We do not think of ourselves as being guilty or capable of idolatry, but it happens all the time, just not in ways that we associate because we associate idolatry with pagan religions and man-made images of created things. It is why the 1st commandment of the Mosaic Law given to the people of God was “you shall have no other gods before Me”, and then the 2nd being, “you shall not make an idol for yourself, etc.” and then even the 3rd which is related to the first two, “you shall not take the name of the Lord you God in vain”. These were the prioritized commandments because of man’s sinful inclination to worship “other gods”.
However, Jesus’ answer to what the 1st and greatest command was, sounded different in, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.”, but they are actually related, because “idolatry” directly and negatively effects our ability to do so. For example, as Jesus said, “you can not serve two masters, God and money.” The terms “other gods” and “idolatry” have broad application to other things such as homes, clothing, jewels, career, titles, awards, pleasure, sex, drugs, alcohol, cars, parents, marriage, spouses, children, fortunes, possessions, luxury, and food, etc. when our souls look for “God replacements” to provide joy, peace, security, rest, provision, honor, purpose and more.
It is important to understand what the roots of idolatry are in order to identify it in your our heart, mind, and soul, so you can begin tearing down and smashing the altars and idols that exist in your life. Behind each and every one of them is an evil desire or spirit deceiving you and leading you away from loving and worshiping God alone to your fullest capacity.
The first “false god” mankind put “before God” is Satan, the fallen cherub angel, the liar and deceiver, who after failing to make himself equal to the Most High God when he attempted to ascend higher than the stars (which also symbolize other angels) and establish his throne above all, because of pride, vanity, and rebellion – ref Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28., then successfully tempted Eve, and Adam through her, to become “like God” also, knowing good and evil. That idea (the idol) represented by the “shiny apple” was the evil desire that motivated mankind to also unsuccessfully attempt to become “like the Most High God.” In other words, both Satan, Eve and Adam, considered “equality with God, something to be grasped”, which is the exact opposite of the Son of God, who was God, but didn’t consider it that way, and humbly took on the form of a man who would be obedient unto death. Jesus descended first and then later ascended to the throne that had rightfully been prepared for Him above all. He was made for a little while lower than the angels, but later crowned with glory and honor.
A special revelation in this teaching, is that Satan played a dirty trick on mankind, because they were already “like God” in every way they were suppose to be, because God had created them that way. In Psalm 82, God states, “I said, you are gods. You are all sons of the Most High, but you will die like mere men”. Mankind already had everything it needed as children of God but were deceived into trying to grasp equality with God, becoming their own gods and the second false god (self), living but actually dying pridefully and rebelliously independent from God the Father. It was the sin of Satan, whom they had become like, and also fallen.
This is the same sin of idolatry that Christians need to identify and crush; reject the lies and false promises of Satan, breaking the idolatry of worshiping man, whether self or others, especially leaders everywhere including those in the Church, due to the appearance of higher holiness, knowledge, or power; but also in secular government, entertainment, sports, technology, finance, science and more. Nor are we to worship “church” itself, the visual trappings, the rituals, the sacraments, the bible, the healings, the music, or other “experiences” . We are the Church and we cannot worship ourselves. Remember, Satan became enamored with his own beauty that God had clothed him with and then wickedness grew in his heart.
The false gods we put “before God”, and the ones we try to become ourselves, or idols we worship instead, will lead to death and certainly will prevent us from loving and serving God with full hearts, minds, and souls as we were created to do and redeemed for.
We can do this, because the Good News tells us that as we bore the image of the earthy man, the first Adam, so we will bear the image of the man from heaven, the second Adam, and be allowed to even sit with Him on His throne, as He promised in Revelation 3:21. However, we are spiritually seated with Him, even now, so repent of idolatry first and then rise up as sons and daughters of the Most High God and live in your true identity with Jesus, whose image and likeness you are being transformed into day by day. Accept and appropriate for yourself not just the power of the Ressurrection but also the reality of the Ascension, above the stars where we are seated with Christ in heavenly places.