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Which Side Are You On? | The Danger of Idols

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
January 2, 2024 3:00 am

Which Side Are You On? | The Danger of Idols

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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January 2, 2024 3:00 am

We throw the word idol around pretty freely in our culture. “So-and-so is a teen idol” . . . “did you watch American Idol?” . . . “Humphrey Bogart was a matinee idol.” But biblically speaking, an idol is a representation or symbol of an object of worship. It’s a clear transgression of the First Commandment. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie warns about idol worship based on an epic confrontation in First Kings 18. Elijah goes toe to toe with the prophets of Baal.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Today's episode of A New Beginning is brought to you by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.

Learn more at And while you're there, browse our library of free ebooks designed to help you grow in your faith. Consider this, an idol is not necessarily a bad thing. It's a good thing that you've made into a God thing. We may not be worshiping graven images on pedestals, but Pastor Greg Laurie says if something captures more of our attention than God does, that's trouble.

There's nothing wrong with a lot of things that we're involved in, but if that becomes the most important thing, you've allowed a good thing to become a God thing, and it's taken the place of God in your life. We throw the word idol around pretty freely in our culture. So-and-so is a teen idol.

Did you watch American Idol? Humphrey Bogart was a matinee idol. Biblically speaking, an idol is a representation or symbol of an object of worship. It's a clear transgression of the first commandment. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie warns about idol worship based on an epic confrontation in 1 Kings 18. Elijah goes toe-to-toe with the prophets of Baal. Israel had gone off the rails spiritually and morally. They turned to false gods.

They turned to idols. And specifically, in their case, they turned to Baal and Ashtoreth. Enter Elijah who enters the picture with boldness and courage and throws down the gauntlet. So Elijah says, okay, Ahab, here's the deal. 1 Kings 18, 19. Summon all of Israel to join me on Mount Carmel along with the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Ashtoreth who are supported by Jezebel. Elijah likes these odds.

850 to what? Bring out all your false prophets. Let's get up there on Mount Carmel. Tell Israel to show up.

Let's have this battle right now. It was the battle of the gods. Here's what amazes me is Ahab agrees to this. 1 Kings 18, 20. So Ahab summoned all of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel. Elijah stood in front of them and said, how much longer will you waver hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him.

If Baal is God, then follow him. But look at this. But the people were completely silent. Their silence was deafening.

Why? Because they worshiped many gods and they did not want to stop. So hey, let's go. Let's see who has the real God.

So here it is. 1 Kings 18, 26. They prepared one of the bulls, placed it on the altar, and called in the name of Baal from morning till noontime, shouting, oh Baal, answer us.

But there was no reply of any kind. And then they danced hobbling around the altar that they made. It's kind of funny. And it gets funnier, by the way.

So they're screaming and hobbling, doing everything. Come on, Baal. Hear us. Now we may laugh at that. But listen, idol worship is alive and well today. Oh sure, they worshiped Baal. They worshiped Ashtoreth. But do we not worship idols today? This is why John, in some of his last words that he gave to the church after walking with the Lord for many years, said, little children, keep yourselves from idols. Listen, an idol is not merely an object, though it includes that. An idol is anyone or anything that takes the place of God in your life. Let me repeat that.

An idol is anything or anyone that takes the place of God in your life. Answer this question. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Some people say, breakfast.

Okay, that's not a bad answer. But I mean, what are you really passionate about? What do you get fired up about? What is the thing that you think about more than any other thing? That potentially is your idol. Consider this, an idol is not necessarily a bad thing. It's a good thing that you've made into a God thing. It's a good thing you've made into a God thing.

Meaning, it might be good. There's nothing wrong with a career. There's nothing wrong with making a living. There's nothing wrong with a lot of things that we're involved in. But if that becomes the most important thing that literally can become an evil thing, you've allowed a good thing to become a God thing.

And it's taken the place of God in your life. Here's one way to find out what people are passionate about. Check out their social media.

And by the way, employers are doing this now more. When someone comes in and applies for a job, they go check out their social media. What do they post on Twitter? What do they talk about on Facebook?

What kind of photos do they post on Instagram? This is of interest to them because the Bible says, where your posts are, there will your heart be also. It doesn't say exactly that. It actually says where your money is, there will your heart be also. But I think it could include your posts as well.

I know Christians that used to post about their faith and they would use their social platforms to share the gospel and they'd have scriptures and then something happened. I don't know what. And they became these crazy, ranting people. And everything's in caps. All caps, right? And if you want to make it even crazier, reverse it out of black so it's white letters.

Even better, red letters against a black background. You're ranting about this. You're ranting about that. You start losing followers. No one wants to hear your rants anymore.

What happened? Your focus changed. Could that thing that you're so obsessed with now actually become your idol? You can make yourself God in your life. You effectively worship yourself. You don't say it outright. You know, my Greg who art in heaven. No, you don't do that. But in effect, you do. Romans 1 25 says, they traded the truth about God for a lie.

They worshiped and served the things God created instead of the creator himself who is worthy of eternal praise. Maybe it's worshiping your body. You attend the first church of the perfect physique.

Right? Just getting your body into the perfect shape. You have hundreds of photos of yourself on Instagram doing the trout pout. You know the trout pout? Girls, come on now.

Girls do it more than guys. That little thing where you push your lips and look at the camera. It's like, I don't know. It's weird looking to me. Or maybe you get plastic surgery to try to look how you look on your social media posts when you use a certain kind of filter. Go for it.

You can nip it, tuck it, tighten it, tat it, color it, whatever. Don't become obsessed with your body or with yourself. Be obsessed, if you will, about Jesus Christ.

That's our message. Others bow at the altars of pleasure. Even others at the altars of possessions or fame. Your idol could be a car. It could be a house. It could be clothes.

It could be so many things. Or it can be money. You know, sometimes people say the Bible says money is the root of all evil. Actually, the Bible does not say that, okay? Here's what the Bible does say. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

There's a difference, isn't there? The love of money. Money is not evil. Money is not good. Money is neutral. The good or the evil of money all depends on what you do with it. So the love of money, or maybe another way to put it, being obsessed with money is the root of all kinds of evil.

And some people craving money, it goes on to say in 1 Timothy 6, 10, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. See, it's a big deal to God to be number one in your life. Think about the Ten Commandments for a moment. Okay, so commandment number one. Thou shall not murder, right? No, it's not number one. No, it's thou shall not commit adultery.

That's a bad one, but it's not number one. Nor is it thou shall not steal, or even thou shall not take the Lord's name in vain. Commandment number one is have no other gods before me. Now, if we were to reprioritize the commandments, we might change the order. But God says the big thing at the beginning of this conversation, let me say don't have another god before me. Because if you have another god before him, that's where all the problems start. You see, if God is number one in your life, everything will find its proper balance. If he's not number one in your life, everything will be in chaos. I want to be number one.

Why? The Lord says, Ezekiel 20, verse four, because I'm a jealous god. I've heard people say, I can't follow a god who's jealous. Hey, his jealousy is an indication of his love for you. Not all jealousy is bad. It speaks of a relationship. God said, hey, I want an exclusive relationship with you. What would you think if your husband came and said, honey, I love you.

We've been married 20 years, but I have five girlfriends now. Are you cool with that? You're not cool with that. Honey, this is a frying pan. Are you cool with this?

Yeah. No, you want an exclusive relationship with your husband or your boyfriend or your girlfriend or your wife. And God says, I want you to be mine and only mine. I don't want to share you with some false god. So this is what I'm asking of you. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment.

Hey, everybody. I want to encourage you to check out the new Harvest Plus app. It's on Roku, Apple TV, and Google Play, among others. And you can stream incredible content on all major platforms for free. You're going to find live events or evangelistic films like A Rush of Hope, Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon, Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon, and our newest film, Fame. Plus, our TV programs, our podcast, Harvest at Home, and a lot more.

Stream it all on any device for free using the new Harvest Plus app. Well, we're considering the showdown on Mount Carmel today as Pastor Greg continues our studies based in 1 Kings 18. Let's continue. Here's the thing that was happening with Israel. Elijah says you're wavering or hobbling between two opinions. See, they wanted to have their cake and eat it too. And I've said, joking, I don't know why that's a problem. I've had cake and eaten it.

But you know, the idea is I want the best of both worlds. Here was their thing. Oh, we believe in God. We believe in Jehovah. But I don't know, Ashtoreth and Baal, kind of cool, nice fringe benefits. See, Ashtoreth, the goddess of fertility, there's a lot of immoral things. Well, I don't even know if they are immoral. It's part of the worship.

We kind of want to do that too. So don't think we don't do that in the church today. Because people say, I'm a Christian, but I'm having sex before marriage.

Well, wait a second, you can't do that. God says in Scripture, this is the will of God, even your sanctification, abstained from immorality. No, no, the Lord told me it was okay.

No, he didn't. See, you're saying, I want to have it all. I'll go to church on Sunday and worship the Lord, but then I'll go do this other thing. No, or someone else might say, well, you know, we love each other, so we're living together. It's a test run before we get married. No, you're living in sin and rebellion against God.

And actually, you want to know something. Statistically, studies have shown that couples who live together have a far higher divorce rate than those who don't. If you want to sabotage a potential marriage, then live together. See, here's my point. People are trying to live in two worlds. Oh, I love the Lord, but we're going to go party, we're going to get drunk, we're going to smoke weed. No, this is what Elijah is saying.

Stop living in two worlds. If the Lord is God, then follow Him. And if Baal is God, then follow Him. But make a choice right now. And it's still true today.

It's still true today. The Bible says, go big or stay home. Actually, it doesn't say that, but it's a good thought. And really, here's what Elijah is saying. If the Lord is God, then you should follow Him.

Joshua gave a similar charge to Israel back in Joshua 24, 15. Standing before the people, he said to them, choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors serve beyond the Euphrates?

Or will it be the gods of the Amorites? As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. Make that stand in your home, husbands. Listen to me. Be a man of God. Be a man of God.

Stand up and say in your home, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Why did you do the same thing? Because your children need you to do this desperately.

Because only a generation passed after Joshua made that statement when we read in Judges 2 10, but another generation grew up and they worshiped the false gods. See? It's as good as your generation. So you need to pass this on to your children and to your grandchildren. That's our job as we get older.

We've got to do it. And then there's those young people we pass it on to. They're going to get older.

Then it's going to be their job. And then their children and their grandchildren, then on it goes. But we need to make sure we do our job and pass this torch of the truth of God's word and a relationship with Christ on to the next generation. 1 Kings 18 verse 27.

I'm reading from the New Living Translation. About noontime Elijah began mocking them. I just like that statement because I am a mocker and I'm glad I'm not the only mocker out there.

Elijah began mocking them. Hey, he says you have to shout louder. He is a god. Maybe he's daydreaming or relieving himself. Folks, this is in the Bible. That's actually what he said in the original language. Maybe your God's in the, I don't know, the eternal outhouse right now. Or as the Living Translation puts it, maybe your God's sitting on the toilet.

I always thought that was kind of funny. So that's actually what he was implying. He was joking. Oh, maybe he's away on a trip.

Or maybe he's asleep and you need to wake him up. Verse 28. So they shouted louder and following their normal custom cut themselves with knives and swords until the blood gushed out. They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice. I love this statement.

But still there was no sound, no reply, no response. Isn't that amazing? That's how it is with false gods. You can never make them happy. You ever look at a tiki god? They're always angry.

Right? These false gods are not real. They're slushing themselves trying to appease these false gods. You know sometimes this can even enter into the Christian life where we get this weird idea about God that we have to do a bunch of stuff to earn his favor. I'll just make this sacrifice.

I'll slash myself. I'll do this other thing and then God will hear my prayer. God hears your prayers because you come to him through Jesus Christ. That's it.

That's it. I have access to the throne of God through the blood that Christ shared. So when I'm doing well and I'm doing all the things that Christians ought to do God hears my prayer. When I fall short, when I fail, God still hears my prayer.

If I'll repent of my sin and come to him and call on his name these gods could not hear them because these gods were not real. So I'm going to put a pause. Greg what about fire coming from heaven?

Next week. That's right. So we'll just pause the story at this moment and of course we'll see what the Lord did but here's the thing I want to close with and I touched on this already. God wants an exclusive relationship with you. Why would you settle for a cheap substitute? We chase after things this world offers that we're told will make us happy and they don't.

In fact they make us more miserable. What we're really longing for is a relationship with God himself and he showed how serious he is about this relationship by sending his son to suffer and die on a cross for your sins so you could be forgiven. So you could come into a relationship with him. He not only promises you life beyond the grave and he does but he promises you life during life. Medical science can potentially add years to your life but only Christ can add life to your years. My wife Kathy just had the opportunity to lead her aunt to the Lord. She's 101 years old.

Amazing. You know you say that stats are pretty unlikely that she'll come to faith that much later in life but 101 years old. No one is beyond the reach of God and she prayed with her and her aunt prayed and Kathy told me that she said pray these words after me Lord Jesus come into my life forgive me of all of my sins and she said and my aunt prayed forgive me of all of my sins. So she wasn't just repeating it she was understanding it and so now she knows that our aunt is ready to meet the Lord. How wonderful that is.

Isn't it? I wonder if you know that right now. If you're sure your sin is forgiven. If you're certain you'll go to heaven when you die. If you have this relationship with Jesus. Have you been trying to live in two worlds? It's not working out really well is it? It never does because you know you have too much of Christ to be happy in the world and too much of the world to be happy in Christ. You're living in a miserable no man's land of compromise and I strongly urge you to make a choice right because that's your if that's where you're at if you're living in two worlds if you're living two lives you're living the worst possible version of the Christian life.

The worst. So it's kind of all in or not in. Which side are you on? Let's pray. Now Lord we want to be on your side. We want to follow Jesus and if there are any idols in our life Lord and we may not think there are but there may be. Would you show us what they are and help us to re-prioritize to put you at the forefront of our life again where we are more important to us than anything else. You're the one we get up for and you're the one we get up for in the morning. You're the one we're fired up about. You're the one we want to talk about more than anything else. Lord we want you to be the Lord God of every area of our life and I pray now Lord for any that have joined us who may not know you.

They may not have a relationship with you. They don't have the hope of heaven. Let this be the moment they believe in Jesus. Now while our heads are bowed and we're praying if you want Christ to come into your life why don't you just pray a prayer similar to the prayer my wife prayed with her and just say Lord Jesus I know that I'm a sinner but I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. I am sorry for my sin and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. In Jesus' name I pray.

Amen. No doubt the most important prayer anyone can pray. Pastor Greg Laurie leading many who want to make their hearts right with God today. And if you've just prayed with Pastor Greg and meant those words sincerely, well first of all we want to welcome you into the family of God and then we want to help you get started living the life of faith. Let us send you Pastor Greg's New Believer's Bible in the easy to understand new living translation.

It'll help answer some questions you may have and begin laying a solid foundation for your faith. We'll send it free of charge when you ask for it. Again it's the New Believer's Bible.

Just mention that when you call 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime 1-800-821-3300 or write a new beginning box 4000 Riverside California 92514 or go online to and click the words know God. Have you contacted us for a copy of Pastor Greg's new book as it is in heaven? It's full of great insight on the afterlife and what's waiting for us in eternity. Pastor Greg to what extent do our loved ones in heaven know what's going on with all of us down here on earth? Yeah that's an excellent question that's one I've studied very carefully because my son Christopher who has been in heaven now for many years I wonder is he aware of anything that's happening down here on earth? Now one answer people will give us no they know nothing about what's going on on earth.

I don't think that's completely accurate actually. I do believe that people in heaven are aware of some things happening on earth. Example Jesus said there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels over one sinner that comes to repentance. That means that when someone comes to Christ on earth there's rejoicing in heaven so that shows a heaven earth connection. Wouldn't it be interesting if maybe we found out that someone we'd shared the gospel with came to Christ after we'd gone on to heaven and there was that victory shout and glory and and we realized that was a result of something we've done. Also you know there are rewards given out in heaven rewards for faithfulness or rewards for obedience rewards for resisting temptation. What do you think you're going to have a complete brain wipe when you get to heaven if you're giving a reward in heaven for something you faithfully did on earth? Obviously you remember something about the life before but do people in heaven know what's going on down here?

They may. In the book of revelation we read of believers who were martyred for their faith and when they get to heaven they say how long oh lord holy and true until you judge and avenge our blood on those that dwell on the earth. So these believers are aware of the passing of time because they say how long oh lord they're aware of people still on earth that have sort of gotten away with this and they're wondering when God's judgment will be meted out to those people so there are these connections you see.

Now I don't know if they're following our every movement I'm sure they have other things to do like worship the lord and enjoy all the glories and and treasures and pleasures of heaven but having said that I do think there is some connection and they are aware of some things. So I've written about that a whole lot more in this book called as it is in heaven. It's a book that answers your questions about the afterlife questions like what is heaven? Where is heaven? Why is there a heaven? What will I do when I get to heaven? Will I eat in heaven? Will I see people in heaven?

Will we recognize one another in heaven? I deal with this and a whole lot more in this book as it is in heaven and I would love to send it to you so you can learn more about your future destination. That is if you put your faith in Jesus Christ and so for your gift of any size this month that you said I will rush you your own copy of as it is in heaven so you can learn more about the afterlife that will enable you to live a godly life now.

Yeah that's right and it'll help prepare you to answer questions unbelievers may ask or questions your kids or grandkids ask. So get in touch for the book as it is in heaven. We'll send it to thank you for your investment in the work we do here sharing the gospel each and every day. Our phone number is 1-800-821-3300. You can reach us anytime 1-800-821-3300 or write A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside California 92514 or just go online to Well next time Pastor Greg offers practical help for fighting the spiritual battles we face every day. Another message in our collection of most requested studies of the year. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and bible teacher Greg Laurie.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-02 05:27:21 / 2024-01-02 05:37:39 / 10

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