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Revelation 21:8; DRB;

8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, they shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

What is the precise meaning of Idolatry?

Is worshipping Angels Idolatry?

Hence, what is the precise meaning of Worshipping?

What about the Icons and Statues in the Christianity?

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    In its most general sense, the second commandment means that one shouldn't attribute supernatural powers to any physical object or ritual. Even carrying a good-luck charm or crossing one's fingers for luck are forms of idolatry, ways of asking for supernatural intervention without relying directly on God. Feb 25, 2022 at 3:47
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    @RayButterworth could you include your comment in an answer post?
    – salah
    Feb 25, 2022 at 3:54

3 Answers 3

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Christians believe there is only one true God, who alone is to be worshipped. But just believing in the reality of this God is not worship. "Even the demons believe there is one God - and shudder" (James 2:19). The demons don't worship the one God they know exists. The Bible tells us what worship is, and the worship that is acceptable to God. Idolatry is anathema to God, as your text states. To understand what idolatry is, it's first necessary to know what true worship is. Worship is obedient praise offered to God by his creatures who acknowledge him as worthy of adoration. Read this explanation:

"Great and marvellous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed." (Revelation 15:3-4)

It's because of knowing something of who this great God is, that we his creatures adore him with reverence. Jesus came from heaven to reveal God to us, saying that God was "looking for those to worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). The more we know about Jesus, the closer we will be able to come to God the Father, in worship. Prayer is the most basic form of worship there is - speaking (either silently or out loud) to God in heaven. It is a demonstration of faith, for we cannot see God, who is Spirit, and who dwells in unapproachable light. Sadly, despite God explicitly commanding his people never to try to make a visible representation of him in any form, humans constantly want to see or to hold something tangible, in worship. That is not worshipping God "in spirit and in truth", for faith is the demonstration of belief and trust in what cannot be seen and in truth, God condemns using visible objects to try to represent him.

Needless to say, humans who use icons and pictures and clay models etc say those are just aids to worship. They see no harm in them. They might benefit from reading, and believing, the warning in Romans 1:18-23. That explains idolatry.

Another answer has quoted scripture on how worship (adoration) of angels is forbidden for Christians, yet Jesus accepts our worship (for he is not a created angel). Anything created must never be worshipped by Christians.

Aldo Gargani said that, because of God's original covenantal relation and revelation, there is "the nostalgia for God of every living person." And this nostalgia drives us to idolatry and suppression of the truth (as in that text above) - to a theology of glory that judges by appearances, rather than to the arms of God through the revelation of his Son. Together with this natural nostalgia for God, converted into idolatry, is the nostalgia for leading creation triumphantly into God's everlasting rest, which converts into tyranny, especially religious tyranny. Even our good desires are prone to corruption by our sinful nature, which is why God has given us his Son as the greatest gift we could have, and his written word which reveals God and his will to us.

If we stick to what Jesus explained about God, not going beyond that, we will be protected. The New Testament shows how the early church worshipped God acceptably, and there wasn't a picture, an icon or a statue in sight.

The Bible also shows that things, like gluttony, can become an idol to us. When people live to eat, instead of eating to live, they are idolising food. Whatever we put first in our lives - which is not God - is our idol. When we put God first in our lives, we can worship God aright.

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Strictly, an idolater is a person who worships an image of something as a god.

However, the Bible forbids worship anything or anyone other the the One true God; this includes animals, angels, demons and idols. See Ex 20:4-6.

  • Deut 32:17 - They sacrificed to demons, not to God, to gods they had not known, to newly arrived gods, which your fathers did not fear.
  • Ps 81:9 - There must be no strange god among you, nor shall you bow to a foreign god.
  • Jer 14:22 - Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are you not he, O LORD our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things.

In the Bible we have several instances of people attempting to worship an angel and were forbidden to do so:

  • Rev 19:9, 10 - Then the angel told me to write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” So I fell at his feet to worship him. But he told me, “Do not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who rely on the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
  • Rev 22:8, 9 - And I am John, who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown me these things. But he said to me, “Do not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”

Thus, worship of anything other than Jehovah God is forbidden.

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  • whatis the precise meaning of Worshipping?. Good answer, +1.
    – salah
    Feb 24, 2022 at 22:44
  • what about the Icons and Statues in the Christianity?
    – salah
    Feb 25, 2022 at 0:40
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    @salah - that is indeed a problem for some sections of Christianity but not all.
    – Dottard
    Feb 25, 2022 at 0:50
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In Matthew 22:27–40, Jesus summarized all of God's Laws into two commandments:

… Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Likewise, the Ten Commandments is a more specific summary of the Law, with the first four and last six corresponding to Jesus's summmary.

Consider the first four of the Ten Commandments, which Jesus summarized as the first and great commandment:

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: ... .
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain ... .
  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work ... wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
  • The first commandment doesn't say there are no other gods (in fact 2 Colossians 4:4 refers to Satan as “the god of this world”); it says that people should treat only the Lord himself as a god, as the sole source of supernatural power.
  • The second says that God does not use physical objects to represent him, and that people should deal directly with him without such aids.
  • The third says how people should communicate with God. They should not invoke his name in vain (not actually meaning to call upon him (as in “OMG”)), nor will their requests be in vain when they do call upon him.
  • The fourth commandment explains how to live one's life, being productive for 6 days a week, and spending God's special day on spiritual concerns, free of physical labour.

Clearly there is a very well defined way in which people should relate to God.

But each of those four commandments is only a generalization of the expected behaviour. Many other individual commandments and scriptures show how they apply to specific circumstances.

For instance, Ephesians 5:5 shows that greed is a form of idolatry:

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (KJV)

You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. (NLT)

Paul is saying that even simple greed or gluttony is a form of worship, diverting one's attention to oneself and away from God. No one believes that food or money has supernatural powers, but excessive attention to such things is considered to be breaking the first two of the Ten commandments.

How much more so is it a violation when one does attribute supernatural powers to physical objects, such as good-luck charms, or to personal rituals, such as crossing one's fingers for luck.

God's power comes directly from God, and people's requests for supernatural intervention should go directly to God. Involving physical objects, directly or indirectly, is an act of idolatry.

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