25 Great Quotes on Idolatry

After listening to the sermon this morning at Mercy Road, tiled, "What does the Gospel have to do with the World" (Acts 17:16-21; 19:21-41), my heart was convicted, and I began to examine the idols of my own heart and how they are negatively affecting my life. In doing so, I came across 25 quotes on idolatry that I found encouraging and challenging at the same time. 
  1. "Idolatry may not involve explicit denials of God’s existence or character. It may well come in the form of an over-attachment to something that is in itself perfectly good… An idol can be a physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero, anything that can substitute for God." Os Guinness and John Seel, No God but God, 32-33. 
  2. "To identify your own idols, ask questions like these: What things take the place of God in my life? Where do I find my significance and my confidence? What things make me really angry? Anger usually erupts when an idol gets knocked off the shelf." Philip Graham Ryken, Courage to Stand, p. 90. 
  3. "The Bible, then, does not consider idolatry to be one sin among many (and a rare sin found only among primitive people). Rather, all our failures to trust God wholly or to live rightly are at root idolatry—something we make more important than God. There is always a reason for a sin. Under our sins are idolatrous desires." Tim Keller, Talking About Idolatry in a Post Modern Age 
  4. This means that suffering itself does not rob you of joy—idolatry does. If you're suffering and you're angry, bitter, and joyless it means you've idolized-and felt entitled to-whatever it is you're losing. Tullian Tchividjian, Liberate (Gospel Coalition blog) Nov 11, 2010 
  5. "There are two ways to commit idolatry. You can worship something other than the one true God, that’s way one. There is another way as well. You can worship the one true God by some other means than those that He has appointed." J. Ligon Duncan, No Idols. 
  6. "Most of us think of an idol as a statue of wood, stone, or metal worshiped by pagan people. But the concept of idolatry is much broader and far more personal than that. An idol is anything apart from God that we depend on to be happy, fulfilled, or secure. In biblical terms, it is something other than God that we set our heart on that motivates us, that masters and rules us, or that we trust, fear, or serve. In short, it is something we love and pursue more than God." Ken Sande, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, p. 104 
  7. "It is important to emphasize the fact that idols can arise from good desires as well as wicked desires. It is often not what we want that is the problem, but that we want it too much." Ken Sande, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict p. 104. 
  8. "...think not that God is blind. He can perceive the idols in your hearts; He understands what be the secret things that your souls lust after; He searches your heart, He tries your reins; beware lest He find you sacrificing to strange gods, for His anger will smoke against you, and His jealousy will be stirred. O ye that worship not God, the God of Israel, who give Him not dominion over your whole soul, and live not to His honor, repent ye of your idolatry, seek mercy through the blood of Jesus, and provoke not the Lord to jealousy any more." C.H. Spurgeon, A Jealous God, Sermon 502, March 29, 1863. 
  9. "Idols are dead; God is living. Idols are false; God is true. Idols are many; God is one. Idols are visible and tangible; God is visible and intangible… Idols are creatures, the work of human hands; God is the Creator of the universe and of all humankind." John Stott, The Message of 1 and 2 Thessalonians 
  10. "Some people are eaten up with a selfish ambition for money, power or fame. Others are obsessed with their work, or with sport or television, or are infatuated with a person, or addicted to food, alcohol, hard drugs or sex. Both immorality and greed are…pronounced by Paul to be forms of idolatry (Eph. 5:5), because they demand an allegiance which is due to God alone. So every idolater is a prisoner, held in humiliating bondage." John Stott, The Message of 1 and 2 Thessalonians 
  11. "What is the result of…people-idolatry? As in all idolatry, the idol we choose to worship soon owns us. The object we fear overcomes us. Although insignificant in itself, the idol becomes huge and rules us. It tells us how to think, what to feel, and how to act. It tells us what to wear, it tells us to laugh at the dirty joke, and it tells us to be frightened to death that we might have to get up in front of a group and say something. The whole strategy backfires. We never expect that using people to meet our desires leaves us enslaved to them." Edward T. Welch, When People are Big and God is Small, p. 46. 
  12. "Either we will love and serve God, or we will love and serve our idols. Idols exist in our lives because we love them and invite them in. But once idols find a home, they are unruly and resist leaving. In fact, they change from being the servants of our desires to being our masters." Edward T. Welch, Blame in on the Brain? p. 194. 
  13. "We are not to strip God of his attributes when we come before him in worship and in honor and in praise; we are not to turn him into an idol—our image of what we think he should be." R.C. Sproul, Now That's A Good Question 
  14. "if we obscure the holiness of God, or the sovereignty of God, or the wrath of God, or the justice of God, and sort of pick and choose those attributes of God that we like and then deny those that frighten us or make us uncomfortable, we’ve exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and we are worshiping a god who is in fact an idol." R.C. Sproul, Now That's A Good Question 
  15. All of these sinful inner emotions have in common a focus on self. They put our disappointments, our wounded pride, or our shattered dreams on the thrones of our hearts, where they become idols to us." Jerry Bridges, The Practice of Godliness, 141 
  16. "Self-righteousness.—This is the largest idol of the human heart—the idol which man loves most and God hates most." Robert Murray M'Cheyne. Sermons 
  17. "Those wrong attitudes and motivations are usually inordinate desires—forms of idolatry." Tim Keller, Talking About Idolatry in a Post Modern Age 
  18. Forgive us that we ever joined these two words together, “my” and “church”. The church is your Bride to love, not our clay to mold. We can make an idol of anything, including your church." Scotty Smith, A Prayer Lamenting “My Church” Idolatry, Heavenward, Jan. 30, 2012 
  19. "Idolatry is attractive precisely because we choose our own idol." Jerram Barrs, Apologetics & Outreach: Lecture 25, Spring 2006 
  20. Idolatry leaves us with a sense of power and control and that is its primary attraction—choosing something I feel in control of rather than being controlled by God. Jerram Barrs, Apologetics & Outreach: Lecture 25 , Spring 2006 
  21. "Look at your daydreams. When you don't have to think about something, like when you are waiting for the bus, where does your mind love to rest? Or, look at where you spend your money most effortlessly. Also, if you take your most uncontrolled emotions or the guilt that you can't get rid of, you'll find your idols at the bottom." Tim Keller, American Idols, Christianity Today, November 2009 
  22. "The secret to change is always to identify and dismantle the basic idols of the heart." Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods 
  23. "...the mark of an idol is that you spend too much money on it, and you must try to exercise self-control constantly." Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods 
  24. "All human relational problems—from marriage and family to friendship to neighbors to classmates to colleagues—all of them are rooted in various forms of idolatry, that is wanting things other than God in the wrong ways." John Piper, Discerning Idolatry in Desire, June 2009 
  25. "you can even worship worship, which is idolatry." Mark Driscoll, Worship and Idolatry: Preach It Teach It