How To Know When You Are "Loving The World, and the Things of the World ?"

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JimmyH

Puritan Board Junior
In the thread 'Study Bibles and Reading Bibles' found here Jonah has posted a topic (post 13) that I feel deserves a stand alone thread on this topic, which I see as "love not the world, nor the things of the world."

I am a big tool worshiper. I love kitchen knives, expensive screwdrivers and wrenches, wood planes (yes wood planes in particular!). And I never really even used my wood-planes anymore than for just very basic tasks, and in rather an amateurish way. I think this is idolatry, even as far as woodworking is considered - I put the plane before the woodwork. I also love books, and methods. I love charts a lot. And dictionaries. I have a beautiful Kind James Cambridge Bible, and I have special library pens that I can use on its thin dainty paper without defiling it. I even did it at one time quite extensively. Now there is nothing wrong with my planes, tools, bibles, pens, and methods. There is nothing wrong with asking around about the best programing language to start with, the best course on biblical Greek, the most scholarly and deeply reformed commentary on Micah. Boy do I love it! But just as well I am also quite bothered by it, and can't find a simple answer.
"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth."
I have thought of bringing up the topic, quoted in Jonah's post above, many times, because I wrestle with the distinction as well. The particular verse that convicts me is found in 1John 2:15-17 ;

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides for ever. (ESV)

I 'love' a lot of 'things'. Bicycles, firearms, straight razors and old pocket knives, books. Particularly Bibles with goatskin, or calfskin bindings and I have quite a few. Commentaries and collections of expository sermons. I peruse ebay and, though I'd never be so extravagant, I see people paying five and six hundred dollars for an Allan limited edition and wonder if that is not a form of idolatry ?

OTOH (on the other hand) at 65 years old I realize that I am only a custodian for these things.

Job 1:20-22 ; Naked came I out of my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I return thither:
the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.

I've spoken to more than one pastor on this topic and the explanation was that God has provided things for us to use and enjoy. When these things become more important than our love of God then idolatry is an issue. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
Jimmy,

I think that your post and accompanying questions are perceptive.

I agree with Calvin that our sinful minds/hearts are idol factories, so it's never a question of "whether" we have idols, it's only a question of "what" those idols are.

Part of our sinfulness is turning God's good gifts into something that they were not meant to be: things to be adored in the place of God. Only He is to receive our unqualified adoration. We must repent of giving that which belongs to Him alone to any other.

Here's where discernment comes in: because I can idolize my wife and children does not mean that I should get rid of them. Or not eat food because I may tend to idolize it. No, I need both to repent of my idolatry and endeavor to use rightly God's good gifts. Now in some cases, when I can dispense of things that ensnare me, perhaps that's what I need to do: not get so many tools, or fine leather Bibles, or whatever the case may be. I must seek to walk before the Lord in honesty and integrity with respect to every good and perfect gift that He gives me.

You are right to question this and to seek to walk in a way that rightly uses, and does not abuse, His good gifts. We'll fail in this and so we always walk in repentance, turning to God from our idols, to serve the living and true God. Thanks be to Him who helps us to see these things and enables us, more and more, to die to sin and live to righteousness.

Peace,
Alan
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
I've been convicted of something like this recently too. I decided to take a temporary fast from alcoholic beverages (with certain very specific exceptions) because I had found myself constantly looking for excuses to go to bars. I hadn't really thought of this as an idolatry issue until I started. Four weeks into it and I find that while sure, I enjoy the one day a week that I let myself have a beer, the fact is that the other days I'm not missing it. It's been freeing and enabled me to focus more in my prayer life.

Loving the good things that God gives is good, but only if one is enjoying them in a spirit of thankfulness. This fast that I've taken has allowed me to give thanks for beer, as silly as that may sound.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Junior
Jimmy,

I think that your post and accompanying questions are perceptive.

I agree with Calvin that our sinful minds/hearts are idol factories, so it's never a question of "whether" we have idols, it's only a question of "what" those idols are.

Part of our sinfulness is turning God's good gifts into something that they were not meant to be: things to be adored in the place of God. Only He is to receive our unqualified adoration. We must repent of giving that which belongs to Him alone to any other.

Here's where discernment comes in: because I can idolize my wife and children does not mean that I should get rid of them. Or not eat food because I may tend to idolize it. No, I need both to repent of my idolatry and endeavor to use rightly God's good gifts. Now in some cases, when I can dispense of things that ensnare me, perhaps that's what I need to do: not get so many tools, or fine leather Bibles, or whatever the case may be. I must seek to walk before the Lord in honesty and integrity with respect to every good and perfect gift that He gives me.

You are right to question this and to seek to walk in a way that rightly uses, and does not abuse, His good gifts. We'll fail in this and so we always walk in repentance, turning to God from our idols, to serve the living and true God. Thanks be to Him who helps us to see these things and enables us, more and more, to die to sin and live to righteousness.

Peace,
Alan
Thank you so much Reverend Strange. I understand your explanation and it gives me encouragement to know that I am not alone in this, but that all of us have to 'examine ourselves' and walk circumspectly.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I agree with Calvin that our sinful minds/hearts are idol factories, so it's never a question of "whether" we have idols, it's only a question of "what" those idols are.
It is imperative to start here. We will even make an idol of the hammer which smashes the idols. Without the fundamental biblical perspective which Calvin presents, all our attention and efforts will be nothing more than self-serving perfectionism.
 

Cymro

Puritan Board Junior
If we paid more attention to Paul's experience and thereby his counsel,
then a lot of our difficulties would be resolved. Does he not write in Gal6:14,
"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. "

As he filled his heart with the glory he saw in Christi's cross, it more and more
dissulluioned him of the value and offerings of this present evil world. And if given
the opportunity, the world in its antagonism to the cross would crucify him, as it
did his Master, so he would crucify the world and the lusts thereof. Never the twain
can meet or agree.
Therefore for my self, I try in my frailty to cling to "his cross", and seek to ponder and wonder
at the multi faceted glory that it speaks, and measure the offerings of the world and my own
deceitful heart in the splendour, the so great love and glory of that old rugged cross.
 

118min

Puritan Board Freshman
On a similar issue, I struggle constantly with quality vs idolatry. Should Christian Pianists aim to be the Mozart/Bach to the glory of God? I think so; but the motives of wanting to improve musically is very blurry. Is it that "God would be glorified" or that "I would be proud of my abilities." I don't think Noah looked at the Ark, or the builders looking at Solomon's Temple just ended the day in a stoic mindset. There was a satisfaction in a job well done, be it an Ark or a Building, or anything.

It seems the other alternative its to play the piano using only whole notes so that the intricacy of sixteenth notes would not be too impressive to bring attention to the pianist. When a man does a good job in his landscaping the grass, flowers, shrubs, mulch looks great, and a sense of satisfaction is gained; I don't think this sense of satisfaction is evil, and can in fact be a motivation to hard work, so long as it is subservient to glorify God and not glory in our landscaping, music, etc. Finally this would be like reading Owen with multiple spelling errors, syntax errors, and bibliography errors. Rather we want a well-structured sentence, paragraph, chapter, and book, with good content. It brings a satisfaction; however this does not mean we are idolizing the Ark, Temple, Bach Production, landscaping, or publication.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Todd, I think you be the best pianist you can be to the Glory of God. At the bottom of every one of Bach's manuscripts was the inscription SDG for soli Deo gloria.
 
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