Church Worship

Why Are We So Prone to Idol Worship?

  • Alicia Purdy Contributing Writer
  • 2020 27 Feb
Why Are We So Prone to Idol Worship?

One of the most profound things any human being can come to understand is this: You were created to worship.

If you really understand this, many of the choices, habits, behaviors, and relationships you have will start to hold a different meaning. Because you were created to worship, you cannot help but worship. And if you are not worshipping God, what or whom are you worshipping, exactly?

Without a God-consciousness, that is, the Holy Spirit living within, most people will never stop to truly examine the answer to that question. However, for the Christian, the subject of worship is as crucial as salvation because if you’re not actively worshipping God, you are actively worshipping something or someone else.

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Worshipping Worship

Worshipping Worship

Idolatry comes in many forms and the most dangerous ways of slipping into the worship of anything or anyone other than the Lord are those you never see coming. One of the greatest tactics of the enemy, in terms of worship, is to let Christians think they are worshipping the Lord when they are not. Not all songs written by Christians about God are worship songs.

The worship music industry is a mega-machine filled with plenty of songs about Jesus, but, if you want to boil it down to its bones, in the simplest terms, worship isn’t “about” God, it is to God. 

One of the biggest reasons Christians struggle with connecting with the Lord through worship is because they’re not actually worshipping Him.

Worship is about the ministry of gratitude to the Lord.   Satan would love nothing more than to drag you into a headspace where you sing about your own depravity and sin more than you sing about God’s character or His nature or His greatness and love or what He has done to deliver you.

Worshipping worship is what happens when we spend more time talking about ourselves and our experiences in “worship” than we do talking to the God who is Lord over it all.

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Idol Worship in the Aisles

Idol Worship in the Aisles

The sin of idolatry goes back as far as the fall of Satan, when the created thing worshipped himself, instead of the Creator. Since that point in time, your enemy has spent every waking minute trying to disconnect humanity from the Spirit of God by destroying worship. 

Satan knows the true power of worship better than anyone in existence. He knows you were created to worship and that worship is what will maintain your vital, life-giving connection to the Lord and help you win the battle against him.

So, the enemy wants you to worship anyone or anything other than the Lord—even at church.

In the book of Romans, Paul writes “…They turned the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever…” (Romans 1:25)

This is the root issue of idolatry and within the church, it is subtle and easy to miss because our heart’s desire is to worship the Lord. No genuine follower of Christ wants to sing heretical or idolatrous music, but can it happen, even by accident. How? When the songs we sing are more about us than they are about Him. 

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Hallelujah from the High Places?

Hallelujah from the High Places?

In the Old Testament, in 2 Chronicles 33, Manasseh, a wicked and idol-worshipping king of Judah, has a powerful encounter with the Lord and changes completely to start worshipping God alone.

The Bible records that Manasseh, “removed the foreign gods and statues from the house of the Lord, and all the altars that he built on the hill of the house of the Lord and Jerusalem, and he cast them outside the city. He also restored the altar of the Lord, and he sacrificed fellowship and thanksgiving offerings, and he ordered Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel. However, the people continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.” (2 Chronicles 33:15-17)

So, the people were worshipping the Lord, but the roots of idolatry were still in place because they never completely eliminated them from their midst. What this story shows is that we can come into worship with hearts fixed on the Lord and still sing songs that have a subtle form of idolatry or incorrect theology. I wouldn’t call this human tendency a ‘sin,’ but I would say that worship is a heart condition.

What it means is that if the enemy can’t have your salvation, he’ll go after your source of strength and keep your worship incomplete, watered down, misfocused and unscriptural. We, the people of God, are making war in the heavenlies, contending with the flesh, walking through the dark valleys, living as light in the darkness, wrestling against principalities and powers and taking authority in the name of Jesus Christ.

We cannot afford to get dragged off to one side with weakened worship that misses the point. We have a war to win!

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The Weeds of Idol Worship

The Weeds of Idol Worship

Now, before you develop a critical spirit about worship, or pick apart everything your worship team sings, or fear slipping into idolatry without realizing it, or becoming a “worship snob” hold on to this truth: 

Worship starts in the heart.

Praise and worship are the ministry of your gratitude to the Lord and that can have many different sounds, styles, words, and themes.

We’re all prone to idolatry because we were created to worship! That’s why your life must incorporate active, frequent, public, and private times of worship because you will worship something or someone. You cannot help it. 

So, worship the Creator, God in all His glory, power, might, wisdom, love, mercy, goodness, faithfulness, majesty, beauty, kindness, compassion, sacrifice, and more. Just don’t worship the created thing (ourselves, a concept, an emotion or our own ideas and perspectives, or an experience).

Declare the Word of God and avoid statements of personal empowerment that are me-focused instead of God-focused. No human being on earth could ever write words that are more poetic or more powerful than God did in His Word. What’s more, Jeremiah 1:12 says that He watches over His Word to see it accomplished.

This is why worship must have its foundations in the Word of God, because He’ll partner with His own Words.

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Avoiding Idol Worship

Avoiding Idol Worship

A heart that is God-worship will not “slip” into idol-worship but never, ever underestimate the power of your enemy, Satan. The root of Satan’s sin was pride, which is the worship of one’s own self, the elevation of the created thing over the Creator.

Satan will always try to lure you into a place where your focus is on yourself—even in worship! Never get complacent or let your guard down. “Examine yourselves, seeing whether you are in the faith; test yourselves…” Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 13:5

For example, while singing worship songs, examine the words you’re singing. Examine the message of the song. Evaluate your worship in light of the Word of God. Who are you singing to? God? Each other? Yourself? 

In Ephesians 5:19 Paul wrote about “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” – three types of praise and worship that rise either vertically to the Lord or horizontally to each other to exhort, encourage, and testify of God. All are vital for building the body of Christ. But no matter what is being sung or said, remember this: The created being (or idol) holds no power, speaks no truth, and deserves no worship. (Psalm 115:2-8)

Only God, the Creator of the world, deserves the glory, thanksgiving, and praise for anything that you’ll ever experience, think, encounter, or imagine. His Word is where the most profound truths, the greatest power, and the most beautiful poetry dwells.

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headshot NEW 2020 of Alicia PurdyAlicia Purdy is a full-time writer, musician, and speaker with an M.A. in Journalism. She is the host of “Living Out Loud!”, a weekly radio show broadcast at the ALIVE Radio Network in upstate NY. You can learn more about Alicia’s work including her book, The Way of the Worshipper, catch up on “Living Out Loud” episodes and subscribe to free devotionals at her blog: Her passion is to write about real life and a real faith in a real Jesus to inspire, encourage and entertain people from all walks of life. Alicia and her husband have 5 kids ranging from 20 years old all the way down to 4 - and 1 cat, named Chester. You can find and follow Alicia on Facebook and Instagram. She welcomes questions and discussion. You can reach out via email at The Way of the Worshipper. If you meet her in person, she will most likely try and wipe you down with essential oils and then ask if you want to grab a coffee.