There are so many idols to distract us from God and His truth. This world has many temptations to entice us away. Our hearts are the real culprit however. Much of what we desire and long for can be classified as good desires and longings, yet how we seek to fill those desires and longings often leads us to idolatry.
But wait a minute! Idolatry? Most of us, particularly in the Western hemisphere, would say that we don’t practice idolatry. We don’t bow down to wooden or gold statues. We don’t offer sacrifices anymore. But idols aren’t necessarily something physical. Idols are anything that we look to for satisfaction. Idolatry is worshipping something or someone other than the true God. In this way, we can see multiple ways that we turn to idols to fill our desires rather than to God Himself.
The desire for close friendship is a valid desire. The desire to grow in knowledge and understanding is a valid desire. But if I sin in order to fill those desires, they have become idolatrous. When I scroll through my Facebook feed and get jealous seeing my friends hanging out with other people rather than me, I have turned that friendship into an idol. When my longing to learn and study leads to buying books that I cannot afford, I have turned my desire for knowledge into an idol.
So how do we turn from idolatry to worshipping God? It all goes back to the heart. What am I looking to for satisfaction? Heart change takes time and involves a continual renewal of truth to remind ourselves that true satisfaction is found only in God, not in other people, knowledge, money, or power. They may temporarily satisfy, but will never really fill the longings we have within us. When I find myself longing for something, I need to examine why I am desiring that particular thing? Am I looking for it to fulfill me? Or is it something that God is using to bring Him more glory? Will this friendship help me to honor God with my actions and attitude? Or will it cause me to sin against Him? As long as we live in this sin-cursed world, we will struggle against idolatry. But that doesn’t mean we are defeated. Rather, God continues to renew His children and sanctify us with His truth. We go back to His Word to remind ourselves of His majesty and love. He is our only true Savior.