WiW: My greatest idol

The Week in Words

It hit me between the eyes as I drove down Highway 30 on my way home from Grand Island.

I was listening to ChristianAudio’s recording of Jerry Bridges’ The Pursuit of Holiness (Available for free this month!).

“Our first problem [with walking in holiness] is that our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered. We are more concerned about our own ‘victory’ over sin than we are about the fact that our sins grieve the heart of God. We cannot tolerate failure in our struggle with sin chiefly because we are success-oriented, not because we know it is offensive to God.”

~Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness


The moment I heard it, I knew its truth.

Up until that moment, I had been fighting a self-centered battle with sin and hadn’t even realized it!

My fight for holiness wasn’t about glorifying God or abhorring the things that break His heart. It was about making myself look good, proving that I could do it, gaining victory over sin.

But Bridges’ reminds us:

God wants us to walk in obedience — not victory. Obedience is oriented toward God, victory is oriented toward self. This may seem to be merely splitting hairs over semantics, but there is a subtle, self-centered attitude at the root of many of our difficulties with sin. Until we face this attitude and deal with it we will not consistently walk in holiness.”

Say I had managed to gain victory over all those external sins I so want to conquer.

What then?

I could boast in my flesh–like the rich young ruler who tells Jesus that he has kept the commandments from his youth–but my boasting would quickly be brought to naught as Jesus reveals my secret idol.

Not possessions.


I am my own greatest idol.

Every morning I wake up and bow at the altar of self. Every evening I return to offer self homage.

I offer a sacrifice on the altar. I bring the grain offerings. I keep the feasts.

My ablutions are not effective, my oblations not accepted.

I have offered my sacrifice to the wrong god.

Self instead of Christ.

Lord, have mercy upon my idolatrous soul–and teach me to treasure You above me.

Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words” is where bloggers collect quotes they’ve read throughout the week. Crying foul over my audiobook quoting? After a couple days of contemplating what I’d heard, I remembered that I’d picked up The Pursuit of Holiness at a used store a couple of months back. I started reading at the beginning–and was hit anew with the realization of my idolatrous fight with sin.

6 thoughts on “WiW: My greatest idol”

  1. How odd that I myself was listening to “The Pursuit of Holiness” as I was clicking through blogs and came upon your post this morning! I love the free audio books from Christian Audio. I’m just starting this one, so I only heard the preface/intro so far.

    How great that you have these insights while you are still a young woman. You are going to be a blessing to many for years to come. We each truly are our own greatest idol. I suppose it’s a battle we will fight until we see the Lord face to face with no distractions to KNOW that HE is enough to capture our full attention and worship.

  2. I’ve never read bridges but see him quoted and referred to often. I need to put him on my TBR list.

    I find myself too often deferring to self and preferring it before the Lord. I hadn’t thought of a focus on victory rather than obedience being self0cnetered, but I can see that it is. Amazing how self creeps in even there.

  3. I can honestly say that in my greatest victory over a particular sin, my single motivator was the words of Joseph in resisting Potifer’s wife- “How can I do this thing and sin against my God!” and I’ve found that until I come to that place, I really don’t have victory.


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