Defining Idolatry

In Scripture, the sin of idolatry is not limited to the complete displacement of the true God by false gods. It also includes the worship of false gods alongside the true God. The Jezebels who wanted Baal and Asherah instead of Yahweh were certainly idolaters, but so were the average Israelites who thought of themselves primarily as Yahweh worshipers who happened to dabble in Baalism, Asherism, and any number of other “-isms” in order to cover their bases. In other words, your heart doesn’t have to be exclusively devoted to a false god in order for the act to qualify as idolatry. In fact, rarely would it be the case that pagan worship would entail the full devotion of the heart. Pagan worship, in contrast to biblically defined worship of the one true God, could best be characterized as a kind of business transaction in which the worshiper jumps through all of the right hoops in order to placate the gods and secure favors from them. It would be very easy to be an idolater while also maintaining one’s basic identity as a worshiper of Yahweh. Continue reading