Posted by: missionventureministries | June 26, 2019

GUARD YOURSELVES FROM IDOLS – 1 John 5:21

The apostle John writes: “Dear children, guard yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21

According to the Webster dictionary, the definition of idolatry is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God. Whatever we treasure more than God, whatever drives our thoughts and actions, becomes an idol, and these idols dull our heart and turn us away from God.

Idolatry extends beyond the worship of images and false gods. It is a matter of the heart, associated with pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony and love for possessions. Jesus said: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

Since an idol can be anything that takes the place of God as the most important focus and priority in our life, let’s take a look at some things that are or can become idols in our life.

PRIDE by definition is an excessively high opinion of oneself. This results in that the status of the person; their needs, desires, greatness and public image are his main interest and concern, regardless of how it affects others.

Proud people think that they are important or superior because of whom they are, what they have, or what they have done. Pride is when we take the credit for our accomplishments and forget that God is the One who has given us our ability. God hates this kind of pride and sooner or later there will be consequences as we see what happened to king Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:28-37.

If we don’t recognize that pride is an idol and a constant temptation and do not repent of it, we will not grow spiritually to the measure God wants for us. “This is what the Lord says: Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

SELFISHNESS comes from the world, the flesh, and the devil, and greatly impedes our spiritual growth because the whole emphasis of Scripture is on our relationships to God and to others.

The desire to be first; the longing to have the most are not the characteristics of a person under the control of the Holy Spirit; in fact, the opposite is true. Scripture tells us, “If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual and demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:14-16).

Only through surrender to our Father can we break free from the idol of self and selfishness and in so doing, find the freedom to be all that God created us to be; men and women of purpose designed to glorify our Creator God.

GREED could be described as an unquenchable desire to have more money or possessions for self-gratification, while ignoring God, eternity and the need of others. Paul states “the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).

Greed puts a wrong value on temporal things. It treats temporal things as if they, and we, will endure on earth forever. But, in fact, we could die today or all our possessions could be taken from us instantly, as we read in the biblical example in parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21.

SELF-CENTEREDNESS, a self-centered person is excessively concerned with themselves and their own needs. They are selfish and tend to ignore the needs of others and only do what’s best for them.

Jesus addresses the very core of the sin of self-centeredness with this clear declaration: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). To deny oneself means letting go the material things that are used to gratify self. To deny oneself is to let go of selfish desires and earthly security and focus instead on the interests of God (Matthew 6:33); it literally means to turn from self-centeredness to God-centeredness where self is no longer in charge and God is, with Christ ruling our hearts.

We all have a tendency toward self-centeredness which is another idol worship practice. The question is, which will we allow to have control of our lives; the flesh or the Spirit? (Romans 13:14; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 John 2:15-16)

GLUTTONY Eating and drinking are not contrary to God’s will. However, the purpose that drives our desire to eat and drink can be. If we are eating and drinking excessively for the purpose of escaping hardships in life, we are gluttons. We should not substitute eating and drinking for dependence on God to sustain us through times of trouble. The purpose of eating and drinking is to sustain our bodies and not to make food or drink an idol that subdues our senses.

God has blessed us by filling the earth with foods that are delicious, nutritious, and pleasurable. We should honor God’s creation by enjoying these foods and by eating them in appropriate quantities. God calls us to control our appetites, rather than allowing them to control us. The Scriptures warns us that “their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19).

LOVE OF POSSESSIONS – The Bible is clear about material possessions.  If they are a higher priority in our life then God is; we need to repent!  God gives us blessings so that we can be a blessing to others, not to maintain a luxurious lifestyle to benefit our greed. 

We need to be reminded that life is not about the here and now, but about eternity.  We can’t take our things to Heaven, but we can definitely use them to benefit others while we are still living.  Jesus said: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

And on another occasion He warned us: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Idols are not only made out of material things like stone, wood, etc. People that don’t know the word of God make people their god also, like worshiping their leaders, musicians and performers. In the Bible we see where people tried to make a god, an idol out of Herod; and God killed Herod with a very shameful and painful death right in front of them. God showed these wicked, idol worshippers how stupid they were, because “on the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people.  They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. But the word of God continued to spread and flourish” (Acts 12:21-24).

Our hearts and minds must be centered on God and on having a kind heart towards others. This is why when asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replied, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39). When we love the Lord and others with everything that is in us, there will be no room in our hearts for idolatry.

“Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry”

1 Corinthians 10:14

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