This form of idolatry is one we can fall into without even realizing it… It is so easy to put an extraordinary amount of trust in the words of people, especially when those men or women claim to be speaking on God’s behalf. We can even begin to exalt these men or women above where scripture does, becoming their disciples instead of disciples of Christ:
"Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you. 12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ." 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).
Do you see the point that Paul is making here? It seems that these brethren were lifting up one teacher while looking down on others who were lifting up another teacher, both of whom were saying they were disciples of. Paul’s questions show that there was only One who was worthy of such trust and devotion… the One who was crucified for them. Paul, Apollos, Peter, and any other man was not crucified for us. We need to make sure that only One has our undivided trust and devotion: Jesus Christ. Paul continues talking about this subject in chapter 3:
"For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not mere men? 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth" (1 Corinthians 3:4-7).
Paul is showing them here that they as men are merely servants of the Lord; servants of God. Paul and Apollos only taught what they were given by God, so it was God that they needed to trust in. It was only Him to which they belong. He has given them the growth they have had to this point, and as Paul says in verse 9, “they (and we) are God’s building.” And then in chapter 6, He goes on to say that each one of us are temples of the Holy Spirit, that we belong to God and not even to ourselves. We need to see this regarding ourselves. We should only claim, “I am of Christ.” Any other man or teacher must have what they say compared to the word of God before we trust it to be from God.
With this said, have we ever been guilty as the Corinthians have in our affections towards our preachers or teachers? It is sad to say that there are many who have been guilty of this amongst God’s people. An eldership asks a preacher to move on to another work and what ends up happening too often? Those who loved and adored that preacher leave, causing a split in the church. This is “preacher idolatry.”
Some of us also may be guilty of idolizing a preacher or teacher if we just blindly believe what they say without ever comparing what they say to scripture from the truth by what a preacher or teacher says, then we are following and serving that man in the place of God. We are taking his words above God’s! We must be careful of this. Just because someone claims to be speaking on God’s behalf from scripture doesn’t make it true. We can make mistakes also. Whether it is one of our dear friends or brothers in Christ, or even your parents teaching you, your devotion must be first and foremost to Jesus Christ. What any man or woman teaches is subject to being tested and compared to scripture. spirits to make sure they are of God (1 John 4:1). We must test all things and hold fast to that which is good (1 Thess. 5:21).
Do you have any questions?
Do you have any questions that you would like answered in an article or short video? Click the link below to send me an email.