Apostles, Church Fathers, even Ancient Patriarchal Prophets agree: Idolatry is the origin and cause of sin. Take a moment to consider with me a few Bible passages mixed with some supporting texts and commentary from devoted believers, and what I would like to think of as inspired (but not infallible) men.
"The principal crime of the human race, the highest guilt charged upon the world, the whole procuring cause of judgment, is idolatry."-The Works of Tertullian Part 1 Chapter 2
The second century Church Father, Tertullian ( c. 155 – c. 240 AD), known as the father of Western theology was known as such partly due to his extensive Christian Writings. In his works he wrote at great lengths about idolatry; namely it’s inspiring nature on other sin, and its origin and connection to angels. Admittedly, this was a new idea when we had first read his works, but it was one worth considering.
Tertullian continues, “...For, although each single fault retains its own proper feature, although it is destined to judgment under its own proper name also, yet it is marked off under the general account of idolatry.” He goes on to explain that Idolatry takes glory away from God, whom its due, and presents it to devils. “..idolatry does fraud to God, by refusing to Him, and conferring on others”. After Tertullian goes down the list of different sins and makes individual connections to idolatry (Read his full works to learn more) he concludes it by saying “..thus it comes to pass, that in idolatry all crimes are detected, and in all crimes idolatry. Even otherwise, since all faults savour of opposition to God, and there is nothing which savours of opposition to God which is not assigned to demons and unclean spirits, whose property idols are; doubtless, whoever commits a fault is chargeable with idolatry, for he does that which pertains to the proprietors of idols." In short, sins are contrary to God and therefore are aide and party to those whose very purpose and existence is contrary to God. When we sin we join ourselves with devils.
"I am aware that the Scripture of Enoch,18 which has assigned this order (of action) to angels”, Tertullian mentions later in his works. He is referring to The First Book of Enoch, which says (as the Bible does) that angels came down took the form of man and took human women as wives. This was their first act of disobedience against God, and first step into corrupting mankind. They continued their rebellion by teaching man many forms of sin, and man rewards this rebellion by worshipping them and their offspring as gods. Like Tertullian said “..idolatry does fraud to God, by refusing to Him, and conferring on others”.
To recap before going directly to bible passages, Tertullian makes the case while referencing Enoch that all sins are attributed to and created by Angels/Devils/False Gods. To partake in sins which they taught is to be their disciple and makes them our Master. To do that which is created by a false god is to partake in idolatry. At the very least, when we sin we do what is contrary to God therefore supporting those who are contrary to God. Keep in mind the first rebellion was fornication. This will come up again soon.
To be clear I don't believe that no one ever sinned prior to Genesis 6. Obviously, it wasn't the cause of expulsion from the Garden and the infamous murdering of Abel, to name a couple. Neither Adam's nor Cain's individual iniquities caused the corruption and subsequent destruction of all mankind, save eight. The sin that entered in by the angels was that of a catastrophic proportion which according to almost all text was the cause of corrupting all mankind. Reference Genesis 6 to read more about this sudden corruption.
So let’s go to the Book!
In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul writes "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” He goes on to compare the Christian practice of the Lords Supper and Israel’s sacrifices with idolatry. What they all have in common is the fact that by receiving any of the elements of any given sacrifice, we are joining ourselves with the spirit they are performed to. Paul explained how Christians commune with Christ through bread and wine. Likewise, if bread wine or anything else is blessed or performed in the name of an devil anyone partaking of it has communion with devils. Paul goes on to say, "But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.”
This teaching of Paul's was not new to me. I did however come across a passage recently that reminded me of what Tertullian taught concerning idolatry. Paul wrote in Colossians 3 ,
"Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:”.
Every sin he named is relative to the first rebellion of the angels of Genesis 6 that Tertullian and Enoch (as well as the Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus) spoke of. Paul concludes this list of sins by calling them all, yup…IDOLATRY! What are the chances. He continues,
"For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:”.
While I believe this applies to many people and generations, I cannot ignore the fact that the phrase here is also fitting for the same company of angels and humans. After all, it’s this company of celestials that rebellion itself is attributed to, them being guilty of it and being its proprietors and teachers. In addition, their offspring as well as their metaphorical offspring, being their human pupils and worshippers, were promised and received the wrath of God for their disobedience; their human worshipers received condemnation and judgment by the waters of the flood [according to Genesis, Enoch, Josephus, and Church Fathers]; their offspring being sentenced to suffering through never receiving rest, but (their spirits) abiding in the earth forever as unclean spirits only finding homes in the flesh of animals and people [according to Enoch and DSS]; and the principle offenders (the angles) themselves being chained awaiting the judgment that is to come [according to Jude and Peter].
Finally consider the constant warning of the Apostles to the Gentile believers,
"That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.” [Acts 15:29].
The warning of idolatry seems to be frequently partnered with a warning against fornication. To avoid beating an already dead horse I will just ask you to consider these warnings in light of all the information above. I hope to write solely about Fornication at length soon. I believe it to be the capital and preferred sin of the devils; a gateway sin if you will.
In the book of Revelation, the Churches of Pergamos and Thyatira we find a very interesting parallel:
"But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication...
Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.”.
Later in this book of prophecies we see that even though they suffered greatly they would not turn away from idolatry:
"And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:”.
I imagine much more could be said, but I will leave you to first digest what I have shared already. I’m sure most of this may be new or very different than the teachings you are familiar with. I only ask that you have an open mind and consider what the text really says. Don’t consider it for my sake so that this view may be justified by you, but rather, if in fact this view is accurate, that it would truly edify anyone that receives it, glorify God, and encourage us all even more to abstain from all sin. I mean, is it even logical to think that a deceiver would deceive you into not being deceived?!?! LOL. Didn’t think so.
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