Acts 19:21-41 – How The Gospel Confronts Idols in People’s Lives

Both the message of the gospel and the lives of those who have believed the gospel confront sinners with their sin. The message necessarily confronts people with their sin, because if people are not sinners, they have no need for a Savior. A “gospel” that presents Jesus as the way to a happier life, but dodges the sin issue, is no gospel at all. The Bible plainly indicts us all: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). While some of us are better than others (when we compare ourselves with ourselves), none of us has perfectly obeyed God’s holy standards. By our thoughts, words, and deeds, we have repeatedly rebelled against Him as our rightful Lord. We have failed to love Him with our total being, as He rightly deserves. Before people can appreciate and respond to the good news, that Christ died for sinners and that He offers forgiveness and eternal life as a free gift, they must hear the bad news about their sin.

But not only the message of the gospel confronts sinners. Also the lives of those who have believed the gospel confront sinners. If everyone is in the dark, doing things that they know they shouldn’t be doing, and some guy walks in with a bright light, it exposes their evil deeds. If people who used to get drunk and sleep with the temple prostitutes suddenly stop doing that because they have trusted in Christ and repented of their sins, it threatens those who still do those things. They can no longer compare themselves with these people, because they make them look bad. So either they need to accuse them of hypocrisy or spread false rumors to discredit their behavior.

But you can engage in idolatry without statues. It is idolatry to be more devoted to your job and financial success than you are to God and His kingdom. Devotion to sensual pleasure through pornography or immorality is a form of idolatry. A pursuit that may be legitimate in balance, such as a hobby or a sport, can become an idol when a person devotes an inordinate amount of time and money to it. Sitting in front of a TV set for two hours or more every day, or playing computer games for hours, but not having time to spend with the living God and to serve Him, is idolatry.

Have we burned our idols and cut off our ties with our old life of sin? Surveys show that those who profess to be evangelical Christians watch the same amount of TV and the same TV shows as the population at large. What if all who profess to know Christ stopped watching the filthy TV shows and spent the time studying their Bibles? What if Christians refused to go to or rent questionable movies or videos? Would Hollywood feel the loss of business? What if Christian young people kept themselves morally pure until marriage? What if Christians who were married kept their marriage vows and worked through their problems rather than get divorced? (There is currently no difference in divorce statistics between Christians and the general public.) What if Christians stopped squandering their wealth on frivolous toys and luxurious living and started living and giving sacrificially toward world missions?

Would these things impact our culture? Would unbelievers begin to see the effects of the gospel in our lives and be convicted of their sins? Would the Way of Jesus Christ begin to cause no small disturbance in the United States? Let’s begin in [Tampa] and find out!

Steven Cole

Heart Preparation
Read Acts 19:21-41. Consider how the gospel confronts idols in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. What idols does the gospel reveal in your life? How can you use the gospel to shine light on the idols of those around you?

Posted on: February 27, 2014 - 10:00PM

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