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Romans 1 (NIV)
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
IDOLATRY: the root sin is the failure to value God above all things so that He is not honored and praised as He should be.
Idolatry begins when people reject what they know about God
We are made in His image. This means that without Him in our life (by our choice), there are God-sized holes, they must be filled, and instead of filling them with God, we turn to idols.
Verse 23: and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
and exchanged… put in place of another
the glory of the immortal God…
Glory: the manifest presentation of God’s infinite and majestic nature; normally conveyed to humanity as superlative brightness.
-God’s unique majesty which fallen mankind has lost sight of and for which they have substituted deities of their own.
Immortal: uncorruptible, ever-living: not subject to decay or breaking down.
for images made to look like a mortal human being…
Mortal: corruptible; subject to decay and breaking down
Would put idols in temples and in their home.
Devote lives to many things, but not God
God must be pre-eminent
“The essence of sin is to put self in place of God” – William Barclay
and birds and animals and reptiles…
A hint of creation in Genesis
Jeremiah 2:5: “This is what the Lord says: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.”
Jeremiah 2:11: “Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols.”
Edited excerpt from Pastor Scott’s sermon preached at Solid Rock Bible Church (Chappell, NE) on 4/6/2014:
Webster (1828) provides two definitions of idolatry, both of which can be seen clearly in this passage:
1. The worship of idols, images, or anything made by hands, or which is not God. Idolatry is of two kinds; the worship of images, statues, pictures, &c. made by hands; and the worship of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars, or of demons, angels, men and animals.
2. Excessive attachment or veneration for anything, or that which borders on adoration.
Worship is like a fire hose that has gotten stuck in the “on” position and is endlessly shooting out water with great force. We must decide where to aim the hose. That’s choosing the focus of our worship.
“The solution to our sin problem is not simply to change our behavior, but to reorient and center our entire heart and life on God.” – Tim Keller
“The tricky thing about idolatry is that it is usually the pursuit of something that is otherwise good… Idolatry is enslavement to something we love… it’s a good thing that is elevated to a god thing.” – Mark Driscoll
Bottom line: a sin becomes an idol when we value it more than we value Jesus as our ultimate joy and satisfaction. In doing this, we reject God as our object of worship and replace him with something else.
Since our idols are the things we treasure and value more than Jesus, we discover them by honestly asking what gives our life meaning, worth, and value. Look at the table in the bulletin, which of these idols give your life meaning? What are the things you treasure that give your life value and worth?
Our new “saviors” make promises to provide us with meaning or worth—ways in which we will achieve wholeness. But these self-made idols also threaten us, warning us that if we do not serve them, our lives will be worthless, meaningless, and empty. We start out by asking them to serve us, but eventually their allure is too strong. They overtake us, mastering our desires and ending up controlling almost every aspect of our lives.
So, what do we do?
“Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ… willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.” – Martin Luther, 95 Thesis
So, what is repentance?
“Repentance is a grace of God’s Spirit whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and visibly reformed.” – Thomas Watson, 17th Century Puritan
Repentance is rooted in a hatred of sin and a joyful awareness of God’s loving-kindness, which leads to joy. Romans 2:4.
“Lord, I am an adopted child, not a slave to sin. I am accepted because of Christ. I have forgotten how loved, secure, rich, and free I am in Christ. Please let me be astonished by your love.”
Let’s look at the chart again and see how we can turn toward God.
Power Idol: God is glorious, so I don’t have to produce results.
Approval Idol: God is gracious, so I don’t have to prove myself.
Security Idol: God is great, so I don’t have to be in control.
Comfort Idol: God is good, so I don’t have to look elsewhere for comfort, peace, and fulfillment.
Bottom line: idols lurk everywhere, lying in wait for those not fully enough aware of the danger. Liberated from idolatry in the ultimate sense by the work of God in Christ applied to our hearts, we can still fall prey to idols in a weaker sense, allowing people, things, or activities to deflect our worship and service of the true God. IDOLS CAN BE EVIL OR GOOD THINGS THAT LURE OUR DEVOTION AWAY FROM GOD
 NIV Application Commentary: James, p. 70