“This is only a sampling of the many false views about God. Calvin rightly said, ‘Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.’ (Institutes, 1.11.8)
It is not our intention, however, to look down upon other people and thank God that we are not as other men, but to reflect upon ourselves and cry out, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ (Luke 18:11, 13).
The sad fact is that the idols we have just exposed exist in hearts that attend Christian churches every Lord’s Day. To indulge in sin is practical atheism. If our hearts are divided in loyalty, we are guilty of polytheism.
Whenever we give our adoration to created things, we live as practical pantheists. Our trust in our own thoughts and feelings as if they had divine authority is no better than panentheism.
When we fail to trust God’s sovereign providence and plan for the future, we engage in finite theism. We might add other idols to the list, such as greed for material things (Col. 3:5).
John’s warning ‘Keep yourselves from idols’ (1 John 5:21) is directed to believers, and the only idols he specifically lists in that epistle are ‘the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life’ (1 John 2:16).
How pitiful are such things compared to the true God! He is the great ‘I AM,’ the infinitely personal and immanently sovereign Lord. His beauty shines in the world that He created, but He is not the world.
Instead, He transcends the cosmos in glorious and eternal independence. Unspeakable splendor and joy dwell in His presence. And all who trust in Christ have access to His presence, the holy place, even while they sojourn on earth.
God’s wisdom, righteousness, and power radiate from the crucified Christ. At the cross, while all natural glory lay in ruins, God was redeeming the nations.
The resurrected Lord now reigns over all things as the only Mediator of the kingdom of grace. He will return with the holy angels to Judge the wicked and reward those made righteous by grace.
God’s call for men to repent of idolatry is not the death knell of human happiness, but the beginning of real life. God commands us to turn from broken cisterns and drink from the Fountain of living waters.
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit say, ‘Come, eat and drink.’ The feast to which they summon us is nothing less than fellowship with the One true and living God.”
–Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology: Revelation and God, Volume 1 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), 1: 602-603.