Machines, medicine, and mirth comprise the unholy trinity of our age.
Whereas ancient man once bowed himself before the Asheras and house gods of wood, stone, silver and gold, modern man bows himself before the idols of technological advancement, pharmaceutical euphoria, and empty, godless entertainment in a neverending quest for self glorification and self gratification.
Let me speak plainly here – This is idolatry.
In fact the very essence of idolatry is adoring and honoring the gift in contradistinction to the Giver, the One True and Living God. I found this to be a useful definition:
“Idolatry is the universal human tendency to value something or someone in a way that hinders the love and trust we owe to God. It is an act of theft from God whereby we use some part of creation in a way that steals from honor due to God. Idolatry conflicts with our putting God alone first in our lives, in what we love and trust (see Exodus 20:3-5; Deut. 5:7-9; Romans 1:21-23). In idolatry we put something or someone, usually a gift from God, in a place of value that detracts from the first place owed to God alone, the gift Giver. That thing or person is an idol.”
It ought to come as little surprise to the believer that unregenerate human society is hopelessly steeped in gross idolatry. Idolatry comes as naturally and easily to mankind as breathing, and apart from being found in Christ all men are guilty of idolatry because all stand condemned guilty of breaking both the first and second commandments:
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
In his conceit and folly sinful man takes refuge and solace in the works of his hands, trusting in his clever inventions, rejoicing in his mastery over the seemingly miraculous and the mundane, and shamelessly and ceaselessly celebrating himself. I want to take a moment here to stress the fact that it isn’t my intention to rail against technological advancement, nor am I calling for the retreat to some sort of quasi-ascetic and monkish “simplicity”, nor am I advocating some sort of pious anti-intellectualism: not at all. In fact I marvel at the amazing gifts bestowed by our generous and transcendent Creator, and I’m thankful for the bounty and benefits of His amazing creation. I am also awestruck by the extravagance of the common grace He pours out upon the sons of men, even as they continually revile and reject Him in their idolatrous arrogance.
Yet despite His overwhelming goodness we find at the root of things that it’s the chronic and ubiqutious unthankfulness of the sinful human heart which robs the One True and Living God of the rightful place of dignity, honor and worship which He alone is due, and which simultaneously elevates wicked man into a place of dignity, honor and worship which he does not, has not, and never will deserve. This is a perversion of the created order and is an evil example of fallen humanity’s rampant idolatry of self.
Psalm 104, which is a hymn of praise to God’s goodness and care for His creation, exults in the awesome majesty of the Lord proclaiming: “O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.”
The Psalmist rightly exalts the Lord for His incomprehensible attributes of power and wisdom, yet instead of praising God for His goodness and care the sinful man makes his boast in himself, glorifying in his flesh and worldly wisdom so-called. In the book of Romans the inspired Apostle Paul sums up the utter depravity of sinful man’s reasoning powers with a damning and universal indictment of the unregenerate:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” – Romans 1:18-21
And again in 1 Corinthians the Holy Spirit through Paul says:
“Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” – 1 Corinthians 1:20
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” – 1 Corinthians 3:19
“Without excuse” the sinful man sits upon the throne of his own desperately wicked heart, serving as judge, jury, and executioner in the high court of his own corrupted and depraved powers of reasoning. In his satanic hubris the twisted and self-deifying sinner vainly imagines that he stands in judgment over the Only and Wise Creator, the One True and Living God who is blessed forever. Such folly is truly beyond reckoning and is wholly worthy of the eternal condemnation and inflexible justice it shall inevitably face.
“The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked:” – Nahum 1:3
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” – Galatians 6:7
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8
Sinful man trusts in his machines, medicine, and mirth to satisfy his needs and quench his desires, as though he were the captain of his own vessel, all the while ignoring the stark reality that he is but dust, and to dust he will return one day to stand before his Maker and give an account of the life he squandered away in his vain pursuit of the idolatry of the heart.
“O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” – Jeremiah 10:23
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” – Revelation 20:12-14
It’s painfully clear that these are dark days indeed. The fallen creation writhes in its death throes, and sinful humanity waxes worse by the minute just as we see described in Romans 1:24-31:
“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
Does this description sound familiar? It should. Yet those who are called by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ ought to take heart for it’s against the dark, desperate, and apparently hopeless backdrop of this present evil age that His beauty and majesty shine forth ever more brightly as He continues to separate and purify His virgin bride, His church, making His elect the unworthy recipients of His unmerited and unspeakably glorious grace to the praise of His glory alone forever and evermore.
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” – Luke 21:28
“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” – Revelation 22:20
Soli Deo Gloria!