No Other Loves

In this blog series we are talking about removing idols and their effects from our lives in order to live victoriously. Last week I discussed with you what idolatry actually looks like and how we fall into it. This week we are talking about why idolatry is so dangerous and why John the apostle warns us: “Keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). Let’s dive in!

The Dangers of Idolatry
Idols are an entry point for the devil into your life. The Bible clearly teaches that behind every idol is a demon:

“They provoked Him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations they provoked Him to anger. They sacrificed to demons, not to God–…” Deuteronomy 32:16-17 (AMPC) 

When you embrace an idol, you are welcoming the demon behind that idol into your soul and giving it a “landing strip” in your soul to oppress, torment, and afflict you.

One Bible example of how demons afflict us through idolatry is the story of the healing of Blind Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus was blind from birth. Now, the Bible makes a point of saying that he was the son of Timaeus. Why does the Bible mention who Bartimaeus’ father was? Because of what the name Timaeus means; it means “to defile oneself with idols”! Blind Bartimaeus’ father was an idol worshiper, and that caused him to be blind from birth. Just as scripture teaches, idols are deaf, mute, impotent, and blind, so when someone worships idols they open themselves to deafness, crippling diseases, and, like Bartimaeus, blindness and eye diseases.

Heart Idols
Some sin is so obvious. You don’t have to be the sharpest tack in the box to know stealing, murder, slander, etc. are just plain evil. However, not all pitfalls are as blatant. Not all idols are obvious, either. In fact, some idolatry can simply be a matter of you refusing to let go of something that God has asked you to surrender. It may simply be something that is competing for your affection and hurting your intimacy with God.

One example of this, is the story of the Rich Young Ruler. His description gives the story away, doesn’t it? Rich. Young. Ruler. Well, this sure sounds like a recipe for P-R-I-D-E to me! I’m so thankful for this story in the word of God, because it really helps to expose our tendency to make excuses, and reason away the voice of God in order to keep holding onto our idols. Oh yeah… We human beings are good at that.

Here’s the story:

“Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ” And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:17-22 NKJV

 Whoo boy! Jesus does not let us play our religious games with Him, does He? He knows just how to cut through the smoke screens and expose our idols, but He does it with SUCH LOVE. He wants to help us get rid of the things that hinder our walk with Him.

 Well, let’s talk about this young man. First of all, we shouldn’t think ourselves wiser or better, because this is a common thing we have probably all done. He wanted to compare his behavior with a “list” and check off his accomplishments. This was the “biggie” list of God’s top Ten Commandments, wasn’t it? And, he had a pretty good pedigree. He looked GREAT outwardly, but Jesus doesn’t want religious law-keepers—He wants our whole heart! So He simply said: “Go sell everything.” Boom! And just like that, the hidden idol in his heart was exposed. Sadly, he made the choice to keep it.

The Cost of Keeping Your Idols
What was the effect of this idol in the young man’s heart? He missed his opportunity to know Christ and walk intimately with Him. This, friends, is the danger of idolatry and putting our affections on earthly things instead of on heavenly treasures.

“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.” Psalms 24:3-4 (NKJV)

Can Christians have idols? Sure, Christians can have as many idols they want…but at what cost? There will be no “ascending” in intimate worship if we cling to our other “gods”. Timaeus’ son, Bartimaeus, lost his vision. The rich young ruler lost the true riches of intimacy with Christ. The bottom line is there is nothing worth forfeiting your destiny, health, and friendship with God for. Nothing. We will talk more on this next time!

Until then, be blessed and ascend!

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