The belief that an idol holds power "over me" is not attractive. Nor is there any appeal in obligations to serve it.
The belief that an idol imparts power to me, and the idea of serving and appeasing a god so that I can manipulate and control it, now THAT has potential!
Whether an idol is made of stone or flesh or chrome and leather, we humans have no need or hunger to worship it. We lust instead for something to manipulate that will empower us to fulfill all our pleasures.
When it comes to worship, after all, we prefer to BE worshiped or to worship ourselves. It's against our fallen nature to truly and selflessly want to render thankless service to another.
So when we succumb to idolatry, it's not because we're looking for something to reign over us, telling us what we must and mustn't do, and punishing us accordingly. We look for ways around such arrangements.
How do you combat idolatry
in your own heart?
in your own heart?
We avoid taking on additional obligations while wanting others to serve us loyally and promptly, meeting all our needs, desires, and whims. With any given prevailing system of the day, we comply not out of virtue, but in order to “work the system" for our own gain. Rules we don't break we constantly seek to bend to our own advantage.
You see, idolatry ultimately is never about the idol; it’s about “me.” I am not really serving the idol, I'm negotiating with it, manipulating it, using IT. The idol is just a means to an end. And I am that end--my needs, my desires, my ambitions, my fantasies.
I will sing to my idol the songs I like, because I like them. I will worship my idol as long as I like, and as often as I like, because it's what I like that really matters. I will "sacrifice" to my idol, but not truly important stuff, just things I can spare--to look good and to influence the idol into giving me more of what I want.
In idolatry, then, I, the idolator, end up being the one with final authority and power. If I am really clever (and I am), I can even speak or act in the name of my idol so as to trick my neighbors and friends into complying with my will on the pretext that it is really the idol's will.
Do you get it now? Did you think my idol is my god? No! Don't be distracted by the image I've created to "worship." I am the real god! It’s never about the carved piece of wood, the career, sex, money, abused-substances, or the cool religion I've "sold out" to. Both the idolatry and its ideology exist so that I can get MY way. It's about ME being blessed. Me, ME, meeee!
So, while it may appear that I am the one serving the idol, I only sacrifice in order to make the idol serve me. The idolator, not the idol, is always the real god in any framework of idolatry. The idol is just a tool and ploy.
Now understand this: Yahweh will never be reduced to that. If it is offensive to Yahweh when his people worship idols and gods, how much more insulting do you think it is when we try to treat him as our idol? He will not be lowered to that level or status! That would be to make ourselves a god over him! But Yahweh is neither a 'god' nor a servant to any god.
He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He was here before us and he will be here after us. He sighs and the earth melts; the heavens disperse like smoke. Yahweh, the creator, is indivisibly One. He doesn't need our sacrifices or a reason to bless or curse us. He creates light and darkness. He brings calamity and prosperity. He causes the same rain to fall on the righteous and the wicked. And no one is righteous in his sight.
He shines his light on any who would lift their eyes to him and on all whose eyes are closed. No one can reach him by their own merit or strength. No one can bend his will or use him for their own purposes. He acts, and no one can reverse it. He opens a door and no one can close it. He closes a door and no one can open it. He exalts and he brings down. He shatters the vain in their own conceits. He topples the idols, their makers, and all who worship them.
There is nowhere anyone can flee from his presence. Yet no one can find him unless Yahweh desires it and brings it to pass. No one comes to the Son unless the Father draws them and no one comes to the Father except through the Son.
What is the answer? Flee idolatry. Humble yourself before God. Draw near to Yahweh and Yahweh will draw near to you. For whosoever shall call upon the Name of Yahweh will be saved, regardless personal merit or achievement. The One who needs nothing has already given us everything in his Son, who conquered sin and death through the cross.