Commandment #1: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3)
This is one commandment most of us do not think we ever break. We tend to imagine an idol worshipper lying prostrate before a carved image. Yet, the command is much broader than that. An idol is anything or anyone who takes the place of God in our lives. It is anything—an object, idea, philosophy, habit, occupation, sport, or person—that is your primary concern, or that to any degree decreases your trust and loyalty to God.
“Our God is the person we think most precious, for whom we would make the greatest sacrifice, and who moves our hearts with the warmest love. He (or it) is the person who, if we lost him, would leave us desolate.” —Alan Redpath
Nothing is to be placed before the Lord. If God is what He claims to be, then He must be supreme in our lives—before everyone and everything else.
What can be idols in our lives?
The god of oneself
“[They] exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).
Certainly some people worship their own likeness, but it is not limited to their physical bodies. For all practical purposes, they simply feel that the world revolves around them. All they think about is what they are going to get out of life. They always want to come out on top. They want success at any cost—regardless if it is at the cost of faith, family, or friends.
The god of pleasure
“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things” (Philippians 3:18–19).
The people who worship this god may be living for sensual or sexual pleasure. The problem with this is that once you have tried a thing, you soon tire of it and want more. It then becomes more perverse and deviant, an unholy appetite that cannot be satisfied legitimately (see Ephesians 5:12).
The god of possessions
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).
“If I have made gold my hope, or said to fine gold, ‘You are my confidence’; if I have rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because my hand had gained much. . .this also would be an iniquity deserving of judgment, for I would have denied God who is above” (Job 31:24–25, 28).
Every man or woman has a god. For some, it is the one God of the Bible. Yet for others, it is something or someone they live for, or perhaps some passionate pursuit in life. It is terrifying but true: a person can worship in church every Sunday, yet be a full-time idol worshipper!