The Consequences of Idol Worship
How does God want us to live?
Yet putting others ahead of our self is not what we do. Instead, we even put our idols ahead of God. How do we we put an idol ahead of God? Why would we create an idol? We create an idol to give us something that God knows we should not have, at least not the way we want it.
God is our creator, and He treats those of us who love Him as His children. When we refuse to be obedient to Him and put gods of our own making before Him, we fail to accomplish the purpose for which He made us.
In our last post in this series, CONSEQUENCES? ME? SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES? — Part 1 – Citizen Tom, we listed the most common modern idols: sex, stuff, science, state, and self. Each of these has a useful purpose, but becomes evil when we put it before God. How evil? The Bible often refers to idol worship as adultery. Synonyms for adultery include: cheating, infidelity, misconduct, two-timing, and unfaithfulness (Adultery | Definition of Adultery by Merriam-Webster).
Whenever we worship an idol, we separate ourselves from God. That includes separating ourselves from His love and His wisdom. Without God’s help, we don’t know how to love, and we cannot distinguish good from evil.
Like the sin of adultery, the worship of idols has both an individual and societal costs.
- Individual costs: Sexual intercourse outside of marriage is not love. When we engage in fornication, we use another person as an object to obtain a pleasurable sensation. When we put the pursuit of pleasure — abandon ourselves to fornication, drugs, gambling, and every kind of vice — instead of devoting ourselves to God, we wreak havoc upon our personal lives. That includes wasting valuable time and destroying our health.
- Societal costs: When we use others as mere objects, we destroy our families. We sever family relationships, and impoverish our children. In the long term, we undermine the ability of our children to trust others, including God. Hence, we teach our children to seek their own idols. And our children’s industry begins to revolve around separating their neighbors from their treasures by appealing to their vices.
- Individual costs: Most people, once they try it, and slowly begin to realize that work is rewarding. We get more than money. We acquire self-respect and self-discipline. We gain the ability to be generous to those in need, and we have the opportunity to form friendships with our bosses, colleagues, and customers. When we seek stuff for its own sake, however, we look pass the true rewards of work. When our focus becomes personal profit, we lose sight of God’s command to love our neighbor. Instead, we love our neighbor’s stuff, and we want to make it our stuff.
- Societal costs: When we make stuff our god, we pursue personal profit at any cost. Then, instead of serving others, we seek to own others. We create monopolies to destroy our competitors. We use the government to abuse the rights of others instead of protecting everyone’s rights. Instead of paying those who work for us a fair wage, we try to force them to work for our personal profit. That is, we try to force other people to become our slaves. That is Communist China. That is America’s big corporations.
- Individual costs: “Science” is a word (Science | Definition of Science by Merriam-Webster). “Science” is a word that refers to a particular method of rigorously modeling God’s Creation using mathematical models. That is, we use words and mathematical models to convey scientific models (theories) to others. What happens when instead of using the scientific method to discover and to convey to others what we believe true, we convey only what we want to believe and call that scientific knowledge? Then we call “scientific truth” that which is actually speculative. We may still be believed by many, but that only makes us a “good” con-artist. Nothing we say should be trusted.
- Societal costs: “Science” is a word with a good connotation. When we say a belief has been scientifically proven, that means we have a high degree of confidence that the theory is true. When lots of people start using the word “science” to misrepresent their beliefs as “science”, we lose the ability to trust anything that people say is science. We become a society full of liars, full of people who bear false witness. “Scientific truth” then degenerates into whenever “I” think is true because only “I” can be trusted. Hence, we divide our society into competing camps that promote conflicting “truths.” What does that mean? Look at our schools.
- Individual costs: Government is force. Ostensibly, government exists to protect our God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In practice, because most of us love our self more than we love our neighbor, we use government to get what we want from others. That means that those who do not have the resources to defend themselves suffer persecution and injustice.
- Societal costs: Most of us identify with and relate best to people like us. That is what “identity politics” (Identity politics | Definition of Identity politics at Dictionary.com) is all about. Identity politics is a form of factionalism (Factionalism | Definition of Factionalism by Merriam-Webster). Factionalism arises when people form alliances to get what they want for themselves instead of what is best for their communities and their country. In the extreme, factionalism leads to demonizing our enemies and constant civil war.
The worship of self stems from arogant pride.
- Individual costs: What does it mean to idolize our self? How do we idolize our self? Pride drives us to seek to elevate our self above others. We see every situation in terms of how it will benefit me. We put our self before God and man. Since we tend to project our own sins upon others, we trust no one. We just expect others to do what is in their own best interests. Therefore, we live in a cruel world, one where everyone is struggling with everyone to get what they want.
- Societal costs: In a society of prideful people, it is useless to appeal to the virtue of the people. Leaders can only offer the “best deal” to their followers. Therefore, factionalism can become a serious problem and lead to governmental instability. Prideful people are loyal only to themselves. They constantly seek advantage and so they will readily shift their allegiance. Hence, the faction in charge today may be replaced tomorrow.
Have we been bought? Was the price worth it? Think! Was our nation founded upon the love of sex or some sort of pleasure? Did people come to America just for the sake of stuff or for the hope of freedom? Did the colonists rely upon the Bible or science for truth? Was the hope of Americans in an almighty state or a providential God? When we actually take the time to think, does anyone actually believe that in an infinite universe life is all about finite, little ole “me”?
To Be Continued
- Part 3. What It Truly Means To Fear The Lord