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No Other Gods

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In some ways, it seems strange to talk about idolatry. We don’t seem to think along these lines much as a society, with perhaps the exception of seasons of American Idol or Canadian Idol.
Q&A 95 defines idolatry as putting, inventing, having trust in anything alongside of or in place of the only true God, revealed in the Bible. According to that definition, what could we identify as idols? Horoscopes, gambling, lucky clothes or items could qualify. We might think governments, health care, scientific advancements as being more worthy of our trust than God is.
Even if we don’t think about idolatry specifically, even if we don’t really pay much attention to it, Q&A 94 reminds us that it is worth our attention. In fact, it is downright serious!
What’s at stake? Our very salvation is at stake. Which, honestly, makes sense when you think about it. Either God is the only way for salvation or he isn’t. He can’t be both the only way and just one way.
I know, people are trying to say, there’s more than one way to God. But is that actually true? Let’s put it another way, let’s say I need to get to Bracebridge. I’ll never get there if I insist on taking the 401 and staying on the 401. The 401 doesn’t go to Bracebridge. Just as it is identifiably true that not all roads lead to Rome, not all religions will lead to Christ.
So, if I or anyone else puts their hope and trust in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ, my salvation is in danger, because Salvation only comes through Christ. If I trust anything other than Christ, I am telling him that he’s not enough.
So, what does this mean?
It means that we avoid and shun. We turn away from, we stop, we forbid, we do not entertain, all idolatry, sorcery, superstitious rites, prayers to saints or other things.
Maybe you’re sitting there thinking, “I don’t do that kind of thing. Idolatry isn’t a problem I have.”
Have you ever believed you contributed to the outcome of a game, either one that you’re actually playing yourself, or even one you’re watching based on what you happen to be wearing? Do you have a lucky jersey, lucky pair of socks, underwear, or what have you? Recently a person was telling me how she was watching a hockey game, and whenever their pet was in the room with them, their team was scoring goals and playing well. But wouldn’t you know it, he left the room and their team lost the game!
That’s how it happens, we ascribe worth, importance or significance to things that, in contrast to God are insignificant. I’m not saying that the person who connected their team’s play with the presence of their dog in the room truly believes that had any affect on the outcome of the game. But what it does show is that we want to make connections to things, sometimes outside of God’s sovereignty.
What we do need to know is that there is only one trustworthy source in the universe, the only true God.
The only true God has made all kinds of promises; we looked at a bunch of them this morning. God has proven that he is, in fact, trustworthy. The Belgic Confession describes God as “good, and the overflowing source of all good.” Therefore, the only place to find true goodness is in God. In God we find true satisfaction. In him, we find true life, joy, delight and excellence.
Our hearts, according to our sinful natures don’t believe that God is the source of all good. It constantly challenges us to seek goodness elsewhere. But we must fight hard against such thinking.
We look to God to provide for all our needs. And God has limitless supplies. God does provide them. Oftentimes he makes us wait. He has reasons for this, mostly probably for maturity.
This is loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We focus all our attention on Christ, on God, on his goodness and provision. It is hard, particularly when we have to wait.
But the kicker for me and I think, for society is the last point. “That I give up anything rather than go against God’s will in any way.”
This gets to the heart of it. This is what messed up Adam and Eve. They wanted something on their terms, not God’s.
How are you doing with this? Are you giving up anything? I know of some who are, and not just for Lent. Have you ever tried fasting? A while back, in Edson, the youth participated in the 30 hour famine. We all fasted from six in the morning on Saturday until noon Sunday. The students raised money for World Vision, we all experienced not eating for what is, really a rather short period of time.
I have to admit it was difficult. Friends in the church held an annual weiner roast that same Saturday, and I promised the kids we’d go. It was hard to make hot dogs for five children and not have one, even a bite of one!
When you remove something from your life, you quickly understand how much you can let things control you. Food can control us. We desire to eat. We desire good tasting things. Idolatry is turning to anything other than God, for comfort, enjoyment, satisfaction. Even the good things that God gives us, cannot be fully appreciated apart from him.
Let us be abundantly aware of the things that are controlling or can control us. Are we ruled by our cell phones? Do we need to be connected all the time? Can you ignore the text message notification? Can you avoid checking email 15 times a day?
I think we’re not used to the idea of “no” anymore. We decide what we want and then if we find out we can’t have it, we justify getting it anyway.
What I need to do, what we need to do, is develop a culture of giving up anything rather than going against God’s will in any way. We know God’s will, it is contained in the pages of this book. We must be ever vigilant against trying to insist on having things our way, rather than God’s way.
I’ll close this short sermon by recommending a book. It is very short, you could read it in less than an hour. Written by Pastor Tim Keller, it is called, “The Freedom of Self-forgetfulness”. I’m 2/3s completely through it. But it hits this very topic well. It identifies what true gospel humility is, and how to live it.
This week, this passion week, think about things that are vying for your time, your talents, your treasures, examine them to see if anything is supplanting God in your life. Then submit it all to him. Avoid, shun, turn away from things, turn to God in trust. He will supply your every need, according to his riches in glory, amen.
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