James Smith, 1842
"I will cleanse you from all your idols!" Ezekiel 36:25
Idolatry is a sin to which we are all prone. Everyone has idols of some kind. Here the Lord expresses His determination to cleanse us from them. This cleansing work is very painful work — but it is absolutely necessary. Idolatry defiles us, and unfits us for the service, presence, and glory of God. Idolatry is an insult offered to the Divine Majesty. All have their idols — some idolize their trade, some their children, some their bodies, some their appetites, some their books, some their property, some their peculiarities, some their office, some their gifts, some their partners, some their connections, and some their comforts.
But all are wrong, and we must expect that God will use means to cleanse them — for our God is a jealous God, and will not allow of a rival. The furnace of affliction, and the floods of trouble are generally employed for this purpose. Now you are in affliction, inquire:
What idol have you been putting in the place of Christ?
Where have your affections been?
What have been the principal objects of your pursuit and pleasure?
Has not some sin been indulged; some creature been inordinately loved; some object been unscripturally followed?
Has Jesus had all the heart? If not, it is no wonder He has put you into the furnace, or called you to pass through this affliction. Now let your prayer be, Cleanse me from all my idols; cleanse me thoroughly, and make me clean.
Perhaps this very affliction is an answer to your prayers. You have prayed to be conformed to Jesus; to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit; and to have the promises fulfilled in your experience. Now the Lord comes to answer your prayer, and to fulfill His promise. He comes with the rod in His hand, and says, "I will cleanse you from all your idols!"
Your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, says the
Apostle. If you have been setting up your idols in the Lord's temple, is it
any wonder that He is displeased, or that He visits you thus? His promises
are stable — and must be fulfilled; your hearts are idolatrous — and must be
purged; and the Lord will purge away the idols out of your hearts. Do not
think then that the Lord deals unkindly. He is . . .
granting you your desire,
fulfilling His word,
and manifesting His love.
It is for your spiritual welfare that He tries you thus, He has said, "Behold, I will allure her; and bring her into the wilderness, and speak to her heart, or comfortably to her." The furnace shall not be heated more than is necessary, "He stays His rough wind in the day of the east wind: by this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away His sin." Isaiah 27:8, 9.
The more idols — the more purging; no idols — no purging. Have you not procured this unto yourself? Remember your way when in health and prosperity; look back and see the folly you have indulged; the idolatry you have committed. Is not Jehovah just, faithful, yes, gracious, in thus dealing with you? He might have said, "Let him alone!" or have cast you out of His sight, and driven you to darkness, desperation, and despair. Better by far be cleansed from idols, however painful the process, in order to be glorified; than be left by the Lord to perish in your sin. Then let your language be,
The dearest idol I have known,
Whatever that idol be,
Help me to tear it from your throne,
And worship only Thee!