The Idol Factory (1 of 3) by Jonathan McLeod

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The Idol Factory (1 of 3)
Series: Keep Yourselves from Idols
Jonathan McLeod
Exodus 20:1-6

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


The apostle John ends his first epistle with these words: ''Little children, keep yourselves from idols'' (5:21). John's original readers lived in a culture that was filled with pagan idolatry. But does John's warning about idolatry also apply to us today?

[Read Exodus 20:1-6.]


The first commandment says, ''You shall have no other gods before me'' (Exod. 20:3). Is idolatry a problem in our city? Yes, it is. This afternoon, our city will be filled with idolatry. Mic Mac Mall and Dartmouth Crossing will be crowded with shoppers worshipping the idol of materialism. People will be visiting salons and gyms worshipping the idol of physical beauty. Football fans will be seated in front of TVs worshipping the idol of sports. Idolatry is a problem in our city because it's a problem that originates in our hearts.

The human HEART is an idol factory.

When John wrote, ''Little children, keep yourselves from idols,'' he was probably writing to Christians living near or in the city of Ephesus. In Ephesus, there was both traditional idolatry and idolatry of the heart (cf. Ezek. 14:3, 4, 7). Ephesus was famous for its Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (see Acts 19:21-41). The worship of Artemis was traditional idolatry. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, states that a ''covetous'' person is ''an idolater'' (Eph. 5:5; cf. Col. 3:5). Covetousness is one form of idolatry of the heart.


What is idolatry? John Calvin writes that idolatry is ''to worship the gifts in place of the giver himself.'' Tim Keller defines idolatry as ''the making of good things into ultimate things.''

In his book Counterfeit Gods, Keller writes than an idol is ''anything so central and essential to your life that, should yo ...

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