History of Redemption: Blog Post 5
Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. – Romans 1:22-25; Genesis 3:7 “The human heart is a factory of idols …Everyone of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert at inventing idols” – John Calvin.
As a child, I thought that idolatry was worshipping carved images, or golden calfs. It is so much more. I now recognize the truth of what John Calvin said above. Everyone of us is prone to idolatry, to focusing our affections, our time, our money, our service, and our pleasure on something other than God. Even as an adopted son of God, I still tend to slip back into this deadly mindset, and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator. I have to fight against it daily.
God’s first command to His chosen people could not have been more clear, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). It was so important to Him that His second command was almost the same as the first! Why is this so important to God? We find out in the next verse, “for I the Lord your God am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5). When I first meditated on God’s jealousy, I confess that it was hard for me to swallow. How could a perfect God be jealous? Isn’t this pride? And isn’t pride what God continually warns us against?
What I have now discovered is that it is because God ALONE is worthy of the sum of our affections, our time, our money, our service, and indeed our worship that He HAS to be jealous for His glory. Because He is the only one worthy of glory. In fact, God’s jealousy for His glory also means that He loves us! How could a loving father find joy in watching his children worship worthless idols? It is only when we get to the point in our relationship with our heavenly Father, that we see Him as infinitely worthy of glory, that we will truly see the jealousy of God as a good thing, and indeed as part of His goodness and steadfast love for us. It is only then that we will see the true destructive nature of idolatry. It is only then that we will seek to be freed from idolatry so that we may be free to truly worship the only One worthy of our worship.
How can we battle the sin of idolatry? First we need to identify what the idols are, in our hearts and in the hearts of those we love. We get help in this from scripture, from our church family, and from the Holy Spirit. Then we need to preach the gospel to ourselves, and allow ourselves to be reminded of the true worth of Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. At the same time we need to humble ourselves before our Creator and Savior, and to ask Him for forgiveness and for sanctification. And we need to do all of this each and every day.
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” – Revelation 4:11