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Interconnected Idols

Idolatry Pride Temptation

Contributed By: Jason Seville | Date Posted: 2019-03-06

Scripture: Colossians 3:5 ; Ephesians 4:22

Author: Jason Seville
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ILLUSTRATION

I was recently meeting with a young man in our church who has been very successful in business. Originally from Silicon Valley, he climbed his company's corporate ladder before taking six months off to focus on family, faith, and personal health. He's gotten to a really healthy place personally and spiritually and so he's recently decided to get back in the game and apply for some jobs. 

A corporate headhunter helped him find two great jobs pretty quickly. One is with a startup in a new industry that would pay a lot but also require a lot of hours. A second is with a household-name tech giant that would pay less but allow for a better balance of work, family, and church.

It wasn't easy for him and we met for several straight weeks as he labored over his decision. He finally told me that he was willing to prioritize the right things even if it meant sacrificing money. He knows that money isn't necessarily wrong or evil, but that the money that was so enticing for this job would come with some trade-offs in his life that aren't worth it. 

I told him that I was proud of him and that that I thought it was very wise for him in this season of life to take less money for a better work-life balance. 

You can imagine my surpirse, then, when we met the following week and he told me that he turned down the balanced job and took the lucrative job with the smaller startup. 

When I asked what happened, he hung his head and said that the job title offered by the tech giant was what he couldn't stomach. He'd gotten himself to a place where taking less money was palatable, but not where a lesser title was palatable. (They offered him a senior manager position when his level of expertise and qualifications should give him a job with the word "director" in the position title.) 

"It's pride. I know it's nothing but pride. But taking the lesser position would negate all the work and progress I've made. It would look poorly on me if I were to change jobs later on down the road."  

So, here he is again--back in the rat race. He's working 80-hour weeks and having to leave his family to travel all over the world. He dealt with his temptation to greed, but as soon as he did pride took its place. 

APPLICATION

This is how sin works. It's a shape-shifter. We must remain vigilant against it and fill up our affections with the love of Christ because merely removing a love (e.g., greed) is insufficient because another love will take its place (e.g., pride). This illustration is also a reminder of the interconnectedness of our idols. We can't just focus on one struggle or temptation in our lives. There is rarely ever one single thing that is lurking to take us down. It's usually a web of temptations. 

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). 

The God Substitute

Money Materialism Idolatry

Source: Sermon, "Money: A God-Substitute"

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2015-12-12

Scripture: Deuteronomy 14:22

Author: James Stewart
14

ILLUSTRATION

There is a special place in the cells of your body where oxygen is supposed to sit. It’s like a little slot that, chemically speaking, is shaped just perfectly to hold that atom of oxygen. The problem is that carbon monoxide is shaped almost identically to oxygen, so that it also fits perfectly in that slot where only oxygen should go. And when it starts to go there in mass quantities your body starts to suffocate. 

However, you don’t realize this is happening. You think that you are fine. After all, you are breathing, your lungs are still expanding and contracting, you feel air coming in and going out. Your body is going through all the motions it should be going through. All systems are normal, right? Wrong. You are actually being asphyxiated. You are suffocating even though you don’t know it.

APPLICATION

Spiritually speaking, that is what money can do when it takes the wrong place in our hearts, the place reserved only for God. Money seems to fit in this slot so easily because it can be so tempting to trust it in the same way we should trust God. It sometimes feels like a perfect fit. And this is because there are a number of ways that money functions as a God substitute:

a. God is sovereign: He is in control. We can trust him to keep us alive until we’ve lived here as long as he wants, until we’ve fulfilled our number of days. He is sovereign. He is in control. But money promises to give us control. We believe that if we have enough of it then we will be secure. We look to money to have a false sense of sovereignty.

b. God is satisfying: Real satisfaction does not come from pleasure, it comes from meaning. And nothing is more meaningful than knowing a God who is infinitely glorious, glorious beyond comprehension. But money promises to satisfy us because of what it can buy us. Just think of how often we buy stuff in the store or at the mall and we come away feeling like our lives are going to somehow be happier as a result. But they're not. Gadgets can't give us meaning. God alone can do that.

c. God is gracious: The cross shows that God accepts us and approves of us completely apart from our own works. He does so on the basis of Christ. But money promises us that we will be justified in the eyes of the world. We will have status. We will be accepted. Money promises that we will prove that we are worthwhile in this world, that we mean something, that we measure up. When you let money slip into this God-shaped slot in your heart, you won’t know that anything is wrong. You will probably think everything is fine. You will be going through the motions. But you won’t know why you feel like you are suffocating spiritually.

So, how do we “clear the air” of this carbon monoxide?

a. You have to take action. If you have a real carbon monoxide threat at home, you know that you can’t just neglect it. You have to investigate it. You have to find the source of it. And then you have to implement a system of devices that will detect it whenever it comes back.

b. What happens if you do nothing? Is that an option? No. Not at all. If you do nothing you die.

c. By the same token, if you do nothing to make sure you are not duped by the deceitfulness of wealth, you will die spiritually. And the more money you have, the more prone you will be to trust in money for your security and satisfaction.

d. Beside this, we are all constantly inundated with attitudes of materialism, attitudes of loving money and things. It is the air we breathe. And what happens to us spiritually if we do not take any action? We die.

There is a certain practice that God says we should engage in that reminds our hearts of the truth, that remind us of our real source of security and satisfaction: worshipping God with our money.

Deuteronomy 14:22 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. . . so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always.

The Cult of Prince Philip of England

Idolatry False Teachers Hardness of Heart

Source: “Vanuatu villagers wait for eternal life from Prince Philip” by NICK PERRY, published Yahoo! News, 6/8/15

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2015-06-17

Scripture: Romans 1:18

Author: Illustration Exchange
4

ILLUSTRATION

No doubt you’ve heard of Baal worship, ancestor worship, nature worship, even demon worship, but I bet you’ve never heard of this one—Prince Philip Worship!

Yes, the one and the same Prince Philip who is husband to Elizabeth, Queen of England. Just ask Albi Nagia of Island of Tanna in Yakel, Vanuatu, who regularly prays to the British royal, awaiting his “return” to establish a new world order in which “fish will leap from the sea and life will become eternal.”

Albi is not the only Vanuatu to worship him. Several hundred others on the small, primitive island of Tanna in the archipelago of Vanuatu in the South Pacific do, as well. "Here in Tanna, we believe that Prince Philip is the son of our God, our ancestral God who lives up in the mountain," says islander Nako Nikien.

Albi and Nako are both members of an active cult known as the Prince Philip movement, which began the 1960s, gaining a real boost in popularity in 1974 when Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth visited the island aboard their royal yacht. In 2007 the two men were among a small group from Tanna who were flown to England by the British reality show Meet the Natives, during which time they were personally introduced to the prince. ”Meeting him was just wonderful," says Joseph. "It's just like being in a spiritual world."

Though the prince (as of this writing in 2015) is now in his mid-90s, the movement’s followers have not lost hope in his return, saying that if he dies, he can still return in spirit and grant them eternal life.

It seems incredible that anyone could be so simple-minded as to embrace such off the wall theology. Lamont Lindstrom, an anthropology professor at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma agrees, saying, "The [Tanna] people believe in everything and nothing,” explaining that storytelling and prophesying are key to advancing one’s stature in their society.

APPLICATION

Many of the Tanna are devotedly following a baseless, ludicrous, utterly fabricated belief system.

Perhaps you might think they are simply gullible, having never had exposure to the truth of the Gospel.

No so.

Christian missionaries have been on the island for decades. In fact, it is thought that the growth of this cult, and others like it, was a backlash against Christianity, as tribal elders fought to maintain tribal customs and spiritual autonomy from the church.

In other words, the Tanna would rather believe what they know to be fully fabricated fantasy rather than submit themselves to the authority of the Gospel.

They will believe "everything and nothing" with one exception--they will not believe the truth which they suppress in the hardness of their hearts.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18, NASB). … “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen” (Romans 1:25).

The Unbreakable Enigma Machine's Weakness

Idolatry Pride Ambition

Contributed By: Tom Johnston | Date Posted: 2015-01-06

Scripture: Proverbs 16:18

Author: Tom Johnston
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American Idols

Idolatry Object Lessons Youth Sermons

Contributed By: Tara Bertic | Date Posted: 2014-05-08

Scripture: Hebrews 12:1

Author: Tara Bertic
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Broken Cisterns

Idolatry Youth Sermons Object Lessons

Contributed By: Tara Bertic | Date Posted: 2014-05-01

Scripture: Jeremiah 2:9

Author: Tara Bertic
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Five Minutes on the Roof of the Earth

Fulfillment Dreams Idolatry

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-03-15

Scripture: Matthew 16:26

Author: Jon Krakauer/Illustration Exchange
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Barney On Your Underwear

Worldly Mindset Idolatry Devotion

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-02-21

Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:5 ; James 4:4

Author: Judy Zmerold
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In Money We Trust

Money Faith Idolatry

Contributed By: James Miller | Date Posted: 2014-02-21

Scripture: 1 Timothy 6:10

Author: James Miller
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The World's Most Expensive Dirt

Sacred Worship Idolatry

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-01-16

Author: Illustration Exchange
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