Summary: Why should we spend so much time learning about the names of God? Our biggest danger is making up our own God, which the Bible calls idolatry, and the names of God teach us who God is and what He is like. Do we have a problem with idolatry today?
Purpose: To show the dangers of idolatry.
Aim: I want the listener to commit to learning more about God by studying God’s names as a cure for idolatry.
INTRODUCTION: Starting next Sunday morning I intend for us to begin a journey together exploring 25 of the most common names for God in the Old Testament. This could be one of the most important studies we have ever done together. After all, David prayed to God and said, Let Your name be established and magnified forever... (1 Chronicles 17:24 NAS)
Why should we spend so much time learning about the names of God? Our biggest danger is making up our own God, which the Bible calls idolatry, and the names of God teach us who God is and what He is like.
Do we have a problem with idolatry today? First we must ask,
I. What is Idolatry?
Idolatry can be practiced two different ways:
A. There is formal idolatry
"An idol is a substitute or false god taking the place of the true." William MacDonald 
The Jews in the OT were constantly tempted to worship false gods even though God clearly said: Exodus 20:3 You shall have no other gods before Me. (NAS)
Deuteronomy 16:22 You shall not set up for yourself a sacred pillar which the LORD your God hates. (NAS) Deuteronomy 7:25 "The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, or you will be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the LORD your God. (NAS)
Many religious still have statues to bow before and relics to kiss, but there is an even more subtle form of idolatry. [Picture of Pope bowing to the Virgin Mary]
Have you ever heard someone say: "It makes no difference what a man believes about God as long as he is sincere!"? As long as someone’s worship is sincere, isn’t that good enough? Is that true?
Think about it this way. Does it make any difference what a doctor believes about medical procedures, or what a pharmacist believes about different medicines, or what a chemist believes about chemicals? It makes all the difference in the world!
Shed a tear for Jimmy Brown;
Poor Jimmy is no more.
For what he thought was H2O [water]
Was H2SO4! [Sulfuric acid] 
Notice how Solomon explained it, Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (NAS)
I have had many people tell me something like this, "There is only one God so it doesn’t matter which church you go to. We are all worshiping the same God." I have heard this argument from Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims. Is that true that since these major religions all believe in only one God (instead of many gods) they are all worshiping the same God?
Jesus Himself warned us that there would be false followers of Christ. For many will come in My name, saying, ’I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. (Matthew 24:5 NAS)
Look at 1 John 5:20-21 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, guard yourselves from idols. (NAS) Three times in verse 20 John tells us to pursue what is true about God, so there must be a lot of false teaching about God.
"The Greek word for ’idol,’ eidōlon, in classical Greek has the meaning of ’shadow’ or ’phantom.’ John now hurls at his readers one final challenge. Do not set your affection upon shadows and phantoms. 
Idols are very serious threats because they look so much like the real thing. The most dangerous poison is the one in an ordinary drinking glass.
"As we have seen, the word ’[TRUE]’ means ’the original as opposed to a copy’ and ’the authentic as opposed to an imitation.’ Jesus Christ is the true Light (John 1:9), and true Bread (John 6:32), and true Vine (John 15:1), and Truth itself (John 14:6). He is the Original; everything else is a copy. He is authentic; everything else is only an imitation." 
B. There is informal idolatry
"We consider idolatry a sin most often seen in other cultures; but in fact, idolatry is all around us. On magazine stands we see idols of our culture. [ American Idol picture] One popular TV show names the next "American Idol," and many lives here today are plagued with the worship of possessions. The other day I saw a Hollywood awards show, and I noticed how similar the presentations were to what I’d envision for an idol--little golden statues [Picture of an Oscar statue] that dominate one’s life and career."