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New City Catechism Question 17
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New City Catechism Question 17


Q17: What is idolatry?


A: Idolatry is trusting in created things rather than the Creator for our hope and happiness, significance and security.


KIDS’ ANSWER: Idolatry is trusting in created things rather than the Creator.



Romans 1:25 "They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”


ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURES TO READ: Exodus 20:3-6; 1 Corinthians 10:14; Colossians 3:5; 1 John 5:21


LIFE APPLICATION: Like sin, idolatry is another word we often define in a surface, behavioral fashion. When we think of idols, our minds typically go immediately to gold and silver objects in a shrine, crucifixes, images of dead “saints” hanging on a church’s walls, or stone statues before which people physically bow down. For sure, these are idols and violate God's command to not worship images (Exodus 20:3-6). But idolatry is deeper than that.


Idolatry is all about desire; it’s about our wants, our values, our priorities, what sets the agenda for our lives. Idols are what we live for; we may even be willing to die for them. Therefore, an idol does not have to be something that is evil. An idol can be something that is very good, but has been placed on a higher pedestal than it belongs—a place of importance which is higher than our own worshipful obedience to God. Anything from God that takes the place of God is an idol. Let me give you some examples.


Marriage is a gift from God, but marriage is not God. The blessing of children is a gift from God, but family is not God. Work and vocational skills are gifts from God, but they make terrible, enslaving gods. Even something as simple as appreciation can become an idol. It’s nice to be appreciated, for sure, and we should appreciate one another. But if we crave the appreciation of other people, or their praise, more than the good pleasure of God then we have made an idol out of something that is good. Do you get the picture? If you do, then like me, you will begin to see that there are many idols that fight for dominance in our hearts. No wonder the apostles exhorted us to flee from idolatry!


But the good news of the gospel is that the heart-work of the indwelling Holy Spirit progressively tears down our idols and replaces them with a greater love for God. The Spirit continually shows us how UN-satisfying idols are to us because they (the idols) are never satisfied with our devotion to them. This is slavery! But praise be to God who sets us free in Jesus (Romans 6:15-23).



We believe that man was created in the image of God, but fell into sin, and is therefore lost, and that only through regeneration by the Holy Spirit can salvation and spiritual life be obtained.  (Gen. 1:26, 27, 2:7, 22, 3:1-6; Rom. 3:9-12,23, 5:12,18, 6:23Jn. 3:3, 5-7)


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