“For this, we know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Eph. 5:5)
Immoral, impure, or covetous (or greedy) are terms we are used to and things we might expect of religious people and non-religious people around us. Idolatry, however, is a term we reserve for “those people” who lived in Old Testament times or maybe a few who were around in Athens or Rome. You know, the folks who had false gods made of stone, iron or even occasionally, gold. Baals, golden calfs and silver and bronze “gods” like Rachel stole from her father are what idolatry is all about. What does immorality, impurity, or greed have to do with idolatry?
The dictionaries give two main uses for this word, idolatry:
1: the worship of a physical object as a god
2: immoderate attachment or devotion to something
There is a sister verse in Colossians in which Paul makes idolatry clearer. Not number one above which is our usual understanding of the term but use number two: immoderate attachment or devotion. Let’s read that verse, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” The words “amounts to” could be interchanged with “is.” Hear Paul speaking by inspiration: these things are idolatry.
We don’t need a golden calf or a bronze serpent. We don’t have to bow down to Baal or build an altar to Dianna to be guilty of idolatry. Just be immoral. Live an impure life. Be greedy or have evil desire. To be sure, these two verses open up a whole new view on the subject of idols and idolatry.
Big question is what is the subject of our immoderate attachment? Could be work. Could be sex. Could be money. Could be things or stuff. Could be pleasure, drugs, alcohol, pornography, self-indulgence and a host of other things. If it isn’t God its idolatry. That’s what Paul is telling the faithful saints in Ephesus and Colosse. The sin of idolatry is a terrible sin and will be dealt with in a stern way.
Task for today: Throw out your idols. Look around you and identify those things that are taking an immoderate amount of your love and devotion. Exchange them for time with God. Promise yourself that you will begin today to love God with ALL your heart, mind and soul.