Idolatry Today

Dear Brethren,

One of the principle teachings we received upon coming into contact with God's Church was obedience to God.  That is how we came to understand the tremendous significance of the Sabbath and the Holy Days.  And, because of the obedience we displayed in observing those days, the will of God and the plan of God began to be opened to us.  We were rightly taught to look to God.  But, somewhere along the line, about twenty or thirty years ago, a slight diversion began to take place.  It was so subtle, in fact, that few noticed the change.  Instead of looking to God and checking the Scriptures to see what God's word was on the matter, ministers would say, "Let's check with headquarters."

Sin separates us from God. "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you." (Isaiah 59:2)  Idolatry is allowing anything to stand between God and ourselves.  "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."  (Exodus 20:3)  Everyone who covets his own goals instead of God's will, is idolatrous.  "Covetousness is idolatry."  (Colossians 3:5)

There have been ministers who cherished the thought of being able to do whatever they wanted to do.  They longed to have the authority to do things their way.  They yearned for the control and sway they held over people's lives.  When did God approve and condone their heavy handed tactics?   The answer is, never.

So the question arises:  Do we look to God and the word of God, or have we fallen into the pattern of so many who simply check with those who are "in charge?"  We all know how noble the Bereans were  - they looked to God's word to find the answers. "...They received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so."  (Acts 17:11)  As "authority" and "government" became by-words, God's government was melded into Church government as though they were one and the same.  Many brethren simply threw up their hands and yielded their God given responsibilities and obligations to the whims of those "over them." 

When a pastor or "the Church" began to exercise its authority over the members, it was as though the members capitulated and surrendered their personal faith in God.  After all, the pastor had the power to cast members out of the Church who were not deferential to his Church authority.  When is a pastor, or the Church, allowed to commandeer authority in God's stead?  The answer again is, never.  The ministry should have taught the entire membership to look directly to God.   They should have instructed God's people to seek God's approval - not their own.

There is a time coming when men will look to the Creator God instead of man-made organizations.   "At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel.  And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images."  (Isaiah 17:7-8)

There are so-called ministers today who do not follow the lead of God's Holy Spirit.   The scriptures are clear;  we are not to fellowship or socialize with them.  Why?  Because they are not true ministers of Jesus Christ.  There are ministers who have disfellowshipped brethren, not for sin or heresy, but for the minister's own personal political purposes.  They believe their organizations have given them the authority to lord it over the brethren.  They are not true ministers of Jesus Christ.  Within the ministry of Jesus Christ, serious personal sin, ministerial abuse of the brethren, and doctrinal heresy are never condoned by God.   Are we mature enough as Christians to be able to discern between conduct which ought not be practiced by the leadership, and that which is truly Christian?  "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no not to eat."   (1Corinthians 5:11)

Some ministers claim to be in the role of the watchman unto the house of Israel. (Ezekiel 3:17)  As watchmen, they think they have license to do as they please, because their work is so important to God.   Does God need those imposters so badly that He must put up with it when they usurp His authority and do things their own way instead of looking to Him?  Notice how God says that they are useless watchdogs:  "His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.  Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter."  (Isaiah 56:10-11)

God has called each one of us individually to be a part of His Church directly answerable to Him.   We are not able to relinquish our free moral agency to another person - not even a minister or organization.  Too many people accepted an outside dominion over their lives without hesitation and without question.  That is idolatry.  We have been warned about putting our trust in men.  "Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies."  (Psalms 40:4)

Christian maturity demands that we develop the ability to discern God's priorities in our own lives.  Allowing someone else to make our decisions for us is idolatry because that is putting someone in God's place.  Idolatry robs God of His preeminence in our lives.  The ministry is not to "... have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand."  (2Corinthians 1:24)  True ministers of Jesus Christ are always able to back up what they teach with clear Scriptural principles.  Each Christian must have dominion over his or her own faith.  With a well informed conscience, we are each responsible directly to God.  "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12-13)

We hardly ever hear of idolatry being mentioned in the Church of God today - but that does not mean that it does not exist.  We do not have the same problem that Old Testament Israel did with idols of wood and stone.  Idolatry today has surreptitiously entered the Church of God disguised as God's authority.  God has not authorized men to do their own bidding - only the will of the Father.  Jesus said, "You have no power at all...except it were given you from above."  (John 19:11)


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