Note: this was not my favorite chapter in the book, though I agree with the premise. Rather than focus on the content from Packer, I have shared below some insights from a recent Men’s Retreat at the Northern Virginia Church of Christ based on the book, “Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart” by Kyle Idleman.

Thanks to Jack Rosenquist, Charlie Yi, Behzad Fathi, and Wyatt Kash for sharing these insights!

Chapter 4: The Only True God

You shall have no other gods besides me (or “in my presence”). Exodus 20:3

The command: don't make an image of a god or have another god “beside me.” It wasn’t just about replacing God, but even having another god while trying to worship God! Why?

1.     Images dishonor God – obscuring his glory

2.     Images mislead men – conveying a false idea of God

3.     Worshiping God “first” is not meant to signify some order as in worship God first and then your next god (car), then your next god (job), then your next god…

4.     First = preeminence, dominance, supremacy, only, exclusive, primary without a secondary!

How do we identify our idols?

1.     Our Searches. As men, we search. We could be defined by our searches. Imagine if there was no “clear history” on your Google search. Our search leaves a trail, even when we “delete” it.

2.     Our Disappointments. What is it that disappoints me? What do I complain about? Whining is the opposite of worship.

3.     Our Treasure. We make financial sacrifices, and Jesus says, “where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” What idols have we sacrificed for? What do we spend our time, effort, heart, and passion doing?

4.     Our Peace. What is my sanctuary? When I’m frustrated, where do I go?

5.     Our Frustrations. What is it that infuriates you?

6.     Our Dreams. What do we desire? What is the object of our “daydreams”?

7.     Our Joy. Why are we not happy?

 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea… Ps 46:1-2

What are the primary Gods that we worship?

1.    The God of Sex

2 Sam 13 tells the graphic, disturbing story of Amnon and his sister, Tamar. If you ever read it, you will first wonder why is this in the Bible. What a messed up person Amnon was. His perversion warped his thinking and he committed heinous acts. Perhaps he is not so different than us when pornography grips our hearts.

How do we overcome the God of sex?

·      Remember that sex is a gift from God. God is the giver. Lose that perspective and you lose your soul. We must be content with what he gives us rather than trying to take what is not been given.

·      Enjoy sex with your wife. (Okay, this doesn’t work so well for singles, but Paul said if you are burning with passion you should get a wife in 1 Cor 7).

·      Ask your wife if she enjoys sex?

·      Figure out how you can work on that! Some ideas:

1. Hygiene – the number one reason (from the speaker’s survey) women didn’t want to be with their husbands was because they weren’t clean!

2. Call her and tell her you are thinking of her; show public display of affection

3. Communicate and discuss your sex life. Get advice if you need it! Start with your wife!

4. Be sensitive. Understand their situation and learn empathy.


2.    The God of Entertainment

Consider the difference between the atmosphere of a football game and the atmosphere at church. Why is it okay to be “fanatical” (a fan) of sports teams yet so typical to be “low-key” and unenthusiastic at church? Which are you truly more excited about?

How can I slay the God of Entertainment?

Ask yourself:

1. Where and when am I most passionate?

2.  What media is addicting in my life? (really, answer this question!) is it my phone, computer, TV, iPad, video games, or what?

3.  If you were stranded on an island what forms of entertainment would I miss?

Consider a media fast. Cut off the source for a while and replace it with something that will feed your soul. Spend time thinking, praying, reading, writing, or encouraging (notes, calls, etc.).


3.    The God of Success

Was the “rich young ruler” looking for success to earn eternal life?

Success comes when we declare spiritual bankruptcy.

It is really about what we receive, not what achieve. The treasure, true success comes only from God.

Examine your heart:

1. What motivates me toward success?

2. What drives your goals?

3. Am I envious of others success?

Does God have a controlling interest in our lives?