(John Angell James, “Spiritual Idolatry”)
The first commandment of the decalogue says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” The meaning of this precept, which is the foundation of all religion, is not merely that we shall not acknowledge any other God besides Jehovah–but also that we shall treat Him as God! That is, we . . .
must love Him with all our hearts,
serve Him with all our lives, and
depend upon Him for our supreme felicity.
It is obvious that whatever we love most, and are most anxious to retain and please–whatever it is we depend most upon for happiness and help–whatever has most of our hearts–that is in effect, our God! It does not matter whether it is friends, possessions, desires–or our own selves!
These are the idols of the heart!
SELF is the great idol which is the rival of God, and which divides with Him the worship of the human race. It is surprising and affecting to think how much SELF enters into almost all we do. Besides the grosser form of self-righteousness, which leads many unconverted people actually to depend upon their own doings for acceptance with God; how much of . . .
there is in many converted ones!
How covertly do some seek their own praise in what they professedly do for God, and their fellow-creatures! They are eager for the admiration and applause of their fellow-creatures! How much of self, yet how little suspected by themselves–is seen by One who knows them better than they know themselves, at the bottom of their most splendid services, donations, and most costly sacrifices!
In how many ways does self steal away the heart from God! How subtle are its workings, how concealed its movements, yet how extensive is its influence. How SELF . . .
perverts our motives,
lowers our aims,
corrupts our affections, and
taints our best actions!
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols of the heart!” 1 John 5:21
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