Personal Challenge #4 Dealing with our Idols

John, in his old age, wrote this in 1 John 5:21: “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”

The things I chose over Jesus time and time again became an idol to me. What started as compromise turned into idolatry, which led to captivity.

“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3

“I wrote for them the many things of my law, but they regarded them as something alien.” Hosea 8:12

“Tangible sources can satisfy my needs much better than an intangible source.”

Journal entry, Age 19.
All day yesterday I could feel myself looking for things to fill something in me. I was consciously aware of how I was craving everything: cookies, a cigarette, company, male company, icecream, wanting something tangible now. I looked for the easy way out again. I was very aware that I was keeping my gaze down, instead of looking up and seeing that Jesus was right there, wanting to show me His love, and show me that He is infinitely capable to fill and satisfy and be my desire.

God can meet my needs? I had no idea what that meant or how that worked. And the waiting period? I wanted to just roll over and see He is there whenever I want. That’s what I imagined marriage to be too. Someone physical, always there to meet my needs whenever I need. And when I didn’t see God come for me in the timing or way I wanted, I settled for meeting my needs my own way.

“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. […] He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” Exodus 32:1b, 4

“With their silver and gold they make idols for themselves to their own destruction. […] This calf – a craftsman has made it; it is not God.”  Hosea 8:4b, 6a

Wait for your God always.” Hosea 12:6b

“Nothing is better.”

I gradually began to believe that affection from men, sexual pleasure, comfort and security imagined to be found through sex were better than anything God could give me.

“Ephraim is oppressed, trampled in judgment, intent on pursuing idols.”  Hosea 5:11

“She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’ Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.’” Hosea 2:5b-7

Loved amidst idolatry.

“[…] The Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods.” Hosea 3:1b

“I don’t want your sacrifices – I want your love; I don’t want your offerings – I want you to know me.” Hosea 6:6 TLB

“[…] I long to redeem them.” Hosea 7:13b

“My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.” Hosea 11:8b

Can’t stop… Ensnared.

My compromises (turning away from God to other things in times of difficulty) eventually lead to captivity (the inability to say no to temptation) which began to slowly bring death into my life (death of my sense of worth, of my dreams, of my purpose to live). Gradually that idol demanded more and more. From binging behavior to a loss of control. 

“They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them.” Psalm 106:36

This is what the Lord says:“What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.” Jeremiah 2:5

“My people are destroyed because they don’t know me. They exchanged the glory of God for the disgrace of idols.” Hosea 4:6a, 4:7b

“Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.” Psalm 16:4

“O Israel, return to the Lord, your God, for you have been crushed by your sins. Bring your petition. Come to the Lord and say, “O Lord, take away our sins; be gracious to us and receive us, and we will offer you the sacrifice of praise. Assyria cannot save us, nor can our strength in battle; never again will we call the idols we have made ‘our gods’; for in you alone, O Lord, the fatherless find mercy. Then I will cure you of idolatry and faithlessness, and my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be forever gone! I will refresh Israel like the dew from heaven; she will blossom as the lily and root deeply in the soil like cedars in Lebanon. Her branches will spread out as beautiful as olive trees, fragrant as the forests of Lebanon. Her people will return from exile far away and rest beneath my shadow. They will be a watered garden and blossom like grapes; they will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.“O Ephraim! Stay away from idols! I am living and strong! I look after you and care for you. I am like an evergreen tree, yielding my fruit to you throughout the year. My mercies never fail.” Hosea 14:1-8 TLB 

After one year of captivity, in desperation, I cried out for help. I finally was ready to do whatever it would take to learn how to stand – to learn how to walk consistently in freedom from compromises and idols through the difficulties of life.

Journal entry, Age 24
Help. help. Help. help. Help. help. Help.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Jesus Jesus Jesus!!!
Show me Your love.

In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and He answered by setting me free. Psalm 118:5

Set free. Saved. Rescued. Cleansed.

He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever. Psalm 136:23-24

“My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” Psalm 25:15

“Whenever you have thrown away idols, I have shown you my power. With one word I have saved you.” Isaiah 43:12 TLB

“They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them.” Ezekiel 34:27b

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.” Ezekiel 36:25

“But I will court her again, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak to her tenderly there. There I will give back her vineyards, and transform her valley of troubles into a door of hope. She will respond to me there, singing with joy as in days long ago in her youth, after I had freed her from captivity in Egypt. In that coming day, says the Lord, she will call me “My Husband” instead of “My Master”. I will cause her to forget her idols, and their names will not be spoken anymore. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness and love, and you will really know me then as you never have before.” Hosea 2:14-16, 20 TLB

Discovery Bible:
What did you learn about humans’ propensity towards idols through the scripture in this section? What did you learn about God’s feelings towards idols? What did you learn about God’s feelings towards idol worshippers?