An “Idol” Mind is the Devil’s Workshop – Part 2

May 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Wade's Weekly Word

John Calvin observed long ago that the human heart, our image-bearing and image-fashioning nature, is an idol factory. In spite of all our learning and scientific achievements, this is no less true today than it was in the 16th Century when Calvin made this observation.

Idolatry is Misplaced Worship

Every human being was created to worship. Therefore the issue is never will a person worship, but what will they worship –someone or something. The central theological structure of the Bible revolves around the ages-long struggle between true faith and worship and perverted faith and idolatry.

Man’s Original Sin was an Act of Idolatry – (Read Romans 1:21-25)

The Bible does not consider idolatry as being just a sin among many sins, but the root sin that nurtures all other sins!

The text in Romans 1:21 reminds us that in spite of their knowledge of the one true God, mankind, as a whole, did not honor, recognize or worship Him, but instead “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images … and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator.” Instead of living for God, man begins to live for himself, or his work, or for material goods.

In the beginning, human beings were made to worship and serve God, and to rule over all created things in God’s name (Gen 1:26­–28). Our federal and seminal representative, Adam, rebelled against God and His design and reversed the original intended order. As a result, man began to worship and serve created things, which, paradoxically, resulted in the created things coming to rule over him.

The first two of the Ten Commandments are laws against idolatry. The Bible doesn’t envision any third option between true faith and idolatry. We will either worship the uncreated God or we will worship some created thing (an idol). There is no possibility of our worshipping nothing. The classic New Testament text of Romans 1:18-25, tells us that the reason we turn to idols is because we want to control our lives, though we know that we owe God everything. “Though they knew God, they neither glorified God nor gave thanks to him.” Verse 25 tells us the strategy for control—taking created things and setting our hearts on them and building our lives around them. Since we need to worship something, because of how we are created, we cannot eliminate God without creating God-substitutes. Verses 21 and 25 tell us the two results of idolatry:

(1)Deception—”their thinking became futile and their hearts were darkened,”

(2) Slavery —”they worshipped and served” created things.

Whatever we worship we will serve, for worship and service are always inextricably bound together. So every human personality, community, worldview, and culture will be based on some ultimate concern or some ultimate allegiance—either to God or to some God-substitute.

Individually, we will ultimately look either to God or to success, romance, family, status, popularity, beauty, reason, education or something else to make us feel personally significant and secure, and to guide our choices.

Culturally, we will ultimately look to either God or to the free market, the state, the elites, the will of the people, science and technology, military might, human reason, racial pride, or something else to make us corporately significant and secure, and to guide our choices.

Our English word “worship” comes from an Old English word meaning “worth-ship.” Louie Giglio writes: “Worship is simply about value. The simplest definition I can give is this: Worship is our response to what we value most. That’s why worship is that thing we all do. It’s what we’re all about on any given day. Worship is about saying, ‘This person, this thing, this experience (this whatever) is what matters most to me . . . it’s the thing of highest value in my life.’ And whatever is worth most to you – guess what – is what you worship. As a result, worship fuels our actions, becoming the driving force of all we do.”

Worship is our life in love relationship with God as seen and known in the face of Jesus Christ, being lived and being offered daily to Him. Worship is our lives loving Him, exalting Him, giving Him honor and blessing Him in the easy times, the hard times, joyful times, weeping times, and at all times. It is our showing forth His praise–His excellencies — in every circumstance of our lives.

Worship is so much more than singing a song, more than a dance, more than playing an instrument, more than a once or twice a week event within four walls of a building. Worship is not music, song, sermon, or dancing around. Our worship is our lives presented to our God as living sacrifices each day that we have breath upon the earth and for all eternity.

King Jesus said we must worship “in spirit.” This means that in our human spirit, enabled by the Holy Spirit, we responding to and reflect back to God the worth of His person. We are to worship from the inside out. It’s not a matter of being in the right place at the right time, with the right words, the right demeanor, nor the right clothes, the right formalities, the right activities, the right music, or the right mood.

Worship involves the totality of our being. It is not merely a Sunday activity or a quiet time every day, but an all day attitude and action. Our bodies are temples of the Living God. Every sphere of our lives is scared. Every activity of our lives is to be lived by the power of God, according to the Word of God, for the glory of God! Anything else or less is IDOLATRY!

The bottom line is that we worship whatever we consider has the most worth.

Is the great and first thing – loving God — first, foremost and fully the center of all you are and do? Do you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? Anything else or less is IDOLATRY!

An “Idol” Mind is the Devil’s Workshop – Part 1

May 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Wade's Weekly Word

One of my elementary school teacher’s favorite expressions was, “Boys and girls, always remember that an idle mind is the Devil’s workshop.” Although there is a great deal of truth in this axiom, it doesn’t really get to the main part of the devil’s workshop, because his center for mass production is in the idol making factory of the human mind.

John Calvin observed long ago that the human heart, our image-bearing and image-fashioning nature, is an idol factory. In spite of all our learning and scientific achievements, this is no less true today than it was in the 16th Century when Calvin made this observation. This being true, I want to rephrase the proverb to read: “An IDOL Mind is the Devil’s Workshop!

In the Bible there is no more serious charge than that of idolatry. Idolatry called for the strictest punishment, elicited the most disdainful accusations from the prophets, prompted the most extreme measures of avoidance and was regarded as the chief identifying characteristic of those who were the very antithesis of the people of God, namely the Gentiles. Fundamental to Israel’s life and faith were the first commandment and its exposition in the Shema (Dt. 6:4-5), which were from early on regarded as touching every aspect of life. The early church likewise treated idol worship with the utmost seriousness.

Idolatry is the ultimate expression of unfaithfulness to God and for that reason is the occasion for severe divine punishment.

Idolatry is more than just an ancient problem of the ignorant, it’s more than just a pagan problem of people in remote jungles today – it’s a human problem – a modern problem, and a persistent problem for every Christian! Underneath every sin is idolatry in general. Our idol-making minds create false gods or false images of the one true God and then trust them to make us happy, give us peace, pleasure, purpose, and power in life. Since God desires that we be truly happy and knows that this happiness can come from Him alone, idolatry is seen to be very serious and is attacked very powerfully and pervasively.

What is an idol? An idol is anything that controls you other than the true Lord God in Heaven. In the Old Testament an idol wasn’t just something the people worshipped but something they feared. An idol is anything that you have to check with before obeying God.

Paul reveals that unnatural, ungodly fear is a spirit. When the spirit of fear controls your life, then you are under the lordship of an idol. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Dudley Hall said, “If we have another god, we will fear him. So what does that reveal about our fears? It means for every fear, we have at least one god.”

Pastor Tim Keller’s definition of idolatry is new in its explanation, but ancient in its exercise: “Idolatry is taking a good thing and making it an ultimate thing.”

What is in our lives–if suddenly taken away–would affect us to the point that we might not want to go on living? This is a tough question that gets to the heart of what we organize our lives around for meaning, identity, significance, and love other than God.

Why does God take idolatry so seriously and judge it so devastatingly? Dr. Greg Beale answers this very clearly and convincingly in his book, “We Become What We Worship”:  “We resemble what we revere, either for ruin or restoration. God has made all peoples to reflect, to be imaging beings. People will always reflect something, whether it is God’s character or some feature of the world.”

 The punishment for idolatry is to become like your idol – a spiritual deaf mute, demonically motivated and personally devastated.

What is the answer for idolatry? The answer is not found in going on some kind of iconoclastic campaign to destroy all idols privately in my heart and publically in our cultures. The answer is in living in, off and by the gospel of God, in which He proves His love for us by sending us Jesus to become one of us, to die for us in self-giving love in order that we may enter into an ever-living, ever-loving, ever-lasting relationship with Him. The provision of this unconditional, unearned love relationship convinces us that we have the most valuable, worthy, precious, priceless, Heavenly Father and to revere and worship Him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength is to realize the very purpose for our existence, as well as transforming us into His likeness.

This satisfying, gratifying, glorifying fellowship makes idols pointless and repulsive. The antidote to idolatry is being satisfied with all that God promised to be for us in Jesus. This grace-based love-blessed relationship is available to us all as an unearnable gift from God. The crucial question is whether we will receive it on God’s terms, on terms that renounce idols. These terms can be challenging for us, given our customary reliance on idols (see Mark 10:17-27), and given our tendencies toward enabling idolatry in others. We do the latter when we encourage or ignore, rather than challenge in love, the idolatry practiced by others. In receiving Jesus as Lord, in contrast, we find the key to freedom both from idolatry and from the enabling of idolatry in others. We find freedom to live in unselfish love as we receive God’s freely given love.”

Because of the massive ramifications of idolatry, we join the apostle’s Paul and John in admonishing the saints: “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

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