In the previous articles we looked at three of the factors involved in becoming more open to God for His blessing and healing. We saw the need to Abide in the Living word, Jesus and in the written word, the Bible. Then we looked at true Believing as an essential element. Following that we saw how we need to Consecrate ourselves to God. As we come to “D” we see the need to Dethrone the idols we may have in our lives to replace them with Jesus.
In the well-known hymn by William Cowper, “O for a closer walk with God”, he has these challenging words, The dearest idol I have known, Whate’er that idol be, Help me to tear it from Thy throne, And worship only Thee. What is an idol? A short definition would be, An idol is anyone or anything that takes the central place of God in our lives. What is idolatry? Idolatry in the Old Testament stood for the worship of idols which were symbols of false gods. It also stood for the worship of symbols representing Yahweh the God of Israel. We see this in Exodus 20:4-5 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them.
Paul adds to this by showing that human desire (covetousness) for the forbidden is idolatrous because it is giving false value to those things or people as necessary for personal fulfilment, Col 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. It echoes the words in the Decalogue in Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbour’s.” To covet these is forbidden because they belong to other people. Ultimately only God can bring fulfilment to His creatures, not things or other people.
William Cowper recognised that it was all too easy for believers to allow other things or other people to take the central place that the Lord is meant to have in human lives. As someone once put it, “Whatever takes first place in our affections has become for us our god.” Cowper wanted God’s help in removing all the idols in his life to enable him to worship only God Himself.
It is very worthwhile doing a little inventory in our lives to see whether we have allowed other idols to take the Lord’s place in our affections. What are the gods that have pushed Jesus from the centre of our lives? Let’s do a test of our priorities. Jesus taught that we are to love God with all we are and have, Mar 12:30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Even love for another person such as one’s neighbour is a lesser priority than loving God, Mar 12:31 ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’
Here is the first test. Regarding people. Do we spend more time thinking about a particular person than we do thinking about God? Why should a fellow creature occupy a greater proportion of our thinking than the Creator Himself.
Possessions. Do we possess our possessions or do they possess us? Are they our security or is God our security. I once came across a family who would not go away for holidays together because the father had a precious plant he could not trust anyone else to care for. The plant took precedence over his God-given responsibility of caring for the needs of his wife and children.
Much of the attraction towards gambling is due to the thought process that the thing being won will bring more personal satisfaction and fulfilment in life. But things don’t satisfy. Only God does.
Position and status. Do we long for honour in the eyes of people or do we long for God’s blessing perhaps even in a position with little status? I remember a Lady Mayoress in an Australian city saying over 50 years ago that many of the women who helped her in charity work were motivated more by the desire to gain recognition by being seen with her, than by a motivation to help those in need. Good work. Wrong motivation!
Time. This is a real test of our priorities. How much time is given to our pursuit of God and how much is given for our own selfish pursuits? How much more time do we spend reading fiction than we do reading the Bible as the inspired word of God which can inspire us to become what we were meant to become? How much time do we spend talking to others about our problems than we do in talking to God who wants to help us with our problems? And who incidentally can do a whole lot more for us than any human can.
As we do this personal inventory it may be that we begin to see more clearly that we have made idols of things that once were peripheral in our lives. Or we may see that we are becoming infatuated with someone and losing sight of our need to be focussed on the Lord and then on people through His eyes. Perhaps it may be time for us to do as William Cowper did and to pray, The dearest idol I have known, Whate’er that idol be, Help me to tear it from Thy throne, And worship only Thee.
Dethroning every idol so that we might Enthrone Jesus as Lord of our lives.
Blog No.115. Jim Holbeck. Posted Tuesday 13th March 2013