But you, our God, are good and true. You are very patient. You govern everything in your mercy. Even if we sin, we will still belong to you because we know your power. But we won’t sin, since you consider us as your own. Perfection of life is to know you. To recognize your power is the root from which everlasting life grows. The misguided art of humans didn’t deceive us, nor did the fruitless labor of clever painters even when they created an image that was dazzling in its combination of colors.

The sight of idols, however, creates desire in fools. They begin to long for a dead statue’s lifeless image. Those who make them, those who want them, and those who worship them are all lovers of wicked things. They all deserve to have their hopes misdirected in this way.

The potters take great pains to mold the clay. They make each piece for our use. They make some containers to be used for holy purposes. Others will be used for ordinary purposes. Both pieces are made from the same clay, and both are made in the same way. But the use to which each is put is left up to the judgment of the potter. The potters takes great care—but it is an evil care!—to design a useless god from the very same clay that only a moment before had come from the same earth from which the potters themselves also had been taken. It is the same earth to which the potters will one day return when their entire being’s debt has to be paid back. Yet the potters don’t worry that they are going to come down with some terrible disease or even that they will have only a short life. Rather, they spend all their time competing with the goldsmiths and the silversmiths, imitating the bronzeworkers, and thinking it’s the greatest honor imaginable that they spend their lives making counterfeit gods.

10 Their hearts are nothing but rust. Their hopes are more useless than dirt. Their lives are worth less than the clay they mold. 11 Why? Because the potters don’t know who made them. They don’t know who breathed life into them and made them move, who put a spirit in them to become a living being. 12 They think that life is just a game. They think that our day-to-day existence is just a profit-seeking carnival. As they say: “You must earn a living however you can, even if it means doing the wrong thing.” 13 These people know better than anyone else that they are sinning when they give shape to equipment and images that are easily broken, because they are both fashioned from the same earthy material.

14 But the people who are most foolish of all, and even more to be pitied than the soul of a little child, are the enemies who oppressed your people. 15 These enemies considered the nation’s idols to be gods, even though these idols have no eyes for seeing, no nostrils for breathing air, no ears for hearing, no fingers for touching, and no feet for walking. 16 A mere human made them. A person who has been given his spirit on loan crafted them. But no human is ever able to fashion a god who is anything like God. 17 Being a human, a person can construct only a dead thing with lawless hands. These people are better than the things that they worship, for they have life and the things that they worship do not.

18 On top of it all, the enemies of your people worship the most hateful animals, things that are less intelligent than any other creatures. 19 Even as animals, there’s nothing appealing or beautiful about them. They have neither the praise nor the blessing of God.