Idolatry

I love our church… truly it is exactly what we were looking for when we moved here and God blessed us with a very short search!  Along with the singing, the teaching has been encouraging, convicting and biblical.  This past Sunday the teaching was so thought provoking that I thought I’d blog about it.  To be fair, much of the following words were spoken by Mr. Brian Hutton who taught this valuable lesson.  I’ve added some of my own thoughts to it but kudos to him for such a well thought out, prayed about and shared teaching.

In God’s Word, Exodus 20:3 says You shall have no other gods before Me.  Idolatry is the opposite!  Brian pointed out that it is no coincidence that when God gave the ten commandments, the first thing on His mind was to tell us to have no other gods before Him.  The Hebrew word elohiym used here is the same exact word Satan used in Gen 3:5 when he was tempting Eve and saying ‘ye shall be as gods.’

The Merriam-Webster definition of idolatry is 1: the worship of a physical object as a god, 2: immoderate attachment or devotion to something.  However, Brian shared this definition… Idolatry is loving more than God what ought to be loved less than God and only for the sake of God.  Now, I had to read and re-read that statement a few times to make sense of it and let it sink in.  As a believer, the definition Brian shared has much more meaning.

Joshua 24:15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

When you hear idolatry what do you think of?  A big golden statue such as a cow or bull?  A giant chocolate bunny – think Veggie Tales?  Someone steeped deep in sin?  Brian discussed 5 examples of idolatry and I have been guilty of all of them at various points throughout my Christian walk.

Idolatry of Time
Ephesians 5:15-17 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Christopher Hitchens once said “I have no time to waste on this planet being told what to do by those who think that God has given them instructions.”  That is how the world manages their time, with no thought to God and His word.  THEIR time is precious compared to the perspective of ‘the time the Lord has given me is precious and I desire to spend it serving Him.’ This is an idol that I struggle with!

Idolatry of Misplaced Affections
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Matthew 10:37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
The verse in Matthew is hard for me!  I love my children but I constantly remind myself that God loves them more and I am called to love God more.  He is the one who gave me children in the first place, even if only for a time!  As for 1 John, it is a fine line to live IN the world but not be OF the world.  The world and all that it offers can be very tempting, especially to new believers or believers who arrogantly feel they are above sin and can’t be trapped by it.  As said by Martin Luther “Whatever you love most, that is your god.”

Idolatry of Discouragement
Matthew 14:24-32 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.  Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out of fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer!  It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to you on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out fo the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
As Brian started his lesson I never expected to learn about the idolatry of discouragement.  Discouragement can be an idol?  Really?  But as he was speaking and discussing the above verse in Matthew as well as Daniel 6:19-24 I realized that YES, discouragement can be an idol and I was guilty of making it one.  It’s been eye opening for me to see how I can let discouragement be my focus instead of keeping my focus on the Lord.  I’ve let it bring me down, WAY down and made sure that those around me knew it.  By keeping my focus on my discouragement I neglected the truth of God is my protector, my strong provider, my security and my hope!

Idolatry of Abundance
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Romans 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
The idolatry of Abundance is the belief that resources drive this world, not God.  We freely pursue money to please the flesh (capitalism) or we try to control the money of others, because we want the power they wield (socialism).  Either way we idolize the power of money and demand the control over how it affects our lives.  We put money on the throne rather than God.

Idolatry of Sins
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
DL Moody once said “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”  That is so true! We try to get in the Word every day by ourselves and with our kids.  They will be faced with many temptations and trials throughout their lives and the best way to turn from temptation and weather the storms is to be grounded in God’s Word.  Our sins can absolutely, become idols to us.  We tell God, I will give up all my sin except…. fill in the blank.  Lord, I just can’t turn from this one!  It’s time to repent!

Really, what it all boils down to is idolatry of self.  Satan understood mankind’s greatest weakness as stated in Genesis 3:5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.  Brian notes of all the angles Satan could have taken to trip mankind up, he chose to appeal to our own sense of superiority.  Satan wants us to consider ourselves as gods, in direct opposition to the first commandment.

What is in your life that you’ve made an idol?  Homeschooling?  I have a wise friend who reminded me that as a homeschool mom it’s easy to make it an idol.  Exercise?  Career?  Looks/Image?  Knowledge?  A certain affiliation or membership to a particular organization?   I challenge you to reflect on your life, your priorities, your passions and test them against Scripture.  Ask the Lord to show you if there is anything in your life that you have or are close to making an idol.

I’ll end with two Scriptures… By the grace of God we can destroy idols in our lives!

Matthew 6:24  No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.

Colossians 3:16-17 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.