Faithlife Sermons

Counterfeit Gods - Ch 3

Counterfeit Gods  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The idolatry of greed; Deep and surface idols

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Intro
Group intro -
Scripture
Hear God speak, not self help or opinions
Scripture transforms us
It is the foundation for the other two
Prayer
Us speaking back to God
Acknowledging the truth of scripture
Community
The context that scripture and prayer are effective
Not just socializing - ministering the gospel to each other
Review
Studying Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller
The topic is identifying and dealing with idols
It is good, but not required to read through the chapter and make notes and questions
Starting applications - but Keller is layering in lessons that apply to all idols
Last lesson
Love, relationships, and sex can be idols
Jacob idolized Rachel for her beauty - to the destruction of his family
Leah, the forgotten one, tried to find meaning in getting her husbands love by giving him sons
Idols always disappoint - we always wake up with Leah
We solve it not by blaming others or ourselves, we reorient our hope on our true lover
Jesus was rejected for us so that we could be accepted
Intro to this lesson
What problems does money cause?
Our society focuses on money - who has it, who doesnt
The 1%
Our last election focused around money - even though we have a had a really strong recovery
We focus on money - one of the top reasons couples fight
Greed
Greed is embedded in our culture
Keller begins with a story, but do we really doubt there is greed around us?
We see it in businesses and individuals - easy to come up with examples
Skeirelli - the guy who jacked up drug prices just was sentenced for jail
Its to the point that we almost dont notice these stories
“We should not think of it as a market trend like the rising value of waterfront property, but as something more like the sexual revolution of the 1960s—a relaxation of old strictures, a new permissiveness, but in this case the permissiveness is financial rather than sexual.” - Paul Krugman in the NYT
It is part of our culture and everyone knows it is damaging
So why dont things change?
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 50). New York: Riverhead Books.
Keller’s answer - because greed and avarice are especially hard to see in ourselves.
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 51). New York: Riverhead Books.
Greed embedded in ourselves (?)
It is hidden in ourselves, we never think we are greedy
As a pastor I’ve had people come to me to confess that they struggle with almost every kind of sin. Almost. I cannot recall anyone ever coming to me and saying, “I spend too much money on myself. I think my greedy lust for money is harming my family, my soul, and people around me.” Greed hides itself from the victim. The money god’s modus operandi includes blindness to your own heart.
Have you ever recognized greed in yourself? Did you tell anyone about it?
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 52). New York: Riverhead Books.
One reason we do not see it - we compare ourselves
Once you are able to afford to live in a particular neighborhood, send your children to its schools, and participate in its social life, you will find yourself surrounded by quite a number of people who have more money than you. You don’t compare yourself to the rest of the world, you compare yourself to those in your bracket. The human heart always wants to justify itself and this is one of the easiest ways. You say, “I don’t live as well as him or her or them. My means are modest compared to theirs.” You can reason and think like that no matter how lavishly you are living.
Who are you comparing yourself to? Are you justifying yourself with these comparisons?
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (pp. 52–53). New York: Riverhead Books.
Jesus warns people far more often about greed than about sex, yet almost no one thinks they are guilty of it. Therefore we should all begin with a working hypothesis that “this could easily be a problem for me.”
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 53). New York: Riverhead Books.
The story of Zacchaeus
We are told three things about him
He was a chief tax collector
He was rich
He was vertically challenged
Tax collector
No one likes the IRS, but it was more than that.
They collected taxes for the enemy - Rome
These were oppressive
The only ones rich were Romans, and the tax collectors
The people called Zacchaeus a “sinner”, which meant apostate or outcast. If you want to get a sense of how these functionaries were regarded, think of what people thought of the collaborators who, under the Nazis, oppressed their own people during World War II; think of drug lords who get rich enslaving thousands of the weakest people of the inner city … Now you can understand the stature of tax collectors at this time.
Why would anyone do this?
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 54). New York: Riverhead Books.
The answer was money
The tax collector was allowed to set his own wages
He charged on top of the required tax
Had the force of law
Basically extortion
And he was lit. the Arch-Tax Collector
Money as a master
The context of this statement is in part of a warning against trusting in retirement savings and next to a discussion on anxiety
For Jesus, greed is not only love of money, but excessive anxiety about it.
Aka greed is not only for the rich and not only about money All kinds of greed
Dave Ramsey methods can lead someone just as easily into an idol
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 56). New York: Riverhead Books.
Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.” That is a remarkable statement. Think of another traditional sin that the Bible warns against—adultery. Jesus doesn’t say, “Be careful you aren’t committing adultery!” He doesn’t have to. When you are in bed with someone else’s spouse—you know it. Halfway through you don’t say, “Oh, wait a minute! I think this is adultery!” You know it is. Yet, even though it is clear that the world is filled with greed and materialism, almost no one thinks it is true of them. They are in denial.
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (pp. 57–58). New York: Riverhead Books.
Luke 12:15
We either serve God or money
We talked about three metaphors of idolatry - Love, Trust, & Obey
Lovers of money” are those who find themselves daydreaming and fantasizing about new ways to make money, new possessions to buy, and looking with jealousy on those who have more than they do. “Trusters of money” feel they have control of their lives and are safe and secure because of their wealth. Idolatry also makes us “servants of money.” Just as we serve earthly kings and magistrates, so we “sell our souls” to our idols. Because we look to them for our significance (love) and security (trust) we have to have them, and therefore we are driven to serve and, essentially, obey them. When Jesus says that we “serve” money, he uses a word that means the solemn, covenantal service rendered to a king.
Lovers of money” are those who find themselves daydreaming and fantasizing about new ways to make money, new possessions to buy, and looking with jealousy on those who have more than they do. “Trusters of money” feel they have control of their lives and are safe and secure because of their wealth.
Idolatry also makes us “servants of money.” Just as we serve earthly kings and magistrates, so we “sell our souls” to our idols. Because we look to them for our significance (love) and security (trust) we have to have them, and therefore we are driven to serve and, essentially, obey them. When Jesus says that we “serve” money, he uses a word that means the solemn, covenantal service rendered to a king. If
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 57). New York: Riverhead Books.
Understanding the idol of greed makes us not surprised at Zacchaeus choosing to become a tax collector
Understanding the idol of greed makes us not surprised at Zacchaeus
Grace dealing with Money
Jesus and Zacchaeus
No one let him up front, so he climbed a tree
This is significant
In traditional cultures it was not freedom and rights that mattered but honor and dignity. For any grown male to climb up into a tree would have invited enormous ridicule…(Why?)... Zacchaeus was eager to connect to Jesus. Eager may be too weak a word. His willingness to climb a tree signifies something close to desperation.
Jesus notices him and eats with him
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 59). New York: Riverhead Books.
Eating is sign of friendship
Jesus is choosing to befriend the Arch-Sinner instead of all the good jews around
His whole spiritual understanding began to change…He began to realize that God’s salvation was by grace, not through moral achievement or performance. That realization went through him like lightning, and he welcomed Jesus with joy.
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (pp. 60–61). New York: Riverhead Books.
Zacchaeus response
He gives away half of what he owns and 4 times anything he extorted
The law specified 10% and 20% respectively
The joy of being saved by grace meant that he didnt look to the law for salvation
So instead of doing the bare minimum to be saved, he went beyond it
What was first - the donations or salvation?
That was the reason for Zacchaeus’s new heart and life. If salvation had been something earned through obedience to the moral code, then Zacchaeus’s question would have been “How much must I give?” However, these promises were responses to lavish, generous grace, so his question was “How much can I give?” He realized that while being financially rich, he had been spiritually bankrupt, but Jesus had poured out spiritual riches on him freely. He went from being an oppressor of the poor to being a champion of justice. He went from accruing wealth at the expense of the people around him to serving others at the expense of his wealth. Why? Jesus had replaced money as Zacchaeus’s savior, and so money went back to being merely that, just money. It was now a tool for doing good, for serving people. Now that his identity and security were rooted in Christ, he had more money than he needed. The
In response to these promises, Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house.” Notice, he didn’t say, “If you live like this, salvation will come to this house.” No, it has come. God’s salvation does not come in response to a changed life. A changed life comes in response to the salvation, offered as a free gift... If salvation had been something earned through obedience to the moral code, then Zacchaeus’s question would have been “How much must I give?” However, these promises were responses to lavish, generous grace, so his question was “How much can I give?”… He went from accruing wealth at the expense of the people around him to serving others at the expense of his wealth. Why? Jesus had replaced money as Zacchaeus’s savior, and so money went back to being merely that, just money. It was now a tool for doing good, for serving people. Now that his identity and security were rooted in Christ, he had more money than he needed.
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (pp. 63–64). New York: Riverhead Books.
Tithing
We also need to think through the standard we give our money
The OT law is 10%, but we are free from the law now so thats not a requirement… right?
I shake my head no, and they give a sigh of relief. But then I quickly add, “I’ll tell you why you don’t see the tithing requirement laid out clearly in the New Testament. Think. Have we received more of God’s revelation, truth, and grace than the Old Testament believers, or less?” Usually there is uncomfortable silence. “Are we more ‘debtors to grace’ than they were, or less? Did Jesus ‘tithe’ his life and blood to save us or did he give it all?” Tithing is a minimum standard for Christian believers. We certainly wouldn’t want to be in a position of giving away less of our income than those who had so much less of an understanding of what God did to save them.
Not going to ask you to raise your hands if you are 10% or more, but I will ask about your motivation
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 62). New York: Riverhead Books.
It is possible to give more, but it only goes to serve an idol - prestige, popularity etc
It is possible to give, but grudgingly - like a membership fee while wishing you could spend it on yourself
Deep and surface idols
Idolatry as a heart structure
We often discuss idols in singular black and white terms - greed OR lust OR family etc
But they are often woven together in a complex way - Clusters
This why fighting idols can sometimes feel like whack-a-mole or Frodo running out of the spider’s cave in LOTR
Deep Idols
These are basic motivational drives that sin has distorted and twisted into idols
Influence and power, approval and appreciation, emotional and physical comfort, security and control
Keller describes how these work: People with the deep idol of power do not mind being unpopular in order to gain influence. People who are most motivated by approval are the opposite—they will gladly lose power and control as long as everyone thinks well of them.
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 64). New York: Riverhead Books.
Surface idols
These are created things through which deep idols seek fulfillment
Money, spouse, children, work, etc
Some people want lots of money as a way to control their world and life. Such people usually don’t spend much money and live very modestly. They keep it all safely saved and invested, so they can feel completely secure in the world. Others want money for access to social circles and to make themselves beautiful and attractive. These people do spend their money on themselves in lavish ways.
Interaction between
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 65). New York: Riverhead Books.
Interaction between
It makes things harder to recognize
It makes things harder to recognize
We focus on one way an idol will manifest itself
Sleeping around instead of idolizing your spouse
Counselling story - “Do you see that by not spending or giving away anything, by socking away every penny, you are being just as selfish? You are ‘spending’ absolutely everything on your need to feel secure, protected, and in control.”
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 66). New York: Riverhead Books.
Makes it easy to compare and justify yourself
Also, the connection is not always obvious - lust because you feel unimportant
It makes it harder to address
We can remove ourselves (voluntarily or involuntarily) totally from one surface idol, only for another to take its place
ex. getting frustrated at work, take it out by controlling your family
This is because the deep idol - the root - is still there
This we cannot just stop idols by power of will or by isolation
Requires three things to identify and address
Bible - sharper than a two edged sword - diving joints and marrow
Prayer - humbling your self before God asking His Spirit to show you and heal you
Community - trusting in others when they point out disconnects that they will not leave you in your mess
All three have to have a gospel focus
Seeing Christ as our treasure
Why did Paul ask them to give?
Jesus, the God-Man, had infinite wealth, but if he had held on to it, we would have died in our spiritual poverty... [But] if he died poor, we could become rich... Paul was not giving this church a mere ethical precept, exhorting them to stop loving money so much and become more generous. Rather, he recapitulated the gospel… Jesus gave up all his treasure in heaven, in order to make you his treasure... When you see him dying to make you his treasure, that will make him yours.
This is what Paul was saying. Jesus gave up all his treasure in heaven, in order to make you his treasure—for you are a treasured people (). When you see him dying to make you his treasure, that will make him yours.
What do you need to do make Christ your treasure?
Final thoughts
What breaks the power of money over us is not just redoubled effort to follow the example of Christ. Rather, it is deepening your understanding of the salvation of Christ, what you have in him, and then living out the changes that that understanding makes in your heart... Faith in the gospel restructures our motivations, our self-understanding and identity, our view of the world. Behavioral compliance to rules without a complete change of heart will be superficial and fleeting.
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 67). New York: Riverhead Books.
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 68). New York: Riverhead Books.
Carnegie
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