Most of us disagree with bowing to statues in the church, but idolatry is far more widespread and pernicious than a simple physical figure.

Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

As I’ve noted recently, the greatest warning Jesus and his apostles gave of the future was of deception. And here we are, probably living in a time of more deception than the world has ever seen.

We’re all deceived by something: haven’t you recognized that in others around you? I’m not singling myself out as the only un-deceived man in America or the world. I’m sure I’m also under some sort of deception or self-deception that I haven’t yet detected. But I’m praying about that threat, and working to see it, in whatever form it is manifest in my life and in my mind. So far as I can see, most people are not even trying. In fact, it seems to me that the majority of people, including Christians, are willingly deceived about something very significant.

Once upon a time you could debate someone or try to correct someone and hope for a reasonable response, or at least a hearing ear, if you had a good argument or some powerful evidence. Now the person who is willing to consider the other side is very rare indeed. People are choosing their preferred deceptions, and sticking to them as though their lives were dependent on them.

We in the West pride ourselves on being free of idolatry, seeing idolatry as the worship of some man-made likeness of a personage or animal or imagined god. That’s for ignorant peoples of the past-we are far too intelligent for that nonsense, right? But it’s occurred to me in recent times that the situation is the complete opposite. We are all to varying degrees idolatrous, when looking at idolatry in its broader definition, and being willingly deceived fits that definition. The Encyclopedia Britannica, which makes a rare attempt at capturing this broad definition, says that idolatry, in Judaism and Christianity, is “the worship of someone or something other than God as though it were God”. Martin Luther said of idolatry:
“Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God, your functional savior. ” (Goodreads).

Christianity dot com shares a few quotes from well-known figures of the past, including this one by A.W. Tozer:

“The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.”

Samuel Rutherford said this:

“Verily, we know not what an evil it is to indulge ourselves, and to make an idol of our will.”

Here are two more:

“You don’t have to go to heathen lands today to find false gods. America is full of them. Whatever you love more than God is your idol.” – Dwight L. Moody

“As long as you want anything very much, especially more than you want God, it is an idol.” – A. B. Simpson.

To reassure those who insist on Biblical confirmation of claims, here’s something from Scripture:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5).

It seems then that idolatry is an obsession with something so that it takes precedence in your life, at the expense of your faith, and at the expense of what you should be loving first: God.

Photo by Joey Banks on Unsplash

I will here suggest a few idolatrous attitudes to be found.

You can choose your gender. This is one of the newest deceptions to wash over the surface of the Western world, like sewage spewing out of an over-filled drain. The truth is patently obvious, particularly to the truly scientifically minded, but it’s being ignored, shut out, banned, discounted, and vilified. This destructive belief is an idol in our time.

The object in the pregnant woman’s womb is not a baby-it’s a blob of tissue which suddenly turns into a baby when it’s born. That’s a deception widely taught and believe in the United States. Any evidence to the contrary is not even imagined and will never be openly discussed. This, again, makes an idol of deception and of human wisdom.

The earth is on the eve of destruction, thanks to you driving a car, being warm in winter, and eating the odd piece of meat. There’s a huge volume of dissenting evidence and dissenting highly qualified voices to this deception, but these are silenced and go unfunded. Half of the population or more believes it, and refuses to consider any other possibility. Saving the earth provides meaning and purpose in life, and that meaningful intention must not be threatened by anything or anyone. This conviction is an idol in our time.


Among deceptions within the Church, a large percentage of professing believers are convinced that life-including humans- evolved. The scientists (the only ones they pay attention to or who they are allowed to pay attention to) are right about our origins, to their minds. This thinking puts the words of fallible and anti-God scientists over the Bible-the message which claims to be the very Word of God, and the one from which we gain our hope of forgiveness and eternal life. This rejection of the plain truths of Scripture makes an idol of human pride and human wisdom.

Also in the Church is the deception of false gifts. A danger for all Christians is the desire to want to experience something tangible, rather than simply living by faith. It’s being taught and believed now that living by faith is believing in signs and so-called miracles: this isn’t true-in fact it’s the opposite of living by faith. The desire to see or to feel God do something; the dissatisfaction with life to the point of accepting what may be false in order to spice it up, or to get to the point where we will accept anything claiming to be of God when it may not be at all, is a form of idolatry. It’s creating or entertaining a false God and a false Holy Spirit.

I’m going to offend some of you here, but I’m not of the variety to shrink back and go along with the herd just to please. What is considered the work of the Holy Spirit in large sections of the Church today is nothing more than a mockery of the Holy Spirit. God is capable of great things: far beyond what we can imagine. And when His power is falsely represented by people falling over backwards and babbling, we are mocking that power. When we talk unquestioningly of healing and there is no real healing at all, this is deceptive idolatry.

This deception is an idol which millions of professing Christians cling on to with all their might, but which turns away millions of others who may be seeking truth, but instead find nonsense masquerading as the power of God. We don’t hear their stories or their testimonies, do we.

Questioning the claimed gift of tongues is, to many Christians, like questioning God, and is close to blasphemy. Here, then, in the heart of the Church is a huge, ugly and pervasive idol, being worshipped in the place of the true God of heaven and earth.

The Word of God is there to guide us, with the Holy Spirit, into all truth. If we willingly and intentionally embrace falseness-or worse, if we teach it to others-we are victims and perpetrators of the very deceptions that Jesus Christ and his apostles warned would enslave most people in the end times.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s