Who or What Do You Love?
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 1:15-17
I love the above passage because John helps us to identify three idols of the heart that we need to do something about. Before we jump into the text above, let us consider a few things about idolatry. Addiction is a worship disorder that comes from worshipping a false god or an idol. Look at Ezekiel 14:1-8 and notice what God says to the prophet about the leaders of Israel. They wanted to know when their time of captivity was up, when can we go back home to those things that make us comfortable. They were not concerned about their relationship with the LORD, they were concerned about their comfort. Keep this in mind as we go forward.
Idols can be false beliefs, rebellious attitudes, and unwholesome desires. Now notice that I did not say beliefs, attitudes and desires only. The real issue is the falseness, the rebelliousness and the unwholesomeness of those things. We get into real trouble when our beliefs are false (not based on truth), when our attitudes are rebellious, and our desires are not wholesome or godly. The reason that many of us choose to hold onto these things is because they help us cope with the world around us. They make life more bearable (or so we think).
So, if we are going to identify these idols we need to call them what God calls them. This is what I teach the guys here at the mission as thinking biblically about our lives. If we do not think biblically, then we tend to lean towards the worlds way of thinking, and come to an incorrect conclusion that God doesn’t have answers to our problems. Using the world’s terms causes confusion and they keep changing the meaning of the terms they use. Also, when we think about idolatry, many of us focus on the surface problems and not the root problems.
So, what does John identify for us as idols of the heart. He gives three to look at and even though there are many more idols that the Bible reveals, these are three that keep showing up in the lives of those in the Bible and those of us who are living now. Passion, Pleasure and Pride are the three that we are going to be looking at. There are others like control, fear, acceptance that we all have struggled with in the past.
Passion – What is it anyway? John states it as “the lust of the flesh”. These are what we called desires that are screaming out to be satisfied. We tend to call these things needs but they really are wants or desires. The difference between a need and a desire is that one you can live without and the other you can not. So, we man say we NEED sex, when in reality, we WANT sex. No one ever died who did not have sex. Now listen, I am not saying that the desire for sex is wrong, that is a God given desire, but when we raise that desire to the need level, it has become an idol. What about air-conditioning? I grew up with a air-conditioner in my home but my dad would not let us turn it on. On those real hot days, we would say, “we need air-conditioning” and dad would say “no”. None of us died. We were uncomfortable for sure but we did not die.
Pleasure – Again, God is a God who knows how to enjoy the pleasures of life. But what we are talking about again are those things that we get fixated on either by their appearance or the possession of it. I remember when I got out of the rehab, the first thing that I wanted to do was get me a 1987 (this was in 1987) red hot, Chevy Camero, with the 305 engine in it. Wow, people will look at me now. The possession of this car was idol to me. Listen to what the Psalmist says, in Psalm 16:11; “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”
See, what the Lord desire from us and what John and the Psalmist are getting at is that God desires that we find our pleasures and contentment in Him. We are to and we can trust him to meet our every need. Paul the apostle stated, that he learned contentment. It is a process and as we understand that God is working in every area of our lives, we can trust Him more and more.
PRIDE – Pride shows up in many ways in our lives. You know the whole self-esteem movement is nothing more than a movement motivated by pride. Pride is thinking too highly of oneself. When we have low self esteem we are still focused on the self. It puts us in the center of life and not the One who belongs there. I do not know about you, but there are many who tend to overlook their faults and accentuate their good qualities. I at times still struggle with this. Just ask my wife when we are discussing something and I am wrong in the situation. I automatically want to defend myself and talk about the good things that are happening and not the issue at hand. One of the reasons we used substances is to make us look good, give us confidence, to be assertive or accepted. Pride always goes before destruction says the writer of Proverbs.
So, here is the challenge: Who do you love? Who is at the center of your life? What are you giving your time and attention to? Which one of these three things do you see operating in your life at this time? Next time we will discuss what we do with them. Hey, if anyone hasn’t told you today, I love you and so does Jesus. Keep looking up for your redemption is nearer today that it was yesterday. – Doug Barger is the Director of Men’s Ministry at Bethesda Mission. He is a friend of the ministry of America’s Keswick and served as the Administrator of the Colony of Mercy
Think About This: Some folk, if they knew themselves better, would not brag as loudly as they now do. —C.H. Spurgeon
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Galatians 5:16-17 NKJV