Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Christian, Know Thy Idols

I have to admit that I have been having a bit of a writer's block lately (so if this post sounds a little bit random or eclectic, forgive me). As of yesterday, August is finally here. This means that summer is almost over and College Football is merely one month away. I make mention of this because a few years back I wrote on my other blog about my deep affection for the Fall, and above all, for listening to sports talk radio. I went on in that post to say how it became an idol in my life, and how it took a massive conscious effort on my part to finally pull myself away from listening to the radio everyday.

Idol-Making Factories
I could be wrong in all of this, but I doubt it. Outside Scripture, I think it was John Calvin who said that "the heart is an idol making factory." I believe he was right. And of course, inside Scripture, the prophet Jeremiah said this very same thing (Jeremiah 17:9). In this post I want to focus on how deceptive idols can be. A few weeks ago at church the sermon was centered on Elijah's face off with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, and I wish the pastor would have made the correlation between Israel's idols and our present day idols, because I think we too easily skim over the fact that idols are not just things of the past, but are present and are so easy to defend and not notice if we're not careful. So let's look at a few reasons why idols are deceptive:

  • Idols aren't necessarily evil. In fact, they can be morally neutral. Let's take a look at probably the most common potential idol, money. Money isn't bad. We would all agree that we need money to pay bills, buy food, live somewhere, help the economy run, and do fun stuff. But maybe you get money, but ever give it. You don't tithe, you aren't generous with what you have towards others, and you enjoy getting stuff. Beware my friend, for you are flirting with an idol. Where did it come from?
  • Idols come from the heart. For as much as Christians try to live in holiness, purity, and humility, ALL idols originate in the heart. I daresay to read the Scriptures and there is not one example of idolatry that does not begin in the heart. That's why I quoted Jeremiah 17:9, and our Lord Jesus Himself said in Matthew 12:34 "You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."

The Solution

It appears that the problem is simple. Your heart is why you are an idol factory. So how does this change? Jesus can and should be the only source of our truest and deepest affection, should he not? The truth is that Christ set us free from all our sin, idols included. John 15 tells us that He is the Vine, and we are the branches. It only makes sense to me that since He is the source, that trusting in anything but Him is foolishness on our part. But this is a lot easier said than done is it not? There's no easy answer for why we have proclivities towards certain idols. Our sinful desires coupled with our human preferences make that a nice combination, huh? But it is through what D.A. Carson calls "grace driven effort" that we can see through the lenses of the Gospel, and honestly and humbly ask for help.

Wrestling with our idols is good. But like Sean spoke about earlier yesterday, we have to kill them. The Puritans called this process mortification. Killing sin so that we would see Christ as the only thing worth everything. I pray that this weighs heavily on us in the days to come.



  1. Thanks for a great post. For a long time now, I'd have to say my vice has been politics. I'm a political junkie. Parliament is out of session and I've found myself checking news websites for political news even though I know it won't be there.

  2. *By vice, I mean idol. General elections are like the Super Bowl (or CFL Grey Cup) in my family.


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