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Gods at War - Gods of Love, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
January 21, 2022 5:00 am

Gods at War - Gods of Love, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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January 21, 2022 5:00 am

Everyone struggles with idolatry. Even the most committed Christians can be blinded to what they’re truly worshipping. In this program, guest teacher Kyle Idleman addresses the idol of love… and delicately explains how it’s possible to actually love someone too much. Don’t miss the ways we’ve mistakenly made those important people in your lives… thee most important thing.

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Did you know that good, committed Christians have idols in their life just like everyone else, but they're harder to spot?

Because they're usually built around really good things or really good people. Did you know that you can actually love someone too much when you start loving them more than you love God? But then, what do you do? That's today. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Living on the Edge is an international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians really live like Christians.

I'm Dave Drouin, and we're nearing the end of our new series, Gods at War, taught by our guest teacher, Kyle Eidelman. And it seems appropriate that this last idol Kyle's going to address is probably the most sensitive one we've covered, love. Now, you may be thinking, how can love be an idol?

Is it a bad thing to love my friends, my spouse, my kids? Well, keep listening as Kyle unpacks how we've mistakenly made those important people in our lives the most important thing. Also, for some more insight into this delicate issue, join us after the teaching for Chip's application. He very honestly shares about a time where he struggled with this idol, and you're not going to want to miss what he has to say. Now, if you have a Bible, turn now to Genesis chapter 22 for Kyle's message, Gods of Love. There are gods at war within each of us. They battle for the position of glory in our lives, and much is at stake. For whichever god is victorious gains power and control over us. Ultimately, the god you choose determines your destiny. Yet, for many of us, this concept of idolatry is something that has been missed.

Even if you grew up in the church, you likely didn't hear too much about it. And I've discovered, as I've studied this subject in Scripture, that it is the number one problem in the Bible. More than a thousand verses speak to it. More than 50 of the commandments in the first five books of the Bible are directed against it.

It's one of only four sins in all of Judaism that could have the death penalty attached to it. It's something God took very seriously, and yet in large part, today, in the United States, it's dismissed as antiquated and irrelevant, yet nothing could be further from the truth. Everything rides on this. Everything rides on this choice that you and I will make every day of will I worship the Lord God or will I worship some other god. How we answer that question makes all the difference, and there is a war for our worship.

Who or what will sit on the throne of our hearts? And we've seen in this series that the sins that we struggle with, it's not just that there's a sin that we need to address, but there's something behind that sin. There's a false god that's winning the war that explains why we struggle with that particular sin, but what we've also seen is that idolatry in and of itself is a sin, so that there are many good things in our life, many blessings from God that become too important to us and, therefore, cause us to sin because we've put them ahead of God himself.

Listen to what Tim Keller writes. He said, sin isn't only doing bad things, it's more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. It is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God.

Sin is primarily idolatry. And so here's what we've been called to do, is to reexamine some of the good things in our life and ask ourselves this question. Has this good thing in my life become a God thing in my life?

Have I made it more important than it should be? As John Calvin explained, the evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much. And that is certainly true when it comes to the subject we're studying today, these gods of love. The evil is not in loving these things, it's that we love them too much.

If you have your Bibles, turn to Genesis 22, first book of the Bible, 22. Gods of love, these are the people whom we love, whom God has called us to love, and yet they can oftentimes replace God on the throne of our hearts. These are the gods that Augustine would have referred to as disordered, disordered loves. That is to say, they are legitimate loves that have gotten out of order in our lives.

And it's precisely because they are legitimate that they can so easily become too important to us. And so in Genesis 22, we're gonna look at this story. It's a familiar one. Abraham is asked to sacrifice his only son Isaac, but I want us to read this through the lens of idolatry. It begins this way, verse one. Sometime later, God tested Abraham.

Now the writer tips us off right here from the beginning that this is a test, it's only a test. It's as if he wants us to know, listen, what God's about ready to ask Abraham to do, he's not gonna actually let him do. There's no place ever in scripture where God allowed a human to sacrifice another human.

In fact, his commands were directed against it in the book of Deuteronomy. So he tests Abraham and he said to him, Abraham, here I am, Abraham replied. Then God said, take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah and sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.

So God says, I want you to take this three day journey north to an area called Moriah, there's a specific hill, a mountain there, where I want you to sacrifice your son. So he's asking Abraham for everything. Just as a reminder, Sarah and Abraham had been promised this boy decades earlier.

When he was 100 and she was 91, there was still no child and yet God kept his promise and he worked an incredible miracle and she became pregnant with this little boy and they named him Isaac, Isaac's name means laughter. And I'm sure that he brought all kinds of laughter to this home and they were probably like any other parents, would go in at night just to watch him sleep, just to make sure he's still breathing. Maybe they would sit on the front porch and watch him play and how many times a day would they say to their son, Isaac, be careful, be careful, because they just couldn't imagine if anything happened to him.

And they would feel his little arms squeeze tightly around their neck and they would say to their son, I love you. Do you have some of these people in your life? People that just mean everything to you?

I know love is a word that's become pretty common, but who is it that you just would have a hard time imagining living life without? Maybe for you, like Abraham and Isaac, it's a child. They can quickly become our reason for living.

There's something about it. When you look into their eyes, when you see their smile, when they're a baby and then you feel their little fingers wrapped tightly around your pinky, they can become your reason for getting up, your reason for working, they can become your everything. Or maybe for you it's a husband or a wife, or maybe it's the pursuit of a husband or a wife that has become a God for you. After all, in our culture, romantic love is held up as the ultimate human experience. There's all kinds of books that have been written with love as the subject. Many movies have love as the plot line.

Romantic love has inspired works of poetry and art. It has been the theme of almost every song. I mean, who can forget songs like Whitney Houston singing I Will Always Love You? And who can forget songs like Celine Dion from the Titanic when she sings My Heart Will Go On? I mean, even if you want to forget those, it's very difficult. I feel like I've made an honest effort and I still can't forget them.

I mean, who can forget these things? There's the Beatles singing And I Love Her or Stevie Wonder declaring that you are the sunshine of my life. Or there was the classic from Meat Loaf. I Would Do Anything For Love, you remember that song? I Would Do Anything For Love, the chorus would say, but I won't do that.

I never could figure out what that was. I mean, I listen to that song a lot. What won't you do, Meat Loaf? Will you not share the remote? Will you not change your name?

What is it? I don't know, but he won't do it. Who would you sing these songs to? I mean, who would you just say, I Would Do Anything For You? For Abraham and Isaac, or Sarah, it was Isaac. Now, Isaac was God's greatest gift to them. And it also turns out that it's God's greatest test for them.

And this is what you'll find as well. It is your greatest blessing that can also become your greatest test. And so, are you like me? Do you have a spouse that you just don't deserve?

Do you have a job that you love? Or maybe for you, you have financial blessings, and you can afford every convenience, and God's blessed you in that way. Maybe he's blessed you with a child.

Maybe he's blessed you with a special gift in some way or another. Well, these points of blessing carry with them a test of your allegiance. Will this blessing become competition for God, or will this blessing draw you closer to him?

Will this blessing become your primary affection, or will this blessing cause your affection for God to increase? We're about ready to find out with Abraham and Sarah and their son, Isaac. Verse 3 begins, early the next morning.

Abraham shows us something here about beating and conquering the gods that are at war within us. He doesn't put it off. He doesn't wait. Early the next morning, he wakes up, he obeys God. You keep reading there, he takes a couple servants with him.

Here's what I want you to notice. Abraham was a very wealthy man. He was one of the wealthiest men of his day. And yet God does not say to him, go sell everything you have and give it to the poor.

Why? Because money for Abraham was not a false god. It was not competing for the position of glory in his life. Instead, God puts himself in direct competition with his son, Isaac, and says you're going to have to choose. Verse 5, he says to the servants, stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you. I want you to notice the word worship here because this is the first time it's used in the Bible. There's a principle in hermeneutics that when you're interpreting scripture and you're trying to understand the meaning of a word, you should pay attention to the first time that word is used. This is the first time the word worship is used in the Bible and it's used to describe a man who is sacrificing something great for God. It's used to describe a man who is declaring with his life that God is what matters most. And so worship is not just something that takes place here when we gather together and when we sing. But worship takes place every day when we make some kind of declaration that says, God, you matter more to me than this.

Every day we have an opportunity to worship when we say, God, you're what matters most. And it says the two of them went on together. Verse 7, Isaac spoke up. He's probably 15-ish at the time, mid-teens. He knows what's going on.

Something's not right. He says to his father, Father, yes, my son Abraham replied, the fire and the wood are here, Isaac said, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering? Abraham answered, God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.

And the two of them went on together. Verse 9, when they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged wood on it. He bound his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and he took the knife to slay his son. Put yourself in his position just for a moment. And with his knife raised, I want us to push pause on the story and talk about our disordered loves.

How would you do with a test like this? Truly, this is a test of the first two of the Ten Commandments. You shall have no other gods before you. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything. And an idol can certainly take on the form of someone we love. And for me, it often does.

If you want to know where I am the most guilty of idolatry, what area I'm the most guilty, this is it. There have been times in my life where I have made people that I love more important than my relationship with God. There's been times where I've looked at my relationship with a person to do for me what God wants to do for me. I was talking to a young mom this week and she told me that her children had become for her a false god.

I said, what do you mean? You mean you just made them too high of a priority? She said, it's not so much that. She said, it's that I have given them control of my life. I've given the controls of my life over to my kids and they have the power to determine whether I have a good day or a bad day. I've given the controls of my life over to my children and they can determine whether I'm an angry person, whether I'm a depressed person, whether I'm a person who is in despair. And she's recognizing that the joy of the Lord isn't her strength, the joy of her children had become her strength.

And she wasn't feeling very strong. Now she's right, by definition, whatever has control over you is your God. Is there a relationship that determines whether or not you're a joyful person, whether or not you're a content person? And then she went on to explain that for her, she was living to please her kids.

That in her life, everything revolved around making her children happy. Well that, by definition, is your God. What you live to please, that is your God.

And so maybe that's true for you, maybe it's a child, maybe it's a spouse that has replaced God as the controller of your life. When we begin to ascribe divine attributes to something or someone, they become a false god for us. So when we look to a relationship as our source of satisfaction, our source of significance, our source of security, when we look to a relationship for salvation, we are making that relationship a god. And God is jealous. Because he wants to do those things for us. He wants to be our source of significance and security and satisfaction and he wants to be our salvation. There's some pretty graphic language in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel to help us understand how it feels to God when we are guilty of idolatry. The picture that is painted for us is one of us having an affair on God.

That's how he feels. When we make something more important to him in the Old Testament, God sees it as spiritual adultery. He's jealous, he's hurt, he's angry. Some of you understand the pain of unfaithfulness. Because the person who vowed their life to you, you found sleeping with someone else. Your husband or your wife sharing intimate moments with another, giving their body to another person. And the pain that you felt, the anger that you felt, the hurt that you felt, it's hard to imagine anything worse. And God says, this is what you've done to me. This is how you've made me feel by your disordered loves. An illustration I've used a few years ago, I think helps paint the picture of how God feels. Imagine that you walk into a restaurant, nice candle lit romantic type restaurant and you see me sitting at a table for two with a woman I'm not married to.

We're just imagining here, just imagine. So I'm sitting there with someone who's not my wife having this date, this candle lit dinner. You come over and you're quick to accuse me, say this isn't your wife, what are you doing, where's your wife? And I say, listen, my wife's at home, this is my date night with this lady.

My wife and I have a date night on Tuesday night, just relax, everything's fine. And you go away and you're angry and you're upset and so you call my wife to tell her what's happened. Let's just imagine I go home and my wife meets me at the door, gives me a big hug and she says, honey, did you have a nice time on your date?

Well, that's just ridiculous. She would never say that because the attention that was supposed to be hers, I was giving to someone else. The affection that belonged to her, I was giving to another.

The money that should have been spent on her, I was spending on someone else. My wife would not say to me, honey, did you have a nice time on your date? She wouldn't say that. My wife would not say, hey, I don't mind if you date other people as long as you love me the most. I don't mind if you see others as long as I'm first place in your life.

She wouldn't say that. And this is how God loves us. He says, I'm not going to share you.

I'm not going to share you. And so it's not enough just to have God in first place. He wants there to be no second place. Luke 14, Jesus has large crowds following him. I think large crowds always made him a little uncomfortable. He was never that concerned about the size of the crowd. He was much more concerned about the level of commitment in the crowd.

And so he would say things when the crowd would get big to make people, you know, go away. Here's what he says. Luke 14, verse 26, we read, Jesus says, if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brother and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. If you don't hate your mom and your dad, your husband, your wife, your children, your brother, if you don't hate them, you can't follow me. Don't call yourself my follower.

What do you do with that? Hate? Really? I mean, the Bible consistently tells us that these are the people we should love. There's a few things you need to understand. One, the word that's translated hate here in Jewish culture was meant to communicate a lesser love. The New Living Translation puts it a little more accurately. It says you must hate everyone else by comparison. The other thing for us is that we tend to equate words like love and hate with emotion, with feeling. I love you, I hate you, it's full of emotion.

Not true in the first century. These words were not meant to communicate an emotion or a feeling. They were meant to communicate a level of commitment. And so what Jesus is saying is your commitment to me, your level of commitment to me should be such that there really is no other commitment.

And here's what we discover. When we get this commitment right, then all these other relationships start to be relationships that honor God. That they were meant to be when God gave them to us. You've been listening to the first part of our guest teacher, Kyle Eidelman's message, Gods of Love, from his series, Gods at War.

Chip will join us shortly to share some additional thoughts and application to what we've heard. When you hear the word idol, you probably picture those big stone figures that people worshipped centuries ago. But did you know that while most people don't bow down to man-made statues anymore, we all worship something? In this series, our guest teacher, Kyle Eidelman, reveals the subtle nature of idolatry and just how rampant it is in our lives, oftentimes without us even realizing it. He unpacks the ways we've put money, pleasure, achievements, careers, even our families in place of God, and how we've allowed those false gods to satisfy, control, and define us. Well, stay with us as Kyle exposes the idols we're holding onto and challenges us to take radical steps to get back to worshipping the one true God. To learn more about this series, Gods at War, Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart, go to LivingOnTheEdge.org or call 888-333-6003.

App listeners, tap Special Offers. Chip, as you've shared before, this series came on your radar after you read Kyle's book, Gods at War, because you were really challenged by it. Could you talk a little bit more about that book? Because, I mean, there's a lot of resources out there about putting God first and making Jesus a priority, but there's just something different about what Kyle wrote.

Absolutely right, Dave. It's not that I don't read a lot of books from a lot of different perspectives, but if I'm going to tell people to read a book because I really believe in it, it's usually one that's deeply impacted me. And I'll be honest with you, I've read very few books that even talk about idolatry. And some of the insights in this book, I mean, I really had to say, wow, there's an idol growing in my heart in this area or that area. And I think just his thought that sin is not the issue.

The real issue is idols. Our sins are just symptoms. And as I've gone through and actually I read it before and now I'm listening to the book, it has been so encouraging and that kind of encouraging that's like, wow, I so needed this. It's freeing me.

I get it. Thank you, God. And if you want to read a book that will set your year in the right direction and give you a focus to really walk with God, I could not more highly recommend it. Well, if you've been moved by what Kyle's been teaching in this series, let me encourage you to get this book. It'll take you deeper into the subtle dangers of idolatry and push you to consider what needs to change in your life. To order your copy of Gods at War, Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart, visit livingontheedge.org or call 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003 or go to livingontheedge.org.

App listeners, tap special offers. Well, Chip, I don't know that Kyle has taught us anything more challenging than this idea that we can love someone to the degree that they become more important than God. Now, could you help us think this through? Because this is a pretty delicate subject. Dave, you're right. I think this is one of the most sensitive issues of all.

Especially, you heard the story that Kyle told about the mom and her kids. I would just say, in fact, let me share a story that might be helpful to people in negotiating, not allowing another person to take the rightful spot that the Lord Jesus has to have in our heart. Because this is a very subtle one and it's a tough one, but boy, it's a really important one to address. I remember a season in my life where I was pastoring a church and the church had just exploded and it was a great season and we had great friends and we'd been there well over a decade. And the Lord had given me a very clear mandate about this is your calling.

This is what I want you to do. And it was going to be pretty impossible to do that at one local church. I got a tap on the shoulder to lead an international organization that was going to serve 50,000 churches in America and then others around the world. And Therese and I talked about it. And I will say that 99% of all of our major decisions, we both prayed, came to the same place, moved forward. And on this one, it was, Chip, I don't want to leave. It's been all these years. The church is well.

Our kids are still here, some of them. That's not for me. And it was like, oh, well. And so I prayed and prayed and often that can be a sign that the Lord's not in it.

And that wasn't the case in this one. And I remember agonizing and praying and fasting and discussing. And she softened to the point of, of course, I will do what God wants us to do.

I don't have any leading. Chip, I don't think I can think about this in an objective manner. My emotions are so tied to the things here. You know, whatever God leads you to do, I'll certainly follow. And we'll be in it together.

But my heart's not in that. And I remember sitting on the floor in LAX airport because I got down to the final day. I had to give him an answer. It was the first time in my adult life where I was at a crossroads. And I knew this is what Jesus wants.

And the other direction, this is what Teresa wants. And I agonized. And I felt like if I say no to the Lord, that is just willful disobedience.

But if I say yes to the Lord, I'm going to have a very, very unhappy wife. And I'd like to end the story by saying I said yes to the Lord, which I did. And that then Teresa came around in three months and everything was great.

And that is not what happened. It was super challenging. She did not have a good transition. It was really hard. And what I realized was she became an idol in my life. I so wanted to please her. I wanted to be a good husband that God put me to the test.

And this is a hard one. But I'd really ask you to listen to the whisper of the Holy Spirit. Because when that person becomes an idol in your life, they can't deliver what you need. They're just a person.

They're finite. And you unconsciously will put more and more pressure on them. And it will ruin the relationship instead of make it.

And I can now look back and both of us, we saw so many good things, but it was so hard. So all I want to say is, as Kyle pointed out, hating mother, brother, sister is not an emotional statement. It's a loyalty statement. What he's really saying is there can't be any loyalty higher than the will of God and the Lord Jesus Christ on the throne of your heart. Is there any person in your life right now that holds that position that's not Jesus?

And if so, let me encourage you to repent today. It'll ruin the relationship eventually. And it will disqualify you from getting God's best. And I don't want that for you and neither to see. Well, thanks in advance for doing whatever God leads you to do. Well, join us again next time as our guest teacher, Kyle Eidelman, continues his series, God's at War. Until then, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-20 09:08:06 / 2023-06-20 09:19:06 / 11

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