Flee From Idolatry

By Pastor Teck Uy

The apostle Paul was able to fully articulate what was in the heart of God when he said, “My dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say” (1 Cor. 10:14-15). Idolatry is something that God hates, and he does not want us to have anything to do with it. He abhors idolatry so much that he made it the second command in the Ten Commandments. He said, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Deut. 5:8-10). In this command, we could see that idolatry is a serious offense that God will never overlook. He made it very clear that the reason he made such a firm stand against idolatry is because He is a jealous God.

But what is jealousy? Jealousy is the fear of being displaced. God, in a sense, is fearful that he will be displaced in our hearts. If we will ever entertain idols, He will no longer have full control over our lives and we are in danger of hell. Such idols will cause us to have a divided heart and thus, we could no longer “love the Lord with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might and with all our mind” (Matt. 22:37). The best defense against idolatry is to have nothing to do with it. We should never entertain idols in our hearts. The apostle Paul cannot be more emphatic about the nothingness of idols when he said, “We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live” (1 Cor. 8:4-6).

The other reason why God does not want us to have anything to do with idols is because of their helplessness and hopelessness. The Psalmist appropriately described the true conditions of idols when he said, “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths.  Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them” (Psalm 135:15-18). Indeed, if we follow them, we too will be blind; as Jesus said, “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:14). And how can our prayers be answered when these idols cannot even hear? Besides, it is without logic at all for someone who has life to be subject to an object that is lifeless. No wonder the apostle Paul strongly exhorted the believers to be sensible. We need to think logically, otherwise we will fall into a trap where we will find ourselves just like these idols – blind, dumb, deaf and lifeless.

But how can we fall into the trap of idolatry? The apostle Paul used the believer’s communion, or breaking of the bread, to illustrate how we can get into the loop of demon worship. He said, “Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar?  Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything?  No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons” (1 Cor. 10:18-20). When we take the cup and the bread at the Lord’s Supper, we are actually participating the blood and body of Christ. In the same manner, when we participate in any ritual or ceremony of pagans, we are actually submitting to their gods or demons. Therefore, we should never allow ourselves to be part of any pagan rituals or ceremonies. Some join in these rituals just to please men. But the apostle Paul said further, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.  Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?” (1 Cor. 10:21-22).

Friends, let us guard our hearts so that we are not enticed by idol worship. Idols can come in many forms. There are idols that are made of silver, gold, wood, stone and every imaginable material, but there are also those that are formed in the heart and in the mind. These could be persons or any inanimate object. Regardless, we have to set ourselves free from their influences. Let us flee from idolatry. Hallelujah!