I have been pondering a little about idols recently.
Perhaps worshiping idols is more subtle than we realize. Recognizing these idols is pretty easy. I think we have done fairly well in identifying modern idols; there's television, entertainment, movies, work, money, video games, social media, internet, etc. You really have to know what they are for yourself.
But how do we really identify our own personal idols? How many are there? This is really what I've been learning lately. The thought posed is, am I willing to give up what I'm doing at any moment to serve the Lord? When God speaks to me, will I listen and obey? Would I feel bothered? “Stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:23). What is it that is preventing me from doing so? There is your idol.
It doesn't stop there, it only begins. Perhaps you can say, yes, I can stop doing this so I can serve the Lord. The question now is, will you? Will you now give up that idol to serve the Lord? Can I give up my idol so that I can serve without reservation, hesitation, and with gratitude? Will you destroy your idols and instead now begin sacrificing for the Lord? Sacrifice your time in more prayer, scripture study, service of your fellow man, preparing your household? Ultimately sacrificing for Him a broken heart and contrite spirit? I don't think God is concerned so much for our worthiness as He is our willingness. Worthiness is completely overrated. We're always unworthy before Him, but can we be more willing? The idol must be replaced by serving God.
Repentance becomes ever more clear now that we can identify and remove our idols. True repentance, in my mind, is cutting out anything in your life that prevents you from drawing closer to the Lord. We can better see our condition when we see how attached we may be to our idols. It takes discipline to rid ourselves of them. The children of Israel were warned not to take part in the idol culture of their neighbors. Our culture is filled with vain attachments:
18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope: (Isaiah 5)
After we rid ourselves of idols, it is merely a question of need. Because we live in a telestial state, we have to attend to the needs of our body. We have to rest, we have to eat, and we must work, etc. Idols are born through misuse and excess.
4 Any thing on which we set our affections; that to which we indulge an excessive and sinful attachment.
An idol is any thing which usurps the place of God in the hearts of his rational creatures. (Webster's 1828 Dictionary: Idol)
The first time I heard God's voice (or at least recognized it), I had just turned twenty. I was seeking things I shouldn't and I had a choice to make. In the moment of my decision-making and leaning towards the poorer of the choice, God spoke. He said, “you don't need that”. It is amazing to me looking back and seeing how those few words changed the course of my life. God's words are powerful. That has been a more pure form of faith to me; hearing God's direct word of assurance that gave me the drive to change the course of my life. I had known it was time for me to change, and God finally called me on it. Do we really need our idols? Ask yourself sometimes, do I need this?
My life since then has veered off the course at times, but I've always meant to get back on the course. Now what I find is, in hearing the voice, will I hearken to His voice? Am I willing to completely give up my idols? Am I willing?
Are you? Will you give up your idols and begin to sacrifice to God?
5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5)
The following is additional information I came across. I thought it was very worthwhile to add.
12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. (2 Corinthians 8)
10 And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father? (2 Nephi 31)
Avraham Gileadi commentary of Isaiah:
31:6 Return to him from whom you have contrived to go far astray, O children of Israel. … 31:7 … For in that day every one of you will despise your idolatrous silver and gold by which your hands have incurred guilt.
Similar to Isaiah 30:22 in its censure of idolatry, this appeal to God’s people to abandon their culture of materialism ends the homiletic theme of chapters 28,29,30,31. What more proof do his people want of God’s desire to deliver them from destruction in his Day of Judgment? Or what additional evidence do they need that idolatry brings covenant curses? Parallel verses show that his people’s giving up the things they covet that money can buy defines repentance itself. To “repent” (šwb) of worshiping idols, in other words, is the same as to “return” (šwb) to their God (cf. Isaiah 42:17–23; 55:2, 7).