Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Romans 1:23

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

They exchanged God’s glory for an image. If you want to assume the role of God in governing your life, you will perceive this exchange— the glory of God for idolatry—as the wisest thing in the world. But in reality, idolatry is a pitiful, corruptible substitute for the incorruptible, real glory of God. John Piper offers an analogy: “This exchange is like trading a masterpiece for a copy of a copy of a copy.” The glory of God is the apex, the pinnacle! And how stupid it is to exchange this for a likeness of an image of man (NASB), who is an image of God. Ever heard, “Image is everything”? Well, it’s not. The glory of God is everything.

Idolatry is the consequence of futile thinking, darkened hearts, and foolish wisdom, all of which result from suppressing the truth of God. You will worship anything if you refuse the One True God, Who has revealed Himself in you, to you, and around you. Idolatry is the central religious problem. God has made us to be religious people, and if we won’t worship Him, we’ll find someone or something else to worship. There is a god we want (mostly to serve us), and there is a God Who is (Whom we are to serve), and the two are not the same. If we don’t want the God Who is (which we won’t), we will invent the god we want (which we do), and we worship him or it. This is why doctrine is so crucial. How many denominations today are struggling with issues that seem so simple to us? Homosexual marriage? Lesbian preachers? Child-molestation? Pro-choice attitudes? Etc. All this is due to a denial of sound Biblical doctrine. We must worship the One True God, and we must do so according to His revelation, in Spirit and in Truth.

When we misdiagnose the human problem by misunderstanding Who God is, we will always provide the wrong solution. New Agers say the problem is that we have lost touch with the divine in us. Their solution is to come together and unite in order to find the divine nature in each person. Wrong Problem = Wrong Solution. Perhaps some people in this church might diagnose the problem as this: People simply don’t know that Jesus died for them to save them. If that’s the problem, then the solution is to tell people that Jesus saved them by His death on the cross and thereby inform them of the “truth.” Again, a misdiagnosis of the problem leads to a bad solution. That’s not the problem. But here is the problem: Idolatry—not that mankind doesn’t know God, but that mankind has denied God. We have rebelled against God in one way or another. We need redemption from that rebellion. Redemption is by repentance and faith in Christ alone. Diagnose the problem correctly and the right solution can follow.

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