Bella Vista Church of Christ



Randall Caselman



  Scripture tells us that, to us, God is to be exclusive: "No other God's before Me." The second Sinai Principle is "no graven images." These two eternal principles are repeated positively in the New Testament: "Thou shall worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shall thou serve" (Matthew 4.10).


  There's a temple in Japan, the Temple of the Thousand Buddhas. Inside are one thousand statues of Buddha, each one slightly different than any of the others on display. The idea is that the worshiper can select the image of Buddha that suits him, and then worship that particular one to the exclusion of all others.


  This tendency to shape God into our own chosen image has been prevalent throughout history:


• For those bent on conquering nations, they created "War Gods." The Romans did this, so did the Christians during the Crusades.


• Those who wanted to have sex with whomever they pleased, conjured up "Love Gods," and built temples where prostitution was religiously practiced.


• Egyptians had their sun god, worshiping nature.


  Making God to be what we want Him to be is idolatry!


  Satan doesn’t mind us worshiping Jehovah as long as we reshape Him into a form that suits our purpose, but God calls this idolatry!


Some gods we have created!


  Video gods – Television, theatre, the internet. Our god is the one we spend most of our time with, the one which influences our lifestyle, shapes our thoughts, molds our character. We must ask ourselves: "How much time do we spend in this idolatrous medium and has it influenced our thoughts and lifestyle?


  Materialism. Augustine once said: "Idolatry is worshiping anything that ought to be used and using anything that ought to be worshiped." Is it possible that we worship money, things? Jesus insisted that we cannot have two gods. Jehovah is to be worshiped, money is to be used. It's true, our culture, our generation, may be the most difficult to go to heaven from, simply because of our materialistic abundance and how it influences our thoughts and behavior.


  Our own bodies can become an idol. Health spas and gyms are filled with those who have given in to this idol.


  Sports has become a god in our culture. Do you think it a disgrace that we: Know more batting averages than we do Bible verses? Name more Heisman Trophy recipients than Jesus' Apostles. More NFL teams than Bible books? More university basketball players than Old Testament prophets?


  Perhaps the worst idol of all is our own self-righteousness. Believing we can save ourselves by our own goodness.


  On-and-on we could go! You make your list. I struggle with mine.


  Here it is, idolatry is not out of vogue today, we're all guilty. Most of us, if asked: "Do you practice idolatry, would indignantly answer, no, of course not, but we do."


Idolatryhas its tragedies...


  Idols will always disappoint us. Idols always promise more than they can deliver.


  Idols will ultimately dominate us. If we're not careful, idols end up controlling our life. How many can we name who were once faithful in the Lord's Kingdom, but have fallen away because they've given-in to their idol, become addicted to: Work, materialism, pleasure, false teaching, television, sports, drugs, drink, pornography, etc.  The Rich Young Ruler came to Jesus asking: "What must I do to inherit the Kingdom, eternal life?" In effect Jesus said: "Get rid of your idols and come follow Me!"


  Idols have the power to change us. Read Psalm115.4-8 carefully: "Idols are... made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see, ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats." Listen now..."Those who make them 'will be like them,' and so will all who trust in them." Indeed, God says we will become like that which we prefer, reverence, worship, and serve...


• Those who love money become materialists.

• Those who reverence the human ego become egotistical.

• Those who lust after the opposite sex become adulterous.

• Jesus said, those who hate become murderers.


  Scripture teaches that idolatry will squeeze us into its own mold.


  It was Tim Keller who wrote: “When anything in life is an absolute requirement for our happiness and self-worth, it is essentially an idol, something we are actually worshiping.” So, each must ask: "Who or what have I placed on the throne of life? Is it God or an idol? Who rules and reigns over my thoughts and activities?"

—Randall Caselman