Modern Day Idol Worship
When we think about idols we tend to only consider the worship of false gods in terms of non-Judeo-Christian religious systems. We think about Greek and Roman, Aztek, Incan and Mayan “gods”. We think about Old Testament idols such as Baal, Astarte, Asherah, Chemosh, Dagon, Moloch and Tammuz.
God is clear that we are not to worship these idols.
“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…” (Exodus 20:3-5a)
If you were to ask most Christians if they ever worshiped idols almost all would say they wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing. However, I believe most of us regularly DO unwittingly worship false gods.
If you are interested in confronting and renouncing your idols, pray and ask the Lord to reveal if you do this.
The word translated in Exodus 20:5 as “jealous” could also be translated as “zealous”. God doesn’t hate idols because He is puny and needs our worship. God still hates idols because He still LOVES PEOPLE. He knows that worshiping anything other than Him is unhealthy for people.
Another way to know if we practice modern day idol worship, even as believers, is to monitor our own thinking to see what we think about the most.
“Today we can allow many things to become gods to us. Money, fame, work, or pleasure can become gods when we concentrate too much on them for personal identity, meaning, and security. No one sets out with the intention of worshiping these things. But by the amount of time we devote to them, they can grow into gods that ultimately control our thoughts and energies.” (Life Application Study Bible Notes)
There is a third way to tell if we are worshiping idols and this has to do with the unlovely ways we behave when one of our idols is threatened.
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” (Galatians 5:13-15)
I think most Christians, including myself, are guilty of this from time to time. What does it look like when we “bite and devour one another”?
Sometimes it can look like when we practice drunkenness with alcohol, drugs or gambling while our loved ones suffer. Its hard for them to do without or to just watch us drive ourselves into the ground like that.
The most common manifestation of this happens when our idol is threatened and we turn on our loved ones, co-workers, friends or other members of the Body of Christ. If we find ourselves demeaning and humiliating, becoming violent with, screaming, yelling, ignoring and/or cussing at those the Lord has blessed us to have in our lives…there is a good chance all that is how the demons behind the idol demand to be worshiped.
Marital strife, family problems, church splits…division of all kinds are evidence of this idol worship.
Remember, satan lives to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10a) and his demons follow his lead. Satan hates unity in righteous relationships and loves division. Idolatry is a common form of flesh (Galatians 5:20) and satan uses a person’s flesh against him or her.
Other manifestations of our flesh (like biting and devouring one another) are listed in Galatians 5:19-21. None of these are lovely; all of them indicate flesh and idolatry in some way.
We were all born into a spiritual warzone. That wasn’t out fault; we inherited that from Adam and Eve. We are NOT, though, helpless in that war. God has equipped us.
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (Galatians 5:16-17)
The only way to see victory in that war is to choose to “walk in the Spirit”, which means to trust in Jesus instead of anything else. For our purposes today, it means discerning what we hope our idols will provide for us or protect us from, renounce that, and (instead) actively and aggressively turn to the Lord for HIS provision and protection.
I’m convinced that God will NEVER strengthen our flesh nor cause our idols to be successful for us. In fact, God enjoys smashing idols.
“Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again. And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon's torso was left of it.” (1 Samuel 5:1-4)
I wonder sometimes how long we keep ourselves in financial or health related discomfort because we choose to worship something far inferior to God instead of simply depending upon Him. We’ll have a death grip on some man-made idol while praying for God to meet our needs or protect us.
I’m convinced the Lord is thinking, “Well, pick one.”
I guess this piece is a challenge for us to pick one.
“Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-15)
When Joshua drew that line in the sand the people at least said they wanted to serve the One True God. That’s what they said – just like we did when we received Jesus as our Lord. Joshua told them that they couldn’t serve God and idols and they proclaimed their allegiance to God.
His counsel was that they “put away” or totally abandon their false Gods and the idols which represent them.
“So Joshua said to the people, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD for yourselves, to serve Him.’ And they said, ‘We are witnesses!’ ‘Now therefore,’ he said, ‘put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.’ And the people said to Joshua, ‘The LORD our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!’” (Joshua 24:22-24)
You see, its not enough to decide to not use drugs or get drunk or scream at a spouse anymore. If we allow the idol to remain (“just in case”???) satan will easily get us back to it so we can worship it instead of worshiping God. We MUST do two things.
First, we must totally abandon our idols. Deuteronomy 12:3 says this: “And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place.”
Second, we must incline our hearts to our Lord God. This means turning away from other earthly or demonic sources of protection and provision.
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
Perhaps when we renounce our idols and turn to the Lord our prayers in times of trouble will sound more like David’s:
“Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth. I have hated those who regard useless idols; but I trust in the LORD. I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, for You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities, and have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a wide place.” (Psalm 31:5-8)
I pray our prayers will sound more like David’s and that modern-day idol worship will forever cease for us.
Pastor Mike McInerney
Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.
© June 27, 2022
(for use with permission)