Exodus 20:1-3 “Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. Do not have other gods besides Me.”
Many people believe that idolatry is something that was only practiced in the olden days or only done by those who practice pagan religions but this is not true. Idolatry used to mean bowing to graven images or being a member of a pagan religion but now idolatry means so much more than bowing before graven images.
For one to practice idolatry you have to have an idol or object of worship; so what is an idol? Timothy Keller wrote “An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure’”. An idol is simply anything that takes the place of God and this can be anything under the face of the earth and not necessarily just a graven image.
An idol promises or gives the impression that it can add value but needless to say these promises are false, no wonder idols are sometimes called false gods. Only God, the true God, can add value or significance to our life. Anything else that promises such is an idol or a false god.
You may be saying “I don’t have any idols or false gods because I only find significance in the true God”. This is very good but it is also important to constantly examine one’s life to make sure that no idols are sneaking in unknown to you. Many unknowingly may make things that are genuinely good into idols, example one may make their spouse, children or family their idols while some others may make their job or even talent their idol. It is easy to not recognize that one is making any of these things idols because they are good things and we have a responsibility to them.
God is not saying that you must abandon your responsibilities or not show love and care for your loved ones in order to avoid idolatry but what He is saying is that whatever we have in life whether things we acquire or people we love they must never take the place of God because that will then make them idols.
Now you may truly be able to say that you have not made anything an idol in your life but there are other ways that you may practice idolatry unknowingly. One way the bible talks of is arrogance or stubbornness. The other way the bible talks about practicing idolatry is through covetousness. If you insist on your way alone and never submit or never let go of your opinion or way of doing things, then you have made yourself an idol. Surprising but it is possible to make yourself an idol and this is just as much idolatry as any other form of idolatry. Also, if you always covet what others have then you have made what they have your idol. This will take many aback but covetousness is idolatry even though you may not even be in possession of the object that you covet. As long as it leads you to covet then it has become an idol
So how does one avoid making idols of anything or anyone? First of all, Jesus has to Lord over us and everything in your life. This means that whatever Jesus commands take preeminence over anything else in your life. This means that the word of God has to be number one and has to be what leads and directs. It is also important to make sure that you examine yourself daily with the help of the Holy Spirit. God will reveal to anyone who asks if they are on the wrong path or if they are making an idol of anything in their life.
An idol is dangerous in anyone’s life, the bible calls it one of the works of the flesh and we are told to flee from it. Needless to say, idolatry is one of the fastest ways to displease God because it shows we do not have faith in the power of God’s might.
Isaiah 44:9-11 All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame. Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit nothing? People who do that will be put to shame; such craftsmen are only human beings. Let them all come together and take their stand; they will be brought down to terror and shame
1 John 5:21 – Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
Jonah 2:8 – They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
Psalms 16:4 – Their sorrows shall be multiplied [that] hasten [after] another [god]: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.
Colossians 3:5 – Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
Galatians 5:19-21 – The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Jeremiah 11:12 – Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.
1 Corinthians 10:14 – Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
Temitope Talabi is a founding member of The Trent Voices currently reside in Austin, TX. She graduated with a PharmD from Texas Southern University in Houston, TX. She works as a community pharmacist and spends her spare time writing to build and encourage others through the word of God. Temitope is also currently working on a series of self-help books created to empower people to take charge of their health and wellness, the first of which is scheduled to be released early next year.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.