Idols can’t save

Near the end of my college career at the beginning of my professional career, I got a credit card. I thought it would be a good way for me to build credit for any future purchases I might need to make like buying a house.

At first, I was good about paying it off. But little by little I began to carry debt on that card. The more debt I amassed the more my monthly payment became. Eventually, I had amassed so much debt I was barely making the monthly interest payment. But I kept on spending.

Now I didn’t let things get too out of control. I was in sales. Whenever I would get a big bonus, I would pay down my debt. Over the years, I would yo-yo between debt and paying it off. Back and forth, back and forth I would go. That is until I met Jen. At the time, Jen was much more financially responsible. She didn’t carry debt on her credit cards. She paid them off every month.

When we got engaged, she told me she wanted me to pay off my debt before we got married. I had to buckle down. I couldn’t keep buying. Racking up the credit card debt. Thankfully, the Lord blessed me with several deals that provided enough bonus money to pay off my debt before we married. Since then, Jen and I have never carried any debt on our credit card. We pay it off at the end of each month.

Reflecting back on my time in debt, the reason I kept spending was that I thought another experience or another possession would satisfy me.“If I just did that or had this, I would be good,” I thought. But nothing ever satisfied, which is why I had so much debt.

Idols can’t deliver on their promises. They can’t provide us with ultimate joy and satisfaction. They can’t save us. God wants us to understand that — Idols can’t save instead they leave us empty. If we hold on to them, if we cling to them, they will eventually lead us to death. Not just physical death, but eternal death.

Glorify God in everything you do!

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31)

In whatever we do we are to give glory to God. Glorifying God means we make much of Him. We show His worth, value, wisdom in how we live and act. When we follow His commands or mirror His character, we glorify Him. We make much of Him showing He is worthy.

In this particular instance, Paul, writing to the Corinthians, takes up a discussion regarding idolatry. In Paul’s day, food was sacrificed to idols before it was sold and set on the table. It was a way of recognizing and worshipping the local gods for provision. As Christians, we don’t believe there are local gods who provide for the local people. Thus, no gods should be worshipped, or are worshipped when meat is offered to them for sacrifice.

Some Christians believed the pagan sacrificial system was of no value. The people were not really offering sacrifices to gods because no gods existed. Others, however, still believed in the gods. When they saw other Christians eating meat offered to the gods, they were misled into the practice of syncretism. They believed they could worship Jesus alongside these other gods.

So as not to mislead other brothers and sisters in Christ who have not matured in their understanding, Paul advocates they not partake of meat offered to idols, particularly in front of another whom they know would be misled. Nor are they to eat meat at the house of a non-believer who expresses at dinner that the meat they are serving has been offered to idols. They are to give up their right to the meat so as not to lead another into idolatry. As well as they are to give up their right so as not to give the non-believer the impression that it is ok to worship Jesus alongside the local gods.

Giving up our rights is done out of love, not out of a legalistic spirit. Jesus willingly died for us out of love not because He was forced. When we give up our rights, as Jesus gave up His, we glorify God. We show His action of self-sacrificial love worthy to be emulated. As well as we show we value God more than our own right to eat or drink whatever we choose. Furthermore, we glorify God because we show he is greater than any so called god.

Our eating and drinking in regard to idols is one way we glorify God. As well as we glorify God in our willingness to give up our rights so as not to lead another brother or sister in Christ astray. There are many other ways we can glorify God. We should take every opportunity to glorify Him.

We should glorify God in everything we do!

How Can You Break the Chains of Idolatry?

In the Old Testament, God promised to establish an everlasting covenant with Abraham and his offspring (Gen. 12;15;17). He promised to be their God forever. No matter what happened, no matter how they acted, God promised to never walk away but to remain faithful to them forever. That’s a big promise because we sin against God often and in a number of different ways.

A Promise for Us

While God first gave this promise to Abraham, it is a promise we too can enjoy because the God of the Israelites can be our God as well. Paul says in Galatians 3:26-29,

“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Ga 3:26–29)

How can we experience a saving relationship with God, breaking the chains of idolatry?

The same way Abraham did — by believing God’s promises and wholly committing ourselves to Him. God’s promise to us is that we are saved through the work of Jesus on the cross. On the cross, Jesus’ death paid the penalty for our sin, making a way for us to have a restored relationship with the Father. If we repent of our sins and believe the good news about Jesus, our relationship with God is mended and the chains of idolatry broken.

Good News!

Isn’t that good news? The God of Israel — the All-Powerful, Creator and Sustainer of this world — can also be our God. We don’t have to settle for a second or third string god. We don’t have to trust in a wannabe that can’t deliver on their promises. We can have the Supreme being. The One who can actually do what He says He will do.

We can stop worshipping idols because the chains of idolatry are broken in Jesus. We can, then, trade in false promises, disappointments, and heartache for truth, fulfillment, and joy. We can serve a God who actually works for our good and who will never ever leave us or forsake us. The promise of Romans 8:28 —

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Ro 8:28)

— is ours as well. Isn’t that good news?

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you believe God’s promise that Jesus is your Savior?
  2. Are you willing to turn from your sins and wholly commit yourself to God?



Post adapted from my recent sermon: Are You Wholly Committed to God? which you can listen to by clicking here.

What are the True Results of Sin?

There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.” (Ps 38:3–4)

David penned Psalm 38 as he was being chastised by the Lord for personal sin. As he pours out his heart in anguish over the sin in his life, he shares the true results of sin.

What are the True Results of Sin?

(1) Sin results in a lack of health.

David says, “there is no soundness in his flesh…there is no health in my bones.” Sin brings with is consequences and sometimes those consequences result in diminished physical health.

(2) Sin results in a lack of peace.

The same word translated as health in verse 3 can also be translated as peace. The Hebrew word is shalom. While sin promises peace, it ultimately doesn’t deliver. As one sin leads to another, the result is a life of turmoil, worry, and anxiety that lacks any rest or refreshment.

(3) Sin results in a heavy burden, one that is too heavy to bear.

In verse 4, David recounts his burden, a burden so heavy that he can’t carry it. That is exactly what happens with sin. It produces psychological burdens that weigh us down. After dealing with these burdens for a time, we may find ourselves depressed, troubled, and weary.

While sin allures and tempts us with promises of peace, health, and freedom, it ultimately results in the opposite. So the next time we are confronted with a temptation to sin, we should remember the agony and despair of David, and run far away from its false promises.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you see these truths about sin?



On the World’s False Promises

De Maupassant’s narrative, A Parisian Affair, begins with a pretty woman living in the country who dreams of Paris whilst sleeping next to her snoring husband.

She had never “known a thing beyond the hideously banal monotony of regularly performed duties, which by all accounts was what happily married life consisted of.” For her, Paris is a dream world of escape – the city of lights, “representing the height of all magnificent luxury as well as licentiousness.”

The Promise

The woman’s lusty view of Paris has been cultivated by a steady diet of newspaper gossip, creating in her mind the model of a very different kind of man to her white-collar, small-town, conservative husband. Instead she dreamed of

“Men who made the headlines and shone like brilliant comets in the darkness of her sombre sky. She pictured the madly exciting lives they must lead, moving from one den of vice to the next, indulging in never-ending and extraordinarily voluptuous orgies, and practicing such complex and sophisticated sex as to defy the imagination. It seemed to her that behind the facades of the houses lining the canyon-like boulevards of the city, some amazing erotic secret must lie.”

The Fear of Missing Out

The woman, no longer able to resist the lure of the city, gripped by a nineteenth-century version of “the fear of missing out,” concocts an excuse to travel to Paris.

Giving Into the Allure of the Promise

Once arrived, she searches the streets looking for tantalizing scandal and spectacle. She fruitlessly searches the cafes, “Nowhere could she discover the dens of iniquity about which she had dreamed.”

Her dreams decomposing, she by chance happens upon an aging celebrity writer in one of the new department stores. Throwing aside her usual reserve, she aggressively flirts with him. The writer takes her on a tour of the sights and sounds of Paris.

At the theatre, thrillingly, “she was seen by the entire audience, sitting by his side in the first row of the balcony.” As the entertainment ends, the writer bids her goodnight. She, however, is determined to cross for the first time into the landscape of adultery and offers to accompany him home.

The Let Down

After an awkward and unsatisfying sexual encounter, the woman lies awake in the writer’s bed, wondering what she has done. She spends the night staring at the unattractive features of the man who, like her husband, snores and snorts through the night. She continues to stare, repulsed as the man’s saliva dribbles down his mouth as he sleeps. She flees home feeling as though

“Something inside her, too, had now been swept away, through the mud, down to the gutter and finally into the sewer had gone all the refuse of her over-excited imagination. Returning home, the image of Paris swept inexorable clean by the cold light of day filled her exhausted mind, and as she reached her room, sobs broke from her now quite frozen heart.”

Question for Reflection

  1. When did you discover this world cannot satisfy us?


Quoted from Mark Sayers, Facing Leviathan, 55-56


On Idolatry

John Calvin comments,

“God renders his glory conspicuous everywhere, so that it ought to engage and occupy the thoughts of all men; and it would do so were they not led away by their own vanity.”

Idolatry does not exist because the Lord is unclear about His existence but because of our own vain imaginations. Sin makes us prone to trust gods other than the one true Lord of all, but when we do that we become captive to fear and the destructive results of putting our final hope in any but God.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Calvin argues idolatry exists because of our own vanity (our futile thoughts due to sin), what do you think?


Table Talk Magazine, Devotional from July 10th