Keep Yourselves From Idols
by Dr. Ken Matto
(1 John 5:21 KJV) Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Last Saturday morning I was riding through a little town next to me called Fords. On the road I was driving is a large Roman Catholic Church and in front of it is a statue of Mary, i.e. Diana of the Ephesians and Ishtar of the Babylonians. As I was passing by I saw a man kneeling down in front of the statue with his head bowed in devotion to his stone god. When I saw that, my spirit sank within me and it really bothered me to see a man in 2004 bowing to a piece of stone. This man must have actually thought that praying to a statue is equal to praying to God. What deception this man was a victim of. His eternal soul is in peril each day he lives. His hope is wrapped up in a carved piece of stone made to look like a religious figure.

How sad that is as that could be anyone who is not of God’s Elect. We see this type of Idolatry in Israel as people gather around the Wailing Wall and place pieces of paper with their prayers on it inside the cracks of the wall. What is that going to do? To replace the Great Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, for a stone wall is tantamount to idolatry. Stones, whether ancient or newly carved can do nothing but offer blind deception. I remember in the movie the Ten Commandments and the scene right after Pharaoh’s first born son was killed by the tenth plague, he took the body of his son and laid it in the hands of the idol named Sokar who was portrayed in the movie as the “dread lord of darkness” as Pharaoh called him. The boy was laying in the arms of the idol and Pharaoh (played by Yul Brynner) was leaning upon the stone and was calling out to this stone to return the life of his son. At that time Nephertiri (played by Anne Baxter) walked in and asked Pharaoh if the idol heard him. She then says a very important sentence, “he cannot hear you, he is just a piece of stone.” She was very Scriptural in her understanding of that.

(Psa 135:15-18 KJV) The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. {16} They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; {17} They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. {18} They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them.

(Hab 2:18-19 KJV) What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? {19} Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.

Even in 2004, idolatry is an ever present evil in this world. If you ask a missionary who has been in any underdeveloped country and especially in the outlying areas where there are still tribes of people who fear evil spirits and worship objects thinking they are appeasing their gods. In India, they worship Cali and Shiva, thinking they are real gods. This is because the true Gospel has not yet penetrated these nations fully but that is not going to happen in every country. The Gospel is going to be preached in every country not accepted in every country. This is why idolatry is going to be in the world right up until the last day. Voodoo is a form of idolatry where masses of superstitious people are held under the sway of Witchdoctors who perform satanic magic. Man is religious by nature and if they do not worship the true God, they will create a god of their own liking.

The Apostle Paul faced much idolatry in his travels. He faced the fury of the followers of the false gods in Ephesus and he faced the pantheon of false gods in Athens on Mars Hill. The worldly scenario has not changed much in two thousand years. Missionaries have faced and do face local tribal superstitions when they go into a field to preach the Gospel. Christians in developed countries face the idolatry of false religions such as Roman Catholicism which exalts Mary. Mary is a descendant of Ishtar of Babylon and Diana of the Ephesians and is not the earthly mother of Jesus. These were known as the cult of the virgins. You can find these adherents in operating rooms, board rooms, in manufacturing, in sales, and many other places. So one need not be wearing a grass skirt and carrying a spear or blowgun to be qualified as an idolater.

If we look back at the history of Israel in Kings and Chronicles, we will see a very repetitive scenario. Israel and Judah were enamored of the nations around them but they had forgotten one major issue. These nations were all idolatrous nations. They were worshippers of false gods such as Milcom of the Ammonites, Chemosh of the Moabites, and Ashteroth of the Zidonians. All the nations that worshipped these gods were the archenemies of Israel and Judah. It was these nations which caused Israel to sin against the Lord. They craved to be like the nations around them and so they decided to adopt the local gods of these nations. They did not realize that it was their propensity toward idolatry which caused God to judge them and remove them from the land. At Sinai, Israel had covenanted with God that they would obey His law. God did not confirm that covenant, Israel did. It was a unilateral covenant and that is why God held them to it with such insistence. God had freed them from Egypt and when they walked through the Red Sea, was only about a month later that they were already worshipping a golden calf, yet, they had the temerity to believe that they could make a covenant with God and keep it. Their lust of idolatry caused God to remove them from the land, which means they lost that land forever.

(Deu 1:8 KJV) Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.

(Deu 4:25-26 KJV) When thou shalt beget children, and children's children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger: {26} I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.

(Deu 28:63 KJV) And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.

In Deuteronomy 1:8 God is telling the Israelites to go and possess the land and only three chapters later, He is telling them that their descendants are going to become idolaters and God will remove them from the land. Notice God called Heaven and Earth to be a witness against them, because they broke their covenant with God.

Let us bring this situation up to today. When the USA was founded, it was founded on Christian principles. The Mayflower Compact of 1620 declared that the Pilgrims came here for the advancement of the Christian Faith. The constitutions of all fifty states give thanks to Almighty God. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights mentions Almighty God. When the Declaration of Independence was ratified in 1776, it too mentioned the Creator. It took only about 100 years for our country to begin to fall to pagan ways. The late 1800’s was already the beginning of the great secular movement which began to pave the way for excluding God from almost every place in American society. The 1920’s saw a great liberal movement in the churches led by such men as Harry Emerson Fosdick and Sloan Coffin. Their liberal and Antichrist message began the downfall of the American churches. Secularization of the churches had begun and continues today as the true Gospel is being removed from thousands of churches and replaced with a works gospel.

What does that have to do with idolatry? You don’t need a stone wall or image to be an idolater. All you need is a lust for something which can become your idol. Today in 2004 we have Technological Idolatry as we see thousands walking the streets with cell phones and MP3 players sticking in their ears. We have Educational Idolatry which glorifies education and intellectualism above the Bible. The intellectual hit squads are the ones responsible for giving us false bible versions which are replacing the true word of God. We have Sexual Idolatry, with even Christians dressing as suggestive as they can. This is the most rampant idolatry today as it is in every vestige of our lives, whether it be in the media or even on the CB set. We have Possession Idolatry which is people buying everything they see, not caring that they are going thousands of dollars in debt. Debt causes you to serve another god which is the demand for repayment. Debt has destroyed more families and individuals than booze or drugs simply because almost everyone carries a credit card. I once received a letter from a finance company and based on my good credit, they wanted to loan me $1,000 at 28% interest. I wrote them back and told them, “I will loan them $1,000 at 28%.” I never heard from them again. We have Financial Idolatry with people signing up for Multi-level marketing schemes to get rich quick. (I have been sucked into them 4 times.) If these things really worked, no one would be working a 9-5 PM job and everybody would be rich.

Idolatry comes in many forms. Things we seek with a driving force will become an idol in our life and will derail our Christian walk. We must always make decisions with the future effect it will have on our lives in mind. If we make a big purchase, what happens if we lose our job? Will there be enough money to pay off the purchase and live until another job is found? If we make a purchase and throw caution to the wind, then if we do lose our job, it will be a consuming passion to pay off all bills but without an income, it will be a difficult task. Idolatry need not only be kneeling in front of a statue, it can be anything that consumes us with a driving passion. Let us be like the Thessalonian Christians.
(1 Th 1:9 KJV) For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;   (10/1/04)