Identifying Idolatry in Your Life
I recently read an Instagram post about the idea of this current culture monetizing off the gospel for personal gain. It states “When I say monetizing the gospel, I mean using the Bible as a means to gain something for ourselves. Gaining a following. Gaining popularity. Gaining more downloads and sales. I’m calling out the culture that endorses using and branding the gospel for personal status, and the culture that’s monetizing off what Jesus paid it all for.” You can read the full post here.
It’s an interesting topic & perspective that really got me thinking about false idols and I want to discuss identifying idolatry in your life. Things like looking to social media to see what your favorite Christian influencer or celebrity has to say (in place of God & bible study) or hanging off of every word of the President (idolizing him as the savior of the world). We’ll discuss more on modern day idolatry but let’s begin in the scriptures.
Perhaps when you hear “idolatry” or “false idols” you think about the worship of a carved image. Well, I’m here to dive into scripture to reveal that idolatry actually goes beyond the worship of a statue. Throughout scripture we see multiple warnings against idolatry.
The first Commandment God wrote on the tablet was “I am the Lord your God, you shall not have any gods before Me” Exodus 20:3 This commandment forbids idolatry, the worship of false gods and goddesses, and it excludes polytheism, the belief in many gods, insisting instead on monotheism, the belief in one God. This commandment forbids making golden calves, and worshipping statues of Caesar, for example.
However, the Bible understands that idolatry extends beyond the worship of images and false gods. It is a matter of the heart, associated with pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony ( Phil 3:19 ), and love for possessions ( Matt 6:24 ).
Colossians 3:5 goes as far to say that sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, is idolatry.”
If you immediately have taken an internal stance against the idea of false idols in your life, I quote “let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” 1 Cor 10:12-13 In other words, we are all subject to this sin like any other. ✋
Modern Day Idolatry
If God says to put no other gods before Him, what are we putting before Him? You can identify your own idols by looking at how you spend your time and money. Idolatry comes in many forms such as/but not limited to excessive worry, lust, our kids, our spouse, our homes, wardrobes, likes, followers, personal glorification, materialism, T.V., money, food, health, wealth, work, our phones, social media, power, success, beauty, relationships, pride and personal intellect.
We idolize influencers & their online strategy, celebrities, politicians and even our own friends. We idolize ourselves by living through the lens of self-elevation to receive the approval and praise of others. Are you finding yourself obsessed with your online following, addicted to social media or perhaps a substance or pornography?
Here’s the thing, I believe God called me to blog. And although I’ve used social media platforms as a means to get more readers to my blog, I don’t believe God called me to social media. I’ve had to check my heart several times to stop strategizing and start surrendering. Because what it boils down to is that, if I’m not being the “hands and feet” then I’m missing the mark. My position is this calling is not to elevate myself, rather encourage others in truth and lead them to Jesus.
I don’t believe we have the authorization to sit back and judge the intent of the heart of a believer. Whether they’re influencing online, leading a church or hosting a small group in their living room. I personally don’t think Christian influencing is wrong nor is presenting the gospel in new ways i.e. IG reels and tik tok videos. But, the pursuit of personal gain in sharing the gospel, that is a matter of the heart that the Lord will judge.
With that said, Galatians 4:1-9 says that we are sons and heirs of Christ. Those of us that are born again should be so aware of the fine line of sharing the gospel and idolatry of ones self.
Friends, wisdom is to be shared as a means of encouraging the listener by introducing them to Jesus. Period, end of story. Jesus is the gospel. He paid the price on the cross. He is the way to The Father. He is the way to salvation.
Bible Verses on Idolatry
“You shall have no other gods before Me. Exodus 20:3
Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” Matthew 4:10
“Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 19:4
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” 1 John 5:21
“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” 1 Corinthians 10:14
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations.” Ezekiel 14:6
“Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” Jonah 2:8
“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them!” Psalm 135:15-18
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.” Galatians 4:8
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters” 1 Corinthians 6:9
Thanks for reading Identifying Idolatry in Your Life! Before you go, check out the Encouragement archives.