Not many people in our American culture worship and bow down to physical images and statues. Instead, our idols are things like money, entertainment, sports, sex, health, fitness, image, relationships, and work. But whether the idol is an actual statue or something like football or a flat stomach, the truth is that idols are dangerous and deadly. Here’s how Richard Lints explains it as he discusses the image of God in man as it relates to idolatry:
“The image finds its flourishing in its relationship to the original. Creatures find their satisfaction in the God who made them. The idol represents both a false fulfillment and a perversion or corruption of the creature. The [biblical] canon goes to great lengths to narrate the tug in human hearts between the living God and the idols who pull them away from the living God.”
“Idols are dangerous in the same way that outside love interests are dangerous to the marriage. Adulterous liaisons inevitably pull the marriage apart at the seams. As with adultery, so idolatry is about both wrong beliefs (e.g. a belief about where satisfaction can be found) but more importantly, idolatry is also about corrupted desires (e.g. the desire to get gratification on whatever terms are necessary).
“All idolatry involves error in belief to some extent, if the belief in question is that some creature has a worth enjoyed only by the Creator. If there is only one God, there is only one object worthy of worship and adoration. Monotheism and monolatry go hand in hand. The worship of one God (monolatry) is a necessary consequence of the belief that only one God exists (monotheism).”
These are some profound thoughts about idolatry. It is dangerous, it is about wrong beliefs, and idolatry is about corrupted desires. These are things to think about as we fight idolatry and seek to faithfully bear the image of God rather than sinfully bear the image of an idol we’ve made. As the Apostle John said, Dear children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:21 NIV).