Roman Catholic Idolatry and Why You Must Put it Away

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Roman Catholic Idolatry and Why You Must Put it Away
Roman Catholic Idolatry and Why You Must Put it Away provides biblical teaching concerning the issue of idolatry and why it is so dangerous.

Roman Catholic Idolatry (and Why You Must Put it Away)

When an image of the Virgin Mary is found in the church of the living God, or among the possessions of any of his servants, it serves to demote God of his glory, and ascribe honor and praise to Mary, who like all servants of the Lord, deserves absolutely none. She is a mere servant of the living God, and that is all. To quote Mary,

“... My soul magnifies the Lord. My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46-47)

So, as you can see, Mary called God her “Savior.” Thus, we see clearly from Luke 1:46-47 that Mary recognized her need of a Savior. But who needs a Savior? And why would one like Mary, or like you and I, confess they even had a need for such a Savior? What does he save us from, anyway? The answer is clear!

“She shall give birth to a son. You shall name him Jesus, for it is he who shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

Thus, we see in this statement what exactly it is that Jesus saves people from their sins!

And that is why you and I need a Savior and why Mary herself needed a Savior. We all need a Savior because we are sinners, deserving of death, even as we read:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

So then, Jesus rescues us from (eternal) death (if we believe in him). We are to trust him as our Lord and Savior. This is something that each of us must do.

“for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

So then, Mary cannot boast, and neither can we. God saves us by his grace, through faith, and that is the end of the story. Praise God!

We read a similar statement where Paul says,

“What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!” (See Romans 7:24-25)

In other words, Jesus Christ is the one who rescues us from our sinful state. He will rescue us and give us a new body at the resurrection. And this indeed is what Jesus said to Martha, the sister of Lazarus, who had died:

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies.” (John 11:23-25)

Now here is what Jesus said earlier:

“This is the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)

So what hope did Mary (the mother of Jesus) have in her being able to rise from the dead one day, and receive a new body at the resurrection? Was that hope in herself or in her own good works? Could it possibly be in herself? How could this possibly be since Mary confessed her need for a Savior? Does not Romans 6:23 (quoted previously) clearly tell us that the wages of sin is death? Surely, Mary died, and the only one who could save her and give her that new body that she was longing for was Jesus, even as Jesus said in John 6:40. Is Mary anywhere mentioned in Scripture as being able to provide people with new bodies? The Scripture never teaches that for good reason: Mary was a sinner!

“for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)

Therefore, Mary could never fulfill the righteous requirements that could only come through the Lord Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless life. He alone is worthy of praise. Mary is not. None of us are.

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, the Holy One, to receive the glory, the honor, and the power, for you created all things, and because of your desire they existed, and were created!” (Revelation 4:11)

Is Mary anywhere mentioned in the above passage? Absolutely not! Only God created all things. Only God is worthy to receive glory, honor, and power.

“You are Yahweh, even you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their army, the earth and all things that are on it, the seas and all that is in them, and you preserve them all. The army of heaven worships you.” (Nehemiah 9:6)

If then Mary herself acknowledged her need for a Savior, why then we do exalt Mary, a mere human being, who herself was a sinner? Surely, you acknowledge she was a sinner!

“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth, who does good and does not sin.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

Which Bible passage gives you the right to now exalt her? Which Bible passage gives you the right to make a picture of her, so that your affections, and the affections of others, might be divided among God and Mary? Do you not see the sin? Do you not see the competition?

But what does God say?

“I am Yahweh. That is my name. I will not give my glory to another, nor my praise to engraved images.” (Isaiah 42:8)

So then, God abhors (hates, disdains, rejects) any graven images including statues that serve to bring any form of competition against his supremacy. For he alone is supreme. There is no other. How then could you compare a mere man, or a mere woman, to the glory that belongs only to God? Or how can you possibly compare the Creator with that which was created? May it never be!

“For who in the skies can be compared to Yahweh? Who among the sons of the heavenly beings is like Yahweh?” (See Psalm 89:6-8)

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and traded the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man ... who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 1:22-25)

And Mary, being a human being, could she ever hear anyone who was praying to her? Which verse in the Bible gives you the authority to pray to Mary, and call her mediatrix?

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

So then, God explicitly declares there is one mediator, and it is not Mary, but Jesus. So how can you possibly live in contradiction to this, by allowing images of the Virgin Mary to be in your presence, by which others will be encouraged to call her a mediatrix, which is clearly against the Bible? These things are called sin. These things are called idolatry, because you are setting up Mary, a mere created human being, alongside God, to somehow be compared with what only God and the Lord Jesus Christ can do. Can Mary really do what Jesus Christ can do? Did she not ask Jesus Christ, her son in human flesh, for help, at the wedding in Cana, when they ran out of wine? Otherwise, if she was equivalent to Jesus, she would have created the wine herself!

When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine.” (John 2:3)

Yes, indeed! In her moment of need, Mary went to Jesus. And that is exactly what you should do, too! Why then go to Mary, who is a created being and not the Creator, when you have a need? You are doing exactly the opposite of what Mary herself did. Mary held no images of herself, no statues of herself. How could she and why would she? She was merely a created being! There were also no statutes of Jesus. But there was Jesus: the author and perfecter of our faith. Is Mary said to be the author and perfecter of our faith?

“Therefore let us also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (see Hebrews 12:1-2).

So then, there is nowhere where Mary, a mere created being, is said to be the author and perfecter of our faith. Mary is nowhere to be found in that passage or any passage in which Jesus is exalted. Mary is, simply put, a human being: no better, and no worse, than you or I. She is a sinner. Like us all, she needs a Savior. Why then are you exalting Mary? As the angel said to John, when John bowed down to him, seeing the angel was so great, and so mighty,

He (the angel) said to me, “See you don’t do it! I am a fellow bondservant with you and with your brothers, the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (Revelation 22:9)

Yes, that was a golden rebuke! Worship God only! Do not bow down to anyone but God!

Taking it a Step Deeper

Let us now look at how it is that Mary is exalted by humans. First, what did Mary say herself? (From the NASB):

“My soul exalts the Lord” (see Luke 1:46)

Compare this with what humans do: they exalt Mary! Yet, we read,

“For that which is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (see Luke 16:15).

In other words, God hates it when you exalt a human being. This is sin. This is an “abomination” (a terrible evil). Would you still like to exalt Mary? How did this happen, anyway? The truth of the matter is that the early church (going back to Paul and the apostles) never did this. They had their eyes clearly fixed on Jesus. And that is exactly what we are to do in Hebrews 12:2:

“... looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (see Hebrews 12:2).

That is why God could use the apostles so powerfully. Yet many of them (even most of them) died as martyrs. What happened after this? Well, you never read about Mary being exalted in the way that she is exalted today (which is sinful) in the Bible, or among the early followers of Jesus. But later on, you do. But certainly this is not found in the Bible, and the Bible forbids this practice all throughout the Scriptures. Yet later, among some who called themselves Christians, we see that images were made of Mary. She was “venerated” as some people like to say. What is “veneration”? Veneration is a word that sounds and feels like “worship” without actually saying the word “worship”. Is it OK to “venerate” a person if you are not “worshipping” them? The problem is not with the word “venerate” or “worship” but with the heart. The Bible says,

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

And again,

“I, Yahweh, search the mind. I try the heart, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:10)

The point here is that there are all sorts of things in the world that may not be right and may even be quite wrong but God will use that to test your heart, to see where your heart is at. Are you really a servant of the living God, deserving of a reward in heaven one day? Well, God is going to look at you, in how you respond to an image of Mary. The problem with this image is that it has the tendency to turn your heart in the wrong direction away from God and towards Mary. This is not right.

Surely, that image can be a snare to you, and even to the whole world, even as other things were a snare in the Bible, and led people astray. Consider what happened in the case of Gideon. (He is a very famous person in the book of Judges in the Bible. God used him powerfully.)

“Gideon made an ephod ... and put it in Ophrah, his city. Then all Israel played the prostitute with it there; and it became a snare to Gideon and to his house.” (Judges 8:27)

Thus it was that Gideon made an object called an “ephod” which became a snare to “all Israel” including Gideon and his house. This ephod became an idol the people looked to it for help and assistance, instead of looking to God. What a shame! Gideon himself had been such a great warrior of God. But look what happened afterward. People developed superstitions concerning the ephod (this object that he made) and instead of worshipping God, they “played the prostitute with it” meaning they ascribed power and authority to this object, rather than to God. In other words, their hearts were turned astray, and they became superstitious (which is exactly what people do with images of Mary, they place them in locations, thinking that they will afford them protection and prosperity. This is a superstitious belief. It has no basis in Scripture. It is wrong, and God calls it idolatry, which is equal to the sin of witchcraft.)

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry ...” (1 Samuel 15:23)

Superstitious beliefs therefore lead to great trouble.

The human heart has a tendency to waver. We need to continually be brought back to God. That is why we have church. That is why we have preachers. These bring us back to God. Well, they are supposed to as long as they preach from the word of God, which is the Bible. But when a church (like the Roman Catholic church) puts aside the Bible and puts it second place to tradition (thus putting their tradition above the word of God), this invites all sorts of problems including image worship. Except they do not call it image worship, but veneration. But what is veneration? Veneration is a way that your heart will go astray. Remember the warning in the Bible?

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

What about the other warning?

“I am Yahweh. That is my name. I will not give my glory to another, nor my praise to engraved images.” (Isaiah 42:8)

So God does not like graven images. He does not like statues which place themselves in competition with his glory.

Remember the other warning?

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

All this is very clear from the Scriptures, but there is so much more. What does the Bible say? The Bible says,

“Pay attention to yourself and to your teaching. Continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:16)

But are you doing that? Are you paying attention to your teaching and making sure that it really lines up with the Scripture? Are you really willing to pay the price of discipleship, or are you just going along with the crowd, because it is convenient? Surely, you must understand that God will not be mocked, and that whatever a man sows, this he will eventually reap whether in this life, or in the life to come. For in this life, yes, there are martyrs, and some may even have to lay down their lives for the sake of the gospel. But in the next life, there are martyr’s crowns. So what is it that you are fearing, that is preventing you from standing for the truth in these matters? Thus for your sake, and the sake of all those who will observe your example, I urge you to kindly do the right thing, and take a righteous stand for the Lord. For you will never regret it, and in the end, people will say, “Thank you for doing the right thing” though it was difficult, perhaps, for a season. Yet which of the disciples, who ever lived and died for Christ, ever regretted it?

Thus, I urge you today to forsake your idols, and lay them down at the foot of the cross.

I have said enough, have I not? But if you are still not sure where you stand on this, I encourage you to read this article again, slowly, and to go over each verse I have mentioned, and to look them all up in your own Bible.

Please, do not be caught in the sin of idolatry, which is what you are doing by regarding or paying attention to these images of the Virgin Mary or other created beings who have died as believers in the past. They are simply like you or I, no better, no worse. What is, after all, Mary, except a created being, like you or I? She is made of the same substance — flesh, dust, and earth!

We are not to exalt created beings in any way. Let us instead set good examples for others, that they might follow in them. By so doing, we will assist others and not put a stumbling block in their way. And yes, we will be able to store up treasure in heaven, which is the end goal. Be warned against causing others to stumble by your behavior! Jesus said,

“... whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a huge millstone were hung around his neck and that he were sunk in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6)

In closing, let us heed the words of Scripture, which warns us against such things.

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21)

May God bless you.

 

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