ImageToo often worldly ideas get circulated by popular preachers from the pulpits of many of today’s churches.  Sadly, once these ideas are shared enough times, they soon become accepted teachings and few people stop to check them out from God’s Word. One such teaching today is a popular psychological philosophy many call “Idols of the Heart”.

Over the last several years “Idols of the Heart” has grown to become a mainstream psychological idea within many Christian communities and is claimed by its adherents to be biblical in approach and doctrine.  Unfortunately it is at best humanistic, centering itself on the flesh, not the Spirit. In general, the philosophy teaches that the sinful human heart desires to worship self, constructing idols from early on in life. Once becoming a Christian, the teaching goes, we must explore our hearts to examine, expose, and eradicate any and all idols.

Four general problems with this psychology:

  • First, in order to locate them, we are told that we must sit down with “professionals” to talk about all the things that have gone on in our lives in hopes of exposing these idols. This “talking” often times falls under gossip and tends to be self-focused and problem-centered, not Christ-centered.
  • Secondly, even if idols are discovered, the question will always remain, when do we know if all our idols have been exposed?  We could spend a lifetime examining our old hearts and still not be sure we’ve gotten rid of them all.
  • Next, if there are idols in our hearts, they would have been constructed by the old, unregenerate man.  So in order to find them, we are forced to peruse the old man, not the new man, born again by the Spirit of God.  Instead of digging through the old flesh, Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ…[putting] on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.” Colossians 2:11; 3:10. (Emphasis mine.)
  • Finally, perhaps the most deceptive part is while attempting to grow in the Spirit, one is actually only able to prop up the fleshly, old man and all if its self-focused desires.  In this process we very well may believe we are overcoming sin by the power of the Spirit, when in actuality we are simply bringing attention and satisfaction to the old man.  In doing so, this often leads to confusion and even deception for the one practicing such methods.

Below are several exerpts from a recent article written by Martin and Deidre Bobgan which serve as a further biblical response.

THE IDOLATROUS HEART

“The self focus of introspection that comes with counseling that stresses insight into one’s idolatrous heart can actually strengthen the flesh as it becomes self-centered rather than Christ-centered.  An emphasis on the idolatrous heart also poses a danger of too much self-centered introspection, which can lead to despair on the one hand and prideful self-righteousness on the other.

One may become stuck in trying to fix the flesh, which must be put off.  Therefore the idolatrous heart should not be the primary emphasis in the spiritual ministry of soul care.  Any attention given to the idolatrous heart is only useful as a means of teaching the doctrine of human depravity and identifying when one is living according to the old nature. But one can come to the same conclusion by reading the Word and then paying attention to one’s thoughts and behavior in relation to what God has said.  When the Bible calls for self-examination, the purpose is to discover whether one is in the faith and walking according to the new life in Christ (1 Cor. 11:28; 2 Cor. 13:5).  Spiritual growth comes by focusing on Christ, His very Person, His life, and all He has accomplished for the believer and continues to accomplish at the right hand of the Father.

While many in the Biblical Counseling Movement may indeed intend to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28), because of their problem-centeredness, they grievously fall into another form of idolatry: sinful conversations as a means to a better marriage, a better life, and a more satisfied self.

Why Christians who have been born again by the Holy Spirit, given new life in Christ, and have the very Word of God at their finger tips subject themselves to such sin-centered activities escapes reason.  However, one possible reason is that they are walking according to the flesh and attempting to have their lives fixed by someone else instead of through following the Lord Jesus Himself.

One does not need to seek the specific motivation for every sin, but recognize that whenever one sins one is walking according to the flesh with its deceitful heart.  This involves recognition of sin (not analysis), repentance (1 John 1:9) , and walking again according to the indwelling Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16), which involves trusting and obeying Christ.  Throughout the ages the Holy Spirit used the Word of God directly and through sound preaching and teaching to convict the sinner and the sinning saint, to show the way of life, and to enable the believer to live by that new life. The Christian life is one of grace and hope because all is given by God, including the [power] to trust and obey.”

See: http://psychoheresy-aware.org/powlison_cure_3.html for the full article.

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