The Supremacy of God, Algebraically
What is idolatry? Stated one way, it is the having of any other god(s) before the true and living God of the universe, i.e. bowing to and serving them above God. Stated another way, it is not having God as supreme in all things.
Sometimes we deal with things grammatically, exegetically, theologically, contextually, though hopefully never ecumenically. So, let’s take this one algebraically.
Let the supremacy of God be expressed thus,
G > g
where G is the true God of the universe and g is any number or combination of false gods (including idols, apparitions, the state, man, etc.).
It then follows that idolatry would be expressed as,
g ≥ G
where g and G have the same value as in the previous expression but their proportional relationship is changed.
It is observed then that there is a constant and a variable in both inequalities. The constant G is always the same entity though infinite in value. The variable g is every other possible entity and varying in value. What we learn from this is that the identity of the entity g does not matter.
In other words, what makes idolatry what it is—sin—is not the “other gods”, regardless of who or what those are. What makes idolatry what it is, is God. If there was no God, there would be no idolatry, no matter that there were billions of gods worshiped across the globe. Idolatry is what it is because of the being, existence, and nature of Almighty God. God is eternal and immutable so that when He brought any being into existence, idolatry was immediately possible. We know this is the case, else how could Satan have sinned before man?