These idols keep us from the level of intimacy we can have with God, they distract us, they deter us, and they are a deceitful, often deadly tactic of the devil to keep us from giving our all to God and receiving all He has for us. Is it a wonder God hates idols? Is it a wonder God tells us to have no other gods before Him? Is it a wonder God warns us against worshiping other people’s gods? Is it a surprise He tells us to repent for having them, to get rid of them, and not to let them back in our lives? Study the Old Testament and the New Testament, and you will see plenty of admonishments from God to rid of them.
I have a very personal story to share about idols, and I pray it will help you to examine your own heart and life to see if you are bowing down to any idols that you, too, must eradicate from your life.
On and off for years, I have struggled with an eating disorder. About 17 years ago, after two emergency rooms, a psychiatric ward, and a 5-week stint at a special eating disorders unit of a somewhat rural hospital, I threw away my scale and began the long, slow journey to freedom from atypical anorexia. For the next 17 years, I refused to own a scale. I had been in such severe and deadly bondage to the number on the scale that I knew I could not afford to own one. Per the hospital’s recommendation, I only got on a scale with my back turned to the number and a professional observing the number to ensure I remained at a healthy weight.
I made sure on and off through the years that I was periodically monitored, but over time I slipped away from the monitoring process and the doctors who occasionally weighed me did not understand the severity of how much I needed to stay above a certain weight.
So why not just own a scale? I had been so horrifically in bondage to the scale that I used to get on scales all day long. My entire day revolved around the number. I hated myself, became depressed, and sometimes wanted to die if the number was too high in my mind. If the number was “low enough”, I felt elated. I loved myself. Over time, the bondage became greater. I would go to department stores, take off my shoes, and pretend I was buying a scale. I wouldn’t trust one scale. I had to get on them all.
So when the hospital suggested not weighing myself, and given how phenomenally sick and desperate I had become, I realized I needed to not own a scale. So gone was my idol, only back then I did not have a relationship with Jesus and only believed in a generic God I knew nothing about. I cast away the scale simply because I wanted to live and not suffer.
About 5 or 6 weeks ago, after 17 years of not owning a scale, a friend confronted me about my weight. She was very serious, and I heard her concern. I went to the doctor, who agreed I needed to gain weight. Then I made a grave mistake. Though my doctor agreed to monitor me periodically with his scale, I bought my own. I discovered I had dropped to the lowest number I had been as an adult – even lower than when I had been hospitalized. Though the number was clearly not as low as classic anorectics, for me I knew it was dangerously low. I believe God creates each body for optimum health, and somebody else’s healthy weight may not be mine. Clearly, my weight was not healthy. Nor was the behavior that followed this discovery.
For the next 5 weeks, I became obsessed all over again with the scale and the number. Only this time, I had a brand new problem. This time, I knew Jesus. This time, I knew my Father in heaven. This time, I had the Holy Spirit living inside me to convict me of wrongdoing. This time, because I yearn to follow Jesus and am a student of His Word, I stumbled upon something from which I simply could not turn away. I had made an idol out of the scale, I had returned to a mental obsession with my weight, body, and food so severe I simply could not move forward in my life just when God was urging me forward after years of pain, loss, and exerting such control over my life and others that I had lost so very much.
God truly hates idols, and He used the book of Deuteronomy and His Holy Spirit to convict me of what I had done. In no uncertain terms, He told me I was holding my life back and that I must be rid of the idol. Guess what I did? I refused to surrender my heart to Him, I refused to get rid of the idol, and I convinced myself I needed it “sometimes” to monitor my weight. So I stuck it outside my front door until I figured out what to do next!
Let me tell you something. If God tells you to get rid of an idol, don’t stick it outside your front door. The devil is simply waiting for the next time the front door opens, and then you guessed it. Two days later, I opened the front door and “happily” carried the hell back into my home. Fortunately, God spoke. He clearly told me this:
“Go to the dumpster (away from my home), dump the scale, and trust me.” I listened, I obeyed, and I cannot describe the “weight” – no pun intended – that fell off of me.
I am quite certain I still have a ways to go in becoming entirely free from the strongholds that I have allowed in my life through the years, but I do know this. I am one big step closer to freedom than I was before. In fact, in this very moment, I feel free.
God does not want us to get rid of idols simply so He can be glorified. He also wants to love and bless us, and He knows full well idols will only block us off from His very best.
Do you have any idols in your life? Ask the Lord. Study the Bible. Let the Lord lead you. Let Him speak to you. And obey. You will not regret it. He truly knows what is best for us. After all, He is the best!
Exo 20:1 “And God spake all these words, saying,
Exo 20:2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Exo 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Exo 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Exo 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;”