Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel With Hidden Idols by Brad Bigney.
The Bible talks a lot about idols and idolatry, both in the Old and New Testaments. Perhaps you, like me, have often skimmed over those verses as only relevant to some foreign culture with temples and giant statutes.
But are statues of Buddha, Hindu gods, and other strange religions the only forms of idolatry?
In Ezekiel 14 God, speaking to the elders of Israel, said this:
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. 7 For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the Lord will answer him by Myself. 8 I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.
These were not carved statues. These idols were in their hearts, were causing them to stumble into sin, and separated them from God.
Sin does that. While those of us who belong to Him don’t lose our salvation. It puts a wall between us and Him and will hinder our prayers and our communion with Him.
Gospel Treason can help us uncover the idols we have in our hearts, idols we might not even recognize. Idols that are standing between us and our spiritual growth, between us and the marriage we want, between us and peace in other relationships. In short, causing chaos in our lives.
Brad does so through personal stories and a great deal of transparency. From the introduction:
My wife and I have been married for twenty-five years, but twenty years ago we were at war. There was no camouflage, there were no guns, and neither of us was crawling under barbed wire in our single-wide mobile home. But we both felt that we were constantly stepping on land mines in our relationship—putting out brushfires, running for cover, and dodging the bullets that our tongues fired back and forth. Our marriage had deteriorated into a battlefield, and we were opposing forces.
And the casualty rate was high.
He goes on:
The breakthrough for us came when the counselor helped us to identify—and repent of—the ways in which we had allowed other desires, other goals, and other cravings to dethrone our Savior and his gospel—the ways in which we had allowed these idols to become entrenched and to rule in his place.
He taught us from Ezekiel 14 and James 4:1–3 about the idols of our hearts—this was news to both of us. Neither of us had gone to a counselor believing ourselves to be idolaters—we just knew we had a bad marriage, and we each believed the other was the one who needed to change. We had both grown up in church, but had never been taught the dangers of having something other than Jesus Christ and his gospel rule our hearts.
My “Aha!” moment came when the truth came crashing down on me that what I was chasing after in my heart (“I must be well thought of by everyone at church”) had a direct impact on not only the way I treated my wife, but also my daily, moment-by-moment decisions. And exposing the idols of my heart helped me to take giant steps toward resolving the ongoing conflicts in our marriage. It shifted the target of my attack away from my wife and onto my heart, so that I could begin to work on more than just trying to “be nice,” or to be polite, or to have a date night.
Brought face-to-face with the ugly monster that was my own idolatrous heart, I found freedom in seeing the real enemy for the first time. It humbled me, and it heightened my love and appreciation for the gospel and my Savior. It has deepened my awareness of my dependence on Christ to rule my life moment by moment.
But Brad doesn’t just tell his story and in so doing, help us see our heart idols, he helps us see the way out of our idolatry. He shows us clearly how the gospel, rightly understood and applied, can change our lives, too.
Are you frustrated with some area of your life or some relationship? Do you feel stuck when it comes to your Christian growth? Do you ever wonder what is holding you back? Could the problem be idolatry?
This book might be the catalyst for the same kind of change Brad and many others have experienced as we “Repent, turn away from [our] idols” and turn to God through a better understanding of the gospel and how it applies to our lives every day.
Quotations taken from:
Bigney, Brad (2012-07-09). Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols. P&R Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Previously featured books:
Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day by Glynnis Whitwer. Read about it here.
Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Read about it here.
Gift-Wrapped by God: Secret Answers to the Question “Why Wait?” by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus. Read about it here.
The Heart of Anger: Practical Help for the Prevention and Cure of Anger in Children by Lou Priolo. Read about it here.
Sweethearts for a Lifetime: Making the Most of Your Marriage by Wayne and Carol Mack. Read about it here.
If I’m a Christian, Why Am I Depressed?: Finding Meaning and Hope in the Dark Valley One Man’s Journey by Robert B. Somerville. Read about it here.
Intimate Issues: Twenty-One Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex by Linda Dillow & Lorraine Pintus. Read about it here.
For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn. Read about it here.
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