My desire this evening is that all of us here, can hear the words of the Lord tonight, allow the Holy Spirit to apply then to our lives, our pain, our misunderstandings, our lies, our anger, etc… and move us from bondage in serving created things, to freedom in serving the Creator. I desire us to be be in the freest sense we can ever imagine….I believe that kind of freedom looks like us being happy slaves of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Read Acts 19:8-41: In this passage we see a lot of spiritual movement in Ephesus. We read that Paul stayed and preached and taught the Gospel for over 2 years in Ephesus. After that, everything began to break (in good ways). People tried to own God’s power (to serve their own god, themselves), and were overtaken by demons (hilarious story). Then the Ephesian Christians after 2 years of hearing the gospel, finally burned up all their magic and cut off their pursuit of anything but Jesus and others were saved for the first time then too!
A great display of the power of the Gospel (19:11-20) mixed with over 2 years of preaching the Gospel (19:8-10) led to this idol bashing party that created a riot among those who rejected the truth because their whole life was built on their idols they worshiped and if they are wrong, then their way of life and comfort are over.
It is vital that we know what it looks like to identify idols, resist the lies of the enemy, let the Gospel speak to those lies, and let Jesus replace our idols and then be able to call others to worship Jesus also. So let’s spend the rest of our time unpacking what it might have looked like for Paul to dismantle the idols of the Ephesians so that we can experience the same kind of movement the Ephesians experienced here in Acts 19.
A. KILLING OUR IDOLS
1. Identify them – Counsel focused only on the sin and behavior is equivalent to secular psychology. Stop drinking and love yourself is saying, “Stop worshiping alcohol and worship yourself (2 Peter 2:19: They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. John 8:34: Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin).
Adulterers are slaves to sex. Sluggards are slaves to comfort. Greedy people are slaves to money or status or security. The pride are enslaved to themselves. Glutens are slaves to food. Bully’s/abusers are slaves to control. Workaholics are slaves to performance. Gamblers are slaves to luck. Good things that get turned into ultimate things are idols.
We need to do this or we will be bad helpers of others (Matt. 7:5: You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye).
2. Expose the lies they speak – Every idol promises something, and they are all lies. Jesus says Satan is a liar, he is the father of lies. Idols promise blessing, but they lie and cannot deliver on anything they promise. (John 8:43-45: 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me).
You can’t hear Jesus because your affection are for the idol and your ear is inclined to them as well, which means you hear the words of the enemy and do not hear or receive God’s words. You hear this: “You’d be beautiful if you did this”, You need to work harder or you won’t be accepted”, “You have to live up to this standard”, “Go get that thing and you’ll be happy.” “If you do this, go here, live there, you’ll be holier or will be closer to God.”
Sometimes the lie is “this is who you are”; “this is the way you were born or were meant to be.” “You simply cannot stop, so accept and love yourself for who you are.”
Or sometimes it will drive you to the point of exhaustion and burn out: “This job will give you identity if you keep giving it everything”, “Your job is killing you and your family but you’re a lawyer, doctor, pastor, and won’t be able to pay your bills, or live the way your wife wants to, etc…” Another lie is that “you deserve it because you’ve had a long hard day, week, month, year, life”…. “If you do this, you’ll feel better, get more sleep, money, sex, feel less pain, etc…”
Idols always lie. Sex always lies. Alcohol always lies. Money always lies. Status always lies. Relationships always lie. What lies are you believing?
3. Preach the Gospel to yourself – You worshiped your idol/desire/flesh over God. You picked a god and you worshiped it with sacrifice, obedience, etc… and this is going to destroy you. And if you disagree with me, you’ve bought another lie and think that your idol has bought you freedom. We must worship God because of the Gospel!
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (see also John 3:16; Eph. 1:3-14; 2:8-9; Rom. 3:21-26; just to name a few!)
Captives cannot liberate themselves. You need to be redeemed/freed by Jesus. Jesus is not a liar. He is the one who gives us free gifts that we cannot earn. He is the one who forgives sins. He is the one who never fails. He is the one who all your hopes and dreams can be built on. (Lie: there is no savior, hero, redeemer because there’s no one outside of the system who isn’t sick and who is clean and able to redeem).
We worship our way into sin so we must worship our way out
B. HEALING FROM IDOL WORSHIP
1. Repent – Don’t esteem yourselves, try to love yourself or accept yourself. Repent from your sin. Depravity is our problem and until we repent of our inability, we will never get the help we truly need. Sin is not just what we do, it is what we are.
1 John 1:8-10: 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Martin Luther – “All of the Christians life is one of repentance.”
The heart is the seat, sum and essence of who we are; the identity of the person….this is why behavior modification doesn’t work; there must be a heart change.
You worship the created things over the creator, repent of this and turn to Jesus. Repentance is what Christians do, not a one time act, but a lifestyle.
Don’t be a religious repenter. Religious people like to repent for other people’s sin. They call you to repent for the way you called them to repent for the tone of your voice that you used when you called me to repentance. Don’t be religious in your repentance.
Luke 18:11: The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
Also, repentance is not repenting so you can manipulate God for him to do something for you. That is what we call pagan repentance. It’s telling God you’re sorry so you can get something or feel good about continuing in it.
Worldly repentance is saying sorry, acknowledging it and continuing in it or saying you did a bad thing and you say I know it’s wrong but you have every intention of doing it again. It’s saying I know it’s wrong, but I want this and will repent afterwards when I get it, etc…
Also, not forgiving yourself is another form of oneism. You think you need to punish yourself more because Jesus’ sacrifice isn’t enough.
What True Repentance Looks Like:
a) Conviction (comes from the HS);
b) Confession (agreeing with God);
c) Repentance (putting the sin to death; not managing it or trying to control it and then turning to Jesus);
d) Restitution (you gotta not just say sorry, but your actions should display that you’re sorry);
e) Reconciliation (this takes two parties; there will not be reconciliation if one party doesn’t go through this process).
f) Rejoice (this means you worship Jesus and celebrate the fact that He has made you free, so you are free indeed; worship your way out of sin).
2) Worship Jesus freely – The result of this is that we can worship Jesus freely, living a new life of daily repentance. We must practice repentance. This will be the mark of your maturity and freedom and joy.
Romans 12:1-2: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Eat to glorify God. Drink to glorify God. Work to glorify God. Parent to glorify God. Have sex with your WIFE ALONE in a way that glorifies God. Minister in a way that glorifies God, and on and on and on….
We worship our way into sin so we must worship our way out or worship to stay out!
3) Learn to repeat this killing and healing process over and over again –
1 John 1:8-10: 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us).
This is how freedom is achieved. Christians waging war against their sin/idolatry day after day after day. What in your life do you have to keep working on daily or else you’ll lose it (remember, we are not talking about salvation, but freedom): Marriage, jobs, houses, cars, grades, relationships, sports, etc….
Romans 8:12-15: 12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”