God has spoken to us and taught us that we should not put all of our hopes and efforts in the things of this world. In Deuteronomy 29:16-20 God plainly states that one who serves idols such as wood, stone, silver and gold will not be forgiven, and that His anger will smoke against that person.
The pinnacle of God’s fury with those who refuse to put Him first and the things of this world (idols) second is to blot their names out from under Heaven. God casts them away from Him. If you think about it, how unsettling is the thought of God not having your back anymore? Living for eternity in darkness? No thanks.
We cloud our lives with “things” that keep us preoccupied and don’t think twice about God until we have to, or when it’s convenient for us.
Let’s face it. We all have things that we’re passionate about or really like to do. I like to fish from my kayak. I like to camp in luxury (glamping). I like to work on my house. I like technology. Most of all, I like making money so I can do all these things.
Do I find myself idolizing this stuff? More often than I like to admit. Am I letting the things I like to do push me to an eternity in darkness? I pray that I don’t.
There is a certain comfort knowing that we are children of God, but… this can be a double edge sword. Because we know that we are children of the Most High, complacency can come easy. “Lord, please forgive me” rolls off the tongue pretty quick, but sometimes for those of us who are privileged and know we are saved, it’s easy to sometimes take God’s forgiveness for granted. Superficial lip service appears to come easy for some Christians these days, and God warns of our mistaken beliefs in Deuteronomy 29:19:
one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike.
“I shall be safe” is the lie that so many of us tell ourselves. We tend to tell ourselves that by the Blood of Christ we are forgiven, but continue to serve everything and everyone but God. That doesn’t make sense.
What does God want from us? He wants us to follow Him. He wants us to do what is right in His eyes. For some of us, this is not as easy a task as we would like it to be. How do we walk in the way of the Lord? I’m glad you asked. To understand what God expects of us, read Exodus 20 and Matthew 22:37-39.
What is an idol?
Look at the very fist commandment that God gives us in Exodus 20:3,
You shall have no other gods before me.
Anything that we place before God, and idolize and esteem more worthy of our time than God, becomes an idol.
I read an article online that talks about when we think of idols; we think about golden calves and little wooden statues and trinkets. Although we primarily read about these objects in the OT and NT, how do we equate idols and idolatry to today?
So what is an idol? An idol is anything that we allow in our lives that takes the place of God.
What is modern Idolatry? Obviously we can equate silver and gold to currency. Are we placing our trust and hope in our money and thinking we can save ourselves by what we can purchase with it? Are we preoccupied with what we purchase with it? Do we think more about getting money than we do about God?
Another big one – our identity. This is one that appears to come so naturally to many. If you have every binged on YouTube, Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram, etc., (we all have at some time), you’ve seen the cry for attention by those who desperately want to be seen and heard. It’s super obvious by the outlandish things that some people do. Many of us create an identity defined by our looks, skills, and philosophies and place our hopes and trust in the identity we’ve created… and not in God.
For others, the objects and ideas we idolize are the things we do to entertain ourselves, sex, and material objects such as electronics and hobby items. Maybe doctors? Politicians?
I encourage you to take a look at the article I mentioned for an interesting list of what we seem to naturally idolize and not realize we are doing it. The link to the article is in the footnotes below.
What is an idolater?
The Vines dictionary says:
An “idolater” is a slave to the depraved ideas his idols represent, Gal. 4:8, 9; and thereby, to divers lusts, Titus 3:3.
Again, an idolater is a slave to the depraved ideas his idols represent.
Galatians 4:8-9 says:
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
How is idolatry standing in the way of forgiveness?
Think about the priorities in your life, and do a cost-benefit analysis of what you put before God in your life.
We are Christians. God is God. We believe in God. We believe that God sent His son to provide the opportunity for forgiveness to everyone. Those of us who truly believe this practice it. So how can we put God on the back burner and let the material/immaterial objects of our lives take precedence?
Remember, God didn’t tell us not to worship idols because He wants to be mean or deprive us from pleasurable things. He wants to protect us from the harm that idolatry brings and for us to love Him first before anything. If we don’t love Him and put Him first in all things, why should he forgive us?
A big thanks to:
Jeffery Curtis Poor. “10 Surprising Modern Day Idols (how to identify idol worship in your life).”
Rethink (blog), January 4, 2022, https://www.rethinknow.org/idol-worship-today/
Information retrieved from:
Elwell, Walter A., and Philip Wesley Comfort. Tyndale Bible Dictionary. Tyndale Reference Library. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001.
Vine, W. E., Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996.
All scripture verses from:
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.