God is the only power

For the Lesson titled “Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced” from November 25 - December 1, 2013

This week’s Bible Lesson, titled “Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced,” opens with a line from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked” (6:7, Golden Text). In other words, God is the only power, and it’s important to be mindful that you aren’t tricked into thinking that whatever you do in the name of God, religion, or ethics, is for your own glory. The temptations to take personal credit for goodness can be subtle.

The ancient Israelites knew of these temptations. The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible renders Deuteronomy 11:16 (citation 1 in the Lesson): “Take care, or you will be seduced into turning away, serving other gods and worshiping them.” Ancient Israel’s prohibition against idolatry and the worship of other gods made it theologically unique in that world. Worshiping other gods meant turning away from God. It would be easier to look pious than to forgive your neighbor. Taking that shortcut is denounced by the Torah, and that is why we have the command in Leviticus 19:2, “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy” (citation 2). The rest of that chapter describes what holiness looks like in practice. It includes being just, compassionate, and humble. It also includes the commandment “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (verse 18), quoted by Jesus and Paul in the New Testament.

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