What Is Idolatry?


Text: Isaiah 44:9-20

 

I.         I got into a discussion with a teenager about what exactly is idolatry

            A.        He had the impression that anything you really liked was an idol, whether it was sports, cars, or girls

            B.        “What is an idol? Well, it is the thing. It is the thing loved or the person loved more than God, wanted more than God, desired more than God, treasured more than God, enjoyed more than God. It could be a girlfriend. It could be good grades. It could be the approval of other people. It could be success in business. It could be sexual stimulation. It could be a hobby or a musical group that you are following or a sport or your immaculate yard.” [John Piper, “What Is Idolatry?”]

            C.        “Idolatry occurs when we begin to value anything more than we value God. If we spend more time thinking about our hero than God, that’s idolatry. If our every thought is about the latest gadget or our personal appearance, that’s idolatry. If the first priority in our lives is our family, even that’s idolatry” [“What Is Idolatry?”, United Church of God]

II.        Idols

            A.        Graven images or likeness of anything that is worshiped - Exodus 20:3-5

                        1.         They are works of man’s hands - Deuteronomy 4:28

                        2.         Modeled after things of this world - Romans 1:22-23

                        3.         But if we left it there, then any image would be wrong

            B.        They are worshiped - Deuteronomy 11:16

                        1.         Made for the purpose of being worshiped - Isaiah 2:20

                        2.         That is why you read of altars, images, and incense - Isaiah 17:8

                        3.         They are praised - Isaiah 42:8

                        4.         Prayed to and treated as if they could change a person’s life - Isaiah 45:20

                        5.         People put their trust in them - Psalms 115:4-8

            C.        They are served - Galatians 4:8

            D.        They are followed - Deuteronomy 6:13-14

III.       Why are they wrong?

            A.        They are just things a person makes from materials of this world - Isaiah 44:9-20

            B.        They have no knowledge and cannot save - Isaiah 45:20

            C.        They are helpless. They can do nothing - Jeremiah 10:5

            D.        They do not last - Isaiah 40:20

            E.        In truth, they are nothing - I Corinthians 8:4

            F.        To call such things “gods” is a mockery of the only true God

IV.      Making gods of other things

            A.        Men make idols so they can live by their own rules - Romans 1:22-25

                        1.         Idols only reflect what their creators want

            B.        Cannot serve God and money - Matthew 6:24

                        1.         Money become the moral barometer, dictating a person’s choices

            C.        Greed - Colossians 3:5

                        1.         The covetous man makes his wants his moral compass - Ephesians 5:5

                        2.         It is what receives his praise. It is what he trusts.

            D.        His appetite becomes his god - Philippians 3:19

                        1.         Practicing every kind of impurity with greediness - Ephesians 4:19

                        2.         Like all sins, it becomes a form of slavery - Galatians 4:8-9

                        3.         He allows it to control his life

            E.        In other words, he puts himself first – his wants, his desires

                        1.         That is why Samuel said stubbornness is like acting without law and idolatry - I Samuel 15: 23

                                    a.         The word patsar, translated as stubbornness or insubordination, means to push or urge. In this case to push your own agenda

V.        Thus, it isn’t just something you like a lot, or finds happiness in

            A.        It is a person who lives for his desires. He obeys his desires and they control his behavior

            B.        It is something a person believes will change his life if he possesses it – bringing him “luck,” if you will

            C.        It is something a person puts his trust in and calls on to save him from trouble