The second of the 10 Commandments declares:
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (ESV)
It isn’t enough to worship God. You must worship him only in ways that he prescribes. The only effective means of worship are the ones God gives to us, not the ones we invent ourselves.
The Old Testament is filled with examples of human beings devising their own idolatrous acts of worship. The children of Israel worshiped the image of a golden calf. Nadab and Abihu offered unauthorized fire on the Lord’s altar. And every time the people infused their man-made images, incense, or words with spiritual efficacy God responded in judgment.
God is spirit and we are not to depict the divine as a created image. God’s Words are not our words, therefore we are not to present our words as holding divine authority.
This does not mean we ought to smash our nativity scenes at Christmas, but we are never to use pictures and images to focus our prayers or kneel down to them. We ought to avoid devotionals which pass off the words of a human as if it were Jesus speaking to us.
God has given us his Word. His Word has prescribed how we ought to pray, confess, preach, and believe in Christ. These prescribed means of worship are not merely enough for us, to go beyond or outside of them is to drift into spiritual disaster. So, read the Word, and worship in accordance with its instructions.
And, hear God’s second command for you: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God”