Heidelberg Catechism Q95

Q. 95. What is idolatry?

Aš Idolatry is having or inventing something in which one trusts in place of or alongside of the only true God, who has revealed him self in his Word.


In the first commandment we are told not to have any other gods.  Gods are any person, place, thing, idea or ritual, which we place our trust in and seek to meet our physical, emotional and spiritual, needs through.  God wants our entire dependence to be upon him and him alone.  We are not to seek direction anywhere else other than in God alone.  Read 1 John 5:21.


Many people in our world talk to their deceased ancestors. They believe that these people are able to hear them and answer or intercede for them.  But such a belief is foreign to the Scriptures. God repeatedly adjures the covenant people not to speak to the dead or to any spirits, for these are all created beings, and the Creator alone sustains our life.  Read Leviticus 19:31 and Revelation 19:10.


In prohibiting idolatry, God is instructing humanity to seek him and him alone.  Specifically, we are to seek all our needs in Jesus Christ, the very image of God.  He alone is our savior, redeemer and friend.  He is our hope and our life.  He intercedes for us and brings us all good things and to turn anywhere but to him is to demean his supremacy.  Let us acknowledge our complete dependence on God alone.  Read John 17:3.


God is our great provider. He sends rain upon the land.  He causes the food to grow and fruit.  He sustains life.  Is there anything good in all of life that has been given to humanity that God hasn’t imagined, created and ordained.  No!  He alone is good and all goodness flows from him to us.  Read Jeremiah 17:5-7 and Mark 10:18.


When Jesus summarized the 10 commandments, he came up with two.  The first is to love God, the second to love others.  Those who love God wouldn’t seek to replace him with anything else just as those who love their spouses would never dare replace them, or cheat on them.  To love God is to shun evil and avoid idolatry.  Read Deuteronomy 6:5.


Part of loving God is fearing or revering him and honoring him.  To fear God is to recognize his great power and ability to squash us.  We fear those things that have power to destroy and certainly God can do that.  But to revere him is to stand in awe not only of his power but also of his love.  In his love he has chosen to redeem sinners instead of destroy them.  And that is why we honor him, or exalt his name, praising his goodness, declaring his love and serving him with our lives.  All three of these are also included in the command to have no other gods.  Read 1 Peter 1:17 and Matt 10:37-39.


About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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