Worship and Idolatry; Thoughts and Diagnostic
We were created worship (Genesis 1:26-28) and so we will worship. This truth is self-evident.
Therefore, we will worship God or will worship the creature/creation. The worship of God is true worship and the worship of anything else that God has created is idolatry.
We can see this in Bible narrative from the very beginning and therefore make several propositional (truth) statments about worship and idolatry.
- In the beginning the Holy and Triune God Created (Genesis 1:1) the heavens and the earth and everything in them.
- He created the creation to display and reveal His glory and the creation was good (Genesis Ch. 1).
- He also created man as a distinct part of that creation to worship God by faith (Genesis Ch. 1 and 2) and enjoy the creation by honoring God and giving thanks (Romans 1:21).
- Therefore, when God is worshiped, mankind enjoys creation righteously.
- But when the creation and creature are worshiped, the created design is suppressed (Romans 1:18), and man worships the creation because mankind was created to worship.
- Idolatry is self-worship (Isaiah 44:9-20). Bottom line: We trust God or ourselves. Though we may assign value to another object or idea, we are ultimately valuing and trusting ourselves because we have decided what is worthy of worship. This is a paradox of sorts because it looks as if the idol is the object of our worship. But who decided it was of ultimate value when God has told us that He is the most valuable being in the creation?
- The Fall-Out: Moral Chaos (Romans 1:24-30). With each person deciding their own moral standard by which they make decisions about what is ultimately valuable, moral chaos ensues. We should not be surprised when we see the chaos. With more than 6 billion people on planet earth acting as their own god, we get a lot of moral standards instead of one.
A Idolatry Diagnostic: FAD
If we don’t carefully define worship and idolatry then we might conclude that we are not idolaters since most of us are probably not housing any little wooden or stone idols. Idolatry is making a good thing a god-thing. Idolatry is assigning ultimate value to anything that is not God. How then do we identify idols? FAD.
- Fear. What do you fear? What controls or paralyzes you because you are afraid of losing it or not having it? “One of the signs that an object is functioning as an idol is that fear becomes one of the chief characteristics of life because we are dependent on that object.” Tim Keller
- Anger. Anger can be a Godly response when exercised in a Godly way for Godly reasons. But if there is something that easily offends you, or sets you off regularly, then that thing or person is probably controlling you in an idolatrous way. People tend to get angry about things that they value, but don’t get angry about what they don’t value. Is that thing you get angry about more valuable than God says it is?
- Dear. What do we spend the most time and money on? What is it that we can’t live without? Football, clothes, a big home, a new car, hunting, reputation, food, control, or a pet? Any object or idea/dream? If we hold anything more dear than God and His glory, then it is probably an idol. For instance, Americans spent billions of dollars last year on Christmas presents for their cats. We spent over $40 billion on our pets – more than movies, video games and music combined.
- Acknowledge that you, like the rest of us, are an idolater and then turn to Christ by grace through faith. Repent and believe in Christ alone. Trust God and not yourself.
- If you are a Christian who has an idol, start by praising God (Romans 1:25c). Don’t just admit the problem, do the right thing immediately. Value God with your thoughts and actions.
- Guard yourself from going back to an idol with regular self-examination. Use the FAD diagnostic and ask others to speak into your life. We are always in danger of going back to the very thing Jesus saved us from. Trust in Jesus and He will put everything in its proper place.