The Walk Applied is a comprehensive Biblical model
that is applicable for counseling,
discipleship. mentoring, teaching, etc.
We make our legitimate
human needs our idols
We began our discussion of the the Fall and how it had obvious significant consequences for us. Not the least of these consequences was that our sinful flesh was revealed. We first discussed the Rebellion Idolatry System, which has 6 belief idols. We now turn our attention to the belief idols of the Need Idolatry system, whereby we contend that Genesis implies six fundamental human needs: Purpose, Provision, Home, Intimacy and Acceptance, Knowledge and Identity.
PURPOSE (GEN 1:27- 28)
BE FRUITFUL, SUBDUE & RULE THE EARTH, TEND THE GARDEN
FALSE PURPOSE & MISSION BELIEF: I’M FREE TO BELIEVE WHATEVER I LIKE. THERE IS NO GOD, SO I’M NOT ACCOUNTABLE TO ANYONE. THUS, MY PURPOSE AND MISSION ARE WHATEVER I WANT IT TO BE, IF I EVEN WANT TO HAVE ONE.” IF MY PURPOSE IS MORE “NOBLE” THAN YOURS, OR IF I ACHIEVE MORE THAN YOU DO, I CAN JUDGE YOU
Adam and Eve were to rule over the other living creatures, subdue the earth, and work the garden (Gen 1:27-28). Purpose idolatry occurs when we see our reason for being anything other than our purpose in Christ. It is very common to observe this type of idolatry in the modern day. The root of the purpose idol is I’m free to believe whatever I like. Since there is no God, so I’m not accountable to anyone. Thus, my purpose and mission are whatever I want it to be, if I even want to have one. Thus, if my purpose is “better” than yours as I see it, or if I “achieve” more than you do, I can judge you.
PROVISION (GEN 1:1-30)
LIGHT, FOOD, WATER, AIR, REST,
PLEASURE, SHELTER, CLOTHING
FALSE PROVISION BELIEF: “I HAVE MORE THAN YOU, SO I’M SUPERIOR TO YOU, THUS, I CAN JUDGE YOU. WHAT I HAVE IS BETTER, SO I’M BETTER. SINCE I HAVE MORE THAN ENOUGH, I DON’T NEED GOD. THE MORE I ACCUMULATE, THE MORE SECURE I AM”.
Adam and Eve needed food, water, air, light, and rest(Gen 1:1–30). We can reasonably assume that rest and relaxation were a part of Adam and Eve’s needs (Gen 2:2). Provision idolatry occurs when we see anyone but God as our true source for our human needs. Jesus highlighted this type of idolatry in the Sermon on the Mount. The core belief is “I have more than you, so I’m superior to you, thus, I can judge you. What I have is better, so I’m better. Since I have more than enough, I don’t need God. The more I accumulate, the more secure I am”
HOME (GEN 2:8-15): BOUNDARIES, SAFETY
FALSE HOME BELIEF: “HUMAN INSTITUTIONS PROTECT ME. IF I AM STRONG ENOUGH, I CAN PROTECT MYSELF. THUS, I DON’T NEED GOD. IF I CAN PROTECT MYSELF, I’M SUPERIOR TO YOU; THUS, I CAN JUDGE YOU."
Home is a fundamental human need; it is undoubtedly a form of security. Genesis describes the location and boundaries of the garden; if Adam was to “go and subdue”, he needed to know where to return. Adam and Eve surely saw the Garden as home. He certainly understood establishing a separate location (home) for a newly married couple (Gen 2:10-14; 24). Home idolatry is implicit in the emotional link that we have between shelter, land and how we perceive our security as rooted in our homes and families. This idolatry is especially evident after natural tragedies. Home represents an innate need to have a space that we recognize as our own. We feel safe in an area that we recognize has our unique boundaries vis-à-vis others. A violation of “our space” can be very traumatic. The central belief of home idolatry is “Human institutions protect me. Since I’m strong enough, I can protect myself. Thus, I don’t need God. Since I can protect myself, I’m superior to you; thus, I can judge you.
ACCEPTANCE (GEN 2:18-25)
INTIMACY, FAMILY, COMMUNITY
FALSE ACCEPTANCE BELIEF: “I CANNOT LET ANYONE SEE THE REAL ME, OTHERWISE, THEY CAN JUDGE ME. I CAN ACHIEVE INTIMACY VIA SEX, OR BY PROJECTING THE RIGHT FAÇADE. I CAN CONTROL MY FAMILYAND HOW THE COMMUNITY SEES ME VIA POWER, COERCION, MANIPULATION, AND FAÇADE. SINCE I CAN ACHIEVE ACCEPTANCE IN THESE WAYS, I DON’T NEED GOD.
Adam needed companionship, acceptance, and intimacy (Gen 2:18, 25). Genesis 2:24-25 certainly implies that Adam foresaw not only a need for family, but the need for community as well. To be sure, acceptance idolatry can be observed readily today. The core belief is: I can achieve intimacy via sex, or by projecting the right façade. It is absolutely imperative that I cannot let anyone see the real me, otherwise, they can judge me. I can control my family and how the community sees me via coercion, manipulation, and façade. Since I can achieve intimacy and acceptance these ways, I don’t need God.
LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION, INFORMATION, TECHNOLOGY
FALSE KNOWLEDGE BELIEF: “KNOWLEDGE IS KING. WE CAN FIGURE OUT WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW. SINCE WE ARE EVOLVING TO A “HIGHER LEVEL”, WE DON’T NEED GOD. IF I KNOW MORE THAN YOU, OR IF I CAN CREATE THE FACADE THAT I KNOW MORE THAN YOU, THEN I’M SUPERIOR TO YOU AND I CAN JUDGE YOU”
Adam knew how to communicate. How did he know how to speak? What language did he speak? How did he know what to name the animals? How did he know what a biological father and mother were? Where did he get his conception of a wife? These cultural concepts indicate Adam had absorbed far more than a rudimentary knowledge of his surroundings. He likely understood technology; he was responsible for the care of the garden. Indeed, there seems no contesting the notion that “rational man” sees science, knowledge, and technology as “the answer” to our problems. To be sure, knowledge and our natural God-given curiosity regarding our temporal environment has become an idol.
The foundational belief is that knowledge is king. We can figure out what we need to know. We are always evolving to a “higher level”, thus, we don’t need God. If I know more than you, or if I can create the facade that I know more than you, then you’ll see me as superior to you and therefore, I can judge you.
IDENTITY (GEN 10-25)
NAME, AN AUTHORITY STRUCTURE, VALUES, CULTURE
FALSE IDENTITY BELIEF: “MY IDENTITY IS FOUND IN HOW I RELATE TO OTHERS AND HUMAN INSTITUTIONS. MY FOUNDATIONAL UNDERSTANDING OF HOW I FIT IN THIS WORLD – MY WORLDVIEW - AND HOW I RELATE TO OTHERS IS FOUND IN THREE IDOLS: PERFORMANCE, FAÇADE AND SECURITY. I BELIEVE THAT WHAT IS IMPORTANT AND TRUE IS FOUND IN THE NATURAL
Adam needed an identity; he needed to know who he was in relation to others. He needed a name that would set him apart. He needed to understand where he was in an authority and submission structure with others. Identity idolatry is nothing new. Seeing our identity as anything other than new creations in Christ is idolatrous. Yet, in the modern day especially, we commonly see the quest to “know who we are”. The central belief of Identity is found in how I relate to others and human institutions. In other words, my foundational understanding of how I fit in this world and how I relate to others is found in three idols: performance, façade and security. I believe that what is important and true is found in the natural.
These belief systems were given to us such that they are interwoven into the deepest fabric of our being. These sinful belief systems compromise what we know as the sinful flesh, and they govern our fleshly behavior. It’s important that we understand the twelve idols as presented here represent a worst case scenario. For example, not everyone feels they are completely entitled as presented here. Certainly, there are many who recognize that there is more than just knowledge. However, it is also axiomatic that all of humanity is plagued by a relentless and overwhelming sinful flesh, and that we all deal with all twelve traits of the idolatrous flesh to one extent or another.
Next Time: #6: Judgement & Self-Seeking
N. Patrick Marica contributes incisive Christian commentary on this blog on a regular basis. He has been the Director of Godly Training Ministries since 1993. He has his MA from Liberty University in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is the author of the forthcoming book: The Walk Applied". He has been married to Kathy since 1985. They have 2 adult daughters and 1 extraordinary son-in-law.