What does the Bible say about idolatry?
Everything belongs to God. Everything is about God. We have to understand who God is. He is not a god, He is the one and only God of the universe, who reveals Himself supremely in the person of Jesus Christ. Romans 1 tells us that idolatry is exchanging the truth of God for a lie. It’s worshiping the creation rather than the Creator. It’s exchanging the glory of God for self.
Anything that takes the place of God in your life is idolatry. Christ reigns over all and until you realize that you will be running around searching for things that will never complete you.
2 Timothy 3:1-2 tells us that, “In the last days terrible times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy.”
Idolatry begins when you lose sight of Christ. We have taken our focus off of Christ. We no longer have an impact on the world. People don’t know God, they don’t want to know God, and now idolatry is growing faster than ever before.
Christian quotes about idolatry
“If you want to follow Jesus because He will give you a better life, that’s IDOLATRY. Follow Christ for the sake of Christ. He is WORTHY.” – Paul Washer.
“Idolatry is seeking security and meaning in someone or something other than God.”
“For what is idolatry if not this: to worship the gifts in place of the Giver himself?” John Calvin.
“False gods patiently endure the existence of other false gods. Dagon can stand with Bel, and Bel with Ashtaroth; how should stone, and wood, and silver, be moved to indignation; but because God is the only living and true God, Dagon must fall before His ark; Bel must be broken, and Ashtaroth must be consumed with fire.” Charles Spurgeon
“An idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand.” A.W. Tozer
“We make a god out of whatever we find most joy in. So, find your joy in God and be done with all idolatry.” John Piper.
“If we make an idol of any creature, wealth, or pleasure, or honour – if we place our happiness in it, and promise ourselves the comfort and satisfaction in it which are to be had in God only – if we make it our joy and love, our hope and confidence, we shall find it a cistern, which we take a great deal of pains to hew out and fill, and at the best it will hold but a little water, and that dead and flat, and soon corrupting and becoming nauseous (Jer. 2:23).” Matthew Henry
“As long as you want anything very much, especially more than you want God, it is an idol.” A.B. Simpson
“When anything in life is an absolute requirement for your happiness and self-worth, it is essentially an ‘idol,’ something you are actually worshiping. When such a thing is threatened, your anger is absolute. Your anger is actually the way the idol keeps you in its service, in its chains. Therefore if you find that, despite all the efforts to forgive, your anger and bitterness cannot subside, you may need to look deeper and ask, ‘What am I defending? What is so important that I cannot live without?’ It may be that, until some inordinate desire is identified and confronted, you will not be able to master your anger.” Tim Keller
“Whatsoever we have over-loved, idolized, and leaned upon, God has from time to time broken it, and made us to see the vanity of it; so that we find the readiest course to be rid our comforts is to set our hearts inordinately or immoderately upon them.” John Flavel
“The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.” A.W. Tozer
“I fear that the cross, without ever being disowned, is constantly in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy, by relatively peripheral insights that take on far too much weight. Whenever the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed for idolatry.” D.A. Carson
God is going to break your idols
When you have been saved by the blood of Christ, then comes the sanctification process. God is going to break your idols. He is going to prune you. He is going to show us that idols in our life hold no merit and they will leave us broken. A few years ago, my brother had a kiteboarding accident. Due to his accident, he would have constant headaches.
It would hurt his head when he read books. The only time reading wouldn’t hurt his head was when he was reading the Bible. Through his pain the Lord allowed him to see that his kiteboarding hobby became an idol in his life. It took the place of God in his life, but at the end of the day it didn’t satisfy. It left him empty. My brother’s relationship with Christ grew during this time and for the first time in a long time he had peace. He found satisfaction in Christ.
Sports can be an idol for many. That is why many athletes push themselves to the limit and they try to outdo themselves. We can literally turn anything into an idol. We can turn our hobby into an idol. We can turn godly relationships into an idol. We can turn worry into an idol. God is going to reveal to us our idols and He is going to show you that apart from Him you have nothing.
1. Ezekiel 36:25 “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.”
2. John 15:2 “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
3. John 15:4-5 “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
What is your eye looking at?
Once again, some of the most innocent things can become idols. Ministry might be the biggest idol for believers. God looks at the heart. He sees what your eyes are looking at. Many of us want to be the big guy. Our eyes are set upon having the biggest church, being known as the most spiritual, knowing Scripture more than others, etc.
We have to ask ourselves what are our motives? What is your motive for reading Scripture? What is your motive for wanting to plant a church? What is your motive for wanting to go on a mission’s trip? Jesus said, “whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” We don’t want that today! We would rather have the fame than to be a servant in the back. It might seem harsh, but it’s true. Are you doing all things for His glory? Sometimes we become so busy doing things for Christ that we forget the One who we do it for. Many preachers are lifeless in the pulpit because they have forgotten the Lord in prayer.
Have you turned the things of God into an idol? What is the goal of your life? What are you looking at? My performance as a Christian used to be my idol. I would have full assurance of my salvation when I was feeding myself spiritually. However, when I forgot to read Scripture or was not feeding myself spiritually I would not have full assurance of my salvation. That’s idolatry.
My joy was coming from my performance and not the finished work of Christ. Your performance as a Christian can become a huge idol and if it does become an idol you are going to walk around joyless. Instead of looking at your imperfections, your struggles, and your sin, look to Christ. Our shortcomings make His grace shine so much more .
4. Matthew 6:21-23 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
5. Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
6. 1 John 2:16-17 “For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
7. 1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Nothing can compare to the water that Christ gives
Something that we can never deny is that nothing will ever truly satisfy us. You and I both know it! Every single time we try to find joy in other things we are left stranded in the desert. Apart from Jesus Christ there is no eternal joy. Our idols give us a temporary peace and happiness and then we go back to feeling dull again. When we choose our idols over Christ we go back feeling worse than before. Christ is everything or He is nothing.
When you fall on hard times what is the first thing that you do to ease the pain? There is your idol. Many people eat, they watch their favorite shows, etc. They do something to try to numb the pain, but these are just broken cisterns that don’t hold water. You need Christ! I’ve tried to satisfy myself with the things of the world but they left me dead inside. They left me begging for Christ. They left me more broken than before.
Nothing can compare to the joy of Jesus Christ. He says, “come drink this water and you will never thirst again.” Why do we choose things over Christ when He gives us an open invitation to come to Him? Jesus wants to satisfy you. Just like cigarettes, idols should have a warning label on them. They come at a cost. They make you thirsty again and they blind you from what Christ has to offer.
Idols are dead, idols are mute, idols are loveless, idols hold us back from moving on. Why choose something that never loved you over someone who died to have a relationship with you? It’s not too late. Repent now and set your heart on Jesus Christ.
If there is a chain that needs to be broken in your life, then look to Christ who breaks every chain. We should be like the Samaritan woman in John 4. We should be excited for what Christ has to offer. Instead of giving our attentions to what the world has to offer, let’s look to Christ and worship Him.
8. Jeremiah 2:13 “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
9. John 4:13-15 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
10. Ecclesiastes 1:8 “Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.”
11. John 7:38 “To the one who believes in Me, it is just as the Scripture has said: ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.”
12. Philippians 4:12-13 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
You become like your idol
It doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not. You will become like what you worship. Those who spend their lives worshiping God are filled with the Spirit and it’s evident in their life. When you make something your idol you become consumed by it. What do you mostly talk about it? There is your idol. What do you mostly think about? There is your idol.
Worship is a powerful thing. It changes your entire being. Sadly, worship is used for bad more than good. Why do you think teens are dressing immodestly? Their gods on TV are dressing immodestly. Why do you think women are seeking plastic surgeons? They want to look like their idols.
The more that you are influenced by your idol the less content you become. Our idols tell us we’re not good enough the way we are. That is why many people try to look and act like their favorite celebrities. Idols don’t know your worth, but Christ thought you were to die for.
It’s a horrible thing once we fall into the trap of worshiping things over God because you get deeper and deeper involved in them. This is one of the reasons that it is hard for those who are involved in voodoo to turn from their wickedness. Idol worship blinds you to the truth. For many of us idols have become a way of life and we probably have been so consumed by them that we didn’t even know that they have become idols.
13. Psalm 115:8 “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.”
14. Colossians 3:10 “and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
God is a jealous God
It doesn’t matter who you are. We all want to be loved. It should give us so much comfort to know that we are so loved by God. God doesn’t share. He wants all of you. We can’t serve two masters. We are to put God first before everything.
It’s so cliché to say, “God first.” However, is it a reality in your life? Idolatry is serious to God. So much so that He tells us to flee from it and to not associate with people who call themselves believers but are idolaters.
15. Exodus 34:14 “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
16. Deuteronomy 4:24 “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”
17. 1 Corinthians 10:14 “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.”
18. 1 Corinthians 5:11 “But now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a verbal abuser, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.”
19. Exodus 20:3-6 “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, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
Idols separate us from God
There are many believers who are spiritually dry because they have replaced God with other things. They feel like something is missing in their life. Idols create a brokenness and a hunger in us. Jesus is the vine and when you separate from the vine you separate from the source.
When you unplug your phone charger from your phone what happens? It dies! In the same way when we get unplugged from the Lord we slowly start to die spiritually. We feel like God is distant. We feel like God has abandoned us when truly it was us who have separated ourselves from Him. You are told to “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
20. Isaiah 59:2 “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”
21. Psalm 107:9 “for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”
22. Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”