Idol worship is a form of suicide.
It is knowingly* drinking from a contaminated spring that only promises fleeting pleasures but can never ultimately satiate. Not only is it drinking from a well of poison, idolatry drinks from that contaminated stream at the expense of the only well that flows with living water. Idolatry, neglects the only Fountain that can give us life.
Those that have been made alive by the all-powerful Lord of the universe have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. We no longer desire to drink from a contaminated stream. We want the Lord and all His fullness. Yet, old ways of living die hard. Some days we crave the putrid. Yet even while our lips are still wet from a drink of the forbidden our hearts ache for healing and rescue: namely, rescue from the foolish desire of the murky, stale, and deadly waters.
Our hearts grow discontent. This is good. We know the emptiness of idols and we want them gone.
Truth be told something in our heart still likes to cling to them. Or create them. Even while we smash one idol down our remaining rebellion draws up a blueprint for its next life-altering invention.
Calvin said the heart is an idol-factory. I want to know how to shut down it’s production. Or at least change it. Rather than producing idols I want my heart to produce righteousness and God-honoring fruit. So, how does that happen?
The path of introspection
In his book Jesus + Nothing = Everything, Tullian Tchividjian encourages the reader to “delve into secret, shadowy regions of the heart” and to “risk a plunge into soul depths”. While I will fundamentally agree with Pastor Tchividjian such statements consumed by those reading with the wrong lens will find such counsel deadly.
Tchividjian is not alone in his counsel. Others, such as Tim Keller, advise believers that the “secret to change is to identify and dismantle the counterfeit gods of your heart”.
When some hear this advice they immediately go on an idol searching quest. They do as Martyn Lloyd-Jones warned against and “cross the line from self-examination to introspection” because now “they do nothing but examine [themselves]”. Lloyd-Jones notes that what happens in this case is that “self-examination becomes the main and chief end in our life”.
Inevitably this often leads to despair, morbidity, and depression. The eyes were never meant to be fixated on self. Worse yet, the heart was never meant to do battle with idolatry by continuing to pay it homage. When we continue to make the issue the idol we are still bowing a knee to its power. It is still defining our identity and relationship with the Lord.
“I am an idolater”. No, you are not.
“Such were some of you”…
You are bought with the blood of Jesus Christ, you are His. You are a Jesus-follower who happens to be involved in the battle against idolatry and suicidal self-worship. But your fundamental identity is not as an idolater. You’ve been changed.
You don’t do battle with idolatry by morbidly bowing a knee to its power over your life. The self-examination and idol searching that Tchividjian, Keller, and Lloyd-Jones are referring to is different than morbid introspection. Their advice has been hi-jacked by a deadly philosophy.
And it is to this deadly philosophy that we turn next time…
*see Romans 1
Jesus + Nothing = Everything