Over the course of history there hasn’t been anything made by man that could take the place of Jesus Christ. From the wooden statues overlaid with gold to the modern-day idols we chase after today…they are and will always be fraudulent, deceitful, and totally worthless. I Samuel 12:21 warns us, “Do not turn away after useless idols.” For anytime we take God off His throne and place a man-made object there instead, we’re putting our trust in ourselves. And no man-made idol has or will ever have the power to save our souls…only Jesus can do that.
Stiff-necked is a great word picture. It comes from oxen resisting the yoke placed on them by the farmer. And when we turn away from God and His Word…we’re essentially doing the same thing. We stubbornly think God’s yoke is too difficult to bear and so in rebellion we throw off the yoke of obedience. But it warns us in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” For we become totally deceived when we think that the yoke of sin is easy to escape out of…for in reality, the bondage of its yoke is far heavier and more difficult to carry.
Anytime we put a “thing” between us and God…that’s an idol. Anytime we take God off the throne of our heart and put that “thing” in His place…it’s an idol. We’d all vehemently deny that we engage in idol worship…but let’s stop and think about for a moment. An IDOL is – Iconoclastic Ideology that causes Deception Over Our Lives. An idol is something that attacks and opposes cherished beliefs and doctrines in a very misleading and crafty way…slowly and deceptively worming its way into our lives over time…until that idol has become firmly established on the throne of our heart. We may say we’re not into idol worship…but who’s sitting on that throne today? The newest smart phone…an addiction…unforgiveness? Anything can become an idol when it comes between and causes discord between God and you.
Across the span of the Bible, God has always been very emphatic to mankind…”I will not yield My glory to another.” (Isaiah 48:11) So why do we continue to worship objects in place of God? When our love is focused on man-made idols rather than God, our devotion is deeply divided. We want to serve God…but our “things” are always getting in way. These “things” have a way of sucking time, passion, and energy from us until there’s nothing left for God. And in the end what do we have left? Just a never-ending need for more “things”.
Here Paul was warning about idolatry and falling into temptation. Probably the most conceited thought a Christian can have is, “That couldn’t ever happen to me!” It’s when you think your “beyond” being tempted…that it’ll sneak up behind and bite you. I’m sorry, but no one is immune to temptation and smugly thinking you are above it is only setting yourself up to fail. We all need to be on guard and wary…for our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8)
So many times our humanness gets in the way of a right relationship with the Lord. In a twisted form of arrogance, we place our wretched past up on a pedestal and proclaim it to be “too terrible” for the Lord to forgive. Yes, your past may be riddled with bad choices…but nothing God hasn’t forgiven beforehand. Murder, adultery, rape…the list goes on in the Bible of deplorable actions done by people in difficult situations. But when they took responsibility for their sins and asked forgiveness…God forgave them. For there’s nothing so serious, so vile, that God’s redemptive power can’t forgive.
Modern day idols can take the form of many things. They may be people, possessions, locations or life-styles…anything that takes its place above God. Our graven image may be pride and self-importance. Or it may be bowing down to our collection of belongings…those babbles, toys, and things we amass and hoard just to say we have them. Anytime we put or trust and affections in anything other than God we’re headed down the wrong path.