Have you ever asked yourself “how does idol worship apply to us today”? Have you made an attempt at one point of your life, to discover or inquire why the Bible states to stop worshiping idols? Or did you ever say thank God that we do not worship idols today? God says with a strong voice the same today as yesterday “Be Holy as I am Holy”! If His statement carries to our times and applies today as yesterday, it carries true. Whereas we need to set ourselves apart from the world of today and become holy as God is holy, idol worship is prominent today, given that the gods of yesteryear are still alive today. Likewise, they have changed names, as well as become chameleons, idol worship is prominent today.
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me; Exodus 20:5
But I [say], that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. 1 Corinthians 10:20-21
Recently I have come to an understanding that I have sinned by having an excessive attachment and veneration of two specific idols, as well as worshipping them. Now don’t get me wrong, I thought I was a Christian; I have prayed, worshipped God, did everything I thought right and attempted to do more; went to church and thought I was a good Christian. But, when I started to review my spiritual life, I was stunned.
“So what is idol worship?” you will ask. “did you make or buy idols, images or worshiped heavenly bodies?” some will ask.
IDOL’ATRY, n. [L. idololatria. Gr. idol, and to worship or serve.]
1. The worship of idols, images, or any thing made by hands, or which is not God.
Idolatry is of two kinds; the worship of images, statues, pictures, etc. made by hands; and the worship of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars, or of demons, angels, men and animals.
2. Excessive attachment or veneration for any thing, or that which borders on adoration. (Reference)
From an early age, as long as I can remember I was fascinated with joining the military. I enjoyed stories, movies, tales and history identifiable with military service, heroism, respect for the military class and virtue of honorable heroes. As soon as it was possible to join in the military service, I joined the Airborne Infantry. At first I was enjoying my time in the service, I partied, did everything I could have to enjoy the service as well as travel all the places available to me.
A little time went by and a senior leader noticed my potential and started to mentor me. All the phrases appealing to a young man who romanticized the war were used; Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless service, Integrity, Personal Courage, and Best Man standing is the last standing and so forth. He started to give me availability to schools and opportunities to volunteer to go to best available schools and missions to progress in my career as well as to become the best of the best. The more opportunities I had to attend the best training the better I became at leadership, tactics, strategy and close quarter combat to include what on the streets is called martial arts.
As any other young man, I met a woman who captivated my heart. I married her as soon as the opportunity was provided, which was after returning from a deployment, and I deployed within a short time again. With time I became more and more “passionate” for the service in the Army, enthusiastic about patriotism and obsessed with following the regulation and the standards to the dotted i and the crossed t. I have lost grasp of the meaning “family”, “husband”, “brother”, “son” , “grandson” and any other relationship. In order to progresses in my career but without “scandal” I would get myself to believe in something so I could tell my wife the army is making me do it (in order for me to excel at my duties). I have compromised my relationship and integrity of a friend and a husband to keep my military integrity.
Moreover, as with any married couple, we started to have children. After my first born joined us, I had a mission that separated me with my family. With the second child I deployed for 11 months two weeks after he was born. After returning from that deployment I have taken an assignment that only brings me home to sleep. A third child was born. Although by this time I have accepted Jesus as my lord and savior. AS I am writing this, it has been 4 years since I have truly received Christ as my Lord. Through these years I have learned to hear the voice of my Shepherd, communicate with Him and learn to trust in Him.
Consequently, I read the next scripture which made me reassess my priorities. The following is from Ezekiel 14:2-5:
The word of the LORD came to me. He said, “Son of man, these men came to talk to you. But they still have their filthy idols. They kept the things that made them sin. They still worship those statues, so why do they come to me for advice? Should I answer their questions? But I will give them an answer. You must tell them this: ‘This is what the Lord GOD says: If any Israelites come to a prophet and ask me for advice, I myself will answer their questions. I, the LORD, will answer them even if they still have their filthy idols, even if they kept the things that made them sin, and even if they still worship those statues. I will speak to them in spite of all their filthy idols. This is because I want to touch their hearts. I want to show them that I love them, even though they left me for their filthy idols.’
How does this apply to me? Which idols do I worship? Why do these verses stay with me? Why do these specific words haunt me in my dreams? Then it hit me, I am worshiping Ares and Athena! Ares is the Greek god of war. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent and untamed aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and generalship. She also is portrayed as the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, strategic war, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill in ancient Greek religion and mythology. Minerva is the Roman goddess identified with Athena while Mars is identified as a Roman version of Ares.
Consequently, one would ask me, “How did you worship these idols? Is it not a long stretch to even identify with these statements?” Well, I have sacrificed my youth, relationships, integrity, sanity, peace and fatherhood amongst many other traits to develop my career as a war fighter in battle and strategic operations. My mind was cleared, the peace in my heart has returned and I was healed of many war wounds because I have asked the Holy Spirit to heal me, for God to cleanse my hands and give me a pure heart. When Jesus entered in to my life again, I repented of idol worship; I am now free. At this time I also am getting ready to terminate my service.
“Little children, guard yourselves from idols” the Apostle John says in his 1st letter chapter 5:21. Whatever we spend money on, whatever we desire and try to attain at any cost (or some) but is not glorifying God- is idolatry. Men and women are always looking to worship something; careers, fads, cars, money, music, movies and the list go on. The easy way to remember is this- Everything that is not of God raises itself up against God, even in the life of a Christian. To make things clearer, even ministry (worship, evangelism, kid’s ministries) can be idols if God is not first.
Ask yourself- What is your identity? Are you a son of God? Are you a daughter of God? Is your identity Christ? Or is it a Doctor, Professor, Captain, Staff Sergeant, CEO, Businessman and so forth? What do you pursue? – Hunting, fishing, vacations, retirement, influence, prestige, a home, video games, or to live eat and drink? How does it please God?
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Bible References: 2 Corintians 6:17, Romams 12:2, Ephesians 2:10, 2 Corinthians 7:1