By Mike Kelsey, Campus Pastor @MBCSilverSpring
The Heart Is An Idol Factory
We were created to worship and therefore even when we are not actively engaged in “religious” activities, worship is still at work in our hearts. This is where the biblical teaching of idolatry becomes very important. For most of us, the word idolatry conjures up images of statues and shrines. And this is certainly an external form of idolatry. But Scripture also addresses internal idolatry, which happens when we make anything in life more important and necessary than God and His will. The elders of Israel were rebuked for setting up “idols in their hearts” (Ezek. 14:1-8), and the apostle Paul diagnoses coveting and greed as idolatry (Col. 3:5). The ancient prophet Habakkuk gives a helpful illustration of this kind of internal idolatry when he describes the Babylonians as worshipping their military power (Hab. 1:11, 16). In other words, they relied on and reveled in their military power the way we should rely on God alone.
Questions Related to Idolatry:
- What controls your life?
- What do you live for? What do you really live for?
- What is most important to you?
- What do you rely on for security, significance and satisfaction?
Our idols are our functional lords (because they control us and we obey their requirements) and our functional saviors (because we depend on them to give us “life”).
Why Knowing This Helps
- We are able to pursue change from the inside out. People tend to only focus on behaviors or attitudes and therefore often feel helpless under the pressure of circumstances. Understanding the heart helps us understand why we respond the way we do and drives us to God for His transforming grace.
- Confession goes deeper. Instead of just confessing our bad behavior, we start to confess what is most offensive to God, which is our idolatry. From there, our repentance is much more comprehensive and effective.
- The grace of God promised in the Gospel becomes more glorious to us as we understand how dysfunctional our hearts really are. This Gospel promises us:
- God the Father, who loves us and has eternally provided for us.
- God the Son, who has redeemed us and given us His perfect righteousness.
- God the Spirit, who transforms and empowers us to live as children of God.