Elyse Fitzpatrick: Idols of the Heart; Chapter 10 Resisting Your Idols
What Are You Tempted to Worship?
Satan is successful in tempting us to sin because we have idolatrous thoughts and desires. That’s why it’s so important to become aware of them. Remember that fear of loss and imaginations of pleasure spring from our idolatrous desires, and it is those desires that make us easy prey for our enemy.
We can become more aware of the thoughts and desires that ensnare us by asking, What do I want and fear? Or, to put a finer point on it, What do I want and fear more than I want to reflect God and grow in holiness? What pleasure do you want so badly that you’re willing to sin in order to obtain it? What do you fear losing so much that you think nothing of sinning in order to hang on to it?
Sometimes it’s difficult to answer these questions immediately, so I’ll furnish you with a helpful exercise.
Think back to the last time that you know you sinned. This is important because of the relationship between your functional gods (idols) and sinful behavior. Choose a sin that you habitually fall into, like anger, self-indulgence, or fear, for instance. Write this circumstance down.
With this circumstance in mind, ask God to help you answer the following questions. Try not to give one-word answers that don’t plumb the depth of your thoughts, desires, and fears. Each of these questions will help you to understand your idolatry, so don’t hurry through your answers. Instead, prayerfully ask God, the Heart Knower, to reveal your “functional gods” to you.
- 1. What did you want, desire, or wish for?
- 2. What did you fear? What were you worrying about?
- 3. What did you think you needed?
- 4. What were your strategies and intentions designed to accomplish?
- 5. What or whom were you trusting?
- 6. Whom were you trying to please? Whose opinion of
- you counted?
- 7. What were you loving? Hating?
- 8. What would have brought you the greatest pleasure, happiness, or delight? What would have brought you the greatest pain and misery?
- 9. Were you remembering your Father’s great love for you in Christ?
- 10. Were you convinced that you were already forgiven, already righteous, needing nothing?
On Sundays we have been looking at examples of men and women who lived by faith. Being Christmas, we looked at several of the characters in the Christmas story and examined what defined their faith. One premise we talked about was the fact that too often we fail to walk by faith because instead of living for what God has promised in the future, we are too caught up with what we want today! But when we can get our eyes off the temporal pleasures and and fear of missing out, our circumstances no longer matter.
This is what happened for Joseph. Before the angel told him of the origin of the child within Mary, and reminded him of the promise of God, all Joseph could see was the circumstances. His espoused wife was pregnant, and it wasn’t by him! But, after his focus was adjusted, the circumstances didn’t change, but they no longer mattered!
Ian Thomas said, “I am urging you simply become delightfully detached from the pressure of circumstance, so that it ceases to be the criterion in the decisions you make. You will not need to know what He plans to do… you simply need to know Him!”
I am beginning to see a pattern in my life. Maybe this is true for you as well. When what I want robs me of peace and joy, I have lost sight of God’s promises. I am no longer seeking simply to know Him… I am seeking what I want, and what I want is now defining what will make me happy and joyful. When that is true, what ever that is, has become my functional God!