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Summary: Examining the idols in our lives, we see what keeps us from receiving God’s blessing

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SERIES: “LESSONS FROM THE EARLY CHURCH”

TEXT: ACTS 19:23-41

TITLE: “TRAPPED IN IDOLATRY”

INTRODUCTION: A. The dictionary definition of “idol”: “an object of excessive devotion or admiration”

--Fails to capture the biblical sense

1. Hebrew of the OT had several words: “a likeness; something carved or made;

nothing (as in ‘good for nothing’)”

2. Greek of the NT uses eidolon (adapted into English as “idol”

a. It generally referred to vision or sight

b. Literally: “the way I see things”

B. Idolatry can take many forms:

1. Augustine: “Idolatry is worshipping anything that ought to be used, or using

anything that ought to be worshipped.”

2. Dan Allender, The Wounded Heart: “Idolatry is placing our longings for what only

god can provide in the hands of a creature instead of the Creator. When I live for

my work or my wife, I have made them my false god. When I have failed (and I

can be absolutely sure that a false god will be impotent at the point of my greatest

need), then I will experience the shame of failure and misplaced trust.”

3. Ed Bousman: “People create a god in their own minds and fall down and worship

that god. In reality, they worship themselves.”

C. A good working definition of idolatry is that it is the worship of the self

1. What I desire and want regardless of the actuality of the situation

2. It is a misplaced trust and sense of security that will fail us at the moment we need

it most and it will leave us confused, hurting, and lost.

D. Before we get into the meat of our study this evening, we need to remind ourselves of

some background facts

1. Paul is on his third missionary journey

--He’s in the city of Ephesus

2. Ephesus was an important city in the Roman Empire

a. It was a place of trade and commerce

--So much so that it was known as “the treasure house of Asia Minor”

b. It was a place where the Roman governor of the area would come and hold court

proceedings

c. It was the home of the Pan-Ionian Games – much like our Pan-American Games

--The men who administered these games were important officals called

“Asiarchs”

d. It was a center of pagan worship and superstition

1). Ephesus featured the Temple of Artemis (Diana) which was one of the seven

wonders of the ancient world

--It was 425 ft. long, 222 ft. wide, and 60 ft. high and contained 127 pillars

2). The practice of sorcery and magic was a very major part of Ephesian society

--There was a group of magical spells and instructions called the “Ephesian

Letters” that were well known in the ancient world

e. It was also the home a many criminals

1). The Temple of Artemis possessed the “right of asylum”

2). Any criminal who could reach the temple area was considered “safe” from

prosecution and therefore Ephesus became home to many of these criminals

E. We can see a good portrait of the stranglehold of idolatry in our scripture passage this

evening.

--No matter what the idol is, we’re shown why people get trapped in its grip.

I. SOME HAVE TOO MUCH INVESTED IN IT TO GIVE IT UP

--Acts 19:23-27 – About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. A silversmith named


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