Turning from Idols to Find True Happiness in God

In the first chapters of Genesis, God had no competition for the affection of His creatures. Humanity found its meaning, purpose, and happiness in God. God was God; everything else wasn’t. And everyone knew it. The fall tragically changed that.

We turned from God, the one true source of happiness, to false gods of every imaginable description. False gods are anything we praise, celebrate, fixate on, and look to for help that’s not the true God. One term describes and unites them all—idols. To grasp a biblical theology of happiness, we must understand the nature and extent of our constant temptations toward idolatry.

Because we all sinned in Adam (see Rom. 5:12-14), we all became idolaters in Adam. Idolatry is woven into our very nature. John Calvin said, “The human heart is a factory of idols. Every one of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.”1

God created things as means to help us delight in Him. The problems start when we believe we can find more happiness in God’s creation than in God Himself. Those who seek happiness in false gods end up sacrificing their integrity, their families, their culture, and the very happiness they crave.

The Devil is incapable of creating, so he uses God’s good creation to tempt us, twisting it to his evil purposes. He never acts for our good, since he hates us just as he hates God, who made us in His likeness.

When we see the fulfillment of a desire as a gift and gratefully enjoy it for God’s glory, we find satisfying happiness. When we chase only the desire, we become miserable, enslaved to the very thing God intended as a gift. Idolatry isn’t just wrong; it also doesn’t work.

Those who argue over whether to use cheese or peanut butter in a mousetrap agree on one thing: the stronger the attraction, the better chance of catching the mouse. Every temptation uses false happiness as bait. A woman told me, “I left my family to find happiness. It didn’t last, and I sacrificed the greatest happiness I’d ever known.” In the name of momentary happiness, she made choices that brought her despair.

Satan always works this way. He’s been trapping and devouring people for millennia; he’s good at it. That’s why the Bible warns us to “be alert. … Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8, NIV).

John Piper says, “We all make a god out of what we take the most pleasure in.”2The one way to avoid idolatry is to take the most pleasure in the one true God. Once we recognize our idols, we must destroy them, exalting God alone. Only then can we know true and lasting happiness—the kind that all lesser pleasures are only shadows of. God calls each of us to demolish our idols and live our lives bringing glory to Him alone.

1. John Calvin, as quoted in Andy Park, The Worship Journey: A Quest of Heart, Mind, and Strength (Woodinville, WA: Augustus Ink Books, 2010), 40.

2. John Piper, “We Want You to Be a Christian Hedonist!” Desiring God [online], 31 August 2006 [cited 30 October 2015]. Available from the Internet:www.desiringgod.org.

by By Randy Alcorn 


The Cross: Symbol Of Forgiveness

Matthew 20:27-28

Have you ever wondered why God didn’t decide to save us without having His only Son die the gruesome death of crucifixion? Surely, you think, the Lord could do anything, right? Yes, He can do anything, but He cannot violate His own character.

God is holy. We know that all people have disobeyed His law and fellowship with Him has been broken. Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” From the beginning of time, He has required a penalty for disobedience to His commands. In fact, our sin actually deserves payment of our own life. (See Gen. 2:17; Ezek. 18:4; Rom. 6:23.)

However, because of our heavenly Father’s great love for us, He allowed another life to be offered as a substitutionary payment for our sin debt. In Old Testament times, people would sacrifice animals to atone for wrongdoing. However, this gracious provision was just a temporary solution. Jesus’ death was the final and permanent sacrifice for sin. Our loving Savior took that penalty upon Himself, dying in our place—the Son of God willingly became our sin and took the Father’s wrath upon Himself.

And then Jesus did something that we could not. Three days after dying, He rose from the grave. Jesus conquered death! We now have direct access to the heavenly Father through Christ’s death on the cross. Once we accept His free gift of full forgiveness, our entire sin debt is canceled.

There’s nothing you can do to make yourself right with God. But you can be forgiven of all your sin and receive eternal life by trusting in Christ’s death on your behalf.

Rejection at Home

“But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” (Mark 6:4)

A town will give great honor to a “hometown boy” if he makes good in athletics or the entertainment world. But if he becomes known as an influential Christian, the hometown folks usually are embarrassed about it.

Jesus Himself experienced this. He grew up in Nazareth, and it was there that He had “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). When He returned to Nazareth, however, after the early days of His ministry, “as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16). He was already recognized there as proficient in the Scriptures, and they had heard tales about His miracles, so the invitation to speak was natural, but there were certain mumbles. “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” they asked. “Whence then hath this man all these things?” (Matthew 13:55-56).

At first, “all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22). But then, as He applied a key prophecy to Himself and rebuked them for their unbelief, they “were filled with wrath” and tried unsuccessfully to slay Him (Luke 4:28-29). “Neither did his brethren believe in him” (John 7:5), and only His mother was with Him when He was crucified (John 19:25). As David had written prophetically, “I am become a stranger unto my brethren. . . . For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (Psalm 69:8-9).

Perhaps those Christians who have been rejected by their family and former friends can identify with Jesus when He said: “For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother” (Mark 3:35). We still have a family—an eternal one! HMM

Our Mental Image of God

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. —Ephesians 1:17

The gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move
toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.

Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, “What comes into your mind when you think about God?” we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the Church will stand tomorrow.

Lord, give Your Church and its leaders a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that we might indeed have an adequate appreciation of who You are. Amen.

Prayer for Anointing

It is time, O God, for Thee to work, for the enemy has entered into Thy pasture, and the sheep are torn and scattered. False shepherds abound who deny the danger and laugh at the perils which surround Thy flock.

Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me, anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering.

Help me to remember that I am a prophet—not a promoter, not a religious manager. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity.

Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer, where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world.

Teach me self-discipline, that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Rich in love

Count your blesssings
Oh! ye kind and affectionate hearts, who are not rich in wealth, but who are rich in love—and that is the world’s best wealth—put this golden coin among your silver ones, and it will sanctify them.

The love of Christ casts not out the love of relatives, but it sanctifies our loves, and makes them sweeter far. Remember the love of men and women is very sweet. Oh! to have the love of Christ! for his love is “strong as death and mightier than the grave.”

The most overpowering thought of all is that He loved us when there was nothing good in us whatever.