Exodus 20:2-3- “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.” NKJV
Material blessings are great! When we purchased my new car I was excited to get it. After riding in our last car for over 10 years, I was ready for some newer technology; especially a new navigation system. When we remodeled our home I was beyond delighted. It was the plan when we purchased it, but it was almost 3 decades later when it became a reality. Typically, when we think of idolatry, we think of material possessions, and those things are certainly on the list. But in this blog, I want to explore some other things that we can substitute in the place of our wonderful Lord!
The first thing that God told Moses when he was given the Law was:
“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.Exodus 20:2-3 NKJV
When Satan approached Jesus in the wilderness, his goal was to get Jesus to accept his lordship:
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”Matthew 4:8-9 NKJV
But Jesus wasn’t interested in the lordship of Satan, and neither should we be interested in it. The difference is that Satan doesn’t come to us, reveal who he is, and then ask us to bow to him. Nope! That’s not how he works. What he does is hide in things that are not so obvious to trick us into serving him. Let’s expose some of his hiding places!
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.Philippians 3:18-19 NKJV
Paul is really blunt in this verse. He talks about those whose god is their belly. Is Paul just addressing our physical appetite for food, or something else? The Greek word for “belly” in this verse is “koilos” and it refers to the entire physical cavity, the hole in the abdomen, according to the Vine’s. The literal translation for “koilos” is the word hollow which is an unfilled space. Metaphorically, it refers to the innermost part of the inner man. Let’s look at both!
Food is an important part of the day. We wake up thinking about what we are going to eat, and we go through the day planning lunch and dinner. Our lives are centered around food. When a fast is called, our bellies begin protesting from the minute we first hear the word “fast”. Many diseases plague our bodies due to the foods we eat, and still, we continue to eat them. This is a form of our bellies being our god.
But the other side of that is even worst. When there is a hollow in our inner man that we try to fill with everything but Jesus, it becomes our god.
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.Colossians 3:5 NKJV
Paul gives us a list of things that are idolatrous: fornication (sex outside of marriage in any form), uncleanness, passion, evil desires, and covetousness. These things are part of the life of the unsaved person, but if we are not careful to obey Him and His word, they could slip up on us and fight for His Lordship in our lives! They will never satisfy the cavity of your soul. But they will cause you to bow to them and worship them.
Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes.Acts 14:11-13 NKJV
What had the people seen Paul do? They saw him perform a miracle! A man was crippled from birth. Paul saw faith rise in his heart and commanded him to stand up! When the man stood, his legs received strength and he was healed. That’s amazing! The people were so excited about what they saw happen as a result of Paul’s words that they were ready to worship him and Barnabas. Even to the point of making a sacrifice!
Don’t shake your head in disgust! People worship others every single day. Pastors are worshipped because they are famous, or wealthy, or even anointed. Their word is law and people flip over backwards to accommodate them. Celebrities are worshipped for their looks, their money, their home, their followers, and a host of other reasons. It’s not worship, you say! It is, when spending time with them on social media beats going to church, reading the Bible, or praying. It is when the pastor can get you to do things that no one else can get you to do!
People worship is as dangerous for the person you worship, as it is for you to worship them. Do you recall what happened to Herod when the people gave him praise?
So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.Acts 12:21-23 NKJV
Whether or not Herod led the people in this folly we don’t know. But we do know that they attributed his words and his charisma to that of a god. Not to God! But to that of a god, and there is a difference. One leader was so elevated that his adulterous relationships was said to be sanctioned by God because he was God’s man. This is dangerous on every level for the body of Christ. Sin is sin! And advocating the sin of any person, for any reason, is sin itself.
Moses expressed these words about God:
Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.Deuteronomy 4:39 NKJV
God spoke these words through the prophet Isaiah:
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God…Do not fear, nor be afraid; have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.’ ”Isaiah 44:6,8 NKJV
Well, I don’t have time for anymore examples, but suffice it to say, idolatry comes in many forms. It’s not just making an idol of stone, brass, or gold and worshipping it that is idolatrous. Idolatry is worshipping anything and anyone other than God! When we have such an amazing, faithful God, why would anyone want to worship a counterfeit? Wonderful Jesus!