Creflo Dollar - Understanding Modern Day Idolatry - Part 5
You don't wanna miss this today. I'm gonna do part three of "Understanding Modern-Day Idolatry," but we're gonna focus on the subject dealing with worship at the altar of self. And this is gonna be, I believe, eye-opening for you but let's look at these three key Scriptures in our text for this series. Let's look at those real quick and we'll begin this morning. Acts chapter 17 and verse 16. We have been talking about "Understanding Modern-Day Idolatry". "Understanding Modern-Day Idolatry," which may be the biggest trick that the devil has ever played against mankind. And if we can understand it and overcome it, then there are gonna be some amazing things that will take place in your life.
Maybe this has been somewhat of a dam in your life that has blocked things up. I believe it's time for the body of Christ and even for the world to see the manifestations of the power of God like never before and the anointing's not gonna just be in the pulpit now. It's now amongst the congregation. It's now amongst the people of God. But this is an item that has to be dealt with and, when it's dealt with appropriately and properly, and you're free from it, you're gonna see things break loose like a water will break down a dam and begin to flow into your life, causing destruction to what needs to be destroyed and blessings where blessings need to be.
Acts 17 and 16 says: "Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred up". That word, "stirred up" there, he's talking about his spirit was troubled, okay? "That he was troubled in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry". So he looks around and he says the whole city has turned over to idolatry and he was troubled when he saw that. And yet, you and I can look around at our whole city, our state, our country, and the world, and we can see that all of it has been wholly given over to idolatry. Look at the next verse, 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 14. 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 14. He says, "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry".
So, first of all, Paul said that, you know, because he knew what was going on, he said he was troubled because of idolatry. And then there's a warning given that when you see idolatry, flee from idolatry. And then the last Scripture in this text, 1 John 5: 21 in the NLT. 1 John 5:21 in the NLT. And here's what he says here. He says, "Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your heart". Now, what he just described here in the New Living Translation is the definition of idolatry. Stay away from anything that might take God's place in your heart. So notice, Paul was troubled, then he gave the word to flee, and then he gave some specifics: anything that will take God's place in your heart.
So let's again, define idolatry as we begin here. Idolatry is the value that you give to a person or a thing more than God. Idolatry is the value you give to a person or thing that will be more than God. You see, a lot of things that we listed and talked about last week, they were not necessarily wrong until you assigned a greater value to it than God. And so, you know, we didn't give you that list last week so you can walk around condemned. We gave you the list so you can walk around and say, "Now, hold on". If you value this thing more than you do God, if you value your image more than God, if you value money more than God, if you value entertainment more than God. It doesn't become idolatry until you assign a value to it that is greater than how you value God. It's an issue of priority.
Idolatry starts in the heart and idolatry is replacing God as priority in your life with something or someone. Now, have you replaced God as priority? He used to be your number one love, but now he's number ten, okay? So you have to go back and notice number one has now become your idol. I'm telling you this is the biggest trick. People are not even paying attention to it and I just believe a gusher of anointings and dreams manifested will begin to show up in people's lives when they begin to recognize what has been going on. And so, idolatry deals with the value that you assign a thing. And we're gonna talk this morning on this third part that I believe it's really, really gonna bless you because every form, all forms of idolatry, all forms of modern-day idolatry, all forms of modern-day idolatry have one thing at their core. The root of all things concerning modern-day idolatry is self. It's self.
Now, certainly it's not wrong to deal with yourself. The Bible says to love others as you love yourself. So certainly, that's not the problem. The problem is you have placed a greater value on self than you have on God. That's the issue that we've got to deal with and this is a whopper issue. This is big. See, we no longer bow down to idols and images carved of wood and all that stuff. At least, I don't think so, not for the majority of the time. So I'm talking about modern-day idolatry. But instead, we worship at the altar of the god of self. We worship at the altar of the god of self. We worship at the altar of the fulfillment of the self to the exclusion of all others and their needs and their desires. You see it all over the world, you see it all throughout media, and now you see it through church.
Look at 1 John chapter 2:16 and I wanna look at it in The Message translation. 1 John chapter 2:16. Now, when we deal with the altar of self, when we deal with the core of idolatry, the core of idolatry and the root of idolatry is self. But now I'm gonna show you something that all idolatry of self has its core in the three lusts that are found in this Scripture I'm about to show you. So if you wanna look at the idolatry of self, it is rooted in what I'm getting ready to show you in 1 John chapter 2, verse 16, in The Message. 1 John chapter 2, verse 16, in The Message. And I'll look at verse 15. He says, "Don't love the world's ways". Don't love the world's ways. "Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world," practically everything that goes on in the world. So now, you're talking about don't love the world. What do you mean, "Don't love the world"?
Well, he's gonna tell you what's worldly. You know, we use that term religiously in church, "Oh, that's worldly. Oh, that music's worldly. Oh, that dress is worldly". No, no, like, he's gonna tell you exactly what it means for something to be worldly. He says, "Wanting your own way," that's the lust of the flesh, "wanting everything for yourself," that's the lust of the eyes, and "wanting to appear important," that's the pride of life. Now, notice now, he says, "Here are the three things you understand: wanting everything for yourself, that is the lust of the eyes; wanting to appear important, that's the pride of life". See, understand something, ladies and gentlemen, he said, "This is the root to it. This is the root to idolatry of self. It's the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life". That's it.
So it's worldly. It's worldly when everything concerns you. You want everything for yourself, you wanna get everything for yourself. You wanna appear important. That's a big one. Wanting to appear important. Would you check out people in the days where everybody wants to appear important. I was in Los Angeles one day and we had a meeting that weekend and it was just amazing to me that everybody walking around like they was important. I just kind of start messing. I stopped one guy and I said, "Are you important? Who are you"? Everybody wants to appear important. And that's what we can't do in our Christian lives. You wouldn't believe how much freedom you'll have if you'll stop trying to work to appear important in other people. When you know you're already important with God, then you don't have to prove yourself to be important to other people, dropping names and doing that stuff. Just be who you are and now God can use a person with no reputation, instead of someone who continues to try to develop a reputation.
So if we are to escape modern idolatry, we have to admit that it is rampant. I wanna break that down. If I wanna escape modern-day idolatry, I've got to admit that that idolatry is growing luxuriously, that idolatry is growing like weeds. And all you gotta do is look around. You talking about growing. It is growing luxuriously, and it is growing like weeds. But you've got to understand, there are some people that have no idea, as simple as this is, what is going on in the world right now. Satan's got 'em completely blind. So you admit that it is rampant and you reject it in all its forms. It is not of God. Idolatry is not of God. Don't try to figure it out. And see, you've gotta be careful 'cause the self-help books, the life coaches, all of the things you hear and have said, "Ain't nothin' wrong with that". Is it? And it's called idolatry. And it's not of God, but of Satan and in it, in idolatry, we will never find fulfillment. It looks like it, 'cause you have gadgets to allow people to pretend and fool a lot of folks, you know?
You go on Instagram and everybody look happy and they're miserable. They're miserable. You can make anything look like you want it to look. And you've got to be careful not to fall in that trap. Here's one thing I know. I know this by experience. I know this by calls I get at 2 o'clock in the morning from famous people who have got a gun to their head ready to blow it, I know this, that what looks real nice and real awesome, will never ever bring you to fulfillment, aside from God. And that's the deception. Somehow you think when you travel the road, it's so interesting. You really wanna get to this certain point and then once you arrive at that certain point, it's not quite what you thought it was gonna be like. It was awesome, it was cool, it was excitement. But after that's over with, you still go unfulfilled.
Idolatry will never bring fulfillment. And that's the thing. Satan what he puts a lot of the goals in your mind and it's all about you, but, you know, the Bible talks about the fact that the only way you gonna be, if you lift yourself up high, you will end up low. You'll find yourself down. If you decide to choose this way to try to go high, you'll visit it, but it won't bring fulfillment. It never brings fulfillment. And that's the thing you've gotta live long enough to realize. That none of that brought fulfillment. None of it brought fulfillment. Look at Isaiah chapter 14. Let me show you where this spirit of self ultimately was demonstrated.
Isaiah 14, verses 12 through 15. Let me show you where it was ultimately presented to itself. Isaiah 14:12 through 15. Now, I want you to listen to this as you turn there. All too often, the biggest idols in our lives is the one that looks at us right in the mirror each and every morning. We are, by nature, egocentric. We are, by nature, egocentric. That means we think only of ourselves, without regard for the feelings or the desires of others. When a person is egocentric, he's self-centered. He is self-centered. Now, you tell me if I'm lying. All you've got to do is turn TV on, you see what I'm telling true. Or maybe it's somebody you know by name, ha, ha. Maybe it's an experience that you have. And it's no wonder that the Bible said in Timothy that "here is a sign that I'm gonna be coming: when people are self-centered and selfish and only concerned about themselves".
It was one thing when it was in the world because the Bible tells us that's what's in the world. How did that get in the church? How did that get in the church? So now, it's a big deal. And so, by nature, ego-centric, self-involved people, you see, our thoughts naturally go in one pattern, naturally, if you let it. I mean, it starts at a baby. Here's the thoughts that we have, starting at a baby. You have to do something about it. Here's the thought. Here's the pattern that it goes in, watch this: Me, me, me. That's the pattern that it goes in. So you already got the juice for it. It's me, me, me. The spirit which is promoted by every form of media available today is that same spirit that filled the devil when he challenged God. It's the spirit that is destructive and I'll tell you the only way to counter that spirit in a moment.
But look at this in Isaiah 14. Look where it came from. He says: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations"! Now, I want you to count how many times you see "I". "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High". The spirit of I is the spirit of Satan. It's idolatry. He was his idol. And look at it in the next verse. He says, now here's what happens when you have this ego-centric, self-involved issue in your life and you don't deal with it. You got it by natural, I mean, you have to train a person out of that. A baby don't care nothing about you asleep at 3 o'clock in the morning. You train yourself and through the Word of God you teach who's first place and it's not you, you know? He says, here's what happened to him. "Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit".
Now, I'm not gonna necessarily say that everybody's gonna be brought down to hell, but thank God for the grace of God, but I am gonna say you'll find yourself being brought down. I am gonna say that, you know, if you're that ego-centric person and if you're that self-centered and you don't consider anyone's feelings but your own, and I tell you, considering people's feelings, that's respect. That's what respect is all about, considering people's feelings. And there's just a lack of respect right now. People just don't care nothing about anybody else's feelings, just as long as they can step on you if necessary to get to where they want to be. And it's something simple but it's something obviously that we've got to address in church, especially when you see church folks doing what's supposed to be accounted to the world.
Lust of the flesh, church, it's in the church. Lust of the eyes, it's in the church. Pride of life, it's in the church. And it's like, who wants to come and be a part of that? They already a part of that. They thought they were gonna get something a little different by coming to church. And they're bumping into the same spirit of Satan, but here's the deal. If you follow a person long enough, as I have in some lives, you'll find them right here but if they don't change that spirit, they'll be brought down. Are you listening to me? You'll find other people under attack all the time and the devil never wins because they know it's not about them; it's about others. This is so, so very important.
Now, from what I've been able to listen to and hear and Pastor Ken's been teaching on this on Wednesday mornings, this is the only way you can counter this destructive spirit of self: humility. Humility. That is the antidote. That's how you counter idolatry: humility. And when you talk about humility, you're talking about placing your life in God's hands and yielding completely to his will. When you're talking about humility, you're saying, "God, I am ready to bow the knee. I'm ready to place my life into your hands and submit to your way of doing things". Well, what is it then should we submit to if we're gonna humble ourselves away from this idolatry, what does the Scripture say about this?
Well, 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 24. 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 24, and then 1 Corinthians 13 and 5. Let's look at this. 1 Corinthians 10 and 24. He says: "Let no man seek his own, but every man another's," and then "wealth" is in italicized. But he's talking about the main key is, is seeking not your own but every man seeking another's. Okay, so I need to submit to that. So if I find myself only being concerned every day with seeking my own and I'm not seeking, you know, another man's issues and wealth and stuff that's going on in his life, then that's pride. See, I want the grace of God operating in my life and one sure way to stop it is to go against what God told you to submit to. And we've got to stop playing church. It's not a secret why stuff not working for some Christians. And we walk around there, you know, like we just dumb and don't know why.
"I don't know why this ain't happening. Well, I don't know why that ain't happened". It's just something, somewhere you missing. And this is one of the big areas. It's that area of "Will I submit and will I comply concerning seeking my own versus seeking the interests of someone else". Well, look at 1 Corinthians chapter 13, verse 5. We know that the big deal as a Christian is love. I mean, what is it to find a Christian that doesn't have the love of God operating in him? And yet, today that's big. It's so weird because Christian people seem to be as worldly as people that are in the world so no wonder the world says, "Why do you try to get me saved when you act just like me"?
Now, we should never go and say to the world we're perfect, 'cause you're not. The witness that we should share is the fact that I am not perfect, I'm forgiven and I thank God that God has helped me through the things that I wasn't perfect in. So in other words, I'm a lot better today than I was back here at that particular time. But in some cases, somebody that's not born again, they're a lot worse today than they were back there at that particular time. See, there is a difference. There is a difference.
Now, don't get this wrong attitude of, "Well, as Christian people you're supposed to be perfect". Satan is using it to destroy good people, to destroy good people, to shame them, to get them in condemnation, to get them in guilt to the point where in order to have relief, they have to relieve God and turn their back against God because there's so much pastoral malpractice on the pulpit telling people you supposed to be perfect. Listen to me. If you supposed to be perfect, why did Jesus have to go and die on a cross and shed his blood? It was a complete waste of time and Easter would be a complete waste of time if you were perfect. But we need a Savior. Why do we need a Savior? 'Cause you ain't perfect. Ain't nobody in here perfect. Everybody here got a issue.
Now, you've gotten better where that issue is concerned, and you've eliminated certain issues, but you've got to give the praise to God for where you are right now. You certainly can't take credit for where you are right now, 'cause it wasn't for God, you'd still be in a worse situation than you were in, in the past, but walking with Jesus helps you to shed off certain things that you had and that's what this is about. It is about a Savior that will help me and who wants to help me, who wants to meet my needs, who wants to meet my wants.
I can't be in idolatry 'cause the tree ain't gonna help me, and that chair ain't gonna help me, and all the stuff we claim is God's but they don't have power ain't gonna help me. But if I stick with him, he will walk me through the shadow of the valley of the valley of the shadows of death and I won't fear any evil because I trust him. I trust God. So, no, I don't get disappointed when I realize I'm not perfect. You know what I do? I'm like, "See that, God? Show you that's why I can't do without you".