When you realize you are desperate for something, recognize that thing is likely an idol. You can make anything an idol. Even good gifts from God.
An idol can be
- A person—ourselves, our husbands, our children, a president, a pastor, a boss, a friend, an actor, a singer, etc…
- A concept—happiness, romance, marriage, fame, power, popularity, beauty, control, a promotion, lust, porn, a false religion, etc…
- A thing—money, a fancy house, being a certain weight/size, jewelry, possessions, cars, surgery, drugs, alcohol, etc…
An idol is an unhealthy addiction. It is something you look to for your security, identity, purpose, and ultimate fulfillment other than the Lord.
We are all prone to creating idols in our hearts. In our culture, we don’t even realize what we are doing because we don’t go to a shrine and bow down and offer sacrifices.
But we actually do bow down and sacrifice to our more subtle idols. We sacrifice time, energy, relationships, family, God, and anything we think we need to in order to get what we want most.
We can have many idols in our hearts at the same time.
4 signs of idolatry
- Desperation “I HAVE to have this thing in my life or my life is worthless!”
- Extreme fear of losing the idol, “If I lost my husband/my child/my beauty/this house/my money, my life would be over. I would just want to kill myself.”
- Willingness to do anything, including sin, to get or keep the idol.
- Depression because you don’t have what you want most or because you have it but it is never enough.
Results of idolatry
When you trust idols you are not trusting God. And when you don’t trust God, the results include:
- pride, self-righteousness
- fear, anxiety, worry
- bitterness, resentment, malice, jealousy
- disappointment, despair, desperation, depression, loneliness suicidal thoughts/attempts
- control, disrespect, selfishness
- harming others, grieving God, harming ourselves
- broken fellowship with God, unanswered prayers, spiritual powerlessness, dysfunctional relationships
But you don’t have to be a slave to a lifeless idol that can’t save you! Jesus can set you free from the power of idolatry! PRAISE GOD!
10 Steps to Tear Out Idols in Your Heart
- Study God’s character and attributes. Get to know who He is and stand in total awe of Him. He alone is good. He IS love. He is life. He is perfect. There is nothing evil in Him at all. He is the Creator. He is the Judge. He is the Savior and He alone is worthy to be worshipped as King of kings and Lord of lords.
- Humble yourself. Study your place in the universe according to Scripture. Recognize God is infinitely higher, holier, more powerful, and He is sovereign. You are not God. You are not the Holy Spirit. You are small and weak next to God. You need Him. Die to your old self and old desires. Receive your new identity in Christ and live in that, not your old self.
- Bow yourself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and purposely exalt Him alone to the throne of your life. Decide you will live to love and honor Him. Seek His will and His glory. Seek His presence passionately knowing He is the Greatest Treasure in the Universe. Lay down your idols before Him and invite Him to do what is ultimately best. Be willing to mentally/emotionally let go of the idols. Hold them loosely and hold onto God tightly.
- Don’t feed your desire for your idols. For example, if your idol is romance, you may not be able to read romantic novels or watch romantic movies if you end up feeling dissatisfied with your life afterward. Remind yourself, “This thing can’t ultimately satisfy me. Only Jesus can give me Living Water. Everything else is a broken cistern that can’t satisfy.”
- Nourish your soul with time in God’s Word and prayer daily. Guard that time zealously. Come to God for a two-way relationship. Sit at His feet and receive His goodness, love, and fellowship. Rejoice in His presence. Taste how good He is. Ask God to help you desire Him far above anything else.
- Confess any sin you notice immediately and repent. Don’t let it fester and brew and get worse. As we get rid of sinful thoughts quickly, we are much more sensitive to the Spirit’s promptings, loving reminders, and even gracious rebukes.
- Be aware of the red flags/triggers that you are falling for an idol and take your thoughts captive for Christ right away. Turn from the desire for the idol and purposely set your hope and faith in Christ alone. If you see you are getting resentful because your husband isn’t doing something you wanted him to do, remind yourself that your ultimate security and faith is in Jesus, not in a person. Remind yourself to seek your contentment and satisfaction in Christ above all else.
- Sing songs of praise to God and speak His Word and promises out loud often. This is spiritual warfare and your weapons are praise, prayer, worship, and the Word of the Lord. You don’t have power against the enemy on your own. But the Lord sure does!
- Read what God’s Word says about idols and those who worship them and what happened to the Israelites and other nations who worshipped idols. Remind yourself that idolatry is one of the most heinous and egregious sins people can commit against the Lord. It feels like adultery to Him.
- Ask God to help you hate idolatry as much as He does. Ask Him to help you see your motives clearly so you can catch any wrong thinking right away and take your thoughts captive for Christ. Ask Him to help you be aware of what you are thinking.
The most important thing is to remember that you are to be a “living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1-2)
So you yield all of yourself, your will, your desires, your dreams, your plans, your time, your future, etc… to the Lord. And you seek Him, His will, His desires, His plans, His glory, and His purposes with all that you have and all that you are, trusting Him to do what is best in light of eternity.
Scripture about Idolatry
- You shall have no other gods before me. Ex. 20:3 (the greatest commandment)
- Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Col. 3:5
- Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. Jonah 2:8
- All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Isa. 44:9
- Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 1 Cor. 10:14
I Was SURE I Would Never Make My Husband an Idol – a guest post
My Secret Idol (a wife with an unbelieving husband’s idol is her husband’s salvation)
For more information, here is a post by a wife who realized her husband was her idol:
For baby steps on how to put Christ on the throne of your heart and not idolize your husband but have a healthy relationship with him, please check out my book, The Peaceful Wife.
To see how to stop idolizing your children, check out chapter 7 of The Peaceful Mom.