The Gods of this World


Is a god, other than the God of the Bible, running your life? 

By Don Ruhl

Who or what is running your life? Is it the God revealed through the pages of the Bible and in the life of Jesus Christ? Is it something else? If so, do you know who is behind all other gods? Satan is the primary god of this world and he is behind all other gods. Ephesians 2 uses an interesting reference to the devil, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:1, 2, NKJV used throughout).

Most people have no idea that Satan is their god. He rules them through subtle gods of this world. Even as Judas did not realize that he had made Satan the ruler of his heart, so, it is with the world. The gods change forms with the cultures and the times, but it is always the same prince of the power of the air behind it all.

Many gods still take the form of the gods that we see in the Old Testament. In the world you will find gods made of wood, stone, or metal. For example, Hinduism has gods without number, and will even include our heavenly Father and our savior Jesus Christ so as not to leave out any gods.

Second Corinthians 4 reveals that the god of this world blinds the minds of the unbelieving. If they truly could see what their carved images are and who is the true God, they would never embrace the gods of this world,

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:1–6).

They cannot see the truth of their dead and false gods, and of the living and true God, because Satan works behind the scenes to cause people to believe that their idols are true gods. Paul showed in First Corinthians 10 that there is a connection between idolatry and demons or the prince of the demons.

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons (1 Cor. 10:14–21).

There is only one God we are to worship and serve. He is the God revealed in the Scriptures known as the Bible, and He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth.

As Moses affirmed in Psalm 90, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Ps. 90:2). And after the mountains are taken away, or ever He destroys the earth and the world, even after all is gone, He is God.

What gods remain from the beginning of idolatry? Yahweh God and His Son Jesus Christ are still here. Back in my home of Southern Oregon, there is a legend that Llao fought with Skell. The result is the magnificent lake, Crater Lake. Where are these gods today?

Where is Baal? He was the supreme God of the Canaanites. There was a Baal for the sun, but the main one was a fertility god. Worshipers in time of trouble would offer their first–born to appease the wrath of Baal. To the Baal of the sun, the victim was burned alive, because that Baal was the Sun–god. For the one dedicated to fertility they engaged in the sexual activities that they believed appeased Baal, believing he had power over fertility. This illustrates what is a god.

A “God” exercises sovereignty over people. They believe their god controls their lives. Therefore, they have to do what pleases him. This simple definition applies to the true and living God as well as to the false and dead gods.

However, the gods of this world each has their own dominion, as Llao and Skell did. Whereas, Yahweh is the one true and living God, because He exercises universal sovereignty throughout the heavens and the earth, and He excludes all other gods.

Our culture has different gods. We have things that rule over us. We believe that if these things are in place, then life will be good. If things are not in place, we believe that life will be bad.

Yet, it is subtle.

The gods of our world today are not enshrined in man-made temples, but they nevertheless, rule our lives, and we do what is necessary to feed them.

Second Kings 18 has a good example of people taking a good thing and making a god out of it. At God’s command, Moses made the bronze serpent. Whoever looked at the serpent after being bitten by a deadly snake was healed. Israel kept the serpent. After sometime they started to attribute healing powers to the bronze serpent. King Hezekiah was a good king in Judah who put into practice many religious reforms, including the destruction of the bronze serpent. “He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan” (2 Kgs. 18:4).

Hezekiah called the serpent Nehushtan, meaning a bronze thing. It had been good, but Israel made a god out of it. However, Hezekiah knew that it was merely a bronze thing.

Is bronze useful? God made bronze and He expects us to use it. However, bronze is the tool, not the Toolmaker. It is the servant, not the Master.

Likewise, there are things that are good in their proper place, or things that may not all be good, but have some good things in them, and our society has made gods out of them.

Sex 

All forms of communication in the world can hardly take place without a reference to it. Adultery and fornication are common. Loyalty and virginity are peculiar. The world almost always portrays sex in a context of fornication and adultery. Rarely are monogamous relationships honored.

Ephesians 4 shows what is the problem. Paul wrote to remind Christians living in the sex-drenched Roman culture, and who were also living in the culture of Ephesus where a temple of prostitution was located, that there is a great difference between the church and the world, “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Eph. 4:17–19).

Part of the problem is also that pleasure has become the only goal.

The response is not exclusion, but honoring God’s will, viewing sex with holiness. Be reverent and discreet. First Corinthians 7 puts things in righteous perspective. We must avoid reacting to an extreme with an extreme. “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:1, 2).

Science 

If scientists make a declaration, it is law and gospel. The Bible is modified to harmonize with science. If scientists proclaim something, we reason that it must be true. We believe that scientists are so smart that they cannot be wrong. Romans 1 shows what happens when men think that they are smarter than what they truly are. Have you not witnessed the fulfilling of Paul’s words? Paul wrote of the world that, “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Rom. 1:21–23).

I can think of no greater example than the doctrine of evolution. If scientists say that something came from nothing, that order came from chaos, that life came from non-life, and that one kind of life transformed itself into another kind of life, then it happened.

Therefore, hear the warning of First Timothy 6, “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge—by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen” (1 Tim. 6:20, 21).

Science has much to offer, but on their theories we want facts not speculation and opinion. All true science harmonizes with biblical truth.

Psychology 

Psychology is the study of the soul. Therefore, it overlaps the main concern of the Scriptures. It can be a great friend or a great enemy. It is a friend by submission, being a tool, and an enhancement to Scripture knowledge. It is an enemy by contradicting the Scriptures, making men wise in their own eyes, prudent in their own sight, by elevating self-knowledge over Scripture, and by calling sin disease.

It has become a god because society believes that by psychology all social ills are healed. However, only the gospel is capable of such healing powers (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 2 Pet. 1:2, 3; Pro. 3:5, 6).

When you need love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control should you go to the psychologist or the Spirit?

Lifestyle 

On this point our nation is willing to go to war. America was founded; the Constitution was drafted, to guarantee freedom of lifestyle. Every one agrees it is important. Even communists do, believing they can force people to be equal in lifestyle. None of us wants to fight against our freedoms.

Yet, lifestyle has become a god.

Brother Russ Burcham (“Protecting the Sacred Cow,” Gospel Advocate, November 1988), wrote,

…hedonism—the idea that one has the right to pursue anything he likes at any cost.

Lifestyle has become the sacred cow of America. Just as religious superstition forbids restraint of the Hindu cow, an individual’s lifestyle today must not be touched. Culture encourages irresponsible control first by tacit approval then more directly by legislation.

This philosophy is not a trait peculiar to college freshmen. America is getting grayer, but the graying is not providing a more productive segment of society. Attitudes being developed in the aging population produce a selfishness not too different.

The period of life that could provide the deepest philosophical thought is being blanked out by the world’s allurement. At a time of life when wisdom should come to its greatest fruition, many of our older and retired people are treating themselves to “what I’ve missed in life.” Savings and pension payments are being used for travel and luxury.

Lifestyle is important, but we cannot allow lifestyle to supplant and rule our Christianity. First Timothy 6 is right on target in presenting a balanced message. How do you use your lifestyle? For purely selfish reasons? For God’s glory? “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:17–19).

Instead of letting Christianity be an extension of your lifestyle, let your lifestyle be an extension of your Christianity.

Fashion 

Fashion too has a place. It ought to enhance our lives instead of running them. However, fashion has gone beyond enhancement and become a god. Fashion is born of vanity, and becomes a master. It convinces even the poor that they must have this or that and wear something new constantly. The god of fashion convinces its followers that they are happy and good by embracing all its trends and fads. This idol makes people believe that their senseless lives are meaningful if they only have the right stuff. After God created woman, He said that all of creation was “very good.” Fashion disagrees and pushes improvements. Fashion would just as well convince us that we could paint a better sunset than God, that we have better ideas on how to create mountain ranges. Fashion says the measure of a man or woman is the treasure chest rather than the treasure inside.

First Timothy 2 shows the emphasis of Christian women, and it would certainly be true of Christian men also, that we are adorned through good works. “…in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works” (1 Tim. 2:9, 10).

Sports 

What is wrong when we take a means to an end and make the means the end itself? A sport can maintain health. But the god of sports demands more attention than anything else men care to watch or participate in. Sports have overtaken godliness as the national platform of knowledge. How many men are more familiar with sports than the gospel? It is by sports, and military might, that Americans preach greatness shall be attained. The answer is not to disregard that which promotes health, but to let it fade in prominence to Godliness. “But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Tim. 4:7, 8).

Do not live for sports, but use sports to live. What is important in life? A paraphrase of Job 23:12 would be, “I have treasured up the words of his mouth more than my bodily exercise.”

Each of these six may have a proper place or have some truth in them, but it is only Christ who delivers us from the evils of this world and gives us true joy. Destroy the idols of your life before they destroy you. Worship and Serve the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and worship and serve Him too.

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2 thoughts on “The Gods of this World

  1. Don,

    This is one of your best. I picked out one of your points, “Do not live for sports, but use sports to live”.

    It reminds me of one of my favorites, “Eat to live; don’t live to eat”.

    Jim Burgoon

    • You had to say that about eating, after I ate too big of a lunch. I learned my lesson. Next time I go to that particular restaurant, immediately put half of the meal into a box, then eat the other half, and take the rest home! 🙂

      Thanks for the comments on the article.

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