Satan is the master of the bait and switch. It is the old game where someone is led to believe they will receive one thing, usually good, and they receive another usually bad. A good recent example is where a young lady thought she had won a Toyota car. However, when she went to get her prize she found that she had won a toy Yoda doll instead. Satan loves to do this. He promises us something great and tells us pursue it. We believe him and run after what he has promised. But right at the end he switches the prize. A good example is Adam and Eve. Satan made them believe that glory waited if they just ate the fruit. Eat this fruit and you will be like God. But what they got was death, alienation from God, alienation from one another, a dead son, and getting kicked out of the garden.
Ezekiel 23 gives a terrifying picture of this exact thing. Israel longs for help from the nations surrounding her. Instead of trusting in God, she listens to Satan and runs to Assyria for aid. Ezekiel says, “She lusted for her lovers, the neighboring Assyrians” (vs. 5, 12). Like a young woman longing for the arms of a coworker instead of her husband, Israel looked upon the glory of Assyria and Babylon, all her mighty captains, all her great warriors, all her great power and she left her husband, the Lord, and slept with Assyria and Babylon. However, this did not bring her the satisfaction or deliverance she expected. Like the young man addicted to pornography, she found herself destroyed by the very thing she lusted for. Ezekiel says that Assyria slew Israel by the sword (vs. 10) and that God sent those nations that she lusted after to deal furiously with her, take her children, and strip her naked (vs. 25-26). Like Adam and Eve in the garden Israel expected to find glory and deliverance, but instead they found death. So is the end of all who trust in idols. The idols promise bread, but in the end give us stones.
The point of this is that we must kill our idols or they will kill us. Nothing outside of Christ will bring peace, satisfaction or deliverance. Just like Israel, we love setting up idols, things we lust after that we think will satisfy us. These idols can be another man or woman, a new job, more money, more power, more time, control over other people, a bigger church, children that are holier than anyone else’s, a better education, a better sex life, better friends, a new president, a new congress, etc. etc. etc. The list never ends. However, these things will not fill us. We will not be delivered or satisfied if we get those things. They are cracked pots that hold no water. If we pursue them in an ungodly fashion, if we slowly begin to long for them instead of longing for Christ, then we are headed for nakedness and the sword. The idols will not show us mercy.
How do we kill our idols? We bring them to Christ. We seek his mercy. We confess our adultery with the world. We confess our sins. Then we believe that he forgives. And we believe that by His Spirit and His Word he will slay our idols. Only when Christ cuts off the heads of idols can we have true life. The idols promise life but give us only death. Christ promises that if we die and our idols with us then and only then can we have life eternal.
What happens to our friends, jobs, marriages, sex, churches, money, reputation, etc. when we stop making them idols? What happens to these things when Christ slays them with the sword of his mouth? They become what they truly are: gifts of grace given to us by Christ to enjoy and to use to build his Kingdom. If we put them under Christ they become a joy and we find the right kind of fulfillment in them. If we put them in place of Christ or beside Christ or on the throne with Christ they become beasts that devour us. We must slay our idols or they will slay us.