The Bare Soul
July 25, 2010
The following is the message
text and audio recording of a sermon titled "Idolatry" delivered to the homeless
at the Kansas City Rescue Mission Chapel on July 22, 2010.
- July 22, 2010
Ezekiel 14:7a - For anyone of the house of Israel or of the immigrants who stay in Israel who separates himself from Me, sets up his idols in his heart, ...
Many today might consider a casual understanding of God suitable for their lifestyle. Some of these will go to church on a regular (or irregular) basis and believe that their relationship with God meets their need. Others that wouldn't darken the door of a church building believe they have "spirituality" and that organized religion has nothing to offer them. Then, there are those who will not or cannot believe in God. Agnostics say prove there is a God and atheists say there is nothing to prove -- that God simply does not exist. Anyone of these various groups of "believers" have established their faith on the basis of their own experience, rather than what the scripture states. While most of the world believes emphatically in themselves, giving God only a small corner of their heart, the scripture is just as dogmatic regarding the place God should have in their lives. When asked what was the foremost commandment, Jesus answered: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37). This leaves no room for hearts to be separated for their own desires. The God of the universe is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5) and He will have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3). To the Almighty, the very act of separating oneself from divine pursuits is an act of treason and idolatry. Nonetheless, the majority of humankind does just that on a daily basis while His mercy and love continues to bless their lives with good things everyday.
Not many today would be comfortable with the notion that they worshipped idols. Many would be offended, thinking that this was an archaic practice attributed to weak-minded, superstitious tribal people. However, to truly understand the meaning of idolatry, one has to look no further than our lead verse. Any act of separation from God is a form of idolatry. The prophet Ezekiel was quick to point out the many instances of Israel and Judah's failings as they worshipped the Baals, the Ashtoreths, the Queen of Heaven, or the fire god, Moloch. However, of more importance than outward devotion, the seer saw that his nation had lost their inner devotion to their Creator and had drawn themselves away by their selfish desires. Just as the word sanctification means to set oneself apart for God, in the same way they had defiled themselves by setting themselves apart for their own evil desires. A previous instance in Israel's history is when Samuel the prophet rebuked King Saul for disobeying the Lord's command to utterly destroy Amalek. Instead they kept back some of the choice spoil, the prime livestock, and spared Agag, king of the Amalekites. Samuel testified against Saul by stating that ... rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry (I Samuel 15:23). By setting his own agenda and separating himself from God's desires, he had given himself over to a spirit of witchcraft and idolatry that he would never recover from throughout his reign. His idol became the god of pride and self, the very sin that banished Lucifer from the presence of God (Isaiah 14:13-15).
As in both Ezekiel and Saul's eras, there are countless individuals even today that make similar attestations to God of their idolatrous intent. Some may make these declarations with overt verbosity much like our example of the devil's pride. Others do it in more subtle ways through a simple but destructive act called compromise. Whenever we mindfully seek to marginalize the word of God, both in scripture and His spoken word to our hearts, then we have enthroned an idol of justification that has NOTHING to do with Christ's redemption. Christ certainly justified us by his blood that He shed on the cross. However, when we compromise His word in our lives then we have justified ourselves and have thereby made the cross of no effect. We have separated ourselves from God by our willful thinking, installing the idol of self-sufficiency on the throne of our heart. There is no longer room for God, and the Spirit within is grieved as He retreats in sorrow over the loss of fellowship with His beloved. Only one thing can restore this communion and that is a broken and a contrite spirit that confesses the sin of idolatry. Only then, as we draw near to God in honesty and humility will He then be able to draw near to us (James 4:8). God's desire is that we would never be separate from His fellowship. It was a horrific ordeal for the Son to be separated from the Father as He bore our sins on the cross of Calvary (Mark 15:34). However, that is the ONLY way that we can experience apartness from the the Lord, if we allow our sin to come between us. If we allow our idolatrous hearts to compromise with this world, then that will certainly be our experience. However, once the idol is smashed, then we will once again know His presence. He will never share our heart with another.
Beloved, we must never forget that a heart divided is a heart that is separated not unto God but for our own desires. God will either have all of us or He will have none of us. It is not enough to say that I worship God in my own way, or that I attend a church service here or there. No, God is looking for that man or that woman who's heart would be completely His (II Chronicles 16:9). Many will say in that day, Lord did we not do this and that for You but He will say, depart from Me for I never knew you (Luke 13:27). To know God is to allow Him to have ALL of our heart. There can be no idols that we would allow to separate us from His love. He is coming with the clouds (Revelation 1:7) and He is coming for those who have set themselves apart and have longed for His appearing. May we not shrink away and separate ourselves from His loving ways in this present life in order to stand with boldness before Him in the life to come. May His name be praised forevermore!
Heavenly Father, help us to separate ourselves unto You and not to separate ourselves for our own desires. We long for Your life and Your goodness. We know not what's best for us so we trust that You will continue to draw us closer. Help us when we fail, and allow us to come to You in humility, drawing us close by Your grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen!
Your Barefoot Servant,
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