Exodus 20:3-6: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”
2 Kings 10:39: “Howbeit, form the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan.”
Psalm135:15-18: “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them.”
Romans 1:21-26, 28-29: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause, God gave them up unto vile affections…And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness.”
1 Corinthians 10:19-21: “What say I then? that the idol is anything, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is anything? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.”
Are there false gods and/or idols in today’s world? When you hear the word idol, what comes to your mind? When someone talks about false gods, what do you think of? Do you think that people in today’s post-modern, information-age world still worship and bow to false gods? If so, what are today’s, modern false gods and idols? Are they people? Are they places? Are they things? Can an idol or a false god be something abstract? What do you think of idols and false gods in today’s 21st Century world?
Just What Is a False God?
A false god is any god other than God as described in the Bible. This god can be just about anything, from a statue to money to a living person. Anything that is given the highest worship of a person is a false god. Many religions describe many different gods. Buddhism has Buddha and other gods; Islam has Allah; Hinduism has 300 million different gods from which to choose; and while Judaism’s god seems very similar to the Biblical version, Judaism’s god is one that requires little faith and lots of works.
Any god that is different than God Himself is a false god, and there are many in the world today. The list and descriptions of false gods that pervade the world today are nearly endless. As mentioned above, religions of this world follow false gods, but there are also false gods that have little to nothing to do with an organized religion. Money is one of these. There are more millionaires in the world today than there have been in the previous century combined.
Money has always been a false god that people chase after. Power and fame are also false gods of this post-modern era. There are now more CEOs, executives, and celebrities than there were at any time in history combined. Another false god of this information-age is materialism. If the neighbors have the latest fashion or techie toy, then it seems we just have to have them, too, and better.
More and more advertisements in media today are aimed at material desires in one way or another. Further is the growing trend of credit card debt, which, in the technologically advanced nations especially, has skyrocketed in the last 30 years alone. More people are paying down debt from credit cards than ever before. The race to be better than the Jones’s is heating up to meltdown proportions.
Sex, as well, is another god of this world that, though having been around for a long time, is more and more popular than ever. Cases of extra-marital affairs, single mothers, couples living together before marriage, abortions, sexually transmitted diseases, people having multiple sex partners, people choosing homosexuality, and the break-up of the family are all growing at alarming, even astounding rates and percentages.
As with materialism, advertisements in today’s media outlets have focused more and more towards the sensual, these ads directed at younger and younger ages as well. As you can see, false gods of this day and age abound, and it seems that they are everywhere, each calling for people’s allegiance and worship. However, really all of these are basically lesser deities of the most popular false god…
Lookin’ Out for Number One!
The most popular false god in the world today is not money, power, fame, materialism, nor sex (though these are all vying hotly for second place); the most popular false god in the world today is self. The false god of self can be found in just about every corner of the world, every society, and every culture, and it knows no bounds. Even in the church of Jesus Christ, the false god of self often raises its ugly head. If we take a serious look at our post-modern, information-age world, we can easily see that selfishness and satisfying self is the most popular false god in the world today.
In fact, self has been the most popular god ever since the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve first sinned, giving in the temptation to “…be as gods…” (see Genesis 3:5). Ever since that day, self has been on the throne of peoples’ lives, replacing God, and ruling the life of the individual with dictatorial and tyrannical power. If one were to look at the majority of crimes today, it would be easy to see that all of these crimes were undertaken to please the false god of self in one way or another.
The Bible has interesting names for self. Regularly in the Bible, we see the false god of self called the inner man, the old man, the carnal nature, and (possibly the most popular name) the flesh. Whatever the name, the false god of self is ultimately sinful, destructive, and controlled by someone else.
If You’re Not Serving God, You’re Serving…
As the verses from 1 Corinthians state, with a lot of clarity, anyone who chooses to follow the false god of self, or any of its lesser forms, is really serving the devil. The Bible makes no bones about the truth that to serve a false god or an idol is to follow the devil, and to be under his control. Just as the false god of self takes many forms, so too does the devil.
The devil is so clever in his disguises that he can even take on the form of something that looks good and godly (see 2 Corinthians 11:13-15). In fact, so convincing is the devil in his “good” form that, Jesus states even his followers would be fooled (see Mark 13:22). Just as the false god of self has many, many different names in the Bible, so, too, does the devil. In fact, many of the names of the devil are also the names of many of the false gods and idols of the ancient world.
The Canaanite god Baal was worshipped in Israel by apostate Jews and Israel’s neighbors – was also called Baal-zebub, a satanic name. Such is the same today for anyone who worships a false god. The devil and his fallen angels are really behind every false god, and when it is brought into someone’s life and home, disaster is sure to strike. Ultimately, when someone is giving into self in one form or another, that person is really worshipping the devil.
The Danger of Idolatry and Serving False Gods
The Bible states very clearly the consequences for serving a false god, and the world today is seeing just the tip of the iceberg with regards to them. In the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy, God states clearly that to worship a false god or an idol is to condemn not only the person him/herself, but also that person’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The main reason for the Israelites under Moses and Joshua destroying the Canaanites was not because God was capricious and hated them, but mostly because the Canaanites – despite recognizing who the Israelites’ God was – were unrepentant idolaters, who’d followed the pattern written of by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:21-32 to the letter.
We can see the same kind of unrepentant behavior in the fruits of modern idolatry in today’s world. Along with the problems mentioned above that we are seeing with the worship of the various false gods of today’s world, worldwide alcoholism, drug use and abuse, suicide, violent crime, war, and terrorism are also on the rise. With these problems come mental and emotional illness, depression, despair, hopelessness, and fear of the future.
All of these have sharply risen worldwide for the last few decades, and the Bible states that it will only get worse before it gets better. However, these physical, earthly, terrestrial problems are just a scratch compared to the eternal consequences of serving false gods. The Bible states quite clearly that no idolater will ever enter into heaven (1 Corinthians 10:21, Ephesians 5:5, Revelation 21:27).
So on top of having a varied number of physical, earthly problems, the unrepentant idolater will also have an eternity of pain and torment, forever completely devoid of the presence of God. Further, unless the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren also repent, the unrepentant idolater condemns his or her children to a life of problems and Godly disfavor as well. Basically, serving a false god of this world, serving self, and, ultimately, serving the devil, just isn’t worth it.
False gods Really Do Not help…
Psalm 115 and 135 both tell the tale: false gods, idols really do not help anyone. Yes, a follower of a false god may have times of peace, times of prosperity, may have times of victory, just as the followers of the false gods and idols in Ancient Israel had some victories in battle, war, and economically.
The Kingdoms of both King Omri and King Jeroboam II of the Northern Kingdom of Israel were two of the most prosperous in the history of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, following her break-away from Judah after the death of King Solomon. Both Assyrian and Babylonian Historical writings declare that both of these kings of Israel were very powerful, and exerted much influence over the Ancient Middle East.
However, in the end, the Idolatry that these two kings led and encouraged brought about the destruction of Israel in 722 BC, just under 200 years following her breakaway under King Jeroboam I. the Southern Kingdom of Judah, as well, had some success under idolatrous kings, but, just as with the Northern Kingdom, because of idolatry, Judah was carried into captivity in Babylon in the 500s BC. The same is said for idolatry today.
People who follow false gods and serve idols will see some success…but ultimately, that success will be short-lived. Egypt in ancient times was one of the most idolatrous nations on the face of the earth, and exerted much power for centuries in the Ancient Middle East. However, today, Egypt is almost a third world nation, and hasn’t been a world-wide power since her collapse in Ancient times. The same can be said for Persia, Greece, Rome, and every other nation that has given in to idolatry and the worship of false gods. In modern times, we are seeing the same patterns of rise and fall happening in countries and nations that have replaced God with something other.
The United States of America , blessed by God over her short, two centuries plus of history and national life is quickly becoming a place of idolatry, from the worship of the famous and celebrated to money, power, and self-centeredness. None of these false gods, when tough times come, will be around to save, to help, and to rebuild when disaster strikes. Just as the ancient world suffered when false gods were worshipped, so now will false gods of this day and age be found wanting. False gods and idols will not help, and do not offer comfort, when the tough times come.
Conclusion: Are You Serving a false god of This World? Are You Worshipping an Idol?
If the answers to these questions are in the affirmative, then only trouble will come for you, and the tragic part of this is, serving an idol will hurt your children, your descendants. Many of the problems being experienced in the modern, technologically advanced nations in the world today with regards to children and disobedience, crime, sexual activity, and delinquency can be traced to the fact that their parents have served a false god and an idol (usually self).
If you are serving a false god, you are placing yourself, and your present and/or future children at grave risk. Turn from the false gods and idols of this world, and turn to Jesus Christ. Only he can save and give you the peace, assurance, and salvation you desire. Only Jesus can give you the fulfillment in life, and the everlasting peace that your soul craves. You may have peace for a time with your false god, but that peace will fade like dew under a desert sun. Your idol will leave you just as surely as the idols of Rome, Greece, and Egypt left them. Turn to Jesus Christ today!!
Prayer: Father, there are many, many false gods in this world. There are numerous idols and man-made things clamoring for our attention. We pray, Father, for release form the false gods of this world for anyone who is seeking escape. Money, sex, power, material wealth, and lust and selfishness can only last a short time.
Allah, Buddha, the Hindu gods, Shintoism, and the other false gods of worldwide religion can only offer works and more works for the adherent. I pray, Lord Jesus, that those who seek you will find you, just as you promise in Matthew 7. I pray that many will come to know you through this message, through this lesson! I pray this, and bless thee, Lord, in Jesus’ name, amen.
“Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14).