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


TEXT: ACTS 19:23-41


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


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


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


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


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

Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. He called

them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: “Men, you know we receive a good

income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large

numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that manmade

gods are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the

temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped

throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

A. When we left this passage the last time, the work of God through the ministry of Paul had brought a

revival to Ephesus

--those who had been spiritually dead were made alive

1. This revival effected the incomes of silversmiths who made little silver images of Artemis and her


2. The time of year around the month of May was called “the Artemesian”

--It was a month-long festival devoted to huge gatherings devoted to honor Artemis

3. Great numbers of people traveled to Ephesus to take part in these gatherings

a. Easy to see that these silversmiths were losing lots of money because people were turning away

from the worship of Artemis and beginning to worship Jesus Christ

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