Idolatry and Sin

Recently my Bible reading plan took me through the book of Judges. Judges 2:10 and 2:11 describe a link between the idolatry of God’s people and the sin of God’s people. The verses read as follows:

“And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals.” (Judges 2:10-11)

Notice the connection. First, a generation arose that did not know the LORD. Second, the people of Israel did what was evil and served the Baals. These two things always go together. Forgetting the LORD always leads to idolatry, and idolatry always leads to evil, wickedness, and sin. By definition, those who turn from the LORD are turning toward idolatry and sin.

You can see the same connection in the life of Rehoboam as told in 2 Chronicles 12. I recently preached a Wednesday night sermon about the life of Rehoboam, and his story is one of idolatry and sin. Notice how 2 Chronicles 12 begins and ends:

“When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him … And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 12:1, 14)

This passage sounds eerily similar to the degeneration described in Judges. Rehoboam started by abandoning the law of the LORD. That is, he turned away from the LORD and away from his law. What was the result of this turning? Rehoboam did evil, and he did not seek the LORD. Again, those who turn from the LORD are turning toward idolatry, and this idolatry results in evil and sin.

This same pattern is spelled out in the New Testament by the apostle Paul in Romans 1. Consider Paul’s argument:

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:21-25)

The connections are all the same. Humanity has rejected the truth about God and exchanged it for foolish, impotent idols. In chasing these idols, humanity has pursued impurity and immorality. This impurity and immorality is directly connected to the fact that men and women exchange the truth of God for a lie. So yet again, by definition, those who turn from the LORD are turning toward idolatry, and this idolatry results in evil and sin.

How do we avoid the spiritual mistakes of the book of Judges, king Rehoboam, and all of fallen humanity? By the grace of God we must worship the one, true God. We must worship in spirit and in truth. We must seek him and love him with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We must also confess and repent of sin.