Creflo Dollar - Understanding Modern Day Idolatry - Part 3
Let's look at, once again, our key Scriptures for this series. I wanna look at three areas. Acts chapter 17 and 16. Acts chapter 17 and 16, and then 1 Corinthians 10 and 14. We're talking about understanding modern- day idolatry. Now, in the old days, in the Old Testament, it was about an idol, a statue, a golden calf, and all of those different things, and yet people think, "Well, you know, that doesn't exist today". But there are modern-day idols, and I want us to first of all heed the warning of the Scripture, and then we're gonna talk a little bit more about what it is and what it's about, so forth and so on.
So, Acts chapter 17 and verse 16. He says, "Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred," or troubled. His spirit was stirred or troubled in him, "When he saw the city wholly given to idolatry". In other words, he saw the city, and it was full of idolatry. Now, if idolatry was a good thing, why would he be troubled by seeing that the city was full of idolatry? And could it be true today that our city is full of idolatry? Could it be true today that our state is full of idolatry, that our country is full of idolatry, that the world is full with idolatry? And it's something that happens that people don't really notice it, and it becomes a subtle thing if you don't pay attention to it. But Paul saw it, and he said I was troubled when I saw that this whole city was full of idolatry.
Now, look at 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 14. In verse 14, he says, "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry". So, now he says I'm troubled because the whole city is full of idolatry, and then he says listen, flee from it, flee from idolatry. So, if idolatry was okay, then why would, again, he would begin to admonish people, you need to flee from it. And once you recognize it, flee from it. And then you go to 1 John 5:21 in the NLT, let's read that. First John 5:21 in the New Living Translation. A lot of people have no idea what idolatry is about, and that's what happens. When we're ignorant of a thing, we can be overcome by that thing, because we just didn't really know what it was and how it would affect and impact our lives. In 1 John 5:21, it says, "Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your heart". That's what idolatry is about.
Idolatry is about the idols that will try to take God's place in your heart. What are the things that are challenging you on a daily basis? What are some of the things in your life that are trying to take God's place in your heart? He says stay away from the stuff that's trying to take God's place in your heart. And I'm not gonna do it today, but one of the sermons is gonna talk about the number one idolatry is the one that you see in the mirror every day, self. Because idolatry is rooted in self. We're not gonna talk about that yet, but man, if you get ahold of what I'm talking about now, a lot of things are gonna make sense, and then you'll begin to see the challenge that I believe the Spirit of God will put before you.
Now, here's what we do know. The Bible makes it very clear, it's troubling to see idolatry, flee from it, and then locate those things that are trying to take God's place in your heart. Now, let me begin by saying this this morning as we look at the second part of this. Today, idolatry remains a powerful tool that the devil uses to turn us away from God. This is a tool that God uses to turn people away from God. Now, if you'll notice, my God, the percentage of people who don't believe God anymore, the percentage of people who have walked away from God, it's at an all-time high. I mean, it's almost like at 85% worldwide of people who just, like, don't believe in God, don't wanna have anything to do with God, mad at God, and what people don't understand, well, how did that happen? Idolatry, it happened through idolatry. Satan is using idolatry as a tool that will turn people away from God. So, just for a few moments, let's look and dive into the definition again, so as I continue this teaching, you'll be reminded what it's about.
Number one, and I showed you different perspectives, or different sides using different, kind of, different definitions that were the same, but so you can see it in different ways. So, the first one we looked at is idolatry is the value, that's the keyword, idolatry is the value you give to a person or thing more than God. See, the thing or the person might not be wrong until you give it more value than you give to God. See, watching television's not wrong unless you give it more value than you give it to God. And a lot of the practical things that I'm gonna talk about today, there's nothing wrong with it until you give it more value in your life than you do God. So, that was the first one. Here's another one. Idolatry is replacing God as priority in your life with something or someone. It's replacing God in your life with someone or something. It's prioritizing something greater than God, it's replacing God as priority. So, God used to be first place, he used to be priority in your life, and now you've moved him out of first place down to fifth place, and you've replaced God with someone or something.
You probably know lots of people who have done that, and you can probably look at your own life at sometime or another where you've done it as well, that's idolatry. Now, idolatry starts in the heart, it starts in the heart. Idolatry starts in the heart where you look at the cravings, your wantings, your enjoying, being satisfied by anything that you treasure more than God. And when you are satisfied by anything or anyone, when you treasure anything or anyone more than God, that thing or that person is your idol, and that now leads you into idolatry. It's one of those things that we were pretty content to just read about in the Bible, but not really study, and it is the very thing that Satan has used over the last century to move people away from God. And so, the root, I was asked a little bit ago, so the root of idolatry, watch this, it's covetousness.
Now, these are words that Christian people just didn't take the time to find out what it was about. But the root of idolatry is covetousness. The root of idolatry, idolatry being valuing something or someone more than God, the root of that is covetousness. Look at Colossians chapter 3 and 5. Colossians chapter 3 and 5, and as you turn there, think within yourself, "Have I treasured something greater than God"? Have a put a value, a greater value on something than God? Now, notice what he says here in this Scripture in verse 5. He says mortify, that word, mortify means to put to death. "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth". Put to death fornication. Put to death uncleanness. Put to death inordinate affections. Put to death evil concupiscence. I mean, we would say amen to all of that, yeah, we need to put that to death. But then he says and covetousness, put that to death, which is idolatry, covetousness, which is idolatry.
Now, why would the Scripture say covetousness and idolatry are basically the same? Well, when the things of the earth become great to you, when the things of the earth become great to you, and they begin to divert your mind and your heart from the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit, something or something in this earth has become so great to you that it begins to divert your mind and your heart from the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit, that's covetousness. Now, let's simplify that a little bit. Coveting turns our attention from God and places it on anything of lesser value. Covetousness turns our attention from God and places it on something of lesser value. You're not gonna get anything more valuable than God, so anything you try to take to put in God's place is gonna be of lesser value. That's what covetousness is all about. It turns our attention from God.
What is it in your life that's turning your attention from God, you don't think about him no more, you ain't in prayer, you ain't in the Word, you're not interested in tuning in for no sermon no more? I ain't got time for none of that no more, because something has entered into my life that has taken my attention from God and now I am attending to something of lesser value, and somehow in my mind, I've put it in the place of greater value, and that's what covetousness is. It leads us to believe that we can be satisfied in this world apart from God. Covetousness is designed to lead us. Somehow you think, "I can be okay. I can be alright in this world without God". Now, think about the people you know who have come to that conclusion. "I can be alright in this world without God".
I've heard people say that. "I don't need God. Yeah, I used to go to church until that happened and that happened". Honey, you've let somebody move you away from the only one that can help you, amen? Now, I wanna spend most of the time today talking about just some real practical idols, modern-day idols, things that you would have never thought about as being an idol. And maybe we can locate some stuff and pull the blinders off your eyes, so that you can see, wait a minute, this is an idol. You know, a guy you met who you spend more time trying to get him to love you, and you done forgot there be a God. And so, we gotta look at some modern-day idols. I started this at the end of last week, and last week we talked about, I don't have time to go back over it, but we talked about the first modern-day idol, your identity, your image, and how people work real hard, especially with the invention of social media, we work real hard at getting validation for our image.
Well, let me start today, I wanna start with the next one today, and I wanna look at money, money or having money. Alright, now people who just don't understand this, they're gonna immediately say, "Yes, money is an idol". Listen to me carefully. Listen to me carefully. Even being wealthy is not the same as holding it up as an idol. Listen to me. Even being wealthy is not the same as holding it up as an idol. Look at 1 Timothy chapter 6 and 10. See, you can have money and not value it more than God. Look at what he says, this is a reminder, 1 Timothy chapter 6 and 10. I wanna look at it in the King James and the NIV. Alright, he says, "For the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted," look at there, "Some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows".
So, what is the love of money? He didn't say money is the root of all evil, he said the love of money. What is the love of money? The love of money is when you trust money more than God. The love of money is a wrong relationship with money, and what's the wrong relationship? Idolatry, the love of money is I treasure and I trust money more than I treasure and I trust God. So, what happens when you treasure and trust money more than you trust God? You think that money is your cure-all and your answer for everything, and now God, who created you with needs and wants, you now replace him and take the pleasure from him to meet your needs and to give you your wants, and now you give it to money, because now you trust it more than you trust God.
And look at this in the NIV, this is interesting, 1 Timothy 6:10 in the NIV. He says, "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil". He says when you take money and you make it an idol, when you take money and you put more value on that money than you do on God, he says it's the root of all kinds of evil, and he says, "Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith". You see what happens? When you idolize money, and when you get into coveting, you wander from the faith, and then it says it pierced yourself through with many griefs and sorrows. You wonder why certain people go through certain things? It is because of the dangerous positioning of idolatry. And you think that you can just live your life in this earth without God, and it's just not gonna happen.
So, here's what you can ask yourself. Ask yourself these questions to see, you know, have I idolized, or have I placed value in money more than I've placed in God? Well, ask yourself these questions. Do I love money? Do I trust money to meet my needs more than I trust God? Am I drawing a sense of stability from God or from my bank account? Am I drawing a sense of stability from God or from my bank account? And I said this last week, I just mentioned it again, it's worth mentioning for the third time. God designed us to have needs, and he designed us to have wants, why? So that we might know him and delight in him as a provider and a sustainer, that's why. God gets the joy out of meeting your needs. You're talking about giving God the glory, God gets the joy out of meeting your needs. God gets the joy out of sustaining your life.
Look very quickly at Colossians chapter 2 and 10. This came out of my mouth this morning as I was going out. I really needed this. This Scripture says, verse 10, "And you are complete in him". Stop right there. I'm complete in God, man. I am complete in God, "Which is the head of all principalities and power". You know, wherever I find myself inadequate or incomplete, guess what? I am complete in God. Say that out loud, "I am complete in God". That just really blesses me. I am complete in God. Now, look at this other issue here where money is concerned, money and consumerism. You see, the fact or the practices of increasing consumption or goods, that's what consumerism is all about. But valuing the pursuit of money and materials more than God, trusting money and materials more than God, motivated by money and materials more than God.
So you see, there's nothing wrong with money until you put a value on it that's more than God. Now, that's now when you turned money into an idol, and now you're operating in idolatry. When you value money more than God, you actually crown a new god in your life, and that new god is called Mammon. When you love money more than you love God, you invite a new god into your life, and that new god is called Mammon. And Mammon wants to convince you that you don't need God, and what you need is money, and Mammon wants to convince you not to trust God, but to trust money. And so, Mammon will say to you, you know, "Hey, with money, you can buy a house". Yeah, but only God can make it a home.
Mammon wants to convince you, "Well, you know, you can buy friends," but they're not gonna be true and committed and loyal friends. And so, you've got to understand that you can never make money and materials an idol in your life. In fact, go to Matthew chapter 6, look at this in the NLT. Matthew chapter 6 verse 24 through 23, I mean 24 through 33, let's read it. I wanna show you the whole thing. Matthew 6:24-33, now remember, here's how you stay out of idolatry. Always allow God to be first, foremost, greatest value, and treasured above everything, and allow him to be the one to meet your needs and your wants, alright? So now, watch this. He says, "No one can serve two masters".
Alright, so that's it right there. You can't serve God and have an idol, that's not gonna work. You can't serve God and have an idol. People always wonder, "Well, what's wrong with my life? God don't love me," it's not that God don't love you, ignorance is the greatest enemy to a Christian. Walking around trying to figure out what's going on, why this hasn't happened, why that hasn't happened, he says, "No one can serve two masters". What do you mean, two masters? He says, "For you will hate one and you will love the other, or you will be devoted to one, and you will despise the other". You can't serve both God and idolize money, or that spirit of Mammon that's on money, you can't do it. And there are lots of people that try every day to make that Scripture not true, but it's true. Look at the next verse now.
Now, watch God wanting to meet our needs. He said, "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life, whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing"? Twenty-six, "Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns," watch this, "For your heavenly Father feeds them," check that out. He feeds them, "And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are"? What's the insinuation here? I will feed you. "I've never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread". You gotta believe God. I will feed you.
Look at the next verse, "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all of his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith"?
Why do you have such a short burst of faith? How come your faith doesn't last but a little while? You have faith when you come to church, you lose it when the benediction is given. You have faith when you finish praying, you lose it when you go into the kitchen. How come your faith is so small, it doesn't last long? He says, "So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs". He's already knowing it because he had something to do with it. He says listen, I wanna meet your need. When was the last time you gave God the opportunity to meet your needs? When was the last time a need came up and first place was God? First place wasn't God, first place, "Can I borrow some money"? First place was... You didn't even try.
I like that old Baptist song, "Try Jesus". You won't even do it. You won't even try him, and he's like, "Dude, I am sitting here," he says, like, this is the biggest opportunity for me. I get a chance to meet your need, watch this, if you let me, if you believe me. And look what he says here, 33, here it is. He says, "Seek the kingdom of God above all else". Alright, so you know what God is saying? If you will make me priority, the King James says, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," if I can be priority, if you can value me enough to come after me first, he says he will give you everything you need. He will give you everything.
You see, what's gonna happen with some people is, you know, alright, so you can go to your idols to get your needs met, but one day there's gonna come something in your life, and you're gonna look up like, "I don't even know what to do. This is so big. What am I gonna do? My little plans and my stuff, it's not working". And you will have no choice but God. And I just believe that that happens sometimes to just get your attention. I just believe if you'll just start off, "God, I go to you first," then there's no need to try to get your attention, because you've already made him priority.
But God loves us so much, he's like, "Can I please yank you out of the idolatry? Because you've been trusting this to make it". "Well, I'll get this money". You've been trusting money to do that. He says, no, no, no, no, no, there is one day in everybody's life, something that's gonna happen so big that money won't be able to resolve it, then what? God says don't wait until that happens, go ahead and allow me to be your number one. Allow God to be the one that you trust. That's what he's trying to do. He's trying to get the whole world to come back, to trust him like never before.