Identify Modern Day Idols in Your Life

In this article, we are going to learn how to identify modern day idols in your life in today’s world.

Throughout the old testament we see idol worship, ultimately leading the people of Israel, away from God. Idols have been described as high places, shrines, Asherah poles, sacred stones and altars. Not the kind of idols we face today in the United States. So what does idol worship look like in the lives of believers?

title: how to identify modern day idols in your life

What is idolatry?

Idolatry in the Bible is more obvious as we see objects formed with human hands receiving worship. Such as, an Asherah pole, carved images, golden calves, altars and sacred stones. And while there are places around the world that engage in that type of idolatry, it’s not that obvious in the United States. However, while it’s not as obvious for us today, idolatry is still very much a problem in the lives of God’s people.

There are many different definitions of idolatry- several will be listed here as the verbage/wording might shed light on how you define idols. “Got Questions” defines idolatry as “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing“. Essentially, we seek to be filled by people or things that only God can fill within us. When we seek fulfillment and security from anything or anyone outside of God we are engaging in idolatry. I saved my favorite definition for last from Tim Keller’s book, “Counterfeit Gods”…

An idol is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, and anything that you seek to give you what only God can give”. Timothy Keller

Identifying Idols in Your Life Might Not Be as Obvious as You Think

I was reminded of a story from when my kids were young and I would tell them of the dangers of strangers. It hadn’t occurred to me that they had a picture of a haggard old man with a lack of grooming and black clothes as the stranger danger they needed to be on the lookout for. Hearing their description of bad guys,  I realized more information was needed – When I explained it could be a well dressed person, maybe even a woman with puppies and candy. Their eyes grew wide with shock and utter disbelief. Nooo – how could that be?! It took a bit of convincing that puppies and candy could be used for evil.

And yet isn’t that how the enemy works with idols in our hearts today? The enemy is never going to get us with shrines, altars, and Asherah poles. Nor will we ever be in danger of worshiping gold calves. We know far too much from reading the Bible. Rather, he is going to get us with puppies and candy. The enemy is going to take the things in our lives that God intended for good, and sometimes even necessary, and slowly and steadily lead us to shift our focus and time away from God and toward those good and necessary things. This is why you must be able to identify modern day idols in your life.

Those kinds of idols will become our focus and priority over God. They will be the very things that God intended to bless us with that will become the thing we seek fulfillment in. If we believe that we can’t be duped by idols today – then we are deceiving ourselves, and we will be led astray just like the Israelites, taken captive, by things, that will only leave us frustrated and brokenhearted when they don’t deliver on their deceptive promises to fill us in a way that only God can fill us.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Identifying Modern Day Idols in Your Life:

Prayerfully consider these questions:

  • How much time do I spend thinking about these things on a daily basis?
  • Am I putting my trust in any of these things?
  • Am I seeking fulfillment in these things rather than fulfillment in God alone?
  • Are any of these things elevated above God?
  • Do I find safety or security in any of these things?

Common Modern Day Idols

Are you ready to identify modern day idols in your life? – the good and sometimes even necessary things that the enemy might use to shift our devotion away from God? I have a few ideas to consider. While this is not an exhaustive list, this will hopefully get you thinking about any idols that you can surrender to God.


Idols of the heart might take the form of relationships in our lives. Relationships can be an incredible blessing and gift from God. Marriage is a mirror of Christ’s relationship with the church, but when our spouse is the source of our security or identity we are in danger of elevating the relationship above our relationship with God.

Friendships are the family we get to choose. How often do you phone a friend in a difficult situation before you have sought God? (I’m guilty!) Parent/child relationships can also run the risk of becoming an idol in our heart. Are we seeking to find fulfillment in those significant relationships? If so, then we are finding fulfillment in an earthly relationship rather than fulfillment in God alone.

Seek Approval

Another potential heart idol might be seeking approval from other people. You know those moments when pleasing others is elevated above pleasing God? Avoiding speaking the truth in love, saying no or sharing the gospel because of fear of how others might perceive you- that might be a sign.


Comfort can become a heart idol as well. We all love comfort. Honestly, the older I get the more I indulge in my comforts. The qustions I must ask myself is- Am I elevating my comfort over obedience to God? Does my comfort trump the call to spread the gospel or keep me from serving if it doesn’t perfectly fit my schedule?


Security is a blessing and a necessity. Jesus is our ultimate security. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Nothing in Him shifts or changes. We can trust in Him and His promises. We all want security, but am I seeking to provide it for myself or in someone/something else rather than seeking God who is our ultimate Provider?


Many people are blessed with success. Success is accomplishing a purpose. That success may be in your family life, marriage, career or ministry. God blesses and multiplies so many things. He also may not allow success in an area you desire for His own purposes. The problem of success being a heart idol is when it is attached to our identity or value. When it becomes the thing we are striving for constantly rather than pursuing God with passion it might be a heart idol.

Material Possessions

Material possessions and wealth are not idols until we elevate their value. When material possessions become what we think about and strive to accumulate more of because it gives us our worth and identity rather than finding our worth and identity in God.


Our society puts much emphasis on self…on loving yourself and pursuing your own interests. And truthfully, how much time do we spend thinking about ourselves and our feelings and our desires? Constant concern for our own comfort, our identity, how we are perceived. More than enough times is spent on our own experience in all circumstances. I imagine this heart idol is an area for a heart check in ALL of us.

Most of these things aren’t necessarily a heart idol until we attach bigger meaning to them. Elevating their value above God’s rightful place in our hearts. God alone is worthy of all our worship and praise. He alone is deserving of the elevated position in our lives. And remember this- when heart idols make their way into our hearts- the idols never deliver on their promise to fulfill us. In fact, it’s quite the opposite…idols of the heart leave us heartbroken and frustrated.

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13


In each of these potential heart idols we can see the blessings and sometimes even the necessity. The temptation to grasp onto the tangible things in life rather than my Heavenly Father is constant- even daily. It’s vital that we recognize it’s the good and even necessary things that the enemy uses to cultivate divided hearts in us. Heart idols are a threat to all of usit’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when. Being aware of the threat of heart idols is paramount. You can’t address heart idols if you don’t realize they exist. The awareness is how we can prayerfully keep short accounts with God. He is the only One who can enable and help us sweep our hearts clean. And, He delights to do so!

Created for Undivided Worship of God

But we are created for undivided worship of the one true God. Idols always leave us wanting more. More from our relationships, more comfort, more approval, more security. But God satisfies fully and completely. It is only he who can fill us to overflowing. And it is also only he who can help us with wholehearted devotion to Him. He knows all about our hearts being prone to wander. He delights to help us worship Him wholeheartedly when we surrender our heart idols to him.

Key Takeaways: Identify Modern Day Idols in Your Life

Modern day idols exist in today’s world. When you are unable to identify modern day idols in your life, you will not be on alert for them. We will deny their influence and allow them to pull us away from our relationship with God. We have to not only be aware they exist- we have to surrender them to God and depend on Him to help get back to finding fulfillment in Him alone. He is worthy of all of our praise, worship and adoration. When you are identifying modern day idols in your life, you can bring them before God. You will prayerfully surrender and depend on God to set you free enabling you to live more fully in the purpose for which you were created.

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  1. Julie G on January 24, 2023 at 5:55 am

    What does a life fully devoted to God look like in a person’s daily schedule?

    • Gena on January 24, 2023 at 7:32 pm

      A marriage is what comes to mind. Wake up & love on Him, (prayer or a devotion) it will look different for everyone because it’s a unique relationship. Next ask what’s on the agenda for the day & listen to Him.. (seeking His kingdom with His wisdom & discernment) Confide in Him throughout the day with little “spiritual texts” (prayer) take your concerns and joys to Him at the end of the day because you trust that he cares and wants to provide & protect. He loves to adore you & be adorned by you. It should bring you joy & be something you can’t wait to do daily.. just like with a spouse.

  2. Mary on January 24, 2023 at 6:34 am

    I think God wants us to have an open heart towards Him and love our neighbor as ourselves. I think people make it too complicated. Thank Him that He woke you up.
    Thank Him for meeting our needs…..not giving ball our wants.
    The Lords prayer says it all.
    Learning to be content too. And, tell others about Him.

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