The human heart, said Calvin, is a factory of idols. We quickly turn away from the Lord and fasten our hearts upon some other thing. So it is important to have our understanding attuned to how weak we are and how easily we beak the first commandment.
Watch: Idol Worship, Then and Now
This video reminds us that idol worship is not dead by any means. Just because we do not have little images sitting a neighborhood shrine, we are still a very religious people.
I. WHAT IS IDOLATRY?
Activity: Have students write out a personal definition of idolatry. Collect them and read them. Vote for who’s definition is the best.
Definition: Idolatry is the giving of adoration, affection, or allegiance to anyone or anything other than God. It occurs when our love for God and his law have any sort of competition.
This is why we started by saying that the first commandment, above anything, commands love for God. The best way to prevent idolatry is by consciously pursuing out love for God. As CS Lewis said, “Our problem in life is not that we love things too much, but that we do not love God enough.”
Activity: List together common idols. Discuss: Why is each so attractive? What makes us want it? What is the allure? How do you identify idols in your life? In a culture?
Typically idols offer something to us. They promise “redemption, hope, and fulfillment of some kind.
Find idols in your own life by asking yourself the following questions:
Lecture: Three Common Idols today
1. Atheism – Atheism doesn’t worship an image, but it is a form of idolatry because it denies God what is rightfully His. On the other hand, we could also say that atheism glorifies man and man’s reason.
But atheism comes in two forms: Philosophical atheism and practical atheism. In the former one explicitly denies the existence of God as a matter of personal conviction. The latter occurs when a Christian simply lives in such a way as to not acknowledge Him or His lordship.
In either man is enshrined as the ultimate authority and man’s law is king.
2. Pluralism – Watch “What is Pluralism” from Inspirit Foundation
Pluralism emphasizes that every way is the right way no matter which way it is going. It denies the fact that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
According to this philosophy of life everyone’s belief is true and should be openly accepted. Tolerance is the heart cry of every pluralist. “Coexist” is its bumper sticker.
In the face of this we cry out, “There is only one name given among men by which we must be saved.”
3. Syncretism – Watch “I’m a Christian, but I’m not…” from Buzzfeed
There is a great overlap with the practical atheist here. The syncretist may acknowledge God with his lips, but he fails to acknowledge God’s law with his life. His actions show that he hates the true God and has really made up a new god in His place.
The syncretist combines worldly religion with Christianity. In this video, people claim to be Christians, but they openly reject the truth of God's word when it comes to gender, gender roles, intelligence, dogma, and personal zeal for God.
Bonus: 4. Some other cult-ish practices – Sorcery (ouiji boards, black magic, séances), praying to saints, binding someone’s conscience: these are all forms of idolatry. Discuss why. Perhaps some of your students can recount personal stories of having participated in such things.
III. THE CONSEQUENCES OF IDOLATRY
God condemns the idol worshipper. He will be sentenced to hell forever. But in this life he faces wrath too. Read the following to find out what happens.
Psalm 115:1-8 – you become what you worship.
Believers are transformed into the image of the Son. Idolaters are transformed into the image of their idol: dumb, irrational, senseless,
Romans 1:18-31 – List all the effects of idolatry.
God gives the idolater over to his sin and allows him to be abased in it.
The Christian on the other hand is conformed to the image of the Son, and daily renewed in holiness, knowledge, and righteousness. His exposure to the Lord transforms him.
Remember that the first commandment requires us to have one God and one law. A society (or individiual) that doesn't reduces to nothing... just like its idol.
Challenge: Put away your idol for 2 months. Put something godly in its place
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.