What gods are you pursuing?
“Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods. I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods.” (Psalms 16:4)
In his book, gods at war: defeating the idols that battle for your heart, Pastor Kyle Idleman identifies three different temples in which we go to worship nine different false gods: the temple of pleasure, the temple of power, and the temple of love. In the temple of pleasure, Idleman identifies the god of food, sex, and entertainment. In the temple of power are the gods of success, money, and achievement. In the temple of love are the gods of romance, family, and me (yourself).
The book poses the following questions: "What do you sacrifice for? What makes you mad? What do you worry about? Whose applause do you long for?" Answering these questions can help us objectively discover what gods we may be pursuing. The first action we can take in dealing with these false idols in our lives is to identify the ones we worship. And don’t rule out social media in all of this: are you seeking more and more likes? Are you trying to emulate the people you follow? Are you pursuing strangers on Instagram more than you are your Heavenly Father?
“The deadliest war is the one most of us never realize is being fought. (…) What if it’s not about statues? What if the gods of here and now are not cosmic deities with strange names? What if they take identities that are so ordinary that we don’t recognize them as gods at all? What if we do our kneeling and our bowing with our imaginations, our checkbooks, our search engines, our calendars? What if I told you that every sin you are struggling with, every discouragement you are dealing with, even the lack of purpose you’re living with are because of idolatry?” (gods at war)
To Idleman’s point, we don’t see people worshiping statues or bowing to deities in our American society. But we do have television programs searching for the next American idol, we have hundred foot high advertisements, we have celebrities and award shows celebrating those celebrities, and of course we do have cult-religions that are constantly seeking out new members.
“You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—” (Deuteronomy 6:14)
This is a warning about getting absorbed in the culture around us. Paul warns in Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of the world…” We are to behave as children of God, citizens of heaven.
Once we’ve identified the gods we struggle with, what are we to do about them? Paul says to put them to death!
“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” (Colossians 3:5)
It may not be easy, putting something to death rarely is, but it is what we need to do to the idols in our lives. As Jesus instructed, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33). Make sure that nothing comes before God in your life and make sure that your life reflects this. What gets in your way of talking about the Lord to those who need to hear about Him? That may be a god you need to put to death. Do you spend more time checking on people on social media than you do studying and deepening your relationship with God through his Word? Social media may be an idol you need to put to death.
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.” (1 Corinthians 10:13-14)
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(gods at war: defeating the idols that battle for your heart is available on Amazon or at your local bookstore or library.)