Self-righteousness is the largest idol of the human heart – the idol which man loves most and God hates most. Dearly beloved, you will always be going back to this idol. You are always trying to be something in yourself, to gain God’s favour by thinking little of your sin, or by looking to your repentance, tears, prayers ; or by looking to your religious exercises, your frames, etc; or by looking to your graces, the Spirit’s work in your heart. Beware of false Christs. Study sanctification to the utmost, but make not a Christ of it.
Robert Murray McCheyne
I would neither have you be idle in duties – nor make an idol of duties.
William Secker, The Consistent Christian, 1660.
The passions of discontent, pride, and envy–exert
themselves in each of us. We are fallen into a state
of gross idolatry–and SELF is the idol we worship!
The principle of SELF is deep-rooted in every heart,
and is the spring of every action–until grace infuses
a new principle, and SELF, like Dagon, falls before
the Lord Almighty!
From the Letters of John Newton
False gods patiently endure the existence of other false gods.
Dagon can stand with Bel, and Bel with Ashtaroth;
how should stone, and wood, and silver,
be moved to indignation;
but because God is the only living and true God,
Dagon must fall before His ark;
Bel must be broken,
and Ashtaroth must be consumed with fire.
Charles Spurgeon from A Jealous God, Sermon 502, March 29, 1863
Whatsoever we have over-loved, idolized, and leaned upon,
God has from time to time broken it,
and made us to see the vanity of it;
so that we find the readiest course to be rid our comforts
is to set our hearts inordinately or immoderately upon them.
What is God breaking of yours?
1 Samuel 5:1-7 (ESV)
5 When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod.
2 Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon.
3 And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place.
4 But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him.
5 This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.
6 The hand of the Lord was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory.
7 And when the men of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god.”
This afternoon we started out with sleet. Heavy sleet! The yard was beginning to turn white with sleet. Then after dark it turned into snow. It has been snowing for hours now and we probably have four plus inches and it is still snowing heavily. Maybe even more now we can’t see the rocks at the pond, or the edge of the patio or anything but level flat snow. Problem is this snow has a layer of ice underneath from the sleet. Very dangerous to walk on. 🙁 The roads and interstates are closed. We’ve even have had thunder-snow: thunder, lightening and heavy snow showers. Snow is nice in how quiet it is, other than the thunder-snow. Quiet and peaceful and clean.
Psalms 51:6-9 (ESV)
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Everything has been washed, there is food to eat, animals tended to as best as possible, electric heat turned up high in case of power going out, and gas heat as an alternative. Now time to relax and watch the snow, praying the power doesn’t go out.
Yet? Would it be bad to pray an imprecatory (to invoke evil upon) prayer upon those who have made a particular football game tomorrow night an idol? We can’t seem to get the weather without having to hear about the “poor suffering” souls who spent thousands for tickets and flights to the game. Seems our airport is closed and all flights are canceled. Or might the Lord Himself have something to do with this snow and ice storm? Of course, He did. The Lord will not take lightly the worshiping of idols. So maybe I don’t need to pray an imprecatory prayer after all. Maybe just qualify it to people losing their cable and not their power. But if losing their power is what it will take to turn the hearts toward the Lord, then so be it. Maybe ours can stay on since we don’t have cable nor does the game matter to us. 🙂
In Genesis 3:6, we find three traps that Eve fell into.
Genesis 3:6 (ESV) So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
During the True Woman Conference there was a breakout session on this very topic.
In a breakout session Friday afternoon, Bob Lepine of the daily radio program FamilyLife Today unpacked from Genesis 3:6 three areas that tend to trap and even enslave women: food, beauty and control.
Here are some of Bob’s insights:
- Food. Women are more likely than men to suffer from eating disorders, to do emotional “binge” eating and to be obsessed with healthy eating. Even an obsession with healthy eating can become an idol in their lives when it takes on proportions it was never meant to have in their lives. …
So do any of these areas in life enslave you?
Have they become encompassing idols in your life?
Whatever we have over-loved, idolized, and
leaned upon–God has from time to time broken
it, and made us to see the vanity of it; so that we
find the readiest course to be rid of our comforts
–is to set our hearts inordinately upon them.
This weekend I had the opportunity to listen to a couple of speakers at a church nearby. As is to be expected with our family we all carried our Bibles and I was prepared to take notes like I usually do. But the first night I didn’t make any notes nor did I ever have a verse to turn to. But that was the introduction, the meat would come later, right? Now I must admit that there were a few tidbits of interesting information but nothing new, nothing that was a new idea or thought to me.
Then Saturday comes in which I’m optimistic that there will be some Biblical truths and treasures to glean, even if I wasn’t as optimistic as on Friday. But honestly until one of the last sessions there was no need to even open my Bible. Now granted there were a few verses quoted but not something that needed to be turned to. I expected a Biblical Conference to be … well you know … Biblical?
Now don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the people and the families we met and the between the sessions fellowship was great. But I left feeling quite disappointed and honestly as if I had wasted my time. We have very few Saturdays free from activities and this could have been one of them. The facts and information presented might would have been useful for the average church member who attends church on Sunday AM, sends the children to daycare and public school while voting for “Change, change.” But as most present were longtime homeschooling families the information wasn’t new but especially it wasn’t based purely on Scripture. That is my biggest and most serious concern.
I can’t begin to tell you how many quotes, excerpts and expressions where given from a particular couple of individuals. The ________ said this about this subject. __________ predicted this decades ago. Everything has developed just like _______ said it was going to. _______, __________, __________, ….. The reason I’m not naming names is because it really doesn’t matter whose name is there. The point is the focus on an individual and what they said, an unbalanced focus without the accompanying negatives.
It doesn’t really matter if they are quoting Spurgeon, Calvin, Wesley, Warren, Pearl or Hinn, once someone is so focused on quoting one individual to the seeming exclusion of others there is a major problem. The only time such a focus on quoting an individual should occur is when you are giving a biography of a particular person. But any good biography covers both the good and the bad; the truth and the error in a person’s life. But what happened this weekend wasn’t biographical, it was honestly more easily idolatry of a particular person’s writings. I know that sounds harsh, but honestly when there are more quotes from __________ than from Scripture, what have you got but idolatry?
See it doesn’t even matter how accurate a particular individual is when he speaks, no man (or woman) alive or dead is more accurate and worthy of quoting more than Scripture. This is an issue that even obviously committed Christians easily fall into. I’ve heard / read many individuals who are constantly saying “But Calvin says in his Institutes…”, “Spurgeon taught that ….” or “____________ said ….”.
This is a serious problem that often is unnoticed by the individual doing it. Just as sometimes you don’t realize how you say “Uh” every couple of words when speaking until you hear a recording, often people don’t realize when a respected figure has moved from respected to idolized.
When Ball Becomes Baal
By Jim Elliff
It’s rare to see kids playing sports in the neighborhood anymore. We’re now organized and “professionalized”—including uniforms, state-of-the-art facilities, endless trips to the field, competitive coaches, equally competitive parents, and the after-season tournaments designed to give parents “bleacher bottom.” In addition, you’ve got to pay to play—and when you’ve paid that much, you’ll be sure to play.
It is also fun, and it can be instructive. I love to watch my kids play sports. In fact, they need to play—some. But, it’s not so easy as handing over seventy bucks and saying, “Sign up Johnny and Susie this year.” Making that decision means that you may be out four to five times each week during the season. Soon sports becomes all about calendarization and control of your life—especially if you have more than one kid. Perhaps nothing outside of a change in your job has so much potential to turn the family schedule upside down.
“This man understands,” you say.
Now comes the part you won’t like: “Behold, I say unto you, you have made sports the household god.” Too strong? OK, not all of you. But the deification of sports is happening to many.
How does ball become Baal? Answer: When it controls you, and you give it devoted worship. It is around your god that you order your life—and you can almost never say “no” to it.
Like “athlete’s foot” on the hygienically-challenged teenager, sports has taken over more and more of the life of believers. Almost overnight we have awakened to the sad fact that, in many communities, sports has even usurped the hours believers meet on the Lord’s Day. All too often members are saying to church leaders, “We’ll be gone next Sunday because of the soccer tournament.” In turn, leaders are supposed to acquiesce humbly. After all, we can’t afford to appear “legalistic;” everyone knows that the greatest crime a church can commit is to demand something of someone.
You’ll hear, “But the team needs all the players. We can’t let the team down.” It never occurs to them that the church body is being deprived of a necessary body part, or that God is marginalized and disobeyed. We are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, states God in Hebrews 10:25.
Devotion is the operative word. When the team says, “We need you,” we sacrifice to do it. But when it crosses the time allotted to spiritual edification and worship, the Ruler of the universe is often sent to the bench. In the process, we teach our children that devotion to sports is more important than both devotion to God and loyalty to our spiritual family. Have you considered that you may be teaching your kids to worship sports?
Here are some ways to put sports in the proper place:
First, decide beforehand that there will be no contest between the church’s essential activities designed for your family’s spiritual growth and what the team plans for your lives. If you will talk this over ahead of time with your child and then the coach, there will be no confusion. Through the years I’ve found that many coaches respect that decision. But, it must be a prior decision, not one made on a case by case basis. When sports conflicts with Sunday worship or youth camp or a special spiritual activity, the decision has already been made.
Secondly, determine that your children cannot play every sport. There is a sanctity to the home life that must be protected. You need quiet evenings at home. You need meals together. Just let your children know that you are excited about sports, but there are limits. You then determine what those limits are. For us, we attempt to have only one sport per year for each child.
Finally, think about some creative choices. One of my sons played basketball, but the season was interminably long. I was also traveling. So, I would be gone speaking over the weekend, then, when I was home, I was out two or more nights sitting on the sidelines watching my son practice. It was not really “time together.” This wasn’t going to work.
The solution came to me after prayer. I asked him if he would be willing to learn golf in the place of basketball. We could play together, along with his brother, and we could do it whenever we wanted. We could enjoy this for the rest of our lives. I’ve paid some extra money, but I’ve bought back some time with my sons and some good exercise for me also. It’s a bargain.
God Himself uses sports language in the New Testament. He’s not against it, unless it steals the devotion belonging to Him. All other gods have to go!
Copyright © 2004 Jim Elliff. Permission granted for not-for-sale reproduction in exact form including copyright. Other uses require written permission. Write for additional materials.
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