Are you cheating on God? I know, I know…touchy subject. Trust me my hand is up. I have cheated on God and was completely blind to my spiritual adultery.
The first thing we usually think of with the mention of adultery is the act of being unfaithful (sexually) to one’s spouse. Cheating on our spouse in other words. Well, I am here to deepen and challenge your perspective on adultery—spiritual adultery that is. Spiritual adultery is the act of being unfaithful to God…choosing and loving the things of this world over God. Another word for spiritual adultery is IDOLATRY.
Many of us skip the verses in the Bible on idolatry because we think it doesn’t apply to us. We often have a wrong view of what an idol truly is. Though there are still places here in this world that worship statues and other gods just like in Biblical times, there are also 21st-century idols hidden in plain sight.
Here are a few quotes from evangelical author and apologetics professor Nancy Pearcey and pastor, author and theologian Dr. Tony Evans to give you a little insight into what a modern-day idol might be:
“Scripture treats the topic of idolatry far more subtly. An idol is anything we want more than God, anything we rely on more than God, anything we look to for greater fulfillment than God. Idolatry is thus the hidden sin driving all other sins.” –Nancy Pearcey
“Anything or anyone that competes with your ultimate loyalty is an idol.” –Dr. Tony Evans
“Bad things that you depend on is idolatry. If you depend on drugs—that drug has become an idol because it has become the source of your well-being. People can become an idol because your ultimate well-being is locked up in them and not in God.” –Dr. Tony Evans
“An idol doesn’t have to be something bad. It can be something good that you make God. In its right place it is good. Money is good, but you can make it materialism God. Success is good, but you can make success God.” –Dr. Tony Evans
Following the ways or patterns of this world, or aligning with society, instead of God is idolatry aka spiritual adultery. Our allegiance to society by accepting filth, movies and music for example, because everyone else does it, is idolatry. In years past, I had many idols including comfort, worldly remedies and entertainment to help me escape my pain and acquire my fix of constant pleasure. I relied on these things for my well-being and let these things get in the way of seeking God. I was sick for 12 years, and it wasn’t until after I had tried every worldly remedy, that didn’t work, that I sought God for His answers and ultimately healing. God should be the first one we turn to not the last.
The idols in my life kept me from seeking God, hearing God and even prayers being answered. Think about it…imagine approaching God with your request as you are worshipping another god and unwilling to turn from your idols. Let’s look at what God said in His Word when the Israelites were worshipping idols.
Judges 10:11-14 “The Lord said to the sons of Israel, “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the sons of Ammon, and the Philistines? Also when the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hands. Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will no longer deliver you. Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress.”
Our God, the one and only God, is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14). He detests idols and will not be in competition with anything nor will He be mocked (Galatians 6:7-8). Do not be condemned for your idolatry, Jesus paid a price for that, but turn to God with the gift of repentance and seek Him and His ways. Our God is a patient and gracious God as symbolized in Hosea with his wife Gomer in the book of Hosea. God is faithful even when we are not. He will not tolerate idols and commands us to turn from them, but even in our spiritual adultery, He can be found waiting for us to return to Him. Faithful is He!
When I traded in my idols to be fully devoted to Jesus, I found true peace, joy and healing—not the fake, temporary peace, happiness or healing of momentary pleasure like the world will sell you. Full healing can only come when we seek God’s direction for our worldly problems. Lasting peace and joy only comes from delighting in and knowing Jesus, and it cannot be shaken in a storm.
Turning from our idols isn’t a one and done kind of event. It is an ongoing battle to focus our hearts on Jesus. We are to consistently be inspecting and guarding our hearts. We are tempted by the enemy every day, but putting God first and centering Him in our lives will enable us to know God and recognize the things not of God.
Obedience is a choice. From my experience, we can either choose to be faithful to God or find ourselves in a mess of consequences for turning from God’s way.
My challenge to you this week is to study idolatry in the Bible. Pray and ask God what the answer is to the struggles you are facing. More importantly, ask God to reveal your idols to you so you can trade them in with repentance for the one and only God that provides.
There are hundreds of Bible verses on idols and idolatry but here are several you can look up in your Bible to get you started:
Jeremiah 3:20, 9:2, 19:5
Isaiah 1:21, 54:5, 57:8
1 Kings 16:31-33
Ezekiel 6:9, 16:15-19, 16:30-32
Hosea (yep the whole book)
2 Timothy 4:4-10
Romans 8:7-8, 12:1-2
1 John 2:15-17, 5:19
My final thought, there is no need to put on your scarlet letter. Your Heavenly Father unconditionally loves you and is full of grace. His mercies are new each morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Simply, take that next step of faithfulness and obedience to live fully devoted to Jesus. He is worthy!