The Gospel’s Victory Over Idolatry [Part 1]

By Alan Wright — February 01, 2019

Are you ready for some good news?

The Gospel upends our idols, setting us free from the tyranny of shame and releasing us into joy and peace.

Today’s Text: “… every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them.” (Jeremiah 10:14, ESV)

We’re starting a new radio series today that is unspeakably important because it addresses the chief complaint against the message of grace. The primary critique against the message of radical grace is that it “gives a license to sin.” Never mind the fact that people are sinning quite ably without a license—the concern should be addressed. And there’s no better place to start than the subject of idolatry.

Years ago when I was learning and writing about shame, I became intrigued by a strange statement from a prophet: “… every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols….”

It’s an intriguing statement, riddled with irony, because the point of most of Jeremiah 10 is the impotence of idols. If idols are powerless, how can they have the force to shame us? If they have “no breath in them,” what voice do they have to condemn us?

It only makes sense when you consider the nature of an idol. The idolater makes the idol and then bows down to it. For example, I once served the idol of “approval.” I wanted others’ approval and felt overwrought without it. My idol called “approval” would shame me if I didn’t get the affirmation I longed for. “Ha,” the idol would mock, “even though you tried your best, it obviously wasn’t good enough. You didn’t receive approval from everyone. You should be ashamed of yourself.”  That’s how an idol shames you. It promises you life and happiness but instead of ever granting you bliss, shames you wickedly when you don’t get the idolatrous longing.

My soul fell into a dark deception: “In order to have peace, you need to work harder to gain approval.” In fact, the only way to ever be free from the misery of facing disapproval is to not need approval. In other words, peace was elusive until I destroyed the idol that I had made.

The way to freedom from approval addiction is the joyous revelation of total acceptance in Christ. Finding myself accepted in the Beloved grants me freedom from the idol of approval. Grace sets you free from idolatry. And that’s the Gospel!

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