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That Idol That You Love, It Doesn’t Love You Back

Everyone has to live for something and if that something isn’t the one true God, it will be a false God–an idol.

An idol is anything more important to you than God. Therefore, you can turn even very good things into idols. You can turn a good thing like family, success, acceptance, money, your plans, etc. into a god thing–into something you worship and place at the center of your life.

This is what sin is. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything (even a good thing) more than God.

Do you know the idols you’re prone to worship? At our church we talk about 4 root idols that we tend to attach our lives to.

CONTROL. You know you have a control idol if your greatest nightmare is uncertainty.

APPROVAL. You know you have an approval idol if your greatest nightmare is rejection.

COMFORT. You know you have a comfort idol if your greatest nightmare is stress/demands.

POWER. You know you have a power idol if your greatest nightmare is humiliation.

Here’s what you need to know about your idol: That idol that you love, it doesn’t love you back. False gods don’t love you. Idols don’t keep their promises. Anything you worship and build your life on other than God will suck the life out of you and destroy you.

A relationship with Jesus starts when you identify and turn from your idols. Notice what Jesus was always doing with people during his ministry–he was constantly identifying and challenging people’s idols, calling them to turn from their false objects of worship in order to follow and worship him.

I’m convinced that the reason there is so much shallow Christianity in our culture is because many people never displace the idolatry in their lives with Jesus, but instead simply bring in Jesus as an “add on” to their life, keeping their idolatry firmly in the center.

Americans think freedom is found in casting off all restraint and being masters of our own lives. What we are blind to is the reality that everybody has a master. We all worship something and whatever we worship is our master. Idols make bad masters. They enslave. Until you identify the idols in your life you will feel enslaved, tired, and unhappy and you won’t know why. You will feel this way until you discover the only master who can set  you free: Jesus. Jesus is the one master who will love you even when you fail him. Your idols don’t do that. Jesus is the one master who loved you when you were at your worst and who reigns over your life with perfect wisdom, power, and goodness. He’s the one master you can trust. Only he can give you freedom.

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols” 1 John 5:21


See also:

Love People, Not Their Idols

Start a Revolt at the Idol Factory

Idolatry is Like a Pacifier

The best short treatment (10-20 pages) on idolatry is chapter 12 of Darrin Patrick’s book, Church Planter.



25. April 2012 by Justin Buzzard

Comments (36)

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  3. Thanks for that! painful but necessary revelation for my soul today.

  4. Thanks, Justin. An excellent reminder. I would go further than using “Americans” and say “humans”. You do not need to talk long with anyone on this sod to know they face one of the four idols (or more) that you’ve listed.

    • Justin,
      I needed to read this…days before, I my idols were piled up in a heap and realized, consumed my heart, soul, mind. My family severed, closest friends lost because of it.With unbearable despair, could only look up.
      There was a cross! Jesus was watching all along-He didn’t interfere.Just lovingly, patiently waited. Feeling shame,confessed my sin. Leaving the pile of idols behind me and knelt before the cross. Realizing Idols do not love you back-not even another person could-Only Jesus can and has set me free!
      Enjoying His Grace,
      Lorraine Cobb

  5. Pingback: That Idol That You Love, It Doesn’t Love You Back | KBC Life University

  6. Totally agree! Our attempts to control our lives – to find happiness apart from God – end up controlling us. Our idols become straight-jackets or our own making, compulsions because they respond only inconsistently. I love this saying: “What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.” That’s what we do with idols! Only God gives a different result – sometimes painful, but always leading to a closer relationship with Him.

  7. Great word!
    Thanks so much, the Lord’s face towards you.

  8. Great read! Thank you for sharing. Anyone looking for an even deeper dive into idolatry should check out Keller’s book, ‘Counterfeit Gods’. God bless!

  9. this is the first time i’ve seen anything like this… bravo. even though i’ve learned to practice this, just seeing it put ‘this way’ is music to my ears. i love it.. thank you

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  12. Praying that I will take the beam out of my own eye before I try to take the speck out of my brothers eye.

  13. Fantastic!! Absolutely fantastic!! Well said and convicting.

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  29. This is awesome. Thanks a lot Justin

  30. Great read, I’m looking forward to reading your book Date Your Wife.

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