When I meet with a client the first time, I try to gain as much insight as I can on the presenting issues in their life that led them to seek help. I also want to understand their background and I’ve seen an unsettling spirit of idolatry at work that isolates many from the fellowship of God’s people.
We often think of idols as man-made objects (and the Bible contains many references to these) but Paul reminds us that we can make a person an idol also!
“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.” (Galatians 4:8). “Enslaved to those” means we allow ourselves to come under someone in an ungodly way. When we truly know God, we should not be trapped in servitude to any idol! One of the definitions of idolatry listed in Dictionary.com is “excessive or blind adoration, reverence, devotion”. If that excessive focus is directed towards a person, then a spirit of idolatry can also enter.
How does a spirit of idolatry work to drive a person out of a church? I’ve seen this scenario many times and there is usually a common theme:
We put a man (or woman) of God upon a pedestal, the demonic realm works to knock them off that high place and then our faith gets shipwrecked for a season.
Many are active in an apparently vibrant church and they are there to serve the pastor as best they can. That sounds honorable and biblical, and it is a noble mission if done properly.
If the pastor runs off with the church secretary, loses his family and is expelled from the church, what is a healthy response to that scenario? What is an unhealthy response?
When a client confides that such an episode in their life resulted in isolation and withdrawal from church life, I feel saddened that the demons have scored a victory. If our faith in (and walk with) the Lord is sidetracked by such an event, then our focus has been misplaced, has it not?
Is it disheartening and traumatic when someone falls? Of course it is, but we are to keep our eyes on Jesus, for He alone, is the author and perfecter of our faith.
In the case of sexual failure of a leader, I’ve seen this scenario unfold with literally dozens of clients. The fleshly failings of their pastor became a turning point in their faith growing colder and ultimately isolating them at home or away from fellowship.
How sad is that?
Of course, a person is wounded when such trauma occurs but wounds should heal! If we have proper boundaries with our leaders and truly have our eyes on God, not the man of God, then most can navigate away and avoid disaster.
5 Steps to Counter a Spirit of Idolatry
If you are isolalated from God’s people because you’ve taken offense at the failings (real or perceived) of a pastor or leader, it’s time to do an about-face and get back on track. Here are 5 steps to take now:
- Repent before God for putting this person up on a pedestal and looking to him/her rather than Him for life and fulfillment. Receive his forgiveness.
- You must forgive the person who offended you! (Matthew 6:14)
- Commit to finding a Spirit-filled, Bible-believing, Word-preaching church and attend faithfully. You have your own walk with God, but healthy fellowship is vital also.
- Begin to pray for the leader who wounded you (Luke 6:27-28). That will begin to bring healing to your soul, unless there is a demonic stronghold that needs to get dealt with.
- If the pain does not subside, that may be an evidence of demonic strongholds at work and a spirit of idolatry may very well be one of the culprits! You must be set delivered from the spirits!
Demons are like roaring lions looking for those they can devour (1 Peter 5:8)) and those on the fringe or who get peeled away from the main herd are most vulnerable. If you have any doubt about that, watch some National Geographic shows and observe how lions hunt.
Be persistent! Visit churches and don’t give up until you find a healthy herd! You will find Jesus again in the midst of His sheep; it’s worth the effort.