Understanding Idolatry

In LifeGroups we practice confessing sin to one another as prescribed in James 5:16 and 1 John 1:5-10. One aspect of confessing sin is through the lens of idolatry. While we may not bow down and worship carved statues, idolatry can mean anything that you worship outside of Jesus to find identity and purpose. A modern idol could be romance, a career, a family, or your personal freedom.

To press this further, there’s a difference between “surface idols” and “deep idols.” A surface idol looks at the external motivation while the deep idol refers to the inward motivation - the sin beneath the sin. We want to be a culture that confesses both - surface and deep idols - to see ourselves more clearly and allow for deeper healing to take place.

Surface Idols – The noticeable sin patterns in your life including thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, etc. These are things that give meaning, hope and purpose to your life other than God. This is what people most regularly confess.

Deep Idols – What is your motivation for sin? Why do you run to those specific surface idols? What are you looking for? Four common deep idols: power, approval, comfort, and control

Below is a helpful diagnostic to determine what deep idols are most prevalent in your life.

Screen Shot 2019-09-02 at 7.53.58 AM.png

Here’s how Jesus speaks into each one of those deep idols. (Also consider using the resource, “Go-to Verses for Gospel Fluency”)

Comfort - Our relationship with Jesus provides never-ending, security, peace, and rest. 

Control - We were never in control anyway, but we serve a God who has sovereign rule over the universe.  In the moment the world looked the most out of control - the death of the Son of God on a cross - God was most in control, working his plan of salvation that he had carried through the ages. 

Approval - We have all the approval we will ever need in Christ. Through Jesus’ work on our behalf we are eternally approved of by the God of all Creation who pours out the love, favor, and acceptance owed to Jesus onto us. 

Power - God has unqualified, limitless power. We no longer have to seek power as we are able to find all the power we’ll ever need in him. We no longer have to exert our will or dominance over others.

What recent surface idols do you need to confess to God and one another?

What deep idol do you see most at work underneath your surface idol(s)? How have you seen that play out?