Saturday, November 8, 2008

"We Become What We Worship"

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Study 15 --- 1 Samuel 17:1-54

1 Samuel 17:1-54


“What You Revere You Resemble, Either for Ruin or Restoration”

G. K. Beale is a New Testament scholar at Wheaton College Graduate School. He has recently written a book entitled We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry. The thesis of his book is simple: “what you revere you resemble, either for ruin or restoration.”
Probably the most explicit place we see Beale’s thesis is Psalm 135 (see also Psalm 115):

16 They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
17 they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them!

Spiritual insensitivity, that is, spiritual deafness, blindness, and muteness has a cause. That cause is idolatry.

Seeing as God Sees

In 1 Samuel 16 we saw that “the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). God does not see as we see. His perspective is different than ours.

But can we change? Can we come to see things as the Lord sees them? Can we come to share his perspective?

The answer is yes. This is the goal of sanctification. The goal of the Christian is to be renewed more and more into the image of Jesus Christ.

Now, undoubtedly, our sanctification and renewal into the image of Christ will always be partial in this life. We will never perfectly reflect the character of our God, nor share his perspective completely, until we are glorified with Christ in heaven. But if we will worship the true God, then Beale’s thesis (which is Scripture’s thesis) will have a beginning in our lives: “what you revere you resemble, either for ruin or restoration.”

Perspective from the Standpoint of What We Worship and Trust

In 1 Samuel 17 it is remarkable to see David with a completely different perspective than Saul and the rest of the nation. The reason for this is that David shared the Lord’s perspective. And the deeper reason for both David’s perspective and the nation’s perspective is what we learn in Psalm 135:18, that we become like the “god” we worship and trust. If we trust and worship the Lord, then restoration will take place as our spiritual sight, hearing, and health are restored. But if we trust and worship idols, ruin will take place and we will be afflicted with spiritual blindness, deafness, and lifelessness.

In 1 Samuel 17 we have a picture of all of this. David was able to see Goliath from the Lord’s perspective. He wasn’t focused on the terrifying outward appearance of this man. Instead, he saw deeper, and saw how Goliath served a dead idol named Dagon, who was no match for the “living God.” In fact, earlier in the book of Samuel there had been a match between the Lord and Dagon on Dagon’s home field, and the result was a handless and headless Dagon lying prostrate before the Lord. The same fate would befall Goliath (Goliath became like the idol he worshiped sharing in Dagon’s judgment) as he fell on his face before the Lord’s anointed (v. 49).

In contrast to David, Saul and Israel could not see Goliath from God’s perspective. They cowered in fear because they could not spiritually see, hear, or act. The reason for their failure was idolatry (we learn that Saul had stopped following the Lord in 1 Samuel 15:11). If they would have known the Lord as David knew him, then they could’ve acted with the spiritual vigor that comes from spiritual insight.

The Importance of Adoring the Triune God

Dear friends, what we worship and adore is so crucial. Idolatry is ruinous because we become like the idols we worship. Just as idols are blind, deaf, lifeless, and subject to judgment, so those who trust and worship idols become blind, deaf, lifeless, and subject to judgment. Spiritual blindness, deafness, and paralysis are the results of idolatry. Unless we repent we will also reflect their judgment.

On the other hand, when we worship and trust in the triune God, we are restored as we come to share the Lord’s perspective. As Romans 12:2 puts it, those who trust in the Lord and worship him are “transformed by the renewal of your mind.” They learn to do the “will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

If this principle of becoming like the thing we trust, revere, and adore is true, then we have great incentive to get to know the living God --- the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us come to the Father through Jesus Christ, the true worshiper, David’s greater Son, who can sanctify and perfect our far from perfect trust and worship. Amen.

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