Joshua 24:22-24 (NKJV)
22 So Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord for yourselves, to serve Him.” And they said, “We are witnesses!”
23 “Now therefore,” he said, “put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel.”
24 And the people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!”
The Bible teaches that we should be devout followers of the Lord Jesus. To be devout simply means to be deeply dedicated to a belief or cause. Many people are obsessed with, follow closely, or are devout followers of sports teams, political figures, environmental causes, or other lifestyles and beliefs. While being devoted to certain causes may impact the world, what ultimately matters is if a person is devoted to Jesus. Anything that comes between you and Jesus is an idol.
The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God.
Idolatry extends beyond the worship of idols and images and false gods. Our modern idols are many and varied. Even for those who do not bow physically before a statue, idolatry is a matter of the heart—pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony, a love for possessions and ultimately rebellion against God. Is it any wonder that God hates it?
The chief commitment of our lives should be to God. Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37–38). Since God the Father sent the Son and glorifies Him, a commitment to God requires a commitment to the Son (John 5:38; 8:54; 14:6). Those who do not follow Jesus wholeheartedly are devoting themselves to something else and are thereby rejecting God. We are warned in Matthew 6:24 that we cannot serve two masters. There are no half measures; either a person is devoted to God, or he is not.
In the dedication of the temple, King Solomon challenges the people of Israel to be devout and in so doing explains what devotion to God entails: “Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments” (1 Kings 8:61, NASB). The essence of devotion is obedience. Unfortunately, Solomon did not heed his own advice but later fell into idolatry: “When Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been” (1 Kings 11:4, NASB).
Every true Christian is devout; you cannot halfheartedly serve or live for Jesus. You also cannot serve God and live for something else. Jesus made it clear that anyone who follows Him must first count the cost and decide if he will follow Him completely: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23–24). A true follower of Christ is devout because he or she commits every part of his or her life to loving and living for God. This is not done out of obligation or to earn salvation or God’s favor. Instead, we give everything to God because He gave everything to us (John 3:16; Acts 17:25).
We cannot claim to follow Christ yet live in a way that appeases the world in our doctrine or practice. In Revelation 3:15–16, the Lord says He will spit out the lukewarm—those who are neither hot nor cold. The Creator of the universe calls us to turn from our sinful ways and to follow Him: “If you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” in rebellion (Hebrews 3:15). We are called to commit our lives wholeheartedly to the One who loves us and gave everything for us.