These verses clearly point to the seriousness of idolatry, but few seem to understand that the essence of idolatry is the worship of the self. A young man once said to me that he could see nothing wrong with the Christmas tree because he did not bow down and worship it. He knows the truth about Christmas, but he holds his opinion higher than the truth of Christmas' origins and intent. His words also reveal that he did not understand the meaning of "bow down" or "serve" in regard to this commandment. Bow down means "to bend the neck or waist," but when applied to a situation as in this commandment, it means "to give reverence, worship, give assent, or submit." Serve means "to work for, promote the interests of, aid, help, obey, wait upon, or satisfy the requirements of."
The ramifications of this are almost endless; it could involve every other commandment that men habitually break through lust. Suppose we ask God for something He has promised, such as prosperity. Prosperity is good; He wants us to be prosperous. However, if our desire for prosperity becomes greater than the desire to submit to the way God says we must live to be prospered, we will use a carnal means to acquire even the promised good thing. Abraham and Sarah used this justification in attempting to bear the promised son through Hagar. Their reasoning, combined with a weakening of their faith, led them to follow their own way over God's. An idolater serves himself at the expense of obeying God.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Ephesians 5:6: