Idolatry looks completely different today from what it once was. Whereas there was a time when idols were inanimate figures and statues, today they can come in various forms. Idolatry is an issue of the heart and can thus only be broken by a transformation of the heart.
God promises that through the power of the cross, we are now set free from sinful desires and can find meaning and joy in Jesus Christ where other things will only fail us in trying to provide that.
Idols are anything that takes God's place in giving us fulfillment, satisfaction, security or significance. Many of the things that people have idolized -- both past and present -- are not necessarily bad things, but good things that take bad positions on our priority tree.
We are taught by the Bible to always put God first in our hearts. Colossians 3:5 says, "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry."
Here are five modern-day things that we find it hard to admit are actually taking over our lives.
Work. Many people look to work for a sense of significance and security. While there is nothing wrong with work, it can be dangerous when it drives our decision-making to the point of completely ignoring God's ways and desires, or we put it before things that are equally or more deserving of our time.
Success. God wants us to be successful, but He does not desire success to take His place in our hearts. When we pursue success outside of God's will, we will find no satisfaction, but when we choose to surrender to God and His ways, Joshua 1:8 promises that we "...will be prosperous and successful." It's particularly easy to make success an idol when we follow other people's definitions, rather than God's.
Phones. Or tablets or whatever shiny piece of kit you carry around with you and can't stop checking every five minutes. If you're giving your electronic device more time and attention than your loved ones, something's wrong.
Image. In the age of Facebook and Instagram, we can be obsessed with projecting the image of the perfect life, perfect relationship, perfect kids, perfect holidays, perfect friendship group...Just choose your filter and in one click, your life can look like everybody else's dream come true. But the Christian faith is about the joy found in God, more than in ourselves or the things of this world. Let's make sure we're projecting this image to others more than anything else. In amongst all those pictures of yourself and all the great things in your life, are there any pictures of your church or anything that would speak to the world of your faith in God?
Materialism. This is a prevalent problem most especially with younger generations with all the peer pressure. But that's not to say that older generations are free from it, as today's consumerism - not to mention billion-dollar advertising industry - drives us to believe that we need certain objects, possessions and substances to feel happy and content. And with internet shopping and today's global market, there's no end to the things we could buy. Now more than ever we need that fruit of the Spirit, self-control.
Sex. Although sex was designed and created by God, man has maligned and distorted its value and purpose. We can be easily driven by the flesh instead of the word of God, especially in an age when nudity is celebrated over modesty, sexual exploits are boasted over, and our visual culture is awash with provocative images. In this day and age, sex has become an idol that drives us to make small and big decisions that will lead us away from Christ if we're not careful.
Money. Ok so it's not exactly a modern-day temptation only, but the lesson remains the same. There is much value in money, but it is not the most valuable thing. That's why Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."