Pristine Grace

Idolatry Defined
by John Pedersen

     What term one uses to describe his idol, whether he be an atheist, an agnostic, or an Arminian, is irrelevant. A man may call his car a cat, but this does not make it less than a car though it "purr like a kitten".

     All idol worship, no matter what particular form it takes, is essentially a form of self worship. Idols are projections of ourselves with a purpose: to enable us to justify ourselves and live in un-submission to the righteousness of God.

     The heart of true worship is confidence in and glorying in the Person, work, and righteousness of God in Christ. The heart of idol worship is glorying in one's own righteousness, even if it be the "righteousness" of "choosing Christ" where someone else did not.

     This being so, it is no coincidence people create gods and religions which are ok with the lives they live and the sins they commit. It has to be so. People must seek moral justification for their lives and actions, for this is who they are, and they choose a “god” best enabling that self-justification, so some comfort, some sense of being "OK", can be found.

     The gospel does not help us to feel better about ourselves; to the contrary. The gospel message is good news to those who, bereft of any true righteousness in themselves, find all in Christ, and "feel good", knowing they are accepted with God based on His character and His work for them on the cross.

     God does not accept me "just the way I am".

     The way I am is sinful. God does not accept sinfulness. He judges it. God is not a projection of my own self and my own self-serving standards. He judges my self-serving standards in the Person of His son and He accepts me NOT as I am in myself, but in His Beloved Son, the One in whom He is well pleased.

     He does not complement me into the knowledge of forgiveness (Flattery and complementing the moral discernment of people is a hallmark of false religion-"Are you man or woman enough to stand up for Jesus?"=flattery): He convicts me by His Spirit. By His Spirit, I see my self justification and my made-up god is a lie. I see only His righteousness will do as the basis of my acceptance with Him.

     God accepts me not as "I am" but as "He is", that is, as Christ is in His own sinless righteous life.

     The joy of an idol worshipper is self acceptance. The joy of the Christian is acceptance with God: forgiveness, having the very righteousness of Christ charged to us.

     One who worships the true God need not create an idol who is OK with the evil he is and does, for he has come to see his sinfulness and know God would be perfectly just in wiping him out forever.

     This does not lead him to despair, though. It leads him to thankfulness he is forgiven his many sins and loved by God for Christ's sake, Who satisfied his debt to God's justice and paid, with His precious blood, a price he could never pay for himself.