These are the idols of the
(John Angell James, "Spiritual
commandment of the decalogue says, "You shall
have no other gods before Me." The meaning of this precept,
which is the foundation of all religion, is not merely that we
shall not acknowledge any other God besides Jehovah--but
also that we shall treat Him as God! That is, we . . .
must love Him with all our hearts,
serve Him with all our lives, and
depend upon Him for our supreme felicity.
It is obvious that whatever we love most, and are most
anxious to retain and please--whatever it is we depend
most upon for happiness and help--whatever has most
of our hearts--that is, in effect, is our God! It does not
matter whether it is friends, possessions, desires--or
our own selves!
These are the idols of the heart!
SELF is the great idol which is the rival of God, and which
divides with Him the worship of the human race. It is
surprising and affecting to think how much SELF enters
into almost all we do. Besides the grosser form of self-
righteousness, which leads many unconverted people
actually to depend upon their own doings for acceptance
with God; how much of . . .
there is in many converted ones!
How covertly do some seek their own praise in what
they professedly do for God, and their fellow-creatures!
How eager are they for the admiration and applause
of their fellow-creatures! How much of self, yet how
little suspected by themselves--is seen by One who
knows them better than they know themselves, at
the bottom of their most splendid services, donations,
and most costly sacrifices!
In how many ways does self steal away the heart from God!
How subtle are its workings, how concealed its movements,
yet how extensive is its influence. How SELF . . .
perverts our motives,
lowers our aims,
corrupts our affections, and
taints our best actions!
How much incense is burned--and how many
sacrifices are offered on the altar of this idol!
"Little children, keep yourselves from idols!" 1 John 5:21