Few of us would say we struggle with the sin of idolatry, but almost all of us do. Idolatry takes on so many forms that it is difficult to recognize. The fact is, most of us would be unaware if not for someone else pointing out the issue in our life. The hard truth is Jesus plainly said we cannot serve two masters; He said we would love one and hate the other (Matthew 6:24).
Therefore, if we are falling prey to idolatry, we are introducing a second master into our lives. This means we love it more than we love Christ. We would never say it like that, but our lives reveal the truth.
What is idolatry? Here’s a definition I find helpful: idolatry is putting our trust in or giving attention to created things rather than the Creator. When our attention is on something man-made (possessions, reputation, career achievements), we are guilty of the sin of idolatry. If Jesus doesn’t have our full attention, then that thing keeping us from being fully focused on Christ is an idol. That idol cannot stay in our life if we intend to live as a disciple of Jesus. We cannot serve two masters.
When we look for hope and happiness in the things of this world, this too is idolatry. Our hope is only in Jesus. Nothing in this world will last. Every last piece of it will burn up and pass away. Only Jesus is eternal. Only He holds the keys to eternal life (John 14:6). There are things in the world that will bring momentary happiness, but the feelings fade, and happiness flees. The joy of Jesus will never leave you.
Idolatry is one of those sins that makes no sense. We know we have all we need in Jesus. His love is pure and his power is unlimited. If there was ever someone to trust in, it would be Christ. I assume if you are reading this that you know this to be true. And yet we are quick to run after things other than Jesus. We have everything, but till we turn to other things. All Jesus requires is our repentance and surrender to His Lordship. If there are idols in your life, then Jesus is not the Lord of your life.
You can live a life of earthly significance, but all that significance will die with you. None of it will get you into Heaven. In the end, nothing you achieve or acquire will count for anything. All that matters is what you do for Jesus. It begins with surrendering everything to Him. We have to remove the idols from our lives. We have so many idols that Jesus is getting pushed to the margins. For those who love Jesus, we must repent of our idolatry. If what we set our minds to do is not for the glory of God, we are practicing idolatry. If what our eyes linger on does not promote the beauty and holiness of Jesus, we are lusting after things of this world. We are coveting idols. No man can serve two masters. He will love the one and hate the other (Matthew 6:24). Does your life declare the glory of God or does it reek of the putrid odor of idolatry?