Can a christian have idols?

No, of course not! We don’t have little statues in our houses… Well, idols can have many shapes & sizes or may even be “invisible”… When God defined who He is in Exodus 20, He also defined where you wouldn’t find Him – as an idol… The truth is that there are no other existing gods BUT when we fail to serve Him alone, we can create our own and bring them to life…

I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself any idol, or any likeness (form, manifestation) of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth [as an object to worship].
You shall not worship them nor serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous (impassioned) God [demanding what is rightfully and uniquely mine], visiting (avenging) the iniquity (sin, guilt) of the fathers on the children [that is, calling the children to account for the sins of their fathers], to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing graciousness and steadfast lovingkindness to thousands [of generations] of those who love Me and keep My commandments.

– Exod 20:3-6

You may say: “you won’t find ANY metal or wooden statues in my house…!!!” but some idols are not physical but spiritual. They may even be taken from the Word of God – but they are useless, shadow-like phantoms that seem powerful only to us – if used incorrectly. Here are five such possible ’idols’ in the life of a christian:

  1. Jesus’ Blood – To use the Blood of Jesus like magic
  2. Prayer – When Faith/Prayer becomes more powerful than God
  3. Fasting – The fast way to turn God’s arm
  4. Personal Revelations – When the ‘words of God’ are more important than the ‘Word of God’
  5. Praise & Worship – Do we sing our way into His presence?

I know what you are thinking – “I should stop reading this crazy article…” but just hear me out – I am not questioning the method, rather the motive:

1. Jesus’ Blood

Like most of the spiritual idols, this is usually used in ignorance and learned from peers when praying or teaching about our authority in Christ. When trusting in the sovereign loving character of God, we never need to use special powers we believe we need to overcome the enemy. Our enemy is also God’s enemy and He has defeated him so that we don’t have to do more than stand against him (Eph 6:13-14, Jam 4:7). The Bible never instructs us to metaphorically or spiritually apply the blood of Jesus over our lives. The same is true regarding the practice of “pleading the blood of Jesus.” And, to emphasize the point, the Bible never gives us any examples of anyone in the Bible doing this either. It is human to feel that we cannot just stand, we have to do something but God took care of this and everything we need is in Him. 

2. Prayer

This spiritual idol is probably the biggest and yet the most unrecognized one in any christian’s life! As I have explained in a previous article – Using God’s Name in vain – Jesus came to challenge the Jews about their perception of prayer in the BE-attitudes (Matt 6:7). There is nothing wrong with praying but when we keep on praying and praying that what WE think should be the will of God instead of trusting HIM, then it will become the focus and not Him. Like Jesus said in v7 – when we take our words out of prayer, what remains…? To Jesus trust is the basis of prayer and not words or the amount of words we use. The problem is: we believe more in our prayer than we believe in His sovereign (sometimes opposite to what we believe is best) love for us. Prayer is more about trust than it is about words. Then 1 Thes 5:17 (pray without ceasing) becomes do-able…

3. Fasting

Normally we move to fasting when it is really an important matter to us or when we perceive that prayer didn’t have the desired outcome we thought it would. It would seem like the spiritual ‘second gear‘ in the drive to get what we need. Again there is nothing wrong with fasting – it is actually a very healthy discipline – but the bible’s intent for it is not to manipulate/force God to move on our behalf. Rather it is used to identify with the needs of the poor and humble oneself (Matt 5:6) to see righteousness come to pass. In the Hebrew language the word for ‘righteousness‘ and ‘charity‘ is the same word – Tzedakah and shows that when we help others, we are hungering & thirsting (v6) with them to see justice prevail.

4. Personal Revelations

All of us have listed to someone give a ‘word from the Lord‘ – it can be a compelling word or something we have to go ‘test‘… (1 Thes 5:21). In the times of Israel, a prophet’s authenticity was confirmed by his words becoming true or obliterated by the lack thereof. In modern times when someone says ‘thus sayeth the Lord‘ or ‘the Lord told me‘ – how can we but agree with them? For the Lord didn’t specifically tell you something else… And this is where many Christians have seen a loophole – when I say something, I can get criticized but when I add ‘the Lord told me‘ – who is going to criticize the Lord’s words, right? Mmm, we are commanded to test it anyway against the Word of God because the Words of God can not override the Word of God! It is critical to understand the Word of God otherwise we might give an A+ grade to a wrong answer. I have heard a preacher say: “I will say what I want the Bible to say” – this is where the idolatry begin – we use the Bible to prove that our revelation is correct instead of proving the Bible with our revelation.

5. Praise & Worship

Worship starts at 18:00 next week Sunday night” the pastor would say before we all go home. Does it? Or is the correct thing to say: “Worship started at the beginning of time and we are joining it at 18:00 on Sunday night for an hour“? Then we sing a few fast songs and then the songs become slower and softer as we begin to move ‘into His presence‘… Is He not omnipresent? Does He not promise never to leave or forsake us? (Deut 31:8, Jos 1:5, Heb 13:5). I believe we are always in His presence and that is why we sing. If we need to sing or do something to be acceptable to God, then we have missed the point. We‘ need the praise and worship, not God. We‘ need to be reminded that He is the reason we exist and that we live and breath through Him (Act 17:28)! If we believe that we are not worthy to approach Him without songs of worship, then it has become an idol we deem higher that Him. Simply start where you want to finish – as close to your Father as the air that you breathe.