The Idol Factory

Bob Osburn


The Idol Factory
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Not a few commentators have observed that humans are idol-making factories. In our sinful humanity, we love, cherish, and worship the creature rather than the Creator. In the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 1, we “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images”….and “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”

The factory inside each of us churns out idols with astonishing vigor, 24/7. In our sinful humanity, we are prone to be its willing slaves, living, as it were, the kind of gray, silent existence portrayed memorably by CS Lewis in the underworld of his Narnian chronicle The Silver Chair.

Why are we restlessly crafting idols, whether those of sex, money, or power, in particular? Because, in orthodox Christian teaching, we are afflicted by the world, the flesh, and the Devil. We have the surrounding society which beckons to us, “Be on the right side of history!” We also have the lusts of the flesh that want to make us believe we must, we must obey their commands, “Satisfy my needs!” And, to compound the challenge that makes Christian discipleship both daunting and heroic, our enemy menaces in the background, urging us to obey the siren songs of the world and the flesh. The Devil says, “Just do it, and become popular, potent, and pretty!”

Brothers and sisters, while we must be ever-alert to this trifecta that aims to undermine our discipleship, we are not by any means without hope. We are, after all, victors through Christ Jesus, as Paul also reminds us in Romans 8. But, why is our victory secure even though the battle is severe?

In this world, where we will have troubles, Jesus has promised that He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Thus, we are to “Take heart!” as we resist the threat, for example, of cancel culture. As for our sinful flesh, Jesus has liberated us from slavery to sin, so that we are no longer victims but victors (Romans 6). Why would a victor submit to another moment with, for another example, pornography? From Satan’s dark dominion, God has rescued His children and welcomed us into the bright Kingdom of the Son He loves (Colossians 1:13). Let us be on our guard against the ever-roaming lion who wants to sneak up on us and devour us by dragging us back to his dark lair. He cannot stand our vigilant eyes, especially when we, like our Savior, send him off with the words of Scripture.

But, surely as we have these defenses against the world, the flesh, and the Devil, I am not unaware that most of us must confess our sins of the past week. Let us do so now, whether we have trembled before threats on social media, tingled at the sight of that which is forbidden, or tired ourselves of staying alert on the stockades.