No rival thrones

We have been learning the importance of seeing our sins the way God sees them.  No one naturally wants to see their sin God’s way. 

One morning after hitting the snooze button one too many times I barely made it out the door in time to get to work.  By this point in my Christian walk I was really trying to establish a time each morning to meet with the Lord in prayer and Bible study.  But when I raised up out of bed I did what I always did: reached for the can of Copenhagen (smokeless tobacco) and put a large pinch between my cheek and gums.  By the time I got to the bathroom to shave I could already feel the initial rush from the strong tobacco.  

This particular morning I rushed out the door without coffee or breakfast…or prayer and Bible study.  As I pulled out of the driveway I suddenly had a flow of thoughts…that were obviously God-directed.  “You didn’t have time to meet with Me this morning, did you?”  To which I thought, “No, Lord.  Forgive me.  I need to get in bed earlier tonight.”  

The next thought came in like a surgeon’s scalpel: “You had time for your tobacco god, though, didn’t you?” I was stunned by those thoughts.  Tobacco god?  I immediately had confirming thoughts enter my mind mind, like, “Thou shall have no other gods before Me.”  “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength.”  (Many times when God speaks to you, there will be immediate confirmation as the Holy Spirit brings to mind specific verses of Scripture that support the thoughts.) The thoughts continued to come in, “When I ask you to get up and pray, you sometimes do and sometimes don’t.  But when your tobacco god calls upon you, you always respond.  Even late at night or early in the morning.  You have another god in your life.  And that god has more control of you than I do.”What do you say when that happens?  Do you make shallow promises like you’ve always done in the past?  Like, “Oh, sorry about that God.  I’m going to try even harder this time.”  No, you don’t.  When the sword of the Spirit comes in and lays open your heart and thoughts, you simply yield.

My eyes actually teared up.  I said, “Lord, I’m ashamed.  I never saw this habit as a rival god in my life.  But it’s true. I’m an idolater.  I’ve given tobacco a greater place in my life than You.  This is really sick.  It’s ugly.  It’s sin.  And I’ve called it everything but sin.  Forgive me, Lord.  I hate this.  Deliver me from this God-mocking idolatry.  Please take full control of my life.  I don’t know how to be any different.  You’ll have to do something I can’t do on this one.”

This tobacco story might seem like an “insignificant” sin to you.  And in reality, you might be able to use tobacco without it being a sin issue for you.  But God didn’t allow me to continue in the slavery of addiction to it.

The problem with many of the rival thrones in our hearts is that we’ve called them “insignificant”.  But if it’s an idol it’s sin.  And if it’s sin then it was one of the reasons Jesus was nailed to a cross for you.  He died and rose again so that you could be freed from every false god and every besetting sin.

I never touched tobacco again.  I knew I was free that morning.  It wasn’t with gritted teeth and will-power that I escaped from this snare.  God “granted” repentance to me, and it brought a powerful deliverance.  I saw my tobacco “problem” from God’s perspective.  God spoke to me.  His Word pierced through the layers of sin-protecting deception in my heart.  He called it idolatry: a false god that I worshiped. 

Later I learned that the Greek word for “confess” (as in “confess your sin”) is homologeo.  “Homo” means “the same”, and “logeo” means “to say”.  We have not really “confessed” our sins until we “say the same” as God and His Word says about it.  

That morning I called it what God called it and a powerful thing happened.  I was instantly set free.  It’s been 22 years since that vain idol was removed from my heart.  Do all sinful strongholds disappear so instantly when God speaks?  No.  Sometimes the freedom requires a season of serious obedience and even the added help of accountability from others.   But one thing is for sure: you’ve got to get God’s word on the sin issue.  Until you see it from His perspective, you’ll lack His power in dealing with it.

Why don’t you pause right now and ask God to give you His perspective on any chronic sin issue you are struggling with?  One word from God can radically alter the rest of your life.

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