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Modern Day Idolatry (LWB)

Chapter 2: Lies Women Believe About God

Day 3: God is Enough

Lie #4: God is not really enough.


 

There are two types of people in the world. Those who are brutally honest and would quickly admit to believing this lie, and those who know they shouldn’t believe it and therefore struggle to admit the reality that they do, in fact, struggle with this lie.

I want to take a second to remind you that we’ve decided not to assume anything as we discuss the lies in this book, but instead to evaluate our behavior and identify the fruit of our lives. Your walk talks and your talk talks but your walk talks louder than your talk talks. You may not realize you believe this, you may not want to believe this, because you know you shouldn’t believe this — but do you act as though it were true? If you do, you believe it.

But take heart! Let’s be real. Everyone struggles with this. You’re not alone in struggle to be satisfied solely by Christ. Don’t make it worse by isolating and hiding your struggles. At the same time, if you’ve been walking in victory in this area, don’t be too quick to condemn those who are still struggling with it. Remember how far you’ve come and make a point to share hope, not disappointment. Stay humble.

Let’s dig in.

Believing that we need anything in addition to God is extremely dangerous, because the moment you need “God AND – ” you’ve created an idol.

One of the contributing factors to believing this lie is that we have an image of what an idol is in our heads, and it’s never right. We think of an idol as an actual, physical sculpture of some sort of Hindu god. Or maybe we think like kids do – it’s my TV, it’s my video game. Maybe. But not always. The dangerous undertow here is that an idol can be something that, in it’s right place, is good.

Did you catch that? The idol itself is frequently not bad. It becomes bad when we elevate its place in our hearts and lives. 

So how do we identify an idol? It can be defined by three characteristics:

  1. Something I am willing to sin to have.
  2. Something I am willing to sin if I lose.
  3. Something I turn to as a refuge and comfort

Using this definition, let’s look at things we tend to think we need to be okay.

What about friendships? Can they become idols? Absolutely. Consider: are you willing to sin to keep a friendship? to sin if you lose it? has this person become your refuge, a safe place to hide? If the answer is yes to any of those (and if it is to one, it is to all), then your friend is an idol. The same can be said of family members, or even your significant other.

Consider some of the good things we tend to think we need to be okay in life. Social media, or social standing? A job? Money? A car? Designer clothes? A cell phone? These things in and of themselves aren’t sinful. But elevated out of their rightful place, they become the worst kind of sin. 

What’s wrong with a job? Nothing. Unless you think it’s the most important thing. Is God able to take care of you if you lose your job? “Yes, yes,” we say impatiently. But then we become desperate to keep our employment, even to the point of lying, stealing, or manipulating in order to ensure we keep it. Or maybe we lose it – and instead of trusting God to provide, we act out in sinful ways by drinking, becoming depressed, and isolating. Or maybe we jump at the next job that comes our way, even though it requires us to compromise our relationship with God by working on Sundays. Is employment good? Yes. It is something you need to be okay in life? No.

Let’s look at drugs/alcohol/cigarettes/substances. This one’s pretty obvious. Duh. Is it, though? Let’s dig a little deeper. Why do we think we need these things? Because of another idol. The one of being pain-free. You see, for each outward expression of idolatry, there’s an inner one. And it’s the inner ones that are the real deal, cause the most damage, and must be removed.

What about being treated fairly? Did you know that can be idol in your life? How do you respond when you’re mistreated? Do you get angry, push back? That would be a sinful response to losing respect. So there’s your idol.

Some people believe that they need medication to be okay. Is medication good? In the right context, yes. But is it your savior? No. I talked to someone a few weeks ago who had a huge anger problem, and she had just exploded over something small. When I tried to explain that regardless of her circumstances, God calls her to be faithful and obedient, she told me that she wouldn’t have gotten angry if she’d been on her medication. She bought into the lie that she could not obey God without her medication. Her medication was her idol.

But we do the same thing! God, I’ll obey you, so long as I have this, that, or the other. But if I don’t, all bets are off. I can’t help it. How could you expect that of me? And just like that, we’re willing to commit treason for the sake of a relationship, a right, a feeling. And ultimately, we begin treating God as our own personal idol, using Him to get what we want. 

People who go to church when they’re in trouble — why is that? Because they want something from God. Once they get it, they take off. Or if they don’t get it when they want, they take off. They’re angry. They’re sinning because of what they did/didn’t get.

Here’s the point: the nature of idolatry is manipulation. Ultimately, each of us has one single idol: ourselves. And we use other people and things for our pleasure and comfort; even God.

It looks like this: I have a DESIRE. But as I feed into that desire (for a job, for a friend, for acceptance, for respect), it grows until it becomes a NEED. When it becomes a need, I feel justified in making it a DEMAND. I begin to EXPECT it, from God and from others, but eventually, I will inevitably experience DISAPPOINTMENT. People will never meet all my expectations, and neither will God because many of my expectations are sinful. So in response to my disappointment, I begin to PUNISH those who I feel wronged me; whether God or others. I act out, as if my sin is going to teach them; in the end, though, I’m the one who pays. But this is manipulation at it’s finest. You didn’t do this, I won’t do that. This is how idolatry plays out, and it’s how relationships are destroyed. 

So why do we trust in our jobs, our boyfriends, our money, our Christian books to save us? Because we can control those things; they’re in our power. But God is not. And He never will be. But that’s the best part! If our salvation, freedom, contentment, joy, and peace depends on what we can manipulate and control, then we’ll never get what we’re looking for. But if we can surrender, if we can let God be God, then we can finally experience all those things we’re searching for.

The thing about anything we need in addition to God, is that if we need it, we don’t need God. Idolatry causes us to reject God and choose created things and people over our relationship with him. We become more concerned with those relationships or things than God, so we’re willing to offend our creator rather than feel some sort of discomfort. We’ve maximized ourselves and minimized God; the solution is found in cultivating a right view of God. Focusing on His goodness, love, and power keeps Him in His proper place; and then it helps us to keep other things in their place.

Do you want God to be enough for you? You won’t know that God is all you need until God is all you have. 

Sometimes we say it’s what we want, and then when God starts to remove our idols, we get angry and fight back. “But this makes me feel good! But I can control this! But you don’t understand…” We’re torn. We have a theory that God is enough – but we don’t want to test it. And the result is that we miss out.

What do you have to have in life to be okay? To be obedient? If it’s anything other than God, it will destroy you. Because people can’t satisfy you. Your job can’t take care of you. And being respected can’t save you.

But Jesus can. 

Jesus can save you. Jesus can satisfy you. Jesus can take care of you. He’s not lost a single patient.

How beautiful would it be if we could have peace in the midst of pain? It comes through trusting Jesus, not circumstances.

What if we could be mistreated and still have joy? It’s found in trusting Jesus, not my rights.

Can I be alone and not lonely? Yes; because if I have Jesus, I have all that I need.

Is God really enough? Try Him. You’ll see that He is. Stop looking at you, and around you, and look up.

You’ll never regret making God the only thing. 

“Whatever you treasure in life, hold it loosely so that it doesn’t hurt when God has to pry open your fingers to get it,” -Elisabeth Elliot

 

I encourage you – if you want to be free, start with a commitment to make God all you need. If you’re local, come talk to me and let’s make a plan to break free of these idols. If you’re not, check out the further reading link below – you’ll find worksheets to help you begin the process. It’s important to identify your idols, repent of them, repent of yourself, and make a plan to overcome. But it doesn’t stop there. You need accountability. Seek it, welcome it. Find someone whose relationship with Jesus you respect and invite them in to your life. If you’re serious about change, you’ll do this. Don’t buy into the lie that you can do this on your own and in the dark. Come into the light – and let those who love you help you.

 

Points to Remember: 

  • Anything I need in addition to God IS my god. 
  • Idolatry reveals that I have a small view of God. 
  • The nature of idolatry is manipulation. 
  • If I have Jesus, I have all that I need. 
  • God’s grace is always enough for me.

 

Further reading:

Further listening: 

 

drgnfly1010 View All

In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.

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