Justification and Idolatry


“I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before Me

~Exodus 20:2-3, LSB


Idolatry is the folly of asking a gift to be the giver.

~Dana Ortlund

Idolatry can be very subtle; if we are not careful, we end up worshipping the gift and ignoring the Giver. Wealth is a good example. Paul mentions this in his first epistle to Timothy…Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. God is the source of our wealth but sometime we trust in the wealth instead of the One who gave it. The following paragraph is from Ortlund’s book DEEPER {p.101}. Anyone remotely in touch with reality walks this earth acutely aware of the deep inadequacy within, the sense that we are not measuring up. We medicate that deep, nagging sense of insufficiency through swelling bank accounts, a sculpted body, the number of friends on social media, our reputation, a trophy wife, famous or rich friends, a sense of humor, the air of intelligence, out foxing our opponents, sexual exploits and even our morality. We feel our nakedness and seek to be clothed by these accomplishments. We seek to be JUSTIFIED by these things. Unfortunately, I think Ortlund is right. Again, I remind you of the Robbert Murray McCheyne quote: “For every look you take at yourself, take ten looks at Jesus.” C.S. Lewis said, “How little they know of Christianity who thinks the story ends with conversion.”

We must not forget what Paul said in Galatians 2:16, We know that no one is justified by the works of the law, but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. I do not like court rooms. As an ordinary citizen, I yield all rights of authority once I enter that court room. In the court room, I can be the defendant, the plaintiff, a witness or a bystander but the court room is ruled by one person, the JUDGE. He hold all the authority, and in the end, his is the only opinion that matters. He can pronounce me guilty or not guilty. Once he makes his verdict; there is nothing I can do. There is nothing anyone can do. In our judicial system we can appeal but for example sake, let’s think of a higher court, much higher. God is the Judge and once He renders a verdict, there is nothing anyone can do about it. As Paul says in Romans 8, Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” God, the supreme Judge has declared us not guilty. Initially, the Galatians accepted the Gospel of Grace but they drifted. They lost sight of the Grace and got back into a works salvation. Luther said, “This is our natural tendency: all people are spring loaded to seek to strengthen God’s favor through their performance.” I like Luther’s conclusion:  “It is not only our badness that we need to repent of but also our goodness.”

The problem in Galatia was they stopped preaching the gospel. This is why Paul preached the cross and Jesus crucified. It grounds us in the truth that we are justified by His blood. I learned along time ago not to trust the flesh. Because of the pride that is deeply rooted in the flesh, it weaseled or worms its way back into the picture because it seeks praise. The true gospel praises Jesus. Any formula of works praises man.

I think Ortlund is on to something: I think thousands, maybe millions of Christians have moved to another gospel other than the one they first believed.


Well, I wanted rain and I got rain. We have mud galore at 1120 Iron Man. We got another gully washer last night.  I hope you have a Good Friday and thanks for reading the blog.

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