As we continue with the topic of joy in the Christian life, there is one more thing that rob us of the joy we should have in Christ: idols of our heart. As you know, our heart, left unchecked without constant exposure to God’s Word, is a factory of idols. It is so easy for us to give glory and devout our lives to things or people other than God. We can make an idol out of money, lust, relationships, pride, etc. Even good things like sports and food can become idols of our heart. An idol is anything that competes with God and his glory in your heart; it is anything you love more than God and to which you devote your time, energy and resources to feed it. God’s people have always struggled with idolatry of some sort, but idols have never satisfied our longings, in fact, they leave unsatisfied and joyless.
Let’s look at one little verse that forbids the sin of idolatry.
Dear children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:21).
What does the text mean?
This verse is the last verse of the whole letter, after he developed a whole theological discourse on the tests of true Christianity, John leaves us with this short phrase that has tremendous implications in how we should live our lives. We must remember that many of John’s and Paul’s readers were gentiles and they were coming from a background where idolatry was the norm. The gentiles would make an idol out of anything and they would worship pretty much everything. Idolatry was all they knew, they could not understand the concept of a God that has no physical form. Therefore, even after they became believers, they would still struggle with idolatry. Paul told the brethren in 1Corinthians 10:14 “flee from idolatry”. He didn’t just say “avoid it”, he commanded us to flee, to run the other way as fast as we can.
This was certainly, what the Israelites struggled with until the time of the exile. Prophet after prophet rebuked them for becoming idolaters. Isaiah 44 reminds us of the foolishness of taking a piece of wood and carving an idol out of half of it and then using the other half for the fire. It is to show how foolish idolatry is.
What does it mean to me?
Is there an idol that has stolen your joy? Perhaps you are reading this and you are at the brink of walking away from God. You possibly made an idol out of religion and it didn’t deliver for you. It is also possible that you have made an idol out of your relationship with other people, especially those closest to you and maybe you were hurt by them. It is also very likely that as you read this, you are worshiping the idol of pornography and sexual immorality and that idol has you reverencing it at its altar. Furthermore, I am sure that some of you have made an idol out of money (whether you have it or not). Idols will always rob you of the joy you must have in Jesus, They promise much but only give you a momentary satisfaction.
Brethren, idols never deliver, idols never satisfy, idols never quench our thirst, and idols never bring joy. They promise so much joy and fulfillment, but they just bring misery, pain and sorrow. If we pursue the idols of our hearts, we will lose the joy of walking with Christ and he will not taste good to us anymore. That is why we must flee idolatry. Would you ask the Lord to give you the grace to tear down the idols of your heart? Would you repent and let God restore the joy of his salvation in your life?
May God help you to recover your joy by destroying all the idols of your heart.