Writings on Christianity

Idols in the Heart (Keller and Luther)

Idols in the Heart3511572575_8714ec1445

I like how Tim Keller describes idolatry as “turning a good thing into an ultimate thing.”  Rather than bowing down to metal or wooden statues,  we in the West usually commit idolatry when we take something good and make it into something that we can’t live without.  This might happen with technology (iPhone), relationships, money, comforts, possessions, etc.  Such an act is evil because you and I were made to worship the one true Living God of the Bible.  Idolatry is an act of rebellion and anarchy against our Creator–it is telling God that I refuse to worship you, even though you created me for this very purpose.  It’s also self-destructive, as these false gods only enslave us and lead to our ultimate ruin and death.  A good way to know this is happening is to ask yourself: Am I making trusting in (fill in the blank) rather than God for my “hope and happiness, significance and security” (New City Catechism)?  If you are, then you’re likely falling into idolatry.

Along these same lines, Luther gives another helpful perspective on idolatry.  He argues that sometimes idolatry takes place through self-righteous religionthe kind of belief that says if I act in such and such a way, then God will accept me. This is idolatry because it is trusting in a false image of God.  While the message of Christianity states that God has graciously reconciled us with Himself through Jesus Christ and that only through turning from our sins and resting in Jesus can we be accepted by God, self-righteous religion paints a view very different from this.

Luther states: “every man who falls away from the knowledge of Christ necessarily rushes into idolatry; for he must invent a form for God that does not exist anywhere…Therefore it is all a vain imagination and dream, the invention of an idol in the heart.  For nowhere has God promised that He intends to justify men and save them on account of religious orders, observance, and forms of worship that have been thought up and established by men… all who those who trust in their own ability and righteousness are serving a god who by nature is no god but is a god only in their opinion.” (Commentary on Galatians p 397)

May the Lord lead us away from these idols of the heart and help us to worship Him alone this week.

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs via Compfight cc

By Tom Schmidt

Christian, husband of Rach, Church Planter,musician,

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