“But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and, in their hearts, turned back to Egypt. They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’ That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honor of what their hands had made. But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets:
“Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert,
O house of Israel? You have lifted up the shrine of Molech and the star
of your god Rephan, the idols you made to worship. Therefore, I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.”‘”
– Acts 7: 39-43
The first two of the Ten Commandments deal with idolatry. Moses wrote in Exodus 20:1-5, “And God spoke all these words: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything… You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…'” Most of us, when we consider idolatry, conjure up images of people bowing down to statues or golden calves or something similar. This is exactly what the Israelites were guilty of when they made the image of the golden calf.
What exactly is idolatry? The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” S. Michael Houdmann, CEO of Got Questions Ministries, writes:
Idolatry extends beyond the worship of idols and images and false gods. Our modern idols are many and varied. Even for those who do not bow physically before a statue, idolatry is a matter of the heart—pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony, a love for possessions and ultimately rebellion against God. Is it any wonder that God hates it? (i)
John Calvin once said, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” What idols are you worshipping? Money? Success? Popularity? Beauty? Pornography? Health? Education? Do you see how easy it is to fall into the trap of idolatry? Anything that we raise above God is our idol. The idea or thought that your mind constantly goes to when you have free time to think is what you tend to worship. Does your mind turn to God or to that object you love to think about? Examine yourself. Be honest. Confess this sin to God.
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield said something similar to Calvin: “One very difficult aspect of sin is that my sin never feels like sin to me. My sin feels like life to me, plain and simple. My heart is an idol factory, and my mind is an excuse-making factory.”
In reading Charles Spurgeon this morning, I was convicted by his words:
We pity the poor heathen who adore a god of stone, and yet worship a god of gold. Where is the vast superiority between a god of flesh and one of wood? The principle, the sin, the folly is the same in either case, only in ours the crime is more aggravated because we have more light, and sin in the face of it. The heathen bows to a false deity, but the true God he has never known; we commit two evils, inasmuch as we forsake the living God and turn unto idols. May the Lord purge us all from this grievous iniquity. (ii)
Spurgeon’s words greatly convict me. I have been given much light. I know what the Scripture says, and yet, I’m so prone to wander. Prone to leave the God I love!
Your brother in Christ,
(ii) Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening Daily Readings by C.H. Spurgeon (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Heritage Publications, 2012), 266.