“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)
“The only righteousness that meets the requirements of the Law is the righteousness of Christ. It is only by imputation of that righteousness that the sinner can ever possess the righteousness of the Law. This is critical for our understanding in this day where the imputation of the righteousness of Christ is so widely under attack. If we abandon the notion of the righteousness of Christ, we have no hope, because the Law is never negotiated by God. As long as the Law exists, we are exposed to its judgment unless our sin is covered by the righteousness of the Law. The only covering that we can possess of that righteousness is that which comes to us from the active obedience of Christ, who Himself fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Law. His fulfilling of the Law in Himself is a vicarious activity by which He achieves the reward that comes with such obedience. He does this not for Himself but for His people. It is the background of this imputed righteousness, this rescue from the condemnation of the Law, this salvation from the ravages of sin that is the backdrop for the Christian’s sanctification, in which we are to mortify that sin that remains in us, since Christ has died for our sin.” Dr. R. C. Sproul
We continue our study of the works of the flesh from Galatians 5:19-21. The Apostle Paul divides these mentioned works into three categories. The first category was regarding sexual immorality. The second category has to do with false worship. Paul mentions two specific examples: idolatry and sorcery.
Idolatry (εἰδωλολατρία; eidoloatria) is worship offered to anything or anyone other than the One, True God of the Bible. Idolatry is synonymous with adoration, adulation, devotion and obsession. The Greek word refers to a copy whether artificially made, self-reproduced or simply present.
Idolatry can be offered to a person, place or thing, such as an inanimate object. The LORD specifically prohibits the worship of anything or anyone other than Himself (Exodus 20:3-6). The Word of God expresses the futility and idiocy of worship of objects other than God (Isaiah 46). The depravity of a nation, or its people, originates with idolatry (Romans 1:18-23).
The second word Paul uses is the word sorcery (φαρμακεία; pharmakeia). It means to practice magic and to cast spells upon people. How many of my generation can recall watching the weekly network television comedies featuring Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched and Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie. These two programs featured, respectively, a modern day witch and genie who routinely cast spells upon people by their magical powers. What television lauded as entertainment the Bible condemns as sin.
Revelation 9:20-21 says, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”
Revelation 18:23 says, “and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.”
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The Greek word pharmakeia, from which the English word “pharmacy” comes, originally referred to medicines in general, but eventually only to mood- and mind-altering drugs, as well as the occult, witchcraft, and magic. Many pagan religious practices required the use of these drugs to aid in the communication with deities.”
Idolatry not only is replacing God as the sole object of worship but also to worship other objects at the same time we are worshipping God. The LORD will not share the honor of our worship with anything or anyone else. We must worship Him alone.
Do you find yourself tempted to honor other objects other than just the LORD? I’m sure you do because we all do. We must continually repent of this sin in order to be obedient to the command to mortify our sin (Romans 8:13-14). Idolatry included.
We must also be on our guard to not allow items intended as forms of entertainment to capture our attention and affection. This is especially true when those items feature the casting of spells, sorcery and magic.
May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!