Dear Fellow-Disciple:

"Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry"

(1 Corinthians 10:14).

What are idols? The Greek word means an image, a phantom; an image in the mind; an image of a god; something which becomes an idol.

Anything can become an idol because we can allow anything to come between us and the Lord. Some of the most obvious are: work, music, movies, food, drugs, sex, smoking, drinking, sports, television, money, church. Even our home or members of our family can come between us and the Lord. Ministers can make idols of ministry. Anything more important to us than God is considered an idol.

Another meaning of idolatry is an image in the mind, or illusion. Illusions begin in childhood...cops and robbers, cowboys and indians, playing house, etc. As we grow up, we may imitate someone we admire. That is also an illusion, an image in the mind. Later, our jobs may influence our illusions. For example, a judge usually takes on a judicial air. Illusions are limited only by man's ability to create them. They are never real.

The desire of our heart is the root of our behavior, the starting point for all our natural urges. If the desire of our heart is distorted because of misunderstanding, we often create illusions to compensate. Out of those illusions idolatry can grow.

For example, we may want the supernatural touch of God so strongly that we run all over the world to "see" or to "sense" His presence. But when we take what God has done and put it in place of Himself, we inadvertently create an idol. The entire exercise is an illusion because we can experience God's presence any time we wish (Hebrews 4:16).

Christians do not deliberately create idols, they sneak in as substitutes. To determine if we have idols in our lives, we come before God and release every important thing to Him. If we can release all control of our money, our spouse, our children, and honestly decide to trust God in the most important aspects of our lives, we probably have no idols.

This may seem to be easy, but the test is to visualize ourselves without these things and measure our reaction. If our income was taken away, could we still trust God? If we lost our spouse or our children, could we still love God with the same love we have for Him now?

God instructed us to flee from idolatry. Any substitute for Him is open to Satan. Satan is the father of lies, the great deceiver. He feeds our illusions, especially those that keep us busy looking at the "things" of God rather than at God, Himself.

Fortunately, God supplied us with a way to escape from deception, and to dwell in truth. The process is simple if we are willing to relinquish control and trust Him with our lives.

In James 4:7, we find that the source of all idolatry flees from us if we submit ourselves to God. Submission to God always strengthens our resistance to those things that are not of Him. When we submit to God, we enter His kingdom. There are no illusions nor idols there, only truth and light. Idols masquerade themselves in many ways. Most of us are not aware that an idol may stand between us and God.

We need to stop periodically and give ourselves a check-up, just as we do our automobiles. We should check our desires and attitudes and weigh them against the Word. Then we should flush out anything with a tinge of darkness, anything more illusion than truth.

The easiest way for us to flee from idolatry is to have it flee from us. This is accomplished when we submit to God. Intimate contact with God assures us we walk in the unshakable certainty of His light; therefore, idols are not our problem.

Four times in the New Testament, we are told that our triune God is the only God:

1. In Jude 4, we see the sin involved in denying "our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ;

2. 1 Timothy 6:15 speaks of Jesus as the "blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords";

3. 1 Timothy 1:17 states, "Now to the King eternal, immor tal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever";

4. Romans 16:27 says, "To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever."

One of the great commandments is, "You shall have no other Gods before Me" (Deuteronomy 5:7). We don't need illusions nor idols. We go straight to the only God with our prayers and petitions. We know our God, He has revealed Himself to us.

We need no intermediary gods to take our petitions into the throne room. We have direct access through Jesus (Hebrews 10:19,20). If we discover an idol, we need to rush boldly into the presence of the only God and place it in His hands!

Jesus is King!

P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?

Question for today: Do I entertain any illusions? Do I have any idols?