New Revised Standard Version
Benefits of Worshiping the True God
15 But you, our God, are kind and true,
patient, and ruling all things[a] in mercy.
2 For even if we sin we are yours, knowing your power;
but we will not sin, because we know that you acknowledge us as yours.
3 For to know you is complete righteousness,
and to know your power is the root of immortality.
4 For neither has the evil intent of human art misled us,
nor the fruitless toil of painters,
a figure stained with varied colors,
5 whose appearance arouses yearning in fools,
so that they desire[b] the lifeless form of a dead image.
6 Lovers of evil things and fit for such objects of hope[c]
are those who either make or desire or worship them.
The Foolishness of Worshiping Clay Idols
7 A potter kneads the soft earth
and laboriously molds each vessel for our service,
fashioning out of the same clay
both the vessels that serve clean uses
and those for contrary uses, making all alike;
but which shall be the use of each of them
the worker in clay decides.
8 With misspent toil, these workers form a futile god from the same clay—
these mortals who were made of earth a short time before
and after a little while go to the earth from which all mortals are taken,
when the time comes to return the souls that were borrowed.
9 But the workers are not concerned that mortals are destined to die
or that their life is brief,
but they compete with workers in gold and silver,
and imitate workers in copper;
and they count it a glorious thing to mold counterfeit gods.
10 Their heart is ashes, their hope is cheaper than dirt,
and their lives are of less worth than clay,
11 because they failed to know the one who formed them
and inspired them with active souls
and breathed a living spirit into them.
12 But they considered our existence an idle game,
and life a festival held for profit,
for they say one must get money however one can, even by base means.
13 For these persons, more than all others, know that they sin
when they make from earthy matter fragile vessels and carved images.
14 But most foolish, and more miserable than an infant,
are all the enemies who oppressed your people.
15 For they thought that all their heathen idols were gods,
though these have neither the use of their eyes to see with,
nor nostrils with which to draw breath,
nor ears with which to hear,
nor fingers to feel with,
and their feet are of no use for walking.
16 For a human being made them,
and one whose spirit is borrowed formed them;
for none can form gods that are like themselves.
17 People are mortal, and what they make with lawless hands is dead;
for they are better than the objects they worship,
since[d] they have life, but the idols[e] never had.
Serpents in the Desert
18 Moreover, they worship even the most hateful animals,
which are worse than all others when judged by their lack of intelligence;
19 and even as animals they are not so beautiful in appearance that one would desire them,
but they have escaped both the praise of God and his blessing.