Sacrosanct Gospel

a blog by Tim Melton…

Gospel Thought: Idolatry and Adultery

Posted by Tim Melton on November 4, 2011

There is a direct correlation between worshiping one God and loving one wife.  In other words, Idolatry and adultery are two faces of the same coin.

Of the 10 commandments, the first is the greatest – “I am the Lord your God, have no other God’s before me.”  Not only is this the greatest command, it is the essential command.  If we could but obey this one command, then we would need no other.  If our hearts kept fidelity with God, if we truly loved Him with all our heart and with all our soul with all our strength and with all our mind; then we would naturally and without any effort keep every other command.

But, I don’t keep this command.  I do not keep fidelity with Christ.  My heart is filled with idols.  John Calvin puts it quite plainly, “Man’s nature…is a perpetual factory of idols. . . every one of us is, even from his mother’s womb, an expert in inventing idols.”1  The Bible clearly equates our idolatry with adultery (Ezekiel 16, Jeremiah 2:23-25).  Therefore, in my idolatry, I possess the heart of a whore; the appetite of a harlot; the disposition of divorcee.  I leave the God of my salvation to chase after other lovers.

Since this is true, our repentance should primarily focus on worshiping God.  Our struggle against sin should be fueled by an endeavor to exalt Christ.  Every command of Christ that I break is essentially a symptom of breaking the greatest command.  My salvation, then, must come in the form of renewed fidelity to my Husband/King.  The rescue from my struggle against pride, anger, lust, control, pleasure, approval, laziness, fear, and shame is found in worshiping my Lord and my God.   My rescue from these idols is not found in cutting the head off the hydra only to have two heads grow back in their place.2  My deliverance from these demons is not secured by casting one demon out only to have seven demons return.3  My battle against the rat infested idolatry my heart is not won by running around the pitch black recesses of my soul with a blindfold over my eyes and a baseball bat in my hand.  No, I must come back to the first command. I must ask Christ to lift the veil from eyes once again. I must see my Husband. I must worship my King. Only the radiance of His love can renew my fidelity with Him.

So, if I want to love my wife with fidelity, then I must love my God with fidelity; because idolatry and adultery are two faces of the same coin.
____________________________________

1Quotes from Calvin – John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion and Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

2See Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra

3See Luke 11:24-26

9 Responses to “Gospel Thought: Idolatry and Adultery”

  1. garry griffith said

    Singularity seems to be the bane of our existence. Our hearts harbor our “rat infested idols,” and they are legion. At some point I may list on my resume the qualities in Matthew 15:19-20 that Jesus said reside in my heart. Those traits (evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander) multiply and contribute to the copious idols that bump Jesus out of first place in my life.

    It sounds so simple – God ask primarily one thing from me, i.e., love and worship him only as Lord and have no other gods. There follows the love (only) for my wife and to love my neighbor as I love myself. And we do, after we have loved just about everything and everyone else. There is no addendum to the Gospel – it is God first, not God and…

    Rich Mullin’s sang in his song, “My One Thing”

    Every I know says they need just one thing
    And what they really mean is that they need just one
    thing more
    And everybody seems to think they got it coming
    Well I know I don’t deserve You
    Still I want to love you and serve you more and more
    You’re my one thing

    Mary knew that one thing (Luke 10:41-42).

    The idol factory John Calvin wrote about is running three shifts in my heart, seven-days-a-week. I hope my factory goes out of business and is replaced with the one thing, or one person, of Jesus. Your entry refocuses my focus ( Heb.12:2) on my filial duty to singularity in loving Jesus above all – whom I can’t see; and to love my wife – whom I can see.

    • Tim Melton said

      Garry, I love the Mullin quote. It makes me think of that beautiful and powerful passage in Psalm 27:4 – “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” Repentance is always all about renewing ourselves in that “one thing.”

  2. matt damore said

    Our Idol Factories need Christ’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’! Sorry, I had to say that. Great post, man! Really. It is so true. I wish you would go into what it means to worship God. I mean, I get you. Worshiping God is the Terminex for those pesky rats in the cellar, but unpack that for me. Please! I love you! But tell me if I have it right. I know the feeling isolated isn’t what should be aimed for, since you can have the feeling without the object and vice versa. If that’s all it took, we could take a pill, and I would be glad of that magic. But I do feel while I listen to music with a ‘worshipful tone or mood’ (I’ll call it) a sort of feeling I’ll label a ‘feeling of repentance’ – maybe like you feel when you listen to U2 songs. And it doesn’t even have to be a song. Any art. Or any life situation even, since life imitates art and art returns the compliment. There has to be an ‘occasion for repentance’, it seems. It has to be prompted by something; the planets align and something internal and external collide, triggered by the Spirit, somehow. An alteration, a felt change of consciousness, a Gestalt-shift of some sort. I remember you warning me against an unwise handling of the spiritual disciplines: as if they could be idols themselves. Idols. Wow. They could be magic themselves. Almost a spiritual technology! Amazing how Satan twists things into the most elegant counterfeits. This is why Jonathan Edwards is so pivotal! The religious affections are the most fundamental things you can talk about here. Where are our affections? That’s the question! But back to the occasion. I find prayer to be within my will, but for some mysterious reason: not repentance. It has to be given to me. I’m such a putrid filth of sinful drivel, my affections unassisted can’t even think about the REAL Christ without divine help! This is THE OCCASION. The ‘Moment’, as Kierkegaard calls it. We’ve all felt it, experienced it. It’s inexplicable when and where and how it hits us. But when it does, when it really smacks us in the back like an unexpected wave, we’re on our knees sobbing wondering how we can be so stupid to leave the source of all joy for idols that break the hearts of their worshipers, no matter no titillating. Tell me if this is what you mean, because I want to be on the same page. This is how I understand the occasion of repentance leading to worshiping God is spirit and truth, the one and only rat catcher, the Inconvenient Truth for our Spiritual Global Warming, a Warming that’s been proved to be man-made.

    Love you, my friend.

  3. Anonymous said

    Thank you for this message. I just taught this to my bible study group and decided to look online to see if anyone else was speaking the same message. You worded it awesomely. I pray that God’s pastors would rise up and begin to preach and teach truth to His body once again. Sexual sins are running rampant in the Church and those participating in it don’t see where they are doing anything wrong. We must return back to God and His holiness. Without holiness no man will see God!

  4. Katie Miller said

    The need for sexual purity is absolutely a necessity in the church today, but I would caution you to be careful with your analogy. “There is a direct correlation between worshiping one God and loving one wife.” The only way your analogy is accurate is if you change “wife” to “husband”. Think about it. It might make you uncomfortable, but its the only way the analogy (an excellent one, by the way) works.

    • Tim Melton said

      Katie, my point in the analogy is to point out that remaining faithful to my wife is empowered by keeping faith with Christ. The point I was trying to convey in the post was that “a ‘one woman’ kind of guy is produced by becoming a ‘one God’ kind of man “.

      I really didn’t do a good job of making that plain in the post. I have no problem with refering to Christ as my Husband. In fact, I do so in the post. When I used the word “wife” I was actually referring to my wife – Martha Jo.

  5. I really needed this illiustration! Because God has been dealing with me about repentance for some days now so this morning, meditating on the scriptures, it occurred to me that idolatory was just like adultery, so I decided to google it and there; I found this article. I read your scripture references from different Bible versions and I totally see that your explanation is true. This has really helped me, thanks brother!
    Gladys

  6. I really needed this illiustration! Because God has been dealing with me about repentance for some days now so this morning, meditating on the scriptures, it occurred to me that idolatory was just like adultery, so I decided to google it and there; I found this article. I read your scripture references from different Bible versions and I totally see that your explanation is true. This has really helped me, thanks brother!
    Gladys

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