Tony Evans - Idol Eyes
This series is on American idols. One of the things that the Bible makes clear is that when we choose competing gods, we jeopardize ourselves, our families, and even our nation. America was founded on the premise that faith in God would have to be a key component to the wellbeing of the nation. And only to the degree that we worshipped the God of the Bible could we experience the freedom that this nation so passionately desired. But we have wandered far from that commitment. We have wandered from that faith. We have chosen competing gods to our detriment. It's our hope that this series will draw all of us back to the one true God so that we can have the peace and unity that our country desperately needs at this time.
There is no other sin spoken of as much as this one sin in all of the Bible. In all of the Bible, the dominant thing that is addressed over everything else is the sin of idolatry. Idolatry, the worship of false gods, other gods, non-gods is the dominant theme of Scripture. Commonly spoken of and always condemned. Now, the first thing we've got to do is define our terms. What do we mean by idol or idolatry? Simply said, an idol is any unauthorized noun, person, place, thing, or thought that you look to as your ultimate source. Let me repeat that again. An idol is any unauthorized noun. A noun is a person, place, thing, or thought. Any unauthorized noun, person, place, thing, or thought that you look to as your source. So, that can be anything that becomes the subject of your ultimate focus.
When God gave the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, verses 1 to 6, the first two commandments dealt with this thing about idolatry. "Thou shalt have no other god before me. Thou shalt not make any graven image of me, for I am a jealous God". One of the reasons that God despises idolatry is because of his jealousy. You see, he has an exclusivity clause on you. No competition allowed. No competing deities up in here, up in here. Anything or anyone that competes for your ultimate loyalty is an idol. Anything or anyone that competes with your ultimate loyalty is your idol. Bad things that you depend on is idolatry. If you depend on drugs, that drug is an idol because it's become the source of your ultimate wellbeing. People can become an idol because your ultimate wellbeing is locked up in them and not in God.
So, people can have people addictions. An idol, however, doesn't have to be something bad. It can be something good that you make god. So, in its right place, it's good. Money is good, but you can make it, materialism god. Success is good, but you can make success god. We live in a day, taking from the show "American Idol", of celebrity worship. Appreciating people, valuing them for their skills, their abilities. But the moment they become the source of how well you are doing, that's become a god. Education can be a god. You can put so much weight on your degree that it is competing with god. And that's why the Bible says they are ever learning, but never coming into the knowledge of the truth. The god of science.
See, science has become a god, I don't know if you knew that or not. Because science has grown to the place where it wants to prove by science God does not exist. So, they come up with a theory of evolution that nothing produced something. Evolution is basically fairytales for adults. Your job can be an idol, your career can be an idol. Careers are a good thing, we're commanded to work. But if that has become your source of identity, that's an idol. Hm, we're going to talk about, let's see, the idol of your politics. Because you can make being a Democrat your god. You can make being a Republican your god. So that you think your answers are going to land on Air Force One. And so, what we've done is we've divided our society even among Christians because they've begun to worship their political identity, or racial identity, or gender identity. And thus we're walking idolaters who have been westernized because it's sophisticated. It's been painted over. It looks good, smells good. You can wear a suit and be an idolater. You can drive a fancy car and be an idolater.
Idolatry is any noun that has not been authorized by the creator. It is a manmade representation of the true God. Now, one of the reasons that we are drawn to idols, although we don't recognize them as idols until this series is over, is because we have a dumbed down view of God. We have shrunk God and made him so small that idols look pretty big. We have reduced him. We have made him a sophisticated man. So, let me set this 'cause God says at the end of verse 8, "I want you to know that I am the Lord". Whenever he talks about idolatry or his jealousy, he says, "The reason I'm going to tell you all about this is 'cause I want you to know there's nobody like me. I am one of a kind. I'm in a class by myself. I demand an exclusivity clause 'cause you can't find nobody who can compete with me".
The idol of luck, luck. Luck is the most non-Christian word a Christian could ever use. Because, and I'm not talking about when you casually use it, and you know, you're just using it as a phrase. But I'm talking about believing in luck. And the reason why it's the most non-Christian word is you can't have a sovereign God and have luck. You can't have a God who controls the world and have luck. No, the biblical concept is providence, that he orchestrates things. So, the next time you attempt to say, "I was lucky", no, "I was providentially cared for". No such thing as luck.
So, let's talk for a minute about God because if I can grow the size of our God, then we will be less needy for idols. He says, "I want you to know I am the Lord God", he says. "Thus saith the Lord God", verse 4. "That they may know that I am the Lord", verse 8. So, who is this Lord? 'Cause a lot of us are mixed up on the definition of God. So, let's start with a definition, okay? The true God is the triune creator, sustainer, and sovereign ruler of all things. Now, why am I telling you that? Because just using the name God, we need to know who you're talking about. 'Cause the word "God" can be very generic. The God of the Bible is transcendent.
Now, that's a big theological word that simply means he is distinct from his creation. So, if you want to remember transcendent, remember the word "distinct". That is, he is separate from what he made. Now, why is that important? 'Cause all idols are determined by what has been made. So, whatever an idol is, it was created. So, whenever you have something created and you worship it, you have not made it transcendent, you've reduced it to being imminent. Imminent means he's part of, he's down in the mix of. God is transcendent. The Bible says he sits high above the earth. He sits on the circle of the earth. The Bible says in Isaiah 40, "He sits over the nation and blows on them". I am that I am. Translation: I am not what you want me to be.
He says, "I am that I am". He's not only self-defined, he is also self-sufficient. I am because I am. In other words, I exist because I exist. Translation, "I don't have to go outside of me to be me. Everything I need to be me is already in me, 'cause I am that I am". So, he's self-defined, he's self-existent, he's self-sufficient, and he is eternal because I am is present tense. Present tense, let me explain. God has no past and he has no future. There's no past or future with God. He always exists in his I am-ness, that is, present tense. He's personal, I, so he's a personal God. He's not a force. You know, this is not "Star Wars". He's a personal God, but he's a personal God in the present and only in the present. So, he has no past, no future. He talks to us in past, present, and future 'cause we live linearly. He does not live linearly. He doesn't live from yesterday to tomorrow. Everything with God is now. It's affections.
You see, when people have an idol, it's because they like it or they want something from it. You see, you don't just build an idol to build an idol. People build idols 'cause they want the idol to do something for them, to bless them. In the Bible, they had idols of fertility. They had idols for the weather, they had idols for this. Those idols weren't just stuff in never never land. These are idols I need to do something for me. So, it owned their affections, for which they sought benefit. God is saying, "They have idols in their heart. In other words, their affection is not for me. Their pursuit is not of me. I am not the pleasure that they seek. I am not the priority that they pursue. They don't beat here for me, they beat here to get something from me. But not for me. And so, they have idols from the heart. Their affection is not for me. Their love is not for me".
That's why the great commandment is thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind, might, soul. In other words, all of you. There is to be no part of your psyche, your physiology, of your emotions that are to be extricated from a passionate pursuit of a person. As we go through this series, you're going to discover things that you didn't think were idols. But you're going to discover, oh yeah, I guess I've been giving that a little bit more worship than I thought. And so, the right view of God is critical. God is transcendent, he's outside of time and space. And that's why he is the un-figureoutable God. "My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways. As high as the heavens are above the earth, that's how high, so, don't start with you. Don't start with y'all, and don't start with your peeps. Start with me. Let me define who you are".
See, here is why people want idols. Let me tell you why we, we, why we want idols. Because we want something we can control. See, I can't control God. He gonna tell me what he thinks whether I like it or not. I can't control him, so I need an idol who gonna say yes when I want him to, who gonna say no when I want him to, who gonna agree with me when I want him to. I want an idol that will adjust to me. I don't want to be accountable to a God. I want to use his name, but I don't want to have to answer to him. I don't want to have to do what he says. See, our culture wants a God that's cafeteria style. I like this part of God, I'll take it. I don't want that part of God, I won't take it.
So, we want to chop God up and turn him into our cafeteria experience, and rather than the God of God who owns our hearts and who informs our decisions. Until there is a decision to passionately pursue a person, that's the test God gave Moses. He tells, "Moses, y'all going to the Promised Land, but I'm not going with you. Just y'all go ahead. Land flowing with milk and honey, y'all go ahead, have a good time". Moses said, "Now, if you don't go, I'm not going. I don't care how nice it is over there". God was testing him. Who do you want more, the blessing of the blesser? Who do you want more?
See, we live in a world today where folk want the blessing, and I'll take the blesser until I get the blessing. I'll placate him enough until I get the blessing that I want. But when the nature of man defines the nature of God, Romans 1, verses 18 to 25 says, "Because they no longer wanted to hold the truth of God in their hearts, they built idols to themselves". They didn't want God telling them what to do anymore. They didn't want God, their passion for God was lost, so they created idols after themselves. And then he talks about the cost of idolatry.
He says in Ezekiel 14, "They have idols in their heart". And then he asked at the end of verse 3, "Should I be consulted by them? Do they really want to have a conversation with me"? "They have idols of the heart". He says at the end of verse 4, "The Lord will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols". Oh, it says, "When you pray to me, I'm gonna answer you based on how many idols you got. 'Cause when you come to me and I'm not in your heart and I'm not your God, and you're bringing all these other gods in here with me, well, I'm gonna answer your prayer according to all them gods you got".
One of the reasons more of our prayers are not being answered is we bring idols into the prayer meeting. America, it has a theological and spiritual problem. See, all this division you're seeing across race, across genders, across political party, all that is symptoms of what happens in a culture when it abandons the true God. When a culture abandons the true God, a vacuum is set where chaos enters in. 2 Chronicles chapter 15, verses 3 to 6: "Because they abandoned God", it says, "there was no peace".
So, the further you get away from God, then now man wants to decide what's life and what's not life, and who does and who doesn't die, and how we deal with older people and how we don't. And man wants to decide that because when you get rid of the true God, now you become god. Government becomes god. Man becomes god. And they come up with all these new definitions that become political fights. Political fights? This is a theological issue, it's a biblical issue related to the true God. But if you more Democrat than Christian, if you more Republican than Christian, then you're gonna go with the party, you're not gonna go with the king.
I had a friend of mine tell me, he said, "Well, you know, I vote the same way every year", he said, "because I'm a company man". I said, "You ought to be a kingdom man. You ought to be voting, you ought to be taking from the Word of God as the basis". You say, "Well, all this is in the Old Testament". No, no, no, no, no, 1 John 5:21 says, "My children, keep yourselves from idols". But now I want to tell you the main reason why you want to get rid of your idols. And we all have them, we all have them. You know, there's no big I's or little you's. We all have them, sometimes we just don't know we have them. But let me give you the whopping reason why you want to identify and destroy any idol that God his Holy Spirit reveals to you.
And it's found in 1 Corinthians chapter 10. He writes the New Testament church, and this is what he says to the New Testament Christians in 1 Corinthians chapter 10. Paul writes, verse 19, "What do I mean then, that a thing sacrificed to idols is anything? Or than an idol is anything"? So, he's talking about idols. "No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God. And I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons". Verse 22: "Or do we provoke the Lord to", here it is, "jealousy? We are not stronger than he, are we"? Oh no you didn't. Guess what God just said?
Every time you go to an idol, you attract demons. So, a lot of us are walking around here demon controlled. You think it's an emotional problem. No, it's demonic. You think it's a bad attitude. No, it's demonic. You think, "Well, I just got issues". Yeah, you do, demons. 'Cause he says if you are with an idol, like garbage attracts roaches, idols attract demons. And I don't want you, see, that's why a lot of the problems and addictions we can't get over. And the reason we can't get over, it's that it's been dem-ified. In other words, whatever the problem started out to be, demons got in there, amped up the issue.
So, you're trying to get rid of a problem when really the problem are the demons you can't get rid of because you haven't gotten rid of the idols that controls the demons controlling you. He says, "I do not want you to become a sharer in demons". So, you must make a decision. Loving an idol is like a wife loving the wedding ring more than the bridegroom. She likes what the bridegroom gave her, but doesn't necessarily care for the one who gave it. See, everybody wants what God can give without a heart that wants the God who gave it. God is looking for some fine folk who not trying to be a gold-digger, but they want him. And because they want him and love him and get rid of their idols, he gives them himself. And when they get him, they get what he has to offer.
In this series on "American Idols", we want to look at the eyes through which you view God. Because when you see God, the true God of the Bible, incorrectly and your eyes begin to wander to false gods, then everything in your life will be out of focus. If you want the right focus on life, on liberty, on your life and our nation, then you're going to see God as he really is, not merely as you want him to be. And if we will take a clear look at the God of the Bible and turn away from anything viewed as God that's not consistent with who he is as the one true God, then we can begin to experience him, and we can begin to be transformed by him. And it's time for us to wander aggressively away from false gods, and run into the arms of the true God, because we are seeing him more clearly than we've ever seen him before.