[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne of the greatest challenges to finishing strong is idolatry. It is so important that John concluded his first letter with “Little children, keep yourself from idols…” (I John 5:21). In his book Keep Yourself From Idols, Bible teacher David Alsobrook defines idolatry by distinguishing between the active and passive participants of idol worship:
“Idolizer or idolater? An ‘idolizer’ is someone who has a particular idol but whose life is not wholly given to idols. Such a person whose life is full of idols is properly called an ‘idolater’ and has no inheritance in the kingdom of God.”
The idolizer makes a god out of things he or she cares about passionately and carelessly allows these perishable items to replace God in his heart. While the idolizer is passive, the idolater is active, and his or her life revolves round the false object of worship. He lives and walks in the tenacity of idol worship. Yet the Word makes clear that God hates idolatry with great passion and condemns it in every way (Psalm 97:7).
God seeks to reward righteousness, but many of us who have idols in our hearts deny Him the pleasure of doing so. If we will emulate King David in addressing this issue, God will reward us: “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness…For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God” (Psalm 18:20-21).
Walking in righteousness is not just a must–it should be a matter of life and death. We must choose to do the right things whatever happens. Jentezen Franklin notes on his blog: “Salvation is not just the position of righteousness you hold before God, but a condition of righteousness you live out before others every day.”
David, for example, did not depend on grace and mercy alone by presumption; he acted on God’s Word by forsaking impure thoughts that translate to impure works. He joyfully and victoriously declares: “I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God” (Psalm 18:21).
While I agree that we are bombarded daily by an avalanche of impure sights in our streets, offices, neighborhoods, and sometimes our churches, and while television and the Internet are the worst culprits, bringing evil images right into the confines of our homes, we must do everything to resist. We have no excuse if we fall—we have enough examples and warnings from men who’ve faced similar challenges and survived it. In Lamentations 3:51 we read the profound lament of a man assaulted by the barrage of evil in his city: “Mine eye affected mine heart because of all the daughters of my city.”
The lesson is that whatever we feed our eyes will touch our hearts. Job 31:1 instructs us to make a promise with our eyes: “I have made a covenant with mine eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?” Furthermore, Proverbs 4:23, 25-27 counsels us to guard our hearts with all diligence, ponder the paths of our feet, and let our eyes not wander away but look straight before us. If we are going to be revived and finish strong, we must treat the issue of the purity of our hearts seriously. Only pure vessels pray pure prayers, so “flee youthful lust” and keep yourself from idols.
Taiwo Ayeni is president of Rehoboth Bible Ministries, Inc., in Grand Prairie, where he lives with his wife Abidemi and their son and daughter. You may contact him at www.rehobothbministries.org.