“They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”-Galatians 5:24.
Is it true or not that persons who believe in Jesus Christ do become worse than they were before? We are not backward to answer the inquiry, and we stand in a point of observation which supplies us with abundant data to go upon. We solemnly affirm that men who believe in Jesus become purer, holier, and better. At the same time I confess that there has been a good deal of injudicious and misleading talk at times by uninstructed advocates of free grace. I fear, moreover, that many people think that they believe in Jesus Christ, but do nothing of the sort. We do not defend rash statements, or deny the existence of weak-minded followers; but we ask to be heard and considered. Some persons say, “You tell these people that they will be saved upon their believing in Christ.” Exactly so. “But will you kindly tell me what you mean by being saved, sir?” I will, with great pleasure. We do not mean that these people will go to heaven when they die, irrespective of character: but, when we say that if they believe in Jesus they will be saved, we mean that they will be saved from living as they used to live-saved from being what they now are, saved from licentiousness, dishonesty, drunkenness, selfishness, and any other sin they may have lived in. The thing can readily be put to the test, if it can be shown that those who have believed in the Lord Jesus have been saved from living in sin, no rational man ought to entertain any objection to the preaching of such a salvation. Salvation from wrongdoing is the very thing which every moralist should commend and not censure, and that is the salvation which we preach. I am afraid that some imagine that they have only to believe something or other, and they will go to heaven when they die, and that they have only to feel a certain singular emotion, and it is all right within them. Now, if any of you have fallen into that error, may God in his mercy lead you out of it, for it is not every faith that saves, but only the faith of God’s elect. It is not any sort of emotion that changes the heart, but the work of the Holy Ghost. It is a small matter to go into an inquiry-room and say, “I believe”; such an avowal as that proves nothing at all, it may even be false. It will be proved by this,-if you have rightly believed in Jesus Christ you will become from that time forward a different man from what you were. There will be a change in your heart and soul, in your conduct and your conversation; and, seeing you thus changed, those who have been honest objectors will right speedily leave off their objections, for they will be in the condition of those who saw the man that was healed standing with Peter and John; and therefore they could say nothing against them. The world demands facts, and these we must supply. It is of no use To cry up our medicine by words, we must point to cures. Your change of life will be the grandest argument for the gospel, if that life shall show the meaning of my text,-“They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
…Now, try to catch the following thought.-When you believe, you accept Christ as standing instead of you, and profess that what he did he did for you, but what did Christ do upon the tree? He was crucified and died. Follow the thought, and note well that by faith you regard yourself as dead with him-crucified with him. You have not really grasped what faith means unless you have grasped this. With him you suffered the wrath of God, for he suffered in your stead: you are now in him-crucified with him, dead with him, buried with him, risen with him, and gone into the glory with him-because he represents you, and your faith has accepted the representation. Do you see, then, that you did, in the moment when you believed in Christ, register a declaration that you were henceforth dead unto sin. Who shall say that our gospel teaches men to live in sin, when the faith which is essential to salvation involves an avowal of death to it? The convert begins with agreeing to be regarded as dead with Christ to sin: have we not here the foundation stone of holiness? ~ C.H. Spurgeon
This sermon by Bob DeWaay explains why the second commandment prohibits images for use in worship. God speaks authoritative words through His ordained spokespersons. Pagans create images to represent their deities but God’s people may not do so. Those who do are idolaters. The “host of heaven” are not merely stars and constellations, but spiritual beings under which God put the pagan nations. God’s people are to be directly under Yahweh.
He does not distinguish between God’s instructions to man for the making of certain images in the tabernacle and the brazen serpent and man’s own inspiration in making images of “Jesus.” My view is that one is practicing idolatry when they bow their heads in prayer to an image of “Jesus” that was created by man which he teaches on at about 38 minutes in, i.e., mental images .