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What is idolatry?

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Question 17

What is idolatry?

Answer: Idolatry is trusting in created things rather than the Creator for our hope and happiness, significance and security.

 

Martin Luther wrote:

“What is it to have a god? Or, what is one’s god? Answer: To whatever we look for any good thing and for refuge in every need, that is what is meant by “god.” . . . Many a person imagines that he has God and everything he needs, provided he has money and property. . . . The evidence for this appears when people are arrogant, secure, and proud because of such possessions, but desperate when they lack them or lose them. I repeat, to have a god means to have something on which one’s heart depends entirely.

Question and explore your own heart thoroughly, and you will find out if it embraces God alone or not. Do you have it in your heart to expect nothing but good things from God, especially when you are in trouble and in need? And does your heart in addition give up and forsake everything that is not God? Then you have the one true God. On the other hand, is your heart attached to and does it rely on something else, from which you hope to receive more good and more help than from God? And when things go wrong, do you, instead of fleeing to Him, flee from Him? Then you have another god, a false god, an idol.”