Idolatry, Money, and Justification by Faith

The Old Testament is filled with warnings about idol worship and falling into false religion. Story after story tells about Israel going after false gods to their destruction and how stupid this is.

The New Testament does not seem to be nearly as concerned with this. Ever wonder why?

The big threat to us today is not Baal, or Molech, or Dagon, the big threat is money.

Colossians 3:5 says:

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Wanting more stuff is the idolatry we have to look out for. Wanting money is the big threat today.

When Israel came out of Egypt, they were at the foot of Mount Sinai while Moses was taking forever up there talking to God. They got bored. They brought together their precious metals, their money, and threw them in the fire and “out came this calf.” They worshiped the calf, being told, “Behold your gods which brought you out of Egypt.”

The odds that you’re going to melt down your jewelry and make an idol to worship are pretty slim. The odds you’re going to want more shiny stuff is pretty high.

Covetousness is idolatry.

Paul says in 1 Timothy 6 that while people pursue riches, they err from the faith. Going after riches means you won’t be going after faith. You can’t have faith and money.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Just in case you’re still resisting the idea that money and faith are direct opposites, read Hebrews 11, the great chapter on people who had faith.

Every single example shows faithful people turning on earthly things to follow God and obey Him. They turned their backs on this world and lived for the Better Country.

Every single person in Hebrews 11 turned on something earthly: wealth, power, prestige, family, loyalty to country, etc, for the sake of faith in God.

If you are living for the things of this world, you will not be living for God. If you love money, you won’t have faith, you will be doing all evil. Money is a snare and a trap. While pursuing money, faith gets choked out.

People love hearing about how we’re justified by faith, because in our minds faith is easy. “Cool, I believe Jesus rose from the dead, just like I believe Santa Claus will bring me presents Christmas morn.”

We think faith is merely agreeing about something. But faith in the Bible is very active, very practical, and very hard.

Paul tells us to “fight the fight of faith.” Most are confused as to what’s so fighty about it? You just say the prayer and then carry on.

Paul says this phrase in the midst of 1 Timothy 6, an entire chapter devoted to the dangers of money. The immediate phrase is this, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.”

You can’t lay hold on eternal life while grabbing all you can in this life. Your hand will hold one or the other.

Your eternity is based on whether you want this world or the one to come. Live now as though you wanted the next world more than this one.

That is justifying faith.

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