by C.F. Boerkoel, Sr.
Scripture contains many warnings against idolatry: but by many readers of Scripture these are supposed to have no application in our day except to the heathen. That, however, is a very mistaken view of the matter. It involves a mistake as to what constitutes idolatry, and a mistake as to the religious sentiments of modern society. The fact is, that these are days of gross superstition and flagrant idolatry.
There are several admonitions in the New Testament with reference to idolatry:
“Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee idolatry.” (I Cor. 10:14)
“The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these . . . idolatry.” (Gal 5:19, 20). Etc. Etc.
Let it be particularly noted that these admonitions are addressed, not to the heathen, but to the Lord’s church, and they are much needed.
Of God’s redeemed people of old, it is written, for our admonition, that they “mingled among the heathen and learned their works.” And they served their idols; which were a snare unto them. (Ps. 106:35, 36). This danger is just as great and imminent today as it ever was. Idolatry flourishes vigorously, not in heathen lands only, but in civilized lands also. The difference is one of form. In the scale of civilization the difference between those human beings who are at the bottom and those at the top is a difference of degree only. In nature there is “no difference” (Rom. 3:22). Culture changes man outwardly, but not inwardly. It changes his behaviour, but not his nature. It is God only Who can work within a man to do “that which is well pleasing in His sight” (Heb. 13:21, Phil 2:13). Man looks only on “the outward appearance,” and is satisfied if the surface be seemingly clean and respectable. But God sees the inside as well as the outside; and, judging from His created works, He is far more particular as to the state of that which is within than of that which lies on the surface.
Man, as he becomes more educated, may change his idols, but does not turn from idolatry until he turns to God. Worship or service directed to another than the living and true God or trust reposed in another person or thing than in Him, is idolatry.
What, then, is an idol? In brief we may safely say; that which men voluntarily serve, other than God.
We hear on all sides, and our attention is called in all the multiform literature of the modern man, to the great things that are being done for humanity by Science, Evolution, Invention, Education, Civilization, Art, Sport, etc., etc.
In the field of education, Sport has become one of the greatest idols for our youth. The idolatry of sports has been publicized to such an extent in our daily papers, that pages upon pages are filled with this idol, wherein man looks with pride upon the career and advancement he has gained. Hysterical anxiety is the applaud of men. Thousands upon thousands are gathered loitering their precious time to this idol-man. Parents and children attend these festivities with interest and enjoyment. Children’s minds are occupied from early morning to late at night, as to what team is going to win. Their interest for these sports far exceeds their interest for their eternal souls welfare. It is their daily subject, ask the teenager; and with very few exceptions they are better acquainted with the names of the various players, than with the names of the patriarchs found in holy writ. Pastors and teachers find it difficult to get the attention of many of the children to scripture lessons and instructions, but no sooner the class is over, and the conversations are about this idol (Sport).
What are the consequences? A demoralizing apathy to all what God requires of all of us. Is it not a bewailing fact that Satan has caused the present day educators to have laid aside all things wherein God may be glorified, and have invented mans exaltation in its stead? Are we not admonished to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good?” I Thess. 5:21. And what does scripture teach us, “to hold fast,” namely, “that which is good..’ What is that good, save only that wherein God is glorified. A closer acquaintance; a deeper knowledge of God’s truth, will show the worthlessness of many things and many persons too, once by man highly esteemed. The late Rev. J.C. Philpot wrote in one of his writings. “All these must be discarded, until at last he seems, not only despised by the world, as poor narrow-minded, prejudiced, ever discontented and dissatisfied, and to have lost everything except what God has wrought by His power in his soul.”
This is God glorifying.
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