Golden Calves…

Editor’s Note: The pair of calves shown above are most likely not my calves, though as far as you know, they could be. Also, this post will serve both as a spiritual thought post and a Photoshop Fail Friday post today, since I photoshopped the gold bars onto the picture of my…I mean…these calves.

I read a verse in my Bible study this morning that I have probably read 37.7 times before, but that I saw in a new light today – Colossians 3:5:

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

In the past when I’ve read this, I see the word “is” before the word “idolatry,” and it causes me to think that it must be referring to only the last item in the list – greed. If it were speaking of all 5 things, it would have used the word “are” in front “idolatry,” right? So what I figured is that, of the 5 things listed here, it says that greed equates to idolatry, while the others are just bad in other ways. That always felt okay to me – I don’t consider myself extremely greedy (at least when it comes to money – when it comes to chocolate chip cookies, that’s another story). But when I read it this morning, I felt like the Spirit was trying to point out to me that all 5 of these things are idolatry. Take Romans 1:18,21-15:

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness…For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. [i.e., idolatry]  Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” (emphasis added).

In this passage it equates sexual impurity with idolatry, saying that the sexually immoral worship the creation instead of the creator. Then take 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (emphasis added).

I find it interesting that idolaters are placed right in the middle of the other sexually immoral people who are being called out in this passage. It’s almost as if Paul wanted us to think that idolaters and sexually immoral people were in the same sinking boat. Then, when Paul writes to the Ephesians, he just outright says it:

“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5).

So we can assume that, although the passage in Colossians may look like it is only saying that greed equals idolatry, all the others are just as idolatrous as greed. I’m as guilty as anyone at all 5 of these, thankfully more in the past than in the present. But I’m still not perfect, and I pray I improve every day, and that I become even more sanctified today than I was yesterday. The last thing I want to be is an idolater – God set some rules down way back in the day, and out of only the 10 most important ones, idolatry was one of the first and most important ones. God comes first, and anything that we put in His place is an idol that must be put to death in our lives.

So, lessons learned:

  • Sexual sin, evil desires, and greed are all idolatry in some form or another.
  • It’s good to listen to the Spirit when reading scripture to learn what it actually means.
  • Jeremy has nice calves, if in fact those are his calves in the picture, which we are pretty sure they are not.

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