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The Second Commandment: You shall not make a graven image

By David Robinson/ January 19, 2014

Series  Ten Commandments

Context  Westminster Chapel Toronto

Topic  Law & Gospel

Scripture  Exodus 20:4-6; Deuteronomy 4:1-24

We are prone to making God who we want him to be. We fashion him according to our desires and expectations. However, it is God who is remaking us in his image. The second commandment addresses the sinful desire to make God in our image and likeness.

Scripture:  Exodus 20:4-6; Deuteronomy 4:1-24

Sermon Notes:

  1. The Ten Commandments are a summary of God’s law which itself is summarized by the command to love.
  2. Grace and law are not opposites.  Lawlessness is the opposite of law.   God’s law is a gracious gift to us.
  3. Law is not the source of life; Jesus is our life.  The law shows us how we are to live in Christ’s salvation.
  4. Idolatry remains a temptation, though we no longer carve images; people have a tendency to imagine God and to refashion Him according to their own preferences.
  5. We want to make God in our own image and likeness.  But it is God who is remaking us into His image.
  6. The history of Israel is for our instruction (Romans 15:4).
  7. God reveals Himself through fire and through the Word, not through a visible image (Deut 4:11-12, 15-16).
  8. Images actually conceal and obscure Him.  How can you make an image of God’s glory? (Is. 40:18; Hab. 2:18-20).
  9. God is the One who is merciful, faithful, and slow to anger (cf. Exodus 34:6, 7).
  10. Those who worship idols become like them (Psalm 115:8).
  11. Israel exchanged the glory of God for an ox (Exodus 32; Ps 106:19).
  12. Israel turned God into an object and so started to treat each other like objects.
  13. They engaged in an orgy of sex and violence (Ex 32:6).
  14. The sexual depravity of our society is a result of worshipping a false god; in our culture, pornography has made virtual men who desire only virtual women.
  15. But the light of the glory of God has shone on our hearts (2 Cor 4:6).
  16. The second commandment does not forbid all artistic expression or images per se (cf. Exodus 35).
  17. Worship of images is what is forbidden.  It is not usually a temptation for us to worship images or paintings, but we make graven images of God in our hearts and minds.
  18. Whenever we imagine God to be something other than He is, we have broken the second commandment.
  19. When we ignore what the Bible says about who God is, we are dabbling in idolatry.
  20. We must be faithful to the whole Word that God has given.
  21. If we have a distorted view of God we have a distorted view of ourselves. We do not fashion God; He fashions us.
  22. We are in the image of God; God made Adam and Eve in His image to reflect Him.
  23. Christ makes us new; day by day, by God’s Spirit, we are being changed back into the image of God.
  24. The promise is that God shows His steadfast love forever.
  25. We are to do the work of God, discipling the nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all that God has commanded (Matt 28:19-20).
  26. The World is a desert; we are to proclaim law and gospel, so that it looks like a garden.
  27. Preaching Christ and His law, we participate in God’s work to change desert into garden and dragons into people.

Application Questions

  1. Why do images always obscure God?  How does God reveal Himself, and what are His attributes?
  2. How does the Old Testament portray idolatry?
  3. What are some of the false gods in our culture?  How have these gods affected our behaviour and humanity?
  4. In what ways do believers create false images of God?
  5. How does God’s law refashion (chisel) us into His image?
  6. What is God doing in the world via His law and gospel?

Sermon Notes