How Do You Know Something Is An Idol? - Ep. 4

Now that we’ve defined and identified some idols, let’s look deeper into what waging war against them looks like.

Check this out, in Romans 12:1-2.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

In our fight against idols (remember: an idol is just something you worship, meaning it's something you give your allegiance to) what does it say here? "Do not conform to the pattern of this world.” This world is developing a pattern within you, driving you to seek joy, satisfaction, and identity in the idol that’s captured your attention.

If you want to have lasting change in your life, you need to refocus your mind.

Specifically, you need to change your thought patterns away from what you shouldn’t focus on and toward what you should focus on. I know, I know. It sounds simple and intuitive. But whatever you focus on is what you move toward.

I see this in my kids all of the time. They start thinking about something: a new video game, a new movie, riding their bike. Suddenly, that dominates their world. They create an idol out of it.

A buddy of mine just got into Crossfit, and now that's all he talks about. Which tells me that's all he thinks about. Because what we talk about is what we’ve thought about. Crossfit occupies the space in his mind when he thinks about the workout of the day, the upcoming workout tomorrow, how he's going to recover, and what the next competition will look like.

None of what he's doing is evil. 

But like we continue to say throughout this season, most of our idols aren't evil. They're simply distractions.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” That’s the blueprint you need in order to change your thought patterns. Let’s look at each part:

    • “Do not conform.” How often do you let other people, their words, habits, and values shape your life? It's easy to conform, isn't it? To become like the people we're around? Jim Rohn says that we're the financial product of the 5 people closest to us. He isn't saying that this morally good or morally evil. He's just pointing out a truth about life. It's easy to conform. And we're commanded here: don’t.  So what should we not conform to?

    • “The pattern of this world.” The pattern is the model, the rhythm, and the movement of everything in this world. So if you want to change, you've got to march to the beat of a different drummer. We're a culture that loves to become obsessed. "Oh, not me” you say? When was the last time you binged a show? There's a pattern in this world that's vying for our attention. If you want to change, if you want to not be dominated by these idols, you have to change your pattern, or model of living, that you learned in your life, and that culture is teaching you actively and passively. We’re driven to what our culture values: success, money, physical beauty, and obtaining more “stuff."
  • “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Do you know what that word “transformed” means? It's the word we use for the exact same process a caterpillar goes through when they change from being a moth to becoming a butterfly. So God doesn't just want to do a little behavior modification. He wants to completely transform you into a new person. And that transformation begins in your mind. 
  • This is how lasting change happens. It doesn't happen by simply saying, "Ok, I'm not going to focus on that idol anymore." That works almost as well as when you're playing golf, and you're on the final tee box, there's a water hazard in front of you, and your buddy says,  "Hey, don't even worry about THAT WATER RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU.”At that point, what do you see? That's right. Just the water. 

    To try to say, "Ok, I'm just not going to think about my idol anymore," doesn't work. You've got to break the patterns of this world. Allow God to transform you, to change the way you think, to change the habits of how you think, to change the inputs that shape how you think. 

    Our lives are like a TV, projecting our thoughts and beliefs to the world. I just got a new TV the other day and had to hook up all of the cables in the back. Does the TV innately produce a show? Nope. It produces the result of what it's attached to, through the cables, and the inputs it’s getting the signal from. It's broadcasting a signal that comes through these wires.

    And so do we. We broadcast a signal.  To just say, "Well, I'll just change channels" isn't good enough. You need new inputs. You need a whole new cable box to beat these idols.

    You need Jesus to break the chains of the patterns of this world that dominate your mind.

    But we’re not done yet. We’ve got some more work to do. But until then, remember our process.

    1. Identify the idol in your life. Why do you chase it, and what are you feeding it with?

    2. Confess this to God, to others, and ask for accountability.  Ask others to help you see these idols before they become an issue.

    3. Replace the idol, the habit, the value, with something that honors Jesus.


    Pastor Ben Reed
    Ben Reed is a Pastor at Mission Community Church just outside of Phoenix, AZ. He and his wife have three kids. He is the author of the book, Starting Small, and blogs at Ben is also a runner, a Cross-fitter, and an avid coffee drinker.

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