Out of all the 10 Commandments, it is the commandment we break most often. And it is also likely the hardest commandment to detect when we are guilty of breaking it. What is that commandment? "You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3, ESV) Or, in other words, don’t worship idols. Yet that is what is so easy to do – to set something God created up in our lives as the most important thing. It is so easy to set an aspect of creation up as god, dethroning the One who should be on the throne of our lives.
Idolatry is the topic of Pastor Kyle Idleman’s recent book, Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for your Heart. As Idleman puts it, gods of various types are at war for our souls. On one side is the God of the universe, the One who created it all, and the One for whom the universe is created to glorify. On the other side are various other gods, created things and earthly ideas, that war for control of our souls and our lives. The question Idleman asks is piercing – who controls our heart? The Creator or some aspect of the creation?
If any of you enjoyed and were challenged by Idleman’s previous book, Not a Fan, you will get the same kind of treatment here. Idleman is both self-depreciatingly humorous and hard-hitting at the same time. The book is easy to read yet hard to swallow. The concepts click immediately, but it is a painful challenge to apply them to our hearts and lives.
The war that is being raged in our lives is being raged in our hearts. What do our hearts treasure? What do our hearts worship? Creation, tainted by sin, has many things for us to treasure and worship. It presents many ways to grab and hold our hearts. And when our hearts are captured, our behavior follows. Yet God, the One who created it all, the One who sent Jesus, the One who loves us with an everlasting love, is a jealous God. He does not want to share our heart with anyone or anything. He created us to be His and His alone.
Gods at War spends the time to dissect many of the common idols we struggle with in our world. The gods of food, sex, entertainment, success, money, achievement, romance, family and me are all laid bare, revealed in all their counterfeit godhood. They can never truly satisfy. Their pleasures are fleeting and earthly. They make all kinds of promises, but they can never truly fulfill them in a way that lasts. After each chapter, Idleman leads the reader to examine themselves. Through a series of penetrating questions and then some devotional thoughts, he challenges the idols in our lives and reminds us of who the true God really is. He reminds us that only God can truly satisfy and only life in Christ is eternal and lasting.
Grab a copy and prepare to have your idols exposed. And then prepare to enter the gracious presence of our God, the one who can destroy the power of those idols in our lives and make us into people who place Him in His rightful place – on the throne of our hearts.