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It is written:
1 John 5:21-Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
Many believe that idols are simply lifeless statutes.
It is true that the Bible often portrays idols themselves as lifeless statues.
Psalm 115:4-8-Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; 6 They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell; 7 They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat. 8 Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them.
Psalm 135:15-17-The idols of the nations are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. 16 They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; 17 They have ears, but they do not hear; Nor is there any breath in their mouths.
Habakkuk 2:18-20-What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, The molded image, a teacher of lies, That the maker of its mold should trust in it, To make mute idols? 19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’ To silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’ Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, Yet in it there is no breath at all. 20 “But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”
These passages discuss the idea of idols being lifeless-and they are!
However, there is another aspect of idolatry that needs to be understood. The Bible clearly teaches that idols can be the receptacle or dwelling place for real spirits.
First, throughout the Old Testament, we see the clear link between idols and evil spirits. This is especially made clear in the Psalms.
Psalm 96:4-5-For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens.
Psalm 97:7-Let all be put to shame who serve carved images, Who boast of idols. Worship Him, all you gods.
Psalm 106:36-38-They served their idols, Which became a snare to them. 37 They even sacrificed their sons And their daughters to demons, 38 And shed innocent blood, The blood of their sons and daughters, Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; And the land was polluted with blood.
Notice in all of these passages, we are told about a direct connection between idols and “gods” or demons. In this light, it is worth noting that the Greek Old Testament clearly shows that the “gods” of the pagan nations are indeed demons (cf. Psalm 96:5 LXX).
Second, Paul makes this connection very clear in the New Testament. When the Christians at Corinth were partaking of the Lord’s Supper and then going to worship the pagan gods and goddesses, Paul writes:
1 Corinthians 10:19-21-What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.
Paul’s point is crystal clear: the idol itself is not anything to be concerned about. However, the demon behind the idol is a different story!
Heiser has well documented:
“This imaginary line is one that the LXX crosses quite transparently. 29 Recall that our earlier table indicated that the LXX translates benê ʾelōhı̂m (“ sons of God”) in Deuteronomy 32: 8 as angelōn theou (“ angels of God”), but uses plural forms of theos elsewhere when the gods allotted to the nations are mentioned (Deut 17: 3; 29: 26; Ps 82: 1, 6). 30 In Deuteronomy 32: 17 these gods (ʾelōhı̂m) are described as šēdı̂m, guardian spirits. The LXX chooses to translate šēdı̂m of Deuteronomy 32: 17 with daimonion but also refers to these same beings as gods (theoi): They sacrificed to demons (daimoniois) and not to God, to gods (theois) whom they had not known (LES). The vocabulary is neither inconsistent nor confused. There is no effort on the part of the translators to deny the reality of the divine beings allotted to the nations, or perhaps make them less than gods by calling them daimonion. LXX Deuteronomy 32: 17 shows the flaw in such thinking. The following instances of daimonion are instructive in this regard. The ʾelōhı̂m/ šēdı̂m allotted to the nations are daimoniois (“ demons”) in Deuteronomy 32: 17. The LXX translator made the same translation choice in the only other Old Testament passage where we find šēdı̂m (Ps 106: 37; LXX Ps 105: 37). LXX Psalm 95: 5 (Heb. 96: 5) reads, “For all the gods (theoi; Heb. ʾelōhı̂m) of the nations are demons (daimonia), but the Lord made the heavens” (LES). Here the LXX chose to translate Hebrew ʾelōhı̂m literally, but the ensuing term is not šēdı̂m but ʾĕlı̂lı̂m (“ idols”). The Hebrew Bible here draws a close association between the spirit beings and the objects of worship they were believed to inhabit. In ancient Near Eastern thought, the two were not the same, though closely associated. Construing this as meaning that the biblical writers thought the gods of the nations were merely handmade objects does not reflect the reality of ancient beliefs about idols. Michael Dick, whose research focuses on idolatry in the ancient Near East, cites ancient texts that reveal the idol maker using deity language for the idol that he made with his own hands while still maintaining a conceptual distinction between the image he made and the deity it represented. The deity would come to reside in the statue, but it was distinct from the statue. Dick notes one occasion where “the destruction of the statue of Shamash of Sippar was not regarded as the death of Shamash. Indeed, Shamash could still be worshiped.” 31 Gay Robins, another scholar of ancient cult objects and idolatry, explains the conceptual distinction between deity and image maintained in the ancient Near Eastern worldview: When a non-physical being manifested in a statue, this anchored the being in a controlled location where living human beings could interact with it through ritual performance.… In order for human beings to interact with deities and to persuade them to create, renew, and maintain the universe, these beings had to be brought down to earth.… This interaction had to be strictly controlled in order to avoid both the potential dangers of unrestricted divine power and the pollution of the divine by the impurity of the human world. While the ability of deities to act in the visible, human realm was brought about through their manifestation in a physical body, manifestation in one body did not in any sense restrict a deity, for the non-corporeal essence of a deity was unlimited by time and space, and could manifest in all its “bodies,” in all locations, all at one time. 32 The point is that, for ancient people—including Israelites—gods and their idols were closely related but not identical. This is important because Paul cites Deuteronomy 32: 17 in 1 Corinthians 10: 21–22 to warn the Corinthians about fellowshipping with demons. Paul obviously believed daimonia were real. Paul would not be contradicting the supernatural worldview of his Bible.” (Michael S. Heiser, Demons: What the Bible Really Says About the Powers of Darkness, 49-51 (Kindle Edition): Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press)
The connections between idols and spirits are well known amazing pagans. Several that I have worked with have told me of these “familiar objects” and their uses.
One author notes:
“Invocation Definition: Invocation is the act of summoning a spiritual entity into the spell caster’s very own mind and body. When using an invocation spell it is quite common for the summoned entity to communicate using the spell caster’s thoughts or voice. Evocation Definition: Evocation is the act of summoning a spiritual entity to appear outside of the individual casting the spell. When using an evocation spell the spiritual entity being summoned will not enter the spell caster’s mind or body. Some spell caster’s, especially those at the beginner or novice level, prefer evocation over invocation spells as they are somewhat less personally intrusive. This is due to evocation spells binding demonic entities to an external altar or object, rather than them temporarily entering into the spell caster’s mind and body as is the case with invocation spells. Enn Definition: An enn is a chanted sentence or phrase in an unknown Satanic or demonic language. Enns are used to invite or summon demonic entities. They are widely used and largely regarded by experts as a means to befriend and safely interact with demons and other dark entities.” (Seraphim St. Clair, Belial Summoning Spells eBook: Learn How to Summon a Demon, 1-3 (Kindle Edition))
These facts are one reason I encourage Christians to think carefully before keeping any kind of occult related object.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.