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AMERICAN IDOLS: The Land of the Free or Home of the Enslaved?

Idolatry can take many forms.
Alcoholism and drug abuse are forms of idol worship.
They lead to spiritual bondage. Abusers are addicted and enslaved.

And God spoke all these words:

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20: 1-6

More than 1/3 of all high school seniors in America have admitted to using marijuana in the past year. These self-reports of drug use among high school seniors may under represent drug use among youth of that age because high school dropouts and truants are not included, and these groups may have more involvement with drugs than those who stay in school. Although overall drug abuse has declined since the late 1970s, the use of inhalants has increased among teenagers. Inhalants encompass a range of substances as diverse as glues, aerosols, butane, paint thinner, and nail polish remover. Use of inhalants has consistently been highest among 8th graders, likely because these products are inexpensive, legal, and easy to obtain, making them more attractive to younger adolescents who have less access to illicit drugs.

More than 70% of high school seniors in America have admitted to using alcohol in the past year, while nearly 50% have reported that they have had a drink in the past month. Most high school seniors are between the ages of 16 – 18 years old. The legal drinking age in the United States is 21 years of age. Therefore 7 out of 10 high school seniors have admitted to breaking the law by underage consumption of alcoholic beverages in the past year and half have admitted to having a drink recently.

Worldwide, more than 2/3 of all countries have a cocaine problem. By conservative estimates, there are over 2 million cocaine addicts in the United States alone.

Seven of the 20 countries designated by the President as major drug transit or major illicit drug-producing nations are located in Latin America-Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. The strategic deployment of approximately 38 percent of DEA’s foreign workforce to Latin America is testament to the important role the region plays in feeding America’s appetite for drugs.

Latin America is the source of all cocaine, most of the heroin, and significant amounts of marijuana consumed in the United States. Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru remain the primary centers of cocaine production, although DEA remains concerned about the production potential of other countries in the region. Cocaine continues to be produced in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru in vast quantities to supply the United States’ and world’s demand. Non-existent 10 years ago, heroin produced in Colombia now supplies over 50 percent of the United States’ heroin market.

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, over 22 million Americans need treatment for a drug or alcohol problem!

The World Health Organization estimates that 1.1 billion people smoke, about one-third of the global population aged 15 and older. In the United States, over 25 million men and over 21 million women smoke tobacco products.

During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in adult obesity in the United States. Approximately 127 million adults in the U.S. are overweight, 60 million obese, and 9 million severely obese. There has also been a dramatic increase in childhood obesity in the last decade. Childhood obesity rates have quadrupled in the last twenty five years. Diabetes, hypertension and other obesity-related chronic diseases that are prevalent among adults have now become more common in youngsters.

Alcoholism and drug addiction are impacting families and communities around the world. Here in affluent America, we are drinking, drugging, smoking and overeating ourselves to death.

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them…

People turn to idols because they are seeking pleasure or comfort apart from God. When trials and troubles come, when you experience emotional or physical pain, when you are lonely or bored, where do you find your comfort? Do you smoke cigarettes or eat junk food when you are nervous? Do you have a few beers or watch pornography when you are lonely or feel rejected?

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11

Those who have placed their trust in the finished work of Messiah Jesus are not only promised a full and abundant life but will experience an eternity of pleasures.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Our God is the God of all comfort and the Father of all compassion. When we stand in faith, we will experience an abundant life and we will experience an eternity of joy in God’s presence.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

If we stand in faith in the midst of our circumstances and hardships, we will be pleasing to God and will reap rewards. But the LORD our God is a jealous God who punishes those who are guilty of idolatry to the third and fourth generation. Have you sought pleasure or comfort by drinking, gambling, drugging, smoking cigarettes, by overeating or indulging in pornography? Are you a workaholic or a shopaholic? Who are you serving?

Why is idolatry such an abomination before the LORD? The Apostle Paul exhorts us to flee from idolatry. In speaking about the communion table Paul wrote:

Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 1 Corinthians 10:19-21

Addictions and compulsive behaviors are not only physical bondages but demonic strongholds.

Pharmakeia is a word found three times in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. It is the root word from which we get our English word pharmacy or pharmacist. Pharmakeia is translated as witchcraft or sorcery. It speaks of the occult magical arts which are often found in connection with idolatry. Drug and alcohol abuse including nicotine and caffeine addictions, like witchcraft, are powerful, demonic strongholds.

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:16

Here in America and around the world, people are drinking, drugging, smoking and overeating themselves to death. They are in bondage to their addictions and compulsive behaviors and are enslaved by sin which leads to death. Many are unknowingly offering up their bodies as sacrifices to demons. Not only are they slaves to their addictions and guilty of idolatry, they have placed a curse on their families which extends to the third and fourth generation.

The prophet Hosea warns us that the people of God are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16

We who have put our trust in the finished work of redemption that Christ accomplished on the cross are not in darkness. We are no longer ignorant as God’s elect. We must walk in the light as He is in the light. We and our children, and our children’s children do not have to be destroyed for lack of knowledge. We must no longer conform to evil desires. We need not be enslaved. We must not serve other gods. We need to be obedient children and be holy as our heavenly Father is holy.

“Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” 2 Corinthians 6:17

Are we willing to commit to living a life worth of our calling and seek purity as did King David who proclaimed:

I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will sing praise.
I will be careful to lead a blameless life- when will you come to me?
I will walk in my house with blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing.
The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me.
Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil.
Psalm 101:1-4


Exodus 6:6-7
“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.

I am the LORD and I will…

`I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.’

I am the LORD and I will… Who is the LORD that He can boldly proclaim what will happen in the future?

The LORD is the way we represent in English the Hebrew term, YHWY. It is the covenant name of God and means the One who causes to be.

  • I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself
  • I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?
  • I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.
  • I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior

I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. Isaiah I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. Isaiah 46:9-11.

The LORD is the Most High God. He is the only true God. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He is the Eternal. The LORD is omnipotent – all powerful. He is omniscient – all knowing. He is holy, just and righteous. He can, and will, fulfill all that He has promised.

And what did He promise to the Hebrews who had been in bondage for four hundred years in Egypt?

`I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.’

The LORD sanctified and set Israel apart from their Egyptian slave masters. The LORD smote the Egyptians and their gods with ten plagues. Although the Hebrews and their live stock lived and worked among the Egyptians, they did not suffer the diseases and death that came upon Egypt.

I will free you from being slaves to them,

The LORD freed the Hebrews from their bondage. They were no longer slaves, but free men and women. They were freed from their harsh taskmasters. They were free after 400 years of backbreaking servitude.

and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.

The LORD redeemed a people unto himself by mighty acts of judgment. The greatest of those judgments was the plague that killed the firstborn of Egypt.

Exodus 12:12-13
“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn – both men and animals – and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.”

The firstborn of Israel were spared; they passed from death to life, because of the blood of the lamb that was applied to the tops and sides of the doorframes of their houses.

‘I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.’

The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out; and their cry for help, because of their slavery, went up to God. The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey. I will be their God and they will be my people.”

When the people who were enslaved no longer could bear their bondage they cried out for help and their cry for help went up to God. God was and is concerned about suffering. Egypt is a symbol of the world. We live in a fallen world which has been corrupted by the stain of sin. Pharaoh typifies Satan who desires to inflict us with much suffering and enslave us in cruel bondage. The bondage of slavery is a picture of man’s bondage to sin.

Why were the Hebrews enslaved for so long? Because for many years, even though they suffered and died in their bondage, they loved the things of this world more than they loved the God of their fathers. Even after God answered their cries with a great deliverance, their hearts were fixed on the pleasures of Egypt. After the Israelites were set free, God fed them miraculously with manna. But what was their response to God’s provision?

They wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

At no cost? They paid with their very lives! Cruel servitude and death was the price for the fleeting pleasures of Egypt.

The Hebrews suffered and died in Egypt until they came to a point of utter desperation – a place where they could no longer bear their bondage. Until they cried out for help to the LORD God, they remained enslaved. And even after God came down and rescued them, an entire generation perished in the wilderness because of ingratitude and loving the things of this world more than loving God the Creator and Sustainer of life. Yet God was faithful to fulfill His promises and bring their children into a land flowing with milk and honey.

Moses the Deliverer is a type of the Messiah – Christ the Savior. The blood of the Passover lamb foreshadowed the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

God sees your misery, hears your crying and is concerned about your suffering. His desire is to free you from bondage. Whatever has enslaved you: drug addiction, cigarettes, pornography, food, or soap operas, the Son of God came down from heaven to free you from the bondage of sin. His desire is to set you apart and make you Holy. Jesus is able to redeem you because he has paid the price for your life with His own blood.

This same God who rescued a mixed multitude of 2 ½ to 3 million men, women, and children from the clutches of the most powerful nation on earth… This same God who smote the gods of Egypt with mighty plagues… This same God who parted the Red Sea so that the children of Israel walked on dry ground… is the LORD. Is He not able to free you from the sin and corruption of addiction?

Exodus 20:2-3
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”

Who or what do you seek for comfort in times of stress, or to relieve emotional or psychological pain, or to escape reality? If you are turning to anything or anybody but the LORD; in your times of stress or pain, then that thing has become your god – your personal idol. The reason that you are unable to break your habit is that your addiction is not just a physical dependency – it is spiritual bondage.

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. Only in His name, the mighty name of Jesus our Messiah, and by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, can you be set free. But you cannot serve two masters. Jesus must not only become your Savior by placing your trust in His finished work on the cross, but you must make Him the Lord of your life, forsaking all other gods. First accept God’s free gift of salvation and then allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse you of all unrighteousness.

Romans 10:9-10
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.