Today I want to uncover what I believe is the most insidious deception leading Christians into idolatry—even right now.

To do that, I have to take you back to the story of the golden calf at Mount Sinai. If you remember, God had just saved Israel from Egypt through many powerful miracles and had led them through the wilderness to Mount Sinai. He spoke His commands to them, but they all shrank back and insisted that Moses go up the mountain to talk to God alone.

While Moses is gone, the people lose patience. They go to Moses’s brother, Aaron, and demand that he make them gods to lead them into the Promised Land. Now, the word they used for “gods” is Elohim, which is used in the Old Testament to refer to both pagan gods and the true God, so we don’t really know who they are talking about yet.

Aaron bows to their demands, fashioning for them a golden statue of a calf, and they say, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4). We still don’t know which God they’re talking about, but Aaron makes it clear right away.

He says, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord” (Exodus 32:5). Now when it says, “Lord,” what’s written there is the name “Yahweh,” the name of God. Now we know who they are talking about.

Here’s what’s going on: They are declaring, “Yahweh is our God. Yahweh saved us from Egypt. Yahweh is our Lord,” yet they are worshiping an idol. We must see this warning, because if they could have all the right declarations while still worshiping an idol, we can too.

In fact, many Christians do this every day. They declare, “Jesus is Lord,” but they don’t follow Jesus. Just as Israel said they worshiped Yahweh, but followed their desires instead of God’s declared will, many Christians pick and choose which passages of Scripture they want to follow—and then ignore the rest that challenge them! They might champion verses about God’s love while ignoring His holiness and the clear calls for believers to repent and turn from the ways of the world.

Similarly, they might proclaim His mercy but turn a blind eye to His justice. In doing so, they create a God fashioned in their image rather than worship the God who created them in His image. The latter has the power to transform them from the inside out. The former will always be devoid of any such power. It may not be fashioned as a statue of a golden calf, but it is a false god nonetheless.

This is creating a knockoff Jesus—an idol. It is not worshiping Jesus in truth.

To worship Him in truth, we must take Him at His Word—all of it.

If you’ve been worshipping a Jesus that sounds more like the current mood of our culture than the unchanging God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I’d encourage you to run back to Scripture. To stay out of deception, you have to embrace the Word of God in its fullness. Don’t ignore the parts that you may find challenging or uncomfortable. Don’t ignore the parts you may not understand. Remember, a god you understand will always be smaller than you are—and the God of the Bible is far bigger than that. You can rest assured of that.

There is great power released when we worship God in spirit and in truth. Let’s commit to a journey of throwing off any falsehoods we may have picked up along the way and rediscover God as He is. When we do, we will discover a faith more powerful than all the counterfeits in the world.

Remember, faith is only as powerful as the one it is placed in. Let’s make sure our faith is in the eternal God who is forever praised and not just another we call by the same name.


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