by Garry Maddox

June 26, 2022

A woman found an old family bible in her closet. She decided to send it to her son in New York. She went to the post office. The teller asked her if there was anything breakable inside the package. She replied … (rest of the story on audio)

  • Today, I will talk about idolatry and what it is.
  • I love studying+ the laws and commandants of God
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  • First, I will explain idolatry
  • Second, I will talk about the laws in the bible against idolatry.
  • Thirdly, I will tell share how to break free from the sin of idolatry.
  • After the lesson, quiz and open discussion

Opening Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:14-22

14  Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
15  I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 
16  The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
17  For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 
18  Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 
19  What say I then? that the idol is anything, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is anything? 
20  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.
21  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.
22  Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? 

What is an idol?

I'DOL, n. [L. idolum; Gr. form or to see.] (Webster, 1828)

  • An image, form, or representation, usually of a man or other animal, consecrated as an object of worship, a pagan deity.
  • Idols are usually statues or images, carved out of wood or stone, or formed of metals, particularly silver or gold.

IDOLATRY, n. [L. idololatria. Gr. idol, and to worship or serve.] (Webster, 1828)

  • The worship of idols, images, or anything made by hands, or which is not God.
  • Idolatry is of two kinds; the worship of images, statues, pictures, &c. made by hands; and the worship of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars, or of demons, angels, men, and animals.
  • Anything on which we set our affections; that to which we indulge an excessive and sinful attachment.

The gods of the nations are idols.

  • Psa 96:5 For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens. 
  • 1 John 5 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

The words idol/idols are mentioned 116 times in the Bible.

Idolatry in the Bible is prohibited

Exodus 20:3-4

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 

It is serious enough to send people to the second death, the lake of fire, right alongside murderers, sorcerers, and the sexually immoral.

Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. 

Exodus 22:20 He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed. 

SURVEY:  Family is the most important thing in the lives in Christians

The Pew (2018) Research Center found only 29% of Christians in America claim religion as “the most important source of meaning in their lives.”

The study asked respondents about where they find “a great deal” of meaning, as well as what the most important source of meaning is for them. 52% of all Christians said that religion provided “a great deal” of meaning in their lives, including 65% of evangelicals and 62% of historically black Protestants. The rest indicated that religion provided, “some” meaning, “not much,” or “none at all.”

However, relatively few Christians (29%) considered religion to be the most important source of meaning in their life. The lack of focus on religion leaves us facing the question: if religion isn’t the most important source of meaning to Christians, what is?

The same survey by Pew (2018) also uncovered that the “number one” idol of American Christians is the family. Of American Christians, 42% said that family was the most important source of meaning in their life, including 54% of mainline Protestants, 50% of Catholics, 37% of black Protestants, and 31% of evangelicals.

This means that those who said the family was the most important source of meaning had to deliberately choose it over religion unless religion was not important at all.

Besides the family, another 29% of Christians identified various other idols as the most important source of meaning in their lives. This included 33% of Catholics, 31% of mainline Protestants, 25% of black Protestants, and 24% of evangelicals. (Pew, 2018)

And it’s likely that many people who claimed religion as the most important source of meaning also have idols; they just didn’t admit it to the interviewer.

Israelites preoccupied themselves with material prosperity

Remember how the Israelites who returned from captivity ignored God’s command to rebuild the temple first in the book of Haggai?  God supernaturally intervened to prevent the people from ever obtaining that material prosperity while they ignored God.

Haggai 1:3-6, 9

3 Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, 
4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? 
5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. 
6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. 
9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. 

When they repented and became obedient, God blessed them with many good things including material prosperity.

How idols are served

Exodus 20:5 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; 

The two phrases, 'Do not bow down to them or serve them,' constitute two separate prohibitions:  to serve is one and to bow down is another." The phrase "do not bow down to them," does not mean only bowing down is prohibited, and nothing else. Rather, just one of the customary types of worship — namely, bowing down — is mentioned, and the same applies to bringing an offering or incense. (Chabad, 2021)

There are four ways of worshiping God:

  • Bowing down
  • Bringing a sacrifice
  • A wine libation
  • Incense

Incense is offering prayers to God
Revelation 8:3  And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. Rev 8:4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. 

The definition of a libation is an act of pouring a liquid, most often wine, in sacrifice on the ground, on a ritual object, or a victim, in honor of some deity. is the pouring of wine or oil as a religious ritual. Wiktionary (2022)

Another criterion of idolatry is prostration. This includes bowing down with at least the head or knees on the ground.

Story of cookies

When I was young, I was told on Dec 24 - Dec 25 that if I was good, I would receive presents on the morning of the 25th. But it was also required to put out an offering. My parents put out chocolate chips cookies and a glass of milk on the evening of the 24th.  To my surprise the next morning the offering was accepted, and presents were available under a green tree. I was Happy. (More to come later about this story)

It is forbidden to serve an idol in a way it is customarily served

Prohibition in the bible forbids us from serving an idol even in a manner other than one of the four types of service. It includes worshiping an idol in the manner of its worshipers. This is called ″customary worship″ (Chabad, 2021).

Example: one who throws a stone at the monument of an idol or one who spits on an idolatrous item does not transgress this prohibition since it is not the customary manner of service.

Exodus 20:5 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; 

The two phrases, 'Do not bow down to them or serve them,' constitute two separate prohibitions: to serve is one and to bow down is another."

It is forbidden to investigate idolatry practices

A prohibition in the bible is we are forbidden to research and study claims on how idols perform or work.

Deuteronomy 12:30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, how did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.

What does Exodus 20:5 "Do not turn away to false gods." imply? The same words can be read to mean, 'do not turn away God from your minds.' I would also like to try such practices. If your heart is lured away to think about them, this will cause you to turn away from God and become involved in worship.

Example: studying horoscopes to see your fortune. If you gaze at the moon for 15 minutes you will get a revelation. Learning how tea cards work.

In performing one of these acts, the performer is dubbed an idolater

Lev 17:7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations. 

Exo 22:20 He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed. 

How many gods are there?

Jer 11:13  For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal. 

According to a web search on google, there are 417 cities and 686 special districts, in Kentucky. Does that mean there are over 1000 gods (idols) in Kentucky?

There are gods of sports: gods of food:  gods of sex: gods of drugs: gods of stars: gods of churches and many more.

How to get rid of idolatry

Idols become emotional attachment: Idols lead to soulish delights: Idols bring destroy our souls.

Isa 66:3  He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations

Christmas: a season of idolatryCookie Story continued

Now I will finish my testimony about the cookies. It was an emotional and happy time for me on the morning of Dec 25th.

For years this tradition continues, unknown to me the consequences. Years later in my adulthood, this act causes me to turn from God as my source and investigate the world for satisfaction. One consequence was chocolate cookies. I had formed an emotional attachment to chocolate cookies with milk. When I had a bad day at work or was rejected by someone I would turn to milk and cookies. I would go to the pantry and open a big bag of chocolate cookies and dunk them in a glass of milk. Boy, did I feel better, and the memories of my bad day were drowning out in the milk. The emotions attached to this sacrifice turn me to pleasures of the world for relief instead of going to God to overcome my bad days.

When I realized I was serving an idol and it had caused me to form an emotional bond with it. I had to break it. Breaking it by repentance and breaking the emotional bond with a thing that did not have a soul. Once broken, I was not drawn to milk and cookies for relief but to God, my savior. This is just one effect of becoming emotionally attached to an idol.

To overcome the effects of serving idols and take our thoughts to God

Eze 14:6 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. 

2Co 10:4  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; 5  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 

How to Remove images in your mind

  • Take the image (idol image) that is in your mind
  • Repent for giving it place and serving it
  • Break agreement with it
  • Cast it down and bring it into the obedience of Christ

Remove literal images from your procession and destroy it

Deut 12:3-5 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.

Story of an Idol for healing

A testimony was shared with me several years ago, I don’t remember the date or occasion. There was a prayer meeting in one home. The man of the house had been bent over for years with back pain.  The prayer leader noticed a small statue of a black man. He inquired and the man said he had gotten it when he was a missionary in Africa and brought it home. The leader said that this was an idol, and it may cause curses. They took the image out of the house cut it into pieces, burned it, and buried the ashes. When they went back into the house the man was standing up straight with no back pain.

Deu 7:25-26

25 The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God.
26 Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.

Act 19:18-20

18  And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 
19  Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 
20  So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. 

It is time to close our lesson and discuss the survey

  • God is serious about idols and idolatry
  • It can lead a person to the second death
  • If you have or had idols
  • Repent
  • Remove the vain imagination from your mind
  • Renounce and break the image
  • Tear it down
  • Cast it out
  • Remove any literal idol from your possession
  • Receive God's forgiveness

Jer 10:11  Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. 

Works Cited

Wiktionary (2022)
Webster (1828) Online Dictionary KJV