Idolatry In Contemporary Society Matthew 22:34-38

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Above is pictured the Egyptian god Apis, with a solar disk between his horns supported by serpents. The disk represented the goddess Hathor, the mother of Apis. Many biblical scholars think Apis was the idol represented by the golden calf that Aaron made for the Israelites when Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 32:1-4).

But that is ancient history! No longer in enlightened society – especially in America – do people so openly practice idolatry………or do they? It all depends on what one considers to be idolatry!

Let’s look at Matthew 22:34 through 38:

     Then one of...the Pharisees...a lawyer, asked [Jesus]
     ...a question, testing Him...“Teacher, which is the 
     great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, 
     “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your 
     heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 
     This is the first and great commandment.”

Other versions of the Bible (Good News Bible, God’s Word to the nations, International Standard Version) say “This is the greatest and most important commandment.” (verse 38).

By the way, the gospels of Mark and Luke add one more category: we are to “…love the LORD your God…with all your strength.” (see Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27).

Now, compare this greatest and most important commandment with what Jesus said in John 14:15: “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” The paraphrased Living Bible succinctly puts it this way, “If you love Me, obey Me….” So if we apply this to “…the greatest and most important commandment…,” it could read, “You shall OBEY the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…and with all your strength.” (Matthew 12:37, with Mark 12:30 added).

If this is the greatest and most important commandment….

  • …and it can be understood as “…OBEY the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…and with all your strength…
  • …then BREAKING the greatest and most important commandment would be the GREATEST SIN!

Another point: The intended purpose of this command (originally given to the Jews in Deuteronomy 6:5) is that it is to be kept continuously! And who can accomplish this – loving and obeying the LORD God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength…ALL THE TIME? Is it any wonder that Saint Paul tells us in Romans 3:23, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”?

Do you know that there is a throne within you?

  • This throne is said, figuratively speaking, to be in our heart, the innermost site of the individual’s total being, the place which controls every aspect of life!
  • One can argue it is the brain or psyche, but we will stick with what…
     ✡   ...Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your 
          heart with all diligence, for out of it spring 
          the issues of life....Jesus said in Matthew 12:35: “A good man out 
         of the good treasure of his heart brings forth 
         good things, and an evil man out of the evil 
         treasure brings forth evil things.

The throne of your heart is where the one who controls the whole of your life is seated!

  • Before you become a Christian, you yourself are seated on that throne!
  • After you accept Jesus as your Savior, HE is the One who is to be seated on that throne, controlling your life!

He deserves to occupy the throne of your life!

  • As recorded in Luke 22:42, Jesus prayed intensively in the Garden of Gethsemane concerning His imminent persecution and crucifixion, “Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.
     Not only was Jesus fully divine, He was also 
         fully human! And in His humanity, He did not 
         want to face......the mistreatment!...the soldiers’ beating and mocking!...the Roman whipping!
...carrying His own cross, the instrument 
              of His death!
...the agony of His crucifixion!

     ✞   But still He cried out,...nevertheless not 
         My will, but Yours, be done.
  • Upon that cross Jesus purchased our salvation!
     ✞   He paid for our sins – fully! (see I Peter 
         2:24; I John 2:2).

     When we accept Him as Savior...

         ➔   ...He clothes us with His own right-
              eousness! (see II Corinthians 5:21).

         ➔   ...we are totally accepted in Him be-
              fore the Father! (see Ephesians 1:6). 

         ➔   ...we will never come under God’s con-
              demnation! (see John 5:24).

         ➔   ...we have, as a present possession, 
              eternal life! (see John 5:24; 10:28; 
              I John 5:11-13).
  • No one else but our Lord deserves to occupy the throne of our life – to be in control of our lives!

But too often, we climb back on the throne of our heart!

  • And when we do, Jesus will step aside and let you sit there, trying to control your life, as long as you want! It breaks His heart, because He has the best in mind for us in everything! As it says in Romans 8:31 and 32:
     What then shall we say to these things? If God is for 
     us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His 
     own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall 
     He not with Him freely give us all things?

But remember, God’s goal for us is to be made more and more like His Son! So not all things will be pleasant in our lives, just like Jesus faced hard times (see Romans 8:28, 29).

  • Continuing with our ascending back on the throne of our heart:
     It is like we are corrupting Luke 22:42 by 
         saying, “Not THY will, but MINE be done!♀   Anything that is taking the place of Jesus 
         Christ in our lives is idolatry!

	➔   ...whether it be a physical idol, such 
             as the golden bull in the above photo...

	➔   ...or our own selves calling the shots 
             of our life while we occupy the place 
             where Jesus should be reigning!

Paul writes in Romans 1:23 of those who engage in idolarty: They …changed the glory of the incorruptable God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things.Man (human beings) is first on the list of what idolaters will worship!

So let us be careful of whom we allow on the throne of our heart – our Christian life!

It will be either the Lord Jesus Christ…
…or us!