Summary: Part 1 of 5 in a series on the false gods of this world (i.e. of our own creation) that vie to be the ultimate object of our worship.
INTRODUCTION: It is the number one problem in the Bible—more than 1,000 verses speak of it. More than 50 of the laws in the first five books of the Bible are directed against it. In Judaism it was one of only four sins to which the death penalty was attached. Yet we skip over it as an antiquated or irrelevant issue. But nothing could be further from the truth. It's the war that is being waged for our worship. The Bible calls it idolatry, and at its core is a pantheon of counterfeit god’s vying for your allegiance…
BACKGROUND: Every day we are bombarded with messages of power, success, entertainment, wealth, pleasure, and romance, and through these things the enemy seeks to convince us that our lives are somehow incomplete, and we spend much of our time chasing after these grand illusions that promise fulfillment, only to come up empty and disillusioned
THE GODS OF OUR WORLD
• One of the problems of identifying the counterfeit gods that vie for our allegiance is that their identities not only lack the usual trappings of religion. When we think of idolatry we think of ancient “superstitious” peoples bowing down to statues… ex. Acts 19…
• But most idols aren’t statutes, and believe it or not most of them are things that aren’t even bad!
• That’s right… most if not all of the counterfeit gods we worship are not immoral, but amoral
• Is there anything wrong with pleasure, sex, money, power, entertainment, success, etc.? NO • These things are morally neutral… up until the point their not!
• You could be doing or serving something that in and of itself is very commendable, it could be your family, your career or some other worth cause, and all of those things are “good”
• The problem is that the instant something takes the place of God, the moment it becomes and end in itself rather than something to lay at God’s throne, something that brings honor and glory to Him, it becomes an idol!
• When someone or something replace the Lord God in the position of glory in our lives, then that person or thing by definition has become our god
• So if we are to identify the possible counterfeit gods in our lives, we must look at what we pursue, or even what we create… remembering that in everything we do… EVERYTHING, it should be for the Glory of God… not be god itself! (1st Corinthians 10:31)
• When we do “all for the Glory of God” the cause of Christ will be advanced, and benefit will come to our fellow man – that’s right… our worshiping of false gods impacts those around us
• The next verse (32) places this in proper perspective for us – “give no offence” basically tells us give no reason for stumbling to those around us; in their situation it was Jew or Greek
• If people see us claim to be Christians, and yet still chasing after gods of our own making, it degrades our witness, and could even shake their faith!
THE CHALLENGE AND THE CHOICE
• When it comes to the counterfeit gods at play in our life, we are presented with two things, (1) a challenge and (2) a choice, the first is played out in stunning detail in the book of Joshua, the second played out in their time and plays out today in our own!
• As we pick up the story, Joshua is an old man who has been a leader of Israel for decades. Before he dies he gathers the people around him for one last challenge.
• In his message he makes it clear that everyone is a worshiper.
• If they aren't worshiping the Lord God, they are by default worshiping some kind of substitute for god; yes believe it or not everyone is a worshiper, so even Atheists are religious!
• He identifies the counterfeit gods that were at war for the worship of the Israelites as being gods of the culture and gods of their fathers.
• Joshua then offered Israel a challenge to choose between the Lord God or another god, a god of their own making (Joshua 24:14-15)
• In his challenge, he makes it clear that they must choose, and the answer couldn’t be both!
•The same challenge and choice is issued to us today – do we remember our commandments?
• There are 10 of them, 5 that deal with our relationship with God – 5 that deal with our relationship with each other! –
• But for now we’ll just consider the first! (Exodus 20:4-5)
• Often times we just read the first part (vs. 4) and ignore the second part (vs. 5)
• The profound wisdom in the second part is that, anything can be hammered into an idol, and therefore can be a counterfeit god, if placed at the top of our list of affections!