WHY DO PEOPLE PRACTICE IDOLATRY
AND WORSHIP FALSE GODS
By W. G. Guy
1 Kings 11:1-8 – But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.
God told Solomon that because he had done this evil of worshipping false gods that God would split the kingdom in two.
1 Kings 11:11 – Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.
Those rulers over Israel following Solomon, the kings of both Israel and Judah, most of them also turned away from God and worshipped false gods of idols and images. The Israelites had a history of doing this, even immediately after God delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians.
Psalms 106:13-14 & 19 – They soon forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel: but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. ….They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image.
I wondered why is it that many of these kings and their people so easily rejected the worship and obedience to the God who delivered them out of Egypt. Why were they so easily enticed to worship the false gods, images and idols of those heathen and pagan people who live among them?
Bible history reveals that even after the Israelites were severely chastened by God, repented and returned to worship Him that they would again, after a short time, return to worshipping idols and images of false gods. This seems so strange a behavior as they knew their own history of how God had performed miracles to deliver them out of Egypt and performed numerous other miracles of provision while in the wilderness. Then still more miracles God did in leading them and giving them the promised-land and the victories over those people who opposed them.
Psalms 135:15-18 – The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.
Man-made idols and images are life-less, which cannot speak, cannot move. Also they cannot answer prayer and have no power to do anything that they call on them to do as their gods – this makes no sense. Why do they do this?
Habakkuk 2:18-19 – What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach? Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.
Hosea 13:2 – And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves (images).
The answer as to why people do this is indicated in Psalms 106 above; it is found in the expression that they, “lusted exceedingly in the wilderness”. Lust is a condition of the carnal nature that leads to sin, and mankind always seeks to satisfy his carnal lusts which always results in sin.
James 1:15 – Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Living in obedience to God and His moral requirements goes against human lusts. Therefore, without divine guidance from Godly leadership, man will defy God and seek to satisfy his own lusts. The wicked will do it their way, while the righteous will do it His way!
James 4:5-6 – Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
Looking deeper into this condition of lustfulness we see than the carnal nature of man is full of pride, seeking to satisfy SELF, which makes us selfish. Our prideful weakness means we do not like to humble ourselves. In order to walk with God and in obedience to Him, we need to HUMBLE ourselves.
Micah 6:8 – He hath shown the, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Thus we see the cause for making idols and images that are worshipped; it’s selfish pride and the lack of humility.
Such idols and images are the works of man’s own hands; gods that WE created. This means those that created them are greater than the idols and images that they created. They are thus worshipping the works of their own hands, …which is PRIDE. They don’t like almighty God telling them what and how to worship, they will do it their own way. This is the lack of humility before almighty God and the exaltation of self.
1 Peter 5:6 – Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
Obviously the problem the Israelites had has been identified as having a lack of GODLY leadership, weather they are kings, priests or prophets. We also see this today in our society, even in churches where carnality in leadership seems to be abundant. This is also described in the Book of Revelation where Jesus describes the Laodicean Church that it was filled with pride and focused on material things which were actually worshipped, a form of idolatry.
Revelation 3:17 – Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
What did Jesus tell the Laodicean Church to do to rectify their depraved condition?
Revelation 3:18 – I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
The gold tried in the fire is FAITH, faith that has been tested and proven to stand even though tried in fiery trials. This means trusting God for all things and being faithful to Him at all times. Living in faith and faithfulness is being clothed in His righteousness which covers spiritual nakedness.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Hebrews 10:38-39 – Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
The just shall walk and live by faith, not by sight. This brings us to the next thing that was lacking in the Church of Laodicea - eyesalve. These people were spiritually blind and were not able to see what they were really like. This indicates that they did not look into or follow the Word of God that would show them the truth and direct them in the ways of the Lord. Obviously they did not have the Light of the Lord Jesus Christ in them. Light is illumination and refers to knowledge of the truth, which they were lacking. Remember what Jesus said to this church:
Revelation 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Jesus longed for them to open up to Him so He could fellowship with them so they could conform to His image; having His spirit within them.
Those who “draw back” from the faith and faithfulness are those who return to carnal behavior and end up worshipping idols, images and false gods. Don’t do it, instead learn more of Him and His Word so you can live faithful to Him and be the light that Jesus called all his believers to be.
Jesus gave a stern warning to those who do not have the light of His life in them. This warning is seen in the parable of the ten virgins where the five foolish ones let their light go out. The result of them not having that light shine is that they did not get to go into the celebration, even though they were anticipating it.
Matthew 25:1-13 – Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Is the light of Christ shinning in you, or have you been drawn back into the worship of the things of this world through carnal lusts and behavior which is a form of idolatry?