The three great perils for all people are idolatry, immorality and injustice (the three i’s). All are a great offence to God. Each of them destroy our lives for time and eternity. And yet all tantalisingly offer, but ultimately fail to deliver the promise of self advancement and self-fulfilment. At the root of each of these sins is that of God rejection. I choose to honour “me” rather than God. And when I do this I inevitably choose to honour myself instead of others. Hence the two great commandments come against us and prove that we have not honoured God with all our mind, heart and soul and we have not honoured others as ourselves (see Matt. 22:34-40).
We perhaps hasten on to quickly though and we need to stop and ask ourselves what do the three terms mean:-
- Idolatry is the replacing of God as the object of devotion with any other phenomenon whether that be person or activity or interest or any entity. Traditionally that would have involved the use of images and statues. However, the less tangible, but just as real, gods of entertainment, fashion, sport and a miscellany of other interests make idols which are just as potent as an image or bust.
- Immorality is the engagement in any activity or practice that breaks the moral code as established by God in His law. It often focusses on sexual practices, but is not confined to that realm.
- Injustice is the failure to deal with others in a way that is in accordance with the requirements of God. It involves taking advantage of others so as to maximize the supposed advantage of myself or my group.
Generally, when a person, society or grouping, start to turn from God all three facets are manifest in the ensuing decay. Let us look at one example that of Israel as analysed by Amos in Amos 2: 6-8:
Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Israel,
and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
because they sell the righteous for silver,
and the needy for a pair of sandals—
those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth
and turn aside the way of the afflicted;
a man and his father go in to the same girl,
so that my holy name is profaned;
they lay themselves down beside every altar
on garments taken in pledge,
and in the house of their God they drink
the wine of those who have been fined.
In vv6b-7a we have injustice in the exploitation of others. In v7b we have immorality through sexual indiscretion In v8 we have idolatry as the gods of self comfort and pleasure are worshipped whilst being indifferent to the true object of worship; God Himself (after all it is His altar and house).
As a general principle it is when idolatry starts to gain a foothold in a person or society that the decay starts. Immorality and injustice soon develop therefrom. This should not surprise us because the first and great commandment is to have God central to our lives. As a further detection devise when the Word of God is turned from by a person, church or group or any entity the three i’s of idolatry, injustice and immorality will soon be present.
This all reminds us that the way to rectify the malaise of three i’s in any people, in any place and at any time is to bring the good news of Jesus Christ; Saviour of the World. This is because it is only He who changes lives so as to make God central. And when that is the case idolatry, immorality and injustice are purged.
Finally, if you read your Bible carefully you will discern that turning from God ubiquitously leads to degeneration into the three i’s.