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Identifying our Idols

“For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore, do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts.”  (1 Cor 4:4-5)

“You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?” (Rom 2:22-24)

I believe we are entering into a time of unprecedented turmoil in the world which Jesus foretold as “the beginning of the birth pangs [see “Realm on Realm” on this blog page]. During these days where few are working, life has been turned upside down, and governments are sequestering us we must ask ourselves what it is God wants out of this. Certainly, nothing this earth-shaking has escaped His notice or is void of His purposes for His church. As realm arises against realm, I believe we will see a titanic clash of between the forces of God and the principalities of darkness on a previously unimaginable scale. Through forcing us to take time away from all our busy-ness, having us consider the boundless freedoms and wealth that have separated us from Him and humble ourselves, I believe He is preparing us for what is coming upon the world. What He desires, I think, is that we just sit and listen to Him speaking to us through His Word and His Spirit.

Over these past two weeks my quiet times have increased from 30 minutes to hours, I’ve pulled a prayer shawl out of its wrapping I bought it in 7 years ago, sat ‘neath it and for the first time in a long time, just listened. No agenda, no prayer list, not even praise and worship. Just silence before the One whose voice and revelations to me for today and the days ahead are what truly matters. I believe it is time for God’s new prophets [and I don’t claim to be one of them] to hear and then boldly proclaim new revelations of the Spirit to guide His people through the trials to come! From the former “Pharisee of Pharisees” who had studied the ancient Hebrew texts under the most renowned Rabbis of his day, Paul says In Galatians 1, “For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Mind you, Jesus promised there would also be many false prophets that would arise as this realm-on-realm warfare escalated, so we must be very careful to examine what we receive and what we hear from others. Though new revelation, if it be from God it will not in any way conflict with His holy Word already given. Nonetheless, the God who formed the earth for us, loves us, wants to commune with us, saved us “while we were yet sinners,” and has come to us with that “new thing” He’s always about time and time again, did not just write a best-seller and then go fishing! No, He still speaks to His prophets today, and indeed to anyone who will listen and obey.

One of the reasons I believe He is sequestering His people through this Coronavirus [which the enemy would use for evil, fear, panic, submission to government control, etc. in the kingdom of man, God will use for good in His kingdom on earth], is to have us open our hands and loose our grips on anything and everything that could be an idol. I just spent two months laying down my writing to be sure it was not that, nor the cause of any religious spirit, in me. Your home is not yours. Your cars are not yours. Indeed, your children and your very life are not yours. It all belongs to God and will be forfeit if we place it above Him. Make no mistake, we will suffer greatly in the times to come and many of our things will be taken from us, so we need to hold on to everything loosely.

I have written often about the season of stripping and pruning God took me through almost 20 years ago, that I coined the phrase during that time, “You never know what an idol is until you lose it.” I had no clue what an idol my money was in my life until I experienced the anxious days and sleepless nights as He ripped it from my tightly grasped fingers! Looking back, however, I now realize it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I say this to bring us to the verse opening this article. As we go to God to deal with our idols, let us not claim to know who or what they are. The nature of idols is the nature of Satan: they are deceivers over and above all else. They create nothing, but rather take the good God has created and twist it into something that appears good but is evil. What did Paul have to say about examining ourselves? To begin, he says don’t do it until something critical has happened. Why, because he knew we could be deceived, saying, “For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted.” Paul was saying he could honestly be unaware of any wrong or sin in his life, yet that would not be grounds for him to say, “It is well with my soul.” Why? Self-deception.

He goes on to reveal the proper way to identify and face our idols, which is to invite the Lord to examine us, and not pass judgment before then, because He alone will bring to light the things hidden and disclose the motives of our hearts.”There is only One who judges and discerns righteously, in every way and at all times, and that is God through the power of His Spirit. The Writer of Hebrews says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” We cannot do this for ourselves.

God looks to the heart to reveal motivations. He will ask you questions like the ones in Romans 2 above. He will reveal any and all hypocrisies. We can have all wisdom and all knowledge, but if the motivations of our hearts are not right it means nothing to God. So, as you spend time with the Lord ask Him to reveal your idols to you, which are found in the “thoughts and motivations of the heart,” not your recollection or knowledge of them. Let Him do the revealing, you just need to be willing to humble yourself and accept whatever He reveals, painful or not. Confess them and remove them from your life and then, as the verse immediately after 1 Corinthians 4:5 states, “Your praise will come to you from God!”

If we will do this, God’s promise through Ezekiel will come to us: “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land [kingdom] that I gave to [you], so you will be My people and I will be your God” (Ezek. 36). Amen!

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