Selected Messages Book 3


Chapter 45—Balanced Counsel on Picture-making and Idolatry

[See Selected Messages 2:318-320.]

It is a difficult matter for men and women to draw the line in the matter of picture-making. Some have made a raid against pictures, daguerreo-types, and pictures of every kind. Everything must be burned up, they say, urging that the making of all pictures is prohibited by the second commandment; that they are an idol. 3SM 330.1

An idol is anything that human beings love and trust in instead of loving and trusting in the Lord their Maker. Whatever earthly thing men desire and trust in as having power to help them and do them good, leads them away from God, and is to them an idol. Whatever divides the affections, or takes away from the soul the supreme love of God, or interposes to prevent unlimited confidence and entire trust in God, assumes the character and takes the form of an idol in the soul temple. 3SM 330.2

The first great commandment is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37). Here is allowed no separation of the affections from God. In 1 John 2:15-17 we read, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” Now if the pictures made have a tendency to separate the affections from God, and are worshiped in the place of God, they are idols. Have those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ exalted these things above God, and given their affections to them? Has their love for treasures filled a place in their hearts that Jesus should occupy? 3SM 330.3

Have those who have burned up all their pictures of friends and any kind of pictures they happened to have, come up to a higher state of consecration for this act, and do they seem in words, in deportment, and in soul, to be ennobled, elevated, more heavenly-minded? Is their experience richer than before? Do they pray more, and believe with a more perfect faith after this consuming sacrifice which they have made? Have they come up into the mount? Has the holy fire been kindled in their hearts, giving new zeal and greater devotion to God and His work than before? Has a live coal from off the altar of sacrifice touched their hearts and their lips? By their fruits you can tell the character of the work.—Manuscript 50, 1886. 3SM 331.1