16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.
17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.
When Paul was distressed over the idolatry in the city, he first went to the synagogue and disputed with the Jews and the devout Greeks (those who had been taught and believed in Jehovah, but who had not yet become Jews by circumcision). Why go there? There were likely no idols in the synagogues.
But Paul knew that if the idolatry in the city were going to be combated, then the people of God needed to be enlisted. They needed to be taught the truth about Jesus Christ, because as Jews they were sidelined, knowing only the law and isolated by their Rabbinic practices. They were ineffective, and Paul knew it, for if they had been effective, the idolatry of Athens would not simply go unchallenged. Paul went to them to equip them to be effective in the transformation of their city.
The idolatry in America likewise goes largely unchallenged, because the people of God are not equipped to deal with it. It’s not enough for a few individuals to write books and preach sermons against it. The people of God as a whole have to be involved in combating the teachings of Satan. They need to be trained. Our churches are full of people who might as well be Jews, who have some idea of right and wrong, but no understanding of the Gospel, and therefore no power to truly transform even their own lives, let alone their communities and families.
If the idolatry of our own cities is to be combated, the people of God need to come to a full knowledge of the saving power of Jesus Christ. Because we have a nation full of people worshiping the “Unknown God” just as they were in Athens, and they need to come to know the true God, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One thought on “Fighting Idolatry”
Very important thoughts! I recently ran across a great definition of idolatry studing for one of my sermons, and it went something like: an idol is anything that supplants any of God’s roles in my life. (I think I pulled it out of one of David Wells books.)