Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Dealing with Idols

How do we deal with the idols in our lives? If we rightly understand what idols are, we will realize that we all have them. Whatever we put in our lives before God is an idol (Colossians 3:5; Romans 1:23; Matthew 22:37). How do we deal with them? We could focus on the obviously bad things that people make idols in their lives. Things like alcohol, drugs, pornography, and gambling. But the Scripture says that even otherwise good things put before God are wrong (Luke 14:26; Matthew 6:24; 1 Corinthians 10:31). Nor should we react by going to the opposite extreme and attempt to avoid any and all pleasures, with the idea that this will keep us from idolatry (Colossians 2:20-23; 1 Timothy 4:3,4; Titus 1:15,16). But finding the right path between the two extremes can be difficult.   

We need to start by putting Christ first in our lives (Matthew 6:33; 16:24-27; Colossians 1:18). Now we cannot do this on our own, but we need to look to God for His power to enable us to do this (John 15:5; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13). Further, we need to base our actions on what Christ has done for us in dying on the cross to save us (Romans 12:1,2; 1 John 4:19; 2 Peter 1:9). This should result in a pattern of trusting God for every aspect of our lives (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 127:1,2; Hebrews 11:6). This is the real antidote for idolatry. For if we trust God for our salvation, our growth in Him, and all the other aspects of our lives, then we will have put Him first in our lives. But we need to be careful here. We do not obtain faith in God by attempting to drum up a feeling of faith. We obtain faith in God by understanding God and what He has done for us (Hebrews 12:2; 11:24-27; Romans 4:18-25). Now this does not happen all at once but is a process (Philippians 3:12-16; 1 Timothy 4:7-9; Ephesians 4:11-16). Involved in this process is God removing the idols from our lives. Now sometimes this can be a painful process (Matthew 5:29,30). I do not take this passage as referring to the literal cutting off of body parts, but to the willingness to get rid of whatever is necessary from my life so I can follow God. Assisting in this process is a focus on the basic disciplines of the Christian life, particularly the Word of God (Hebrews 5:11-14; John 17:17; Psalms 119:9-11) and prayer (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17,18; Philippians 4:6.7). But in the end it is a matter of our choice. Are we willing to let God strip away the idols from our lives? Or will we continue to cling to them in spite of what God has told us to do. Removing the idols from our lives is a lifelong process. But it takes place one step at a time. What idols do you need to give up?

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