It’s time to get a little deeper in the topic and really “get to meddling” in some of our root issues. First, however, I want to lay a foundation of what we’re talking about. Unfortunately, committing to post every. single. day. makes it near impossible to spend the time crafting a theologically heavy post. So, instead, I’m going to defer to a few well-studied men to more fully explain this.
Related to the idea of kingdoms is the concept of idolatry. I’m not necessarily talking about a statue that someone might bow to, but the heart idols that lead us all astray in our on way. An idol may be anything that can be a substitute for God. John Calvin has said:
“From this we may gather that man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols…Man’s mind, full as it is of pride and boldness, dares to imagine a god according to its own capacity; as it sluggishly plods, indeed is overwhelmed with the crassest ignorance, it conceives an unreality and an empty appearance as God.” – John Calvin, Institutes, 1.11.8
Here are a few thoughts pulled from a video excerpt of C.J. Mahaney‘s (former president of Sovereign Grace Ministries) sermon on the subject.
The evil doesn’t lie in what we want. Often as Christians what we want are gifts from God. The evil isn’t in what we want, the evil is in wanting it too much. The desire for a gift from God becomes a sinful craving – a ruling craving.
If our hearts remain unmonitored or unmanaged, they will regularly create substitutes for God. Within each of us, in the form of remaining sin. is a fully functioning idol factory – at work and open for business 24/7.
If the essence of idolatry is wanting a gift from God too much, how can I determine if I want something too much? What is your response if you don’t obtain it? What is your response if it’s taken away?
J.D. Grear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC, also posted recently on 5 insights into idolatry. I encourage you to read the full article, but I want to highlight two of those insights.
Idols engage the deepest emotions in our hearts: When something we love is threatened, people get violent, because many of our deepest emotions are connected to idols. About what do you think, “If I ever lost this, I’d never survive”? What possible loss makes you not only frightened, but despairing? The irony here is that idolizing something ultimately keeps you from being able to enjoy it at all. Gaining more of an idol only heightens that sense of fear, because nothing other than God can sustain the weight of your soul.
Idols demand sacrifices to keep them happy: An idol is like a fire. It never says, “That’s enough.” Instead, it just keeps asking for more. The altar of idolatry is terrifyingly insatiable: the more you sacrifice for an idol, the more it will demand. What part of yourself have you sacrificed on the altar of an idol? Where do you feel that “pull” to keep cutting corners or making excuses? Don’t fool yourself into thinking that this sacrifice will be the last one.
Ack. There’s just too much good stuff on this hard subject.
Darrin Patrick, pastor of The Journey Church in St. Louis, has an excellent sermon (or two) on idolatry.
Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, wrote the book, Counterfeit Gods. Good read.
Finally, I haven’t read it yet, but Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins we Tolerate by Jerry Bridges has been highly recommended to me.
Heavy stuff here. Has it made you think about what idols you may have in your life? Has it brought up more questions than answers?
This is another post in the #write31days series, Crushing your Kingdoms.