Break Down Every Idol

There is a beautiful phrase of surrender from an old hymn. It goes like this: “Break down every idol, cast out every foe. Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” I believe that every one of us grapples with idols. An idol is anything we trust or love more than God. Who or what tries to get on the throne of your heart?

One of the rare upsides of the pandemic is that it has revealed our misplaced values and priorities and some of us our surprised to discover we value social interaction more than fellowship with God or we find our security in the predictable nature of our lives rather than the unchanging nature of our Father. Maybe those areas are not the arena of your specific struggle but each of us must take care that we don’t allow anyone or anything to take God’s place.


Recently I read an article adapted from Dr. David Paulsen that helps identify our idols. Here are six questions that reveal what we may be placing ahead of God.

1. What are you disappointed with?

Whenever we experience ongoing and overwhelming disappointment, it reveals that something in our life is more important to us than it should be.

This isn’t to say that every disappointment reveals an idol, but if a loss becomes the catalyst for a significantly low point for you, it might be pointing to a false god in your life.

  • Are you disappointed with your financial status or your career?
  • Do you feel dissatisfied with the home you live in?
  • Are you disappointed with your children or your marriage?
  • Another way to address this is to ask: what do you complain about?

If you were to ask this question to the people who are closest to you, how would they respond? Their answers reveal something about a god that is at war within you.

2. What do you make time and financial sacrifices for?

We know the precious commodities of time and money are revealers of our hearts. The appointments in your calendar and the items on your bank statement tell the story of your life and your priorities.

That’s why many churches consider the offering an act of worship. In fact, more than singing and praying, it’s the most tangible act of worship during a service. You can choose to do anything with that money, but you’ve chosen to give a portion of it back to the Creator because you believe He matters most.

3. What do you worry about?

If that doesn’t hit a nerve, ask yourself: What am I most afraid of?

Psychologist Alfred Adler, who is not a Christian, says, “If you want to understand what someone is living for, don’t ask them, because people don’t give you the straight answer, because often they don’t even realize it. If you want to know what someone is living for, ask them: ‘What is your nightmare?’”

What thing, if lost, might diminish the meaning of life for you? Is there something that you depend upon for your identity? Show me your worst nightmare, and I will show you something that has the potential to be a god in your life.

4. What do you dream of?

What gets you excited and awakes a passion within you? Are you spending too much time staring at your screen saver, dreaming of winning the lottery?

When we allow these things to become a mistress and take the place of God in our lives, we’re experiencing today’s form of idol worship. God is jealous because of the passion, time, effort, and energy we give these things.

5. Where do you run for comfort?

After a long day at work, school, or with friends, what’s your comfort?

Henry Blackaby defines an idol as anything you turn to for help when God tells you to turn to Him for help. Do you head to the refrigerator for comfort food? Or video games to get in a “win”? Or do you pick up the phone to vent to a friend?

Gods that war within are sneaky. These “comforts” aren’t necessarily wrong, but it’s how we allow them to take the throne in our hearts that make them an idol.

6. Whose applause do you long for?

If your cheerleaders left the room, would you lose your motivation? Do you secretly live for those great reviews and promotions and the reminder that your ministry or company “can’t live without you”?

Are you putting pressure on your spouse to applaud your work? When you lash out with resentment, know that it began when you let the idol of approval win the war of your heart.

Taken from the


Ask God to reveal your idols. Like Joshua, we must choose whom we will serve (Joshua 24:23). “Throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”  Allow God to break down every idol and cleanse and fill you with His Spirit.

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