Little Children, Stay Away From Idols

The first two commands in the ten commandments prohibit idolatry. There are two very good reasons for this:

  • God made us to be happy and godlike (Genesis 1:26-31). One of the principles of human nature is that our souls conform to what we think about and admire the most. This is why Annapolis students are taught to think on that which is True, Good, and Beautiful as part of their education.  Our souls  become more wise as we contemplate truth,  more virtuous as we study goodness, and more joyous as we appreciate beauty.  This is also true concerning our spiritual well-being.  As we think about, admire, and worship our infinitely powerful, intelligent, eternal, wise, loving, God and his self-revelation in Christ, we take on the character of Christ. But if we worship creatures and created things rather than the Creator, we lose our reason and become controlled by our passions (Ephesians 4:17-20).

 

  • The other reason God prohibits idolatry is that it simply isn’t always obvious that we should not worship idols. In fact, idol worship can make a lot of sense to people who are suddenly made aware of their sins! After God delivered the Israelites and gave them the law, Moses’ brother Aaron made them an idol to worship! Similarly, right after Gideon led the Israelites to victory with God’s power, he made for the people a golden priestly garment, which they then worshiped. The point is that when we see God’s power and righteousness most clearly, we also see our own sins most clearly and wish to hide from God. This is the story of humanity in the garden. Adam and Eve sought to hide themselves from God with fig leaves and behind bushes. The Israelites tried to create some space and put a golden calf before the Lord.

And we, too, often hide from God. We find sins as excuses to miss church, skip prayer, or fail to confess our sins. In the place of such spiritual disciplines we put distractions to give ourselves space. We add too many duties, too much entertainment, avoid solitude, never turn the music off, never turn off the phone, and are never alone with God. We distract ourselves from God, but in doing so, we begin to admire and think about created things more often, more highly, and perhaps with deeper longing than we think about God. And as the Bible shows us, these habits will shape us. So the big question is this, and I think you should write it down:

“What distracts me from God?” More personally, you might ask, “How do I hide from God?” Once you find the answer, confess this to the God who has bridged the gap in Jesus Christ, because he calls us out of hiding and into freedom.