". . Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus. ."
1 WHAT AN IDOL IS:
The Pocket Oxford Dictionary says: ‘Idol,
n[oun]. Image of deity as object of worship; false god; object of excessive devotion’.
So, an idol can be an image, or an object (or human) which people worship, or are excessively devoted to.
THE EVIL OF IDOLATRY
In Romans 1, verses 18-32, Paul describes the idolatrous state of the world in his day. He also describes the state of the world in every age and country where there is no true worship of God, our Creator and "Father which art in heaven". Ignorance of the "only true God", and worship of false gods, both breed disgusting immorality and terrible social evils. The Roman world, and our secular world, is guilty of the evil of idolatry.
It is very easy to be in, or to fall into, the evil of idolatry. All one has to do is to remain ignorant of THE ONE TRUE GOD, or in knowing Him, to forget, or ignore Him. Idolatry, in one form or another, blatant or not so blatant, in false worship or in no worship at all, comes quite naturally. The history of Israel, the chosen people of God demonstrates how soon, and how easily people fall into the false worship of idolatry.
Though the LORD God revealed Himself to Israel, by mighty signs and wonders in Egypt, in the wilderness, and in Canaan (the promised land that God gave them), they soon and often fell into idolatry - the false worship of heathen idols, or so-called ‘gods’ of the surrounding nations - (Judges 2:11-19.)
KNOWING THE TRUE GOD:
Those who know the true God however, are able to pray with understanding: "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be The Name, Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us day by day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil". -( Luke 11:2-4). Jesus prayed to His Father saying: "This is life eternal that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent", (John 17:3). Jesus knew that there is ONLY ONE GOD, His Father. He knew that, as God’s Son, He had been sent by Him to save the world.
WHY GOD FORBIDS IDOL WORSHIP:
The only true God revealed Himself to Abraham, then to
the Hebrew nation that descended from him. Soon after
God delivered that nation from Egypt, He gave them His
law, called ‘the Law of Moses’.
and second commands of that law forbade His people ALL
false worship, ALL idolatry. Thus Exodus 20: 3-5
says: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou
shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any
likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that
is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under
the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor
serve them". The biblically revealed God is the
ONLY God in the universe - which He has created by
His almighty power and transcendant wisdom. It distresses Him when the thanks and praise which is rightly His, is given to an idol that is really just a 'form' of His power. He knows also that we become what we worship – if we worship Him we become like Him; if we worship what is vanity, we become empty.
THE LIVING AND TRUE GOD:
Immediately after denying Israel any right to worship anything other than Himself, (Exodus 20: 5,6) God showed them His living and true Being: "for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments". God is Just and yet Merciful. He must punish sinners but He is forever kind and gracious to the righteous.
God is essentially a Perfect Moral Being, and worship of Him will make His people both loving and honourable, or holy. "Ye shall be holy for I am holy" he told Israel – (Leviticus 11:44). As God’s chosen people, they should display Godliness to all.
THE WORSHIP GOD WANTS:
The worship that God wants of us, "His offspring", (Acts 17:28,29), who have first received His love, is LOVE OF HIM SHOWN IN OBEDIENCE TO HIS JUST LAWS. Such worship makes us like God, for HE IS LOVE - (1 John 4:8); and HE IS JUST - (Romans 3:21-26). God cannot be worshipped falsely or by mere formality.
HOW TO WORSHIP GOD ACCEPTABLY:
Jesus taught the Samaritan woman at the well how to worship God acceptably: "God is a Spirit [Being]: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth", he said. (John 4:24). The thanks that we must offer our Creator and Father for His great goodness to us requires both correct belief and right conduct on our part.
belief is when we believe The Gospel, "the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ", (Acts 8:12) . Right conduct commences with baptism and continues with a transformed life in obedience to God. (see Mark 16: 15,16; Romans 6). Let us avoid all idols, and worship the true and living God.