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Known by God

Idolatry, identity, and being creatively known by God.
Speaker: Len Finn | July 16, 2017 | Series: The Gospel + Nothing

Watch as Len Finn unpacks Galatians 4:8-20 and shows us how the Gospel + Nothing = Freedom in Christ.

Control Issues

We always want 100% control of our lives. To be human is to have control issues, because to be human is to be insecure. 


Idolatry is crafting or fashioning something from the world into a God – a guardian that will keep you safe or a threat you need a placate. But a created thing, by the very fact that it was created, cannot be a God. 

By observing Jewish law as a way of placating God, the Galatians are becoming pagans and falling into idolatry. 

In the Gospel, God has done everything that will ever need to be done to set the world and your life right. In light of the Gospel, pagan worship and Jewish law-keeping are all the same. It is all religion.

Religion is Idolatry

We are defining religion a little more narrowly than the way it is typically used; religion is the human default mode and thus it is the opposite of the Gospel. Because religion is about a way of relating to God where the focus is on the stuff you do to make things right and keep things right with God. In light of Christ and the Gospel, all religion is idolatry. 

Fear, insecurity and the need for control are what drives us to religion, instead of just resting in the Gospel.

We want things we can do, so that we can see and know and trust a little more easily. But the Gospel declares an end to all your control. The Gospel declares that everything that needed to be controlled – God has controlled. It is finished. God has got it locked down.

It is Hard to Trust

But the on the ground reality of the Christian life is that it often doesn’t feel that way. Often when we look around us at the broken world, and we think that maybe we need to grab the wheel from God. It is really hard to functionally trust God; to rest fully in the Gospel; to feel completely secure in God and God alone, in the good times and the bad. It is hard to not want just a little bit of religion and idolatry to reassure us that everything is going to be ok. Something that I can control so that I can be sure (or in fact, deluded myself into thinking so).

Who Are Your Gods?

Who are your gods? Are you the churchy type? Do you want to be more religious than God Himself? Are you making your bible translation, worship style, prayer life, your tithing, the ministries you work in into a god? Whatever it is, it is going to be something that make you feel like you’re good. That maybe even makes you feel that you’re better. 

Don’t distract yourself with other people’s idols – work on yours. We make idols by taking something powerful, beautiful and precious and granting it the ability to make us feel secure, safe, confident and loved. 

It could be wealth, beauty, career, family, or reputation. Your idols are likely going to be your most important things in your life. We make idols out of things that are good and precious – out of the gold and silver of our lives. But idols don’t emerge out of healthy relationships with those things. Idols emerge out of fear; a fear of losing those good things; out of losing control of them. We functionally believe control in our life falls on our shoulders. 

Where are your idols? They are probably going to be good, wonderful things in your life, but things that if you ever lost would make your life fall apart. Things that would destroy your self-worth if they ever got ruined.


Our idols are tied up in our identity; in who we can convince ourselves we really are, and in what kind of person we think other people see in us. When we think that success or failure in something is fundamental to our identity, then it is an idol. 


We try to use an idol to gain control, but an idol always turns you into its slave. The more we try to control, the more we are controlled by the very idols we make. If you put all of your hope in wealth for your security, you will become enslaved to trying to protect it. If you put all of your hope in an other person for your self-worth, you will become enslaved to jealousy. If you put all of your hope in your job, you will become enslaved to your performance and you will fall apart if you lose it. 

God Knows You

The Gospel is adamant; you are not saved by the things you do. We tend to think that the things we do are at the core of our identity. But the truth of the Gospel is that who you are is not defined by what you do – you are defined simply by the fact that God knows you. And God’s knowing you matters way more than whatever you know about yourself. He is the one who made you. He is the one whose thought about you right now sustains you. How on earth could God’s knowing of you not be what defines you? 

God knows who you really are. He knows what you do in your weakness and fear. He knows all of your insecurities and idols. But His knowing you is a sovereign love that towers over all of that. And the cross tells us with a megaphone that God’s knowing you is a decision. It is His decision to have a relationship with you where He is your loving Father and you are His beloved child. The cross shows you that that knowing, love, and relationship has no boundaries. It is absolute and was 100% accomplished on the cross. 

Creative Knowing

God’s knowing is transformative. When God saves, He creates. God’s knowing you isn’t passive, it is creative. In knowing God, you become His new creation. The sinner you see in the mirror, is not what God sees, because it is not what God knows. And therefore it is not what you are. Because underneath the mask you are known by God in and through the perfect, righteous, trusting, beloved image of His Son. That is how you are seen and known by God. 

Casting Down Idols

You can cast down your idols, because whatever you think your identity rests on and however you feel about your self-worth – the real truth about you is known by God, actively and creatively. The truth of who you are in Christ is that your identity is God’s beloved child and your worth is truly infinite in the Father’s love.

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About the Author

Len Finn
Len serves as a pastoral assistant at St. George’s. He and his wife Stephanie and 2 children live in Alton Village.
  • About the Author

    Len Finn
    Len serves as a pastoral assistant at St. George’s. He and his wife Stephanie and 2 children live in Alton Village.
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