In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul addresses believers who “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Idol worship takes on many forms. All too often at one point or another we may cross the line and find ourselves making an idol out of something.
One biblical example is that of Moses and the bronze serpent on a pole. When the people spoke against God, He sent venomous serpents as punishment. Then the people went to Moses admitting their sin and asking for him to pray. God instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent which the people would look at in order to live (Numbers 21:4-9). Originally the bronze serpent was a blessing, but eventually, it turned into an idol. Generations later, King Hezekiah broke it into pieces (2 Kings 18:4).
Throughout history and even today, objects of all types have been turned into idols. Again, once the object becomes an idol, that which was meant to bring life can bring death. Many religious objects have been made into the “answer” for our sins and troubles. However, in fact, it is Yeshua, the living Word, who paid the price for our sins and who sent the Helper, the Spirit of God to dwell in us who is our protection.
How could a pastor become an idol?
In various areas of life, all too often we look to a man in authority – a leader we can see standing physically in front of us. This is understandable because we often feel the need to lean on something tangible. I have noticed that no matter how often I admonish the congregation to look to God, they still tend to look to me for answers that only He can give. This is dangerous for the congregation, and is subtly used by the enemy to bring disappointment, blame, and division.
Yes. The pastor should be an example of living a life dedicated to God, a life of intimacy with Yeshua and the leading of the Holy Spirit in daily life. However, our strength is in God, and our personal decisions must be made by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Another area which can become a form of idol worship, even among believers in Yeshua, is the desire for a marriage partner and family.
How could marriage and children become an idol?
Marriage and family are natural and biblical. However, we must not put them on the highest pedestal in our hearts. If they become the focus of our thoughts, causing us to put Yeshua aside in the name of a relationship, we are putting the cart before the horse. Moreover, a marriage relationship without God in the center is incomplete. (I want to encourage people to be patient because God has a plan for our lives and timing is part of it.)
We must be aware of what our heart is drawn to, because the enemy sees and the moment our attention is caught we run the risk of entering into the enemy’s trap, believing it is from God. Later when things don’t work out we may find ourselves asking God why He led us there. In all things, we must guard our heart: “Worship the LORD your God, and Him only shall you serve” (Luke 4:8).
Our strength is in God, and our personal decisions must be made by the leading of the Holy Spirit.