We’ve identified and confessed our idols. So it’s time to move on to step 3: replacing them.
But how does this happen? The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:22-24 “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (NIV).
Imagine with me the rugged, heroic treasure hunter. He’s finally reached the final room where the treasure is located. He sees it in the very center of the room, but it’s on a pressure switch. If he removes the treasure, the whole building collapses on him, destroying the treasure and burying him in a pile of rubble. So what does he do? He has to slide an object of equal weight and size onto the pressure plate at the exact moment he removes the treasure. In other words, he replaces one item with another.
This is similar, though a little less “Indiana Jones” to what Paul was talking about in Ephesians 4.
In our fight against our idols, we’re going to have to do some putting off and some putting on—and the putting off has to happen before the putting on. Like trying on a new set of pants, you’ve got to take the old stuff off before you put on the new stuff.
We use this same principle in the gym. If you’re going to be fit, you’re going to have to put off old habits and patterns of behavior. Let’s say your habit is that you LOVE to sleep in. I mean, you REALLY love it. So what happens if you simply stop sleeping in?
Nothing, really. Except that you have a little more free time in your day, which will likely be eaten up by activities like watching TV, going out for breakfast, or scrolling on social media.
Just because you stop doing one activity (excess sleeping) doesn’t mean you automatically get healthy. If you want to get fit, you’ve got to get up early AND go to the gym (or run, or lift, or swim, or…you get it).
So let’s look back to Ephesians 4 where we’re commanded to put off our old self and put on our new self. Your “new self” is actually a new creation, created to be like God. This is a brand new self. But you’ve got to put it on if you want to walk in it. And Paul is super practical, where he tells us to put off lying, and put on truth-telling. To put off stealing, and put on generosity. To put off unwholesome talk, and put on actively building people up with our words.
Your old self was dominated by idols. You’ve identified them, confessed them…they died. Your old self, as you put it off, with its attitudes and desires, is dead. Gone. You’re no longer defined by it. Now it’s time to put that new identity on.
So let’s go back to our idols. Maybe you struggle with pride: a “love of self.” Time to put on loving others. Put off that selfishness and serving yourself, and put your energy towards serving others.
Struggle with idolizing success? Talk about your failures more.
Dealing with an idol of relationships, asking for them to fill the deepest desires and longings of your heart? Try giving more than you take.
Uncover some greed? Maybe a hunger for more money, wealth, and “status”? Replace that with being extravagantly generous, ceasing to spend so much money on yourself but spending it on others.
Find yourself idolizing your body, health, and nutrition? Stop. But in its place, focus on Jesus. Put off focusing on and getting your identity in your body, and put on getting your identity in Christ. Take your mirrors down and delete your social media account. Then remind yourself of the truth: you were created in the image of God, and you’re loved regardless of how you look.
Start today by beginning to let go of the old attitudes, thought patterns, and images you’ve been living with. Then get ready to put on the new clothing God has for you.
But we’re not done yet. We’ve got some more work to do. We're going to wrap this up next week with a bonus episode that you won't want to miss. But until then, remember our process.
Identify the idol in your life. Why do you chase it, and what are you feeding it with?
Confess this to God, to others, and ask for accountability. Ask others to help you see these idols before they become an issue.
- Replace the idol, the habit, the value, with something that honors Jesus.
Fighting these idols alongside you!