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Idolatry, part 2
When it comes to various sinful activities, everybody has their own opinion as to what things are important to God or not.
For instance the first word on that list of don’ts is “pornography.” Everybody in the church will stand up against it, even those that watch it regularly on TV. However, the second and third item on the list might be viewed quite differently: impurity - demonic activity, witchcraft, spells. Some parents support those activities in their children’s lives through what they allow them to watch on TV or in movies. Would most Christian parents allow their children and teens to watch pornography? No! But are they allowed to watch cartoons that deal with the demonic? Hardly anybody thinks greed is really a sin, otherwise, how could we justify working so hard and long to maintain a certain lifestyle so that we absolutely have no time to serve God? Nor do they really consider foolish talking and coarse joking a sin.
To keep me from simply getting into what used to be called "clothes line preaching," let’s take another look at what the verse said. I don’t think Paul is trying to simply list the things that do not please God. I think he was making the greater point of idolatry. “No immoral, impure or greedy person (such a man is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
Notice in verse 5 here that there is a parenthetical statement in the middle of it. Such a man is an idolater. It’s not so much that Paul is simply listing different sins for us to stay away from, as he is dealing with the issue of idolatry. We tend to become quite self-condemning when we read a list like this because who hasn’t been involved at least in some small way in one or more of these things? However, the issue isn’t so much whether or not we have participated in one of these activities – it’s whether or not we are idolaters.
Idolater – Greek Word; eidololatres (i-do-lol-at’-race); meaning, an image, or worshiper (literally or figuratively)
Idolatry has to do with what we worship. How do we define worship? Worship is defined by, that which occupies our mind, our spirit, and our pocketbook. The Bible teaches us to take on the mind of Christ, to set our affections on things above, and to give our money to our God. Mind, spirit, and money! Are you concerned about whether or not one of these items is an idol to you? If so, you can gauge it by those things. Is impurity an idol in your life? That can be determined by whether or not it fully occupies your mind, whether it is deeply seated in your emotions, and by the amount of money you are willing to invest in it.
Money really has a lot to do with worship. Whatever you worship you will give your money to. Do you know how many times the word “hell” is used in the Bible – 14 times? Do you know how many times the word “money” is used – 123 times? Money has nothing to do with God needing it – it has everything to do with our worship of God. It’s quite simple – whatever we worship we spend money on. If you want to know if you are an idolater or not just do this simple test. After a year, compare how much money you give to God and how much money you spend on something you just love to do.
Here is the problem. If you are spending more money on other activities than you give to God, then it stands to reason that other things have to occupy your time rather than serving God. That brings in the emotions. Anything that takes more time in my life than my service to God probably occupies my emotions. That then becomes the spirit of my life, my object of worship.
However, I said all that just to get us to examine our lives. Where I believe we get all messed up is that of thinking that if we struggle with one of the things on this list of sins that we are then an idolater. No so! In the first place, the fact that you are struggling with a sin means you have light within you. If you had no spiritual light you would also have no struggle. When I was in the world – I did not concern myself one bit that I might be living in sin. I was in sin and didn’t care. There was no struggle with impurity or obscenities – because I had no light. Now that we have light – we see the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit. If anything – a struggle over sin is a sure sign of your salvation. To struggle means you don’t truly worship that sin; you actually want it out of your life.
Medication: A Merry Heart
A woman in a supermarket has been walking behind a grandfather and his badly-behaved, 3-year-old grandson. It’s obvious to her that he has his hands full with the child screaming for sweets in the sweet aisle, cookies in the cookie aisle, and for fruit, cereal and soda in the other aisles.
Meanwhile, Granddad is working his way around, saying in a controlled voice, “Easy, William, we won’t be long, easy, boy.”
Another outburst, and she hears the granddad calmly say, “It’s okay, William, just a couple more minutes and we’ll be out of here. Hang in there, boy.”
At the checkout, the little terror is throwing items out of the cart, and Granddad says again in a controlled voice, “William, William, relax buddy, don’t get upset. We’ll be home in five minutes; stay cool, William.”
Very impressed, the woman goes outside where the grandfather is loading his groceries and the boy into the car. She said to the elderly gentleman, “It’s none of my business, but you were amazing in there. I don’t know how you did it. That whole time, you kept your composure, and no matter how loud and disruptive he got, you just calmly kept saying things would be okay. William is very lucky to have you as his grandpa.”
“Thanks,” said the grandfather, “but I’m William ... the little brat’s name is Kevin.”
God Bless, Press On!
New Beginnings Church, New Ulm
Verse of the Week: John 15:15 ESV
Today’s readings: Ezekiel 28 – 31