Summary: We were created to have pleasure in God, but we seek pleasure in a thousand other places. As we consider Gomer (Hosea's wife) in the book of Hosea who was an adulterer, let’s consider how God can deliver all of us out of our idols and the things that take the place of God in our lives.
What is idolatry? Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: 1. The worship of idols, images, or anything made by hands, or which is not God. And 2. an immoderate attachment or devotion to something in the place of God. D. L. Moody put it this way: “Whatever you love more than God is your idol. Rich and poor, learned and unlearned, all classes of men and women are guilty of this sin.”
Idolatry is a worship disorder. We were made to worship God and be satisfied by him. An idol is anything that you turn to that takes the place of God. An idol is normally something that dominates your life. These idols of the heart may be an unhealthy desire for control, pleasure, materialism, or pride. It may be subtle, like the need to always get your way or the need to always be right, etc. It could be a life dominating sin, like anger, lust, or anything else.
ALL GOOD THINGS COME FROM GOD
I want to be clear. It is not a sin to seek godly pleasure. God invented pleasure. Aren’t you glad he invented all good things? God created laughter, joy, freedom, sex, art, music, and everything delightful for your good and his glory. James says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (Jas 1:17).
We are to enjoy all things as we glorify God. But it is a sin to seek pleasure in any created thing, no matter how wonderful it is. God alone deserves our worship and trust.
Our problem is that when we seek anything in an unhealthy or ungodly way, we are breaking the first commandment: we are to never worship idols. An idol takes the place of God in your life. We must “flee from idolatry” (1 Cor 10:14). The apostle John says, “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts” (1 Jn 5:21, NLT).
That means we must never give worship and glory to any other, which is due to God alone. We are called to worship and “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut 6:4). When you turn away from this in the slightest way, you are worshipping idols. God wants your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole body. Are you worshipping him that way?
What do these idols look like?
DESCRIPTION OF IDOLS
Idolatry is pervasive. It’s the constant lie of the flesh. We try to stuff all kinds of people and stuff where God alone belongs.
John Calvin said, “The heart is an idol making factory.”
It could be an emotional idol. You could be addicted to control and having your way, and you are good at manipulation. It could be a behavioral idol, like pornography or gambling or lying – something that makes you feel better. It could be a substance idol, like alcohol or drugs or food. It could be a media idol, like compulsive web surfing or use of social media on your PC or phone. It could be an idol to materialism and the accumulation of more stuff. It could be people idol: like co-dependence, or fear of man, of seeking the praise and popularity of others. It could be a thousand other things that take the place of God.
IT’S GOOD TO SEEK PLEASURE IN GOD
Our sinful heart has the ability to create thousands of idols. The root of all idols is the desire to please yourself above God. Pleasure is not a sin. We are called to “delight in the Lord” (Psa 37:4) and to have “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Pet 1:8). It is not wrong to seek pleasure. It is wrong to seek it outside of God and his plan for our lives. All people seek pleasure. The question is, how do we seek it?
Blaise Pascal said it this way.
All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both…. The will never takes the least step but to this goal. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.
The one thing that all of addictions have in common is idols promise to take away the immediate pains and pressures of life. Idolaters are described as “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Tim 3:4). Any idol is a spiritual adultery for the child of God. James describes it this way. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? (Jas 4:4a).