A.: The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counselling, commanding, using, and any wise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God Himself; tolerating a false religion; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of
image or likeness of any creature whatsoever; all worshipping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition
from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretense whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.
We won't get all the way through this one today....
First, devising acts of worship not commanded.
God dealt with Nadab and Abihu so severely to teach us several things. (1) In His Church, His Word is Law; it may not be added to or subtracted from. He will not share His glory with another. (2) We worship a holy God, jealous for His Name, who will be worshipped only as He commands. (3) Good intentions, sincerity, religious preeminence and religious fervor do not excuse adding to or subtracting
from God’s Word. And (4) “[If] we reflect how holy a thing God’s worship is, the enormity of the punishment [of Nadab and Abihu] will by no means offend us.” 113. John Calvin, Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses, 3:431 (85)
Man is not to alter, edit or supplement what God has revealed for worship. (86)
In other words, regarding the worship of God, whatever He has not commanded is
(1)“God is vitally concerned about the way He is worshipped.… He did not leave it to the ingenuity of man’s depraved mind to devise a worship system which would be acceptable to Him.”120 (2) “Man’s pride often leads to impertinence in worship.”121 (3) Disobedience to God’s directions for worship is sin and brings
120. McCracken, “An Exposition of II Chronicles 26:16-21,” 77-78.
121. McCracken, “An Exposition of II Chronicles 26:16-21,” 78.
122. McCracken, “An Exposition of II Chronicles 26:16-21,” 80. (90)
First, the imposition of man-made liturgies in public worship.
Second, the introduction of holy-days in the church calendar.
Third, the use of vestments, or clerical garb, in worship.
Fourth, the use of the “altar call” in worship.
Fifth, the practice of coming forward and kneeling to receive the Lord’s Supper.
(1) The first point to notice in this text [Deut. 13] is that this “prophet or dreamer of dreams” is not an open pagan idolater, he is a prophet, one who is supposed to be a mouthpiece of the Lord, who speaks only the Word of the Lord. ...
Second, this prophet may be able to perform “a sign or a wonder,” i.e., apparent miracles.
Third, he uses his power and office to lead the covenant people to another faith, to faith in other gods: “Let us go after other gods…and let us serve them.” ....
Fourth, the Lord uses this false prophet to accomplish His own purposes for His people. He is “testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” ....
Fifth, this prophet is a traitor to the covenant and to the covenant people, and is therefore to be arrested, tried, convicted and executed.....
Sixth, “testing is the prerogative of the Lord, not of man. Man has no right to test God, but God has every right to test man. Idolatry requires exposure, and the idolatry latent in the covenant people is tested and sifted out.”158 ....
Seventh, the key in distinguishing a covert spokesman of idolatry wearing the mask of a minister of God from a true minister of God is not the ability to do miracles; it is covenant faithfulness. ....
Eighth, it is important to note that what is being condemned here is not heresy or wrong thinking about the Word of God, but the practice of idolatry, the teaching of idolatry and the encouraging of idolatry. ....
Ninth, this Biblical statute enforces the Second Commandment, because the condemnation of idolatry is so basic to the entire Biblical revelation....
Tenth, it is important for us to be clear on the nature of idolatry that is being forbidden and condemned in Deuteronomy 13. In verses 2, 6, 13, we are told that it is the sin of going and serving other gods. ...
158. Rushdoony, Law and Society, 463. (107-109)
(2) First, “[i]t is the policy of the tempter to send his solicitations by the hand of those whom we love, whom we least suspect of any ill design upon us, and whom we are desirous to please and apt to conform ourselves to.”167
[i]t is our duty to prefer God and [the Christian] religion before the best friends we have in this world. 1. We must not, in complaisance to our friends, break God’s law (v.8) Thou shalt not consent to him, nor go with him to his idolatrous worship, no, not for company or curiosity… 2. We must not, in compassion to our friends, obstruct the course of God’s justice [“your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him”]. He that attempts such a thing must not only be looked upon as an enemy, or dangerous person, whom one should be afraid of, and swear the peace against, but as a criminal or traitor, whom, in zeal for our sovereign Lord, his crown and dignity, we are bound to inform against, and cannot conceal… (v.9) 168
167. Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, 1:609.
168. Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, 1:609. (113)
If it is idolatry to devise acts of worship that are not commanded by God in the Bible, how much more evil is it to impose idolatry on people by requiring them to perform the acts of worship originating in the brain of man rather than in God and inflicting them with church censure, ridicule or persecution for not doing so....To impose rites and acts of worship upon a church is to bind the conscience of the worshippers and to play God, for Christ alone is the Lord of the conscience. (114)
Kings are to obey and enforce God’s law, and the people are to obey those laws and
resist and seek to overturn all those laws not originating with God’s Law, and to disobey all those civil laws of the state which obedience to would demand disobedience to God, for “we must obey God rather than men.” (117)
When a tyrannical state or church government imposes acts of worship upon a people which are invented by men and not commanded by God in His Word—regardless of the threat and the punishment, even if it is death—Christians may not obey them....To submit to and use forms of worship so imposed upon us out of fear of persecution, ridicule or martyrdom is nevertheless idolatry. (117)
[T]o use any worship forms not commanded by God even forced upon us by the civil government or church on pain of death is idolatry and is forbidden to the covenant people of God. (119)
From Israel’s beginning as the Holy Nation, God commanded them to take measures to protect themselves from the risk of moral contagion. ...
The toleration of theological or ethical evil in the covenant community is suicidal.(122)