ep. 30 on idols of the heart

Emily Jensen

ep. 30 | Idols of the Heart with Emily Jensen

On this episode of the Journeywomen podcast, I chatted with Emily Jensen about idols of the heart. We discuss everything from our personal struggles with idolatry to practical ways we can move forward in repentance after seeing our sin. If you know Emily, it goes without saying that we talked about resting in the grace of the gospel. She said, “It’s always important to remember with idolatry like, this isn’t something that we do on our own. This is something God did on our behalf. That causes us to just be humble and grateful and in awe of God. That’s a key thing. When we are in awe of God and when we are grateful for what he has done, it makes us want to worship Him more and it helps us deal with our idol problem.”

Talking with Emily opened up my eyes to see that while there are lots of little idols I’ve conjured up, they all revolve around ME! My biggest problem really is myself. Understanding that I genuinely am struggling with making much of myself more than anything else has humbled me in the best of ways, providing a sweet opportunity to preach the Gospel to myself and to those around me.

I am continually learning about how the gospel infiltrates every area of my life and God has really used Emily and her sister-in-law, Laura, to help me flesh that out practically as I listen to their podcast, Risen Motherhood. Emily has been married for eight years, is a mother to five young children, and has a passion for sharing gospel-centered truth with women. I am so grateful we have the opportunity to hear from her today on the topic of idolatry.

  1. Can you tell us a little about who you are and what you do?

  2. What is idolatry? Why is it a problem? When did it originate?

  3. What’s the prescription for healing an idolatrous heart?

  4. What are some things that we, as women, are prone to idolizing? Can we talk about one that you’ve struggled with and one that I struggle with?

  5. What do we do with recurring areas of idolatry?

  6. How can we repent and move forward without wallowing in sadness, beating ourselves up, or trying to fix it on our own when we continually fall back into the same sins?

  7. What are some practical ways we can prayerfully examine our own hearts? What are some practical ways we can protect them from idolatry?

  8. How can we lovingly approach a fellow believer if we see that something or someone has taken the place of God in their heart?

  9. Why is it important for us to have open conversations with other believers about our sin (not just theirs, but ours too)?

  10. What would you say is the number one way we can keep ourselves from idols?


3 Questions I Ask Every Guest

  1. What are 3 resources you'd recommend for someone who wants to grow in this area?

  2. What are your 3 simple joys?

  3. Who has had the greatest impact on your journey with Jesus?


Note Worthy Quotes

“An idol—at the most fundamental level—is anything that we worship instead of or in addition to God.”

“We see (idolatry) in the literal, physical images that people worship, but we also see it in the value that people are placing in relationships or in possession or in achieving certain things.”

“Worship isn’t just singing on Sunday morning. It’s really a lot more broad. Yes, we are worshipping when we do those things, but worship is really an attitude of our heart and it’s doing everything for God and for his glory and making everything about him.”

 “Worship isn’t just something we do. It defines who we are.” -Paul David Tripp

“Whenever we are transferring our worship of God to something else… it permeates our time, resources, emotional desires, and everything in our lives.”

“It’s a lot harder to be a living sacrifice than a dead one, because you can just crawl right off the altar.”

“At it’s basic level, idolatry is just worshipping something other than God.”

“In general, we need the gospel… that’s healing in that we are dead in our sins and trespasses, and without the blood of Christ covering our sins, the wages of sin is death. Once we are walking with Christ and we do have his righteousness, we do still struggle with idolatry. But the healing cure isn’t any different, it is still believing the gospel and rehearsing that truth to ourselves.”  

“Something we do on Risen Motherhood a lot is we go through the four parts of the gospel and thinking through each part and how it applies: creation-fall-redemption-restoration”

“God created us to worship him alone. Nothing else is going to make us truly happy.”

“Although we deserve to be cut off from God forever, he sent Jesus who comes to earth—who doesn’t have a problem with idolatry—to do his Father’s will. And instead of punishing us, God punished Jesus. He turned his face away from him. And the veil, the thing that separated us from God, was torn in two, so that we can have God dwell in us through the Holy Spirit.” 

“It’s always important to remember with idolatry, this isn’t something that we do on our own. This is something God did on our behalf. That causes us to just be humble and grateful and in awe of God. That’s a key thing. When we are in awe of God and when we are grateful for what he has done, it makes us want to worship Him more and it helps us deal with our idol problem.”

“We live in the already, but not yet. We are already saved if we believe the Gospel, but we are not able to stop sinning, which is really, really frustrating. And so, we look forward to that time when Jesus comes back and in the twinkling of an eye, we’re not going to have these issues anymore. But in the meantime, we are here to love God and love others, and share the gospel, to make disciples, and do good works on his behalf. And that’s to what end we persevere. When we think about that. As we realize that this battle is already won, the victory is done, we already know the ending, that shapes what we worship today and what we choose to spend our time on today. Going through creation-fall-redemption-restoration helps shape how we heal from this problem and deal with it in our lives.”

“What I notice the most is idolatry issues with relationships: who we love and what we demand of them, and then identity: which is who we are, who we think we are, and who we think we should be.”  

“I have all these little stems that go back to something bigger for me. I would describe it as my idol is myself. I have set up myself as god in my life. I want to orient everything in my life to serve my own purposes. My will is the idol and I sacrifice things on that altar. I’ll put relationships on the altar, material resources on that altar, everything. To me, everything comes back to the fact that i want to be little l lord of my own world.”

“We must remember the truth that we cannot fix ourselves… Our sins do deserve punishment, but we don’t need to beat ourselves up, because Christ was beaten for our sins, both physically and also the wrath of God—God turning his face away—he took that for us. There’s nothing left to be poured out on us. It’s all been consumed. We have to remember that. It blows our minds, we go in circles, and we ask ourselves why God would do that for us, but it’s still true.” 

“As believers, our job isn’t to focus on ourselves at all… we’re not supposed to dwell on ourselves in a negative way either. We’re supposed to be looking at Christ… let’s turn our gaze to Christ, stop self-analyzing, and look at Jesus. It’s amazing how fast that is an antidote for our sin and sadness.”

“If we don’t know the Truth it becomes really hard to counsel our hearts with it.”  

“It’s not always helpful to start on the level of behavior. I think as we’re talking to a friend, or a family member, or a husband, it’s not always that helpful to say, “Hey, do you think you should lay off the shopping a little bit? I think you should just quit that and love Jesus, not your online shopping.” That’ll probably shut somebody down right away. It’s completely different than taking someone to coffee and having a conversation about what God is doing in your hearts and what God is teaching you. Come at it from that angle. Pray with them. Point them to Christ. Then, a lot of times, those deeper things will come to the surface. There’s an element of trusting God, that he is going to be doing that hard work at a deeper level that will filter out to those behavioral levels.”  

“Go back to the heart. Ask, ‘What is really behind all of this? Can I come alongside you in all of that? Can we walk through this together?”

“I don’t think I’ve ever regretted sharing the gospel.”

“There is a step of affirming and hearing what someone is saying before we jump to the truth… There is an element of just hearing someone and affirming their sadness… We can affirm that what they’re experiencing is a result of the fall. It is sad! It is broken! We can say, ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ to that, but then I think that after we say ‘Yes,’ and affirm that, then I think everybody is ready to hear the hopeful truth of the gospel.”


Emily's Resources

X Ray Questions by David Powleson

The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller

Knowing the Bible so that we can counsel our hearts with it

Praying in accordance with God’s will

Community: surrounding ourselves with people who are going to encourage us to believe the truth

How People Change by Paul David Tripp

New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp

Awe by Paul David Tripp

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp

Parenting by Paul David Tripp

A Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent


Emily's Simple Joys

Magic Merlin Sleep Suit

Hymns on Youtube like He Will Hold Me Fast, How Firm a Foundation, Come Ye Sinners, Not in Me, I Asked the Lord

Wood burning fires (indoor)


Connect with Emily


ibleedheART, owned by Ashley Reagan, offers a wide variety of original artwork; from hand painted canvas shoes, to feather earrings made from embroidery thread, to watercolor and acrylic paintings on canvas. ibleedheART was founded after Ashley's art journey brought her peace and comfort during her personal experiences of heartache and loss. Once she realized the gift that God had given her could bring joy to others as well, she made it her goal to share her heart through her heARTwork. You can find her work on Instagram and Facebook @ibleedheart and online at www.ibleedheart.com. Enter code JOURNEY at checkout and receive 20% off your order through the end of December. Go get it you guys! Christmas is around the corner!

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