The word “RUN” has been reverberating through my mind since I heard it sonorously proclaimed from a pastor expositing 1 Cor. 10:14. He admonished his congregation to flee from the sin of idolatry and vehemently exhorted them to run from this deleterious and perilous iniquity, because it cripples sanctification and is an affront to God. Idolatry can manifest itself in many guises, either subtlety or overtly in the life of a believer. But in either way, idolatry is an insidious sin which must be dealt with intensely and consistently. In fact, idolatry is so serious to God, that He has this abomination classified in the first two of the Ten Commandments from which we are to obey. (Ex. 20:3-4). In the Old Testament, carved idols or graven images was an obvious type of idolatry committed by the Isrealites that evoked God’ just wrath. They constantly slipped into this transgression, thus infuriating the LORD. Probably, the most well-known example of their idolatry was the fabrication and veneration of the golden calf by the newly-freed Israelites, as they impatiently waited for Moses, while he was conversing with God up on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 32:1-8).
Today many religions are still culpable of committing this form of idolatry, and even in some Christian circles. But, a more surreptitious and pernicious form of idolatry, is the idolatry of the heart, which is rampant among many of today’s Evangelical Christians, especially in the United States where affluence and material excesses are prevalent. And because of these excesses, many times this form of idolatry remains un-confessed or un-dealt with. In America idolatry of the heart is like a hidden internal cancer, unseen but very caustic to the life of a believer. Idolatry of the heart is equally abominable to God, because it allures the person’ adoration and affections away from the transcendent Creator and disobediently onto His creation (Rom. 1:25). Therefore, many of us wrestle with idolatry of the heart, because we live in great comfort and ease. The media glorifies materialism, portrays all excess’ as virtue and promote the need for immediate gratification in all things. Just watch most television commercials and you will quickly be tantalized into discontentment with what you currently possess and suddenly begin coveting what you don’t have. Biblical idolatry is defined; as any person, place, or thing, that elicits more affection, attention or love from us, than that for our Heavenly Father God.
When we detect idolatry’s presence tempting us, we ought to “run” fast and far from it. But, I prefer employing the word “flee”, as Paul does in 2 Tim. 2:22. Here he uses the word “flee” which is a much more appropriate word which always indicates escaping from some type of danger. The word flee, in the original Greek, is pronounced pheugo (fyoo’-go). It is defined: 1). “To flee away, seek safety by flight”. 2). “To avoid by flight, something abhorrent, especially vices.” 3). “To escape safely out of danger.” As you can see by its definition, fleeing involves seeking safety; refuge, especially from someone or something that can harm you. And, even though idolatries tentacles are difficult to evade, especially given man’s fallen nature, God does provide escape. We read; “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Cor. 10:13).
We must always remember that idolatry is an abomination to God and He is a very jealous God (Ex. 20:5, 34:14, Deut. 4:24, 5:9, 6:15, Josh. 24:19). He wants us to worship Him- alone. It was jealousy that incited God to smite many disobedient Israelites because of their idolatrous sin by worshipping the golden calf (Exodus 32:1-8). This example of God’s judgment concerning idolatry of graven images; a conspicuous form of idolatry is overt. As I mentioned before, idolatry of the heart can manifest itself inconspicuously and be surreptitious in nature. It can manifest itself as excessive adoration toward loved ones, celebrities, pets, leisure, hobbies, sports, travel, entertainment, television, sleep, money, or any entity that elicits more of our love, adoration or attention, rather than for our Creator God. It was our Lord Jesus who stated; “You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind; this is the great and foremost commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).
During His convicting “Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus stated; “…for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:21). Jesus knew man’s preferences and priorities were mostly external and fleshly related rather than spiritual. Paul admonished men to set their focus on “the things of heaven”, which is of the utmost importance because it is our eternal home (Matthew 6:20). Paul echoed Jesus’ teaching when he declared; “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2). And also stated; “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5).
As I close, we must refrain from idolatry in every form, even if we have to surround ourselves with fellow believers who will monitor our actions and hold us accountable to wayward affections. Drastic action may be necessary to extricate this serious sin from our flesh and heart. And in many occasions we are unable to perform the necessary surgery on ourselves in order to rid this abomination. Therefore, we ought to call on others in the “body of Christ” to be honest and help us identify and combat idolatry in our lives. I believe accountability to others, is a vital part to gaining triumph against such a formidable and flagitious enemy, to which our holy God commands us. We are called to be holy; “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. (Heb. 12:14). And; “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:16). Amen!
To church elders: We need to pray for men in church leadership, for there has been a dramatic increase of internet pornography addiction, which has brought great scandal and destruction of lives. Not to mention the compounding damaging effect on numerous others lives due to this insidious and rampant addiction. “Covenant Eyes” is a very effective tool to help brothers struggling with the internet.