We know that “an idol has no real existence” (1 Corinthians 8:4).
Paul, while addressing an immediate problem related to Christian liberty, simultaneously addresses a vital overarching point regarding idolatry. Idols are nothing; they are not just false gods, they are no gods at all. Of course the material, physical stuff from which the idol is made is real, but the god it represents does not exist. There is no need to fear idol gods, and there is certainly no reason to worship them.
Idols are nothing; they are not just false gods, they are no gods at all.
Notice this important and unmistakable reality: people who worship false gods are not worshiping the one true God ignorantly. They are worshiping a god who does not exist or, put another way, they are worshiping the demons who encourage false worship: “they offer to demons, and not to God” (1 Corinthians 10:20).
Paul goes on to affirm the basic Christian creed that “there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:6). So, on one hand, idols are nothing; and on the other hand, Jesus is everything.
Everything, including our every breath and talent and Godward desire, comes from Jesus Christ as our Lord. Every Christian, by definition, affirms these truths. Idols are nothing in reality, and Jesus as our Lord and Savior is everything we need. Yet, while it is relatively easy to apply this principle to wooden gods of pagan religions, it is more difficult (and more personally painful) to make the application to the shiny, technologically advanced idols of our Western culture.
All things come from Jesus, so no thing in the whole world can ever take his place.
We know that an idol has no real existence, no real power. Or do we? Your house doesn’t really protect you. The food in your fridge won’t ultimately sustain your life. Your smartphone can’t make you truly wiser. In fact no amount of family, friends, promotions, luxury cars, or philanthropic efforts will be able to fill the void in your eternal soul. All things come from Jesus, so no thing in the whole world can ever take his place.
Christian, there is only one God, and one Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t let anything else be lord over your life. Don’t let anyone else become the object of your worship. Don’t look to anything else to fill your needs or save your soul. Idols are nothing. Jesus is everything.