I had a rat in my house one time. Yikes! I tried to get it out but it was too fast. It found some super hiding place & for days, I knew it was present but didn’t know where. Finally, some men who were doing some home-repairs in my house discovered it. Thankfully, it was dead. I was so relieved. And all I could say was, “The only good rat is a dead rat.”
I think that I have a lot of “rats” running around not in my house, thank goodness, but in my heart. They’re actually called idols. They seem to be my main problem. And it seems that I can trace most of my sin problems to some idol problem that lies deep in my heart. So idolatry just may be the underlying sin of all sins. Calvin said the human heart is an idol factory. Indeed. These idols seem to fan the flames of my sinfulness. Let me show you how they do that in me & perhaps you can relate.
When I have something that I don’t want or I don’t have something that I want, there are 2 choices, the first choice is sin. Let’s go there first.
It starts out like this. I begin to believe that there is something that will do more than what God could ever do for me. Yes, if we look deep into our hearts we will discover that most of the time it is all about me. Suddenly and subtlety (2 Cor 2:11), there is something that appears to be bigger, more wonderful, greater or more exciting than God. There is something that I want that turns into something that I need. It will make me powerful, famous, in control, happy, secure, comfortable, smart, cherished, etc. None of these are true needs. They are merely lusts that have deceived me. Here lies the beginning of discovering my idol that lies deep within my heart. Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” (Mark 6:22). These are the things that my idols demand. In other words, they demand me to sin. Although they claim to be “God”, they are nothing like God. They are takers never givers. They are needy. They continually need me to satisfy them. But they never give what they promise. Basically, they are full of hot air or as Jeremiah says, “my people have hewn out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” And again he asks in chapter 14, “Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain?” But in that “idolatry moment”, my answer is, “Yes, my false god can bring me “rain”. It can bring happiness, power, control, comfort, etc. So I willingly give title of my heart to my precious idol. Oh, indeed we have some precious idols. And God gets moved not to the bottom of the list but just to second place. And second place isn’t that bad, right? Well, actually, when I give God anything but first place, I might as well be saying, “It’s good to have you God, You are a great God most of the time. I am a real fan of Yours but I really, really have to have this idol.” In other words, God becomes negotiable. But my “god” (the idol) is not. Even more, the idol becomes my “redeemer”. So here we are back to Calvin’s quote, “the heart is an idol factory”. I am the maker/manufacturer of all my idols. In Jeremiah 14 it says that “my people have hewn out cisterns. . .” And Isaiah 44:12-17 describes in great detail how the iron-smith fashions his idol.
And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, & falls down to it & worships it. He prays to it & says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” (Isa 44:17)
So in reality, I become my own redeemer. I make my own idol.
Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made. (Isa 2:8)
This is the mark of idolatry – self redemption. And once I fashion my idol, the lot is cast, the hook is in & the trap has been sprung. I, “sinner woman”, become “owned” by the idol.
And they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. . .
And once I am yoked, I receive not what I thought it promised me (ie. life). But instead, I receive death.
And ate the sacrifices offered to the dead (Ps 106:28)
Quite the opposite of sin is belief in the one & only true God. The bottom line of the sin above, is that I just don’t believe God. I believe in the idol that I have fashioned. And my omission of believing God is my most awful sin. From the moment of my salvation until the time of my death, God is always asking me, “Do you believe me?” Faith is the way that God has ordained for His children to live.
But my righteous one shall live by faith & if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. (Heb 10:38)
Faith in the true God really is the only logical, reasonable way to live for a Christian. After I really take a good look at my God & see all that He is why would I ever choose such idols? They are needy, demanding, takers, liars & never satisfied. My true God, the God of the Bible is already satisfied. He needs nothing. He doesn’t need me because He is complete in Himself. He created me for His glory. He always keeps His promises & always tells me the truth. He is the perfect Giver because He gave His only Son for me. And there is so much more. But therein lays my problem. I really don’t know this God like I should.
And this is eternal life that they may know Me the only true God & Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3)
I know all too well my idols. They attract me so. But if I really took time to study my true God, I may begin to believe Him more & more. If my time was spent more on knowing & studying Him instead of embracing my idol, I would grow more in my faith in Him.
But grow in the grace & knowledge of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 3:18)
How can I believe or trust someone more & more if I don’t really know Him? So if I want to knock my idols dead, I need to stop spending so much time with them. I need to stop “attending” to their every whim. Then I need to start focusing on my true God & learn more about Him. As I do, His sweet Spirit woos me closer to Him & I find myself longing to follow Him, longing to please Him, longing to obey Him. Why? Because I have begun to get a taste of Who He really is – transcendent, omnipotent, good, righteous, pure & holy – oh, so holy! Then my heart begins to change & I obey Him because I love Him. It is only my true God that can do such changing. It is only the true God that can cause me to turn from my wicked idolatry & follow Him. And once I get on that path I too will say with Peter when he was asked by Jesus if he wanted to depart,
“Lord, to whom shall we go: You alone have words of eternal life, & we have believed, & have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68)
Let us look more at this Holy One of God & watch our idols grow strangely dim. In other words – KNOCK ‘EM DEAD.
SOMETHING FOR YOU TO DO (How to Knock ‘em Dead)
Name your idols. Here are some you may have not considered: convenience, chill time, control, good looks, fun, glory or fame, comfort, happiness, alone time, your children, your spouse, good health, something that you want that you don’t have. . .
Name them again, this time to God. Then tell Him you are sorry that you have not believed that He & He alone is your God. Repent, let them go. Stop giving away His glory. It will never “fit” on your idols. It only belongs to Him (Isa 42:8). That’s like taking every dollar you have & throwing it in the fire. So stop giving your glory away & start putting on “new man” (Eph 4:22-24).
“New Man” pursues the true God by studying Him, learning about Him & knowing Him through His glorious Word. (Col 3:1)
I encourage you to start today to do just that.