03 February 2011

He must retain what is his own

"If we wish to have one God, we should remember that we must not pluck away even a particle of his glory and that he must retain what is his own . . . It is enough to recognize that whenever any observances of piety are transferred to some one other than the sole God, sacrilege occurs. And first, indeed, superstition contrived divine honors either for the sun and the stars or for idols. Then followed ambition, which, by adorning mortals with the spoils of God, dared profane everything sacred . . . So inclined are we to lapse into this error that what God rigorously reserves for himself alone we distribute among a great throng."

-John Calvin,


Through idolatry, says Calvin, we "distribute God's glory among a great throng." Of course, these days it's easy to excuse ourselves from this topic. I don't have any golden calves sitting around my house, and you probably don't either. So are we off the hook?

No. The issue goes far beyond literal idols, for if anything enraptures our hearts more than God-- brings us more joy and satisfaction than God-- comforts us more than God-- inspires more awe than God-- well, that is an idol. And we're giving "particles of glory" to that thing, person, or activity, when all glory belongs to the Lord.

Stealing what belongs to God and wasting it on idols? I do it every day. Praise the Lord for His mercy on sinners like me!

{image: The Idolatry of Solomon by Frans Francken}

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