The Best Quotes from Counterfeit Gods

The Best Quotes from Counterfeit Gods August 10, 2018

This week I read through Tim Keller’s Counterfeit Gods for the first time in several years. Keller shows how ordinary things, even good things when blown out of their proper proportions, can become an idol in our hearts. We were made to worship and our hearts flock to many things thinking they will bringing us happiness, contentment, and purpose.

Counterfeit Gods reminds us that nothing other than Jesus can truly satisfy and that our idols die when we look to him for what our hearts need the most. This book is an important read for any Christian wanting to understand the inner workings of their own hearts.

Here are the best quotes from Counterfeit Gods.

“There is a difference between sorrow and despair. Sorrow is pain for which there are sources of consolation. Sorrow comes from losing on good thing among others, so that, if you experience a career reversal, you can find comfort in your family to get you through it. Despair, however, is inconsolable, because it comes from losing an ultimate thing. When you lose the ultimate source of your meaning or hope, there are no alternative sources to turn to. It breaks your spirit.” (xiii)

“We think that idols are bad things, but that is almost never the case. The greater the good, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the best things in life.” (xix)

“We never imagine that getting our heart’s deepest desires might be the worst thing that can ever happen to us.” (1)

“There on Mount Calvary, when the beloved son of God cried, “My God, my God–why hast thou forsaken me? There was no voice from heaven announcing deliverance. Instead, God the Father paid the price in silence. Why? The true substitute for Abraham’s son was God’s only Son, who died to bear our punishment.” (17)

“We have to know, to be assured, that God so loves, cherishes, and delights in us that we can rest our hearts in him for our significance and security and handle anything that happens in life.” (17)

“Only is Jesus lived and died for us can you have a God of infinite love and holiness at once.” (18)

“We know a good thing has become a counterfeit god when its demands on you exceed proper boundaries.” (23)

“Jesus warns people far more often about greed than about sex, yet almost no one thinks they are guilty of it.” (53)

“According to the Bible, idolaters do three things with their idols. They love them, trust them, and obey them.” (56-57)

“There is only one way to change at the heart level and that is through faith in the gospel.” (66)

“Jesus, the God man, had infinite wealth, but if he had held on to it, we would have died in our spiritual poverty. That was the choice–if he stayed rich, we would die poor. If he died poor, we could become rich.” (67)

“When you see him dying to make you his treasure, that will make him yours.” (67)

“If you want God’s grace, all you need is need, all you need is nothing.” (88)

“The increasing political polarization and bitterness we see in U.S. politics today is a sign than we have made political activism into a form of religion.” (100)

“Racial pride and cultural narrowness cannot coexist with the gospel of grace. They are mutually exclusive.” (139)

“Idolatry distorts our feelings. Just as idols are good things turned into ultimate things, so the desires they generate become paralyzing and overwhelming.” (148)

“Why people say, ‘I know God forgives me, but I can’t forgive myself,’ they mean that they have failed an idol, whose approval is more important to them than God’s. Idols function like gods in our lives, and so if we make career or parental approval our god and we fail it, then the idol curses us in our hearts for the rest of our lives. We can’t shake the sense of failure.” (149)

“God hinted to Jonah that he would love the great, lost cities of the earth in a way Jonah would not. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, the true Jonah, that commitment was fulfilled.” (152)

“When you pray and work for something and you don’t get it and you respond with explosive anger or deep despair, then you may have found your real god.” (169)

“The man or woman who knows the difference–…between obeying rules of outward conduct rather than setting your heart on Christ as your peace and your life–is on the road to freedom from the counterfeit gods that control us.” (177)

(You can read my favorite quotes from other books here.)

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  • Martin

    As I’ve taken summer road trips and had a chance to attend services in various locations I’ve become convinced that the Church is in terribly poor condition and in far too many churches is unprepared to do what the Church needs to, and will need to, do. One prevalent false god, nationalism, is poisoning the hearts and minds of christians in America. At one service a member of the congregation stood and bellowed out a song about how proud he was to be an American. I had to walk out. As my tone here might indicate, I’m disgusted by this sort of thing but… I do realize my attitude needs to change and needs more love for my mislead brothers and sisters as well as for those who are misleading their congregations out of ignorance.

  • CelestialChoir

    Actually, “the Church” is not limited to Euro-american churches who worship “America and the Red, White and Blue.” You might enjoy visiting American churches that are African-American, Asian, Latino and Native/Indigenous American. You will not find too many of them bowing down to the “god of patriotism.” You should also visit those Euro-American churches that are of “other confessions”, including those from Reformation roots (Congregational, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Reformed, etc.), those with liturgical roots (Episcopal, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Coptic, Melkite) and the huge variety of Messianic Jewish congregations. You should also visit little rural/small town churches and sample the many “storefront” churches within urban areas and cities. You will discover that vast swathes of “the Church” do not worship national flags or assume that God belongs to a particular political party. Many of these “other-than-white-evangelical” churches ARE “doing what the church needs to do,” including the oft-maligned “storefront churches,” which provide pastoral care and Christian community for people who have little, but are rich in Christian life and witness. As an African-american Pentecostal Christian who DOES understand what perturbs you, let me assure you that “the Church” is much bigger than the narrow band of Euro-American evangelicals who have convinced themselves that God is a WASP Republican. THE CHURCH is worldwide, and in the good old United States of America, Jesus Christ is STILL doing His salvific and life-changing work through the MILLIONS of Christians who preach the Good News and have not “bowed the knee to Ba’al!”