Justin’s sarcasm will come through pretty strongly in chapter 9 as he describes the origins of Roman idols. His argument against materialism in worship is as sound today as it was two thousand years ago. We still seem to wrestle with the concept that God wants our lives, not the stuff we can do for Him or the stuff we can give to Him (as though He needs anything anyway). As Eugene Peterson paraphrases Psalm 50:
” But why should I want your blue-ribbon bull,
or more and more goats from your herds?
Every creature in the forest is mine,
the wild animals on all the mountains.
I know every mountain bird by name;
the scampering field mice are my friends.
If I get hungry, do you think I’d tell you?
All creation and its bounty are mine. …
“Spread for me a banquet of praise,
serve High God a feast of kept promises, …”
Chapter IX.-Folly of Idol Worship.
It’s true; you won’t see us laying garlands of flowers on, or bringing offerings to the shrines of your gods. We just don’t believe they are representing any form of God. They’re just statues to us, lifeless works of art. We don’t believe God is in the form of the things men have carved with their hands. As we said, we believe there are spiritual powers behind those things, but demonic entities, not gods.
The origin of these images isn’t some big mystery. You know where they come from, you see artists carving them in the marketplace. You know exactly what kind of tools they use, hammers, chisels, metal-working molds. You also know they can take a piece of scrap metal, a discarded end-piece of wood or a chipped stone, and rework it to be in the shape of what you end up calling a god. That’s nonsense to us. Doesn’t it seem like a true God would be insulted by using scrap materials to represent him, when he is ineffable in his beauty? Seriously, think about it; God is resplendent in his glory, and yet you worship bits of stone that constantly have to have pigeon poop washed off them, or pieces glued back on. Doesn’t that seem wrong?
Not only that, but look at the lifestyle of the artists who craft these images! You know very well that the artist communities have a reputation for their promiscuous lifestyles. The girls that work for them are no different, all of them given over to lust. How does that make any sense? People who can’t even control their own lives are able to create gods that you submit your lives to. Doesn’t that seem odd? You even set these sex crazed people up as guardians of your temples (not to mention the ludicrous notion that mere men need to be guardians of the gods).
Chapter X.-How God is to Be Served.
What we’ve learned is that God is the one who made all things, who provides all things to us; He doesn’t want or need the offerings of material things you offer to your gods. What we’ve been taught has thoroughly convinced us that the offering God wants from us is our life; that we live in a way that is harmonious with His nature of self control, justice, care for others and all the other good qualities that belong to the invisible God. Our belief is that God is the one who created everything material out of nothing, including mankind. What God is doing is restoring us to our original purpose, to be in relationship with Him, and to be delivered from the corruption of this broken world. We have the choice to follow Him or not, to fellowship with Him or not. If we choose to follow Him, we believe we are given a never ending life with Him.
We didn’t bring ourselves into the world, and we had no capacity to save ourselves from the corruption this world has fallen into. All we could do is say ‘yes’ to God’s offer of salvation, and from there, He is the one who leads and molds us as we continue believing in Him. We do believe in Him, and have such confidence in Him that we want everyone to know about Him like we do.
What human laws and regulations could never achieve through forcing good behavior, God by His Word, has produced in us by changing us from the inside out. We think everyone would see the truth of this, if it weren’t for the dark and powerful forces at work to stop us from getting the word out. There is a war on, and people who are following their own will are unwittingly being used by our spiritual enemy to spread lies and rumors about us that are far from reality.