Since these are shorter questions, I am posting them in one article.
- “An atheist professor once told me that the Bible teaches polytheism because the first commandment speaks of ‘other gods.’” This claim is made frequently on atheist Internet sites. Practice explaining what the first commandment really means to someone who claims that it teaches polytheism.
“You shall have no other gods before me” (Exod. 20:3)
The Hebrew phrase translated “before me” means “in my sight/presence.” In other words, “Get out of my face with your idols.” It does not mean, “I am to be first among many.”
- The text says that the easy-to-diagnose, surface-level sins are often driven by the more hidden sin of idolatry. Think of examples in your own life. Discuss if you feel comfortable doing so.
While we no longer bow before statues of gods made of wood, stone, silver or gold, when we live as though something other than God has the most important position in our lives. Anything we want more than God is our idol.
For many years, I turned to food for comfort because it was easier than seeking God and relying on him for comfort. Sometimes my workout routine can become the distraction that serves the same purpose.
When Good Gifts Are False Gods
- How can even good things become idols? Describe something good that you have been tempted to turn into an idol. Discuss if you feel comfortable doing so.
There was a time in my life when I accepted the demands placed on me that required that I relinquish my leadership role in order to keep “peace” when the only result was one of my children being mistreated. “That’s all I got to say about that.”
Idols Have Consequences
- What does the Greek word nous mean? How does that give richer meaning to scriptural verses such as these: “God gave them up to a debased mind” (Rom. 1:28); “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2)? Add your own examples.
The sense of the word is broad enough to encapsulate the idea of worldview. On this understanding, it is not hard to see how those who ignore God’s general revelation live in cognitive dissonance to the point where they have to do mental gymnastics to hold their worldview. Moreover, since this tendency to allow our thinking to direct our lives as a whole can be renewed, it has the effect of transforming our lives. Finally, when we direct our intelligence to the service of God, we truly love him with all our mind.
- In debates over moral issues such as homosexuality, most people today use the word nature to mean behavior patterns observed among organisms in the natural world. What is the older meaning of the word nature, as in the phrase “human nature”? How is this traditional meaning expressed in Romans 1?
The older meaning of the word “nature” was that for which we were designed. We were intended to behave in a certain way such that we would reflect God’s character. As such, sin is behavior that is contrary to our nature. Paul lists a number of examples of this behavior by which we defy God and degrade ourselves.