And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”- Mark 10:17-31
When I was a kids, one of my favorite places to go was a video arcade called “Tilt”. I would always venture into the arcade whenever we would go to the mall and I would look around in awe of all the different arcade games, lit up with flashing lights, blaring sound effects and fast moving and colorful screens. After shooting some zombies or racing a formula 1 car I would receive a handful of tickets that the games would dispense. With my was of tickets I would head over to the back of the arcade and dump all my tickets into this large glass case. My little 10 year old face would be pressed against the case as I fogged up the glass looking at all of these little trinkets that I could purchase with my tickets.
After spending $10 or more in quarters, I would walk out of the arcade proudly holding a sticky hand that I could stick to everything in sight. By the time I arrived home, the sticky hand had already lost all of its “stick” and was back to the very same place I was earlier in the day, only now I had no money, a worthless no-so-sticky hand and a mother upset that I had spent all the money I had on the arcade instead of buying a pair of shoes, which is the reason I was sent to the mall in the first place.
You and I are the exact same naturally in our lives as I was in the arcade. We are amused and enchanted by the flashing lights of the world and all the pleasure it has to offer. We spend ourselves broke on 30 seconds of fun at a time, only ending up broke, and fishing through all of the “return coin” slots, praying that someone accidentally left a coin so that we could score one game of ski ball.
This passage in Mark 10 is mainly about idolatry and where we put our trust and our treasure. This nature of idolatry is illustrated by this rich young ruler. He didn’t want Jesus, he wanted eternal life.
Our hearts are naturally, by the nature of the fall of man, idol factories.
But WHAT IS AN IDOL?
Most time we think of a golden calf or wooden carving. But that’s not at the core what an idol is.
-an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.
-a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered.
“The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God” Idolatry is the umbrella over the 10 commandments and the Law. (Exodus 20 / Deuteronomy 5) I am the Lord your God, You shall have no idols before me, The Deceitfulness of Idols. The rich young ruler was deceived by his idol which was money. When offered eternal life and fellowship/discipleship with Jesus, chose his money. Why, because he loved his riches the Bible says. The problem with Idols is not as much about what the idol is, but about what place it has in our heart and in our affections.
The #1 Truth about Idols is:
1. Idols Promise Happiness
When you watch TV and see advertisements, there is one rule that all advertisers follow. If you are going to sell anything, you have to convince people they NEED what you are selling. Your life will be over if you don’t have this product. This is how Satan works in your life. The product he is selling is something that will make you happy.
Our flesh and the world promise happiness if we just get these things. “If I could just get married, I would be happy” “If I could just get this house, I would be happy” …Cigarette….Drink
She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.” With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him.- Proverbs 7:13-21
This is why we don’t build the church on consumerism and hype. It’s an empty promise of joy in the worship style / programs / charismatic pastor and not in the word of God. It’s easy to get people into the church when you appeal to the idolatrous heart.
2. Idols Never Deliver
“An idol is like an itch you just can’t scratch”. The pleasure that Idols promise always seems to be just out of reach. This is why our spiral of sin without Christ will always grow in magnitude, we think more will satisfy. It’s like drinking salt water, it only leaves us more thirsty.
-Food (Need more or more/elegant food)
-Pornography/Fornication (Seek more debaste material or more relationships)
-Cigarettes/Alcohol (More packs per day)
The big question is why?
Because an idolatry seeks pleasure/joy that only God can give, in something other than God. Video arcades are a blast, but I can seek the pleasure of getting married and having children from an arcade game, why? Because God created family to be much more fulfilling than playing a game. The problem is when we look to something to get the same joy that only God can give, that’s idolatry. Seeking the created thing more than the creator.
3. Idols Leave Us Empty
The statistics of people who win the lottery and end up broke, depressed or dead are astonishing. About 70% go broke within a few years. Why? Because they think spending money will fulfill their joy and happiness but find out it ends up leaving them empty. If you want to really know if a person has an idol, is follow to their wallet. Where we spend our money is a great indicator of your treasure. You can’t say,
“Well I love God, I just don’t give to him.”
“I love my family, I just don’t provide for them”
Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.- Mark 10:22
This young ruler probably had anything he could think of. Extravagant food, friends, influence and possessions, yet he still came to Jesus looking for something he didn’t have, which was eternal life. After being told by Jesus that the path to his eternal life was to part with his riches, the man still cannot part with his riches, why, because he loved them and still thought that one day they would make him happy.
Do you ever feel empty in your life? Every day is mundane, no joy, just going through the motions of life. You enjoy the pleasure of different things but still aren’t joyful or fulfilled? You might have an idol.
Here is the fantastic news. Jesus can satisfy our soul and spirit in every way that idols never could.
When we have the promise of the joy that is in Christ, we have instant access to joy. That’s one of the greatest ways to tell if a Christian is really a Christian, do they have real fulfilling a Joy.
4. Jesus Promises Joy
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
5. Jesus Always Delivers
6. Jesus Keeps Us Filled
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.“- John 4:13-14
Maybe you have an idol this morning that the Lord has been speaking to you about. Something that nobody can touch without fear of your wrath. Confess it to the Lord. He is faithful to forgive us no matter what counterfeit joy has crept into our hearts.
If you have lost your joy or maybe have never truly had joy and put your faith in Christ, If that’s you I want to invite you to pray and put your treasure in him this morning. Make today the day that you committed your whole life to the Lord. Ready to give all your burdens, troubles and pain to Him, and Receive the joy that God created you to have.