Identifying Idols

“I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:”

Exodus 20:2-4

Idolatry seems archaic. We imagine worshippers bowing in obeisance to ancient carved statues, but idols are more than the stones of the past. We still struggle with this sin because idolatry is a heart issue. The Bible speaks with clarity on the subject. God ranked this sin at the top of the Ten Commandments. The New Testament writers say we should flee from and guard ourselves from idols. But what is idolatry? How can we identify an idol today?

The modern-day idols hide in the corridors of our hearts. They manifest themselves through our thoughts and actions. The Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). Did you catch this list of sins that “amount to idolatry?”

In the past, the outworking of an idolatrous heart presented itself in handmade deities. Worshippers devoted their lives to a product of their own making. We may not hold a graven idol in our hands, but if we give our preeminent devotion to anything other than God, it is sinful. Our relationships, careers, and even ministries can become idols.

If we are not diligent to examine our inner life, our hearts will erect an altar of offense to God. We need to see the truth of John Calvin’s statement that the “human heart is a factory of idols.” We must allow the Spirit to walk through the hallways of our heart. Giving Him access to enter any door that He knocks on.

If you refuse to heed the knocking of the Spirit, you are guilty of idolatry. Christ should possess preeminence in every aspect of our lives. We have all ignored the Spirit, but God is gracious to uproot idols and continue His work in us. Believers have a guarantee of forgiveness if we confess our sins (see 1 John 1:9). The knock at the door of your heart will only grow louder. For God is jealous and will not share His glory with another. Do you hear the Spirit knocking at your heart’s door? Open and allow Him to identify the idol in your life.


Victory in Jesus

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

(John 16:33, KJV)

I stood by my friend’s bedside, singing Victory in Jesus with his familyHis body, ravaged by cancer, was fading fast. We knew the end was near. To some, he was losing his battle with cancer, but my friend was not tasting defeat, but victory. As we sang, prayed, and wept, he was hearing the grandstand of heaven cheering for him to crossover. He was leaving this life in victory.

How can I say this? By faith. The Bible states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Some confuse faith with positive thinking. Although positive thinking is good, it only takes you so far. A preacher once said positive thinking is having faith in faith. Yet the Bible calls us to have faith in God (see Mark 11:22). The object of our faith is God and only He can comfort us in times of tribulation.

As a pastor, I’ve walked people over joyous mountaintops and through dark valleys of despair. The latter is never easy. No one, even a believer, is exempt from the suffering of this world. In fact, Jesus assured us we would face persecution, pain, and even loss. However, God promises victory to believers. Christians can experience peace and joy during trials because Jesus has overcome the world.

Our faith in Jesus’ triumph over this world (i.e., His death, burial, and resurrection) secures our victory. We have victory in Jesus! We shouldn’t base our salvation on our moralistic or religious achievements in this life. It’s not about what we do, because we will always fall short of God’s glory (see Romans 3:23). But it is about placing our faith in what Christ accomplished. He lived, died, and rose victoriously in our place. He was our substitute. Christ provided the victory for any circumstance we face. Paul writes, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37, KJV emphasis mine). By faith in Christ, we can rest in being victorious.

What the world views as tragedy and loss may be our gain by faith. God never promises the Christian a rosy experience in this life, but He does promise to never leave nor forsake them (see Hebrews 13:5). His presence provides peace, joy, and victory. You will face hard times, but you have the choice to face them with or without Him. Are you experiencing the victory in Jesus that God promised believers? Remember, it’s only found in Him.

Could I? I Wonder.

Could I make it as a writer? I wonder. The dream of being a professional writer has followed me through life like an incessant puppy that simply wants to play fetch. But I’m too busy adulting to toss the ball. Deadlines, commitments, responsibilities force me to pet the pup on the head to pacify him, promising I will come back to play later. Later never really comes. Or at least, it hasn’t yet.

Over the last several months, I’ve lost sleep from the constant whimper and whines. Sleeping in is out of the question, since Fido is ready for the day. My lifelong dream barks for me to get out of bed to play. The sand of my life is halfway through the hourglass with the passing of another birthday. Time appears to slip by faster and faster. It’s time. No, it’s beyond time to take this yapping dream of mine to the park, take its leash off, and let it run free until his heart is content.

I wonder. Could I make it as a writer?