Could you be worshiping idols? Don’t think so … What do you trust in to bring you pleasure, satisfaction, rescue, or escape? What are your “if only’s” and “I must’s”? Is it possible even for “good things” to become idols?
God warned His people over and over to repent and turn from idolatry. Their refusal to do so took them into captivity and cost them the loss of their land, their homes, their freedom, and often their families.
But warnings against idolatry didn’t stop with the Old Testament and weren’t limited to the worship of statues (1 Cor. 10.12-14; 1 Jn. 5.21). How can we be sure that we don’t have false gods that we’re depending on more than God Himself?
Ezekiel 13 & 14
Could you and I be worshiping idols?
When “Sadness” is a Good Thing
Chapter 13.22 says, “Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life.”
Ezekiel told the false prophets they had it backwards, they were making the heart of the righteous sad and actually encouraging sinners whom God had made sad as a means of saving their lives. When we merely try to make people “feel better” about sin and unrighteousness, we often get in the way of what God is doing.
Idols of the Heart
1 Now some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. 2 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 3 “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them?
4 “Therefore speak to them, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD. “Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, 5 that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols.”’
6 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD. “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations. (14.1-6)
God told the prophet to warn the people that they had “idols in their hearts.” When we think of idolatry, we usually think of some false god or statue to which we bow down, but the idols Ezekiel wrote about here were not statues; they were what the people valued, what they put their trust in.
Could you and I be worshiping idols?
An idol can be anything we want more than God Himself. It can be something that consumes our lives and pushes God out of His rightful place. It’s what we trust in to bring us pleasure, satisfaction, rescue, or escape. It’s anything we want more than pleasing God with our lives.
When we have sex outside of marriage, we may be worshiping pleasure or companionship. When we walk away from a marriage because we aren’t “happy,” we’re valuing our happiness or having our own way above pleasing God.
Even a good thing, like having a godly husband, can become an idol. If we’re willing to sin to get it (nagging, criticizing …) or sin because we don’t (withholding affection …), that thing—whether good or bad—is an idol.
Verse 3 goes on to say they had “put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity.” They were blinded by their own idols. When something is right in front of your face—you can’t see anything else.
What controls your thinking and behavior? What are you living for? What do you think is the one thing that will make you happy?
What are your “if only’s”?
“If only, my husband had a better job.”
“If only, we had a bigger house.”
“If only, I were married.”
“If only, I could get pregnant.”
And what are your “I must’s”?
“I must have children who obey me!”
“I must have a godly husband!”
“I must have a wife who respects me!”
“I must be able to trust my husband!”
“I must have a good job.”
“I must have a career I can fall back on.”
It’s not that it’s wrong to desire a godly husband, or a respectful wife, or a career, or obedient children, but when those things start to control our thinking and behavior, it can lead us straight into idolatry!
So what are you worshiping? Is it God and God alone? If you never get that thing you want, would you still love, worship and serve God and trust in His goodness?
He is enough!
If you realize there’s something you have been wanting too much, something that has become an idol in your heart, the answer is still the same; verse 6b, “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Repent, turn away from your idols …’” and put your faith in Christ alone. He is enough!
Today’s Other Readings:
Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem
Verse 6 instructs us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Even though God is working through the church in this age, the Jews are still His people. He loves them and blesses those who pray for them.
“He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough!”
Again God wants us to do our part, whether by being faithful, honest, hard-working employees or being good stewards of what He has provided. When we do our part, He gives us more than enough.
He Lives … and He Lives to Pray for Us!
What a comfort in verse 25:
“… He always lives to make intercession for [us].
Jesus our Great High Priest lives to make intercession for us!
Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone
Many people desire to live godly lives but feel trapped in habitual sins. They trip over the same bad habit, embarrassing weakness, or sinful slavery they wanted to be free of years ago. In this book author Elyse Fitzpatrick reveals that at the heart of every besetting sin lies idolatry.
Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart
In gods at war, Kyle Idleman, bestselling author of not a fan, helps every believer recognize there are false gods at war within each of us, and they battle for the place of glory and control in our lives. What keeps us from truly following Jesus is that our hearts are pursuing something or someone else. While these pursuits may not be the “graven images” of old, they are in fact modern day idols. Behind the sin you’re struggling with, the discouragement you’re dealing with, the lack of purpose you’re living with is a false god that is winning the war for your heart.
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