The Heart of Idolatry

The Heart of Idolatry

Two notable Jewish philosophers who knew the Old Testament very well once concluded, “The central principle of the Bible is the rejection of idolatry.” As we read the narrative of the Bible from Genesis to Malachi, we will see that this is certainly true. Israel was charged to reject all counterfeit gods that competed with Yahweh for the people’s complete allegiance, reliance, and trust. The major conflict we see in the Old Testament was Israel’s rebellion against Yahweh, and choice to enter idolatrous relationships with Baal, Asherah, Dagon, Marduk, Moloch, and other pagan gods.

In 21st century America, we do not worship Baal, or other mythical deities, however, our culture is consumed with a different kind of idolatrous worship.

At its core, idolatry is the act of dethroning God from His supreme place in the heart and replacing Him with an incomplete joy. An idol is the object which replaces God and is elevated to His ultimate status.

Biblically speaking, a man that finds more peace and security by the amount of money in his 401k than he does in Jesus Christ is an idolater. A young woman that is driven into despair and depression over an obsessive concern with her body image is suffering from the destructive consequences of idolatry. A man that is plagued with shame and guilt over his pornography addiction has allowed an idol to reign supreme in his heart. A woman that experiences chronic anxiety due to her longing for control is worshipping another god.

It doesn’t look the same as in Bible times, but everywhere you go, every TV channel you watch, and inside the hearts of most people, you see idolatry. Even in the Lord’s church, we are not untouched by the urge to place something inadequate in the seat of God and trust in it to fulfill our deepest longings which will never bring lasting satisfaction.

Dear church, listen to the admonition of John at the end of his first epistle, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:21).” Guard your heart against the temptation of idolatry by allowing God to remain in His rightful place on the throne of your heart. Value and treasure Him more than you do anything, and only then will you have the ability to experience complete and lasting joy which an idol can never give.

Trust in Him and His grace, and He will meet all your needs!


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