WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
NOVEMBER 27, 2023
TOPIC: FLEE FROM IDOLATRY
BY T. O. BANSO
“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14 New King James Version)
Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines idolatry as “Image-worship or divine honour paid to any created object.” But idolatry in its broad sense is more than this. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says that Idolatry originally meant the worship of idols, or the worship of false gods by means of idols, but came to mean among the Old Testament Hebrews any worship of false gods, whether by images or otherwise, and finally the worship of Yahweh through visible symbols.
It further says that idolatry ultimately in the New Testament idolatry came to mean, not only the giving to any creature or human creation the honour or devotion which belonged to God alone but the giving to any human desire a precedence over God’s will. Thus, many people are involved in idolatry today but are not bowing before any graven image or bowing down in a shrine.
God hates and forbids all forms of idolatry. The Bible forbids having and worshipping any other god apart from God. The first and the second commandments in the Ten Commandments, which God gave the Israelites through His servant, Moses, deal with this.
Exodus 20:2-6 says, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (New King James Version). Deuteronomy 5:6-10 records the same commandment.
In the two scriptures, God makes it clear why He will not tolerate the worship of any other god: “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” Some people think that they can worship God and still worship other gods so God is just one of the deities they worship. But God forbids polytheism – the belief in many gods. You must choose between Him and the other gods. He wants human beings to believe in Him alone and worship only Him. This is called monotheism. Matthew 6:24 says no one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. Luke 16:13 says a similar thing. You cannot serve God and other gods.
Joshua told the Israelites, “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15 New King James Version).
To ensure that the Israelites did not practise idolatry when they entered the Land of Canaan, God warned them not to intermarry with the inhabitants of the land and to destroy their altars, break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire (Deuteronomy 7:1-5; 12:1-4; Exodus 23:23-24; 34:12-17).
God said this because intermarriage would lead to idolatry as it eventually happened, particularly with King Solomon. His foreign wives burned incense and sacrificed to their gods in Israel, and when Solomon was old, they turned his heart after other gods and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David (1 Kings 11:1-4). Consequently, God promised to tear the kingdom away from him and give it to one of his subordinates but said that because of David, he would not do so until the reign of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son who succeeded him. Idolatry is a serious sin.
In Deuteronomy 12:29-31, God warned the children of Israel again: “When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods” (New King James Version).
But when the Israelites settled down in the Land of Canaan, they didn’t obey God. They worshipped foreign gods. And after God had turned them over to their enemies serially to oppress them, He finally allowed them to be carried into captivity. Idolatry has consequences. God is jealous as you have read.
In 1 Kings 18:21, the Prophet Elijah told the people of Israel, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (New King James Version). But the people answered him not a word.
As seen earlier, an idol is not limited to a graven image or anything that you bow before. It is also anything that you give to the affection or love that you should have for God. It is anything you love more than God or that replaces God in your life. It is anything that you depend on instead of God. Modern-day idols include money, earthly possessions, power, fame, success, and human connections. God is jealous. God’s attitude to graven images and these modern-day idols are the same. He does not share His affection with any other god.
1 Corinthians 10:14 says, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (New King James Version). The Amplified Bible puts it this way: “Therefore, my beloved, run [keep far, far away] from [any sort of] idolatry [and that includes loving anything more than God, or participating in anything that leads to sin and enslaves the soul].” Don’t be an idolater (verse 7). Don’t love anything more than God and don’t participate in anything that leads to sin and enslaves the soul.
Flee from idolatry. Do you know that greed is idolatry and that a greedy person is an idolater? Colossian 3:5 says, “So put to death and deprive of power the evil longings of your earthly body [with its sensual, self-centered instincts] immorality, impurity, sinful passion, evil desire, and greed, which is [a kind of] idolatry [because it replaces your devotion to God]” (Amplified Bible). Don’t let anything replace your devotion to God. The New Living Translation puts the latter part of this scripture thus: “Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.”
Flee from idolatry. Don’t worship the things of this world. The Apostle John says not to love the world or the things in the world; if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15). The world is passing away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever (verse 17).
Love not the world; love God. As Jesus said, quoting from the Old Testament, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30). This is the first commandment. Love God supremely and worship Him alone, not the things of this world. Don’t let anything replace God in your life.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: I shall not worship any idol but God. Nothing will take the place of God in my life. Holy Spirit, help me to love God supremely. I shall worship God alone not the things of this world.
(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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