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Identifying with Our Idols

From the series:

by Shannon Kay McCoy

“Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” (Ps. 115:8) 

Many chefs love cooking with a unique food called tofu. It is a bean curd made from soybean and milk pressed into solid white blocks. It is one of the most versatile foods—which can be used in soups, salads, and many entrees.

The beauty of this concoction is that it can take on many different food identities. It can reflect the image of chicken, ground beef, scrambled eggs, and turkey. This magical food is so loved because it takes on many flavors allowing you to enjoy different ethnic cuisines such as Chinese, Indian, Jamaican, and other countries.

Made in God’s Image

People are like tofu. We are versatile. Wherever we live, we take on the characteristics of the cultural and social environments. In Genesis 1, we learn that God made humanity unique among all His creation. We are made in His image with the ability to take on His identity and to reflect His glory. When we yield to our sin nature and turn from God, we take on other identities (Gen. 6:5).

These identities reflect the four root idols[i][ii] —power, approval, comfort and control. These idols exist in our cultural and social environments, competing for the throne of our hearts. When we desire them more than God, we become like them (Ps. 115:8).

  • Inordinate desire for power: I want to influence others. I spend time and money building my self-confidence by attending self-empowerment seminars.

Truth: “Put no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3).

  • Inordinate desire for approval: I want to be unconditionally loved and accepted by others. I work hard to please them.

Truth: “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal: 1:10).

  • Inordinate desire for comfort: I want ease and pleasure. I protect myself from things and people who can disrupt my desire.

Truth: True comfort comes from God in our affliction (2 Cor 1:3-5).

  • Inordinate desire for control: I want everything to go my way, that I do whatever it takes to get what I want.

Truth:Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Lk 22:42b).

Committed to Christ

Our inordinate desires for power, approval, comfort and control leads to spiritual dissatisfaction. They can never give us the ultimate desires of our hearts because they are useless idols. “What people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or restoration.”[iii] If we commit ourselves to idols, we become like them. If we commit ourselves to Jesus Christ, we will reflect His glory. Let us repent of idol worship and turn to true worship of Jesus so that we become like Him.

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[i] David Powlison, “Idols of the Heart and Vanity Fair,” The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Volume 13, Number 2 (Winter 1995), 45.

[ii] Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (New York, New York: Penguin Books, 2009), 204

[iii] G. K. Beale, We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry (InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.), 16.