Idols: Our False Gods Leaders Guide
Considerations for the Frustration and False Gods Episodes
- These episodes focus on the realities that Christians experience as a
result of living in a fallen world. Depending on the faith tradition
that one was formed by, this may be a new emphasis for some. The
reality of the fallen world means that the world is not as God
intended—it is marked by evil and suffering—and Christians experience
suffering and evil in this life—their faith does not give them
immunity. At the same time, God is at work in our lives through the
Gospel, and that gives us great hope. Theologians call this the
“already/not yet” tension of the Christian life, and this tension is a
normal aspect of Christian experience. Often when Christians experience
this tension, they think something is wrong with their faith, but that
is not the case.
- The conversations in these episodes are also designed to help us
understand our tendency to turn to idols to satisfy our desires. This
deeper conception of our sinfulness may make some folks uneasy—if there
is someone in the group (or you) who can give an example from your own
life to help others understand, that can help free them to be honest
with their own struggles. Use the quotes to help the group reflect on
- These episodes may surface deep questions about situations in their
life that group members are currently struggling to trust God with. As
the group leader, you don’t need to have all of the answers for them.
In such situations, the loving presence of the group, expressed through
prayer and practical help, is perhaps the best way for the group to
minister to them.
Join the Conversation
Record thoughts and questions here that come up as you watch the
episode. Explore them later with the group.
to God’s Word: Isaiah 40:18-31
Discuss the Episode
- Tremper’s early spiritual journey involved legalism, a belief that
if we do enough religious things, we will be happy because we are doing
what God requires. Have you experienced legalism in your life or the
lives of others?
- Idols are almost always some aspect of God’s good creation – work,
money, relationships, wisdom, knowledge, even spirituality – that we
substitute for God. How can we tell when something becomes idolatrous?
- Dan states that we will struggle with idols our whole lives. He
mentions that idols give us a sense of power and let us hide from a
world that is tough. What are the idols that you rely on? What are
things that we can do as individuals and as communities to keep
potential idols in their proper place, e.g, gifts from God to be
- Technology (eg. cell phones, laptops, televisions) are essential to
function in our society, but is also a source of frustration and can
have harmful and disruptive effects in our lives. How can technology be
both helpful and hurtful? Does technology control us more than we
control it? What would a Christian perspective on technology look like?
Reflect on What Others Have to Say
Underline and mark ideas you would like to discuss.
idolater would suppose his idol to represent some supernatural force or
being, but [Isaiah] inculcates a true understanding. Idols may look
magnificent, venerable and mysterious, they may excite a sense of awe,
but there is nothing there except the materials – no ability but human
ability, no innate resources but those of the earth….[An idol] does no
more than reflect the resources of the one who commissioned it.
Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and
An idol is something
within creation that is inflated to function as God. All sorts of things
are potential idols; depending only on our attitudes and actions toward
them...Idolatry may not involve explicit denials of God’s existence or
character. It may well come in the form of an over‐attachment to
something that is, in itself, perfectly good...An idol can be a physical
object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a
hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero ‐ anything that can
substitute for God.
Richard Keyes, No God But God: Breaking with the Idols of
Repentance can be defined
as the true turning of our life to God, a turning that arises from a
pure and earnest fear of him; and it consists in the mortification of
our flesh and of the old man, and in the vivification of the
Spirit….Both things happen to us by participation in Christ….Therefore,
in a word, I interpret repentance as regeneration, whose sole end is to
restore in us the image of God that had been disfigured and all but
obliterated through Adam’s transgression….And indeed, this restoration
does not take place in one moment or one day or one year; but through
continual and sometimes even slow advances God wipes out in his elect
the corruptions of the flesh, cleanses them of guilt, consecrates them
to himself as temples renewing all their minds to true purity that they
may practice repentance throughout their lives and know that this
warfare will end only at death.
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion