Signs of Idolatry

By Clarence R.. Johnson 

It was recorded of some, in Old Testament times, that “they feared the Lord, and served their own gods . . .” (2 Kgs. 17:33). At first reading, such a statement sounds strange, but on second thought, it seems that many “Christians” are doing basically the same thing today.

They, recognize the first day of the week as the Lord’s Day, yet they are not willing to give Him more than an hour or two of it, and often begrudge that hour or two. Their minds are not on the death of Christ and the blessed gospel, but on the secular activities they have planned for the afternoon. They are far more likely to look at their watches to see if the preacher is quitting “on time” than to look into their Bibles to see if he is speaking “as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). They are more interested in the meat that perisheth than the bread of life. Their god is their belly, or perhaps their television set (Jn. 6:27; Phil. 3:19). They sing “Take Time to be Holy” but they have far more time for nearly anything else but studying and meditating upon the truth of God by which one may draw nearer to the God of heaven.

Many worldly-minded church members realize the need to lay by in store upon the first day of the week, as they have been prospered (1 Cor. 16:1, 2), in order to the the one other things before they remember the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). By the time Sunday rolls around, they have nothing left for God but their spare time and their loose change. They sing, “Oh, How I Love Jesus,” but if Christians were being executed, there would not be enough evidence against them to put them in any danger. They excuse themselves by saying, “But I’m just a poor manager. I seem to never have enough time or money to serve the Lord the way I’d like to.” Oh well, 1 Cor. 16:2 and 2 Cor. 9:7 do not apply to poor managers-or do they? The problem most of us have along these lines could be solved if we, like the Macedonians, would first truly give ourselves to the Lord (2 Cor. 8:1-7). We need to learn first-hand what it means to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

In addition to the problems mentioned above, which exist to some extent or another in virtually every congregation, every generation has had its share of “Christians” whose first love has become some unscriptural innovation that infatuation has built up in the hearts of some to the extent that the innovation means far more to them than peace, harmony and tranquility among brethren. To brethren in earlier generations, such innovations included the Missionary Society and show their appreciation to God, and to follow example of the first-century church, but when ‘paycheck comes, they think of a thousand and the use of instrumental music in worship. Many brethren in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s fell in love so with these innovations that they insisted on retaining them at the cost of division, even though it became steadily more evident that they could not be defended with a “thus saith the Lord.” In fact, the Christian Church denomination, that had its beginning in this movement, has little or no interest in trying to defend these practices. Many of our own generation have likewise accepted such innovations as the so-called “sponsoring church arrangements,” entertainment as a church function, church support of human institutions, etc., and in most cases it has become so evident that such practices cannot be defended by the scriptures that they will not even try to do so. Many of these brethren know the havoc that such practices have caused in congregations of God’s people throughout the world. They sing, “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord,” but they love their innovations more, and will insist on keeping their man-made gods, regardless of the division and strife it heaps upon the kingdom of God.

In fact, each of us must practice self-examination, and purge ourselves of those things that would bring dishonor to God. Especially must we “beware of covetousness,” (Lk. 12:15), an ever-present danger in our materialistic society. We need to remember that “covetousness. . . is idolatry” (Col. 3:5).

Brethren, beware, lest we fear the Lord, and serve our own gods.

Truth Magazine XIX: 46, p. 722
October 2, 1975