My Dear Friends, Flee From Idolatry

By Scarlett Stough
We may imagine flames, smoke, and intense heat as the word idolatry brings to mind primitive people prostrate before an image of Molech or Beelzebub carved out of stone, it's arms outstretched to receive the living body of a crying infant.

We may imagine an Aztec altar ready to channel the blood of a human sacrifice with a priest holding the still beating heart over the victim.

Other images may not seem quite so sinister as we stroll through a museum looking at the carved images of the gods of long dead cultures.

We seldom imagine ourselves prostrate before our own appetites as we attempt to satisfy our cravings in food, alcohol, or drugs. We're like the cursed pirates in Disney's recent hit “Pirates of the Caribbean.” We're hungry, but food doesn't fill, water doesn't quench the thirst, nor alcohol numb our emotions. We want to be free of the curse, but we can't or won't rely on the blood of the Father's Son for our release.

Even further from our imaginings is perceiving the pursuit of wealth, fame, pleasure, or power as idolatry. The millionaire, the winning athlete, the CEO, or the President of the United States all seem to have reached the height of success. What is so bad about striving to achieve that kind of success?

God is not opposed to success or prosperity. He is opposed to using the devil's methods to get there.

What are the devil's methods? Here is a short list: Lies, flattery, fraud, murder, slander, theft, underpaying the laborer, cheating the consumer with overpriced poor quality goods, convicting the innocent and releasing the guilty in the court system, withholding justice from those who can't afford to purchase it, aborting the unborn for convenience. The list is as long as your Sunday paper. Every sin (conduct and attitude that God says is wrong because they are harmful) always adversely affects not only the personal life of the sinner, but all of society.

Our deepest motivation reveals who our god is. What are you willing to sacrifice to serve your god? Your health? Your family? The welfare of your employees, coworkers, or countrymen? Reconciliation with the Creator God who is Sovereign over all?

We only have two choices in this life. We can worship the only Living God who gives life or we worship the devil with death as the end result.

The Apostle Paul exhorts:

"Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he?" I Corinthians 10:14-22

We can't behave as if we consider the devil's values to be worth more than God's promises and still belong to Christ as Christians. To say, “I am a Christian” and then turn around and behave immorally and unethically in any aspect of our lives is the same as Christians in Corinth who took the symbols of their Savior—the bread and wine, and then ate a pagan feast in a pagan temple.