The Idolatry in Evangelicalism
John 8:44, “Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Satan is a liar and he is really good at it. How do we know this? We know this because God’s Word tells us this and we know this because of the lies and false gods which the church today has bought into and worships. Satan has successfully gotten the church to worship many different gods but not the God of the Bible.
The modern evangelical church worships many different idols. I know this to be true, unfortunately, from years of personal experience. I have served in and attended various churches where often many different “gods” were worshiped but the God of the Bible was far too often ignored and rejected.
Some worship the idol of wealth and materialism. Many believe that the more money they have and the more things they accumulate will give their life meaning. Proverbs 27:24 says, “riches are not forever.” Proverbs 23:4-5 says, “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward heaven.” In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.” In 1 Timothy 6:17 Paul counseled Timothy, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”
Some worship personal power and control, especially within the confines of the church. Job asked in Job 21:7, “Why do the wicked still live, continue on, also become very powerful?” This kind of power, as is all power, is fleeting and gives to its worshiper and pursuer a false sense of hope and security. David wrote in Psalm 37:35-36, “I have seen a wicked, violent man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found.”
Some find security in social standing and being well-liked by others. Luke 11:43 says, “Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places.” Luke 20:46 says, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets.” People who worship and pursue the myth of the good man and of being well-liked ignore the wise counsel of Solomon in Proverbs 25:6-7, “Do not claim honor in the presence of the king, And do not stand in the place of great men; For it is better that it be said of you, ‘Come up here,’ Than for you to be placed lower in the presence of the prince, Whom your eyes have seen.”
Many in our culture and even church culture worship their physical appearance and looks. Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain.” In the Old Testament King Saul was a very handsome man and had a very striking physical appearance. But he was a disaster as the king.
Satan, being the great liar and deceiver, recognizes our longing to worship something other than God and our longing for security. He also knows that only the Gospel really provides that security. He offers in the place of the gospel counterfeit hope in the form of false religion. False religion and the teaching of false gospels are the strategy of Satan. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 says, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Later in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 Paul writes, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”
Satan uses false religion and false teaching to deceive people into thinking that they are right with God when in reality they are not. This artificial sense of security lies to them and relieves their conscience. In the process they are blind to their own desperate need for the truth of the gospel.
Over the next week or so, as we look at this passage in the Gospel of John, we will confront, as Christ did to the Pharisees in this passage, these false deities and beliefs and the false security that accompanies them.