One Thing To Rule Them All

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Colossians 3 is very descriptive of what we need to focus on as Christians. Remember, if we are focused on anything other than God, that is an idol. Colossians 3:1-2 says “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” We are to focus on God, not on material or unholy things. Paul tells us in Colossians 3:5, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

Paul was saying that immorality, impurity, evil desires and greed are idolatry. He says in verse 7-10, “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Paul is saying that the fruits of idolatry are anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lying.

If we are not focused on God, these are the fruits of our focus on idols. If we are focused on God, Paul tells us that we will clothe ourselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience… forbearance… forgiveness… (and above all) love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

What are the idols we have to worry about in this modern day? Most of us don’t have wooden statues that we are tempted to bow down to in lieu of worshipping God; however, we do have spiritual idols that we focus on instead of Him. If we choose to focus on God, all of these other things will come into focus as well.

What distracts me from keeping God first in my life? What could my idol be?

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One Thing (What’s an Idol, Anyway?)

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In order to know how to avoid idols, we need to know what they are.

The Holman Bible Dictionary defines idol and gives a description of the history of idolatry in Scripture. Read the entry below for the details, but don’t miss this: “The idol is made by a workman but is powerless to sustain the workman to complete his task. Further, the idol begins as a leftover piece of a tree from which a person makes a god. He then worships no more than a block of wood.”

What we make with our own hands does not make us. You work is not you. Don’t make it an idol. If you begin to feel like what you are doing is your one thing, stop and take your focus off of your work and look at God.

Physical or material image or form representing a reality or being considered divine and thus an object of worship…

The ancient Hebrews lived in a world filled with idols. Egyptians represented their deities in various human-animal forms. Similarly, the various Mesopotamian cultures used idol representations of their deities, as did the Hittites in ancient Asia Minor. More of a threat to Hebrew worship were the Canaanite Baal and Asherah fertility images, some of which are commonly found in excavations. Use of idols in worship continued to be commonplace in Greek and Roman religion.

One of the prominent distinguishing features of biblical religion is its ideal of imageless worship. Clearly expressed in the decalogue is the command: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image… thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them” (Exodus 20:4-5). This is usually interpreted to be a negative statement concerning idols but with positive implications toward the spiritual worship desired by God.

Idols were a problem of long standing. The first rebellion of the Hebrews centered around the golden calf made under Aaron’s leadership in the wilderness (Exodus 32:1). The bronze serpent illustrates the Hebrews’ propensity for idol worship. Moses set it up in the wilderness to allay a plague of serpents (Numbers 21:1), but Israel retained it and made it an object of worship (2 Kings 18:4). Joshua called on the people to put away the gods their fathers had served in Mesopotamia and in Egypt (Joshua 24:14). Perhaps a misguided King Jeroboam intended to represent Yahweh by the gold calves set up in his temples at Bethel and Dan when he led the northern tribes to secede from the kingdom inherited by Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:28-33).

Biblical writers often denounced idolatry. None is more graphic and devastating than that in Isaiah 44:9-20. The idol is made by a workman but is powerless to sustain the workman to complete his task. Further, the idol begins as a leftover piece of a tree from which a person makes a god. He then worships no more than a block of wood.

Many scholars believe that the threat of idolatry was much less in the Jewish community after the Babylonian Exile and that it continued to be diminished though still present throughout New Testament times. The most noted problem in the New Testament concerns the propriety of eating meat which has previously been offered to an idol (1 Corinthians 8-10). Paul seemingly broadened the scope of idolatry for Christianity when he identified covetousness with idolatry (Colossians 3:5).

Holman Bible Dictionary

One Thing (Part Deux)

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During this One Thing blog series, I’m going to write about things that can supersede our love for God. These are modern day idols. God should take first place in our lives. Idols are anything that vies for first place. The first commandment is “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

When God said “no gods before Me,” He was literally saying no gods “in my presence.” God is holy. He cannot be in the presence of sin. Our worship of anything other than God is sin. So, God cannot be present in our lives when we choose to focus on idols.

The second commandment explains what the “other gods” could be. “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them” (Exodus 20:4-5a).

I want to never look to an idol when I should be looking to God; never bow down and worship what was created. Will you accept the challenge to rid yourself of the created things that keep you from keeping God number one in your life?

 

One Thing (Monday Edition)

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David prayed in Psalm 27:4, “I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple.” One thing was his focus. An intimate and passionate relationship with God consumed him.

Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” One thing was his focus. The goal of Christlikeness compelled him to more forward in his spiritual journey. In fact, for Paul, everything else was like filth compared to this one thing (Phil. 3:8).

Paul likewise instructed Timothy to train himself to be godly. To do so, Timothy would have to avoid all the godless chatter and legalistic principles surrounding him. He had to focus on the one thing of being transformed by God (1 Tim. 4:7-8).

The writer of Hebrews instructs us to throw off sin and everything else that hinders us from running the race that Christ has marked out for us (Heb. 12:1). One thing. The challenge is to get rid of anything that gets in the way of spiritual transformation (from Thom S. Rainer and Sam S. Rainer III, Essential Church).

We need to think about this. What is my one thing? You may have sung worship songs and hymns in church yesterday. They were reflections on God’s love for us, and our love for Him. Did you sing as if he was your one thing? Today, is he still your one thing? Or do other things overtake our love for God on Monday?