Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Luke 12:15 Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. (Also Psalm 62:10 and I Timothy 6:9-10.)

Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Ezekiel 33:31 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.

Hosea 4:11 Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.

Philippians 3:18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) (Also Romans 16:18).

II Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…

4 …heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

I John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.


MEMORY VERSE: Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. —Jeremiah 17:5, 7


CENTRAL THOUGHT: God’s Word warns us to cleanse our hearts of anything that might become an idol to us or anything that takes away our love, trust or service from Him: financial prosperity; pleasures of this world; food, drink or any other fleshly lusts; pride, fame, or honor.




Matthew 6:24 “Mammon”: riches, money, possessions, property.

Luke 12:15 “Covetousness”: Avarice (an inordinate desire of gaining and possessing wealth; covetousness; greediness or insatiable desire of gain. —Webster’s Dictionary 1828); aggression; desire for advantage. “Covetousness is the desire for more (things), i.e. lusting for a greater number of temporal things that go beyond what God determines is eternally best (beyond His preferred will).” —HELPS Word Studies

Colossians 3:5 “Fornication”: The Greek word is porneía (the root of the English terms “pornography, pornographic”). Another form is pornos, which is derived from pernaō, “to sell off”; properly, a selling off (surrendering) of sexual purity; promiscuity of any type.—HELPS Word Studies. “Uncleanness”: Impurity. —Strong’s Concordance. “Inordinate affection”: lust; a feeling which the mind suffers; an affection of the mind; emotion, passion; passionate desire; used by the Greeks in either a good or a bad sense.—Thayer’s Greek Lexicon. “Evil concupiscence”: Evil (inner evil; inwardly foul, rotten, wicked) desire, eagerness for, inordinate desire, lust. Passion built on strong feelings (urges). —HELPS Word Studies. “Idolatry”: worship or service of an image; worship of false gods.

Ezekiel 33:31 “Covetousness”: gain made by violence, unjust gain, profit.

Philippians 3:19 “Whose god is their belly”: Those who worship their own appetites; or who live not to adore and honor God, but for self-indulgence and sensual gratifications. — Barnes Notes on the Bible.

Jeremiah 5:17 “Maketh flesh his arm”: puts confidence in, or leans upon, for support or protection, mere mortal, feeble, sinful man, as the Israelites did when they made alliances with Egypt and Assyria.




“…Covetousness is a sin, which, above others, a Christian should set himself against, and endeavour to mortify and subdue, it having a sort of idolatry in it, drawing our love, our trust, our fear, our joy, from God, and placing the supremacy of our affections in and upon the creatures. True, the covetous man does not believe his money to be God; but by his inordinate loving of it and trusting in it, he is as truly guilty of idolatry, as if he bowed his knee unto it: for God more regards the internal acts of the mind than he doth the external acts of the body. In like manner, the Papists do not believe their saints and angels to be gods; but by praying to them, and trusting in them for relief and help, they give them the inward worship of the soul, and consequently they are as guilty of idolatry as if they did believe them to be God.” —William Burkitt, Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament.

Jesus didn’t say much about idolatry, as His teachings were primarily to the Jews who strictly worshiped Jehovah. He did, however, speak much about covetousness. No doubt He was sadly observing His own disciple bowing at the feet of this idol. Money or gain, He said, was a master. You serve it.

Paul warned Timothy that the love of gain was the root of all evil. He told the Colossians that covetousness is idolatry and just as evil as fornication and uncleanness.

The warning God gave Ezekiel was that the people would come to hear him speak and with their mouths show worship and praise, but all the while their hearts would be going after and thinking about their schemes to get riches.

Likewise, a man’s appetites draw his heart away from God. Many would serve their own desires for strong drink, food and sensual pleasure, proving who or what their “god” really was. Such, Paul said, were enemies of the cross of Christ. The idea was also used by James, who called such enmity “adultery.”

What strong, emphatic terms are used in these scriptures! “Enemies.” “Adulterers.” “Root of all evil.” “Cursed.” “Hate.” “Despise.” “The love of the Father is not in him.” Professing Christians don’t want to think that they are enemies or adulterers. They don’t want to admit that the love of the Father is not in them. But the words are as strong as the displeasure of the Lord God is. He is still the jealous God of the Israelites and He is worthy of all our love, all our trust, all our service.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck



  1. Strong Language: What terms did Jesus and Paul use when describing covetousness, and what did Paul say to do with covetousness?
  2. Strong Influence: What are the things that take away the heart from God?
  3. Moment of Truth: What is a person called whose god is his belly?
  4. Idols of the Heart: Name those listed in II Timothy 3.
  5. Loving the World: What is a person called who does this?






What are the characteristics of a heart idol? First of all, you serve it. It makes demands of you. It controls you. Most importantly, it causes you to sin against God. By that definition, drug addiction is a form of idolatry, as is pornography, or any addiction, for that matter.

Secondly, you love it. You express affection for it. It is dear to you. It makes you feel happy. You prefer it to anything else and make room for it to the exclusion of other important things. You talk about it, post about it on social media, and celebrate it. People do this with alcohol, food, coffee, chocolate, sports, their job, their church, their lover—and the list goes on.

A third thing that characterizes idolatry in the heart is trust. It’s what you depend on, lean on and put all your hopes upon; what you go to in distress, what comforts you, and what makes you feel secure, even sometimes to the point of feeling like it’s what insures you of making it to heaven. Many people put other things or people in the place which should be reserved for God alone: a preacher, teacher or author; a “saint”, crucifix, cross necklace, or other charm; a devotional book or blog they “follow”; their medication, retirement plan, or bank account; a doctor, political leader or celebrity.

The idol that is most treacherous; the one most disguised as something good; has to do with religion. We can come to trust in our own efforts, our own righteousness, our own set of beliefs. Because we go to “the right church” or because we follow all the right teachings, we think we are saved, or will go to heaven when we die.

God alone deserves this place in our lives. Although obedience and living right is required, it’s by Jesus’ blood applied to our hearts and by God’s mercy and grace that we shall be saved. Let us love HIM, serve HIM, Trust HIM.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




Growing up, I had several neighbors who were Catholic. They would go to mass and perform the duties that were required of them. They recited the rosary, prayed to Mary and other saints and confessed to the priest. Yet, by their own admission, they had no true knowledge of God nor a true understanding that their worship was idolatrous.

Our house was a magnet for neighborhood children. It was the place to congregate and play and it created many opportunities for mother to give godly instruction and advice. Oftentimes when our friends would come over my mother would be sitting in her chair reading the Bible. This was a common practice to us children and we never thought much of it. Many years later one of our neighborhood friends told us that she had always wondered: “When is your mother ever going to finish reading that book? She’s been reading it for years.”

What she hadn’t realized is that “book” was more than just a book. It was the heartbeat of my mother’s life. It was the central theme of our family life, the guidebook that directed the decisions of our lives. It was priority.

That “book” opened our understanding of God and gave us a glimpse of His great love for us and what He required in our worship of Him. It’s very simple: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” No Pope, no priest, no person, no thing. He alone must sit on the throne of our hearts.

As was the case with my Catholic neighbor, idol worship can be the result of ignorance or lack of knowledge. But as was the case with my mother, the true worship of God was and always will be very deliberate. It is the choice we make to put God first and to keep him there. It is our deliberate choice to fend off anything and everything that would compete for our affection and attempt to dethrone God from the preeminent place in our hearts.

—Bro. Darrell Johnson