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Modern Day Idolatry

“Daddy can you read me this story?” my 4 year old daughter Chloe asked, holding the My Bible Friends book open to the story of Elijah. The story begins with king Ahab and Jezebel causing all the people to worship Baal. My daughter loves to emphatically say, “Idols are bad! They cannot see or hear, we should never worship idols!” Indeed she was right…and as simple as that thought was, I took time to dwell upon the second commandment that forbid worship of graven images, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…you shall not bow down to them nor serve them for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.” Ex. 20:4, 5

But does idolatry still exist today? This commandment may seem to be irrelevant now in our sophisticated day, we don’t go to an “Idols ‘R Us” store to deliberately buy an idol or make something out of wood and stone for the purpose of worshipping it. But idolatry is anything that diverts worship from Creator to the created. Rom.1:22-25—mentions the mental and spiritual degradation man experiences due to changing the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Who changed the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator…”

So if idolatry is by definition, changing (exchanging, in place of) the glory of an incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, birds, beasts and creeping things—does idolatry exist today? Absolutely! What does it look like? Perhaps it can consist of physical devices made of fiberglass, metal, plastic, rubber and glass or well known sports, music, tv/movie celebrities or people in our lives such as our boyfriend or girlfriend or best friend or even our family members, all these can take precedence over the one true God.

Naturally we can expect idolatry to be rampant in the secular world, but not the church, right? In Ezekiel 8:14, it speaks of women who were at the gate of the Lord’s house and they were weeping for Tammuz, the Sumerian deity. Verse 16 takes us into the inner court of the Lord’s house where 25 men are worshipping the sun with their backs toward the temple of the Lord. These instances demonstrate that idolatry exists even among God’s people. Although they say they are God’s people, they are in fact worshipping other gods. Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah saying, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Matt. 15:8 (NIV)

Look at how the pen of inspiration describes idolatry that is so prevalent today in the 21st century:

Though in a different form, idolatry exists in the Christian world today as verily as it existed among ancient Israel in the days of Elijah. The God of many professedly wise men, of philosophers, poets, politicians, journalists—the God of polished fashionable circles, of many colleges and universities, even of some theological institutions—is little better than Baal, the sun-god of Phoenicia. {Conflict and Courage p. 210}

Fascinating! This is saying that worldly education, teachers and institutions of higher learning can be equivalent to the idolatry that existed in the time of Elijah.
Any pet theory, any human idea, becomes of the gravest importance and as sacred as an idol to which everything must bow. – {1888 p. 840.3}

There are those who can pride themselves in their own supposed wisdom and cast contempt upon the law of God and emphasize relativism arguing there is no absolute truth. They argue that the Creation account can’t be taken literally and you are foolish to think so. The Bible, either in part or overall, is rejected by many in the Christian world.

It is as easy to make an idol of false doctrines and theories as to fashion an idol of wood or stone... With many, a philosophical idol is enthroned in the place of Jehovah; while the living God, as He is revealed in His word, in Christ, and in the works of creation, is worshiped by but few. {Great Controversy p.583}

What is preventing us from being true sons and daughters of God?

If we love the things of the world and have pleasure in unrighteousness or fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness we have put the stumbling block of our iniquity before our face and have set up idols in our heart. And unless by determined effort we put them away we shall never be acknowledged as the sons and daughters of God. {Testimonies Vol. 5, p.164}

In 1 John 5:21 the apostle John abruptly ends his first epistle with the clear admonition, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” And in verse 20 he speaks of the Son of God, Jesus who has given us an understanding of the true God and eternal life.

We were all meant to worship something greater than ourselves.
But when we worship something that is not greater than this world…
When we worship something that is limited to this world, something finite…
When we place our affections on this world and what it has to offer, at the end we will be bankrupt of eternal life!
Rev. 13:8 talks about all that dwell upon the earth the worship the beast are those “whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

We must worship God because He is our Creator and Sustainer of all life. He is the source of all life, it is because of Him we live, breath and have our being!
The things of this world that we cherish and elevate in place of God, at the end, will not bring us life.

That’s why the three angels messages directs the world, directs you and I as God’s people in the last days to “Fear God and give glory to Him for the hour of His judgment has come and worship Him who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Rev. 14:7

Idolatry is a work of human devising, a work of human hands which will result to nothing. Idolatry whether it’s tangible or intangible, a physical thing or a mental or emotional construct will eclipse or even assume the place of God.

Anything that diverts the mind from God assumes the form of an idol, and that is why there is so little power in the church today. {Sons and Daughters of God p.57}

Before Gideon could do a great work for God, he had to take down his father’s altar to Baal…
Before Jacob could build an altar to worship God, he had to charge his family to put away the strange gods among them…
Before King Asa could restore the kingdom of Judah, he zealously destroyed all the idols of the land…

God loves you and I believe that God wants young men and women that will do a great work for Him in these last days, but in order to do that work, will you be willing to relinquish and remove anything that weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience and obscures your sense of God and takes off your relish for spiritual things, anything that increases the authority of the body over your mind?
 
I love that moving hymn, “O for a Closer Walk with God” and in one of those verses it says:

The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.

Jesus gave up everything for you to give you eternal life and power to become sons and daughters of God, will you give up all in this life and give Jesus your heart today? Will you allow Him to be your Lord and Savior and put Him first in your life today?
If you do, He will give you power to become sons and daughters of God. (John 1:12)

Bryan Choi currently serves as pastor at the Ann Arbor and Plymouth SDA churches.


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