My pastor made a great analogy in his message yesterday which I felt was worth sharing and unpacking a bit. He was talking about how God commanded the Israelites to drive out the people in the Promised Land before settling down there. The reason God gave this command was that the people who inhabited what would become Israel were idol worshippers; they lived promiscuous and evil lifestyles. God knew if these people were allowed to stay, they would tempt His people to abandon the laws of God and partake of their pagan lifestyle. God and evil cannot coexist in the same land. The analogy my pastor (Dave Mullins) made was that our hearts are like the Promised Land. When we invite Christ into our lives, we must drive out the idols in the land.
Flash forward a few thousand years. Not much has changed. We have not yet learned that God and idols cannot exist in the same realm. God gave everything He had, His only Son, for us. In return, if we would follow Him, He demands everything that we have. My experience is that most of us do not completely drive out the idols in our heart before settling down into our “Christian” lifestyle. Sure, we eradicate the more obvious and less painful idols, but we do not complete the job. History has repeatedly shown that ending a war before completely vanquishing the enemy results in an unending series of skirmishes from that point forward. Those that are left standing become a constant source of irritation and pain.
Apply this to your own life. After you accepted Christ, did you complete the assignment? Did you drive out all of the idols in your heart? Did you submit every last area of your life to Him? If you’re like most of us, you quit too soon and kept an area or two for yourself. It’s ironic how we can read the stories in the Bible and shake our heads at the stubbornness of those who disobeyed God. Surely if we had been there we would have made the right choice! Yet every day we are making the same bad choices of those who lived generations before us. We fall for the same tricks and suffer from the same pride and rebellion. It is pride, after all, that causes us to say in full arrogance that we are the exception; we can handle leaving a few idols whereas no one else in human history has been able to do so! It’s time to let go of our pride and do what God has commanded us to do. It’s time to drive all the idols from our hearts; no holding back.
It’s gut check time. Have you permitted idols to remain in your heart while claiming to be a disciple of Christ? Are there areas of your life that you have kept for yourself and refused to submit to him? You are not alone in your failure. Generation upon generation has failed in the same way. Here’s the good news about failure: as Zig Ziglar has said, failure is an event, not a person! Failure is merely an event on the road to victory. Events are temporary and fully recoverable. Failure need not define you. Restart the war and drive out all the idols that remain in your heart. Surrender your entire life again to Jesus, hold nothing back. Turn your failure into victory and begin to walk in the joy that is a life wholly devoted to Christ.