Romans. The pivotal epistle from the humble apostle Paul. What do we believe? How should we think about our relationship with Jesus? Paul’s words show us how to truly believe and know why we believe. From explaining our depravity to painting a picture of God’s grace and love, this study of Romans will show us all exactly the depth of our undeserved favor with God, and why others should know about that as well.
This week we explore the human condition and what we all do apart from Christ and how, even though we have a relationship with Christ, we still fall into the idol-trap.
1) Your god is what you end up devoting most of your time and attention to
“They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.” – Romans 1.25 (NLT)
Let’s be practical. What are some things that you end devoting most of your time to? Have they become your idol? Here’s a test. If someone were to take away or stop you from doing those activities, how would that make you feel? Would you feel empty and void, or would you trust God to sustain you? I encourage you to take a moment and look at your life and see where most of your time is being spent and, from there, analyze if some of those things are not in fact idols in your life. We see this in our day with the following:
- jobs and incomes
- sports and extra-curricular activities
- our image
- our own desires
We say that what we want matters the most, making our desires and preferrences our idol. This is the focus of the world, and should not be the focus of one who desires to follow Christ. Even religion itself can become the idol. The churchy activities, the tasks associated with church attendance and participation as well as all the religious bells and whistles (yes even Jesus-fish car decals) we can acquire become our savior. Are you trusting in those religious externals, or the true Savior who looks at the internal?
2) Your gods, even though created, will still have mastery over you
“Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.” – Romans 1.28-29 (NLT)
Once you give your heart over to something other than God, then that thing will have mastery over you. It’s a fact. You see this with addictions to unhealthy relationships, sex, porn, alcohol, drugs, shopping, food, and just about any other thing under the sun. Ezekiel 14.2b-3 tells us this
This message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, these leaders have set up idols in their hearts. They have embraced things that will make them fall into sin. Why should I listen to their requests?”
The result of this embrace comes from deciding to give yourself over to something other than God. God speaks very clearly about this in His word. When Israel was preparring to enter the promised land, God gave them these explicit instructions:
“You must not make a treaty of any kind with the people living in the land. They lust after their gods, offering sacrifices to them. They will invite you to join them in their sacrificial meals, and you will go with them. Then you will accept their daughters, who sacrifice to other gods, as wives for your sons. And they will seduce your sons to commit adultery against me by worshiping other gods. You must not make any gods of molten metal for yourselves.” – Exodus 34.15-17
Are you making treaties with the things of this world? God says that when we do, we move away from Him. It is so vital that we know where are idols might be, and do everything we can to destroy them! John Owen, the great puritan theologian in his work The Mortification of Sin, explains the necessity for doing this by saying
“To know that a man hath such an enemy to deal withal, to take notice of it, to consider it as an enemy indeed, and one that is to be destroyed by all means possible, is required hereunto.”
Are you doing everything necessary to analyze your life and rid youself of your idols so that you may devote yourself more fully to God?
3) Only the Most High God is worthy of all our worship and attention
“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” – Romans 1.20 (NLT)
Even though this point might seem obvious, is it our constant focus day in and day out? Sports, shopping, eating and other activities are not wrong by any means, but what’s our daily focus as we participate in these various tasks? Only God, the creator of the universe, is worthy of all our time and attention. The greatest command tells us to love God with all we have (Matthew 22.47-40). In the midst of all that life has for you, are you dedicating all you have to the worship of the Most High God? Chances remain that none of us are, but that’s the goal. We have no excuse as Paul tells us, to know and worship God. Where are you lacking in that today?
In the final analysis, we all have aspects in our lives that are bordering on idolotry or have already become idols. We feel like there are certain things that we can’t live without or possibly habits that have become so rooted in our lives that they have become our savior that we continue to seek out when life turns sour. I encourage you guys to get together in this week’s family time and discuss the things in your life that fall into the idol category. Also, discuss what needs to be done to rid yourself of those. Cut the cable? Spend less time at work? Eat at home with the family? Sell the video games? Choose to stay home rather than go to the mall? We have to be about the business of ridding ourselves of the things that replace God in our lives, otherwise they will continue to bring us further away from Him. Analyze your life, be real with yourself, listen to the Spirit, and do what you need to do to turn from idols and follow God. Take care and have a great week in the Lord!
Peace in Him,