Certain elders of Israel came to the prophet Ezekiel seeking guidance from the Lord. These men were not like many of the Israelites, who openly bowed their knees to idols. You would not find them in some idol temple, offering sacrifices to the false gods there. They were leaders of the people and they wanted to appear before everyone as godly men.

Outwardly, these elders had the appearance of men who had a heart for God and wanted to know His word for their lives. That is the manner in which they approached Ezekiel but God revealed to Ezekiel what was in their hearts. He said to the prophet, "Son of man, these men have set up idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face" (Ezekiel 14:3). The Lord was saying, "These men have come to you saying they want to hear a word from Me — that they want to walk in obedience to my commands. But they are lying! They have secret sins in their life."

These elders all had hidden, secret idolatry. Their hearts were in bondage to sins they indulged in behind closed doors. No one could tell this by their appearance. On the contrary, they came across not as pagans or idol worshipers, but as respected men of God going about their ministries.

A stumbling block of iniquity is any evil thing that stands between you and God — any enticement that robs you of a steadfast walk with Him. It is any besetting sin that causes you to waver in your faith; any desire that brings shame to your heart and to the name of Christ; any sin you cling to as you come to the Lord seeking guidance. You can come to God's house, raise your hands, worship Him loudly, and still have a stumbling block of iniquity in your heart.

Only by turning away from your idol in wholehearted repentance can you hear the true word of the Lord and receive clear, divine guidance. When you repent, the first thing that returns to you is your discernment, and the farther behind you leave your sin, the clearer you will see and hear God’s voice. He will become distinct, sure, speaking with the authority of truth.