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How to Tear Down the Idols in Your Life

How to Find Freedom From the Idols in Your Life

November 16, 2018

Idols. The sentence seemed to jump off the page and smack me in the face. It was during my quiet time and I was reading in Psalm 115, that idols can’t see, hear, or help us, when I saw the next verse. When I put my trust in idols, I become like them. I become helpless, dumb, unable to see or hear, unfeeling. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about idols normally. Even though I know that an idol can be anything, I still think of small carved images when I hear the word ‘idol.’

Red Flags That Show an Idol in Your Life

The definition of idol in Webster’s is “an object of extreme devotion.” I don’t know about you, but just reading that definition is already making me squirm. Things in my life that I am extremely devoted to are just running through my head. Here are some ways to look at your life and decide if a belief or desire is idolatry.

The ‘But’

A huge idol that God has been dealing with me about is my own comfort. Idols seem like they should be far removed from my life, yet they rear their ugly heads in the most unlikely places. Blogging is both easy and hard for me. On the one hand, I  love to write, it comes easily to me as an introvert.

Getting my blog read on the other hand? Here is where my ‘but’ comes in. It’s way out of my comfort zone to put myself out there on social media and in conversation. I really believe that this blog is something that God called me to do though, so making it available to as many people as possible goes hand in hand with that.

God points out an action that would be to his glory. I feel his conviction about it and the first word in my head is ‘but.’ “But I’m an introvert.” “But that’s not my spiritual gift.” But. The word ‘but’ deflates God’s word in your life before you even have  a chance to consider obedience. Allowing myself to say ‘but’ when I sense God speaking to my heart, causes me to be deaf towards his leading. It causes me to be unfeeling towards the person he is moving me to reach out to. It makes me a dull and unusable tool in his hands.

The ‘Later’

I’m not sure who first said that ‘delayed obedience is disobedience,’ but it is so true. Often when I find myself putting God off until ‘later,’ it is because of the influence of an idol. My selfishness and desire to keep my own comfort level come screaming back, and my sensitivity to his leading is numbed once again.

Breeding Complacency

Each time I give one of my idols my devotion, it dulls my senses a little more. When I complain that God is asking me to do something that is not my spiritual gift, or I put off obedience for later I lose the sensation of conviction. Its why sin becomes easier with time. The first time I sin, I feel the instant uneasiness that goes with God’s presence in my life when I’m not living rightly. But over time the sensation dulls. When I continually push God’s voice to the side, it begins to stay there.

tearing down the idols in your life

High Places

The Bible mentions idols 118 times, it mentions other gods 66. God knew that we would continually struggle with our devotion to him. A read through of 1 and 2 Kings tells over and over of kings who either fully embraced the pagan practice of sacrificing on the high places, or simply allowed the high places to remain in Israel.

In both cases, the mere presence of a location that exists for the purpose of worshiping another god, invites the people to turn away from the true God. It may strike us as foolish to serve the sun or moon as gods, instead of the one who created them, but do you serve money instead of the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills? I can serve the idol of job security, or I can witness to a coworker at God’s prompting. Each choice I make that doesn’t expressly put God first in my life, opens me up to idol worship.

What Now?

Now I have to decide whether I will tear down the high places in my life today. I can either serve the idols they represent. I can leave the high places and keep them in the corner of my eye while I pay lip service to God. Or I can tear them down, rip them from the ground they are planted on and give my whole devotion to God.

Update: This post has gotten such an amazing response! Thank you to everyone who has emailed or commented! If you are struggling with an idol in your life, the number one thing I recommend is to spend time with God’s Word. The Bible is clear that in the absence of actively following God, we will actively follow and idol.  If you aren’t sure how to study the Bible, please check out my free course- How to Study the Bible.

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  • Kay

    Thanks for this impactful article. God bless you.

    May 21, 2019 at 1:12 pm Reply
    • danellsteffen

      You’re welcome Kay, I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

      May 21, 2019 at 1:28 pm Reply
  • Monique

    Thank you for being obedient and please pray for me in this area. I dont want to choose idols over my Lord.

    May 22, 2019 at 1:21 pm Reply
    • danellsteffen

      Of course I will pray, I recommend spending time reading the Bible. It will help you keep your priorities in line with what God wants.

      May 22, 2019 at 1:33 pm Reply
    • Jenna | Peaches and Prayer

      I know exactly where you are coming from with the “but”s and “later”s. It is something I think about often. I am happy our eyes are open to identifying our idols. I’m grateful Gods word makes us aware of where we need to grow.

      May 30, 2019 at 4:57 pm Reply
      • danellsteffen

        I agree, thanks Jenna!

        May 30, 2019 at 5:30 pm Reply
  • Mariana Percy

    Yes, thank you for your message, for sharing with us. I don’t know if you can say that grandkids can become, or are the idols in our lives???
    I became a grandmother 7 years ago, from my daughter and her husband. I am so in love with them, it’s so hard for me to go on long trips, because I miss them so bad. My husband is a pastor and a missionary at large. I am having such hard time to chose to stay home and be close to them or be with my husband away in mission trips for a whole month. I know the Word of God says that we should love God more, and I know God wants me to be with my husband, to serve together on the field.
    I pray and ask others to pray for me in this regard. Bless you all, and bless us all to obey God first and do His will first.

    July 30, 2019 at 9:36 pm Reply
    • danellsteffen

      I agree that anything can become an idol. What is a struggle for one person might not be a struggle for someone else. God promises to give wisdom to anyone who asks for it, I will pray that for you, I know that as life goes on the sense that they are only little for a short amount of time intensifies. But I really think that God will honor your search for his will and give you clarity and peace. Choosing the hard thing often comes with much greater blessings.

      July 31, 2019 at 1:26 am Reply
  • Anne Mackie Morelli

    Daniel, I really appreciated your article and your insights about idols. The comment that probably struck me the most was your comment regarding how we become like the idols we worship – lifeless. What a great reminder that it is only through worshipping Jesus that we become fully alive.

    December 11, 2019 at 2:53 pm Reply
    • danellsteffen

      Thanks Anne! I’m so glad it resonated with you.

      December 11, 2019 at 8:54 pm Reply
  • Amber

    Delayed obedience is disobedience.
    Wow. That statement is going to stick with me for a while! As a mom to toddlers, this resonates because I see it in them and it drives me crazy. How much more of a BIG deal is it when it relates to me not obeying my Lord and Savior right away!

    December 11, 2019 at 4:53 pm Reply
    • danellsteffen

      Yes! I say this to my kids and forget to say it to myself!

      December 11, 2019 at 8:53 pm Reply

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