Our Primary Sin is Idolatry
This is a continuation of previous posts. For the first post and linked headings, go here.
d. Our Primary Sin is Idolatry
The first two commandments have to do with having and making false gods in the place of the true and living God (Exodus 20). The first chapter of Romans 1 (especially vv. 18-32) identify the ‘exchange of God’ for idols as the root of Gentile humanity’s problem. Paul’s recorded sermon in major centres such as Athens targets idolatry (Acts 17). It is his preaching against idols in Ephesus in Acts 19 that causes massive cultural transformation (and a near riot). At the heart of greed is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). There’s no doubt about it: this is the root of all sin and the primary sin! This sin affects us at all levels (mind, affections, will; individual and families; cultures and worldviews). Like Adam and Eve, our sin is rejecting and replacing God.
And yet, how many times do we teach the Bible or hear Bible teaching and the application has fallen short of really digging deep into this?
There’s not that much I need to say here because Pastor Tim Keller has done us a tremendous service. Not only in his book, Counterfeit Gods, but also in his (free) sermons and seminars online, he goes at idolatry again and again (but in different ways depending on the passage he’s teaching). It’s this, in my mind, that makes his application have that ‘edge’ that others don’t. If you haven’t heard or read his stuff, go and get it! It’s helped me tremendously in my preaching and teaching.
One more short thing to note here (and Keller does this well): the way to fight idolatry isn’t only to destroy the false gods; you need to replace them with the true and living God. Whatever our idols are: security, power, love, approval… all of these find their fulfilment in the God. It’s only as we savour the sweet satisfaction that Jesus brings in the gospel to these deep needs that we can willingly abandon them and embrace God. More of that in the next post.