Luke 16:15 (NASB)And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”
I think it important to distinguish between essential evil and idolatry. It is uncommon for a “thing” (anything) to touch and embrace essential evil or evil incarnate. Abominations are evil. We know they exist, and maybe we struggle with a few or more… By the contrary and confusing standard of stupid legalism Asceticism is deceptive and attracts the flesh in a perverse religious way as it enhances the illusion of righteousness… self-righteousness. That’s worth a lot in the “wood, hay, stubble” category. Stuff is generally neither an abomination in origin or essence. Stay with me please.
“All things are lawful to me but I will not be mastered by anything. All things are lawful… not all are profitable…not all edify…” (1 Corth 10) Yet, something greater is at stake. There is a greater governing principle a serious-minded Christ-follower must be confronted by. The Pharisee of all ages (times) refuses the greater principle as his preference is pleasure over glory to God.
Idolatry is that which catapults a thing or thought to supersede beyond its boundary and into the arena of interference with foundational love for God by a subtle or overt attachment to the hidden heart. All such encumbering weights corrupt worship and are therefore detestable in God’s sight. Everything is on the table in such cases. Everything. Anything can be a help or hinderance. Take this iPhone for example…
The really strange thing is that all (most) things morphed to the detestable idol category in God’s eyes are okay and often essential things in their proper sphere. They certainly are permissible when used and even loved in proper context. God has provided to us all things in their proper place. He is the Giver of every good and perfect gift from above. (Spend time with the Preacher in Ecclesiastes for clarity… or confusion.)
Jack speaks to this in the Screwtape Letters.
Screwtape to Wormwood:
“Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made all the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NASB)
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Herein lies not only a safety net but a driving principle of glory to a higher calling to Another’s standard and perspective that ensures joy without condemnation.
We need never neglect the cross as the instrument of death that Jesus embraced for us and that He subsequently calls us to daily carry with Him.