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                       "THE FLESH AND THE SPIRIT"

                          Idolatry And Sorcery


1. As we continue our examination of the "works of the flesh" listed in
   Ga 5:19-21...
   a. We come to sins which modern man may think do not affect him
   b. These are the sins of "idolatry" and "sorcery" - Ga 5:20a

2. However, as we examine them more closely, I believe we shall find
   that these sins are not as far removed from us as we might think...
   a. Indeed, most people practice idolatry!
   b. And many people engage in some form of sorcery!

[This is true of many Christians as well, so perhaps we should give
these words our careful attention...]


      1. In the beginning stages of idolatry, no one worships the idol
         or image itself
         a. The idol simply served two purposes:
            1) To localize the god it represents
            2) To visualize the god it represents
         b. It is simply designed to make it easier to worship the god
            represented by the idol
      2. Inevitably, however, people will wind up worshipping the idol
         or image itself
         a. We see this in various forms of Catholicism
         b. Where the leaders say the image is not an idol, only an 
         c. But who can deny that the average worshipper begins to view
            the image itself as something "holy" and to be "revered"?
         d. Thus that which is "created" begins receiving adoration 
            rightfully due the "Creator"
      3. According to Ro 1:19-23, the basic error of idol worship is
         the worship of the "created thing" rather than the "Creator of
         all things"!

      1. Idolatry is not just the adoration or worship of images
      2. Paul defines "covetousness" as idolatry - Ep 5:5; Co 3:5
         a. Any strong desire for material things that replaces our 
            desire for God is a form of idolatry!
            1) Our hearts are such that they are drawn to whatever is 
               our treasure - Mt 6:21
            2) If our treasure is earthly things, our heart (devotion)
               is drawn away from God
            3) We cannot serve material things and God at the same 
               time! - Mt 6:24
         b. Thus we can be idolaters when we make things other than God
            Himself our priority in life, such as:
            1) Our job
            2) Our house
            3) Our family
            4) Our hobby

[So when we find admonitions like this one...

      "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." - 1 Jn 5:21

...let's not be so presumptuous to believe that we are too "modern" or
sophisticated to need such a warning.  We might need it more than we 
realize!  The same can be said for warnings against the next sin...]

II. PHARMAKEIA (witchcraft, sorcery, magic)

      1. PHARMAKEIA is found to be used in three ways
         a. Medically, to the use of drugs with no bad meaning at all
         b. The misuse of drugs so as to poison, not cure
         c. The practice of sorcery and witchcraft, which often used 
            drugs to cast spells and alter the behavior of others
      2. The practice of witchcraft and sorcery is strongly condemned
         in the Bible
         a. In the Old Testament - Exo 22:18
         b. In the New Testament - Re 21:8
      3. In Ac 19:18-20, we find a remarkable example of repentance
         related to the practice of magic

      1. There is an increasing number of religions based upon the 
         occult, and that make use of drugs in their religion
      2. The "recreational" use of drugs also falls into this 
         a. Remember that altering the behavior of others through such
            drugs was a basic function of sorcery and witchcraft
         b. What difference is there between using drugs to alter 
            others' behavior, and your own?
         c. This is not to discount the proper medicinal use of drugs
         d. But just as the Bible condemns drunkenness, which is an 
            altered state brought on by alcohol (a drug), so it would
            seem to condemn similar use of other drugs


1. As we continue our study of the "works of the flesh", we should keep
   in mind that each one of these sins is a perversion of something 
   which in itself is good; as illustrated by Barclay...
   a. Fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness - perversions of the
      sexual instinct which in itself can be a beautiful thing and a
      part of true love between a man and a woman
   b. Idolatry - a perversion of worship
   c. Sorcery - a perversion of the proper use of drugs
   d. Hatred, contentions, jealousies - perversions of that noble 
      ambition and desire to do well which can spur one to greatness
   e. Outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions - perversions of righteous
      indignation without which the passion for goodness cannot exist
   f. Dissensions, heresies, envy - perversions of the devotion to 
      principle which can produce the martyr
   g. Drunkenness, revelries - perversions of the happy joy of social

2. Indeed, the following is so true:

   "The awfulness of the power of sin lies precisely in its ability to
   take the raw material of potential goodness and turn it into the 
   material of evil." (Barclay)

I implore us all to devote our lives in the proper worship of God and 
His Son Jesus Christ, and to abstain from the misuse of anything God 
has created for good purposes!
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