John Calvin famously said, “…man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.”
Yes, John. Indeed it is. I can attest to this. Know how? It’s because I must constantly repent of the sin of idolatry. Daily.
We often think of idols as little bronze Buddha’s with a belly that’s far shinier than the remainder of its body as a result of being rubbed my too many hands. Likely unwashed hands. Yuck.
But in my case, the most common idol I worship is the idol of self.
When I find myself angry in traffic and think to myself, How dare that guy cut me off?! I don’t deserve to be treated like that!! And the Holy Spirit gently reminds me that what I deserve in and of myself is the wrath of God. Sometimes not so gently.
The point is that today’s idols are not typically going to be statuettes. They’re more sneaky than that.
We can idolize just about anything. Even good things.
Ministry. Work. Family. Sports. TV shows. Celebrity preachers. Worship bands. You name it, we can idolize it.
Paul said in Colossians 3:5, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
Idolatry is misplaced worship. It’s worshiping anything besides God.
So what are some ways we can recognize these idols trying to sneak in?
- Watch for anger that arises from selfishness (such as my response to getting cut off in traffic).
- Watch for defensiveness when others show where you’re in error.
- Watch for a tendency to seclude yourself from fellowship with other believers.
One thing is certain: this is not something to be taken lightly. Idolatry in our hearts is no less idolatry than a pagan worshiping a miniature statue.
The miniature statue cannot save your soul from the just punishment we deserve. It can’t provide eternal joy and satisfaction. And neither can our lusts. Neither can our worship of the multitude of things we elevate to ultimate status.
All of those things will come to an end.
But what will never cease is the beauty, majesty, glory, mercy, and goodness of God.