In the words of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be loyal to one and despise the other. A person cannot serve both God and idols” (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13).
First of all, an idol is anything we put before God or something we make into a god. It does not have to be a statue, or a tree, or a stone, or metal—that is, any physical object or man-made image worshiped as deity or god. It can be thoughts or desires—anything that stands between us and our Creator God or something we substitute for God—like money, fame, work, or pleasure.
Although no one who loves the Lord sets out with the intention of worshiping these things. But when we give or devote much of our time to them, they can grow into gods that ultimately control our thoughts and energies. In other words, they can become idols or gods to us when we concentrate too much on them for personal identity, meaning, and security.
Letting God hold the central place in our lives keeps these things from turning into gods. Those who put their trust in them or take pleasure in these disgusting ways of life or parade with their idols of wood, stone, and metal, and pray to gods that cannot save them, know nothing at all. As Scripture declares, they are fools (Isaiah 45:20).
Apostle Paul points out that “God, who made the world and everything in it, is Lord of heaven and earth. He does not live in temples made by human hands, nor does He need anything that we can supply by working for Him, since He Himself is the One who gives life and breath and everything else to everyone” (Acts 17:24, 25; see also Isaiah 66:1-2). This God has commanded that we worship no “god but Him, and that we make for ourselves no “images” of anything in heaven or on earth or in the water under the earth, or bow down to any “idol” or worship it, because He is the Lord our God who tolerates no rivals. He promised punishment for those who hate Him and their descendants, and mercy for those who love Him and keep His commandments (Exodus 20:3-6).
Scripture reveals that “From one man God created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth. He Himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits or boundaries of the places where they would live. He did this so that they would look for Him, and perhaps find Him as they felt around for Him. Yet God is actually not far from any one of us . . . ‘for in Him we live and move and exist.’ We are His children” (Acts 17:26, 27).
Since we are God’s children, we should not suppose that His nature is anything like an image of gold or silver or stone, shaped by human art and skill (Acts 17:29). In the past God allowed all people to go their own way, but He has always given evidence of His existence by the good things He does. For example, He gives us rain from heaven and crops at the right times. He also gives us our daily food, clothes and shelter, and fills our hearts with happiness (Acts 14:16, 17).
While the Lord has truly overlooked the times when people did not know Him—that is, the times of ignorance—now He commands all people (“all of us”) everywhere to turn away (“repent”) from our evil or wicked ways, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the whole world with justice by means of a man He has chosen—Jesus.
God has given assurance of this to everyone by raising the man Jesus from death (Acts 17:30, 31). In fact, He offered Jesus, so that by His blood, He should become the means by which people’s sins are forgiven through their faith in Him. God did this in order to demonstrate that He is righteous. In the past He was patient and overlooked people’s sins, but in the present time He deals with our sins, in order to demonstrate His righteousness. In this way He shows that He Himself is righteous and that He puts right everyone who believes in Jesus (Romans 3:25-26).
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