Tag Archives: idolatry

Revelation: The Sixth Seal

Today’s message summary of March 6, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

God desires for man to come to a place of surrender and repentance. What does God have to allow in your life to bring you to a place of brokenness and surrender?

In Revelation Chapter 9, the first woe has passed, and there are two more to come.

Revelation 9:12-17

The first woe has passed. There are still two more woes to come after this. The sixth angel blew his trumpet. From the four horns of the gold altar that is before God, I heard a voice say to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels who were prepared for the hour, day, month and year were released to kill a third of the human race. The number of mounted troops was 200 million; I heard their number. This is how I saw the horses in my vision: The horseman had breastplates that were fiery red, hyacinth blue and sulfur yellow. The heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and from their mouths came fire, smoke, and sulfur.

God has appointed this time here, and he appoints times for things to occur in our own lives. He operates with precision.

These angels that were used are likely fallen angels, because they were bound to be released at this time to fulfill God’s purpose. The population of the earth was still growing at this time.

Revelation 9:18-19

A third of the human race was killed by these three plagues–by the fire, the smoke, and the sulfur that came from their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, which resemble snakes, have heads, and they inflict injury with them.

The fire, smoke and sulfur was inflicted through the mouths of the creatures. It may be in the form of gunpowder, insecticides and sulfuric acid. These are demonic spirits that are being released, and their mouths have this power.

We need to be clear that teaching is very important. The Holy Spirit is who enables a person to teach under the blood of Christ. Anything that we would do on our own needs to be suppressed under the power of Christ. God’s Word has healing power in the mind of a person who desires to seek Him.

If you are not being taught under the power of Christ, you absolutely need to believe that there is demonic teaching and influence.

1 Timothy 4:1-2

Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.

2 Timothy 2:22-26

Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels. The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will.

Revelation 9:20-21

The rest of the people, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands to stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which are not able to see, hear, or walk. And they did not repent of their murders, their sorceries, their sexual immorality, or their thefts.

Sin creates hardened hearts and stubbornness. It causes people to withdraw from God. Satan tries to stop people from even our own witnessing in our own homes. We are to pray for power through the Holy Spirit to overpower Satanic or demonic influence in the lives of others.

Are you praying that God opens the eyes of those who are not following God? They very well may have received incorrect instruction and need to be guided gently to the truth. Are you taking the steps needed to pray for those who need improvement in their life?

Those that choose not to repent create man-made gods. It breeds idolatry and man-made philosophies.

Colossians 2:8

Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.

Psalm 115:4-8

Their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. They have hands but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk. They cannot make a sound with their throats. Those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them.

Hosea 13:2

Now they continue to sin and make themselves a cast image, idols skillfully made from their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. People say about them, “Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves.”

After all is said and done, only God Himself can break through the strongholds of sin in a person’s life. God is the One who sets up and takes down. We as servants live for the purpose of glorifying Him.

Psalm 2:8

Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance and the ends of the earth Your possession.

 

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American Idols

Message transcript of September 13, 2015 from Melvin Gaines:

On the hit television show, American Idol, people audition from all over the United States to earn the opportunity to face-off in a singing competition for the chance to win it all and be referred to as The American Idol.

The American Idol is more than just a television singing competition. It can also refer to an ongoing competition that you are involved in more often than you realize. You are not competing against another hopeful for a prize, but you are involved in a competition where the stakes are much higher. Your competition involves what you hold as important versus your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Who will win the competition? If you are honest with yourself, you will see that it is hardly a slam dunk that your relationship with Jesus Christ will come away as the winner. There are many obstacles that will hamper your efforts to remain in fellowship with Him, and that is because you also hold someone or something as one or more of your American Idols.

What is an idol? An idol, by definition, is a cultural icon, specifically a popular person, or it is an image or representation of anything that is revered and perhaps even regarded as having some sort of spiritual power. As you can see, an idol can be a person, a thing or even a god for some. In the King James Version of the bible, the term used is “graven image,” which is something that is engraved and revered in a form of worship. The Hebrew word for graven image is means literally “idol.”

In the event that anyone believes that an idol has some sort of spiritual influence, God has a very clear command about worshiping such images:

Exodus 20:4-6 ESV

You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

 

Deuteronomy 5:9a ESV

You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.

 

Isaiah 42:8 HCSB

I am Yahweh, that is My name;

I will not give My glory to another

or My praise to idols.

As God clearly declares that He will not give honor or praise to idols, then neither should we.

Worshiping idols is known as idolatry, which is worship and excessive devotion to a person or thing that effectively replaces God.

So, what’s the problem here? You may be saying to yourself right now “this idolatry thing does not describe me. I don’t have any carved images or statues in my house, and I don’t get into all of that silly stuff.”

Really? Let’s consider that there are many things that are going on in your life right now that not only replace God as being first in your life, but they also minimize Him in the same way that you can minimize a window on your computer and you would not even see Him, and maybe even forget that He was there. If this were a competition, you would have voted, even already written God off.

In the book Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller presents three different things that are idols that we can put before God: love, money and power. There are many more than these three, of course, because, by definition, an idol is ANYTHING that a person views as important and replaces the role of God in one’s life. These three, however, are significant in that they not only are substitutes for Him, but they can also cause serious damage to the people you know if they are unchecked and out of control. Keller notes, “An idolatrous attachment can lead you to break any promise, rationalize any indiscretion, or betray any other allegiance, in order to hold onto it. It may drive you to violate all good and proper boundaries.”

I. Love and Sex

There is certainly a difference between love and sex, but as we have often seen within our present culture, the two often go hand in hand, especially when it comes to how a person views love in his or her own way. The worldly view of love is not even close to the agape love that is the essence of God’s character (1 John 4:8). The worldly view of love values the relationship with a person over and above a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ—so much so that a person’s values and ethics are often compromised for the sake of preserving the relationship. For a believer in Jesus Christ, this should be especially troubling. Keller notes that “Making an idol out of love may mean allowing the lover to exploit and abuse you, or it may cause terrible blindness to the pathologies in the relationship.”

A single woman named Clarice has attended a church for several years where the biblical values of dating, relationships and abstaining from sex before marriage have been presented. Clarice, however, felt as though her biological clock was ticking, and decided to visit nightclubs or other social events in order to find a “good Christian man” that had values similar to her own—namely, settling down and getting married. Upon finding a potential suitor, even upon declaring him as a boyfriend, she began sizing him up to check all of the boxes in her mind. Is he employed with a future career potential? Is he able to provide for me? Is he sexually compatible? Note that none of these questions are crosschecked with what she was taught within the church. Of course, after reviewing these and other questions, Clarice decides that her present boyfriend won’t be a suitable mate; therefore, she breaks up with him and moves on to search for another that will check all of her boxes. This pursuit often leads to emptiness and dissatisfaction, and it is a disappointment to God when the efforts of finding security in a person give way to obedience, trust and reliance upon God’s method of provision. God is left well into the background. Her pursuit of love was her American idol.

Jonathan was always searching for the “girl of his dreams.” The problem was that each prospective woman would never meet his expectations. He also could not maintain a long-term romance because he lacked confidence in himself and did not trust that the women he tried to date would continue to find him appealing. In between these relationships, he would visit strip clubs or watch pornography. Jonathan never married. All of his relationships turned out to be empty and unsatisfying, but his expectation that something better was out there kept his focus away from relying upon God to be his ultimate matchmaker. His desire for romance above everything else was his American idol.

The pursuit of love and sex is idolatry. It is more than just minimizing God—it is a separation from God. This can also lead to unwanted pregnancies and the undermining of a person’s family or career pursuits. In extreme cases, an emptiness, or false intimacy, can lead to sexual addiction, which according to Harry Schaumburg, is “the self-centered demand to be loved and accepted regardless of the consequences, and a loss of vital relationship with God” and it “is a complex result of sin and human behavior.” The idolatry of love and sex is sinful and destructive for every relationship surrounding the perpetrator.

II. Money

One of the most misquoted passages of Scripture involves money. Money on its own is not a bad thing; yet, the love of it has caused many to stumble under greed, and it is idolatry.

1 Timothy 6:10 HCSB

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

Anthony liked having money in his pockets. He wasn’t particularly wealthy, either, and he didn’t handle money very well. He desired to earn more money and become whatever it means to be independently wealthy, but his pursuit came through working three jobs and playing the lottery every day–sometimes twice a day and also buying dozens of scratch-off tickets. When it came to paying the bills at home, his wife had to bear the brunt of the mortgage and the utilities, because Anthony never had enough money to help out with the bills at home. He was driven through the enticement of a “get rich quick” mentality. Even when he hit the lottery for $10,000.00, he bought a new car for himself and never bothered to share his winnings with his wife. Anthony was controlled by greed over money, and it would never be satisfied, especially since God was not in his plan of obtaining wealth. His love of money was his American idol.

In Counterfeit Gods, Keller writes that greed over money “uses powerful sociological and psychological dynamics,” and that “Greed hides itself from the victim. The money god’s modus operandi includes blindness to your own heart” (Keller, 2009). He also relates that greed over money will create jealousy and envy over what other people have, which creates an even greater divide in a person’s relationship with Jesus Christ. It is one of the more deceptive means of idolatry, and it affects people who have little or a lot of it. God reminds us, as believers, that we can’t have Him in a relationship and hold a desire for money to the same standard:

Luke 16:13 ESV

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

 

III. Power

In America, our culture elevates politicians, professional athletes, Hollywood performers and music pop stars as having the ultimate wealth, status and power. They are deemed by the vast majority of people to have success beyond measure. With such success comes a measure of power. If it is used in the right way, the evidence comes out of a person with a humble approach to life and the desire to serve and glorify God. If, however, a person uses power to his or her own advantage, it creates an environment where power usage can be abusive…and sinful.

Even the noblest efforts that are presented in the spirit of doing what is good can still be twisted into idolatry. Keller notes, “When love of one’s people becomes an absolute, it turns into racism. When love of equality turns into a supreme thing, it can result in hatred and violence toward anyone who has led a privileged life. We can look at our political leaders as ‘messiahs,’ our political leaders as saving doctrine, and turn our political activities into a kind of religion.”

The desire for power is the culmination of a thought process that is independent of God’s involvement.

The people who audition for American Idol have one goal in mind, and that is to be seen as the best of the best singers in a popularity contest before millions of people. It begins with the desire to get a big break, but for all but one person, the contest ends without realizing the dream. Some contestants on the show honestly believe that they can be famous–even if they cannot sing very well. Contestants have been known to quit their jobs and leave their families in order to seek fame and fortune. It is more than just trying to win a recording contract—it is a quest for fame and influence. The desire for such power is idolatry.

Fame, however, is fleeting, especially when compared with the presence of God in our lives.

 

Isaiah 40:6-8 HCSB

A voice was saying, “Cry out!”

Another said, “What should I cry out?”

“All humanity is grass,

and all its goodness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flowers fade

when the breath of the Lord blows on them;

indeed, the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flowers fade,

but the word of our God remains forever.”

It is our nature to want to accomplish something or achieve something on our own, when we, as believers in Jesus Christ, should be fully aware that we cannot accomplish anything without His input (His movement or His allowance of it).

 

Luke 18:27 HCSB

He (Jesus) replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

So who, or what, is your American idol? Are you following a person instead of seeking Jesus? Are you searching for something in your life that is unfulfilling and empty? Are you putting Christ aside in order to fulfill your own desires? What idols are you holding on to?

Perhaps it is time for you to do some real soul searching and make sure that you are not in a competition against God because of holding on to idols. It is a competition that you will ultimately lose, because idolatry is sin…plain and simple. The only way to renounce these idols is to humble yourself and turn from your sin directly to Jesus Christ, and recognize that God is the One who delivers us from our sins. He became sin for us with His death on the cross in order to become righteous before Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Philippians 4:13 NKJV

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Your Choice: The Flesh or The Spirit, Part 2

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

Satan is busy trying to cause each of us to lose sight of Jesus Christ. He will do anything he can to cause each of us to falter. While he knows he can’t take away our salvation, he knows he can put us on the sidelines.

Even more specifically, Satan has used the power of sexuality to bring down nations and kingdoms. God’s Word in Leviticus is very specific about the kinds of sexual sins that destroy a person.

You have to make a choice to live either in The Spirit or in the flesh.

Galatians 5:19-21
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Debauchery or licentiousness is to be preoccupied with sexuality or sexual pleasure. It is a system of ethics that claims pleasure constitutes the greater good. Lasciviousness or lewdness means to be unlearned or unprincipled in this same area (to be unprincipled is to not have any standards).

Advertising today has much to do with sexual messages and sexual connotations. These practices mirror today’s society. Believers are to guard themselves from these behavioral practices.

To be lewd is to show oneself with the intent to excite someone sexually. Lasciviousness is behavior that promotes lustful desires.

Mark 6:22
When Herodias’s own daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you.”

Esther 5:1-3, 6
1 On the third day, Esther dressed up in her royal clothing and stood in the inner courtyard of the palace facing it. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the royal courtroom, facing its entrance. 2 As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the courtyard, she won his approval. The king extended the gold scepter in his hand toward Esther, and she approached and touched the tip of the scepter.

3 “What is it, Queen Esther?” the king asked her. “Whatever you want, even to half the kingdom, will be given to you.”

6 While drinking the wine, the king asked Esther, “Whatever you ask will be given to you. Whatever you want, even to half the kingdom, will be done.”

Esther 1:10-12
10 On the seventh day, when the king was feeling good from the wine, Ahasuerus commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who personally served him, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before him with her royal crown. He wanted to show off her beauty to the people and the officials, because she was very beautiful. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command that was delivered by his eunuchs. The king became furious and his anger burned within him.

Was Vashti out of line? Not at all. She was upholding her standard that she did not want to be paraded before other men. She valued herself as someone more than just being showed off before others.

Proverbs 31:30
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.

1 Peter 3:3
Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes.

Matthew 5:28
But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

We should examine our dress and our behaviors when we go before others. There needs to be care and concern from showing others too much. It is more about following a higher standard and reflecting a higher esteem and respect for oneself.

False worship: idolatry and witchcraft (Galatians 5:20)

Idolatry begins within the heart…you want to worship someone or something other than God, and it is always about yourself. It is rebellion to God and being obedient to Him.

Exodus 20:4
Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.

Idolatry is the worship of idols. It is anything that takes the place of God’s will in your life.

Colossians 3:5
Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.

Anything that keeps you from being used by God is idolatry. It is the impurity of sin that keeps you from pleasing Him…sexual immorality, lust, evil desires and greed are all idols.

Idolatry is the participation in demonic activities.

Acts 19:24-27
24 For a person named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, provided a great deal of business for the craftsmen. 25 When he had assembled them, as well as the workers engaged in this type of business, he said: “Men, you know that our prosperity is derived from this business. 26 You both see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this man Paul has persuaded and misled a considerable number of people by saying that gods made by hand are not gods! 27 So not only do we run a risk that our business may be discredited, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be despised and her magnificence come to the verge of ruin—the very one all of Asia and the world adore.”

Psalm 115:2-8
2 Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
3 Our God is in heaven
and does whatever He pleases.
4 Their idols are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
5 They have mouths but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
6 They have ears but cannot hear,
noses, but cannot smell.
7 They have hands but cannot feel,
feet, but cannot walk.
They cannot make a sound with their throats.
8 Those who make them are just like them,
as are all who trust in them.

The purpose of an idol is to be worshiped, but the idol is not heard from or is any action taken by it. With that, why is an idol preferred by some over the living God? It is the flesh that desires the things of the world but it is more about worshiping something that doesn’t give rules or regulations or standards of living. God rules (and He reigns) because God continues to show Himself in love and concern for His people; nevertheless, following Him is still a choice.