Practical Application of the Word of God
The sin of idolatry is a sin and a snare that has permeated human history from the Garden of Eden forward. It is the sin that led to Adam and Eve eating the fruit of tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is the sin that led Israel first, then Judah into captivity in Babylon.
Idolatry is the sin that Christ condemned in the religious system the Jews had created in the return of some of the Jews from Babylon after 70 years of captivity. It is the sin that the writers of the New Testament continually point out and warn about within the ekklesia.
Idolatry is the sin that permeates the very words of Jesus Christ, as recorded by John in the book of Revelation. Idolatry, indeed, is the sin that continues to be a very strong and alluring temptation for the ekklesia today and for you and me personally.
Do we see it? Do we know it? Do we understand it? Are we – you and I – guilty of it?
Before we can answer these questions, we must know and understand what idolatry is and how it separates us and alienates us from our intimate relationship with God and Jesus Christ, and leads us completely astray from our calling into the body of Christ and our adoption as the children of God.
The Hebrew word translated as before in Exodus 20:3 and Deuteronomy 5:7 is áchëriym, which provides the context of the full meaning of the very first commandment God gives to us to obey.
Part of the context of áchëriym refers to anything other than God that takes priority and precedence in our lives in terms of worship, obedience, loyalty, allegiance, devotion, faithfulness, and love.
Another part of the context of áchëriym refers to anything that comes between and hinders our relationship with God.
This describes the sin of idolatry: putting anything – or anyone – as the priority and focus of our lives, spiritually, mentally, emotional and physically and allowing something – or someone – to come between and hinder our relationship with God.
We in the ekklesia are very susceptible to idolatry and many of us have become idolators because we have neglected our salvation by abandoning the word of God (abiding in it) and have instead substituted the words of other mere mortals like ourselves – these have not been, are not, and never will be equal – who claim, as was the case with Israel and Judah which we see described in detail in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, to speak for God and who often have put themselves in the place of God, demanding worship, obedience, loyalty, allegiance, and devotion.
I don’t believe most of us realize how much idolatry has become entrenched in our lives. Yet if we truly looked in the mirror at ourselves spiritually and examined our lives for the places where idolatry exists, we would find it.
It seems to me that this kind of intense, honest, deep-down look into the very core of our hearts, souls, and minds as to who and what we are, what we believe and why, and where our trust, our faith, our belief and our loyalties actually lie is something that we say we do, while it’s usually pretty superficial, if that, in the few weeks before Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, but it’s far from our minds the rest of the year.
The fruit of idolatry is apparent. We show, by what we do and say and are, where our spiritual investment is and it too often is in people and organizations – the works of human hands – and their words, which are substituted for God’s word.
While we bear the responsibility for abandoning God in our personal relationship with Him and Jesus Christ by substitution of the work of human hands, the religious organizations around us bear responsibility as well.
They threaten, cajole, seduce, and lead the majority of the ekklesia astray with their siren songs of “we’re the church,” “we know the truth,” “we’re doing God’s work (forgetting that God does God’s work through Jesus Christ and the body of Christ and that starts on the inside of everyone God draws and gives to Jesus Christ – in reality, if we were all focused on and participating in the transformation toward the internal spiritual changes that need to be accomplished in each of us, then the evidence of God’s work would be seen collectively; instead, we see shattering, scattering, and jostling, condemnation, greed, spinning, and often-nasty competition for money and numbers, which is not God’s work),” “we have the right doctrines (forgetting what Paul told Timothy about all scripture being profitable for doctrine), and “if you stay with our group, you’ll be okay spiritually.”
This is setting up the works of human hands to be solely trusted, believed, followed, obeyed, and worshiped. And like one of the major themes of the book of Jeremiah, it is following the dictates of our human hearts on all sides of the idolatry equation.
It may very well be that we in the ekklesia are not even aware that we have fallen into the sin of idolatry.
And here’s the reason.
Like all the other almost-similar counterfeits that Satan devises to lure all humans, but especially the ekklesia, who are lacking a solid and sound foundation in God’s knowledge and wisdom, who are spiritually unprepared, unsuspecting, unaware, and who are wandering with every step ever so slightly – but over time, far enough away, that the path is no longer visible – off of God’s path of righteousness into the wild unknown on either side of the path, these siren songs sound close enough to being right and true.
There is just enough tacit mention of God and Jesus Christ that if we’re not living in the word of God continually, prayerfully seeking God’s wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and discernment, and meditating on and critically thinking about what God says in His word and what we see, read, and hear from other people, then we can no longer tell the difference between what God says is true and what sounds like it’s true.
Spiritual discernment, as the book of Hebrews says, must be exercised and developed. It must be fine-tuned to the point of being able to pick up the slightest deviation from the word of God (quite frankly, most deviations aren’t slight, but instead as clear as the light of day if we are abiding in Christ, which means that we are continually eating of the Bread of Life and drinking the living waters that God freely gives us access to, but which we can eat or refuse, deciding we want the junk food that is often substituted for the word of God).
We can’t have spiritually-mature discernment without an intimate relationship with God and Jesus Christ. We can’t have spiritually-mature discernment without the word of God being implanted in us – and us striving to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God – and God’s law written on our hearts, souls, and minds. We can’t have spiritually-mature discernment unless we are like the Bereans, searching the scriptures daily to prove whether what we see, read, and hear is true.
We must choose who we are going to obey. We must choose who we are going to serve. We must choose who we will be completely faithful to, loyal to, committed to, dedicated to, and willing to follow no matter what the cost in this life.
It’s important to remember that no choice is a choice. If we choose not to change and put away our foreign gods that we’ve made with the work of our hands and/or which are flesh and blood just like we are (and sometimes the reality is that we worship ourselves and exalt ourselves to be equal with God, much like Satan does, as recounted in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28), with the same limitations, sinfulness, weakness, and mortality, then we have rejected God and chosen idolatry.
There is no fence-sitting here. We cannot worship God and Jesus Christ with our whole hearts, souls, minds, and strength and worship anything else. We choose one or the other.
My prayer is that we all choose wisely and choose God and Jesus Christ, in whom we can have the greatest faith, confidence, belief and trust about and for everything. Nothing and no one is their equal, compares to them, and have a record, if we’re willing to read it and believe, of testimony declaring them to be sovereign and our ultimate authority, not only in this life, but throughout eternity.