I recently read the book Redemption by Mike Wilkerson and I recommend it to everyone and it is what has brought about me wanting to write this post. It’s a solid book that seeks to expose the deep idols of our hearts that have caused us to run to good or bad things that become ultimate things and eventually enslave us. At the core, the drug addict isn’t running to drugs because he made a series of bad decisions. He runs to them because they have become the one thing that can provide a temporary relief from pain or serves as an escape. At the core, the porn addict doesn’t run to the computer screen or the bookstore because he has let his mind go too far. He runs to it because it is giving him something that relieves him from the lack of intimacy, acceptance or serves as an escape. At the core, the workaholic doesn’t work all the time because he is so in love with what he does. He works all the time because it gives him a sense of significance, or acceptance or the right kind of living. At the heart of all of these addictions is a deep idol that drives us to satisfy it, and these surface idols (drugs, porn, overworking, etc…) are the means by which we can serve the deep idol.
For instance, a woman who has become promiscuous with men and has not cared for her own protection or body, is not in love with the thought of being with men. Rather, her deep idol of being wanted, accepted, or worth something (even if for a moment), drives her to do whatever she can to fulfill that need or to get a temporary relief for the night. She doesn’t care for her body because the deep idol of wanting to be loved is controlling her. She will labor to serve this deep idol and make it happy at any cost. To counsel this woman to stop her destructive behavior would be useless. The deep idol knows that if she stops this behavior, it is still in control because it has become the ultimate thing in her life. She will just move on to another behavior (that may not be as outwardly destructive), but she will be mastered by her deep idol that is driving her to be loved.
So here’s the deal, it is not wrong to want to be loved. The desire to want to be loved is God given and is a longing of everyone’s heart. But when we sell ourselves to any and everything so that we can attain “being loved”, we become slaves to being loved and will never be satisfied. This is why idolatry is so destructive. Idols cannot ultimately satisfy, but they are placed in the ultimate position. This is why God hates idolatry. He knows He is the only slave master who can deliver exactly what His slaves need, so when He sees His kids running to things that only bring a moment of satisfaction and ultimate destruction, He hates it!
We see His hatred for it in Deuteronomy 29:16-18 when Moses speaks to the Israelites about their time in the wilderness, just before they enter the promised land: “You know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed. And you have seen their detestable things, their idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold, which were among them. Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the LORD our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit…”
Detestable. Beware. Poisonous. Bitter. These are just a few words that stuck out to me when reading this passage. When we serve created things over the Creator, it is detestable to God. We must beware of letting our hearts be drawn to temporary relief, because if we want relief over God Himself, the words poisonous and bitter become words that describe us; all the while we were just wanting to be loved, accepted, or worth something. So behavior change is out because what’s driving our behavior is not God. Affection change is in because God must be our new and first affection so that our behavior can change for good.
This is called redemption. Not the redemption of our souls. As Christians, the redemption of our souls is sealed by placing our faith in Jesus Christ alone; his death and resurrection. The kind of redemption I’m talking about is the rehab that needs to take place because of our lives of sin. Our depravity has brought with it a trail of pain, destruction, habits, wounds, friends, family and thoughts that all need to redeemed. Remade. Redone. Reprioritized. Redefined.
This work is slow and painful and not for the faint of heart. This work is not instant, so if you’re still wanting a quick fix, you’re still serving your deep idol, not Jesus. This work is the kind of work that is done by those who know they need Jesus more than oxygen. This work leads to a life of fruitfulness for God’s kingdom. This work leads to a life that is truly free. This work leads to God looking beautiful, magnificent, powerful and awesome in the life of a believers. Make Jesus look good. Do the work!