Although this article is part of a series, it is a Complete study on its own. (6 of 18 in series)* all [bracketed] words in Scripture quotes are mine *
About the above picture: Idolatry is anything that is worshiped instead of God. An image of something that in itself is not bad can be an idol. Even the worshiper himself can be an idol that he worships.
"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before your God?" (Micah 6:8)
"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh...
...For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be of led the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such things there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." (Galatians 5:16-26)
Welcome Back To Our Series On Defeating Our Human Nature...
I love animals, those fuzzy, funny, furry friends that everyone loves to compare to people. There are all kinds of things you hear of animals doing in the natural course of their day. Funny thing though about the animal kingdom - you never walk through the woods and stumble upon animals in a prayer group. Neither will you find them all bowing down in worship to a little carved wooden image or an idol of themselves. Animals do what they were programmed to do and they were created without the need to worship.
In contrast, humans are irresistibly religious. We were created to need God in our lives and to turn to God in our need. The need to worship is universal, an innate sense to give homage. The fact is, every person worships something. Every single individual has the natural tendency to worship, to elevate something to ultimate status in their list of precious things. Whatever is topping that list is what they worship. If there is no thought of a god, then there is reverence for something that the person puts in God's place. There will be worship, even if the god that is worshiped is an obscure concept or goal, even the person's own self. I will elaborate on this definition of worship later with the sense that the Bible uses when it speaks of worship as an act of the human heart.
This is the 6th part of our series on "Defeating Our Human Nature." In part 1, we covered the difference between walking with Jesus in the Spirit, and doing things our way, according to our own lusts and living in the flesh. In part 2, we spoke of the deep spiritual significance of marriage and what the act of adultery does to this God-given institution. In part 3, our lesson was on the widespread presence of fornication and the devastation it causes. In part 4, we explored the reasons why we humans' fleshly desire is to be unclean and to remain unclean. In part 5, the lesson was on lasciviousness, lewdness, that cheapens so much of the quality of our lives. This installment deals with the sin of idolatry...
Choose one: (A. Worship God) or (B. Worship Anything Else)
In the beginning, God walked with Adam. He visited with Him face-to-face in the cool part of the evening when the breezes blew fragrances from the flowers and the hues of the soon setting sun began to color the sky (Gen.3:8). God revealed Himself to him. We know of others to which He revealed Himself in order for His will to be accomplished, for example, Job, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Many people knew of the strange God that was invisible, that had no name, and was known only as "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." It wasn't until Moses, that God revealed Himself fully to all mankind, not only by miracles and wonders but also by the written word (the Law, the Bible), and by a name I AM. It was said that through Abraham and his children Isaac and Jacob, then on down through his descendants, that all the human race would be blessed. Thus this God was in reality not only the God of Abraham but of all of us. God revealed Himself to us through the descendants of Abraham (the Jews), but God never intended Himself to be only the God of the Jews. He created every person and made Abraham our "spiritual father" so that the blessings promised to Abraham and to his children would also pass to every believer that believes by faith (like Abraham did).
"His name [God's name] shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him; all nations shall call Him blessed." (Psalm 72:17)
"Then He said, 'Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.' Moreover, He said, 'I am the God of your father - the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'" (Exodus 3:5-6a)
"Abraham 'believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' Therefore know that only those who are of faith are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify [declare righteous] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, 'In you [Abraham] all nations will be blessed.' So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham." (Galatians 3:6-9)
"Then Moses said to God, 'Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?' And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And He said, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM [YHVH] has sent me to you.' Moreover, God said to Moses, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'The God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever and this is my memorial to all generations." (Exodus 3:13-15)
"And God spoke to Moses and said to him; 'I am the LORD [YHVH - "I AM"]. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name LORD [YHVH] I was not known to them.'" (Exodus 6:2-3)
Naming children in this day and age is different than it was in days of old. A parent or both sit down and think of names out of a name book or that "sound nice." The custom in old times was to name a child for a particular trait, or an occurrence happening around the birth, or something that described him now, or what the parents envisioned the child would become or maybe after a relative so that the child may continue the family legacy. Esau got his name because of his red hair. Isaac got his name because his mother had laughed at the thought of herself giving birth at such an old age.
People would expect the name of God to reveal something about Him. What name (in any language) could possibly describe God so that it would fit the Almighty? God said, "I AM THAT I AM" which translates to mean, the "ALL SUFFICIENT ONE." Though this is a great name that God chose in response to the question asked, the Bible has revealed many names since to encompass traits that God wanted all to realize only He could bear, Jehovah Jirah, Jehovah Nissi, Jehovah Shaddai, among a host of others including the name that He chose for Himself when He came to earth as a human, Yeshua or Jesus. He knows each man's heart of worship and what name you choose from all the names He's given Himself is fine. A person tends to call God the name that inspires him the most about God. God had said, the men before Moses knew Him but not by that name I AM, the ALL SUFFICIENT ONE. They had in fact, been worshipping the gods of the peoples around them because they did not think God to be all sufficient. Now He made the official decree: I AM ALL SUFFICIENT. You must worship only Me.
This YHVH identified Himself as the God who created heaven, earth, and all that is in it. He, as Creator, as Sovereign LORD, explains that it is by the power of this God, the Great I AM, that everything you see and know to be, exists. He devised the workings of the universe, enacted all the laws on which science functions, put everything in its proper place, and even states that it is because of Him that all things consist (hold together). Does He have the right to expect us to worship Him? Does God whose power and grace actually maintains a person's life and form deserve worship? Only a fool would say otherwise. Read the following verses carefully. It puts many things in perspective.
"The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God." (Psalm 14:1)
"Thus says God the LORD [YHVH], who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it: 'I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness, I will hold your hand; I will keep you and give you [the Jews, descendants of Abraham] as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house. I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images. Behold the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them." (Isaiah 42:5-9)
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn [prototokon Gr.- Pre-eminent One] over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things [reference to prototokon - He is pre-eminent], and in Him all things consist [hold together]. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn [prototokon] from the dead, that in all things He may have the pre-eminence." (Colossians 1:15-18)
When Moses came down from the mountain, in his hands were two tablets of stone carved without hands and written on by the finger of God. On the tablets was the Law, a set of guidelines, an "owner's manual" for life, if you will. He let the people know immediately that they were to have no gods before Him.
"And the LORD spoke all these words saying: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments." (Exodus 20:1-6)
As Moses, the "friend" of God, was ready to come down from the summit of Mt. Horeb with the two tablets of the law in hand, God said to him, "Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and made sacrifices to it, and said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt."
Throughout Scripture the nation of Israel and others were called to task for carving a god and worshiping it. Here are some examples from Scripture. But make no mistake there were thousands more. God refered to as many gods as towns or villages making the tendency to adopt a god for each settlement. All of these are abominations to the LORD God.
STAR OF REMPHAN
DIANA OF THE EPHESIANS
God knew how hard it was going to be for Israel to refrain from copying the people surrounding them. He had said that if they were to listen and obey Him that they would have blessings of the former and latter rain and health and peace of mind. But that kind of worship needed faith, this God cannot be seen with the naked eye. He manifests Himself in many other ways, the chiefest of which is His awesome Creation. God personally shows each man evidence of Himself and of His glory and attributes through the things He has created. There is no excuse for idolatry because each person is shown clearly the truth of God, by God Himself. Idolatry is tempting but not impossible to resist. In order to resist idolatry, they would have to reinforce their own faith by reviewing and rehearsing the words of God in their minds constantly every day. They would have to discipline themselves to confess their sins and to sacrifice, to pray and to read, to stay their mind on heavenly things afar off.
"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart...So shall it be when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore...then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. You shall love the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you (for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth." (Deuteronomy 6:6, 10a,12-15)
The neighboring religions were different. To the tactile senses the gods worshiped by Israel's neighbors were real. They sparkled and shone with gold and silver and precious stones that caught and appealed to the lust of the eyes. You could have little carved talismans in your pocket and little shrines in your home. You could create a garden of worship for yourself to commune with nature and smell the flowers while you chilled with a god you felt was truly yours. The heathen groups around them had developed their idol worship into whole plausible dogmata that made sense in the mindset of the times. They wove into their worship items you could see and touch, nothing requiring faith and thoughtful contemplation. The religion contained, color and artwork, pageantry and social involvement, rituals that made one feel like they had an active part in their own deliverance, partying that included intense sexual tension and release; who wouldn't lust after that?
God warned them and told them exactly what they would be tempted to do and the results if they did:
"My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images." (Isaiah 42:8)
"Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the LORD's anger be aroused against you, and he shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you." (Deuteronomy 11:16-17)
"You shall burn the carved images of their gods with fire; you shall not covet the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the LORD your God. Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing." (Deuteronomy 7:25)
"You shall not make idols for yourselves; neither a carved image [which included pictures or sacred runes] nor a sacred pillar [phallic image or fertility idol] shall you rear up for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone [specifically sacred runes] in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God." (Leviticus 26:1)
"Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them [each person that ever lived]. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things." (Romans 1:20-23)
In the apostle Paul's list in Galatians 5, the word used for idolatry is the Greek word eidololatreia (i-do-lol-at-ri'-ah) and is a general term for the practice of idol worship in that Greco-Roman culture. This worship included the offering of sacrifices daily to any number of idols (for example, Diana of the Ephesians), and whose worship included bowing down to and praying to the idol in some form, the selling of the sacrificial meat to the public, the sexual prostitutes at Diana's temple, the selling of small idols and talismans of her, and so on. This word eidololatreia refers to the worship of the idol and to the worshiper as if they are joined by these acts of worship into one. But the meaning of idolatry is much deeper than this. The root words used show the deeper significance of the abominable practice that is so detestable to God. The word comes from the joining of two root words; one of which means "worship of a heathen god" and the other means "giving away love and devotion that which belongs to God." So this act is an act of thievery and betrayal that in God's mind is tantamount to adultery against God. (Israel was accused of such adultery at various times in her past.) Yet the sin is more loathsome than that, it also gives the meaning of "becoming a slave" and "coming into bondage" to a piece of stone or a mere idea. Literally, the sense conveyed is one of a person who has sold himself into slavery to something that he has decided is above God in power and importance. The connotation is that of a pathetic petitioner on his belly groveling, pleading, begging and beseeching this thing which he himself has made into his god, but is totally incapable of delivering him.
"The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths but they do not speak; eyes they have but they do not see; they have ears but they do not hear; nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them." (Psalm 135:15-18)
"Bring charges against your mother [Israel], bring charges; for she is not My wife nor am I her Husband! Let her put away her harlotries from her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked and expose her as the day she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst."..."Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, and will wall her in, so that she cannot find her paths. She will chase her lovers, but not overtake them; yes she will seek them, but not find them. Then she will say, 'I will go and return to my first husband [not referring to God but a metaphor for her way of life before she knew God as husband], for then it was better for me than now.' For she did not know that I [God] gave her grain, new wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold--which they prepared for Baal. Therefore I will return and take away My grain in its time and My new wine in its season, and will take back My wool and My linen, given to cover her nakedness. Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall deliver her from My hand."..."I will punish her for the days of the Baals to which she burned incense. She decked herself with earrings and jewelry, and went after her lovers; but Me she forgot,' says the LORD"... "And it shall be in that day,' says the LORD, 'That you will call Me 'My Husband,' and no longer 'My Master,' for I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals, and they shall be remembered by their name no more." (Hosea 2:2-3, 10-13, 16-17)
At the act of idolatry, God is somewhere between feelings of righteous anger and sarcasm, for He says He will laugh at the worshippers of idols in the day of judgment. It is ludacris to carve a form in a piece of lifeless material like stone and then call on it to deliver you, yet that is just what Israel did and so does anyone that worships any God but the true God.
"Again, the devil took Him [Jesus] up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And said to Him, 'All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Away with you Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the LORD your God , and Him only shall you serve.'" (Matthew 4:8-10, see Deut. 6:16)
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God [Of the same essence - He is God in human flesh], but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him THE name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord [Rightfully translated "LORD" I AM] to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11)
One must worship the One true God, namely the LORD, which came in the person of Christ Jesus and who manifests Himself as the Holy Spirit. To worship anyone or anything else is idolatry. One can elevate a thing carved, or an idea, or an ideal, or a desire, and many other things (including themselves) to the level of idolatry by giving that thing obedience instead of obeying the words of God in His Bible.
Popular Idolatry In America
America's roots are in Christianity and the evolution of its social structure is such that, for the average person here, none carry small talismans in our pocket. We don't go to a temple and bow down to a carved or molded and decorated statue of some likeness under heaven. We don't have temple prostitutes or blood sacrifices or meat sellers but we have gods in America nonetheless.
America is a hodgepodge of people thinking themselves intellectual and progressive. We are a rich nation, among the richest in the world. Wealth built upon the hard work of generations of men and women, many of whom worshiped the LORD God. But now, as a culture, the wealth we own, owns us. We are a slave to it, instead of to the God that makes wealth possible. We, as a country, have sold ourselves to the god, Mammon. The popular notion is that there is a price for everything and everything has a price. Countless movies and books have been written exploring whether or not anyone possesses anything at all in their lives that has no price tag or is too precious to be sold. I know this idea makes people cringe because they have families, they have a life, and a culture, but those things that a person thinks are valuable begin to look less precious should someone offer a million dollars, or two, or three, or 10, or 100 or more to give it up. For the vast majority of people, there is a price at which they would sell everything so as to "enjoy life."
"For the love of money [love of money not the money itself] is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1 Timothy 6:10)
"No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve [worship] God and Mammon." (Luke 16:9)
Which brings us to another god, the idea that any amount of pleasure obtained is a good thing and each person deserves to be surrounded by pleasure at all times. Hedonism is a god that never is satisfied. Lavish lifestyles scream at people of no means or of little means. They look at people who are rich and/or frivolous with their money and at all the pomp and ceremony, along with the attention which they receive from everyone, and they covet it. They make idols in their own mind of these people who have found a way to make all of their hedonistic dreams come true. Nothing offends when it comes to these people and what wasteful thing they wish to do with their lives and means. No one says "how can people live with such shallow lives?" They just envy and wish the same for themselves. People risk and lose millions and millions of dollars gambling for the chance to gain such a lifestyle. People who have these lifestyles are described as "having it all." But Jesus asked the question, what if a person gained the whole world but lost his soul?
"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and is himself destroyed or lost?" (Luke 9:25)
Money is not the only thing that is plentiful in America, so is education, which opens up the worship of intellectualism and the deification of one's own mind and thinking. From this comes atheism and agnosticism. From this comes the attitude of "thinking themselves wise, they became fools." (Romans 1:22) The universities of "higher learning" convince children that the mind is the greatest power in the universe. They continually "rationalize God out" of the equation of life. With God out of the way, the possibilities are endless in the area of false gods to set up. The person has put themselves and their own thinking process in the place of God.
Sometimes it is not these things that are deified but it is an individual trait or quality in people, an ideal or goal. Some people will deify skin color, or power, social pre-eminence, fame, stature, beauty; to name a few. Such things absorb the mind and keep God out of the picture for them because, for the moment, those things are their gods.
There really are so many gods to worship in this country (America), as many as there are sinful minds to conjure them up. However, the last I will touch on in this article is the god present in religion. Religion is man designing a belief system that suits him, instead of teaching what God reveals about Himself in His Holy Word. Religions are here in this country by the thousands. Only those who use the Bible as their "sole rule of truth and practice" are getting the ear of God, the rest are just gathered for the social aspects, or to make themselves feel like they are doing something to earn their salvation. So many churches and places of worship that don't call themselves churches have deviated from "thus sayeth the LORD." Each of these has set up their own god instead of the God they claim to be worshiping.
"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9)
What To Do About Idolatry: FIRST...
We are now familiar with idols and idolatry all around us, what do we do with this knowledge? I suggest you do what God commanded to be done with the idols in Biblical times. If we consider the absolute elimination of everything linked to idolatry like men such as Moses and Josiah did in obedience to God, we can draw some comparisons to follow.
"And so it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses' anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and he scattered it on the water, and made the children of Israel drink it." (Exodus 32:19-20)
"And he defiled Topheth, which is the valley of the son of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech [sacrificing of children to ensure good crops from Molech]. Then he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-Melech, the officer who was in the court.; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. The altars that were on the roof, the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, the king broke down and pulverized there, and threw their dust into the brook Kidron. Then the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, which were on the south of the mount of corruption, which Solomon king of Israel had built for Astoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the people of Ammon. And he broke in pieces the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images and filled their places with the bones of men. Moreover, the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he broke down; and he burned the high place and crushed it to powder, and burned the wooden image. As Josiah turned, he saw the tombs that were there on the mountain. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar, and defiled it according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed." (2 Kings 23:10-16)
Firstly, Moses destroyed the calf and Josiah located and destroyed all the prominent, flashy idols, visible to all, that stood in defiance of God. When the idol came crashing down, everyone saw a change come to their way of life.
We too must look to see what in our lives stands as an idol in utter defiance against God, visible for all to see. Do we bow down to money and worship it, giving it more consideration than God, more thought than God, more serious devotion than God? Do we consider our own thoughts more valid than those of Scripture? Do we pick and choose what verses of Scripture to believe and obey and dismiss others as not applying to us? Burn those idols! Break them down, grind them to powder so you can't pick them up again. Scatter that dust to the wind so you can't gather the dust and cling to the memory of that false god.
Secondly, Josiah rooted out any places that false worship would occur other than at the main site that was normally used, such as the high places, the groves, the gardens, the shrines in the intimate part of homes.
We too must seek out hidden gods in our private comfortable places (where people do not see) to eliminate anything which we would put in place of God.
Thirdly, Josiah sought out the places where incense was burned to aid the prayers ascending to whatever god they were worshipping.
We too must watch our mental attitude and the inner thoughts of our hearts to see if there exists anything that would rise up inside us against the Godship of the LORD God Almighty. In the deepest recesses of our hearts, we must be aware of all desires and things that we allow ourselves to adore. We must watch them so that none take our minds off the LORD our God. Those are the things we tend to make into gods and then proceed to bow to them inside our hearts and worship them.
Lastly, Josiah put an end to the connection Israel had with the ones that brought the idolatry to them. He destroyed all who practiced such things from out of Israel's sight. He took away icons of false worship destroying the shrines made by Jeroboam (who was king and caused all Israel to sin by law of the land), by king Solomon, by anyone that had influenced Israel to sin.
We too, must re-evaluate (perhaps severing) connections with people who would weaken us to begin idolatry in our lives again.
Idolatry is an abomination and so easily accommodated in our sinful mind. It is possible to stay clean from it by constant rehearsing of Scripture, by redirecting our thoughts and making them obedient to God. Because we are sinners the beginnings of idolatry dwell in the desires and lusts of each and every one of us. Watch and keep close to God and learn to love Him and we will not give our worship to another.
Is This Your God?
Who do you worship? Is it some fake and painted-up idol that the world claims will save you? Is it something about yourself that you cling to as if it is more important than God? Isaiah was given a taste of His majesty from the safe distance of a vision. Isaiah describes the majesty of the Almighty God that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob worshiped and that showed Himself to Moses. Is this your God?
"In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the LORD sitting on the throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two wings he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said, 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts [YHVH]; the whole earth is full of His glory!' And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him [the seraph] who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke." (Isaiah 6:1-4)
What response did it make in Isaiah when he realized that he was standing before God?
"So I said, 'Woe is me for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
Yet the story does not stop there.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"..."And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:1, 14)
When Peter realized who it was that stood before him clothed in human flesh, what was his reaction?
"When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!'"
What was Thomas' reaction when he saw that Christ had risen from the dead and he stopped doubting in unbelief and saw Christ for who He was?
"And Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God.'"
God's majesty is undeniable. This is the God that demands and deserves everyone's worship. He is awesome in majesty and power, that's a fact, but it is also true what is said about Him: "God is Love." (1 Jn. 4:8)
This God so loved the world that He gave His son so that any who would believe in Him would not die and be separated from Him but have everlasting life with Him in heaven forever.
So, I guess the question is, What have you done with Jesus? Do you believe that He is God in human flesh who died to save you from your sins? Do you believe that He came to earth and what was left of His body that was bloodied and broken for you and me was buried and rose three days later? Do you see yourself as Isaiah and Peter did as sinners, and undone? If so, you can pray this prayer - here pray this:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know You are the true God who loved me so much You put on human flesh and came to earth to let sinners tear that body from You. I know You were buried and rose again and You did this all for me. I know that I am a sinner and I am undone. I have lived my life as I pleased and I know that I need you to save me because I cannot save myself and take myself to heaven. Please, LORD, forgive me and save me. I promise to follow You and obey You for the rest of my life. Thank You for saving me. I pray this in Your holy and awesome name, Jesus, The Great I AM. Amen.
Others in this series of independent articles:
Robert E Smith (author) from Rochester, New York on August 14, 2014:
I am convinced that the idol that we all erect in some form every day is the one that looks like us. We worship ourselves and then immediately realize the sin and then turn from it, all to erect the self again and again and so on. We don't think of each sin as idolatry but it is. That is why Jesus died for us because we are but dust and we sin so easily. Thank God we grow and we do mature so the idols erected in a day are fewer but it is a constant presence and will be as long as we dwell in these flawed bodies. Come sweet Jesus, just come. That is the main reason I want to go to heaven. It is not for the mansion, or the rewards. The main reason I want to go to heaven is that there I will sin no more. I will not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. I will be truly holy in my spirit, soul and body. Another great comment. Thank you for them and your kindness. Bob.
Benjamin Maxwell from Kingdom of God on August 12, 2014:
Oh boy - idol worship; where do I begin? There are too many lusts that could possibly be compiled without the covers of a book the size of a standard dictionary. I will say this, though, anything in one's life that comes before God and does not give Him glory is a snare and needs to be avoided.
Those who worship God the way He finds pleasing are willing to forsake ALL in their life that distances them from God and their chance of obtaining the promise of life eternal. It is written: "He who loses his life will find it and he who keeps his life will lose it."
The apostles knew that life eternal was worth the complete sacrifice of all things physical. Again it is written: "much better it is to be absent from the body and present with the Lord."
Great article Bob.
Robert E Smith (author) from Rochester, New York on July 21, 2012:
Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. Witchcraft is taking a tad longer. I had to do a bit more research since I have not had as much exposure to it as I have other things highlighted in this series. I am so happy you are blessed by the writing. I make believe I am an archer shooting an arrow into the air. I trust God to make it strike a heart somewhere that needs it. I will keep writing, Lord willing. May you keep being blessed. Much love, Bob.
trying on July 20, 2012:
i love your articles thank god for them, i and i know many others are waiting for the next part on which craft, you are great by the grace of god and he is definitely with us.
Robert E Smith (author) from Rochester, New York on July 12, 2012:
I want to tell you how very much I appreciate you and every one of your comments. I love you brother. These articles take time and prayer. I want them to be quality. I heard that some of the teachers at my church use them in their classes. I am so mindful that the longer I do this and the more information that is compiled, the more people are going to rely on it. I need your prayers so that I can keep it up and write God's words on the page. The next one of course, is on witchcraft. It promises to be another long deep study. Thank you again brother, Bob.
William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on July 12, 2012:
Powerful, and to the point stuff. But I have to say, I love that picture of the Praying Prairie Dog. thanks for all you post.