The most devouring idol in all
(Richard Baxter "The
Sinfulness of Flesh-Pleasing")
"Their destiny is destruction, their god is their
and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly
things." Philippians 3:19
Flesh-pleasing is the grand idolatry of the world. The flesh
is the greatest idol that ever was set up against God.
That is a man's God, which he . . .
takes for his chief good,
and loves best,
and is most desirous to please.
And this is the flesh, to every sensualist.
He "loves pleasure more than God." He "minds the things
of the flesh," and "lives" for it, and "walks after it." He
"makes provision for it, to satisfy its appetite and lusts."
He "sows to the flesh, and fulfills its lusts."
It is not primarily the bowing of the knee and praying
to a thing--which constitutes idolatry. It is the loving,
and pleasing, and obeying, and seeking, and delighting
in a thing--which is idolatry.
So the loving of the flesh, and pleasing it, and serving
it, and obeying it, and seeking and delighting in its
pleasures--is the grand idolatry--more than if you
offered sacrifices to it!
And so the flesh is God's chief enemy, because it has
the chief love and service which are due to Him. The
flesh robs Him of the hearts of all people who are
carnal and unsanctified. All the Baals, and Jupiters,
and Apollos, and other idols of the world put together,
have not so much of the love and service due to God,
as the flesh alone has. If other things are idolized by
the sensualist, it is but as they subserve his flesh, and
therefore they are made but inferior idols.
The flesh is not only the common idol--but the
devouring idol in all the world! It has not, as inferior,
flattered idols have--only a knee and compliment, or now
and then a sacrifice or ceremony--but it has the heart,
the tongue, the body to serve it!
is loved and served by the sensualist, "with all
his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his strength."
They forsake God for the flesh. They forsake Christ, and
heaven, and their salvation for it. They forsake all the
solid comforts of this life, and all the joys of the life to
come for it. They sell all that they have, and lay down
the price at its feet. Yes, more than all they have, even
all their hopes of what they might have to all eternity!
They suffer in the flames of hell forever, for their flesh!
How vile an idol is the flesh! It is a great a madness to
serve an idol of silver, or gold or stone, or wood. But is
it any better to serve an idol of flesh and blood--which
is full of filth and excrement within, and the skin itself,
the cleanest part, is ashamed to be uncovered? Is this
a god to sacrifice all that we have to? and to give all
our time, and care, and labor, and our souls, and all to?
Consider how impious and horrid an abasement it is of
the eternal God--to prefer so vile a thing before Him!
You say continually by your practice, "This filthy, nasty
flesh, is to be preferred before God--to be more loved,
and obeyed, and served. It deserves more of my time
than God. It is more worthy of my delight and love!"
It is but a few days until all their most adorned, pampered
flesh will be turned into worms' food! A few days will turn . .
their pleasure into anguish,
their jollity into groans,
their ostentation into lamentation,
all their pride into shame.
When the skull is cast up with the spade, to make room for
a successor--you may see the hole where all the food and
drink went in; but you will see no signs of mirth or pleasure.