[Guarding Your Heart Against Idolatry]

TEXTS: PROV 4:23; PS 95:3-6; ROM 6:12-13; ISA 40:30-31; PHIL 2:5-7

In my last post I called your attention to the concluding verse in 1 John 5. The apostle wrote, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” (v. 21) We know from the context that the original readers were being challenged in their beliefs that Jesus was the Messiah, the only One who can deliver us from the penalty and power of sin. So to abandon their faith was essentially to trust in “another.”

And if we trust someone else or something else other than Jesus to give us a “sense of life,” then we are falling into idolatry. Therefore, John appeals to his readers to guard against idolatry and remain faithful to trusting in and worshiping Jesus. Or to put it another way, if Jesus is truly God (cf. Titus 2:13), then we exist to worship Him continually.

Some will say that the idea of exclusive, continual worship is unrealistic. And yet this seems to be the thinking behind Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:17. Worship is not something that we do once a week and in a specific location. 

Everything we do is to be an act of worship and trust in Jesus our God. 

So how do we do this?  

Consider four things that we must choose” to do daily and often throughout the day:

  • First we need to “bow down” to the reality that God is God and we are NOT!  This is what the psalmist was saying in Psalm 95:3-6.  He acknowledged that God had created everything that exists.  And then after declaring God as the Creator of everything, the psalmist says, “Come, let us bow down and worship, let us kneel before the LORD our creator.”  The act of “bowing down” is a declaration that essentially says, “God is God, and I am not!”  
  • Second, we need to “offer up” to God all that we have in service to Him.  When Paul challenged the Roman believers in Romans 6:12-13 to “offer” every part of their bodies to God, he was essentially telling them to engage in worship.  Instead of falling prey to idolatry and serving the pleasures of this life, we are to use all that we have to worship Christ.  When we do, we advance the Savior’s cause, and live up to our calling as worshipers.
  • Third, we need to “trust God” through the tough circumstances of life.  In Isaiah 40 the prophet had just informed the people of Judah about all they would face in coming judgment.  But in the midst of prophesying disaster on the nation, Isaiah also called the righteous in the land to “put their hope (trust) in the Lord.” (ISA 40:31) That is, they were to live as worshipers!  And that is what we must do as well.  The more we develop a lifestyle of worship, the more we will continue to worship when difficult times come into our lives.
  • Finally, we need to “serve sacrificially” toward the people God places around us.  In Philippians 2 the Apostle Paul encouraged his readers to reflect on the earthly ministry of our Lord. 

As the eternal God, Jesus was the last One who should have lived as a servant. But that is exactly what He did. In the same way, Christians are called to worship through sacrificial service—seeing the needs of people all around us and meeting those needs in Jesus’ Name.

If we are not careful, we can easily fall into the very idolatry the Apostle John warns against. But if we…CHOOSE…to declare ourselves to be worshipers first and foremost, our lives will be enriched.

Examine your heart to see what you are trusting to give you life and hope.  

If it is something other than the Lord Jesus, confess your sin as idolatry, and return immediately to worship Him in all you do!

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