How Christ Conquers the Idols in Our Lives

Fashioning Gods in Our Own Image

Although very few people in western societies make physical idols, all of us have served the creature rather than the Creator (Jer. 25:6Rom. 1:18–2). We often take the really good things of life and make them ultimate. We create an idol whenever we look to something or someone to give us ultimate satisfaction, happiness, or joy. God alone is the supreme fulfillment of our desires (Ps. 36) and we will never find satisfaction in finite things or people. As Augustine famously wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”

Another way we make images of God and bow before them is by fashioning God in our own image (2 Tim. 3:1–9). We tweak and change the God we find in Scripture into something much easier for us to digest, and therefore easier for us to use for our own ends. If we do not like something we read in the Bible, it is very easy for us to rationalize it away to make God fit our own vision (Jer. 6:14 and 23:17–321 Thess. 5:3).

As creatures made in the image of God as male and female, we have failed to do everything God has called us to do (Gen. 1:27–28Matt. 19:4Lev. 18:5). We have failed to see all things as flowing from God and to him (James 1:16–18). We have fallen from God’s glory in all we say or do by failing to praise him as the cause and highest end of our very life (Rom. 3:23Ps. 119:169–76).

And yet, God in his great mercy and love sent his eternal Son to become a man (Gal. 4:4–7Heb. 2:14–18). He became the true human image of God that focuses our gaze back upon the living God as we look to him in faith (John 14:6–14Col. 1:15–20Heb. 1:1–4). In so doing, Christ has become the true image of God in his incarnation, life, and death.

The Hero Who Destroyed the Works of the Devil

Our romantic view of life has fooled us into thinking that we could fill all our needs with someone or something in this life. We look to things and people to satisfy an endless list of demands and desires. We want them to fulfill us, but they cannot. Jesus sees that we are enslaved to our desires and pleasures (Eph. 2:1–10). He breaks the control of the idols that have captured our hearts and brings us to true freedom and love that are only found in him (Micah 5:3Isa. 2:81 John 4:7–12). We desperately need God every day.

Although there is a time for therapy, something much deeper is at stake—our very ability to live. What secular cultures need are not more psychotropic drugs. No, they need nothing less than an all-embracing turn to God who will rescue them from their distress. Only the Lord can hear us where we have fallen because he is the only one who has fallen to a deeper point of distress on the cross. In so doing, he can save us to the uttermost.

Christ came with this singular purpose. He came to destroy the works of the devil and smash the idols we have put in his world. He has cast down the idols of our hands and hearts by dying for us on the cross. By dealing with sin's guilt, Jesus begins to deal with its power in our lives, gently lifting our eyes to the heavens from where our help comes (1 John 3:8Ps. 121). Jesus has reflected back to the Father the perfect obedience required of man, taking the curse we deserved for breaking this command (Matt. 5:48Heb. 10:6–7). He is the fulfillment of what humanity should have been, the true icon of God (Col. 1:15), reflecting and giving God the glory. And now the pleasure of the Father rests upon his children whom he has promised to conform to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:26–30).

Christ did not bow to any idols but fulfilled what it means to be the image of God and can, therefore, save us. He did not bow like Adam did before Satan’s lies but responded with the words of his Father (Matt. 4:1–11John 4:346:32–44). The love and beauty of the Father were greater than all the treasures this world could offer, and that is what Christ holds out to us. Through his faithfulness, God leads us from the idols of the heart to greener pastures where goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives (Ps. 23:1-6).

Our only hope is this free forgiveness and grace. Nothing less than God can bring restoration and redemption to such a culture of despair. Recognizing the evil of our sin with the beauty of grace is the greatest therapy and solace. We need absolution for our pent-up guilt as well as the power of love to restore our vision of life. We need forgiveness to live with ourselves once again. This is what we find in Jesus who took all our shame and guilt, clothing us with his love, meaning, and purpose—to give us back to God as holy and blameless before him.  

Photo of Timothy W. Massaro

Timothy W. Massaro

Timothy Massaro has written for Core Christianity, Modern Reformation, and other publications. He oversees the Christian Education ministry at Resurrection PCA in San Diego and serves as a hospice chaplain. He has an affinity for all things J.R.R. Tolkien (except the movies) and has interests in the intersections of philosophy and theology. His biggest prayer is that the gospel in all its beauty might re-kindle a wonder and joy of God’s goodness in our hearts and that our lives might adorn the gospel. Connect with Timothy on Twitter @word_water_wine.​

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