October 23, 2009

Idols of the Heart and “Vanity Fair”

This insightful article by David Powlison discusses how the biblical concept of idolatry is relevant when counseling others, as well as for addressing our own problems. I highly recommend reading it. Here is an excerpt from the conclusion:

People are idolmakers, idol-buyers and idol-sellers. We wander through a busy town filled with other idol-makers, idolbuyers, and idol-sellers. We variously buy and sell, woo, agree, intimidate, manipulate, borrow, impose, attack, or flee. But there is a bigger Gospel. At the gates of Vanity Fair, Christian met a man who entreated him and his companion:

Let the Kingdom be always before you; and believe steadfastly concerning things that are invisible. Let nothing that is on this side of the other world get within you; and, above all, look well to your own hearts, and to the lusts thereof, for they are deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Set your faces like a flint; you have all power in heaven and earth on your side.

Christian passed through Vanity Fair bloodied but purer in heart. He remembered, amid hard combat with world, flesh, and Devil, the Celestial City which was his destination, and the Lord Jesus who beckoned him to life. The biblical Gospel delivers from both personal sin and situational tyrannies. The biblical notion of inner idolatries allows people to see their need for Christ as a merciful savior from large sins of both heart and behavior. The notion of socio-cultural-familial-ethnic idolatries allows people to see Christ as a powerful deliverer from false masters and false value systems which we tend to absorb automatically. Christ-ian counseling is counseling which exposes our motives—our hearts and our world—in such a way that the authentic Gospel is the only possible answer.

You can read the whole thing online here.

HT: Justin Taylor

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