Q. What is idolatry?
A. Idolatry is having or inventing something in which one trusts in place of or alongside of the only true God, who has revealed himself in the Word.
Read: (1) 1 Chron. 16:26; Gal. 4:8-9; Eph. 5:5; Phil. 3:19.
Everything is an ode to self. What we do. What we desire. What we buy. What we think. What we say. We are constantly looking for ways to make us look better…better than the rest. With facebook posts. With resumes. With what clothes we wear and what cars we drive and what zip code we live in. Anything and everything in the name of proving to others that we are to be liked and looked at and worshiped. We have made ourselves an idol to be worshipped by self and by others. We have made our families and our possessions and our occupations idols. And so, without even noticing we have created a culture of idolatry in us and around us and so we offend God. But why? Why is idolatry such a big deal to God? Let’s study question 94 of The Heidelberg Catechism to answer this question.
In our minds idolatry is kneeling before an image. It is what we think of when we see people kneeling and praying in front of a statue. And this is partially true. Worshipping stone, wooden and metal images so that they protect us or grant us our petitions and wishes is idolatry. In the Bible there are multiple occasions where we see idolatry like this. Take for instance 1 Samuel 5 where God placed the pagan Philistine god Dagon in its place prostrated before the One True God and without hands or feet as proof that Dagon was but a carved rock. Or take 1 Kings 18:19-40 where in a one on one competition between Baal’s prophets and Jehova’s prophets, the One True God kills and burns the false prophets and proves that He alone is God, worthy of all the glory. So yes, sister, idolatry sometimes involves worshipping an image.
But that is not all that idolatry is. Idolatry is “extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.” In Bible terms, idolatry is trusting something or someone other than God. And many times, this means worshipping ourselves. Take for instance Matthew 6:1-18 when Jesus is talking about when you give and pray and fast. He was telling the Pharisees that those things should be done in secret. Why? Because they were doing all of that so that others would see them and praise them. They were doing this so others may glorify them. In our day in age self glorification can take the face of Facebook posts of our perfect moments so others see us and praise us. Or it can be getting a better and bigger anything so I can be comfortable and others see how successful I am. Or it may look like forsaking others, and acquiring possessions for ourselves because we deserve them. When we make things about us, our comfort and our praise, we make ourselves an idol.
Now let’s be careful, am I saying that having stuff and wanting better is bad? No. Inherently, things are not bad in themselves. It is a heart issue. If what you are looking to get is so others praise you; if what you are looking to get is something that you can’t imagine losing and surviving; if what you are looking to get is something that you put over and beyond God; then you have an idol and you need to repent.
It takes humility to recognize our idolatry issues. It takes humility to ask God to help us because we are helpless. But sister, when you do you get so much more because all of a sudden you aren’t running yourself exhausted to get stuff that won’t satisfy you. You aren’t putting yourself in the center and with that place being vacant, you can put God in the center and that can teach your heart to love God and love others well. When you lay down your idols; both internal and external; you find yourself loving God and loving others and in that God gets all the glory and you get the joy and satisfaction because you do what you were created to do. You work exactly how you were created to.
So sister, as I finish this teaching today I want to ask you, what idols have you created? What things have taken the rightful place of God? And even if you are scared to let them go, would you ask God for help? Remember when you do, He will get all the glory and you will get the satisfaction and joy because you are doing what you were created to do.