Deliverance From Idols of the Heart
By Gary Amirault
Ezekiel 14:1 (NIV)"Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me.
2 Then the word of the LORD came to me:
3 Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?
4 Therefore speak to them and tell them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: When any Israelite sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling block before his face and then goes to a prophet, I the LORD will answer him myself in keeping with his great idolatry.
5 I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.'
6 Therefore say to the house of Israel, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!'"
When we study the Old Testament and follow the children of Israel's infatuation with idols, we usually think of the Golden Calf, Moloch, and the gods of the nations around Israel to which Israel always seemed to be drawn. When we think of Israel's idolatry, we usually think in terms of worshipping physical idols, sacred polls, shrines, etc., but Ezekiel is a book of the Old Covenant which opens up to us a higher level of understanding. Yahweh, through Ezekiel lets us know that Israel's problem is much deeper than worshipping physical idols, the idols which were stumbling the leadership were the idols in their own hearts. We find hints of this understanding throughout the commonly, but incorrectly referred to Old Testament. The story of Rachael give us a perfect picture of this problem which would plague the children of God throughout their journeying. She stole her fathers household gods. When her father Laban caught up with Jacob and accused him of stealing his gods, Jacob have Laban permission to search the camp. Laban entered his daughter Rachael's tent. "'Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is with me.' And he searched but did not find the household idols." (Gen. 31:35)
We find more idols hidden in God's children's tents in Joshua 7:7-26. When Israel was defeated in battle by the little city Ai, Joshua inquired of the Lord for the reason for the defeat. Yahweh informed Joshua that "Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff." The culprit was one single man Achan. His idolatry effected the entire nation. (Something to think about) Here is Achan's confession: "I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it." (Joshua 7:20,21) I am not going to spend any time on the great symbolism and spiritual reality in this passage of Scripture. I want to focus on the idols, false images we hide in the earth in our own tents. For those who will allow the "spirit of revelation" to open up these passages and many more like them, let us look into a couple of the false images we may perhaps be hiding in our own tent.
I will talk about a couple of them which the Holy Spirit exposed in my own tent recently. Our Father has been teaching me and also dealing with me about coverings, walls, barriers, divisions, denominations, and false images. Some of it is very deep and really quite awesome to look into. Some of it is quite humiliating. Below are a couple of examples of our Father's humbling process, a process which we must all go through some time or another.
I was walking our beagle around the lake recently. I have been trying to train it to walk without a lease. This hound's nose usually gets the better part of things and once it has a scent, well, good bye hound until it decides to come back.
In recent days, the dog has been doing quite well. But on this particular day things didn't work out quite right, at least not in the dog training department, or should I say, the "natural" dog training department. You see, my name, Gary, in Scottish, means, mastiff, a very large watchdog!
A new house was being built in the community. It had rained heavily the day before and the land was very muddy. I was distracted by conversation with a couple of neighbors about the new house. Some time into the conversation, I noticed the dog was missing. After a bit of yelling, the dog appeared from behind the new house covered with mud. "Great, I have to give this #@^* dog a bath when I get home." Yes, I was a bit upset.
A couple of blocks down the road, we came to a house whose owner was in her nice little garden planting flowers. This neighbor had a small dog which was usually tied up. Their lawn was nicely manicured. When my wife and I would go for walks around the lake on this road, when we came to this house, she would always make a fuss about not letting the dog do its doggy business on this neighbor's lawn. So, I gave the dog a command to stop and walk near me. She hesitated for a moment, gave me a big smile, and proceeded to ignore me while running to the lady of the house who was tending her pretty little garden. Of course, my dog enjoyed doing her doggy business on such a well-kept lawn. I called the dog (her name is Lacy named after two sisters in the Lord Linda and Grace who gave her to us) and after speaking the commands in a tone which meant I really mean business now, she finally responded.
When she came up to me, I grabbed her snout, pointed my finger to her nose, gave her a light pat on the side of her snout and said, "Bad dog!" We proceeded down the road. Then the Holy Spirit decided to shed some light on these two incidents. He dealt with me in thoughts, but I will express His thoughts in words so that we can communicate. He pointed out that the first incident, which got me mad, was really my fault. I was training the dog, I got distracted from my task by engaging in conversation with my neighbors. Although, I was going to have to give it a bath because it was dirty, if I had done my job properly as a trainer, the dog would not have gotten dirty. I blame-shifted my anger to the dog instead of accepting responsibility for my own actions. Then, He informed me, that if the neighbor had not been watching me correct the dog, I would have done much more than say "bad dog" and give a slight pat on the snout. He showed me that I was projecting an image to my neighbor which was not what was in my heart. I had more anger in my heart than what I manifested. My reason for not manifesting that anger was not because it was wrong to do so, but I didn't want my neighbor to think I was a dog abuser or something like that. So, I projected an image through my actions which was acceptable to her. Then the Holy Spirit showed me that my anger was not how God felt about the incidents. In other words, I saw three images in me, 1) the image (false idol) I projected to my neighbor to make her see me in a light which was false; 2) an angry person who really had no real reason to be angry at the dog; and 3) Christ in me, the true image in Whom there is no pretense, no shifting nor turning, Who always manifests His true nature. In this particular situation, Christ was hidden underneath two images which did not allow Him to manifest.
The next incident is a little more complex to expound upon. I am not sure I see the fullness of it all, but I want to share, at least the part I do understand. We get thousands of letters, E-mails, telephone calls from people all over the world. In some circles, Michelle and I have sort of "made a name for ourselves," that is to say, we are recognized by some believers as people who have insight into certain areas. Our names to some people carries some weight.
We have many people call or write us with words of encouragement or a testimony of what a particular tape or writing has done in their lives. We truly enjoy hearing about these victories. We love "praise reports." We also need to be encouraged by our brothers and sisters as well as admonished and counseled should that be in order. So communication with those who receive teachings from us is very important. It is very helpful to us and we encourage that kind of communication.
But the other day, I received a telephone call from an individual which left me disturbed. No, it wasn't a stone-throwing "you lying heretic" kind of a call, (although we have to face those kinds of calls and letters due to the message we deliver.) This person was very friendly, and lavished me with praise. But when I hung up the phone, laying on my bed, I felt unclean. I felt the conversation was worthless, a total waste of time. As I analyzed this person's words, I realized that she was "rubbing up against" my reputation. She was getting something from talking with one of the "leaders" of "realm" she thought I was in. She was not trying to receive from Christ within me. She was trying to get a false glory which comes from following men and women who have made names for themselves.
This is a power which makes many of the institutions of the world run. Both sides of this "fornication" receives something from it, but it is all death. Politicians often thrive on the "public opinion" polls. They will conform themselves to whatever the public wants. Politicians often mold themselves into an image which will command the majority of the vote. They may not, and usually aren't the image they created, but the false image is needed to win the election.
There are leaders who attract people to themselves because there is something real in them which attracts followers. Then there are leaders who have nothing in themselves but a lust for power who will mold themselves into whatever image is needed to gain that power. There are individuals in this world who will do almost anything to get people to admire them, praise them, or idolize them. The list of thing people will do for attention or "glory" is probably endless. We are all susceptible to the "glory which comes from man." There are those who want honor and glory which comes from being the top dog and there are those who derive glory from being in the "right camp," the "winning party," the "latest fad," the "right circle," the "right denomination," under the right "anointing," the "largest church" in town, the "longest established denomination," "the deepest revelation," etc. Neither those who lead, nor those who follow in these kinds of circle will ultimately get what they need. Ultimate they will devour one another, turn against each other. It is just a matter of time.
The lust of the leadership of people to command honor and respect is wrong. It is natural in the world. It should be natural in the body of Christ, but I fear there is very little difference between world leaders and church leaders in this respect. This should not be.
I sometimes wonder how many church leaders have been ordained by God to be in those positions as opposed to they pushing themselves into those positions. Equally, I wonder how many people are in the denominations and churches they are members of, due to reasons other than because God wants them there. Many people pick churches in the same manner they pick politicians, movie actors, neighborhoods, etc. I would not care to see how many people attend a church which is televised because they want to appear on TV. Or how many attend their particular church because they are allowed to sing in the choir and so be seen on stage. I think the list of all the wrong reason many people go to the church of their choice instead of where God would like to plant them is endless.
The lady that called me wanted to rub shoulders with someone she thought was a leader. That she was able to speak to me personally gave her some glory, but it was vain glory, the glory from man, which is really worthless. I know all about this vain glory. I have sought it myself. Whenever we find ourselves "name-dropping" we are using this vain glory. I certainly am guilty to that charge.
I don't know about you, but I want to be delivered from both the desire to draw people after myself and from joining institutions, even Christian ones, for unspiritual reasons. There are thousands of church leaders which should step down and there are millions of Christians sitting in churches in which they don't belong. May we all have more encounters like the one I had on my dog walk. We need our motives exposed to the Light and then be delivered from them.
I, personally have much to learn here. I don't quite know how to deal with this "false glory." If in a conversation with an individual, we discern this kind spirit, how do we handle it? We shouldn't offend an individual just for the same of offending. Yet we shouldn't allow this self-seeing spirit to govern the times we gather together. I honestly don't know how I should have handled that phone call. Let's pray.
Father please open our eyes to these false images we both project and bow down to. Help us to see the One and only true image which will deliver us from our vain worshipping and desire to be worshipped. Your Spirit has that power to go into those dark areas of our lives and manifest those things we would rather not look at. You Father have the power to free us from our own futile ways. Open our eyes of understanding Father and cause us to turn towards you, the only True God. Raise up, Oh Lord, leaders after your own heart and a people who will be lead in the ways of righteousness. Knit us together Father, into cities of refuge, places of safety and comfort to those weary of their journeying in this world. May your kingdom be established in our hearts and may our hearts be knit to others in your body in a way which will manifest your glory and not the glory of man. Father, put your hand upon my heart this day in a firmer way to conform me to the nature of your Son. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.