Worshiping Idols

We have been created to worship. When God made the world and everything in it, His sole reason for doing so is that creation would worship Him and give Him glory.

Fear God, and give Him glory…worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters. Rev. 14:7

Numerous times in the Psalms we are told to worship the Lord alone (Ps. 29:2; 66:4; 86:9-10; 95:6; 96:9). We are also commanded to put idols away from us (1 Ki. 12:30; 2 Chron. 7:19-22; Ps. 81:9; 97:7). Over and over again in Scripture, God is telling people to stop worshiping other gods and to worship Him alone!

God spends a lot of time in the Bible instructing His people on how important it is that they not worship other gods, nor make graven images to bow down to and worship. In Exodus 20:3-5a, God makes His expectations pretty clear when he says:

“You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God.

He tells us that He is a jealous God and will not tolerate the worship of anything or anyone other than Himself. Why does God spend so much time warning us over and over about the worship of idols and other gods? It is because each of us struggles with the horrendous sin of idolatry on a daily basis. It is reflected in our choices, our words, our use of time, and how we spend our money.

In our culture we tend to think of idolatry as an eastern religious system such as Buddhism or Hinduism, or as pagan worship of the trees and animals. But the truth is, idolatry is not only bowing down to statues, it is anything that means more to you than God does. It is manifested when getting what you want has becomes more important than what God desires for you. Simply put, anything that you love, desire, or serve more than God is an idol of the heart. We are constantly being tempted to sin in this manner.

The many technological advances that exist in the world have become new things to idolize and worship. Satan uses the same tricks and methods to bait the trap that he has employed since the Garden of Eden. 

For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world.  1 John 2:16 (NLT)

Adam and Eve fell into temptation when they succumbed to Satan’s lie, “You will be like God” (Gen. 3:1-7).  Eve was certainly convinced! She and Adam gave into the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. With that one action sin and guilt entered the world. The reality is that since that time man has wanted to be his own god. We think that being our own god means freedom from accountability.

In Luke 4:1-8 we read that Satan used the same approach with the Lord Jesus!  We would be fools to think he does not try the same things to tempt us.

People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  1 Timothy 6:9 (NIV)

Idolatry takes many forms in current culture. Some people idolize money and possessions; others idolize celebrities, sports figures, and musicians. Look at the popularity of the program AMERICAN IDOL and the millions of people who watch each week and vote for their “idol.” Criminal rap artists are held in high esteem by today’s youth; the actions of high-priced athletes (who once were lauded for their abilities on the playing field but now are notorious for their antics off the field) are being emulated by high school players.

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.  Luke 12:15 (NIV)

The daily news is full of stories of those who have lied, cheated, stolen, prostituted themselves, sold drugs, and even murdered for physical pleasures. The bottom line is simple—we were born to worship.

We have been created to worship God, but our sinful lusts have driven us to worship and idolize the things of the world. Are you beginning to see how perhaps some of the things you struggle with are from an idolatrous and self-centered heart?

Along the way of life some women came to believe that they needed certain things or people to make them happy. Some believe they need success or security, others crave acceptance, and others are motivated by the fear of not succeeding, or not being accepted or secure. These motivations spurred on by the desires of the heart have born exactly the kind of awful fruit you would expect.

God’s desire for us is to glorify Him, to live a life that honors and serves Him. Isaiah 44:17-20 gives us a picture of how our foolishness can easily lead us into idolatry. In that passage we find the woodsman who plants a tree and tends to it; God provides the rich soil and rain to nourish the tree; and the sun provides the light it needs to grow strong and tall. The woodsman cuts down the tree and uses part of it for firewood to roast the meat God has provided, and then he takes what’s left and makes a carved idol! He falls down in front of it, worships and prays to it.

Very often the people and things we hold on to are intended to rescue us from something. We might believe they will rescue from loneliness or bring us peace or security.  Some idols are intended to meet perceived or felt needs, and hopes and dreams are wrapped up in them. Some idols are the objects of love or adoration and the person believes they cannot live without it or them.

We are to serve God alone so we must deny the urge to idolize things and people. God made things available for us to enjoy and placed people in our life to love because this glorifies Him.  We are not to worship or build our lives around those people and things and they certainly are not to replace our love for the Lord.

Things become idols when they come to mean more to us than living our life to glorify, worship, serve God, and minister to others.  When we make idols out of people or things, believing they will give us what we want, we have stopped worshiping God. Felt needs become idols when they are so important that you are willing to violate God’s Word to have them.  A real good indication that idolatry is present in your life is when you are willing to sin to get what you want.

It is at this point you must ask yourself if what you are holding onto is a lie.