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Joined: 2003/10/15
Posts: 1632

 Idols Of The Heart

We are going through a long series at church called "Idols of the Heart". I have been studying up on Idolatry for the past few years since I first saw idolatry in my own life. I like the way this series get's into the details.

--An [b]IDOL[/b]= [b]Anything[/b] or [b]anyone[/b] that begins to capture our [b]hearts[/b] and [b]minds[/b] and [b]affections[/b] more than God. Idolatry is living on substitutes. It's exchanging God, the source of life and joy, for a counterfeit.--

[b]Idolatry is rooted in the desires of our hearts. [/b]

We all know that idolatry is mentioned in the Old Testament, but we do not see it spoken of much in the New Testament. The words that are used instead of idolatry in the New Testament are "desires" or "lusts" - any desire that's strong enough to motivate behavior.

[b]Idolatry is a shallow substitute for Christ.[/b]


[b]Identifying Personal ‘Idols’[/b]

[i]"Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it flows the issues of life" Prov. 4:23

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psa. 139:23-24[/i]

[b]Questions to ask yourself as you search your own heart:[/b]

1. What do you feel like doing? Do you want what you want, or do you want Christ’s lordship over your life?

2. Where do you look for security, meaning, happiness, fulfillment, joy, or comfort? Where you do put your ‘basic trust’?

3. What do you fear? What do you tend to worry about?

4. What do you love and hate most of all?

5. How do you define success or failure in a particular situation?

6. What image do you have of who you are? Ought to be or want to be?

7. What do you see as your ‘rights’?

8. When you are pressured or tense, where do you turn? What do you think about?


[b]As you go over the following list ask yourself this:[/b]

1. Am I willing to sin to get this?
2. Am I willing to sin if I think I’m going to lose this?
3. Do I turn to this as a ‘Refuge’ and comfort instead of going to God?

[b][u]What issues do you think might be current or potential ‘idols’ in your life?[/b][/u]

[b]Performance[/b] – especially for significant others – you try to please to get or to keep acceptance or approval. Example: for parents or spouse. When you please man rather than God, this is idolatry. If that is the case, then you are worshipping that person more than God. Fearful of what others think rather than obeying God – this is a problem.

[b]Performance for Self[/b] (Perfectionism) – trying to perform up to our own standards that we have set. Can become a Pharisee. When I meet the standard, I feel good; when I don’t I feel bad. Making a personal list for myself to follow that is higher than what God says.

[b]Performance of Others[/b] – I make a list of what others should do. Example: For my spouse to be a good husband / wife he / she must do… (1,2,3, etc.). If he/she doesn’t do these things, I become judgmental and unloving.

[b]Good Health[/b] – My goal shouldn’t be this, but to glorify God. It’s OK to pray for healing but don’t let getting healed become an idol. God may want you to be sick in order to glorify Himself (see John 9).

[b]Love of Money[/b] – I take a promotion just to get more money

[b]Success[/b] – What’s a good day to you? Answering this question helps to reveal idols of the heart. What made it a good day in your mind? Usually it’s "I got a lot accomplished / done." Or "I pleased significant others. " Or "I got my way… Others did for me what I want them to do." Etc.

[b]Fairness[/b] - Life has to be fair! (Psalm 73) "I’ve been trying to please God; these others aren’t even trying and they prosper." This can cause you to almost forsake the faith (Psa. 73:2).

[b]Hurt-Free / Pain-Free Life[/b] – I don’t want to deal with problems. There shouldn’t be any difficulties. I shouldn’t have to go through anything unsettling… because I want peace.

[b]Christian Marriage and Home[/b] – I’ll be successful if my children turn out right. That can become an idol. Or I want people to look at our marriage and think we have the best marriage in the world. I cannot serve God and have joy until my spouse changes and starts doing _________ .

[b]Physical Appearance[/b]

[b]Being respected / Admired[/b]

[b]Being self-sufficient / Independent[/b]

[b]A Material Thing[/b] – car, house, jewelry, etc.

[b]Athletic Abilities / Achievements[/b]

[b]Hobbies[/b] ~ sports, reading, whatever

[b]An Ideal[/b] ("Pro-life movement, "Peace Movement," political party, etc.)

[b]Being Treated Fairly

Success / Position / Power[/b]

[b]Worldly Pleasures[/b] (drugs, alcohol, food, sex, etc)

[b]Being in Control[/b]

[b]Meeting Goals / Achievements[/b]

[b]A Child or Children[/b]

[b]Getting Married [/b]

[b][color=CC0000]Having Your 'Needs' Met[/color][/b]

Other? __________________________________________

"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." Jonah 2:8 (NIV)


 2005/9/23 9:32Profile

Joined: 2003/10/15
Posts: 1632

 Re: Idols Of The Heart

Here were some of my "idols" that I found a few years ago and I find that I still need to keep an eye on them.

-Performance -for others (caring about what others thought of me, not wanting to be hurt)

-Performance for self (perfectionism, wanting to look perfect on the outside, but not concerned about the heart)

-Physical appearance

-Being admired

-Hobbies (fitness)

-Power/Control (in looking good and perfect on the outside you seek to have some power over how others perceive you)

-Food (my preoccupation with food and dieting, finding comfort in food) has been a huge help in this area!

As I look back on all of these I see the the majority of them came from not wanting to be rejected (fear of rejection). [b]Me feeling ok and not being hurt, came before my obedience to Christ. My feelings became more important than doing what is right in the sight of the Lord.[/b]

Thank the Lord that when we are willing to change, He will work His will in us! Still being molded in the Potter's hands.

In Him, Chanin

(to be continued...)


 2005/9/23 9:40Profile

Joined: 2003/10/15
Posts: 1632

 Re: More on Idols

"[b]Fear[/b] and [b]desire[/b] are two sides of a single coin. A sinful fear is a craving for something not to happen. If I want money, I fear poverty. If I long to be accepted, I am terrified of rejection. If I fear pain or hardship, I crave comfort or pleasure. If I crave preeminence, I fear being inferior to others. With some people, the fear may be more pronounced than the corresponding desire..."
-David Powlison (Seeing With New Eyes)

"Paying careful attention to emotions that grow to near neurotic proportions is one of the most effective ways to identify our specific idols. Whether manifested as spontaneous outbursts or chronic life patterns these exaggerated emotions can provide an unobstructed view into the cathedral of our idol worship.

The main questions to ask ourselves in the light of such intense feelings are: [b][color=0000cc]What do I think I have to have in life beyond Jesus and what He chooses to give me?[/color][/b] Has something or someone become too important to me?

When anger gets out of control, ask yourself: "What am I being blocked from having that I believe is a necessity but really isn't?" Marriage, children, success, accomplishments?

If fear threatens to overwhelm you, ask "What is being threatened that I think is essential but really isn't?" My 401k, my life, my looks, my reputation?

If despondency consumes you, consider: What have I lost that I believe is critical to have but really isn't? My spouse's approval, my parents, my plans?" - Scotty Smith (The Reign of Grace)


 2005/9/23 9:44Profile

Joined: 2004/4/1
Posts: 323

 Re: Idols Of The Heart

many people have materialistic idols too. Americans have many material possessions, and these are often loved more than God, even in our church leadership, which is seen in on some christian tv shows.

I will add another real idol, a real created thing being worshipped by our young people, is the american flag in school, pledging allegiance to the flag, with all the ungodly sinners, they are not pleasing God talking to cloth.

The real materialistic idols are still around our jealous God, not just the imaginations of the heart (which are also very real idols too)


 2005/9/23 13:21Profile

Joined: 2003/10/15
Posts: 1632

 Re: idols


yes, I do agree, materialistic idols are very apparent and rampant in America. Usually these are the first "idols" we see in our lives.

That is why i like this study because it goes beyond these "visible" idols and into the desires of the heart that we cannot see and really don't know they are there until we do some searching.

It is a process of eliminating it all. First the visible, then the hidden. Not always in this order, but usually.

I also agree with you about the flag. I don't know that I would classify the flag as an idol, but I must admit (and i know die-hard Americans will want me to string me up) I have a hard time pledging my "allegiance" to a flag or a country. My only allegiance goes to God. Please no pm's or email- that's just 'my' opinion.

In Him, Chanin


 2005/9/23 13:30Profile

 Re: Idols Of The Heart

Hi Chanin,

Those opening posts are very informative. It's useful to see things laid out in order, sometimes. I was thinking only yesterday about my perfectionist days and how far I've slipped since then. Everything has come under the 'priority' hammer. Even the concept of 'pleasing' God can be a little misleading, because really, He wants to [i]know[/i] us and for us to know Him. In that relationship - hearing the original praise of each heart, hearing each unique voice - He is fulfilled as Father.

 2005/9/23 14:58

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