Idolatry is the single most hindrance to living in victory among professing Christians. It stops and retards spiritual growth.
Idolatry is like swallowing a hot piece of iron ball. It doesn’t matter if you will roll on the grass, throw yourself in a cold water, cry, shout, hide, run or climb a mountain. It won’t help with the pain. Why? This is because the problem is inside of you. You can change jobs, spouses, church, fellowships, friends, dating sites etc, but the problem is on external, its on the move with you.
Exodus 20:3 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Exodus 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
A straight forward implication to us on worshipping other gods is to love, uphold, uplift or treat anything in reverent above our creator . These includes people, our stuff, our jobs, our looks, our family, our money and even ourselves.
The gospel of Jesus Christ must be about worshipping God in purity and truth. It should be about redeeming man from his sinful nature through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, anything else is from the devil.
Do you wish to be a committed Christian? Yes. Do you always feel dry and empty spiritually? Yes. Can you say that the joy of the Lord is your strength? No. Please search your ways and your heart. You are probably practising idolatry without knowing. Idolatry opens doors to worldliness. Worldliness comes with a baggage of evil.
James 4: 4 You adulterous people,a don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us ?
Mark 7: 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
These are the very things that the gospel came to redeem us from. Idolatry prevents the working of the gifts of the Holy Spirit like discernment which leads you to repentance and faith that gives you grace over temptations.
One of the most common form of idolatry in the church is about our personal image to other people. It pushes us to pursue what will give us a good image before humans. This will be our looks, education level, spouses and prosperity among others. To be fair, none of these things are bad. It’s the attitude that come with it . Do the pursuit of these things lead us to ditch God unknowingly and worship self or what we are pursuing, believing that these are the things that will give us ultimate joy? Are these things not supposed to be bonuses?
Mathew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
1 Timothy 6:5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain
The devil has tricked us to focus on the bonuses and thereby creating a breeding ground in our hearts for idolatry which is an abomination to God. This type of gospel is everywhere in the media and churches. Paul warned young timothy to be aware of this gospel that was not right.
God hates idolatry and the devil know that. Idolatry is the first step towards our separation from God. Many of us are already separated from any fellowship with God for serving our idols deep within our hearts. Our creator is a jealous God and won’t tolerate and Has never tolerated any form of idolatry.
Deuteronomy 29:18-21 so that there will not be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of those nations; that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood. “It shall be when he hears the words of this curse, that he will boast, saying, ‘I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to destroy the watered land with the dry.’ “The LORD shall never be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and His jealousy will burn against that man, and every curse which is written in this book will rest on him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven…
“Then the LORD will single him out for adversity from all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant which are written in this book of the law.
Ephesians 5:5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God
My personal experience has shown that when we make a conscious decision to ditch idolatry, God automatically starts moving towards us
I had a lot of inner peace when I started listening to the Holy Spirit as He taught me on the very first steps I needed to take in order to have a fellowship with Him. It was a surprise when the Holy Spirit pointed out to me a practice that I didn’t even know I had or was very much engraved in my heart. This practice is IDOLATRY.
If you go to eastern countries, many people have curved images of everything from animals to humans that they worship. Some religions also encourage people to worship images and dead people. All these is pure IDOLATRY and by biblical standard is an abomination before God.
When the Holy Spirit pointed idolatry in my life, I was not practising any of the above and so are millions of professing Christians though guilty of idolatry as anybody else today.
Idolatry to professing and committed Christians is a gradual process of replacement of our dependence on God. The blocks that form the foundation of our faith are gradually replaced by something else, an achievement, wealth, family or a more ‘appropriate’ way of doing things. We may not even be aware that it’s happening or it’s going to happen or it has happened . Those who genuinely realise later, ask themselves ‘what went wrong?’ Affluence is one of the commonest way of replacing God. It kills the need for God in people’s lives. It’s the silent idolatry.
The tale tale signs are; no joy, family breakups, personal strive, no revivals in the church, no Holy Spirit breakthroughs, no healing, churches shrink and falling away . Church become a chore and with time the need for God’s leading diminishes affecting the next generation.
Nehemiah the governor told the people to go and celebrate after Ezra the priest read the law of Moses loudly to the people. Many of these people wept and needed comforting . It was the first time this had been done since the days of Joshua 1000 years before. The realisation of how much they had fallen brought tears and repentance .
Nehemiah 8:10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.”
Nothing (from my personal experience) knocks off fear, insecurity, strive and lack of peace like when the joy of the Lord lights up in your heart. It’s surely your strength .
Nehemiah was dealing with idolatry from people’s hearts . We suffer because we have replaced God with other things in our hearts. We could be born again and spirit filled but grieving the holly spirit every day because of idols. We live with unnecessary sorrows .
Ditch the idols and the joy of the Lord will be your strength .
Caution: There are those that have gone to higher levels of idol worship in the form of occult . You can be sure at such a level you are dealing with a curse on your life and you need repentance and deliverance . The spirit in you may not be the spirit of God. Listen to the message of how to pass from a curse to a blessing by Derrick Prince
If you have not fooled around with occult or if you have and have dealt with the issue then the following steps may help you replace idols in your heart and get His strength giving joy
Find time and a quiet place where you have no interference.
Humble yourself and recognise that nobody is good but God alone. Humility is a decision of the mind. Confess and repent all known and unknown sins.
Mark 18“Why do you call Me good? Jesus replied, “No one is good except God alone”.
Take an audit of where you draw your daily happiness or strength . Is it from spousal love, your good job, your family members, your wealth, etc Create a list.
Be completely genuine. Don’t be religious and say it’s God.
You know it’s not God because you sulked the whole day yesterday when you realised that you are not getting any respect around. Your idol is ‘self’ .
You cry daily under your pillow because your spouse does not show you love. Believe it or not but your idol is ‘marriage’ or ‘relationship’.
When God is the only Lord in our lives, the bursting flame of joy lights everything else.
Using your will, start dismantling any association of joy and strength with any of the items in that list. However painful it is, shift that inner hunger for joy and strength from these things to a loving God. This is an act of your will. Quote scriptures that are to do with the love of God loudly as you worship Him.
Such as, Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Start living it. Your mind will be stubborn, you will find that there will be a battle of being focused on God as the source of your joy. This is because your mind has been tuned to think that way. Resist thoughts injected by the enemy. Just like Jesus did when He was tempted
As you dismantle your love relationship with other things and shift your hunger to God, let the Holy Spirit tell you what you’ve not given up. Confess, repent and worship.
Know that God does not kill our dreams, He wants to be part of our dreams. He wants to bless us but the only issue here is that we have to first shift our dependency on these dreams , attainments and achievements which are our idols and build a relationship with God. Its tricky here because the world has a different mindset.
As these idols start falling apart in your heart, the glow of the love of God will unmistakably start building within you. Before long, you will start singing that the Joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10.
You will now be able to channel love to other areas, Spouse, Family , your job place, your clients, etc. This will be because love is bubbling within you and the things that we are talking about are not the source of your Joy but the source of your Joy is the living God
Jesus told a Samaritan woman who had made sleeping with men a habit. She was getting her thrill from that. It was her idol. This option had lots of sorrows with it such that by the time she met Jesus, she had had 5 husbands. Jesus told her in John 4: 14 “But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life” NLT.
It may take months or years but your previous dreams will now come back but with God at the centre of it. You will now be able to say with Solomon in Proverbs 10:22 It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it.