Leavenworth Baptist Church

Idolatry: Can a good thing be a bad thing?


Exodus 20:3- You shall have no other gods before me.

Mark 12:30 - You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

1 John 5:21- Little children, keep yourselves from idols.


I. Defining Idolatry

“An idol is something within creation that is inflated to function as God. All sorts of things are potential idols, depending only on our attitudes and actions toward them...Idolatry may not involve explicit denials of God’s existence or character. It may well come in the form of an over-attachment to something that is, in itself, perfectly good.” –Richard Keyes


Common Examples:

Acceptance, Relationships, Education, Career, Sports, Morality, Material Items, Wealth, Talents, Entertainment

“Has something or someone besides Jesus the Christ taken title to your heart’s trust, preoccupation, loyalty, service, fear and delight?” –David Powlison


II. Detecting Idolatry

A. The Source of Idolatry

Ezekiel 14:7- When any Israelite or any alien living in Israel separates himself from Me and sets up idols in his heart

Genesis 6:5- The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.


B. The Subtlety of Idolatry

“The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.” –John Piper


III. Destroying Idolatry

A.  The Truth of the Gospel Destroys Idolatry

1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 – “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…9 they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”


1. Jesus saves from the practice of idolatry. (v.9)


2. Jesus rescues from the penalty of idolatry. (v.10)

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