Worship is one of the most important parts of who we are. God created us to worship Him, and it is our highest calling. However, when a person refuses to worship the God that created them, they become idolators.
Being an idolator doesn’t need to be put into categories of good or bad, wrong or right. Idolatry should instead be looked at through the lens of unnatural and unhealthy. When a person idolizes things or people instead of God, they are putting themselves into a harmful position, by opening up doorways to the occult giving a foothold to the devil.
God doesn’t want us to be in a position of a slave, and that is why He has so many strong warnings about idolatry. Yes, idolatry is offensive to God, but thankfully God now sees us through a lens of Jesus Christ shed blood, and not for our unrighteousness. Therefore, God’s wrath is not placed on us for our idolatry, but instead, God’s grace is covering us as He helps to sanctify us in the process of becoming holy.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
Many of us struggle with idolatry. It’s nothing new. In this day and age, we have basically grown up in Babylon and no longer remember the former days of devotion to God and a lifestyle of worship. Many of us have never even had that as an example to learn from, and with the increasing influence of Satan in this world, it becomes too difficult to tell the difference between idolatry and healthy boundaries.
Every singly person is on a journey of sanctification, and it’s just such an important path. Through this journey, we learn so much more about God, and His different aspects, such as Father, Friend, Comforter, Provider, Healer, and so much more. We also learn more about ourselves, not so we can learn how terrible we are, but to learn better how we can ultimately relate to God in all these roles.
God does not want to condemn us for idolatry, He wants to heal us. He wants to make us whole and bring us back to where He originally designed us to be, and that is a beautiful thing! We should rejoice when we feel conviction or led by the Spirit to make changes, not lead into self-hatred or judgment. What’s worse, we should never use our convictions to harm others who are not on the same path we are on.
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Romans 8:19
So what exactly is idolatry? Idolatry is any person or object, including any living thing or diety, that has taken God’s place on the throne of our hearts. It can be ourselves, and it can even be Lucifer. We can exalt our jobs, children, spouse, family, business, a celebrity, or even an ideal or belief. When that thing or person carries more weight of importance in influencing your life than God, you have allowed that to become your god.
Now some people get confused between idolatry and false belief systems. False belief systems can and do lead to idolatry, but it’s not the same thing. Idolatry is willful and agreed upon by your whole self. It is a conscious act. False belief systems are built upon lies that have been taught as truths, and aren’t understood by the conscious mind, but instead a subconscious level belief. These beliefs hold a great amount of weight and influence over us and we don’t even realize it.
For example, I grew up being taught that Jesus was cruel and abused me. I believed because of that God was evil and hated me, and if God was evil, then I was absolutely evil. These are all beliefs that were deeply ingrained into me and have affected every aspect of my life. They have affected how I think, behave, talk, and many choices I have made. Believing I was evil led me to openly practice witchcraft and believe that I was a witch.
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Romans 8:7
I could not associate myself with God because He was evil and cruel. Who would want to be connected to a god like that? So I rejected God and everything that was affiliated with Christianity. Naturally, I was drawn to things that presented as evil – things like witchcraft, death, horror, vampires, magic, sex, drugs, etc. in movies, music, games, and just everyday life. I related to these things because I felt they represented who I was or who I wanted to be.
As much as I believed I was evil or bad or even a witch, those things could never define me. God made my identity before time began and He started with “worshipper of God Most Hight”. How could I worship God when I hated Him? How could I identify with who God created me to be when I wanted to be nothing like Him? This is exactly what the devil intends to do to us in order to destroy our God-given identity and make us into idolators.
However, no matter how hard Satan tries to shape us into his image, he will never succeed. You see all the lies and shame and pain that he puts on us to try to remake us can’t stick. They are like a bag over our heads that temporarily blinds us, but can never define us. We can just as easily take the bag off our heads in order to see correctly again. Granted for some of us it is a longer process and there are many more bags, but there is so much grace in the process!
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:25
Let’s go back to idolatry. Many of us have grown up in a lifestyle of idolatry, even as Christians. It takes a mature mind to comprehend idolatry and learn to walk away from it, but it takes a humble heart that’s willing to serve to lay down idolatry for good.
Some people will live in idolatry and never leave it, but many will learn to face the truth and tear down generational idolatry. We don’t know the hearts of men and therefore we can never know which path any individual is on. Our convictions are only for us, and to judge others’ idolatry is to try to take the place of God, especially when we have our own heart condition that needs help.
Did I turn my identity of being evil into an idol? Yes, absolutely. Did I know I was doing it? No. I was blinded to the truth. Sure I had an understanding at some level that I had a deep belief that I was evil and it was affecting me, but I never could have seen the idolatry that it led to. I wasn’t ready, and I couldn’t hear the truth. I was so stunned by the pain oozing out from the belief that I felt paralyzed by it.
Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? Matthew 7:3
God wants the very best for us because He loves us, but we have to understand that God’s best for us is to worship Him and live to glorify Him. It is the reason for our being and anything outside of that is harmful and unnatural because it leads us away from the image of God and towards the counterfeit image Satan created. If we want to love ourselves and others, living a life that honors God, then we will look back to the Garden before the fall.
We will ask Jesus to lead us into truth and heal us where we are broken. We will understand how painful the process of uncovering false identities and idolatry is and use that to have grace for everyone around us. We will recognize idolatry in the world and in others, but we will fight it through prayer as we stand strong like a light on a hill, letting the darkness know it can’t hide.
And finally, we will have grace for ourselves when we are totally blind to our own sin because we will remember that God is a good Father, who has the utmost compassion for us in our broken states. It is why He sent Jesus to die in our place.
Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me.