God’s love for you is aflame with righteous zeal and just jealously. We are to hate idolatry because God got to us first, loved us first, owned us first, before the devil and his demons made any false promises to us through our idols.
Gospel wakened people feel swept off their feet by their romancing God. (If you’re a man, and this sort of “church as feminine” language bothers you, you will have to get over it. This is how God draws our character. You will have to nail your machismo to the cross and stop thinking you’re more of a man than your Groom.) When the power of the gospel saps the power of idols from our veins, when we have really tasted and seen that the Lord is good, we are so smitten we can’t help but ditch every back door Johnny we ever messed around with. How pathetic they are! And how pathetic we were for ever giving in to their two-bit come-ons.
A bride joined to her groom forsakes all others. She writes the spiritual equivalent of Dear John letters to her idols. When God’s love captivates you, you go around spurning all your other lovers. I call this “blaspheming” your idols.
Blaspheme them. Tell them they have no appeal to you any more. Tell them you don’t need their damage, their pain, their anti-glories. Tell them you have no desires to use and abuse them any more. Tell them your heart, mind, soul, and strength belong wholly to God now. And then don’t speak as a lover to them ever again. Sinful relationships must end.
Am I being hyperbolic? Sure. You can do all this simply by virtue of worshiping God in study, prayer, praise, service, and across-the-board meditation on the gospel.
Reflecting on 1 Thessalonians 1:9 -- “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” -- Ray Ortlund illustrates the blaspheming of idols this way:
You and I are not integrated, unified, whole persons. Our hearts are multi-divided. There is a board room in every heart. Big table. Leather chairs. Coffee. Bottled water. Whiteboard. A committee sits around the table. There is the social self, the private self, the work self, the sexual self, the recreational self, the religious self, and others. The committee is arguing and debating and voting. Constantly agitated and upset. Rarely can they come to a unanimous, wholehearted decision. We tell ourselves we’re this way because we’re so busy with so many responsibilities. The truth is, we’re just divided, unfocused, hesitant, unfree.
That kind of person can “accept Jesus” in either of two ways. One way is to invite him onto the committee. Give him a vote too. But then he becomes just one more complication. The other way to “accept Jesus” is to say to him, “My life isn’t working. Please come in and fire my committee, every last one of them. I hand myself over to you. I am your responsibility now. Please run my whole life for me.”
“Accepting Jesus” is not just adding Jesus. It is also subtracting the idols.
Ray’s prescription for blaspheming our idols means telling them, “You’re all fired,” and recognizing the sovereign Lord Jesus as chairman of our thought life, our work life, our family life, our sex life, our recreational life, and our emotional life. In Chapter 7 on Inevitable Holiness, we’ll explore some more ways to intentionally de-idolize our lives. As the prophet says, “There are 50 ways to leave your lover.” But leave him you must. And don’t be too demure to slam the door on the way out.