Finding Freedom from Modern Day Idols

The Israelites had witnessed God’s mighty defeat of Pharaoh, His power to part the sea, and His provision in the desert. Yet, within days of Moses’ absence the people gather their gold and silver to make a golden calf to worship. They knew the power of Yahweh, and still, they made for themselves an idol.

Many people today think that idols are what primitive people worshipped, that in our modern era, we’ve evolved beyond our worship of idols. In reality, we have developed modern day idols who rule our hearts and demand our allegiance.

What is an idol anyway? According to Tim Keller, an idol is “anything more important to you than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” What are some of our modern day idols?

Love: Placing value in romantic relationship, marriage, the need to be attractive to the opposite sex, lust, the approval of others, loving your children too much.

Money: Always needing the latest technology, consumerism, materialism, greed, spending too much, worrying about affluence, the need for social status, personal comfort.

Success: Striving to be #1, the need to feel accomplished, driven by performance, competitiveness, over-working, workaholism, climbing your way to the top.

Power and Glory: The need for control, having influence over others, getting your way, recognition.

Ideologies: Political affiliations, philosophical ideals and values, religiosity and moral living, social and cultural labels, race, gender, one’s own identity

Pleasure: Shopping, overeating, internet and social media use, entertainment, gossip, adventure and thrill seeking, working out, drugs, alcohol

Idols are not inherently bad things, they are good things that have become more valuable and necessary to us than God. All idols take our focus off of God and place it on ourselves. These modern day idols promise to make us feel good, significant, and happy, but they cannot deliver on their promise, because we were not created to find pleasure, worth, and joy in anything other than God. How then do we overcome our idolatry? We replace our idols. We will always worship something, so we must turn our hearts to the true source of its home–God himself. We replace our idols by repenting of them, and rejoicing in Jesus instead.

We fix our eyes on what Jesus did for us on the cross:

  • Jesus gave us the love we’ve always craved by reconciling us to God.
  • Jesus became poor so we might become rich in Him.
  • Jesus accomplished the perfect life so we might rest in His finished work.
  • Jesus gave up His power and glory, so we might have victory.
  • Jesus turned cultural and religious paradigms upside down by establishing His kingdom.
  • Jesus endured the greatest suffering, so we might experience the greatest joy in Him.

We do not overcome our heart’s idols in isolation; we do it in community. Whether it’s a small group, a community, or recovery group, we find freedom when we join with others in praying, repenting, and seeking heart transformation. If you’re struggling in any area of your life, don’t go through it alone. Find a group of people who will love and support you on your journey toward healing and freedom.

About the Author

Gabriella Bemis

Gabriella Bemis serves as a volunteer for Calvary’s communications and worship teams. She holds an M.A. in psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is passionate about integrating her knowledge of human behavior with the truth of God’s word. When she is not writing resources or singing at church, Gabi loves to paint, cook, and enjoy time outdoors with her family and friends.