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God Over All

God’s desire to set you free

Two thousand years ago the city of Athens was a city filled with gods. They were the world’s foremost collector of gods.

City of idols

Athens had ransacked the theologies of many people around them, gathering every deity they could possibly transport to their city by cart and by ship. These idols lined both sides of the roads and covered a rocky hillside called the Acropolis, where the Parthenon had been built.

While visiting this city the Apostle Paul was grieved by the numerous idols. He engaged some of the citizens of Athens in dialogue about their Unknown God – One not contained in form.

Paul's message on Mars Hill

Paul’s message on Mars Hill

Acts 17: 16, 22-23

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols…. So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, ‘Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.’”

A plague infested city

The story surrounding the “Unknown God” goes back to a time when the city was experiencing a plague.  They were sacrificing to the hundreds of idols they already worshipped but the plagued continued.  Out of desperation they sent a delegation to the island of Crete to fetch a man by the name of Epimenides.

He told them that the god they angered was unknown to them and then gave them a plan to invoke his help. Part of the plan was to acknowledge their ignorance of the god’s name.  The plan worked. They wanted to dedicate an altar to him, but to whom?  Rather than offend this god who was pleased to respond to their admission of ignorance, they named the altar “to an unknown god.”

The inflation factor

By the time the Apostle Paul came to Athens the city had added a couple hundred more idols.  Idolatry, by its very nature, has a built-in inflation factor.  Once people reject the one true God in favor of lesser deities, they eventually discover that it takes an infinite number of lesser deities to fill the true God’s shoes.

Paul saw Athens prostituting mankind’s sacred privilege of worship upon mere wood and stone. His spirit became provoked within him.

Idols among us or just us

Although you may not see literal idols in the form of stone or wood lining your streets, idolatry still exist.  The list is extensive – superstition, celebrities, money… but self-idolatry tops the charts.  Too often faulty feelings, unwholesome desires, less than perfect looks, and shoddy ideas are elevated over the supremacy of God and we miss connecting with the one true Lord. The end result is a failure to find meaning and everlasting life.

Faith is about the Lord. When God becomes your total need and concern, when His intentions becomes your desire, when His way becomes your way, then life becomes holy and complete.

Place your faith in God. Only He and His blessing can bring meaning to your life.

The challenge

God wants to set you free from a world falsely portrayed as a place of peace and safety to usher you into everlasting life.  Will you choose God over self today?

Visit me on Vimeo for an on-site video bible teaching on this topic entitled “Unknown God” captured from Mars Hill in Athens, Greece.

What kinds of idols do you think exist in the world today? Share your comments below.

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