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Home Sermons Essential Reading for Grey Nomads #2 Worship & Idolatry

Essential Reading for Grey Nomads #2 Worship & Idolatry

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Idolatry & Worship

Bible Readings Genesis 32


This morning I want to ask two crucial questions, Firstly “Why don’t people go to church anymore?” and secondly, “What will bring people back to church?.”

If you are like me, you often wonder why people don’t go to church any more. Why aren’t all these pews filled as once they where?


The Bible answers these two crucial questions with two words – Idolatry and Worship


Firstly “Why don’t people go to church anymore?”


Because  people are idolaters. In other words they are worshipping other Gods


Like footy, cricket, the beach, our kids or spouse my car, barbies and beer  to name just a few. Are these wrong? Of coarse not but when we worship these in the place of God they become idols


Idolatry – this helps answer why people aren’t in Church – Christians


one is exempt and we are, every one of us, unceasing worshipers and will remain so forever


What is idolatry?


Idolatry is one of the most frequent and most frequently misunderstood themes in all of Scripture. When thinking of idolatry, images of a primitive person bowing down to a statue or something akin to it come to mind. But, when the Bible speaks of idolatry it does so in a broad manner so as to reveal it as corrupted worship in contrast with true worship. Perhaps the most succinct definition of idolatry is found inRomans 1:25 – please turn there,  “they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”


God is our Creator and our worship is to be directed to him alone. But, as sinners we are prone to worship created things rather than our creator God and that is by definition idolatry. In the context of Romans 1 , this idolatry can be things God has made such as the human body and its pleasures (especially sexual), or things we have made such as human ideas about God and life that dominate philosophy and spirituality.


How can I find my idols?

As a general rule, it is easier to see the idols in someone else’s life than our own. This is because our idols tend to be seen by us as simply comforts, pleasures, habits, aids, and the like. Biblical counselor David Powlision says, “Idolatry is by far the most frequently discussed problem in the Scriptures.” This is because idolatry is the root that nourishes every fruit of sin. This also explains why the last line of 1 John

says, “keep yourselves from idols.” Why, because if we do then we will live in victory over temptations to sin.


Here are some questions to help us seek out any idols in our lives.


Who/what are your external idols?

??Who/what is my Lord that rules over my life determining how I live?

??Who/what is my Judge I am living to earn the approval of?

??Where do you give the firstfruits of your wealth?

??Where do you give the firstruits of your time?

??What people and things take the majority of your life?

??What do you plan and pray for?

Who/what are your internal idols?

??What false beliefs do you hold about God?

??Which parts of Scripture do you deeply doubt or even disbelieve?

??Deep down in your heart who/what do you love, cherish, treasure, long for the most?

??Deep down in your heart who/what do you despise and hate the most?

??Who/what makes you happiest? Why?

??Who/what makes you saddest? Why?

Who/what is your mediator between you and God?

??Who or what other than Jesus do you use to get closer to God?

??Who or what if taken from your life would cause you to not walk as faithfully with God?

??How do you define yourself, especially when introducing yourself to others?

Where is your functional Saviour?

??When daydreaming about escaping this life, what does your functional heaven look like and how is it different from the real heaven?

??On earth, where do you run for your safety or comfort as your hiding place (e.g. the fridge,

alcohol, the television, a person, a place, a hobby, pornography)?

Who/what is your functional savior?

??What is your picture of hell in this life (e.g. being single, not having children, being poor, etc.)?

??Who or what do you use to save you from what you fear (e.g. a relationship, children, money,

shopping, sex, food etc.)?

What good thing has become a god thing?

??Which idols are in your life that when appreciated and/or stewarded correctly are means of worship but have become objects of worship (e.g. work, family, health, friendship, pleasure, leisure, hobby, pornography etc.)?

??If you could obtain or change one thing/person in your life what would that be?

??What idols am I selling to others?

How can I nurture my worship?


What is  worship?


Best says

“Worship is living our life individually and corporately as continuous living sacrifices to the glory of a person or thing.”


This connection between glory and worship is clear in verses likeRomans 11:36 –12:1, Turn there please

“To him be the glory forever. Amen. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual

worship.” …First, we hold a person or thing in a place of glory. Second, we then worship that person or

thing. Third, our worship of that person or thing we hold in glory is done by means of making sacrifices.


Glory means weightiness, importance, preeminence, priority, or that which is our greatest treasure, deepest longing, and fountain of hope. Functionally, what we hold in the place of glory is in effect our real god…Practically, worship is making sacrifices for what we are living to glorify.


The biblical word for worship is also sometimes translated “sacrifice.” This insight is helpful because what we make the greatest sacrifices for reveals what we truly live to glorify and worship.


For example, if we eat and drink in excess, we are worshipping our stomach and sacrificing our health. If we sacrifice relationships with God and people for a hobby (e.g., sport, music, craft), then we are worshipping that hobby.


If we are giving our bodies to sexual sin, we are worshipping sex and/or another person whose glory is our highest aim, sacrificing holiness and intimacy with God in the process. In short, we give our time, energy, body, money, focus, devotion, and passion to that which we glorify most and make sacrifices to worship that person or thing.


Because we were made for the express purpose of worshipping God, everyone is a worshipper. The only difference is who/what we worship.”

Another definition is found from Harold Best who says,: Worship is the continuous outpouring of all

that I am, all that I do and all that I can ever become in light of a chosen or choosing god”


The pattern for our worship is the redemption that occurred in the book of Exodus. There, God’s people were enslaved for all of their lives and then redeemed and liberated to be free to worship God. The picture of the Exodus is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus who is greater than Moses and conquered our Pharaoh Satan and redeemed us from slavery to sin and death. But, like God’s people in the Exodus we who have been liberated must walk with God all the days of our lives trusting him by faith as a lifestyle of ceaseless worship if we hope to have our lives be lived for his glory and our joy. Sadly, we often like the Israelites build golden calves of idolatry, grumble against God, and long to return to our sin and slavery while walking around in a circle.


The key to getting out of this horrendous loop is found for God’s people at Mount Sinai where God gave to them the 10 Commandments as the heart of his law. And, God begins the 10 Commandments by declaring that he alone is God and that nothing and no one is to be worshipped in place of or alongside

him. The rest of the 10 Commandments go on to then illustrate how if these first two commandments are obeyed it will transform the rest of our life into opportunities to worship God with our desires, relationships, possessions, etc.


Simply, if we worship God alone we will not worship sex and commit adultery, worship possessions and commit thievery or coveting, worship people’s perceptions of us and lie, worship unrighteous anger and murder, worship our job and never Sabbath etc.


In closing, the key to nurturing our worship of God is ongoing renewal


Personal renewal (love God) – simply everything begins with a renewed passion for Jesus as our greatest treasure and object of worship. Personal renewal occurs as we take time each day for mini-Sabbaths to do such things as pray, read Scripture, and connect with Jesus as well as taking a Sabbath day every week, day or days out of town unplugged from technology to renew every month, and take non-working and spiritually renewing vacation every year.  With the Internet we have no excuse for

not acessing the finest Christian Resources -


The key for personal renewal is to unplug from all that drains us to plug into Jesus who renews us to be and do what he asks of us in all of life by his strength. Personal renewal does not fix everything in our life, but it sets our hearts and minds aflame with hope to press forward in life.

2. Renew our Relations with love others –

3. Renew our love to do missions  –

4. Renew our Church (love our brothers and sisters)

The key to a life of worship is ongoing personal renewal with Jesus. Without this, you will be prone to accept mediocrity and even idolatry while blaming your state on the people in your life and church rather than repenting of your own failure to connect with God as he has made possible through Jesus Christ.


When will the people of return to Church? The first answer must surely be when we  repent of our idolatry and worship God thru Jesus afresh.  We mustn’t be play actors,  hypocrites.  No we want them to  say, “ I’ll have what she/He’s having.  True worship is contagious …catching, compelling…convicting


Remember the powerful testimony of the women at the well?  "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ…?


Lets identify our idols, put them off and  put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Lets humble ourselves pray unceasingly for those around us, loving them and pleading with them to turn from their idols to worship the true and living God in Jesus – as we by His grace are seeking to do daily –


For that to happen we must rediscover the power of  true worship  before we can expect others tobecome true worshippers. Wasn’t that the pattern in Acts? They perceived that “these men had been with Jesus.”


To the extent that we recover true worship as a Church and repent of our idols will be the measure in which others desire to join us in  worshipping Our great God and His Son Jesus.


Jesus said of the Church; "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Our Father,

Like you people of old we have failed to worship you, instead we have found other saviours, other idols. In sorrow Help us to turn from them to you Lord Jesus. Thank you that you died for our sins of idolatry and soaked up your wrath on the cross.

Whoo us to Kiss Your Son  lest He be angry with us. Make us a worshipping family that love you and others because Jesus is the friend of sinners Change us your church by your glorious gospel – In Jesus’ Name Amen


Mark Driscoll  & Paul Thompson

A similar audio message by Mark Driscoll is here

A video by Tim Keller on Idolatry and the Gospel is here


Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 September 2011 20:43  

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