Guard against subtle idolatry

Ramah would be remembered for the twist on idolatry that changed the nation. It was a straight forward request that many would have thought to be harmless. Possibly it made good sense to some. However, as Samuel explained to Israel, if he was to appoint “a king to judge us like all the nations (1 Samuel 8:5), this would cost them everything (1Sa 8:11-18).

But why, when on the surface it seemed to be a good idea? Because, beneath lay motives compelled by selfishness and idolatry. Although the Lord had foretold through Moses that Israel could “set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose” (Deuteronomy 17:14-15), they got it all wrong. Israel didn’t want the Lord to appoint a King at all. No, they wanted Samuel to appoint a King to replace Yahweh. One who would “go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:20), doing away with the need for the Lord to win the victory for them.

The Mission Exposed

Make no mistake; idolatry has only one goal; total dominance over your life in place of Jesus Christ. Our arch enemy is not fussy as to which method of take-over he uses, just as long as the primary mission gets accomplished. Obviously, there may be some discomfort during the early days of migration from Jehovah to whatever. But as idolatry gradually pervades your thinking unnoticed, you become increasingly comfortable with it.

No wonder the apostle Paul bluntly tells us to “flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14). You see; anything that takes your preeminent position, other than the Lord, is idolatry. Ezekiel explained the offense of idolatry as anyone “who takes his idols into his heart and sets the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face…” (Ezekiel 14:4).

It looked like this; people chose to make idols the center of their heart’s affections. They would acquire physical items which they would focus their affections on. Their attention would be directed at those idol things and in so doing they became guilty of worshipping them. Imagining their wrong affections to be OK, they would “come to the prophet” of the Lord (Eze 14:4), associating and blending their idolatrous affections with worship of Yahweh as if it was all good. How very wrong they were!

The nature of it

The stealth nature and seductive methods used by idolatry are often subtle to begin with, but remember its goal is to dethrone Christ as Lord. Don’t be fooled, it’s sneaky and devious in the ways that it messes with your thinking so that you increasingly accept it’s beliefs as genuine and OK.

Most of the time idolatry’s victims don’t recognise what’s changing. Behaviour, language, relationships, isolation from the Church, selfishness through the all-consuming “I, me, and myself” are some of the ways you can be seduced. These will take you through a spiritual metamorphosis allowing a non-Christ centred life-style to become the new and acceptable norm.

The familiar words offered by the apostle Paul are possibly the most concise remedy for us. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Every form of thinking that challenges or dilutes the absolute truth of God being our only sovereign is to be fenced in by the Lordship of Christ.

Today, guard against subtle idolatry, not only in your life but also in the lives of those you care about. It’s believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who “glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3).


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