Consequences of Idolatry
Gracious God, open my heart to reflect Your heart so that I may love You and serve others.
Read Romans 1:18-32
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“The one doctrine which can be proven without a shadow of doubt is the doctrine of Original Sin” (G. K. Chesterton 1874-1936). We only have to listen to the daily news to know that!
Paul’s focus here is not on bad behavior but on idolatry, for beneath human wrongdoing is the worship of something other than God. Whether the worship is of physical idols (22,23), money, sex or power, the principle is the same. We allow something in the creation to take the place of the Creator and to shape our lives and our longings. We cannot plead ignorance. The evidence of God’s existence and nature is everywhere around us, and human beings do know what is right and wrong. Whenever we suppress the truth, embrace lies and begin to serve and worship something other than God, we lose contact with the true moral shape of human life. Sex becomes dominated by lust and rejection of boundaries, and relationships are damaged by every conceivable destructive motive (29,30). The picture of life without faithfulness, love and mercy is bleak and profoundly disturbing (31).
Paul describes God’s judgment on wrong human living, but it is important to understand what that means. Here, God’s judgment doesn’t involve active intervention to punish wrongdoers. More chillingly, he simply lets people have what they think they want (24,26,28). The result is bitter. The universe has a moral structure, and there are built-in penalties when we flout the principles God has breathed into creation. Lies distort justice, malice produces reprisal, greed prevents open relationships, depravity destroys lives and promiscuity breeds epidemics of sexually transmitted infections. The phrase “God gave them over” simply spells out the consequences for individuals and society of choosing to go our own way in opposition to God. The challenge for Christians is to live with integrity, so that we can be prophetic witnesses to truth.
What are the greatest idols of our culture? Reflect on how they’ve impacted your life. If need be, recalibrate your priorities.
Lord, I know I’m to be in the world but not of it. Forgive me for allowing cultural idols to impact me. Give me a new focus on Your priorities.
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