Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 28 April 21:
1 Samuel 5:7 — “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god.”
The Philistines were suffering greatly because of the presence of the Ark of God. What was their solution? Separate themselves from the Ark so that they could be restored to their idols and their lives apart from The One True God. The Philistines saw the power of God and “believed” in God but did not have a heart to worship Him as God and follow Him (see James 2:19). The Philistines preferred to remove the presence of God (not really a possibility) rather than conform to Him. Are there any places in your life where you keep God at a comfortable distance so you can live as you desire?
- 1 Samuel 15:23 — For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.
- Colossians 3:5 — Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
- 1 Corinthians 10:14 — Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
- 1 John 5:21 — Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Idols are not just worshipped objects but anything in our lives which occupies the place which should be occupied by God alone – anything which is central in our lives rather than God. Idols are those things rather than God by which we live and on which we depend, those things which hold such a controlling position in our lives, we will direct our time, attention, energy, and resources towards them rather than God and what He desires. Timothy Keller says, “When anything in life is an absolute requirement for your happiness and self-worth, it is essentially an ‘idol,’ something you are actually worshipping.” Idols are usually things that we would consider good things or blessings such as work, family, friends, beauty, health, reputation, hobbies, service, and even religion. However, when good things or blessings become our focus and priority over Jesus, they become our spiritual stumbling blocks. At some point we will choose them over Him. Ironically, when we love something more than Jesus, we rob both ourselves and our beloved of true love – our misguided affection destroys us and our idol. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) There is no life in an idol. Where Christ is central, where the branch is connected to the vine (see John 15), there is life to its fullest. When you seek Christ first and foremost in your life, the good things in life (which some make idols) will naturally blossom.
It is important for us to understand that, while these idols in our lives (those absolute requirements for our happiness which control our thinking and behavior) must be removed, they are all just subordinate idols to the ultimate idol of self, which 1 Samuel 15:23 and Colossians 3:5 indicate. They are all intended to serve our self-centered desires of love, security, personal fulfillment, self-righteousness, etc. Ultimately, we seek gods which serve us rather than seeking to live lives fully dedicated to loving, joyful service to the Sovereign, Almighty God, which ironically is the only thing that can bring us fulfillment. The primary idol we need to tear down is the idol of self – “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'”
1 Samuel 5:3 — “Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place.”
Your idols cannot stand before the presence of God in your life. God will have nothing get in the way of your right relationship with Him. If you won’t deal with your idols, He will because He loves you too much to let them remain barriers between you and Him. How do you respond when God knocks down your idols? Do you just put them back up again? Don’t spend your days trying to keep your idols standing; instead, lift up Christ in your life.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 28 April 21: Pray to God that He will reveal to you your idols. Don’t ignore the Holy Spirit’s conviction concerning things that need to change in your life which are hurting your fellowship with God and with others.