A People of Idols

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1)

We have read much in the Scripture of idol worship in pagan lands and in Israel too. To have a love and worshipping affair with an idol is plan and sinful adultery. Adultery is stealing the devotion we have committed to one and giving it to another. It makes the adulterer nothing but a deceitful liar whose love has been sold to the lust of his heart. Adultery and idolatry are bed fellows, one is a thief and the other is a deceiver.

When we think of idols we see strange caricatures sitting on a pedestal that at the beginning and end of the day people bow before and pray. The idea sounds sully to most but still many today pray to images they have made for themselves. I used to work at a restaurant in Sarasota Florida named the “Golden Buddha.” Each day the owner of the restaurant would bow before the statue of Buddha in front of his restaurant and pray before opening the doors. It was curious to me but very real to the owner. Many people have such statues in their homes and work places. Some are Buddha and some are of their own making but none of them are more than the confused imagination of a desperate soul.

As silly as this sounds to me I too, as many in this world, have idols in my life that I am constantly battling with. No I don’t bow down to figurines of angels and soaring eagles, as my idols are not as plain to see, my idols are not graven images. My idols find their way into my heart, which idols of all making do. My idols are not pendants worn around the neck but spirit draining stakes that pierce the heart and rob that devotion that rightfully belongs to the Lord.

Tim Keller gives us the best definition of an idol as I have heard. “It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought. It can be family and children, or career and making money, or achievement and critical acclaim, or saving “face” and social standing. It can be a romantic relationship, peer approval, competence and skill, secure and comfortable circumstances, your beauty or your brains, a great political or social cause, your morality and virtue, or even success in the Christian ministry. When your meaning in life is to fix someone else’s life, we may call it “codependency” but it is really idolatry. An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.”

Idols do not command us to worship them, they do not have that capacity as they are not real or living beings. We either with intent or without intent command ourselves to worship them. I think the latter is more common as our adversary sneaks them in through the cracks of our armor. Their entry into our life is often very subtle and unnoticed until it takes over a large portion of our life. It is important for us to always be on guard as Satan never sleeps. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

We all like to feel good about our self-accomplishments, and I think on the surface there is nothing wrong with that. Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) Self-pride can be a dangerous thing to the Christian. It robs God of the glory. We can become so easily caught up in pride for ourselves that it becomes an idol in our life. The self-satisfaction of it can create an uncontrollable hunger for more. God hates the prideful of heart and He will humble you. “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Proverbs 16:18)

One of the Sunday school teachers stopped by on Friday and we decided to go out for lunch. We went to a restaurant in town called Daisy Dukes. I should have known the waitresses were dressed as Daisy Duke. I needn’t say too loudly I was very distracted. People can become imprisoned by the lust of the eyes and it will lead to very uncomely behavior. The pornography industry in the United States is a billion dollar business. People will pay just for vision that drive a very immoral imagination to perverted actions. Even if we just look and conceive that wicked act in our hearts we have committed the sin. The empty satisfaction of such can leave us out of control and it soon becomes an idol in our life. Jesus pointed to the truth that if it is plotted and planned in the heart the sin is already committed. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)

I drive an old car, I like old cars because they are paid for. I hate car payments more than I like new cars. My son bought a new car and yes it is nice. He gave me a ride and I must admit I was a little envious of all the tech and gadgets. The new car had a devastating effect on the budget and now he is working seven days a week to make ends meet. His car has become an idol because he had to have it to impress his neighbor who has a new car. In fact keeping up with the Jones’ has become the idol because keeping up with them has become more important than the God he should be worshipping. Jesus said we should not be anxious for this that and the other, that He will take care of us if we only seek Him first. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Perhaps the biggest idol is the world itself. As we look out across our community, the world, it is in constant opposition to the values and morals that the Word of God has given us to guide our lives by. I was in a conversation with my sister today about a granddaughter that has fallen into the trap of the drug culture. She was asking for prayer from the members of our Church. That is the foremost weapon that God would show His mercy and open the heart of my sister’s grandchild to the truth and hope of His gospel. Certainly my grandniece is responsible for her actions but I do not believe that the full weight of responsibility rest completely upon her. Because of our love of the pop world of our time the pop world today has been a thief of our moral standards. Our generation fell in love with the moral less world we created. At least we sat idly by while the beliefs we held true and dear were taken away.

Where was the rage when God was expelled from our schools, from our government, from the social morays that govern what is acceptable, and we have taken Him out of the living room and left His Word upon the shelf? Today we have a generation that has nothing to stand upon that is rightful and truthful. Who now determines what is right and what is wrong Hollywood? Social media? Pop culture? No longer do they know the Word of God which will endure forever. “But the word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:25)

It is inevitable that the world will be the idol of the foolish and for this reason God gave us His Word that we may learn to avoid its death trap. The world itself is now over taken by the events that are unfolding before our eyes. Many men speak but few have the vision to seek the true answer to the problems of the world because they do not seek the God who will soon conquer the world. I remember the Anne Murray song “A Little Good News.” Great song but the Good News that we need in between the covers of the Bible. As we continue to look for “Love In All the Wrong Places” we should seek the Lord while He can be found. As the Apostle John wrote, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)

This is the rock that will lead us away from the many idols that creep into our heart, “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) And this perspective of our Christian walk is given to us by the Apostle Paul, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, July 19, 2015

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