Text: Acts -17 February 27, 2011.
That was 2,000 years ago: “While Paul was
waiting for them in
2) This is 2,000 years later: If the Lord tarries his second coming for another 2,000 years, research papers to be published in 4011 on the problem of idols in our world today may carry similar reports. “Many Christians were greatly distressed, upset and even angered to see the whole world was full of all kinds of idols.” Some of the idols we see today may be different from that of Paul’s day, but they are as gripping and powerful to the people today as those to the ancient Greek. People today are as crazy about idols as the Greek were some 2,000 years ago.
SOMETHING ABOUT IDOLS:
1) The definition of idol: Among various definitions of “idol”, the following are mostly recognized: 1) a material graven images that is worshipped as gods. 2) someone who is adored blindly or excessively. Even most Americans would choose the second one as their definition like we adore movie stars, famous athletes, entertainers, politicians and the American Idols. We also have lots of people here today who still worship images or pictures of people, animal or imaginary deity, practiced mostly by people of eastern religions.
3) Counting all the idols: Besides we idolize and worship people, we also idolize and worship things such as power, wealth, fame and status. Things like these and others have become idols of life all across the society regardless of race, class or political lines. Parents do all they can to indoctrinate their children with these idols as their goals of life. People grow up believing in these things as idols of their pursuit. They dedicate and devote all their time, energy even life to these things like the Greeks worshipped idols in ancient time.
4) On a more personal note: Many of us have our own personal idols on people or things we adore blindly and excessively. Most of these things are not bad in themselves, but when we devote and adore them so much blindly or excessively, we make them our idols of life. We may idolize our job, our school, our family, our children or even our hobby. When we make some one so important to our life, devote so much emotion on him, he becomes the object of our worship or adoration. It is not wrong to treasure them, but it will become harmful to you and them if you make them your idols and your life is hinged on them.
1) Idols set you against God: “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” (Exodus 20:4-5) No one needs and explanation on the seriousness of the sin of idol making and worship. Repeatedly God set the rules against any making and worship of idols of any kind. I have seen some people disobey God and fight for their freedom to make and worship idols, but I haven’t seen anyone wins a fight with God.
2) Idols control your life: Be it a person or a thing, once it becomes your idol, you subject yourself to his control both emotionally and mentally. All idol worshippers are willing to submit their dignity and freedom to please their idols. This leads to giving up the control of your life to the idols. Jesus said the same thing to his disciples: “If anyone would come to follow me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) Anyone who chooses to worship idol will have to pay the same price, giving up the control of life to your idol. If you want to take control of your life, you can’t have idols.
3) Idols make you dependent: Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Same thing will happen if you choose to worship idols. Your life, joy, energy and outcome all depend on your idols. If your idol is in a person, then your mood, joy or energy level will depend on how this person treats you or his attitude toward you. If it is in money or a position, then your emotion and energy of life will depend on the security of your money or position. Once you set your dependency on an idol, it can only get worse and will never get better to set you back to independence. Live on dependency on others cuts into quality.
4) Idols can only destroy life: “When Judas who had betrayed him saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the 30 silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That is your responsibility.” So, Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:3-5) Everyone understands the terrible end of Judas’ life when he chose money as his idol over Jesus as his Savior. No idol may give anyone anything of permanent benefit.
WINNING OVER IDOLATRY: (Acts 17:15-17)
1) Dare to see the truth: “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he saw that the city was full of idols.” (17:16) Just as Paul was so much alert to see the city of Athens was full of idols, we also need to be alert to see that our cities and the nation is full of idols as well. Before we can do anything to win over idols and idolatry, we need to see the truth: we live in a world full of idols. Too often, we are either too busy only can see our small circles of people living in ivory towers or we are numb in our spiritual insight that we are blinded to see the truth. We live in a city and a nation, just as bad as Athens and Greece where idols and idolatry has taken control of all parts of life.
2) Grieved by the truth: “Paul was greatly distressed.” (17:16) The Greek word translated “distressed” in NIV has been translated as “soul was irritated,” “was exasperated,” “deeply grieved,” or “indignation was aroused” in other versions. The spirit of Paul in seeing the awful truth, a city taken over by idols, was greatly disturbed, feeling angry, pain, distress, furious and grievous. Do we have that same feeling when we see our city, our nation and the world was taken over by idols? We need to see the truth and its evil influence over the people and feel deeply grievous as Jesus grieved for Jerusalem and wept.(Luke 20:41-44)
3) Dare to do something: “So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the market place day after day with those happened to be there.” (17:17) First, Paul saw the facts the city was full of idols, then he was greatly disturbed by the fact, and he began to do something to correct the situation by reasoning, presenting the gospel to anyone who would listen anywhere, anytime. (17:18-31) Have you seen someone is under control by idol or idols? DO you see that our city is full of idols? Does your spirit feel the pain and sorrow to stir you up and say something or do something to show them the true God so they will find salvation in Jesus?
4) God will bless with results: “A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was a member of Areopagus, also a woman and a number of others.” (17:34) Areopagus was the highest governmental assembly in Athens, a group of powerful people of legislation in Greece. God blessed the fervent heart of Paul and brought to His kingdom people of great influence. We never know who will accept Christ when we witness, but God will bless our efforts with results beyond our wildest imagination. We do our job God will bring harvest.
1) Have you seen any idols? Do you have the spiritual insight to see any idols anywhere? Of you see idols somewhere, do you feel disturbed in your heart? Do you feel you want to do something to present the true God to them? Are you fervent to talk to anyone who will listen to you? Do you believe that God will bring fruits on your labor for Him? Don’t just feel bad when we see idols are everywhere in our community. Feel something and do something.
2) Are there idols in you? Don’t just look to the outside, look to the inside of your heart and see if there is any idol in there. Idols that capture you attention, focus, love and loyalty which you suppose to give to God. Is there an idol sits on the throne of your life that hinders you from serving the true God? Ask God to help you remove that idol from your heart and surrender it to God completely. Be a true follower of Jesus and not any other.
3) Who is in control of life? If you have never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you live under the grips of idols. You can ask Jesus to come into your heart and remove all idols from there so you will be free from serving idols of the world which will never bring you anything good or eternal. Turn your heart to God and allow Him to lead you to a brighter future and a higher ground. You don’t have to live under the yokes of idols. You can be set free if you believe in the truth of God.