Do you know what the Bible has to say about idols? If you have been a Christian very long, you probably know that an idol is not a good thing. But what is an idol, and what does the Bible really have to say about them? If you are interested in tearing idols out of your life, try this post.
What do you worship?
An idol is anything that takes the place of God in your worship. Not only that, but the Bible seems to say that if you are not worshipping God, you are worshipping something else. I cannot find one instance in the Law that God doesn’t instruct his people not to turn away from his commandments, without warning them away from idol worship.
God created us to be worshippers. All the earliest humans worshipped something. They worshipped the sun, the moon, nature, their ancestors. We are born knowing that there is something we should worship.
The High Places
When the Israelites took the promised land, they were surrounded by peoples who worshipped other gods. God instructed them to keep separate from these peoples so that they wouldn’t be tempted by their gods. He also commanded them to remove the high places from the land that they took from the peoples in the promised land (Deut. 12:2). The high places were hills where gods like Asherah and Baal were worshipped.
If you read 2 Chronicles you’ll see that many of the kings did not remove the high places that people had rebuilt in the land. Almost without fail, Scripture notes whether each king removed the high places. It’s so important that, for some kings, most of what is noted was their age, reign, whether they were righteous, and whether they removed the high places. Little else is said of kings like Amon and Zedekiah except that they were evil kings.
The mere presence of high places in your life leaves the door open to idol worship. High places may look different than they did to the Israelites, but they are no less dangerous. The media that you watch that praises beauty or financial success above all else, that may be your high place. The job that is so competitive because the most important things are power or success, that may be your high place.
Whatever the case, the presence of high places in your life doesn’t excuse you. The average person in Israel didn’t have a say in whether the king removed the high places. But they were still accountable to live a righteous life. If you can change a circumstance so that your high places are removed that’s great. If you do everything you can, and the idol you have struggled with is still in your life, you have to worship God with so much of your heart that you don’t worship that idol anymore.
God is jealous of idols.
The most Holy One who has ever existed has asked that you worship only him. Through the Bible men who encounter him cover their face. They fall to the ground in shame. His mere presence is so holy that they are overwhelmed with their sin in comparison. It would be laughable to think of worshipping an idol if it wasn’t such a grievous thing.
What the Bible has to say about idols hasn’t changed.
What the Bible has to say about idols remains relevant. Our idols have changed somewhat, not in their basic form, but in how we pursue them. Never before in history has there been such weird avenues for success and money. Influencers make their living trying on make up and clothing. Earlier this year a woman died of exposure who had become famous on Instagram for hiking in a bikini.
If you love to try on makeup and it supports your family, I’m not calling you an idol worshipper. Not if you like to watch influencers either. Your heart is before God, not me or anyone else. The question is whether the first and only thing that you worship and cling to, is God. If you are struggling with whether a certain thing is an idol, take a break from it. Spend that time in prayer about it and follow God’s direction.
Where to begin.
If you want to study what the Bible has to say about idols for yourself, I suggest that you begin to study the first five books of the Bible. You will see again and again how other god’s fail men, and how God exhorts us to worship only him. You can find my free course on how to study the Bible here if you want direction on how to study in depth.
If you want to learn more about idols, you might want to try my post, How to Find Freedom From the Idols in Your Life here.