Thursday January 16, 2020
Idols: 1JO 2:16
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
In Isa 41 God asks us to behold the idols in the world and behold the idol worshippers, and then God says to us, behold My Servant.
God means for us to take a really good look at them. When Paul writes: “In evil be babes,” he means in experience. We are to be wise, not having experience with evil, but recognizing it and knowing what it can lead to.
What do idols do for people? They only take and take and give nothing but grief in return. “See them,” says God, “and now see My Servant in whom My soul delights.”
Many idols in our world are very obvious. They are the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh. What is more subtle is the boastful pride of life. It is just as dangerous as the other two, but it is more easily disguised. For this reason some say that the boastful pride of life is more dangerous, but all of them are equally destructive. When this is not understood, some foolish people then choose lust and kid themselves by saying that it’s not as bad as pride. Pride is only more effective upon man because it is more easily disguised. And it would not be hard to find pride in the lustful.
Last time we saw the example of Martin Luther was an idol worshipper for a part of his life when he believed salvation was had by works.
A similar story is of Walter Petherick was a prosperous London merchant when the plague hit the city. His life changed on July 16, 1665 when he left the city with his daughters and entered a country church. He never forgot the sermon that was preached on Hab 3.
HAB 3:17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail,
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold,
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
HAB 3:18 Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
HAB 3:19 The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds' feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.
[from Boreham’s book Handful of Stars] “The words took hold upon me mightily!” Wrote Petherick to a friend in 1682. After hearing this message, he prayed fervently for his daughters to be spared from the awful plague. He recalled then that he had not prayed to God like this in some time. In those days, in the days of his earliest religious experiences - he had prayed, almost as earnestly as this, for his own spiritual prosperity, for the extension of Christ’s kingdom and for the enlightenment of the world. It seemed like a dream as he recalled it. He was scarcely more than a boy in those days.
The ardor and intensity of that distant time had deserted him so gradually, and had vanished so imperceptibly, that he had never missed it until now.
I put this part of the story on a slide so that we all can really think about it. It is subtle and so much so that it wasn’t recognized until a tragedy decades later.
[continued] Love had come into his life, irradiating and transfiguring everything. Love had led to marriage; four happy children had brought added gladness to his home and fresh contentment to his heart; and he had abandoned himself without reserve to those domestic cares and comforts. The things that had so completely captivated his soul were all of them good things - just as the fig and the vine and the olive, the corn and the flocks and the herds were all of them good things - but he had allowed them to elbow out the wealthiest things of all. The good had become the enemy of the best. Before his heart had been gladdened by those treasures that were now so dear to him, he had every day rejoiced in the Lord and joyed in the God of his salvation. But not since. His enrichment had proved his impoverishment. The preacher said: “It is a small thing to love the gifts as long as you possess the Giver; the supreme tragedy lies in losing the Giver and retaining only the gifts.” And Walter Petherick felt that night that the supreme tragedy was [not the plague] but himself. [end quote]
Much of the idol worship in our world is obvious, but some of them are far more subtle and therefore dangerous. Luther and Petherick help us to see the subtle.
Both types (flesh and eyes - fleshly self) and pride (diabolical self) are found in Habakkuk and the prophet links them together.
HAB 2:4 "Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith.
HAB 2:5 "Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man,
So that he does not stay at home.
He enlarges his appetite like Sheol,
And he is like death, never satisfied.
He also gathers to himself all nations
And collects to himself all peoples.
The first (42:1) and the last (52:13) of the four Servant Songs begin with a command to “See.” It is a command to watch Him carry out the work committed to Him by the Father.
ISA 42:1 "Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold [grasp];
My chosen one in whom My soul delights.
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the nations.
ISA 42:2 "He will not cry out or raise His voice,
Nor make His voice heard in the street.
ISA 42:3 "A bruised reed He will not break,
And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish;
He will faithfully bring forth justice.
In vs. 1 we met the quintessential Servant and now we find the quintessential service. The is exemplified perfectly in the Lord Jesus Christ. His service is unostentatious and unself-advertising.
We would conclude that truth and pure service permeates all and it doesn’t need amplification or help. It doesn’t need the added impulse of shouting, advertising, or marketing. Hence, a quiet, unaggressive, unthreatening ministry is proper to the truth and service of God.