Anytime I hear someone comparing things like watching too much TV or even something more sinister like drug addiction to the worship of idols, I take issue. Have you ever heard someone say things like “anything that you put ahead of your relationship with God is considered an idol”? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think anything should come before our relationship with God, but comparing it to idol worship, in my opinion has always been an inaccurate comparison. The bible teaches us that idol worship was the most grievous offense that any human could commit against our Lord. Israelites worshiped statues of stone and wood as if they were literally gods themselves. It angered God to the point of him wiping out thousands of his chosen people. It angered him like no other sin could. Yet, we say that anything we put ahead of our relationship with God is equal to that? I disagree, and I’ve held strong to that belief all of my adult life and still do. Usually, idol worship is an outward expression, but there is a portion of scripture that teaches us that worshiping idols in one’s heart is just as bad as bowing down to a physical idol. It comes from Ezekiel 14:3-5 which says:
“Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When any Israelite sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling block before his face and then goes to a prophet, I the Lord will answer him myself in keeping with his great idolatry. I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have deserted me for their idols.’”
Now some might argue that “idols in the hearts” could means anything that we put ahead of our relationship with God, but the bible is clear about what an “idol” is. My bible concordance states an idol is “anything that is worshiped instead of the true God.” It goes on to say that “In Bible times, idols were often statues of false gods made of wood, stone or metal.” And that “Idolatry is the worship of these idols.” With that in mind I believe that Ezekiel is saying that the Israelites were secretly worshipping idols in their hearts even though they didn’t physically worship an actual statue. I say all of that to express how this scripture reinforces the idea that God looks at our hearts. And even though the Israelites committed the worse sin they could commit in their hearts, God treated it as if they were physically worshiping a statue. We can’t hide anything from him. The Israelites were worshiping idols in their hearts and God could see it. Likewise, I believe that God can see the sin in our hearts even if it hasn’t manifest into physical acts of sin, and he hates them just as much.
God knows what we think, feel and do. He knows where our allegiance is even if we don’t say it. The Israelites couldn’t hide sin from God even though it was not an outward expression of sin, and we can’t either. So, I encourage you to remember that though we can hide things from people, we can’t hide anything from God. Therefore, we need to do everything we can to make sure our hearts are pure before him.