Idol – In the Old Testament, the word “idol” means “vanity” (Jer. 14:22; 18:15); idols were made of wood, stone, and precious metal (Isa. 40; Jer. 10). While such idols continued into New Testament times, especially in Greek culture, the New Testament also recognizes that anything treasured more than God is an idol (The Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words. Terry L. Miethe, p. 112).
Idolatry – the giving of absolute religious devotion and ultimate trust to something that is not God; immoderate attachment or devotion to or veneration for something (Webster’s International Dictionary Unabridged. ed. in chief Philip Babcock Grove, p. 1124.).
Jer. 10:1-11, 14-15 How are idols described (Jer. 10:3, 5, 14-15)?
How are idolaters described (Jer. 10:8, 14)?
What is idolatry called in Jer. 10:8?
How is idolatry deceiving?
What will happen to the people’s idols (Jer. 10:11)?
Can you think of anything that people make today that they are extremely devoted to, even to the point of worshipping it as a god?
If so, give some examples.
Have you ever worshiped any of these things?
If so, why?
Are you being deceived into thinking that something other than God will satisfy you?
Are you deceived into thinking that something other than what God wants for you will be in your best interests?
How does this show?
Is there anything that you are preoccupied with that is keeping you from obeying God’s commands to evangelize, build up other believers, and live a Christ-like life?
How would you know?
1 Chron. 16:25-26 Who is to be feared above all the gods?
[The Hebrew word for idol “elil” literally means “nothing” or “vain thing”. 1 Chron. 16:26 may well be translated, “For all the gods of the people are nothing.”].
How does one go about fearing the Lord (Prov. 8:13)?
[To “fear God” means to give God the reverence and honor He deserves.].
Do you give God the reverence and honor He deserves by praising Him, seeking to obey His commandments, and hating/turning away from sin in your own life?
Do you make Bible reading, prayer, evangelism, and developing godly character a higher priority than making money, getting an education, seeking a mate, watching TV, playing video games, checking and/or updating your social media, or anything else (as demonstrated by your commitment to, time spent doing it, time spent thinking about it, how much you talk about it, or by how you spend your money)?
Rom. 1:21-25 What didn’t these non-Christians do (Rom. 1:21)?
What did they do instead (Rom. 1:23, 25)?
What are some ways that people today worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator?
Do you give God the honor and thanks He deserves?
Are you more devoted to anything else than to God (e.g., career, college education, sports, money, cars, clothes, computers, music, TV, martial arts, pets, weight-lifting, social media, etc.)?
How does your time, thoughts, money, and/or energy on these things compare with them in terms of serving God?
Is your involvement in any of the above activities hindering you in any way from serving God?
Gal. 4:8-9 When these Galatian Christians did not have a saving knowledge of God, what were they?
What are some gods that people are slaves to today and how?
When you were not a Christian, were you enslaved to (as shown by your commitment to, top priority to, time spent on, energy given to, thoughts fixed toward, and resources spent on) anything other than God (e.g., drugs, sex, money, alcohol, false religion, girl/boyfriend, school, career, sports, food, music, or computers)?
Is there anything to which you are now enslaved/mastered by other than God?
Are you so involved in such things as sports, job, computers, entertainment, acquiring material possessions, watching TV, man-made religious activities, and pampering yourself by being lazy that you find little or no time to pray, read your Bible, evangelize non-Christians, go to Bible study, be trained/equipped spiritually to serve God, etc.?
Is it hard for you to obey God because of your preoccupation with any of the above things?
If so, what do you plan to do about it?
Ezek. 14:3-6 Where had these Israelite elders set up idols?
What does this tell you about the nature of idolatry?
[Idolatry is not merely external, – i.e., statues and images – but a matter of the heart/mind. The heart is first corrupted, and then the outward manifestation of idol worship follows – “put right before their faces”].
How are these people’s idols described in Ezek. 14:3?
What did God have to say about these idolatrous men coming to inquire of God (Ezek. 14:3, 7-8) – see also Ezek. 20:1-3, 31?
What is said about an idolater in Ezek. 14:5?
What should these idolaters do (Ezek. 14:6)?
Do you have any idols set up in your mind (as evidenced by the amount of time, devotion, and energy you spend thinking about or involved with it)?
Do you come to God in prayer to consult and make requests when you know in your heart that there is something competing for your devotion to and love for Him that you haven’t put away?
If your prayers are unanswered, could this be a reason?
What should you do?
Psa. 44:20-21 If there is another god in our heart, can we hide this from God?
Are there any secret gods in your heart (e.g., self-centeredness, pride, jealousy, materialism, fancy car, martial arts, weight-lifting, lust for sex)?
Does it make any difference to you that God knows your heart and whether or not there are any secret gods in you life?
Psa. 106:35-36 What became a snare to these Israelites?
How can having an idol hurt you or be a snare to you (e.g., 1 Tim. 6:9-10)?
Are you or have you ever been ensnared by making a college education, career, car, girlfriend/boyfriend, sports, clothes, food, family, TV, music, money, computers, possessions, social media, etc. an idol?
If so, how is it hurting you and your relationship with God?
What can you do about it?
1 Ki. 11:1-11 How did the wise king Solomon get involved in idol worship?
What is said about king Solomon’s heart in 1 Ki. 11:4?
Are you obeying God’s command to not be unequally yoked with (married to) a non-believer (2 Cor. 6:14)?
Does it matter to you what God thinks about who you choose for a boyfriend/ girlfriend or marriage partner?
Are you allowing your love for someone else to distract you from your love and devotion to God?
Is there anything in your life that is competing for your devotion to God?
What, and why?
2 Chron. 25:11-15 What sin had Amaziah committed (2 Chron. 25:14-15)?
Does this seem like a very wise thing to do?
Even though such things as money, career, sports, cars, sex, TV, music, computer, possessions, shopping, a particular body shape or hairstyle, social media, etc. will not ultimately satisfy or save anyone, do you still give excessive devotion/allegiance to them anyway?
If these things cannot ultimately satisfy or save anyone, then why do you think people idolize such things?
Isa. 44:12-20 Why couldn’t these idol makers and idol worshipers see the ridiculousness of their sin (Isa. 44:18-20)?
What are some lies people are devoting themselves to today?
Isa. 45:20-21 What can’t the god/idol of these worshipers do for them, and why?
Have you ever been involved in a false religion that couldn’t save you (i.e., deliver you from either physical harm or from going to hell)?
Has God opened your eyes to see the truth?
How does that affect your attitude toward God?
1 Cor. 8:4-7 What is said about idols in 1 Cor. 8:4?
[Paul meant that it’s nothing at all, it’s not a god, as there is no God but one.].
From whom and for whom do we exist?
For whom or what are you living, and why?
How does the way you live demonstrate this?
1 Cor. 10:19-20 When the Gentiles sacrificed to idols, to whom or what were they really sacrificing?
What does this tell you about the nature of idolatry?
What kinds of things has Satan deceived people into worshiping today?
Knowing that idolatry can be demonic, what should your attitude be toward having idols (anything treasured more than the Lord God Creator) in your life?
1 Cor. 12:2 When these Corinthian Christians were pagans, to what were they led astray?
Before you were a Christian, were you led astray into following idols/gods of man’s making (such as: worldly education, pleasure, or entertainment; career, money, sports, illicit sex or drugs, alcohol, partying, cars, bodybuilding, fancy clothes or homes, TV, music, computers, social media, shopping sprees, and/or greed)?
1 Thes. 1:9 What had these Thessalonian Christians done?
Are there any idols that you need to turn from to serve the living and true God?
If so, which ones?
1 Jn. 5:21 What command is given here?
How would one go about guarding himself from idols?
Are you doing this?
Phil. 3:19 What is the god some people?
How is this so?
[“Instead of striving to keep their physical appetites under control (Rom. 8:13; 1 Cor. 9:27), realizing that our bodies are the Holy Spirit’s temple, in which God should be glorified (1 Cor. 6:19, 20), these people surrendered themselves to gluttony and licentiousness. They worshipped their sensual nature.” William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Philippians, Colossians and Philemon].
Have you ever thought about the fact that your appetite might be your god?
Do you ever worship (i.e., give excessive devotion to) your sensual nature by over-indulging your appetite for food, or by indulging in immoral thoughts and/or activities?
What do these kind of people set their minds on (Phil. 3:19)?
What do you frequently think about (food, body shape, sports, materialism, cars, girls/guys, money, evangelizing, God, growing into Christ-likeness, etc.), and why?
What does God want you to think about primarily (Phil. 4:8), and why (Prov. 23:7a)?
Rom. 16:18 To what are these false teachers slaves?
[“their own bellies” – “self-servers of any description … They are living ‘according to the flesh,’ allowing their lives to be determined by the cravings of their sinful human nature (cf. Rom. 8:4-5).” – William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Romans.].
[“appetites” – lit. “the cavity; the belly; the stomach”. “It is not our Lord Christ whom they serve; on the contrary, it is base interests of their own. It is a bitter contemptuous way of describing a self-seeking spirit, rather than an allusion to any particular cast of doctrine.” Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament. vol. 1].
To what are you a slave (see Rom. 6:16)?
Are you ever a slave to your appetite for food by eating more than you should or need?
Are you ever a slave to your appetite for pleasure by indulging in illicit drugs, excessive drinking, immoral thoughts, trashy movies, ungodly music, laziness, etc.?
Are you ever a slave to your own self-seeking desires by pursuing them rather than obeying God?
If you are a slave to any of these things, what can you do to be set free?
Gal. 5:20 What are the deeds of the flesh?
What does Paul say will keep us from committing the sin of idolatry (Gal. 5:16)?
Are you asking God to control every area of your life with His Holy Spirit and having an attitude of being fully surrendered to God, and why?
Col. 3:5; Eph. 5:5 What is one form of idolatry?
How is greed idolatry?
What makes greed idolatry?
[Greed is an excessive desire for selfish gain. And because of the excessive desire for something, it turns into excessive devotion to something other than that which is legitimate, namely God Himself. And when that happens, the illegitimate object of one’s devotion becomes one’s idol, whatever it is.].
How can you tell if you have greed in your heart?
Are you content with what God has given you?
If you have a job, what is your motivation for working? Is it to make money to spend on yourself for your own selfish reasons, or is it in order to support yourself so you will be better able to minister to other’s needs through evangelism and building up other believers?
If you are going to college, what is your reason for going? Is it so that you can get a higher paying job so you will have more money to spend on your own selfish desires, or is it because you are convinced that it will better enable you to do God’s will for your life?
Is the desire to have lots of money, a big beautiful home, expensive car, or any other possession keeping you from following Christ (either as a missionary or in just being obedient to evangelism and building up believers right where you are)?
If so, what or who is coming between you and God?
And what will you do to change your priorities?
Can you serve both God and money Matt 6:24?
Num. 25:1-3; Judg. 2:11; 8:33; Jer. 32:40
In these passages, what god or gods did the Israelites serve?
[Baal and Asherah – Baal means “master”. He was one of the chief male gods of the Canaanites. He was the fertility god who gave increase to family and field, flocks and herds. Worship consisted of animal sacrifices, ritualistic meals, and licentious dances. Sometimes child sacrifices were made to Baal. High places had chambers for male and female prostitution. Asherah/Ashterah was a female Canaanite deity. She came to be the consort of Baal. She was a sort of divine high ranking prostitute. The Asherah (pl. Asherim) symbol was often placed next to alters of Baal (Judg. 6:29). She was frequently represented as a nude woman bestride a lion, with a lily in one hand and a serpent in the other. The lily symbolized grace and sex appeal while the serpent symbolized fertility. She and her colleagues specialized in sex and war, and her shrines were temples of legalized vice. Male and female prostitutes served in her honor.].
Is pornography or sex one of your gods?
If so, what do you plan to do about it?
Hosea 4:11-14 As part of their idol worship, what did the daughters and wives do (Hosea 4:13)?
What did the men do as part of their idol worship (Hosea 4:14)?
[In the polluted worship of Ashteroth (a manifestation of Asherah), the Canaanite goddess of sensual love, maternity, and fertility, the women devoted themselves to be prostituted in her honor. The men would offer their sacrifices accompanied by immoral ceremonies with the consecrated prostitutes. Thus they made their corruption their holy duty. Jamison, Fausset, and Brown, A Commentary. Vol. 2, pp. 471, 472.].
Do people in America worship the god of sex today?
Do you ever worship the god of sex by lusting, committing fornication, adultery, dressing sensually, looking at playboy magazines, watching filthy movies, visiting pornographic websites, indulging in sexual fantasies, etc.?
If so, how can you stop or avoid this?
Ex. 20:3-5 What commands does God give to the Israelites here?
Why (Ex. 20:5)?
[“jealous” – fierce, intense, commitment to His people.].
Lev. 19:4 What command did God give to the Israelites, and why?
1 Cor. 10:14 What command is given here?
Are you doing this?
How does God feel about or what does God say about idolatry (and/or the worship of other gods) in the following passages?
Deut. 6:14-15 –
Deut. 8:19 –
Deut. 11:16-17 –
Deut. 27:15 –
Deut. 32:16 –
Josh. 23:16 –
1 Ki. 11:9 –
1 Ki. 21:26 –
Isa. 41:23-24 –
What are/were some of the consequences of idolatry?
Deut. 4:25-27 –
Psa. 78:58-64 –
Psa. 106:35-42 –
Psa. 115:4-8; 135:15-18 –
Ezek. 6:4-7, 12-13 –
Isa. 42:17 –
1 Cor. 6:9-10 –
Rev. 2:14-16 –
Rev. 21:8 –
Jer. 3:1-10; Ezek. 16:16-17, 25-26 To what does God liken the idolatry of these Israelites?
Do you consider idolatry to be like adultery, prostitution and immorality?
Even though the southern kingdom of Judah had witnessed the punishment of God on the northern kingdom of Israel because of its idolatry, what did Judah do (Jer. 3:8-10)?
Have you seen someone wreck their lives because they put something or someone in the place of God?
[E.g., instead of trusting in God’s timing for the right mate, a man chose to get married to the wrong woman because he considered getting married more important than God’s will for his life. He thought that would be more fulfilling than God’s plan for his life. As a result, he ended up having a miserable marriage ending in divorce and had no ministry to others. In another example, a man chose to pursue a college education and the secular career of his choice even though he knew God’s will for his life was to be trained to evangelize the lost and build up other believers. He made his own goals his god and chose to pursue them rather than God. He was happy for a while, but not long after, he realized that it was not as fulfilling as he thought it would be. In fact, it wasn’t long before he was miserable, but it was too late.].
Will you learn from other people’s wrong choices, and why?
Jer. 7:6-7 What would be the result of these Israelites walking after other gods?
Can you think of anyone who has brought about their own ruin because they were more devoted to other things than they were to God?
Give some examples (no need to name names).
Have you ever done this yourself?
If so, give an example?
Jer. 16:11-13 What did and didn’t these Israelites do (Jer. 16:12)?
What did God say He was going to do to them?
Do you listen to God by obeying His commands, or are you ever stubborn and live according to your own evil desires?
How often, and why?
Deut. 17:2-5 Under the Law given to Moses for the Israelites, what was to be the penalty for idolaters?
Why do you think the punishment prescribed was so severe?
What did God say would be the penalty for Jeroboam’s idolatry (1 Ki. 14:9-16)?
How does it make you feel knowing what the prescribed punishment was in the Law of Moses for committing idolatry?
Do you see the seriousness of the sin of idolatry?
What do you plan on doing about it?
Jer. 44:4-5 Even though these people had been warned over and over again, what didn’t they do?
What happened as a result (Jer. 44:6)?
If there are any idols in your life, how long will it take for you to deal with them, and why?
Jer. 44:15-18 What reason did these people give to Jeremiah as to why they would not stop their idol worship?
Is that a valid reason?
Is there anything that you know God doesn’t want you to be doing, but you don’t want to give it up because you are reaping some benefits from it?
[E.g., your pursuit of your career leaves you little or no time to serve God, but you love the money you make. Or, premarital or extramarital sex feels so good that you don’t want to stop, even though you know God says it is wrong. Or, you know you should be praying, reading your Bible, and working on becoming a more Christ-like person, but because you get so much enjoyment and recognition from playing sports, you get so involved in it that you don’t have time for spiritual things.].