Acts 15:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
Note: Last Sunday I preached from Acts 15 on The Apostolic Decree in which the apostles and elders in Jerusalem wrote to the Gentile brethren in Antioch telling them they did not need to be circumcised but they did need to abstain from idolatry, fornication, things strangled, and blood (the latter two likely referring to pagan sacrifices). Here is an excerpt:
This past week I read a book titled Fragments from Kamunting: 325 days in police custody for the Christian faith. The book is a collection of the prison writings of Pastor Poh Boon Sing of Malaysia who was imprisoned for his faith from October 27, 1987 to September 17, 1988. From prison he continued reading, writing, and directing his church’s labors as a pastor. In one letter he passed on counsel to share with the church regarding a new convert who had come to Christ out of paganism but who still had household gods within her home. He wrote the following:
Concerning the removal of idols at Mdm Ng’s, a bit of “ceremony” will do no harm, and may even accomplish some good. My suggestion is that Ho leads a group of church members to her house at the appointed time, sing a hymn, pray, then ask her the following questions in the hearing of all:
(i) Do you personally and willingly desire these idols to be destroyed?
(ii) Do you agree to continue learning more of the Bible’s teachings and to obey God to the best of your ability?
Then proceed to remove all the idols, ask her for any charm papers and lockets that need destroying, and bring them out of the house. When everyone is gathered around read Acts 19:11-20. Then say, “Mdm Ng has requested for these idols to be destroyed. We shall now destroy them in the name of the true and living God—The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Then proceed to break the idols and tear up all the charm papers. Then burn them. Bring along a hammer and old newspapers and matches! Finally sing another hymn and close in prayer. Perhaps have a cup of tea in her house before leaving (pp. 128-129).
This is essentially what the apostles were saying to the Gentile believers in the Apostolic Decree. You do not need circumcision. You need the true and living God. And you must break completely with your old pagan life and your old pagan worship.
In our Western context, we may not have household gods that need to be removed in this manner, but we do have our own idols that must be crushed when we come to Christ.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
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