July 24th

 

Idolatry in the Heart

1 Now some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. 2And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 3"Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them? 4"Therefore speak to them, and say to them, "Thus says the Lord GOD: "Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, 5that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols."' 6"Therefore say to the house of Israel, "Thus says the Lord GOD: "Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations. 7For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the LORD will answer him by Myself. 8I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.  Ezekiel 14:1-8 NKJV 

Idolatry is often one of the primary sins involved in sexual addictions.  The above passage reveals how damaging idolatry is to our relationship with God.   Let’s first look at some definitions:

Considering those definitions, we can see that the typical acts of sex addiction – like feasting our eyes on porn or masturbating over sex images – fit the description of idolatry.  Sex addicts are idolizing bodies and sex, and in so doing they are being drawn away from God.   

God pointed out that idolatry is a heart issue.  The idolater makes a special pedestal or altar in his heart for object of his devotion.  For example, a sex addict’s mind is almost constantly savoring sexual thoughts in his mind.  Like the idols Israel set up in high places, sex occupies a high place in the sex addict’s thoughts.   The sexualized thought-life usually then leads to some form of physical acting out, like masturbation, illicit sex, or seeking a prostitute.  For some people, this can signal a descent into increasingly perverted acts and can lead into sexual crimes like rape.  As a person indulges his or her lusts, the acting out can easily move into more perverted and violent acts.  Just as God said in the Ezekiel passage, the sexual idols we entertain will cause us to “stumble in inquity” (7).   

God requires that we choose between him and the idols.  He will forgive those who will repent from their idols.   God tells us, “Turn your faces away from all your abominations” (6).   If you have been feeding yourself with abominations of sexual sin, then God is calling you to turn your face away from it today!  When we turn away from it, we can’t keep a few favorite porn magazines under our bed or leave a few links in our web browser to the best porn sites.   We have to take decisive action to get rid of both the physical and mental idols we have been sinning with. 

Destroying the physical idols is fairly straight forward – we throw them out or destroy them beyond recognition.  Destroying the mental idols can be more challenging.  It involves surrendering our memories and thoughts to God and restraining our thoughts from fantasizing about the idols we previously had.   One of the tools we can use is the blood of Jesus, which cleanses our conscience from the dead works of our sin (Hebrews 9:14).  The blood will wash away the ingrained thought patterns of sin we have practiced over the years.  This usually is not an instantaneous healing, but a gradual process as we faithfully redirect our thoughts to pure topics.   

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Lord God, I recognize that you are God and there is no God but you.  Please forgive me for entertaining any idols in my life and placing them above you.  I turn away from my idols now and fix my eyes and heart on you.  Please help me destroy all physical and mental idols that I have kept.  Please cleanse my mind with the blood of Jesus and restore healthy thought-patterns in me. My desire is to honor you and serve you from today forward. Thank you, Father!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”