John Calvin said, “The human heart is a factory of idols. Every one of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.” It is a good reminder for me of how prone I am to set up idols in my own life.
Idolatry is mentioned frequently in the Bible. As you read through the passages of the Old Testament, it was a constant failing of the nation of Israel. Despite continual warnings from God, the people repeatedly returned to idolatry. Today, God is still warning us about idol worship. It is not an issue of the past, nor does it only apply to religions who worship idols or other gods. It takes place in our meetings, small groups, worship services, Bible studies, devotion times, or as we live out our daily lives. As we go through the next few weeks, I will examine some of the idols I have recognized in my own life. Today, I want talk about why idolatry is something to be taken seriously.
Idolatry is the worshiping, valuing, or treasuring of anything more than God. When this happens in our lives, it warps our worldview. It skews our perspective and permeates the various aspects of our lives. It impacts our desires, pursuits, our families, our friends, our church, and our relationship with God.
God’s relationship with His people is often referred to in terms of a marriage. It is no surprise, therefore, that idolatry is frequently presented as spiritual adultery (Jeremiah 23:9-12; Ezekiel 16:30-43; Hosea 2:16-20; Hosea 3:1-5). In the New Testament, the church is referred to as the bride of Christ. Thus, as in a marriage, we need to guard our hearts and minds against those things which impact and damage that relationship. Otherwise, the results can be significant and devastating.
God is God. He alone is God. He is the creator and sustainer of all things. God, in Christ, is our Redeemer. All things are from Him, and through Him, and to Him (Romans 11:36). He alone is deserving of glory and praise. He is passionate about His glory and will not give it to anyone or anything (Isaiah 42:8). Therefore, if something in our life reigns higher than God, we have given it the glory of which God alone deserves.
As believers and followers of Christ, we are set apart for God alone. Anything that takes the place in our lives reserved for God becomes a barrier in that relationship. Therefore, idolatry hinders and damages our relationship with God. Our pursuits and affections are driven by something else other than God and His desires for us. Our perspective becomes earthly rather than heavenly and eternal (Colossians 3:1-17).
Idolatry hinders the work of the Spirit in our lives and ministry. We begin to make decisions for our families and churches based on worldly principles rather than the truth of God found in His Word (Galatians 4:8-9; Hebrews 5:11-14). We can even find ourselves in a position where we are fighting against those who are following God’s will for the church, all the while, thinking we are on a noble mission.
In addition, our growth in Christ is hindered because we are finding our strength and wisdom from the wrong source. The Word instructs us to be rooted in Christ and in His Word. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This transformation will deepen our relationship with God and produce lasting fruit (Colossians 2:6-8; Romans 12:1-2). Idolatry produces no good fruit and nothing that is eternal in our lives (Luke 6:43-45; John 15:1-5).
Ultimately, idolatry results in stealing any true and lasting joy from our lives. There is nothing in this world that will satisfy our needs and desires as God can. Anything else will fall short. This world has nothing to offer that will last. It is a dry and weary land, with no water to quench our spiritual thirst. God will truly satisfy our souls (Psalm 63:1-8; John 4:7-15). The lie of idolatry is that it will satisfy. But it never does. In the end, we are left with empty hands and empty hearts. Scars from the devastation of sin are also left in the wake of idolatry.
God loves us with an eternal love, beyond our comprehension. He has gone to great lengths to redeem us and bring us into a glorious relationship with Him. The cross of Jesus Christ, and the price paid there, gives testimony to the depths God has gone to bring us back to Him. I pray that we, in our pursuit of the life of worship, would take hold of the greater joy offered to us. Let’s not be satisfied with anything less than what God desires for us. Let’s find our true and lasting joy in Him, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Together for His glory…