The Danger of Idolatry in Worship

2014 Doxology and Theology Conference


What do your words, actions and choices reveal about what your heart seeks? In this 47-minute session from the 2014 Doxology and Theology Conference, Paul Tripp explains how the danger of idolatry is never more present than in moments of supposed worship.

Paul is a pastor, author, international conference speaker and the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization with the mission of connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life. 


To illustrate the prevalent danger of idolatry even in moments of worship, Paul noted that the homicidal envy of Cain reveals that his sacrificial worship was never about God. What do you think of that example and thesis? How have you seen moments of worship twisted into self-focus and idolatry?
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Colossians 3:1-4 (ESV)

Put On the New Self

1If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.4When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



Paul explained paradigm of this passage: 

  1. We all have a seeking heart - Every word, choice and action reveals what our heart seeks.
  2. All of us have life - Life is not a thing. Life is a person, Jesus Christ.

Paul was extremely transparent in describing specific circumstances that revealed his own heart seeking the respect of one man over glorifying God even as he preached God's Word. He took what was meant to point to God and pointed it at himself. What does your heart seek? In a "great week," what makes you happy, satisfied, excited, content? What satisfies you in your calling?
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This passage in Colossians shows that our heart has only two categories to look for life—things of this earth or things above. We look for meaning by our choices and actions either horizontally or vertically. Does your leading worship affirm the fullness of what you've been given in Christ or affirm your gospel amnesia (forgetting that life is a person, Jesus Christ)?
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Paul gave four "above" things found in this passage to seek:

  1. Glory - Only God's glory can turn self worshippers into God worshippers. 
  2. Grace - Every moment of true worship is a revelation of the glory of his grace.  
  3. Redemption - We are always in need of rescue.
  4. Kingdom - There is a battle between building our own kingdom or building God's Kingdom.

Colossians 3:5 (ESV)

5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


We are called to live for the things above and yet, sin makes it all about us. What would others share about your life that shows you are shaped by seeking God's Kingdom? What would they say shows you are building your own kingdom? Is there anything that needs to change?
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Don't let your work become a vehicle for your definition of happiness. Our security is not what we have done but in what was done for us by the Jesus Christ who now sits in rulership and advocacy at the right hand of God. As you've spent this time examining your heart, who do you partner with in prayer and accountability? (Paul mentioned his wife as his "gospel irritant.")
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Let your heart be gripped by the grand and eternal yet practical work of redemption. May everything you do be for the purpose of propelling God's work of redemption. 


For more information about the Doxology and Theology Conference and how you can attend an upcoming event, visit: DoxologyandTheology.com.