Date written: April 30th, 2006 Scripture ref: Judges 2:10-19
When Religion Has No Authority
SUBJECT: False Religion
TITLE: When Religion Has No Authority
PROPOSITION: In this lesson we will study Judges 17-19 and draw appropriate lessons.
Objectives: Each ought to be able to explain how a lack of respect for God's authority leads to false religious practices.
1. Read: Judges 2:10-19
2. About the Text:
1) The time of the judges was a turbulent time for the nation of Israel.
2) This was due primarily to their devotion to false religious practices.
3) Because of these practices, God would send them into the hands of a foreign nation.
4) They would repent and call upon God.
5) God would raise up a judge to deliver them.
6) They would be faithful for a while.
7) Then they would turn back to their wickedness again.
8) This cycle repeated itself all through the period of the judges.
9) It is during this period that we find our text for study this evening: Judges 17-19.
10) The text centers upon a man named Micah and his false religious practices.
11) Ref. to S, T, P, O, and A.
DISCUSSION: From this text we learn . . .
I. Even though our intentions may be good, false religious practices are still sinful (Judges 17:1-5).
1. God had made it clear that the Israelites were not to make graven images (Exodus 20:4-5).
2. The intention of Micah's mother was to honor God.
3. She says as much in verse 3. The silver was dedicated to Yahweh.
4. However, she used it for a forbidden practice.
5. In Isaiah 42:8 God says, “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”
6. The intention was good, but the practice was wrong.
7. Good intentions aren't sufficient when religion has no authority.
II. When God's people forsake His law, they will behave according to their own opinions (Judges 17:6).
1. God has give us His word so that we can know how God expects us to act (Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”).
2. Because God is Who He is, His word is the standard for right and wrong. His word is law.
3. 1 Corinthians 9:21 says that we are under law to Christ.
4. However, if we act outside of God's law, we become a law to ourselves.
5. That's the situation we find the people of this day in.
6. They did that which was right in their own eyes.
7. Deuteronomy 12:8 “Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.”
8. We simply cannot afford to live outside of God's rule or standard of behavior. We must be a people governed by God's word and not by our own opinions.
9. When religion has no authority, each man's opinion is as good as another's.
III. Godliness is not a way of gain (Judges 17:7-12).
1. Here is a man who was of the house of Levi, but was not qualified to be a priest.
2. Only those of the house of Aaron were qualified to be priests (Exodus 29:9).
3. The text also says that Micah ordained or consecrated him (vs. 12).
4. Priests were supposed to be ordained or consecrated by the High Priest after they met the qualifications (Exodus 19:1-9).
5. Micah had no authority to ordain this man as his priest.
6. However, because Micah promised him a livelihood, he took the job.
7. 1 Timothy 6:5 states, “Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”
8. When religion has no authority, “godliness” is simply another way of gain.
IV. Having a form of godliness doesn't guarantee godliness (Judges 17:13).
1. Micah was happy with his new “priest” because he thought this would bring him closer to God.
2. Again, Micah seems to have good motives here; he wants to be close to God.
3. However, his motives aren't backed by sound judgment and doctrine.
4. Micah had a form of godliness; he had a Levite as a priest.
5. But we know that forms alone aren't what is pleasing to God.
6. 1 Samuel 15:22 “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”
7. Micah 6:8 states, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
8. Psalm 51:17 states, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
9. 2 Timothy 3:5 says that there are some who have a form of godliness, but deny the power by denying the word authority over their life. We are to turn away from such.
10. When religion has no authority, any form of godliness will do.
V. “Men of God” are not always right (Judges 18:1-6).
1. When these five Danites came to this priest they asked what God's word was for them.
2. There was no indication that this man received a message from God, yet he delivered them a message.
3. Where was his authority for such a message? What was his standard for delivering that message?
4. Unless someone speaks based upon God's authority, the message is empty and meaningless.
5. The Bereans sought to confirm Paul's message (Acts 17:11).
6. John tells us to test the spirits (1 John 4:1).
7. When religion has no authority, men will believe anyone.
VI. Material goods are fleeting (Judges 18:7-17).
1. When the Danites returned to possess the city of Laish, they took Micah's idols.
2. You recall that Micah had made these idols out of his inheritance.
3. Perhaps he thought that changing his silver into something with a religious appearance would protect him.
4. In contrast, the Bible teaches that we have no guarantee that our worldly possessions will be protected.
5. Matthew 6:19-21 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
6. When religion has no authority men may think that goodness guarantees prosperity.
VII. Doing the popular thing isn't always doing the right thing (Judges 18:18-21).
1. When the “priest” asked the Danites what they were doing, they invited him to come along as it were.
2. In the ESV verse 20 says that the “priest” “went along with the people.”
3. He was going along to get along; doing the popular thing simply to get along.
4. Jesus tells us that this isn't the way that things work for His disciples.
5. Luke 6:26 states, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”
6. Sometimes doing the right thing means we can't do the popular thing.
7. Paul wrote, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
8. When religion has no authority men will simply go along to get along regardless of what God's word says.
VIII.When there is no law to govern, might makes right (Judges 18:22-26).
1. When Micah came back to retrieve his property, the Danites told him to give it up or die.
2. Micah force wasn't as great as the Danites, so he decided that the idols weren't worth dying over.
3. Those who had the most votes won!
4. The Bible teaches that it isn't always the mighty that are right.
5. Jeremiah 9:23-24 states, “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”
6. Psalm 147:10-11 “He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.”
7. When religion has no authority, might makes right.
IX. If gone unchecked, sin will permeate all like leaven (Judges 18:27-31).
1. Micah's graven image had taken a life of its own, so to speak.
2. It started simply as an inheritance from his mother but grew to corrupt many others.
3. The priest, the five spies, the 600 warriors, and then the entire tribe of Danites were affected.
4. Micah's sin had become a cancer.
5. We wonder sometimes why we have to be aggressive with sinful beliefs and practices.
6. If we are not, then we will end up in the same situation.
7. Galatians 5:9 says, “A little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump.”
8. Paul told the Christians at Corinth, “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).
9. When religion has no authority, sin will take control and rule.
1. The bottom line is that when religion has no authority, then anything goes.
1) We must not abandon the concept that in order for our religion to be pleasing to God we must respect His authority.
2) When we do such, we end up no different than the men during the time of the judges who simply did that which was right in their own eyes.