A Changing of Gods
When you are captured by an idol, what has happened? In asking that question, I want to speak to the root of idolatry, not merely the effects.
It is true that idolatry has the effects of…
1. Enslavement. When one bows down to any idol (not just wooden statues) in order to get some desired good, one becomes enslaved to that idol (Rom 6:16).
2. Failed dreams. It is also true that idols NEVER deliver on their promises. For example, the idol of applause says, “If you will worship and serve me (by fearing man, seeking the approval of man, etc.), I will give you joy and rest. In the end, an idol only kills. You never receive the good promised (Ps 135:15-18).
3. Bitterness. Bow down to an idol and one will receive God’s frown. God will not give you any peace in the pursuit of paltry pleasures (see Jer 2:19; Isa 57:20-21). He is the fountain of living water (Jer 2:13).
…back to our principal point, question. What does idolatry exchange? Certainly idolatry exchanges a truth for a lie (Rom 1:25), but what else can be said about this exchange?
One author says this: “Idolatry changes your identity.”
The Bible says this: “Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.” (emphasis added).
Did you catch the difference?
The author: One loses his/her identity in idolatry
The Bible: One loses God in idolatry
The NET translation helps us see the metonymy (the use of a concept for that of another to which it is a part), namely that “glory” is a part of and points to God:
Jeremiah 2:11 NET
Has a nation ever changed its gods (even though they are not really gods at all)? But my people have exchanged me, their glorious God, for a god that cannot help them at all! (emphasis added)
Idolatry is a changing of gods, not identities. God forbid we would be guilty of the idolatry of identity.
10,000 Blessings in The Wonderful Counselor,