Idolatry Explained


You shall not make idols.

It is one of the Ten Commandments and most would take a look at that one and do a mental “check” and move on. It seems it belongs with the other obvious ones like “Do not kill” and “Do not steal.” You take a sweeping glance around your house, you don’t see any golden calves, and you move on.

How can this be a relevant command?

Idolatry is the worship of idols. A simple Google search will give you that much. But what is an idol? It can be as obvious as a golden image that symbolizes a deity and is worshiped―literally. However, I think we need to go deeper. There is more to this command and it is not coming from a place of jealousy or piousness. Our God is asking us not to make anything an idol―an object, person or activity that we carry great admiration for or religiously worship. Now religious worship is just high praise (or deep admiration of the heart) given to something on a regular basis.

So why would God be opinionated about what you give your regular attention to?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 (NIV)

Where your treasure (the thing you admire and protect) is, there your heart (your devotion and your desires) will be also.

He is commanding you to be careful of what you admire and what you worship because those things will woo your heart and your desires. The word “desire” breaks down into two words: “de” meaning “of” and “sire” meaning “the father.” So if you are worshiping or admiring something above all else, it can become a father (a guiding) figure in your life. Out of that admiration your longings and desires are born.

Worship and commune with the Father and his desires become your desires.

On the flip side, if you worship and commune with anything else on a religious (regular) basis, you will have conflicting fathers. We cannot serve two masters and one will overtake the other. Idol worship can lead to the breaking of the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Even if you want to toss aside the Ten Commandments and claim New Testament immunity, I have bad news for you. Jesus himself said the greatest command was to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37.) If you worship an idol, you fall prey to violating the greatest commandment. Now before you look at this from the way we all as humans tend to look at things, I want you to hear me out.

Our God is good. Agreed? He is for our good. Right? Like all good parents, his goal is to protect us and keep us safe. This command is not about our requested admiration of him. This command is about staying under the wings of his love. If you protect your affection from being unequally given to other things, you can be most affected by his love for you. In other words:

Keep God as the largest shareholder in your heart. His investments are sound and always for your benefit.

Nothing else on this world can guarantee that. The more you decide to worship God, the more you see his love and admiration for you. Casting aside idol worship is not about the can not’s of Christianity. It is about the massive desire the Lord has to protect you and your heart from anything else getting to define you. He wants to be the author and perfecter of your identity.

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