Psa 102:18 This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.
Isa 43:7 Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.
Rev 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Because of our sinful nature, however, we have been separated from God and we desire to worship other things instead. Essentially we make idols for ourselves out of whatever we believe will bring us what we desire most. So a person who desperately desires acceptance may turn to sex, or a person who desperately wants security craves money and becomes a workaholic.
We don’t always identify these things as acts of worship but that is exactly what they are. Darrin Patrick in his book ‘Church Planter’ defines idolatry this way.
‘Idolatry is: What we put in the place of God that captures our imagination and heart, and then we become servants of our object of worship. Our object of worship will always be the primary influencer of our thoughts, our emotions, our actions, and of course, our lives.’
He goes on to describe what idols do.
‘They seduce us and draw us into complete intoxication, enslavement, and dependence. They steal the love that should be directed toward God alone. In idolatry we willfully exchange what our hearts should love for a cheap prostitute.’
Often times in our modern world we label idol worship as addiction. Consider this definition of addictive behaviour.
Addictive behavior is any activity, substance, object, or behavior that has become the major focus of a person’s life to the exclusion of other activities, or that has begun to harm the individual or others physically, mentally, or socially.
It’s a definition that is remarkably similar to our definition of idolatry. Compare ‘Our object of worship will always be the primary influencer of our thoughts, our emotions, our actions, and of course, our lives’ to ‘any activity, substance, object or behaviour that has become the major focus of a person’s life…’. Clearly they are expressing the same idea of an object or thing that has become the major focus of our life.
Idols can take many different forms.
‘A person can become addicted, dependent, or compulsively obsessed with anything…. The type of activities which some people find addictive include gambling, food, sex, pornography, computers, video games, internet, work, exercise, spiritual obsession (as opposed to religious devotion), pain,cutting and shopping.’
It is often easy to identify some forms of idolatry in a person’s life such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography etc. However often times there are socially accepted forms of idolatry such as work, money, status, a particular biblical doctrine, spouses or children that often hide in plain sight.
Through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross we can return to the One True God whom we were created to worship. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us reconciles us to God and enables us to approach his throne of grace (Heb 4:16) both metaphorically and literally. We must continue to examine our lives for idolatry and pursue with ferocious passion sincere worship of Jesus Christ.
Darrin Patrick offers some helpful questions to identify potential idols that may exist in our lives.
- What do I worry about most?
- What, if I failed or lost it, would cause me to feel that I did not even want to live?
- What do I use to comfort myself when things go bad or get difficult?
- What do I do to cope? What are my release valves? What do I do to feel better?
- What preoccupies me? What do I daydream about?
- What makes me feel the most self-worth? Of what am I the proudest? For what do I want to be known?
- What do I lead with in conversations? Early on what do I want to make sure that people know about me?
- What prayer, unanswered, would make me seriously think about turning away from God?
- What do I really want and expect out of life? What would really make me happy?
- What is my hope for the future?
The answers to these questions can help us identify where we may potentially turn away from Christ or indeed where we already have. If the Holy Spirit reveals idolatry in your heart as you go through this list then you need to repent and bring your idolatry to the foot of the cross.
Some idols must be given up entirely such as drugs and pornography. Others idols like work or family are good things that we have elevated to a god-like status. With these things we need to turn to the bible for an understanding of what place and position these things are to hold in our life in a way that honours God and in a way which ultimately worships Him.
Do not be deceived and seduced by the lie that the achievement of our greatest joy is the purpose of life. Rather remember the words of the Wesminster Shorter Catechism.
‘Q. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.’
Or as John Piper says “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”.
To have our deepest desires met, let us live for the glory of God by turning to him, not the pathetic cheap prostitutes of this world.