Walking Closer with God

Displacing Idols of the Heart

Idolatry is a subtle and fierce enemy of our souls. Last Sunday morning we examined the dangers of idolatry as we continued our journey through the book of Exodus (listen here). Clearly during the first plague as the Nile River turned into blood (Exodus 7:17) Yahweh demonstrated His superiority over the false gods of the Nile. This would be a very disturbing event to ancient Egyptians because they saw the Nile as their greatest land mark and the source of their agricultural and economic well-being. As a culture they were perhaps the most polytheistic people of their time. To this day we are not certain exactly how many false gods they worshipped. Some scholars put the total at around eighty.

When you stop and think about it, the Egyptians were idolators on a massive scale, but at least they were honest about their worshipping many 'gods'. We often do the same thing without realizing or admitting it. Idolatry entangles us every time we place something in our hearts above Yahweh. Tim Keller has done extensive work in this area, you can find out more about it here. On Sunday I referred to a list Keller put together of contemporary idols that 21st century Americans tend to worship. Many of you have asked for that list. Here it is:

“Life only has meaning/I only have worth if…

• I have power and influence over others.” (Power Idolatry)

• I am loved and respected by _____.” (Approval Idolatry)

• I have this kind of pleasure experience, a particular quality of life.” (Comfort Idolatry)

• I am able to get mastery over my life in the area of _____.” (Control Idolatry)

• people are dependent on me and need me.” (Helping Idolatry)

• someone is there to protect me and keep me safe.” (Dependence idolatry)

• I am completely free from obligations or responsibilities to take care of someone.” (Independence Idolatry)

• I am highly productive and getting a lot done.” (Work Idolatry)

• I am being recognized for my accomplishments, and I am excelling in my work.” (Achievement Idolatry)

• I have a certain level of wealth, financial freedom, and very nice possessions.” (Materialism Idolatry)

• I am adhering to my religion’s moral codes and accomplished in its activities.” (Religion Idolatry)

• this one person is in my life and happy to be there, and/or happy with me.” (Individual person idolatry)

• I feel I am totally independent of organized religion and am living by a self-made morality.” (Irreligion Idolatry)

• Mr. or Ms. “Right” is in love with me.” (Relationship Idolatry)

• I am hurting, in a problem; only then do I feel worthy of love or able to deal with guilt.” (Suffering Idolatry)

• I have a particular kind of look or body image.” (Image idolatry)


Let's continue this journey together as we fight against our tendency to find significance, safety, fulfillment or hope in anything aside from Yahweh. The irony is this; the thing each idol promises is the exact thing it cannot deliver. We need to stop seeking help where no help can be found (Isaiah 55:2).


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