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Choosing Faith Over False Idols: The Fine Line Between Religion and Trust

"So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved."

Isaiah 41:7 in the KJV translation

Anything that requires my efforts to build or protect my sense of rest and security is trusting in an idol instead of the "Everlasting God." Along these same lines, any trusting in MY OWN EFFORTS in serving and following God as a means of preserving my peace and security is also idolatry because my trust is resting in my own abilities and not God's. This is the crossroad for those who would choose to follow the way of religion or the way of trust.

The way of religion is the way we measure our works in order to earn favor with God and others. The way of trust leads towards the way of resting in the One whose nature towards me never changes - LOVE! That is where my rest is anchored. God's love for me has nothing to do with my efforts! The WORK THAT I DO in serving and following God then, becomes a means not to gain and maintain security and peace in my life, but to simply worship and honor the one who deserves my complete trust and adoration.

This leads to a question of motive - "Why am I doing this?" I am of the opinion that we can not fully understand our true motives until we are tested by adversity and setbacks. Within our efforts at attempting things for God (or when we strive in "everything we do doing it as unto the Lord"), we often fall short or lack the results we desire. When this happens we may suffer an infestation of doubt and fear - fear of what others might think or how we might appear to them. At this we may rightly question whether our TRUE INTENTIONS were to glorify God or to build favor with those who see our works.

When my heart and mind are fully resting in God's love towards me, then all my attempts at accomplishing things FOR God become an act of worship whether or not they fail or succeed. My failures and setbacks may rightly indicate the need to tweak the direction that God may be leading, but they should never be the factors that stabilize my peace and security.

In a state of wholehearted trust in God...

Craig Groeshel says that "my setbacks become setups" for the power of God to be revealed.

In the Old Testament, a well-known tale unravels, featuring Joseph, a remarkable young man destined to save his family and the entire nation of Israel from imminent starvation. Yet, before the climactic moment that brought about this remarkable achievement, Joseph faced numerous setbacks that would have crushed the spirits of many, leading them to surrender all hope. However, Joseph, in his remarkable resilience, clung steadfastly to a broader perspective, remaining inspired to share his vision with his brothers, the very ones who had cast him into the depths of slavery.

"‭‭You intended to harm me, BUT GOD intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis‬ ‭50:20‬ ‭NIV‬

Joseph's peace was anchored in the goodness of God's sovereign plan. This perspective was rooted in the notion that God is always aware and in control of one's circumstances - even though at times our circumstances are not very favorable, yet God never waste our suffering but uses it to accomplish his greater purposes!


As we seek to find our peace and security in God's sovereign plan instead of relying on our own efforts, we will find that trusting in the saving power of Jesus Christ brings us the most ultimate fulfillment. Our setbacks become part of His setup for blessing, and trusting wholly in Him becomes a way of life instead of spiritual idolatry. If you seek God earnestly with an open heart, He will reward you with a sense of completion that can only be found through Him. This doesn't mean our lives are free or perfect from struggle, but it does ensure His peace within us when stormy times come our way. As Christian believers, let us always strive for holiness while remaining mindful that it is only by putting our trust in God that we can truly experience His fullness and beauty throughout each passing day.

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John Silvius
John Silvius
Dec 17, 2023

Thank you, Pastor Steve, for your insights on idolatry. I am thankful that we have the example of Christ who gave "up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity by assuming the form of a bond-servant" (Philippians 2: 7 Amplified Bible). As a result of his life-changing encounter with Christ, the Apostle Paul became an example of how great "setbacks" became "setups" for honoring Christ and not himself. Paul testified, "But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6: 14)."

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