Matthew Hosier
'Who Am I?' Study Notes 1

Gospel Identity 1:
From Idolaters to Worshippers

The Bible tells us that our natural state is one of idolatry and gives many warnings about fleeing from it. We can fall into the trap of thinking we are not prone to idolatry because we don’t go to a temple to worship a statue, but unless we are worshipping the true God all humans make a god of something. Often these are things that are good in themselves, but it is not good when they become the thing our identity is bound up with.

Romans 1:21-23 "Although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things."

1 Corinthians 10:14 "My beloved, flee from idolatry."

Idolatry is ascribing ultimate worth to anything other than God. It’s when beauty, truth, meaning and love are found elsewhere. Chasing after created things rather than the Creator always leads to disappointment because idols always break the hearts of their worshippers.

The antidote to idolatry is the gospel!

Rather than make a god out of any created thing, the gospel calls us into a relationship with the Creator of all things. It is in him that we are to get our sense of identity and worth. Through the gospel we are set free to worship God with all our heart and with all that we have.

Scriptures to meditate on:

Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."

Mark 12:30 "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."

Romans 12:1 "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

1 Corinthians 10:31 "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

Colossians 3:17 "Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Case Study: The gospel and the stingy heart

Very often our money and possessions are what set themselves up as idols in our hearts, so let’s think about how the gospel is the antidote to this…

In 2 Corinthians 8 the apostle Paul gives instructions about how Christians are to give:

v7 "See that you excel in this act of grace (giving) also."

It’s offering time! How will Pastor Paul motivate the church?

v8 "I say this not as a command…"

Wow! Paul knows commands/law/human wisdom bend the heart temporarily, but it soon snaps back. Have you noticed that? A persuasive preacher might be able to bend us to obedience for a couple of days but by Wednesday the heart has snapped back. Another tactic might be to guilt us into giving, but Paul  doesn’t do that either, instead he draws us to the gospel:

v9 "For you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." 

Paul  is bringing the power of the gospel to bear on the heart, not to bend it temporarily, but to melt it into a brand new shape.

If you want to kill the idol of money and possessions and become lastingly generous then remember how The Rich One stepped aside from all that was His and into poverty, even to death on a cross, so that you might become ultimately rich. Let the generosity of the gospel melt your heart into a generous shape!

New Attitudes & Practices to Cultivate

Discuss together how you might increasingly move away from idolatry and towards worship:

·      Continuing to grow in loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

·      Delighting in surrendering your life and priorities to God by living in the light of his character.

·      Growing in your knowledge of God and His ways by regularly studying scripture.

·      Engaging in regular times of worship through prayers and songs with an attitude of joy and gratitude.

·      Giving God access to all your time, gifts, energy, and resources.

·      Regularly and sacrificially worshipping God with your finances.