The Mosaic Law is built upon the Ten Commandments, and the law was built upon  the first commandment: “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land  of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me”  (Deuteronomy 5:6-7 NKJV). Here we see not only God’s  prohibition against idolatry, but His reasons for that prohibition. It was the  Lord God who had the power to bring His people out of bondage in Egypt. He alone  cared enough for them to choose them to be His own, and He alone delivered and  protected them. For all this, He declares that He alone deserves to be  worshipped and reverenced. No idol made of wood or stone is God. Idols are deaf,  dumb, blind, and powerless (Isaiah  44:18).

Paul’s letter to the Romans indicates the worship of things  in creation themselves—not just their images—is wrong in the eyes of God (Romans 1:25). Paul also  warns the Colossians against worshipping other supernatural beings: “Do not let  anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you  for the prize” (Colossians  2:18a). Jesus expanded the definition of “other gods” to include concepts in  addition to images, living things and other supernatural beings. In Matthew 6:24, He warns  against the worship of material things. “No one can serve two masters. Either he  will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and  despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money”. The Greek word  mammonas, translated here as “money,” does not mean the money in one’s  pockets. It is the personification of wealth or money (especially wealth gained  through greediness), the love of which, in modern terminology, is “materialism.”  The dangers of worshipping material things are clearly outlined in the story of  the rich young ruler (Matthew  19:16-26) who turned away from Christ because he could not part with his  wealth.

Samson (Judges 14–16), even though he was set apart for God as  a Nazirite, worshipped another god that was much closer than the rich man was to  his wealth. Samson’s god was himself, and his pride and self-worship led to his  downfall. He was so confident in his own abilities that he believed he no longer  needed God, and in the end—despite being beaten, blinded, and humiliated—Samson  neither repented nor learned that his way was not God’s way. He was more  concerned with revenge and his eyesight than with God’s plan for His chosen  people. He served himself and his priorities, making them his idols.

Those who worship “other gods” will ultimately face the same fate as the  prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel where they were challenged by Elijah the  prophet to a duel. Elijah and the prophets of Baal offered sacrifices to their  respective deities, but they did not burn the sacrifices. The god who responded  to their entreaties and took their sacrifice would be declared the one true God  for all Israel. The prophets of Baal started early and prayed and pleaded with  Baal to burn their sacrifice. Meanwhile, Elijah taunted them. “Shout  louder…Surely he is a god. Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling.  Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened” (1 Kings  18:27). In the end, the prophets of Baal were all killed by the Israelites  after the one true God demonstrated His power, burning up the offering, the  water, the wood, the stones, and the soil at the altar.

Our God is never  busy, asleep, traveling, or distracted. Paul describes the sovereignty of God:  “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth  and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands  as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and  everything else. …Therefore, since we are God’s offspring, we should not think  that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone – an image made by man’s  design and skill” (Acts  17:24-25, 29). God  commands us not to serve other gods because there are no other gods except the  ones we make ourselves. David describes what awaits the person who puts God  ahead of all else: “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does  not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods” (Psalm 40:4).