When our Image Leads to Idolatry


“Professing to be wise, they became fools, (23) and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man…” Romans 1:23

As I was teaching our general Sunday School on last week one of our Elders brought to my attention an aspect Romans 1:23 that I had never saw before. The text states that there is an exchange between the “glory of the incorruptible God” and the “image in the form of corruptible man.” For sure I’ve read that passage of Scripture before, but another dimension of God’s truth was brought to bear upon my soul. The context speaks of a downward spiral – a turn cycle in which humanity spins out of control in their depravity.

Notice, where it begins. It starts with man making much of themselves to the point they “change.” Meaning, they cause one thing to cease and allow for another to take its place namely, the glory of God. John Murray commented on this section stating, “they exchanged the glory of God as the object of adoration and worship for something else.” It is the trade off between incorruptible God for corruptible man.

If in any arena this truth fleshes out – that God’s glory has been exchanged for man’s image it is in the theatres of our own community. I’m not speaking of movies per se, but the everyday visuals that we capture in our interactions with one another. In recent news, tech giant Google has issued a ban on sexually explicit ads and apps. It has not been documented whether or not it was for Christian reasons. I would hope that it was the case. Nevertheless, you know it’s bad when the world recognizes the world’s depravity.

It all boils down to this. People are obsessed with their own image, with their own bodies. It matters not that you don’t flaunt the human anatomy for all to see. Do you see it? What I mean is, are you entertained by it? Do you watch it? Is your daily dose of amusement those arrayed in nothing or next to it?

This is not an endeavor to be legalistic – an effort to tell you what you can and cannot do, can or cannot wear, can or cannot watch. It is an endeavor to get we as Christians to invert the exchange which secular society has embraced with all their heart and energy. This is a plea for us to exchange the image of corruptible man for the the glory of the incorruptible God.

From the time mankind needed clothing it was for covering. Imagine. There was nothing sexy about Adam and Eve’s nakedness after the fall (Genesis 3:7). It was a source of shame. The fig leaves they sewed together were not for the purpose of showing bulging biceps or legs and cleavage. On the same token, the animal skins that God made for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21) were not for showing silhouettes. They were made for covering.

Here is my point. We as the people of God need to rebel against this sensual society that tells us “Less is more.” Grant it. Being fully clothed does not prevent others from their lustful thoughts, but what it does is subtract the modest from this erotic equation. The pulse of our culture is worship. Everybody on the face of the planet is a worshipper. The question becomes “What do we worship?” and “Do you allow yourself to be a recipient of worship?”

To be clear, worship is reserved for God alone (Exodus 20:4-6; Deuteronomy 5:6-8; 6:13-15). Psalm 2:11 declares, “Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling.” We worship God because He is worthy. At the sametime we reject worship because we are not worthy. All glory belongs to God. Therefore, if our efforts are to attract worshippers to our image we have stolen what rightfully belongs to God. Every facet of our lives should scream I worship the God who made me because He is worthy of it. This is the mantra whereby the Christian should march. May God give us the grace to invert the exchange. May we change the image of corruptible man for the glory of the incorruptible God.


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