Dismantling Idols

Dismantling Idols

February 28, 2022 2 By Tricia Satorius

 “Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which He made with you…

For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”

Deuteronomy 4:23-24

The Lord has been so faithful in my life, and so gentle in His correction of me. When I read through the Old Testament, I realize how many times I should have been smitten by God, rather than rescued by Him. The grace He has extended to us as His children and co-heirs with Christ is truly incredible. 

It is easy to read through the stories of the Israelite people and wonder how they could possibly have turned to idol worship over and over and over when God had proved Himself to them so many times, rescued them, provided for them, and spoke so clearly to them. He split the Red Sea when they were being chased by Pharoah, and they walked through on the dry ground. He caused the walls of Jericho to fall, and He closed the mouths of lions. God led the people of Israel through the wilderness with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He provided them manna from Heaven to eat and caused water to flow out of a solid rock. They had no lack of miraculous encounters with God. Yet the people of Israel, God’s chosen and beloved people, disobeyed and turned to idol worship again and again. 

Yet here we are, doing the exact same thing today, 2000 years later. 

Idol worship in today’s culture is a bit more ambiguous. We aren’t carving statues to worship or bowing down to the god of the sun. But what we do in our hearts is the exact same mentality. Furthermore, just like the people of Israel, our hearts are prone to it.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;

Prone to leave the God I love.

Robert Robinson: “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Our hearts are always longing to feel fulfilled and satisfied outside of God. This pattern goes right back to the garden of Eden. The serpent whispered to Eve the lie that God was holding out on her. He was able to convince Eve that what she needed most was found outside of the perfect relationship she had with her Creator. And when you think about it, isn’t this is the basis of all sin: questioning God, stepping outside of His design, and grasping onto whatever it is we think we need more? This comes so naturally to our sinful nature that we often don’t even realize we are doing it.

“Idolatry is turning a good thing into an ultimate thing.”

Tim Keller

So what does this look like, to take a good thing and make it an ultimate thing? I think we do this in numerous areas, perhaps multiple at the same time. Take a look through the following list and ask the Lord to highlight any area that may be a trouble spot in your life.

Here are some areas we can idolize:

  • careers/vocations
  • motherhood
  • marriage
  • children
  • other relationships

Our time and thoughts can be consumed with things like:

  • materialism
  • social status
  • entertainment
  • popularity

We can put our security in:

  • finances
  • healthcare
  • relationship status
  • government

None of these things are bad things, in and of themselves. But when they become so intertwined with our identity, and when they become pillars to our personal happiness, hope, or peace, we should re-evaluate the place these good things hold. Another way to check in on the state of your heart is to take note of how you react when these things are taken away or are falling short of your expectations.

In my life, I can usually pinpoint idols when I find myself depressed or devastated about the lack of whatever that thing is I am trying so desperately to use to bring me wholeness. Most recently, that thing has been my marriage. When thinking through modern-day idolatry, I never would have thought my marriage was a place I struggled with this. Then recently, during a study on Elijah by Priscilla Shirer, the Lord spoke to me so clearly. We were in the book of 1 Kings, on Mt. Carmel with Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Elijah had told them to prepare a sacrificial offering, but not to light it on fire. The God who answered with fire would prove Himself to be the one true God. So the prophets of Baal went first. They prepared their offering and began to cry out to their god. They went on and on, all day long; thrashing and yelling, cutting themselves, begging and pleading – but much to their dismay, their god never showed. Then it hit me. How different am I from the prophets of Baal, when I beg and plead and cry out for my husband to be everything I need him to be? I allow myself to be emotionally destroyed when he doesn’t fulfill me like I think he should. No matter how much I negotiate, communicate, beg or cry out; no amount of human effort is ever going to make my husband fulfill me the way that only God was meant to. God is good and He blesses our lives with good things, but He will never allow a gift to become our god.

Either God is God, or He is not.

We cannot rest or be content until we find our hearts completely satisfied in Christ. Priscilla referred to this as “settled confidence”, and I just love that phrase. Is my heart settled, content, in Christ? Am I confident in His love for me? Does my life and attitude show He is enough? I think I had justified the longing for my husband to complete me because it seemed right. God needs to be first, of course, but my husband falls somewhere in there too, right? Turns out, God does not negotiate nor does He share His Kingship. He wants my whole heart. The Holy Spirit revealed to me I will feel so much more loved and whole and complete when I rest in His sufficiency, rather than depending on human effort, which is inconsistent at best. If I can learn to rely on God’s love to sustain me, then anything in addition to that (like the love of a husband) will be an added blessing, just as it was always meant to be.

The truth is nothing: no person or relationship, no occupation or income, no amount of followers or likes, no social status or material thing will ever be enough to satisfy the desires of our hearts. Regardless of how good or fulfilling they may seem, they will always fall short. And when we try to make them complete us in ways only God can, they have become our idols.

It’s time to do some dismantling.