As a Christian, do you find yourself desiring to obey God and to follow His Word only to fall into sin time and time again? Do you long to live a godly life and love the Lord, yet struggle in the fight against sin? If so, then the second edition of Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Idols of the Heart is a must read for you. This revised and updated version equips the reader to identify the idols of their heart, to turn to the only One who can solve their idolatry problem, and to fight this struggle with the power of the only One who can satisfy. The book accomplishes this purpose by being comprehensive, biblical, and practical.
Idols of the Heart is first comprehensive because of its teaching on idolatry. Fitzpatrick is clear idols are not merely something outside of us but are inside of us. They are “loves, thoughts, desires, longings, and expectations that we worship in the place of the true God” (Fitzpatrick 25). She is clear as well that idols are not only those things which are inherently sinful, but idols are also things and people which may be good but too longed for above God. The outcome of idolatry is never good but obedience to fight off idols is for our good. The book additionally addresses the matters of law and legalism. A necessary talk on the moral law in chapter 3 and an appendix on defining legalism clarify biblical obedience for the reader.
The author weaves Scripture throughout the book, laying the foundation for identifying and fighting idols. The book exceptionally describes a biblical understanding of the heart and a biblical understanding of change. Too often “the heart” is defined in a vague sense. However, chapter 6 of the book gives a robust and biblical explanation of the heart as mind, affections, and will. The following three chapters of the book expound on each component of the heart.
The most important part of the book may very well be where Elyse Fitzpatrick presents the reader with a biblical understanding of change. The reality of the struggle reveals in our own will we cannot win the battle against sin. But this does leave the Christian without hope. As chapter 4 shows, through the power of the Holy Spirit change is possible. It is only in our dependence of God that we can overcome sin and worship the only One worthy of our praise. Because of God, our hearts can be turned away from idols and back to God.
Idols of the Heart is comprehensive on idolatry and biblical in its understanding of how change occurs. However, if the reader is simply informed on these subjects, then they have missed an essential purpose of this book. The book is meant to lead the reader to apply the principles of this book to their own lives. This practical concern is seen through the “For Further Thought” sections at the end of each chapter and the examples of sheets the reader can copy for their own use. The author’s discussion on “putting off” and “putting on” is one of the most practical points of the book.
In conclusion, Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick encourages Christians to identify their struggle with idolatry, to actively and biblically deal with their sin, and to depend on the power of God to change their heart so that they may worship Him.
I received this book for free from P&R Publishing via Gratia Press for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.