Idolatry, the Basic Sin

I is for Idolatry (Romans 1:18-25, 28-32; 2:1-5)

"...and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images... They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen." (Rom 1:23a, 25).

"An idol can be ... anything that can substitute for God." Os Guiness and John Seel, No God but God, 32-33.

"Every idolater is a prisoner, held in humiliating bondage." John Stott, The Message of 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

"Self-righteousness—this is the largest idol of the human heart—the idol which man loves most and God hates most." Robert Murray M'Cheyne.

"We can make an idol of anything, including your church." Scotty Smith, A Prayer Lamenting "My Church" Idolatry.

"Either we will love and serve God, or we will love and serve our idols. Idols exist in our lives because we love them and invite them in. But once idols find a home, they are unruly and resist leaving. In fact, they change from being the servants of our desires to being our masters." Edward T. Welch, Blame in on the Brain? 194.

"Most of us think of an idol as a statue ... worshiped by pagan people. But ... an idol is anything apart from God that we depend on to be happy, fulfilled, or secure. In biblical terms, it is something other than God that we set our heart on...it is something we love and pursue more than God." "It is important to emphasize the fact that idols can arise from good desires as well as wicked desires. It is often not what we want that is the problem, but that we want it too much." Ken Sande, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, 104.

"To identify your own idols, ask questions: Where do I find my significance and my confidence? What things make me really angry? Anger usually erupts when an idol gets knocked off the shelf." Philip Graham Ryken, Courage to Stand, 90.

"...suffering itself does not rob you of joy—idolatry does. If you're suffering and you're angry, bitter, and joyless it means you've idolized--and felt entitled to--whatever it is you're losing." Tullian Tchividjian.

Questions for reflection:
  1. As a Christian Jesus is always the right answer. But what do you truly want more than anything else in the world?
  2. What is the very essence of idolatry (Rom 1:23, 25)? What two commandments does idolatry break (Ex 20:3-4; Dt 5:7-8)?
  3. Why is idolatry inexcusable (Rom 1:19-20)?
  4. What is the root cause of idolatry (Rom 1:21a, 18)?
  5. What are some results of idolatry in our lives (Rom 1:21b-26, 28, 32)? Has this been true in your own experience? Share examples.
  6. Notice the 21 vices that Paul lists that is not exhaustive (Rom 1:29-31). How much disintegration does idolatry cause?
  7. How is the idolatry in Rom 2:1-5 different from Rom 1:18-32? What sins do you excuse in yourself while condemning them in others?
  8. How would you speak to those who think that because they are moral and keep rules, they are better than others?