The Christian life is like the Hunger Games; kill (sin) or be killed (by sin). In Colossians 3:5-11, Paul gives us what we need to know in order to kill our sin: 1) sin is idolatry; 2) God hates idolatry; and 3) I’m not my idolatry. In the last post, I explained how the fruit of my insomnia (behavior) could be traced to the root sin of idolatry in my desire for control and to perform. But it’s not enough to identify the problem. I have to understand the gravity of it. I have to realize that God hates my idolatry.
“On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:6).
Most people believe in god. And most people understand that a god would have the right to make standards and give commands. What we often struggle to understand in our culture is why the God of the Bible takes everything so personally.
Why would God be wrathful against my desire for perfection in my work and control of my circumstances? He deserves to correct us, sure. But why does He get so bent out of shape about it?
God hates sin because it ruins His world. Theologian Cornelius Plantinga writes, “God hates sin not just because it violates his law, but more substantively, because it violates shalom, because it breaks the peace, because it interferes with the way things are supposed to be.… God is for shalom and therefore against sin.”
Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, means “universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight.” God created all things to be a kind of universal chorus eternally singing in harmony. Creation is a grand celebration, a musical festival in which we were all meant to joyfully sing our part in concert with everyone and everything else. The flourishing of the cosmic choir requires all members harmonizing Godward.
When I wrap my life around something other that God—when I commit idolatry—it’s as though I’m singing a completely different song, a discordant tune that ruins the entire performance. The band stops playing, the singers stop singing, the party ends. Not only are we all sinners. We’re cosmic party poopers.
Idolatry turns us from from the Creator to the created thing in worship. It breaks shalom. It destroys creation. It brings death. God hates idolatry.
He hates that I don’t trust Him. That I want control. That I’d rather justify myself through performance than receive justification by grace through faith in Jesus.
When I’m hit with this reality, it sobers me right up from my drunken idolatrous stupor. I realize I’ve been living as if my life were my own. As if I ought to be God. As if I cared not a bit that I was shattering shalom and sent Christ to the cross to pick up the pieces again.
Seeing my sin for what it is reminds me what it cost to set it right: the death of Jesus. It convicts me. It humbles me. Brings me to my knees. And once I’m there, my sin has one foot in the grave.