I ran into one of those very helpful verses today – that will now replace another very helpful verse:
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12
I’ve tried to live by the notion that when something feels addictive to me, there’s a good chance I shouldn’t do it. There’s some idol controlling me, some underlying sin.
Usually, I based my decision to refrain from addictive behaviors on Ephesians 5:18, which says:
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…
I figured that nothing – including wine – should take control of me. Only the Holy Spirit.
But 1 Corinthians 6:12 has wider application – it’s not limited to the control of wine (which I extended to other things), but to anything that dominates.
We become addicted when we serve idols. Since false gods aren’t real and can’t respond, the answers we think we get from them are intermittent. And intermittent reinforcement results in addictive behaviors.
We try harder and harder to get the idol to respond, hoping it will answer us one day. I blogged about how that happened to the Baal worshipers here.
So, when something dominates me, I can be relatively sure that idolatry lurks beneath. I’ve experienced some dominating thoughts/drives lately.
Maybe it’s time to do an idol inventory!
Tim Keller put together a list of potential idols and questions to help us get beneath them. Ask yourself (and I’ll ask myself) when I feel “Life only has meaning/I only have worth if…”:
- I have power and influence over others.” (Power Idolatry)
- I am loved and respected by _____.” (Approval Idolatry)
- I have this kind of pleasure experience, a particular quality of life.” (Comfort idolatry)
- I am able to get mastery over my life in the area of _____.” (Control idolatry)
- people are dependent on me and need me.” (Helping Idolatry)
- someone is there to protect me and keep me safe.” (Dependence idolatry)
- I am completely free from obligations or responsibilities to take care of someone.” (Independence idolatry)
- I am highly productive and getting a lot done.” (Work idolatry)
- I am being recognized for my accomplishments, and I am excelling in my work.” (Achievement idolatry)
- I have a certain level of wealth, financial freedom, and very nice possessions.” (Materialism idolatry)
- I am adhering to my religion’s moral codes and accomplished in its activities.” (Religion idolatry)
- This one person is in my life and happy to be there, and/or happy with me.” (Individual person idolatry)
- I feel I am totally independent of organized religion and am living by a self-made morality.” (Irreligion idolatry)
- My race and culture is ascendant and recognized as superior.” (Racial/cultural idolatry)
- A particular social grouping or professional grouping or other group lets me in.” (Inner ring idolatry)
- My children and/or my parents are happy and happy with me.” (Family idolatry)
- Mr. or Ms. “Right” is in love with me.” (Relationship Idolatry)
- I am hurting, in a problem; only then do I feel worthy of love or able to deal with guilt.” (Suffering idolatry)
- my political or social cause is making progress and ascending in influence or power.” (Ideology idolatry)
- I have a particular kind of look or body image.” (Image idolatry)
(I found that list on this blog)
So, I see about four categories wherein I am an idol worshiper. Ouch. Gotta work on that! I hate being dominated!
Dear Lord: Help free me from dominating patterns and the idol worship that lies beneath. Amen.