Leon Fontaine - What Is Idolatry?
The book of Ecclesiastes is an interesting book in the Bible. It's depressing. If you've ever read the book of Ecclesiastes, you've probably never read it more than once. Bible scholars disagree on its purpose, why it's in the canon of scripture, but it's very clear to me who, someone who is New Covenant believer, believing God for, to walk in what Jesus has won for us on the cross, that the entire book of Ecclesiastes is about idol worship, and how to deal with the idols of our hearts. And that's what I want to talk about today.
The only way to bring change in your life, is to never look at the people around you, okay, unless you are a boss who has to hire, fire, train, equip, manage systems, administrate, then fine, go at it. But as far as your relationships, you are not able to make them change. So, the only way is for you to change. And the only people who change, are people who are self-aware. Which is a really small portion of the population. Really small. Most people never change. Some of the world's leading psychologists say that 95 percent of people in this room according to them, are like a groundhog day, you will just continue to repeat what you do every morning, every day, every afternoon. What you eat, what you think, where you go. Oh you might have a few new ideas, but you don't change much. It's just a known fact. You will simply auto-pilot the rest of your life. And so, to really change is to be self-aware. And so if you want to see change, if you want to be happier, if you want to be more fulfilled, if you want to be more purposeful, the only way is inner change. Is for you to change.
So I'm going to dive into the book of Ecclesiastes, like 12 depressing chapters. And so if you get depressed while I preach, just hang in there. I will end happy. Okay? But first we've got to stir up your unhappiness. First we need to stir up how bad your life can be, because if we don't, you know, there's a verse in Proverbs that says, funerals are better for you than parties. It's what it says. Why is that? Because at a funeral you think. At a party, you never think. At a funeral, you'll examine your life, at a party you never examine your life. At a funeral, you begin to look and go, how can I, what should I do? Because you're very aware that your life is short. That everybody's going to die. Funerals are some of the most profound times for people to change.
Now, in the book of Ecclesiastes, it actually deals with idolatry. Idols. Idols of the heart. And today, because we don't have these big, rock idols, we think that there's, idolatry's pretty small. But idol worship is not the rock. Idol worship is the heart bowing down to the rock. And, this book of Ecclesiastes, is one of the most brilliant men in the world who ever lived on the world, who went after every one of his idols. And in the book of Ecclesiastes, he deals with seven of them. And, it's pretty bad. If you ask anybody here, is Jesus the center of your life? Everybody's going to go, yes. Amen. Praise the Lord. Glory to God. I do devotions, and I volunteer. And, they'll think of some ways.
But, let me ask you some questions. What do you daydream about every day? What do you daydream about? How do you think about your future? What are you looking at, dreaming about, worrying about? What occupies your thoughts every day? How do you, how do you or what do you spend most of your time doing every day? And how would you like to spend most of your time? You know, most of the answers to these questions aren't Jesus? It's going to be sex, romance, relationships, money, position, purpose, elevation, power, pleasure. Those are going to be the areas. And what ways do you envy others? When you look around, what kind of person just, you're envious. Man, if I just had their money. If I had their spouse. If I had their life. If I had their.
These questions often give us an inside track to what's going on in our heart, even though we're born-again, spirit-filled, you can still have idols. And, it will cost you your kids, your health, your purpose, your life, if you don't recognize that you're messing with idolatry. So the book of Ecclesiastes is an idol buster. It is lifting up idols, pointing you at them, and then chopping them down to size. In the book of Ecclesiastes, there's a couple of terms that, and for time's sake, I'm going to talk more than I'm going to read because we are all students of the Word, and when you go home your job is to, this week, study. And take what I teach and never swallow it. But you're to check it out for yourself.
Now there's two terms you find all through the book of Ecclesiastes. One is the term, "under the sun". Under the sun. Now, under the sun is an ongoing term that means, earthly, human. It's under the sun. God is above the sun, God is over the sun. But under the sun, so. This guy, the teacher, which is usually Solomon, will continually be saying I've seen nothing under the sun that's worth doing anyway. Nothing under the sun, nothing under the sun. And then he uses another term, it's like "grasping the wind". It's like, chasing the wind. And, he uses these terms all the way through these twelve chapters, to show us how much life sucks. How unhappy life is.
And how if you get off when it comes to a believer in any of these, and he deals with seven. There's more than seven, but I'm just going to blast through them, because all I want to do today, is trigger a thought in you that where you are, isn't anybody else's fault but yours. And stop trying to change the world, and look at your own heart. In Ecclesiastes 1, it just goes on saying things like this. Meaningless, meaningless, or vanity, vanity, says the teacher. Utterly meaningless. Everything is meaningless. What do people gain from all their labours in which they toil under the sun? Generations come, generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south, and it turns to the north. Round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place where the streams come from, there they return again.
All things are weary-some. More than one can say, the eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, there's nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, look, there's something new! It was here already, long ago, it was here before our time. No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them. You depressed yet? Alright. Idols. It's amazing how you can go through life, and set things as your purpose, and begin to pursue things wanting Jesus to hold number-one spot, but how quickly you can begin to form an idol. For example, there's a ton of people here, all of us to a certain degree, who want to control our worlds. We want to control things. How people respond to us, control the money, control relationships, control family, control. We think we can control this world.
And as Solomon gets into Ecclesiastes and he starts talking about this, he says it's like grasping the wind, trying to control all of the things that go on in your life. He says you can't control them, you have no idea. Eternity is in the hearts of men, but you don't know where things start and where things end, and what God's plan is, and what other people are going to do in your life that you can't control, so because you can't control people, you can't control your neighbours, you can't control your spouse, you can't control your kids, you can't control your parents, you can't control your in-laws, out-laws, can't control anybody. And they're all in your life.
So, welcome to chaos. Am I the only one, or are people noticing this? Somewhere in your life. Chaos, just uncontrolled, no way, you know, if you could just control everybody in your world, give them each a lane, give them each a what they'll do, how they'll treat each other, man. Wouldn't life be good? So what do we do as Christians? Do we, you know, just continue to try and control it and develop new techniques to control everything in our lives? Do we just submit to the chaos, and the hell that goes on around us, and what everyone would like to do to us? No. And, this is not my topic. Skill development, and developing abilities and all of these areas is different than trying to control people. Become a great spouse, don't try to control yours. Become a great parent, don't try to just control your kids. Develop skills, teach skills.
And there's some areas here that we'll touch on in a little bit. But this desire to control people is literally an idol. It's you in your strength trying to control your world, and it doesn't work. Let's go through some of the things that Solomon made as idols, and we know that Solomon's end was brutal. His beginning as beautiful. Jesus, God came to him and said Solomon, what do you want? As a king over my people. And he said, God, just give me an understanding heart. Just give me wisdom to lead and to rule Your people. And God said, man, you could have asked for money, you could have asked for wisdom, you could have asked for all your enemies to be under your feet, you could have asked. Because you haven't asked for any of that, you're going to get it anyway. Which is interesting because at the very beginning it shows that you seek first God, everything else gets added like Jesus taught us.
But, he wasn't a born-again man, his spirit-man wasn't alive. And, he started chasing after power. Trying to control his world. But it was always slipping out of his grasp. A second thing that Solomon looked for, was relationships, because he was hoping relationships would bring fulfillment. There's somebody here right now, that you're just sure if you married the right person, you're just sure if you could figure out your marriage, all this love and all this romance, and all this great sex or all this intimacy, or whatever, would just change your world. But I'm promising you. Every earthly relationship will disappoint you.
Now, just stop being phony for a minute and just be real. Every earthly relationship is going to disappoint you. So if you make relationships your idol, you know, there are women here right now that just think the right man and ho would your life be amazing. Baloney, there's none of us around, ain't one of us that's going to make your life any better. There's some guy right now that just knows, that the right woman would just change. Nah, no. Everybody's going to disappoint you if you make relationships your idol. Now, how do we know they're your idol? Because that's what you dream about, that's what you think about, that's what you worry about, that's what stresses you out, that's what your mind is on day after day after day. Is your idol.
If it's not trying to control your world, it's the relationships in your world. If it's not your spouse, it's your kids. If it's not your kids, it's your friendship circles. It's your peers in business that you're working it, trying to rise up in front of your peers to be "the" person in that community. Relationships will disappoint you. Then, he goes after work and money, and did Solomon go after it? He designed things they can't design today. This man designed countries, cities. He designed works of art, that when they study history, they can't be duplicated. He just poured himself into work. He wrote books. And money? Oh, man. Still today, they list what money came in to him every day, every month. The kind of wealth that was coming in to Solomon. And, he really hoped that money would bring him freedom, that work would just give him, you know, creative inspiration. But it just left him frustrated, and he says so.
Then he went after pleasure, thinking pleasure would satisfy him. So he got all the best horses. You ought to read how many horses the guy had. You know, some of you guys think if you had the right car, you'd just go for a cruise. Sundays, down portage, and everything's just going to change, you've got "the" car. You know, or maybe pleasure is a golf course and you own it, I don't know. Maybe pleasure for you is, you've got enough money to shop and buy anything you want, anywhere you want, fly into Shanghai, fly into Europe, you know. Whatever pleasures that just touch you. But pleasures, they never satisfy. In fact, the very virtue of pleasure, is that it is here to be have, boundaries, and you can enjoy pleasures. But they will never fulfill you. You enjoy them.
So when you go too far in a pleasure, you're going to get depressed. You can only wear so many clothes, you can only drive so many cars. You can only go on so many trips. You can only cruise so many islands. And, if your focus is on just pleasure, you are going to be so dissatisfied. Every one of these things is wonderful. Like, control. I believe there's things you do need to control. Bible's filled with that. But if it becomes your god, or your idol where you're trying to control people and all that's around you, you're in for a rude awakening, because that's not the Christian life. Even the apostle Paul says, Jesus says, don't think it's strange. Fiery trials, people coming against you, lies, deceit, back-stabbing, betrayal, people you know, the world's got the stuff. This is going to happen on this planet.
And relationships are great. I love my marriage, I love my kids, I love my grandkids, my parents, the in-laws, the friendships I have here. They're all wonderful. But if you ever put those as the measuring stick for you, and you begin to focus on just that. Work and money are great, we're designed to work. Adam in the garden, everyone thinks Adam wasn't going to work, he was just given a hammock. No, no, no. He was to work. There's something wonderful about work. And money, the Bible says money answereth all things. The Bible said He's given you the power to make wealth. He's not against money. But when you make it an idol, ho man does it change your world. Then he went after wisdom. He just believed that if he had wisdom and knowledge, he could solve all problems. But he found that wisdom is never an adequate guide to life.
I'm not talking about God's wisdom, I just mean wisdom. Some of you, you study every leadership, every system, every structure, every sales, how to close, features, benefits. I mean, there's nothing that you haven't studied or read. And, you just think that this wisdom and this knowledge, man, it's going to change everything in your world. It's not. Yes, put it in its place. I love wisdom, I love knowledge. But it's not going to change and help you control your world. Then he went after spirituality. You know, many, and I don't mean a relationship with Jesus. I mean religion, spirituality, get your life in spiritual order. Read all the spiritual authors that are out there. Bury yourself in books, and just have a great time with God. And they'll find that it usually leads to legalism.
The last one he talks about, is mortality. People chasing after immortality. If they look after their body, if they look after their vitamins, their minerals, they look after the workout. If they just get tucked here and tucked there and sucked out here and put in there, that you can be a person who is going to live forever. But the fact is we're all going to decay, and we're all going to die. So, all of these things that become our idols, they become the thing we focus on. They become what drives us. And, all of them are good. Look after your body! Get spiritual, pursue wisdom. Pleasure, the Bible says there's one, I mean, He even says there's one thing you should do. When you work is go ahead, and enjoy your salary and enjoy the pleasures of great food and family and friends.
All of them can be enjoyed. They just can't become an idol. And they'll become an idol when unhappiness hits your life, and you begin to struggle in an area. And you immediately, now you can't control that area but you're trying to. So you go after it more, and you go after it more. Which brings greater frustration, and greater unhappiness, and it'll bring sin into your life. Because idolatry is sin. James 2:20, is an incredible verse you need to memorize. There's more doctrine and things packed into this one verse. It says, "I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live, in this flesh body, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me".
If you've given your life to Christ, and you are crucified with Christ, then it's not just you know, Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life. A lot of people say well He's the way I've, Jesus is my way. Good for you. A lot of people say well, He is the truth, I always keep truth around Jesus, good. But almost no Christians realize that He doesn't just give you life, He is your life. He is in you trying to live through you. He's trying to bless people through you. He's trying to have His mind, His emotions, His feelings, His direction. His purposes, flow through you. His life, is in you.
And as you mature believers who have been in the Word for years, if you do not begin to have this ah-ha, I'm going to pursue Jesus, I'm going to grow, I'm going to learn. I want a relationship with Him. Then you're going to make one of these things your idols. Welcome to unhappiness, deep unhappiness. If we keep Jesus in our hearts, if He becomes the center of our lives, if it is His life that is lived through us, something changes. In Matthew 16: 24, then Jesus said to His disciples, if any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up His cross, and follow Me. For whoever will save his life, is going to lose it. You're trying to save this life that you see. Through control, relationships, money, power, all of these things become an idol. They come before God. And He says, whoever's going to save.
See, if you start saving your life through these seven 'gods', these seven idols, it says you're going to lose the very life you desire. And whoever will lose his life, for My sake, shall find it. For what does a man profit if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul. Or what shall a man give in exchange, for his own soul? Pick up Jesus. Make sure you give Him your life. Sit Him on the throne of your heart. Every day, get His Word, get into prayer. Die to self. Pick up your cross daily. It doesn't mean die to your desires, it doesn't mean die to your marriage, your spouse, your family, your purpose. It doesn't mean, start, stop managing, stop administrating. It doesn't mean stop developing skills, no. It doesn't mean any of that. It means put Jesus number one. If you seek Him first, all this stuff starts flowing your way until you start putting something else on the throne. Can you trust Jesus? Can you trust Him?