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What makes something an idol?

To the Christian, anything is an idol that usurps the place of God in the heart, whether it be a person, a system, a project, wealth, a material object, a statue or image, etc. Anything – even a pastime – which is loved more than God or Christ can be considered an idol.

The definition of idolatry according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God.

Although a crucifix is not an idol, statues can become idols if undue attention and reverence are paid to them.  In light of the scriptural admonitions in the Old Testament to pray to God alone (Exodus 20:3-5; Deuteronomy 5:7-8) and in the New Testament to pray to God through his Son Jesus (John 14:6, 13-14; Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1), we feel it is definitely wrong for a Christian to reverence a statue or, for that matter, even to pray to the saints in heaven.

Praying to anyone other than God and his Son is contrary to what the Scriptures teach us and is, indeed, a form of idolatry, and therefore a sin.  The Apostle admonishes,

“Keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your heart” (1 John 5:21)

To learn more about idols listen to, “Do I Have Other Gods and Idols In My Life?”