Dear Brethren,

What is idolatry?  Is idolatry a big problem in God's church today? We would probably say, "I don't think so... Where is the evidence of it?"  In the Old Testament, idolatry was a constant problem.  The ancient nation of Israel lost their place in the promised land and were carried away into captivity because of their idolatry and Sabbath breaking.  Idolatry is the worship and devotion of idols, images, or anything which is not God.  It is the worship of false gods.  It is excessive attachment or veneration for anything.  Idolatry robs God of His preeminence.

God warned Israel of the consequences of their idolatry.  He said, "I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries." (Ezekiel 20:23)  In fact, Israel never returned from captivity, and they continue to this day to be idolatrous.

God says that He is a jealous God.  He is the loving Creator God who demands full honor, respect and obedience from all.  He demands to be held first and foremost in all these things.  He does not share His dominion, rule and sovereignty with any other.  God allows no worship or recognition of substitute gods.  And, God demands that His name, authority and reputation be held in awe and used reverently in every case.  Any less is idolatry - as shown in the first three Commandments.

"Thou shalt have none other gods before me.  Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:  Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.  Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." (Deuteronomy 5:7-11)

God is the holiest of all.  He, alone, is set apart in a class all His own, and held in the greatest respect.  None other can compare to God.  When Jesus instructed the disciples how to pray, He intended that only His Father have the title, Holy Father.  He specifically excluded any earthly religious leader being called Holy Father.  In Matthew 23:9, He demanded that only His Heavenly Father be referred to in that way.  “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”  “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and reverend is his name.”  (Psalms 111:9)

God’s authority, His power, His majesty, His name, are in a class high above every other being.  In Isaiah  55:9, God tells us that His ways and thoughts are completely different from man’s.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”  God intends that we come to understand His supreme sovereignty.

We hardly ever hear of idolatry being mentioned in the Church of God today.  It seems to be almost non-existent.  Oh, people curse sometimes invoking God's name, but that's about all people examine themselves on with regard to these Commandments.  Maybe all the idolatry today is perhaps in the Catholic Church with all their statues.  Maybe these three Commandments are not much of an issue these days.  Could it be that the sin of idolatry, which was so pervasive in the Old Testament, doesn't apply so much to the True Church of God at this time?

Or, brethren, could it be that we are looking in the wrong places?  Could we be fooling ourselves into thinking that we are putting God first, and in reality, asking Him to take a back seat to our other pursuits?  That is putting God in second place.  "Thou shalt have none other gods before me." 

Is it possible that instead of images and statues, we declare our endeavors to be God's will and give our pet projects the priority ahead of His?  That is making our pursuit a substitute god.  We are to follow what God says, not our own designs.  "Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them."

And, is there any chance that we usurp God's name and authority, and claim to be His agents when, in reality, we are actually furthering our own agendas?  That's taking God's name in vain.  "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain."

Brethren, we get over the measles, mumps and chicken pox, but maybe we haven't gotten over our idolatry.  Maybe we should take a closer look and get another diagnosis of our present day spiritual condition.  The truth is, Idolatry is just as much alive and active today as it has ever been.  Here's the problem; we are not Old Testament Israel.  We are converted Christians.  For God's Church, led by His Spirit - Idolatry is fatal.


Sermon:  "Idolatry Part 1"
Sermon:  "Idolatry Part 2"