Did the first humans worship God like they were supposed to?
Then God spoke all these words:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.
Do not have other gods besides me.
Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. Do not bow in worship to them, and do not serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ iniquity, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commands. Exodus 20:1-6
Those who cherish worthless idols
abandon their faithful love. Jonah 2:8
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned. Romans 5:12
Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5
No. They sinned against God by worshipping idols rather than bearing the image of the One who created them.
If we were asked to define the word idol, most of us would probably say it’s something made out of wood and stone. But it’s probably not something we worship today, right? What if idolatry today looks more like giving anything or anyone a value higher than God? That definition feels like it hits a little closer to home.
People have always made physical idols because it allowed them to get some sense of what their gods might look like and somewhere to focus their worship. They believed that the idols (and the gods they represented) had the power to change their lives, to protect them from bad things and to pass out good things to them. Replace the word idol with the words money, success, relationships, or even alcohol and drugs, and suddenly the concept of idols doesn’t seem so ancient. From the beginning of time, when Adam and Eve fell for the temptation to “be like God, knowing both good and evil” (Genesis 3:5), the making of idols has been a work of the human heart—not just a work of the hands and eyes. When we worship the gods we make for ourselves, when we place anything above God in value or power, we are living a lie.
When we elevate anything above God, we lose our true selves. And when this happens, we sin. And sin not only grieves our loving Father, it destroys us and keeps us from experiencing the goodness of God.
That’s the danger with idolatry.
And that’s also the beauty of worshipping the true God. It fills us with the joy and peace that we are looking for and gives us access to the power and love that we crave.
Spend some time today thinking about these questions:
- What are the things in your life that you value above God?
- How have you looked to other things or people to give you identity, peace about the future, or even power?
- What impact has this had on your life and on your relationship with God?