Friday, March 7, 2014

Idolatry

            Truth is one of the greatest possessions we own.  To know the truth and to practice it is the key to success in every area of life.  This is especially true for the Christian.  All truth finds its source in the person and work of Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  Jesus taught that if anyone would live in fellowship with Him through the practice of truth they would have the “light of life” (John 8:12).  God expects us to practice the truth He has revealed to us.  One of our most serious hindrances is the neglect of learning truth and our failure to practice what we know to be true.  An important truth which every believer in Jesus must accept is that the Christian will serve that which he yields to himself/herself (Romans 6:16).

            Jesus Christ, as our representative, fulfilled all the demands of Old Testament law for us.  His work is imputed to the believing sinner who thereby becomes righteous and forgiven (Romans 3:24-31; 5:1-11).  Through identification with Jesus in his crucifixion and resurrection the believer is set free from the penalty and bondage of sin and will no longer be characterized by the dominion of sin (Romans 6:1-14; 1 John 3:9).

            This does not mean, however, that the believer never sins again in this life.  What it means is that when we sin we not only disobey God, lose fellowship with Him, hinder our spiritual progress, and fail to be a good example – we become characterized by and enslaved to our sin.  When we seek to have something or someone else replace the atoning work of Jesus on the cross to meet the most basic needs of our lives, we have set that something or someone up as our idol to worship.

            Jesus said that we cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:19-24).  When we serve God we live in freedom; when we serve money we become idol worshipers and become enslaved to it, trusting that money will be our ticket to real freedom and happiness.  The issue here is not how much or how little money we actually possess, but the place of money of in our lives and what it stands for – how it figures in our list of priorities.  Many believers today serve God with their lips, but in reality they are in bondage to money.  The evidence is in how we live.  If we are willing to sacrifice almost anything and everything to gain money, then we have set up financial security as the thing we really worship and adore.



            Jesus said that when we know the truth, it is truth that can make us free (John 8:32).  Whenever we commit a sin, we become the servant of that sin.  This is more than being caught in addictions such as alcohol, gambling, pornography, and overeating.  Persons with “clean” lives can also fall prey to the errors of believing that regular church attendance, giving ten percent of income to the church, being nice, growing up with Christian parents, working hard, or being an all-around “good” person are the things that secure a right relationship with God and provide the best things in life.  Idolatry is not only tied to addictions; it can be tethered to our virtues, good deeds, and self-righteousness.

            This season of Lent is to be a time of healthy introspection, taking a fierce moral and spiritual inventory of our lives, and identifying and repenting of everything that we have replaced God with as an idol. 

--What or whom do you identify as your primary means of security and significance?
--Do you have any anger or resentment toward those who pose a threat to whatever it is you tie your security and significance to?
--What fears do you have about giving up certain possessions, activities, or even relationships?
--List the activities and behaviors that you continue to do even though you know it is not in your best interest to do them.  Admit your helplessness to God, receive the work of Jesus on your behalf, and tell a trusted pastor or church leader about your issue.


            We must not allow ourselves to live careless lives, but to live in the freedom that comes from knowing and practicing the truth.  May our Lenten journey lead us to new hope and life in Christ.

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