In this post, I would like to consider two consequences of idolatry in the life of the believer. These are loss of authority in loving others and an undermined faith, two fairly significant aspects of walking with Father.
First, we should examine two sections of Scripture in which Paul addresses the issue of idolatry to Christians. These are I Cor. 10 and Col. 3:1-5.
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 13 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, so that you will be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.This is followed by a discussion of when and when not to eat meat sacrificed to idols.
The conclusion I posit is that idolatry in the NT believer’s life is central to sin, and the issue is NOT small statuary! Consider that after Paul has stated that we are able to stand against every temptation we face, he exhorts us to flee idolatry. However, he then describes a way of dealing with meat sacrificed to idols which clearly assumes that statues have no power or meaning in the lives of believers. Idolatry is, by inference of the total chapter, not about worshiping actual statues.
Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
Greed is idolatry. (Since the translators have chosen to use the singular form of amounts, idolatry here refers only to greed and not the whole list. I can only assume that is a correct rendition of the original.) The love of great gain is the root of all evil. Wanting more for ourselves is NT idolatry.
In the Lord of the Rings, as Frodo quests for Mordor, we are often given a view of a form for the great evil source against which he struggles. It is a tower, topped by a single eyeball. Did you notice this form is in the shape of a lower-case “i”? Tolkien’s symbolism for evil could not be more lucid. The singular, lowly sense of self raised up as power and full of greed.
When we allow our own life to be the end of why we are living life, though we may claim Christ, our experience will be selfishness itself and none of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus. A Christian, who does not deal with their idolatry of self, will find they struggle with unloving attitudes toward others. Such a believer cannot find the source of love, as the idol has been placed before Him. Hence, when in fellowship with others, the spoken “I love you, I will pray for you, I care about you,” will lack authenticity. The words will ring hollow in one’s own heart and in the spiritual connection between the believers.
Further, in interacting with the lost, such a Christian will speak one way and feel differently in the heart. It is possible to speak words intended to evangelize or demonstrate empathy and feel no compassion. This is a state lacking authority, and has no effective, positive, life-giving spiritual bearing on the hearer!
Additionally, such a person who trusts basically in his or her own righteousness will interpret all of life’s obstacles and trials as a game of blessing and cursing between self and God. This is not a position of faith. In this scenario, the individual calls the mental assent to the Truth of Jesus to be faith. However the practice of trusting in Jesus is lost and replaced by trusting in one’s own works.
It boils down to this: Seeking to gain materially (and I do not intend the term to be limited to stuff but inclusive of all of our natural body experience) under the guise of experiencing God’s blessing, is seeking to gain one’s own life and life will be lost. It fails the faith God would lead the believer into, when God is a force that helps one achieve the desired car, the desired job, or in anyway is a construct of the imagination that simply supports the image we hold for the self. Rather in the actual experience of God in a relationship, we seek to lose our total sense of self image and self desire in order to worship Christ alone, to hold Him in the heart in communion as a state of abiding in the love of God; and He brings to pass abundant life, a spiritual state, as part of His own.