealous God” (Ex. 20:5), who has fervent zeal for His own worship: “you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Ex. 34:14). (209)
[T]he Hebrew word for “jealousy” or “zeal” means “ardor,” which signifies God’s love for His people and His jealousy in their behalf, as well as for His jealousy for His own honor, which is inseparable from the welfare of His faithful people. He has a profound desire to protect them, and a jealous determination to protect and vindicate His own honor and purposes. (210)
Idolatry and rebellion against God provoke Him to anger: “Remember, do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness” (Deut. 9:7a). In Jeremiah 7:19, the Lord declares, “Do they provoke Me to anger?… Do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?” (211)
God identifies those who defy the Second Commandment as “those who hate Me” (Ex. 20:5). All who live in disobedience to God hate Him! This may not always appear to be the case either by the observer or by the disobedient person himself, but regardless of how it appears, it is true. (213)
Spiritual adultery leads to social adultery. If the covenant parents play the whore and give their love and worship to idols instead of to the living God, then they will also allow their covenant children to intermarry with idolators and pagans, which is not only condemned by God, but which leads to the destruction of the church by the world. (214-215)
What does it mean to say that God visits iniquity? The word “visits” is used in the Bible in a good and bad sense. God visits His people to bless them (Gen. 21:1; 50:24; Ex. 13:19; Ps. 80:14); but He also visits people to judge and punish them: “And Thou, O Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to punish [literally to visit] all the nations; do not be gracious to any who are treacherous in iniquity” (Ps. 59:5)....God will terribly punish transgressions of His Law, most particularly, in this case, the making of molten images by which to worship Him. (216-217)
First, we must recognize that God owes us and our children nothing. (217)
Second, the mercy God bestows upon the children of the faithful is this: He does not allow them to remain dead in their trespasses and sins....On the other hand, when He punishes the iniquities of the father upon their children, He merely leaves the individuals as they are—dead in sin and under condemnation. (218)
Third, we must understand why God revealed that He would visit the iniquity of the fathers upon their children.
"Men are so stubborn and sluggish that if Moses had simply said that [God would punish only the breakers of the Second Commandment and not their children], then they might not have been sufficiently aroused by fear. But Moses presses on. God, he says, will not only punish you personally, but he will extend his vengeance to your offspring, and not simply to your children, but He will pursue to the very end; for you will constantly feel his anger like a burning fire; even after your death people will see the marks of your iniquity.… " 315. Calvin, John Calvin’s Sermons on the Ten Commandments, 74. (219)
God esteems the observers of [the Second Commandment] such as love Him and keep His commandments: “showing lovingkindness…to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Ex. 20:6). Those who love the Lord obey His commandments, for love… is the fulfillment of the Law (Rom. 13:10...)....It is impossible to desire to honor God and to be subject to His commands, unless our heart is filled with love for Him that moves us to cling to Him and to live for His pleasure. (221-222)
God promises mercy to them [those who love Him and keep His commandments] unto many generations: “showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Ex. 20:6). (223)
"The implication should be obvious: the capital base of righteousness will grow to fill the earth over time. Even a little growth, if compounded over a long enough period of time, produces astronomically large results—so large, in fact, that exponential growth points to an eventual final judgment and an end of time.… The righteous widow’s two mites (Luke 21:2–4) if invested at 1% per annum over a
thousand generations, would be worth more than all the wealth on earth. In other words, the concept of “a thousand generations” is symbolic; it means everything there is, a total victory for righteousness. Furthermore, this victory is no overnight affair; it comes as all growth processes come for a society: step by step.…" 323. North, The Sinai Strategy, 43–45 (224)
God promises faithful observers of the Second Commandment that He will “show lovingkindness” to them and to thousands of their faithful descendants. He uses the word “lovingkindness” (NASB) or “mercy” (KJV) for two good reasons.
First, this word cannot possibly mean a just reward due to services paid, as if God had said, “I recognize the obedient service paid to Me from those who worship Me, and I will honor them according to what their service deserves.” However, because all our righteousness is as filthy rags, if that is what God said, we would receive nothing from Him but His condemnation. God could have said that, but, praise His name, He said I will show them lovingkindness.
Second, the word “lovingkindness” deflates human pride, “so much so that men cannot glorify in their words as if they merited a reward. Rather let us perceive that [what] God intended to mean by it is that when we serve him we still have need of his support as well as need of his forgiveness of our vices and weaknesses.” 325.Calvin, John Calvin’s Sermons on the Ten Commandments, 79–80. (225)
The Westminster Confession of Faith adds this explanation to its statement of the regulative principle of worship: there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed” (I, vi). (226)
Although the church’s authority regarding ceremonies and institutions of worship is limited to the administration and application of them as the Bible commands, the church does have a limited and well-defined power with reference to the circumstances connected with public worship, in common with any civil and well-ordered assembly of people to order and regulate them by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word....In other words, the church has the power and the duty to maintain order and proper decorum in
her assemblies and to restrain and correct any improprieties, indecencies or disorder. (227)
Therefore, how is the line to be drawn between matters of propriety and order which must be regulated by the church and matters of divine command in worship which the church may not regulate but administer? ...
(1) It must be only a circumstance of divine worship; no substantial part of it; no sacred significant and efficacious ceremony.332
(2) That which the church may lawfully prescribe by her laws and ordinances, as a thing left to her determination, must be one of such things as were not determinable by Scripture…333
(3) If the church prescribe anything lawfully, so that she prescribe no more than she has power given her to prescribe, her ordinance must be accompanied with some good reason and warrant given for the satisfaction of tender consciences.334
332. Gillespie, A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies Obtruded on the Church of Scotland, 281–82
333. Gillespie, A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies Obtruded on the Church of Scotland, 283–84.
334. Gillespie, A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies Obtruded on the Church of Scotland, 284
Frank Smith, in his book, Worship in the Presence of God, has given us a concise summary of Gillespie’s three criteria for distinguishing circumstances ABOUT worship from ceremonies IN worship: “(1). It must be something which is truly circumstantial—that is, it must not have any liturgical significance; (2). it must be something which could not have been prescribed by the Bible (such as the language of worship, or the time or place of the service); (3). it must be something which, when imposed, will not wound tender consciences.” 337. Frank Smith, “What Is Worship,” Worship in the Presence of God, 18. (229-230)
The centrality of the Bible as the Word of God to Christianity means that reading will never become obsolete and that the very act of reading can have spiritual significance. (230)
"Whereas other religions may stress visions, experiences, or even the silence of meditation as the way to achieve contact with the divine, Christianity insists on the role of language, [because], [l]anguage is the basis for all communication and so lies at the heart of any personal relationship." 338. Veith, Reading Between the Lines, 17–18. (230)
The point Postman is making, (although we would describe the God of the Bible in other terms), is that “‘word-centered’ people think in a completely different mode from ‘image-centered’ people.” 341. Veith, Reading Between the Lines, 21. (232)
Since, as the Bible warns us, graven images lead to paganism of the worst sort, it is not surprising to see how this “new mentality” has impacted religion with postmodernism’s repudiation of all absolutes, worldviews and the very concept of truth itself, and with the New Age Movement with its comical irrationalism. Categories such as true and false, right and wrong, revelation and superstition have become irrelevant to the “image” generation. Even among Christians today, the concern is (234)
Veith warns Evangelicals, who supposedly love the Bible, not to allow themselves to be seduced into being conformed to this evil world rather than to the written Word of God, similar to the way the children of Israel were seduced by the graven images of the Canaanites and the thought-forms they embodied. We show ourselves to be seduced when we stress feeling rather than truth, when we seek emotional experiences rather than conformity to the life and death of Jesus Christ. We want instant religious gratification—“name it and claim it”—rather that complete submission of ourselves to the revealed will of God written in the Bible. (234-235)