God mercifully gives us tools to help us but they are never a replacement
for Him and they are never the reason for any resulting success we see.
All are meant to draw us closer to Him.
I talk a lot about idolatry simply because I am so prone to it. I think in many ways we all are. I also think it's interesting that if you go to the root of every sin, you find an idol. Granted most of the time we find ourselves staring at our own reflection, but the fact remains, we have an idolatry problem.
Now, there is a concept in Bible study called The Principle of First Mention. Simply, it's the first time something is mentioned or said in the Bible and the surrounding context to help you understand the idea throughout the Bible. If you take into consideration that the first commandment is You shall have no other Gods before Me, you see that idolatry was of primary concern to God and that everything that follows after it is a form of idolatry. It's so interesting to me because we can so easily miss it. It's subtle because it's unbelievably deceptive.
If we use something to help us achieve a goal, we then tend to give credit to said object/item/person. By doing so, we have praised the created more than the Creator who is responsible for all results anyway. For example, any plan we follow for exercise or weight loss that gets the results we want, we tend to sing its praises. But, without the body God gave us to respond to said program, we wouldn't have had a lick of success.
Now, this is a concept that goes across everything. It could be the book we read that helped us build a business, increase our net worth, reduce our debt, etc. It could be the seminar that improved our relationships, our ability to cope, or the connection that got us a new job. We have the ability to idolize and romanticize anything.
In Deuteronomy 4, Moses warns us about the dangers of idolatry. Once God removes us from our personal Egypt's and takes us into the land we are meant to possess, he says, "Be careful not forget the covenant of the Lord your God that He made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden." Why? Because if we do, "if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing His anger......you will quickly perish from the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess."
Sounds harsh, I know. But just think for a moment. How many times have we had a great victory that we assumed would last forever only to find ourselves in a position worse than we originally started because we forgot what got us there in the first place? And what happens? We die (not literally, figuratively) in our sin as we fall deeper and deeper into a place we never wanted to return.
But the good news is, this is exactly why Jesus came: to save the sick and the lost. He knows and understands our state because He endured it, although without sin. He gets it more than we could ever know.
As Advent begins, my prayer is that we would not only seek to arrive on Christmas Day seeing that baby as the Savior of the world, but also as the Savior that came to save us from ourselves. Let's start this season with the joyful anticipation that He didn't come just to save us once, but continually, knowing that with each rescue we will draw closer to Him. And let's hold to the truth that He willingly helps because He understands not only our struggles but our hearts desire to be all God created us to be.