Romans 1:22-26 NASB
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
I often wonder why people often fall back into the same sin pattern over and over again. As I was preparing to share with my home church this week, this was one of the things I was thinking about. One of the reasons I believe people who take the name of Jesus cannot seem to ever shake their sin patterns is quite simple: they have chosen to not tear down the idols in their lives!
What is an idol? An idol is anything that stands between us and God…anything that we place in importance above or before Him. An idol is built when we exchange the Truth of God for a lie of the enemy. Quite simply, an idol is a false god!
Whether we like it or not, we have all worshiped idols at one time or another in our lives - even as believers in and followers of Christ! Our God has a lot to say about this:
Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods; I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 19:4 NASB
You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 26:1 NASB
You shall have no other gods before Me.
Deuteronomy 5:7 NASB
Idols are things we have to build and raise up and exalt by our own devices! When we worship an idol, it is one we have built for our self! From my point of view, having walked out of idol worship in my own life, the biggest idol I ever erected and exalted over Jesus was - me.
As my friend Joanna pointed out, the first letter of the word idol is ‘I’. And as my wife pointed out, the first two letters form the initials ID - identity! Since the enemy is not omniscient, he simply plants the seed of self-focus and walks away leaving us to do his dirty work for him. The enemy of God always leads us to build idols in our lives to replace our need for relationship with Almighty God.
We often build idols because, like the children of Israel, we want to worship something we can see. Something tangible. Never mind the miracles of God like that pesky pillar of fire or that protective cloud or the fresh manna provided every morning or water from a rock or - you get the idea! Our God is bigger than merely seeing Him with our eyes!
Just as He commanded the Israelites to tear down and destroy their idols, we must do the same unless we want to keep wandering around in the wilderness of habitual sin for the next forty or so years! When I got tired of trudging through my own wilderness of sin, the Lord led me to the place of tearing down the idols on my own life…but first, He had to point them out to me.
When I left my old life and identity and replaced them with the new life and identity I found in Christ, the Lord led me to many idols I had erected through the years. Those idols? Anything that attached me to my old identity and way of thinking. Soul ties. Things that tied the old ways of thinking to my feet like weights that dragged me to a standstill in my faith walk. When He revealed them to me, He directed me to not simply rid them from my life - but to destroy them if possible!
My idols were things like pictures from my past that connected me to sinful relationships. Reminders of the old way of thinking. I burned all the pictures of me from those sinful relationships.
My idols were gifts and mementos that had been given to me by those I had been in immoral relationship with. I ripped them to shreds and burned them.
My idols were clothes that I had worn that reminded me of certain activities and emotions from my old life. I contemplated giving them away…but decided destruction meant destruction…so I burned them as well.
My idols were emotional relationships - friendships - with people I had sinned with whether physically or emotionally. I cut off all contact with them…even as they derided me and mocked me and said many evil things about me. I had to come to the place where I realized I was not their savior nor was I their redeemer.
My idols were places I had been able to sin in secret. I told others about my propensity to sin in these places in order to help hold myself accountable since I could not legally destroy someone else’s property, LOL!
My idols were old ways of thinking. I had to take those thoughts captive and then trample them under my feet as I replaced them with the Truth of God’s Word.
My idols were vain imaginations for fame. I replaced that idol with making Jesus famous.
My idols were the need to be loved and accepted by men. I replaced this need with my need for God’s love and acceptance…which I continue to receive in wave upon wave of His deep abiding love for me…just because I exist!
My idol was me. I allowed him (me) to be crucified and buried with Christ, replacing my old dead self with the new creation in Christ God raised me to be. And I leave the dead guy dead and buried. I even have a tombstone to prove it!
When we exalt our self above God, we become wise in our own eyes…but God calls this foolishness. The moment we raise our self above God, we effectively raise up our self as an idol, worshiping the creation over the Creator. Idols eventually crumble, one way or the other, because they are not eternal nor are they afforded any real power whatsoever. If we never repent and tear down the idols in our lives, we can never overcome sin. We remain stuck where we are and never truly move on to victory.
How can we walk in freedom when idols separate us from God? How do we tear down the idols in our life?
We repent. Repentance is a good thing because it restores us to right standing with God. Simply put, repentance is agreeing with God. If God calls it sin, we should call it sin.
We renounce the sin. This simply means we formally disown the sin. We take responsibility for our wrong choice and accept God’s Word as the Truth.
We receive the forgiveness of God. To receive Him is to receive all He is. He is love. He is righteous. He is holy. He is All in All. Oh, and while we are at it, we must forgive ourselves!
We realize our identity is in and comes from Him. He is holy, therefore I am holy. He is righteous, therefore I am righteous. He is with me, therefore I am with Him. He is healer, therefore I am called to lead others to healing in and through Jesus Christ. We live our life through the lens of Who God is:
• in our sorrow, He comforts
• in our pain, He gives grace to endure
• in our lack, He provides
• in our wounding, He heals
We recognize that anything can become an idol. My wife can become an idol. My children can become idols. My ministry can become an idol. My work can become an idol. How do I deal with that? I recognize my wife and children, my ministry and vocation, are gifts from the Lord…and I give them back to Him for use in the Kingdom. I am but a steward of such gifts. They do not define me. They remind me of who and Whose I am.
We resume our journey. We get back up from the place we fell and head right back for and to Jesus Christ! It is when we choose to hang on to our idols that our journey becomes stagnant and we walk in constant defeat. Let go of and destroy your idols today…and move on!
What idols do you worship?
Ephesians 4:21-24 NASB
21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,
22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,
23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.