Last week I posted the first of seven articles based on Moses’ seven commands to Israel in Deuteronomy to “take heed”. The first dealt with forgetting God and His Word. This next command has to do with idolatry.
2. Protect Yourself from Idolatry
Deu 4:23 Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee.
The phrase, “lest ye forget” has the idea of becoming oblivious to something from want of memory or attention. I think that phrase powerfully demonstrates what all idolatry is. We idolise something, we abandon God, when we become oblivious to how fantastic He is. And we do this because we have not taken the time to meditate on Him and His Word or we have become distracted by the world.
For most believers I do not believe most idolatry is deliberate. I think it would be rare for a Christian who is walking with God to wake one morning and thing, “What can I put in God’s place today?”
Instead, idolatry begins with negligence. We neglect God and His Word. We become oblivious to Him, and slowly, but very certainly, other people, things and ideas take His place.
Idolatry was not just an Old Testament problem, but is very much a New Testament problem. Idolatry is not something exclusive to any time period, but rather is a part of the human condition. As John closed his 1 epistle he did so with this stark warning,
Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
For some these may have been the last words they received from their mentor and friend. John felt it important enough to close his epistle with, “Keep yourselves from idols.”
We keep ourselves from idol worship in several ways.
Make Yourself a Living Sacrifice – Romans 12:1
Idol worship may focus on another person or idea or object, but at the heart of every act of idolatry is self-worship. We believe our alternate choice of what God has commanded is better, superior, and so we remove God from the throne of our hearts and place ourselves there instead.
So if we daily and moment by moment offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God, then we die to self and self-will and instead obey the will of our Heavenly Father. Once we put to death our sin natures they can no longer make a choice.
Make sure God’s Word Sets our Standards
Something we idolise often sums up what we idolise. If we believe athletic achievement is the greatest aspiration then we will idolise a sport’s personality or team. If we believe philosophical rationalism is the greatest human endeavour then we will aspire to some man-made school of thought.
Our idols represent our aspirations. If we allow God’s Word to set our standards and determine for us what is best, then God will remain on the throne of our lives.
Do Not Settle for Something Less than the Best
The Psalmist (Psalm 27:4) and Paul (Philippians 3:13) both shared a desire, a life consuming, world altering, eternally impacting desire, and that was God. To know Him, to be like Him, to love Him, to worship Him and to tell others about Him.
It is right to put God first and it is best for us to put God first. To settle for some worldly trinket, to worship anything other than God is settle for something far less than the best.
I’ll close with this though. God is a jealous God, and He has every right to be. He made us, He saved us and He alone has our good in mind. Remember,
…the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. Deuteronomy 4:24