2019-06-21 - Warnings from the Animals
Part 2 ~ Tigers
Originally Published 2011-06-24
The second is tigers - paper tigers, actually. For those who have not heard the term, a paper tiger is defined in Webster's as "one that is outwardly powerful or dangerous but inwardly weak or ineffectual" This term is also found in a relatively new translation called The Message:
Galatians 4:8-11 (MSG)
Earlier, before you knew God personally, you were enslaved to so-called gods that had nothing of the divine about them. But now that you know the real God -- or rather since God knows you--how can you possibly subject yourselves again to those paper tigers? For that is exactly what you do when you are intimidated into scrupulously observing all the traditions, taboos, and superstitions associated with special days and seasons and years. I am afraid that all my hard work among you has gone up in a puff of smoke! Looking in a more traditional translation at that same passage.
Galatians 4:8-11 (KJV)
8Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. 9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
Here, the false gods and rules and regulations we force on ourselves are said to be "paper tigers." We are warned away from them, as well. False idols can do nothing for us, and legalism can and will steal our joy and cripple our ministry. The paper tiger is a warning against false idols and legalism.
Psalms 115:18 (KJV)
- Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.
- Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?
- But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.
- Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.
- They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:
- They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:
- They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.
- They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.
Idols can't do anything. They are said to have brains of wood and stone, and verse 8 says those that trust in idols are just like them. Now we may not have little Buddhas in our homes, but maybe we have other kinds of idols. As Dwight L Moody once said, "you don't have to go to heathen lands today to find false gods. America is full of them. Whatever you love more than God is your idol." Some of us even make God in our own image, or at least into the image we want him to be. We think God is only pleased if we dress a certain way, sing two songs, pray, take up an offering, sing two more, say another prayer, read from a version of the Bible, listen to a sermon, sing another song and say a final prayer. We think God can only use this or that. We fashion for ourselves a god of rules, regulations, and our own traditions. That's not God; that's just another worthless idol known as legalism. Jesus made several mentions of those who went worshipped that god.
Matthew 23:27-28 (KJV)
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Jesus said those that worshipped the gods of legalism are hollow empty shells, nice looking on the outside but no substance, no meat. You know what irks me? I hate going to one of those steakhouses that serve peanuts, getting me a nut, cracking it open and finding some shriveled up black raisin-looking nut inside. That's exactly how God must feel about legalism.
God came to earth as a man, to set us free. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:17 (KJV), "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
I believe there's a flip side to that verse. But where the spirit of legalism is, there is only bondage. The tiger should remind us to avoid the trappings of idolatry and legalism.
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