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Idolatry Comes Naturally


Every now and then, we hear of some well-known professing Christian converting to Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. In some cases, the seeds of apostasy were already visible, but in others, we are shocked and dismayed, wondering how this could happen. J. C. Ryle has an answer: Idolatrous worship is exactly what the natural man craves.

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Does it surprise us when we hear of men going over from Protestant churches to the Church of Rome, in the present day? Do we think it unaccountable, and feel as if we ourselves could never forsake a pure form of worship for one like that of the pope? Let us cease to be surprised. There is a solution for the problem. There is a cause.

That cause is nothing else but the deep corruption of man’s heart. There is a natural proneness and tendency in us all to give God a sensual, carnal worship, and not that which is commanded in his word. We are ever ready, by reason of our sloth and unbelief, to devise visible helps and stepping-stones in our approaches to him, and ultimately to give these inventions of our own the honour due to him. In fact, idolatry is all natural, down-hill, easy, like the broad way. Spiritual worship is all of grace, all uphill, and all against the grain. Any worship whatsoever is more pleasing to the natural heart, than worshipping God in the way which our Lord Christ describes, ‘in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:23).

—J. C. Ryle, Knots Untied (Banner of Truth, 2016), 455.



Posted 2017·07·19 by David Kjos
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