We cannot speak about Worship without talking about idolatry.
Your idols suck. God doesn’t suck.
The idols you are laboring over are sucking the life out of you. God is the only master who pours life into you.
Psalm 135:15-18(HCSB)The idols of the nations are of silver and gold,made by human hands.16 They have mouths but cannot speak,eyes, but cannot see.17 They have ears but cannot hear; indeed, there is no breath in their mouths.18 Those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them.
Isaiah 44:9-10(NLT)How foolish are those who manufacture idols. These prized objects are really worthless. The people who worship idols don’t know this, so they are all put to shame. 10 Who but a fool would make his own god—an idol that cannot help him one bit?
Idolatry leads to slavery, that’s why people are addicted, perverted, indebted.
See, idols lie. They promise things that only God can deliver and they do so to enslave us, and that’s why the worship of God is so important because that alone free us.
All of life is ceaseless worship. This means that while worship does include corporate church meetings, singing songs, etc, it is not limited by these things, defined just as these things, or expressed only in these things because worship never stops. Rather, we are continually giving ourselves away or pouring ourselves out for a god, person, cause, experience, achievement, or status.
YOU ARE ALWAYS WORSHIPING
Human beings are unceasing worshipers. We are not created to worship, but rather we are created worshiping. Everyone worships all the time. Atheists, agnostics, Christians, and everyone in between are unceasing worshipers. Everyone, everywhere, all the time, is always worshiping. Everyone worships all the time. Atheists are worshipers. Buddhists are worshipers. Agnostics are worshipers. Christians are worshipers. People who are living are worshiping. Everyone who’s living is always worshiping, pouring themselves out for someone or something. That’s what we were made to do. That’s what we always do. The only difference is who or what we worship, when or how we worship. The question is not, do we worship? The question is, is our worship to God or is our worship to something other than God, namely idolatry?
“The opposite of Christianity is not atheism, “but idolatry.
Because here’s the problem: You don’t have an adultery problem; you got a worship problem. You don’t have a greed problem; you got a worship problem. You don’t have a coveting problem; you have a worship problem. And if you would worship God, then that would fix all your other problems. And God wants that freedom for you, and God wants that freedom for your family, and God wants that freedom for your legacy.
Let’s look at worship in our culture. If you imported a Hebrew from 3,000 years ago to a football game where people were dressed up like animals, had their faces painted, took parts of an animal and barbecued it as a sacrifice at the tailgate party and saw them all dressed the same with their arms outstretched trying to affect the outcome of a game like pagan priests who are doing some sort of mantra, would you not assume that they would think that it was a religious gathering?
Everyone Worships, the question is what are you worshipping?
What you glory in you will sacrifice for. If you glory in God you will sacrifice all other aspects of life to make sure you are in His presence.
Worship is a lifestyle. People don’t have sin problems they have worship problems. People continue in their sin because they fail to worship the God of scripture. The highest we take people most of the time is into sin management.
1 John5:20(ESV) 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. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
It is such a detestable sin that God says to run from sexual immorality and idolatry
1 Corinthians 6:18(HCSB) Run from sexual immorality! “Every sin a person can commit is outside the body.” On the contrary, the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. 19 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 10:14(HCSB)14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.
God so hates idolatry He equates those who enter into idolatry as whores and spiritual adulterers.
Ezekiel 6:8 (ESV)“Yet I will leave some of you alive. When you have among the nations some who escape the sword, and when you are scattered through the countries, 9 then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols. And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations. 10 And they shall know that I am the Lord. I have not said in vain that I would do this evil to them.”
Spiritual adultery is unfaithfulness to God. It is having an undue fondness for the things of the world. Spiritual adultery includes any form of idolatry. In the Old Testament, the children of Israel tried to mix the worship of other gods such as Baal with that of God (Judges 3:7 (ESV) 7 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. In doing so, Israel became like an adulterous wife who wanted both a husband and another lover. In the New Testament, James defines spiritual adultery as claiming to love God while cultivating friendship with the world
James 4:4–5 (ESV)4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. The person who commits spiritual adultery is one who professes to be a Christian yet finds his real love and pleasure in the things that Satan offers. For believers, the love of the world and the love of God are direct opposites. Believers committing spiritual adultery may claim to love the Lord, but, in reality, they are captivated by the pleasures of this world, its influence, comforts, “fun”, and so-called freedoms.
Idol worship robs God of the glory that is rightfully His, and that is something He will not tolerate Isaiah 42:8 (HCSB) I am Yahweh, that is My name;I will not give My glory to another or My praise to idols.
Even today there are religions that bow before statues and icons, which is a practice forbidden by God’s Word. The significance God places upon it is reflected in the fact that the first of the Ten Commandments refers to idolatry: Exodus 20:3-5(ESV) “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me”.
Idolatry extends beyond the worship of idols and images and false gods. Our modern idols are many and varied. Even for those who do not bow physically before a statue, idolatry is a matter of the heart—pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony, a love for possessions and ultimately rebellion against God. Is it any wonder that God hates it?
SO what draws us to idolatry? Ultimately, the answer to this question is “sin.” It is the sin nature of man that causes us to worship modern idols, all of which are, in reality, forms of self-worship. The temptation to worship ourselves in various ways is a powerful temptation indeed. In fact, it is so powerful that only those who belong to Christ and have the Holy Spirit within them can possibly hope to resist the temptation of modern idolatry. Even then, resisting the worship of idols is a lifelong battle that is part of the Christian life. Philippians 4:6-7(HCSB)6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Understanding modern idols can help us to understand why they prove to be such a powerful temptation. An idol can be anything we place ahead of God in our lives, anything that tugs at our heart more than God does, such as possessions, careers, relationships, hobbies, sports, entertainment, goals, greed, addictions to alcohol/drugs/gambling/pornography, etc. Many of the things we idolize can be very good, such as relationships or careers. Unfortunately, God is often shoved out of the way as we zealously pursue our idols. Worse yet, the significant amount of time we often spend in these idolatrous pursuits leaves us with little or no time to spend with the Lord.
All the various forms of modern idolatry have one thing at their core: self. We no longer bow down to idols and images. Instead we worship at the altar of the god of self.
We worship at the altar of the fulfillment of the self to the exclusion of all others and their needs and desires. This manifests itself in self-indulgence through alcohol, drugs, and food. Here in the USA we have unlimited access to alcohol, drugs (prescription drug use is at an all-time high, even among children), and food. Obesity rates in the U.S. have skyrocketed, and childhood diabetes brought on by overeating is epidemic. The self-control we so desperately need is dismissed in our uncontrollable desire to eat, drink, and self medicate more and more. We resist any effort to get us to curb our appetites, and we are determined to make ourselves the god of our lives. This has its origin in the Garden of Eden where Satan tempted Eve to eat of the tree with the words “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5). This has been man’s desire ever since—to be god and, as we have seen, the worship of self is the basis of all modern idolatry.
All idolatry of self has at its core the three lusts found in 1 John 2:16 (ESV)“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” If we are to escape modern idolatry, we have to admit that it is rampant and reject it in all its forms. It is not of God, but of Satan, and in it we will never find fulfillment. This is the great lie and the same one Satan has been telling since he first lied to Adam and Eve. Sadly, we are still falling for it. Even more sadly, many churches are propelling it in the preaching of the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel built on the idol of self-esteem. But we will never find happiness focusing on ourselves. Our hearts and minds must be centered on God. This is why when asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, Matthew 22:37 (ESV)“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. When we love the Lord and others with everything that is in us, there will be no room in our hearts for idolatry.
Idolatry is when there is confusion between the Creator and the created. This is what Romans 1:25(HCSB)25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen. Of these people he says, they exchange the truth of God for the lie. The truth is there’s the Creator, the created. God created us to worship the Creator.
Idolatry is what happens when we worship the created, sex, money, fame, glory, power, prestige, whatever the case may be, instead of the Creator. This is common in Wicca. This is common in Prosperity Gospel,and many who follow the wolves of TV preaching, have fallen prey to lies of that idol.
So, why is worship better than idolatry? Here’s how he says it: Exodus 20:5-6, “For I the LORD your God.” OK, alcohol is not your God. Sex isn’t your God. Fame isn’t your God. Pleasure isn’t your God. Your spouse isn’t your God. Your children are not your God. Your marriage is not your God. Your beauty is not your God. The car you drive, the clothes you wear, the house you live in or other people’s opinion, they are not the Lord. They’re not the sovereign. They’re not in control. They’re not in charge. He is.
Romans 12:1-2(NLT)12 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Also in the passage is a description of the manner of our worship: “give your bodies a living and holy sacrifice.” Giving our bodies means giving to God all of ourselves. The reference to our bodies here means all our human faculties, all of our humanness—our hearts, minds, hands, thoughts, attitudes—are to be presented to God. In other words, we are to give up control of these things and turn them over to Him, just as a literal sacrifice was given totally to God on the altar. But how? Again, the passage is clear: “by changing the way you think.” Renewing the mind – Metanoia in the greek means; change of mind it is where we get the word repentance. We renew our minds daily by cleansing them of the world’s “wisdom” and replacing it with true wisdom that comes from God. We worship Him with our renewed and cleansed minds, not with our emotions. We see this all the time as people don’t come to church, they don’t worship unless they “feel” like it, their favorite song is played, or their favorite worship leader is leading.
We are not to let our worship be dictated by our feelings or our emotions.
Emotions are wonderful things, but unless they are shaped by a mind saturated in truth, they can be destructive, out-of-control forces. Where the mind goes, the will follows and so do the emotions. 1 Corinthians 2:16(HCSB) tells us we have “the mind of Christ,” not the emotions of Christ. Worship to God is holy and sacred. To pervert and corrupt it with entertainment and what we can “get out of the service” in trying to please and gratify ourselves is nothing short of blasphemy! The sacredness of true worship must not be sacrificed on altars of entertainment-oriented quartets, choirs, and other entertainment groups. We are as Hebrews 13:15(HCSB) says to 15 Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name. In worship we must be the participants, not the observers. We want to please and entertain ourselves. In Galatians 1:10(HCSB) the question is asked, For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ. Worship is God-centered not man-centered. When our worship is to please God instead of ourselves, then and only then will our worship be much more meaningful and spiritually uplifting to us and acceptable to God.
When people seek an “emotional high” from worship and don’t get it, they are disappointed and start blaming the songs, the worship leader, the preacher, etc. The world wants their worship service to be “more entertaining”, thus they are failing to worship God in spirit and in truth. Where in the Bible can we go to show that our worship is designed to please the worshipper. The desire to have an experience or an encounter along the lines of mysticism also gives little regard to what God says in the Bible.
Our worship to God requires commitment on our part. People had rather worship Christ as a baby in a manger than Christ as their crucified savior. Their worshipping Christ as a baby in a manger requires no commitment on their part. They feel they can put Him in a box and live the rest of the year as they please. But worshipping Christ as our crucified savior requires commitment, a complete change of our life, and a willingness to do all that He says. Jesus says in Matthew 10:37-38(HCSB) 37 The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Christ must be first in our lives, and this requires that we be committed to Him.
“From this we may gather that man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols. Man’s mind, full as it is of pride and boldness, dares to imagine a god according to its own capacity; as it sluggishly plods, indeed is overwhelmed with the crassest ignorance, it conceives an unreality and an empty appearance as God. John Calvin, Institutes, 1.11.8
This quote is often used when discussing the issue of idolatry in the Christian heart. The argument usually goes something like this: Our hearts are perpetual idol factories, always leading us to worship something other than God. Therefore, we must be constantly evaluating our hearts to ensure that we are not drifting into idolatry.
Matthew 15:19(HCSB)18 But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a man. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies.
Proverbs 4:23(HCSB)Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.
Psalm 26:2(HCSB) Test me, Lord, and try me;examine my heart and mind
Your idols suck. God doesn’t suck.
The idols you are laboring over are sucking the life out of you. God is the only master who pours life into you.
Psalm 51:10-13(HCSB)God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.11 Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me.12 Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit.13 Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.
John 10:10 (HCSB)A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
One way of viewing abundant life is to see when people have been changed by the power of Christ; they live different lives, which affects all aspects of their experience.
Galatians 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
Abundant life is not about what we have. It’s not about what we get. It’s not about what we claim. Ultimately, abundant life is about what we receive as a gift from the Lord and to live knowing we are stewards of the blessings of God.
Remember when I quote John Calvin about our hearts being idol factories? Left to ourselves we will continuously make idols unless we do a transference of ownership of our hearts.
Is your heart under new ownership? If you are still churning out idols without rebuke, without battle, then that tells you something. You haven’t been bought yet. You’re still an idol factory. You need a new owner.
You need Jesus.