John 4:21-26 – Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
Exodus 20:3-4 – You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
God created us to worship Him. Idolatry is the counterfeit of worship. Like the Samaritan woman at the well, we worship our way into trouble by worshipping counterfeits, and we can worship our way out of trouble by worshipping our Creator.
God provided the Ten Commandments in order of importance. The first commandment teaches us who to worship and who or what not to worship. The second commandment teaches us how to worship and how not to worship.
It’s impossible to worship the one true God while disobeying the remaining commandments. Dishonor, murder, adultery, greed, lying, and envy happen because we choose to commit idolatry. Our false gods lead us into slavery to sin rather than freedom from sin.
Worship is not merely a part of what we do and something that starts and stops; worship is what everyone does all the time. The issue is not if we worship but who, what, and how we worship.
When someone spends all his or her time and money on golf, boating, fishing, sex, gambling, watching television, surfing the internet, or ranting about politics, he or she is making a sacrifice. The alcoholic worships the bottle, the drug addict worships the high, the codependent person worships his or her relationship partner, the greedy person worships money, the control freak worships being in charge, and the helicopter parent worships his or her kid.
Worship is what happens when we worship the Creator God in the right way, in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Idolatry is what happens when we worship a counterfeit god or worship the right God in a counterfeit way.
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