Counterfeit gods

“Moses replied, “It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God.” Exodus 8:10

One of the most loving things that God can do in our lives, is destroy the idols that keep us from undivided worship of him. There are religious people that pray to physical idols and there are irreligious people who worship figurative idols without even knowing it. The key word there is worship. Humans worship because it is in our nature to worship. We are made to be worship. Nature abhors a vacuum and always seeks to fill it. Blaise Pascal compared this to the human heart and its need for worship, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every [person] which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.” Idolatry is any attempt to fill that vacuum with something other than God. 

Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth was filled with reminders to Christians to beware of the pull of idolatry. This idolatry can take many forms, in 1 Cor 10:6-10, Paul explicitly connects idolatry to sexual immorality. In Colossians 3:5-6 Paul connects it to the sin of greed, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.”

We don’t often think of things like lust and greed as worshiping a false god, but the Bible is making the connection that lust and greed, “[represent] a strong movement of desire toward something out of God’s will at the time.”[1] Breaking the tenth commandment (Do not covet) comes from the same heart as breaking the first commandment (Do not worship other gods). Whatever it is that we desire more than we desire God is an idol for us. Sins like greed and lust reflect our old selves outside of Christ and a failure to trust God that his way and his timing are best. We become devoted to the object of our greed and lust in a way that is very much like worship. 

Pharoah clung to his idols despite all the displays of Yahweh’s transcendent power and mercy. He clung to his idols because at the end of the day, Pharoah wanted control—he wanted to be the god of his own life. The best thing that God can give us is himself. His destruction of our idols is good, because they are keeping us from what is best. What are the idols you need to give over the Lord? What discipline is the Lord bringing into your life to call you repentance? What is it that you fear losing more than you fear (are in awe of) God? Don’t harden your heart like Pharoah. Hear God’s Word, respond in faith, and go after Jesus Christ with a whole heart. 

[1] Richard R. Melick, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, vol. 32, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1991), 290.


About Scott Dunford

Lead Church Planter at Redeemer Church of Silicon Valley and Director of West Coast Mobilization for ABWE International.
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