Solomon’s demise happened when he divided his heart. Though he never utterly rejected Yahweh, he gave some of his devotion to others. He maintained a profession of faith. If asked his religious affiliation, he would have checked “Follower of Yahweh.” Like many today, he “believed in God.” But he saw no harm in diversifying his spiritual investments.
Solomon’s sin was not the subtraction of God so much as the addition of gods (1 Kings 11:4–8). He thought he could have God plus other gods; that he could serve two and more masters; that he could be devoted to Yahweh and to Chemosh, Molech, and Ashtoreth. He bought the syncretistic God-plus lie. But in adding other gods, he turned away from the true One (1 Kings 11:9).
God’s Singularity and Absoluteness
God will not be reduced by such additions. God alone must receive our wholehearted devotion (Luke 4:8). This is not “God as I imagine him.” This is the true God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He must be believed and served as the only Source, Sustainer, Sovereign, Savior, and Sentencer of all people everywhere.
Many today find the language of God’s absolute singularity, sovereignty, and exclusivity disturbing. Terminology like “true God vs. false religion” and “absolute truth vs. my truth” falls uncomfortably on many hearts (including a significant percentage of supposed Christians). But the trueness of God in Christ (1 Thess. 1:9; John 14:6; 17:3; 1 John 5:20–21) assumes and asserts the falseness of every other god and faith.
The trueness of God in Christ assumes and asserts the falseness of every other god and faith.
People prefer syncretism over exclusivism—embracing preferred ideas, ideologies, and spiritualities that serve their interests, more than a single sovereign God whose interests they must serve. They are OK with God as they like to think of him, not as he is on the throne.
If we join them, turning away from the absolute and exclusive God who tolerates no rivals, then we have forsaken biblical faith. In the end, God-plus equals God-less.
What Are Your Chemosh and Molech?
This kind of spiritual two-timing doesn’t just happen in false religion. Spiritual infidelity happens whenever we profess love for God but allow the world to rival him in our hearts (James 4:3–4; 1 John 2:15–17). It happens whenever we allow any object, person, cause, movement, desire, pleasure, or possession to become a heart-dividing distraction (Matt. 6:24; Eph. 5:5; 1 Cor. 6:14–20; 7:29–31, 35; 10:21–22).
The simple point is this: You cannot serve God and.
But we do. Love of money distracts us. Sexual pleasures outside of a biblically defined, committed marriage consume us. Political loyalties vie for our commitment. Wokeness or anti-wokeness becomes our prevailing concern. Accumulating as many likes and retweets as possible replaces a commitment to truth.
We may not abandon the true God entirely. But millions of Christians clearly think that they can be married to God, while having a mistress or two, or ten, off to the side.
Singlehearted Devotion to the Singular God
What should we do if the world has become our mistress (1 John 2:15–17; James 4:3–4)? We must repent with great sorrow, and draw near to God all over again (James 4:6–10). What should we do if we know we have idols in our heart? We must turn from them to serve the living and true God (1 Thess. 1:9), in the confidence he will forgive and receive us through the idolatry-atoning blood of Christ (1 John 1:7–9).
With a humbled spirit, we must then face the challenge of our time: choosing God daily, wholeheartedly, and courageously. God must be our center and our all. But know from the start: the more spiritually single-minded we are, the more despised and marginalized we will become. Even if we are the kindest, most loving person, it won’t go well for us in the world.
The more spiritually single-minded we are, the more despised and marginalized we will become.
The cross is where undistracted loyalty to Christ always leads. If we are most loyal to and consumed by Christ, everybody in the world (including those who cheer whatever agenda we may happen to share at the moment) will soon turn on us. Inevitably, we will have to decide. Faithfulness or friends? God or gods? Truth or popular opinion? Christ or conservatism? God’s moral law or progressivism? Shared allegiances or singleminded love? A prophetic voice heralding the Word, or a politically correct voice, parroting the world?
When given a choice between God and all the gods and distracting pleasures, pursuits, and causes of this life, may we all say with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:14–15).
And may we make sure to add, as Jesus made sure to command (Luke 4:8), that we will not only serve him—we will serve him only.