DO WE STILL NEED TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT IDOLATRY?

"This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent and turn away from your idols, and stop all your detestable sins. I, the Lord, will answer all those, both Israelites and foreigners, who reject me and set up idols in their hearts and so fall into sin, and who then come to a prophet asking for my advice. I will turn against such people and make a terrible example of them, eliminating them from among my people.  Then you will know that I am the Lord."  Ezekiel 14:6b-8 (NLT)

Idolatry is discussed throughout the Bible. We normally think of it as worship something other than God, whether it be an image, a demon, a god, or a person. That being said, in our culture, in our time and place, it is easy to dismiss verses like the above because they don’t seem to apply to us. We are more likely to run into a self-proclaimed atheist before we would ever run into some one who worships an idol. Considering the fact that it says that the Lord will turn against and eliminate idolaters and make a terrible example of them, it is a great comfort to rationalize that this verse doesn’t seem to apply to us today. However, should we discount idolatry so easily?

We are told in Colossians 3:5, that covetousness is idolatry. Covetousness involves an excessive, often consuming, desire for possessions or some sort of status; these can be for things you desire to have or for things that you are afraid you may lose. These desires can be anywhere from the typical wanting to keep up with the Jones’ to desiring the life someone else has: I wish I had their house, their job, their retirement, that my kids acted like theirs, or that I had more. Remember the last time when that nice new car or other nice new gizmo you got was scratched or damaged and you were upset for days? This can be a form of idolatry. As the passage above states, idolatry is a sin of the heart; therefore, it can often not be apparent to others or to ourselves. Think about the desires and wants that regularly “visit” your heart or thought life? What are those, “Only ifs” that consume you?

We are warned in Matthew 6:21-23 that, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”[1]

What thoughts are you letting into your heart? Your eyes are often the most common entrance of thoughts into your heart. What you see is so often what you think about. Therefore, we need to self-aware of our thought life and respond accordingly [2]. Think about the things that consume you and flee from them [3]. Think about the final warning in the Matthew passage, “[I]f the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”

Confession: I can tell you, I have often discounted any verses regarding idolatry because I rationalized that they just don’t apply to me. After reflecting on the above, it seems like I thought I was in the light yet deceived while in darkness. OUCH! Now I know I need to take my thoughts captive through Christ, constantly reflect on what I treasure in my routine and regular thoughts, and ensure that they are productive. Am I thankful and content with what I have? [4] Am I secure in Him or am I secure in things? Is my joy and peace only dependent on my position in Christ and not on things, my spouse, my kids, my position or other temporary thing?
 
   [1] New Living Translation
   [2] 2 Corinthians 10:5
   [3] 1 Corinthians 10:14
   [4] Philippians 4:4-13

by Michael Burner

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