Mark Driscoll’s final session focused on how One-ism and idolatry’s effect on pastoral care. In this session, Driscoll offered five steps to pastoral care.
1. Uncover the Enslaving Idol
“Traditional counseling starts and stops at the level of behavior. [It’s] behavior modification instead of transformation,” says Driscoll.
Under all sin is idolatry, according to 2 Pet. 2:19. There is no freedom in sin. “Sin is simply choosing you master, but it’s not freedom.”
Addiction is the secular language for the biblical language of slavery. Those who commit adultery worship and are slaves to sex. Sluggards worship and are enslaved to comfort. Those who are proud worship and are enslaved to themselves. Gamblers worship and are enslaved to luck, which is the name of an ancient Greek god…
“We worship our way into idolatry and must worship our way out,” says Driscoll. “Martin Luther said, ‘If your heart cleaves to anything else… you have another God.’ You can have ‘a state of God’ rather than a real God. And when you face adversity, it’s where you go.”
2. Find the Demonic Lie
Jesus says that Satan is a liar and he is the father of lies. “Idols promise good, but they deceive,” says Driscoll.
[Your job says] ‘If you worship me, I’ll make you successful.’ So you worship your job. [Your hobbies and shopping say] ‘If you worship me I’ll make you happy.’ So you pour yourself into the recreational activity, buy the shoes, buy the car.
The lie says it will bring you closer to God. “If you sing these songs; go to this school; go to this church; read these books… All these can become false saviors.”
Another is, “You need to be true to yourself.” Driscoll comments, “While we should be authentic, sometimes we need to repent of being true to ourselves and be true to Jesus.”
You need to love yourself is another lie. But this, says Driscoll, is simply the cult of self-esteem.
Your idols give you identity. “Your job is killing you and your family; you’re a lawyer, a doctor, a minister… It says ‘this is who you are.’ Mothers, even your children can become idols,” he warns.
“What lie are you believing?” he asks. “The idol always lies! It isn’t freedom. It’s slavery.”
3. Bring the Truth of the Gospel
“You tell people the truth—‘you chose the idol over God. You picked a god and worshipped it and now you’re enslaved to it and if you argue against it, you’ve bought into the lie that this brings freedom,” he says.
You cannot redeem yourself, you’re a captive. Captives cannot set themselves free. Apart from Jesus there is no redemption; you might exchange one master for another, one lie for another, but there’s no freedom. Jesus alone can free you…
“We’re here for nothing, are going nowhere”—that’s the lie of One-ism and it has no hope!
4. Call for Repentance
We don’t call our people to affirm or forgive themselves—but to repent of themselves. While, Driscoll says, there’s not much preaching and teaching on repentance, Ezekiel 14:3-6, does show us a great deal about the nature of idolatry and the necessity of repentance.
Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them? Therefore speak to them and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Any one of the house of Israel who takes his idols into his heart and sets the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him as he comes with the multitude of his idols, that I may lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, who are all estranged from me through their idols.
Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations…
a. Idolatry starts in the heart
Ezekiel 14 reveals that idolatry starts in the heart. “The heart is the center of who we are,” says Driscoll. It’s where all sin—all idolatry—begins. “It’s not in the fridge, not on the screen, not on the internet… eventually we’ll sin in our thought life, or in a situation.”
When people have idols in their heart, their face is set toward their idol. Repentance is a turn away from the idol and to God.
b. Repentance is essential
“[Repentance] is not a one-time act, it’s a lifestyle,” says Driscoll. “The first line of the 95 Theses is, ‘All of life is one of repentance.’ Dr. J.I. Packer [who was disfellowshipped from his denomination because he called the leaders to repent of their unbiblical stance on homosexuality] says, ‘All you need to do to become a heretic is to stop repenting or fail to call others to repentance.’
“If that’s true, the creeping lie of One-ism is not being skillfully, thoughtfully resisted as it should, and it’s being done so in the name of love.”
c. What repentance is not
Repentance is not denying your sin. “I’m having a bad day, my dad didn’t hug me, my personality type is J-E-R-K…” These are not excuses for sin, says Driscoll.
It’s not managing your sin, nor is it religious repentance. “Religious people like to repent of everyone else’s sin instead of their own.”
True repentance is not Pagan repentance. “It’s not saying ‘I’m sorry’ to manipulate God into doing good. It’s not saying, ‘I’ll say I’m sorry if I get [blank].’”
Repentance is not worldly sorrow. Worldly sorrow is when someone “feels bad, but they don’t repent. They cry over their sin, but don’t put it to death.”
It’s not mere confession. “This is when you say you’ve sinned, but have no intention of stopping.”
Repentance is not forgiving yourself. It’s a pagan idea that when you sin, you only sin against yourself. “To say ‘I have to forgive myself’ sounds very pious, but when you unpack it it’s horrible! It’s putting you over Jesus; it’s saying ‘I’m a more demanding God than Jesus.’
Finally, repentance is not getting caught.
d. What repentance is
Repentance is, first and foremost, conviction from the Holy Spirit. “People feel bad… because they’re bad,” says Driscoll. We should be grieved by our sin.
Conviction leads to confession. “Confession is agreeing with God. ‘You say it’s an idol, a lie and I agree.’”
Confession leads to repentance. In repentance, we put the sin to death. “It’s killing the sin, not managing it,” says Driscoll.
Repentance is followed by restitution. “[Restitution] is not Catholic penance… it’s paying back what you’ve stolen. It’s trying to correct the wrong in as much as you are able.”
Finally, true repentance leads to reconciliation. When we repent, we are reconciled to God and reconciled to others whom we’ve sinned against. While forgiveness from God is found in the cross of Christ, our human relationships are not always able to be reconciled.
“The one who sins needs to repent, the one who was sinned against needs to forgive,” says Driscoll. “There is no reconciliation without repentance. And there is no reconciliation without forgiveness.”
5. Invite to worship freely
When we smash our idols, we will increasingly begin to reflect God in life and practice, rather than our false god. This is the fruit of repentance.
Living to the Glory of God
As the session reached its conclusion, Driscoll offered a series of questions to consider, because, as he said, we’re all sinners:
Paul says that “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
So how can I eat in a way that glorifies God? How can I have a sexual relationship with my spouse that glorifies God? How can I raise my kids in a way that glorifies God?
What would that look like—if we worshipped God freely and fully?
[We need to] examine our own hearts. Where have I been believing the lie in my own life?
“We are to live for the glory of God,” Driscoll concludes. “And he is pleased not in what we do, but because of what Jesus has done.”