Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

1 John 5: 21

Reading: Colossians 3: 5; 1 Corinthians 10: 14

When I went to India, it was my first experience of the kind of idolatry we read about in Bible times. Actual statues made of gold. Actual shrines. Actual people praying to the statues and giving offerings to cows. Actual…you know…idols.

Yesterday we saw how the people of God had become infiltrated by Egyptian idolatry – they had over 2000 different gods – and how this would have made them incredibly vulnerable to the idolatrous practices of the people who inhabited the promised land.

I also said that idolatry is a constant threat to us today too.

How so? And what’s so bad about it anyway? Surely no-one could believe that some lifeless statue could have any real power. Indeed. But the fact of the matter is, idols don’t have to be made of wood, stone or metal. And that is why John, in our reading for today, warns Christians about it. Nearly anything, even good things, can become idols. Why? Because idolatry lies in the heart, not in the object worshipped. John Calvin put it very bluntly when he said that our hearts are ‘idol factories’.

The problem presents when we forget the Giver and instead worship the gift. When we ask of a gift to function as our god, the perversion starts. At its root, idolatry is a slap in the face of the true and living God.

Colossians 3: 5 likens idolatry to greed, covetousness or lust. The Bible is full of warnings about the consequences of greed: it is part of a constellation of negative characteristics describing the unrighteous and is at the root of all kinds of evil. When we crave something more than we desire God, it becomes an idol and gains the power to enslave us. An idol promises much and delivers nothing. Idols will always prevent us from fulfilling the will of God. No wonder Paul tells warns Christians to “flee from idolatry”.

Faithfulness to the first commandment remains our #1 priority. True, in Western culture we are unlikely to bring an offering to a golden statue, however this does not mean that we are not looking to other things to take care of us. False gods are anything we trust in to comfort and provide for us.


I’m just going to say it…I really don’t feel like we’re finished with this issue of idolatry. So, I’ll see you tomorrow, same place, for further discussion on this issue.

In the meantime, ask the Holy Spirit to put his finger on any thing or person that holds the place of an idol in your heart.


Dearest Lord, please show me anything or any person that has become an idol of any sort in my heart.


For the family

Over the next few days, watch parts of this brilliant video together about the Wilderness region in Israel where the people wandered.