Bible Verses About Idols and Idolatry

Idols of the heart have been a prevalent concept throughout history, often as physical representations of gods or objects of worship. Let’s take a look at some different bible verses about idols to see what scripture has to say about the dangers of allowing anything other than God to have first place in our hearts.

What Does the Bible Say About Idols?

The definition of an idol is any image used as an object of worship. It refers to the inner, often hidden, objects of devotion and desires that take precedence over a relationship with God.

The history of idol worship in the Bible dates back to the Old Testament, where various Israelite communities struggled with the temptation to worship idols. 

The Israelites were explicitly commanded in the Ten Commandments not to make or worship idols, yet instances of idolatry persisted throughout their history. As described in the book of Exodus, the golden calf incident is a perfect example where the Israelites, led by Aaron, fashioned an idol during Moses’ absence. Prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah passionately denounced idol worship, and teach its spiritual and moral consequences. This iniquity of the fathers became a central theme in the religious and moral development of the Israelites.

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17 Bible Verses About Idols of the Heart

bible verse about idols Exodus 14

The Bible is clear in its message against idols. God has always and will always want to have the highest place in the hearts of His people. Let’s explore some different scriptures about idols and how they affect our relationship with God. We’ll see some examples of idol worship in the Bible and and the punishments and consequences of idolatry. 

Here is a list of verses that discuss idol worship in the Bible. This is by no means exhaustive, but definitely gives us an overview of idolatry and shows us what God says about idols. 

Exodus 20:3

“You shall have no other gods before me.” 

This scripture about idols is the first of the Ten Commandments. It reminds us of the New Testament command to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. This is the first and greatest command we have been given. Placing other people, powers, or possessions on a pedestal in our hearts above God is walking in disobedience to this command. He is a jealous God and wants first place in our hearts.

Leviticus 26:1

“You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect any carved image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God.” 

This passage directly address idols and is connected to the verse about not having any other Gods. This passage warns against creating a graven image or objects of worship, urging believers to focus on our connection and relationship with God.

Psalm 115:4-7 

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“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat.” 

This passage describes the futility of worshiping man-made idols. These images are nothing more than wood and stone. They cannot create. They cannot save. The fail to possess the attributes of a living God.

Isaiah 44:9 

“All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame.” 

This passage shows the emptiness of idol worship, assuring that such things cannot bring any true benefit or fulfillment.

Jeremiah 10:14  

Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them.

This passage warns the inhabitants of Jerusalem against the dangers of idolaters and their misplaced trust in lifeless objects, contrasting them with the wisdom and knowledge of God. The work of men is not worthy of our highest worship.

Ezekiel 14:3 

Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them?

This verse teaches us the danger of allowing idols to occupy our hearts. Their goal is to consume us and erode our union with God through the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 6:24 

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

This verse draws a parallel between the choice of serving God or material wealth, showing the impossibility of a divided heart. The love of money has been at the root of all kinds of idolatry throughout the ages. 

1 Corinthians 8:4 

Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘an idol has no real existence,’ and that ‘there is no God but one.’

I love how this verse about idols addresses the understanding that idols have no genuine existence. Idols are more about the issues of our hearts than our outward practices.

Colossians 3:5 

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Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

This passage in Colossians equates covetousness with idolatry, encouraging us to eliminate earthly desires that can become idols in our lives.

1 John 5:21 

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

Doesn’t get more clear than that! This verse offers a straightforward command to believers, urging them to stay vigilant and avoid the temptation of idolatry. We keep ourselves from idols by seeking first the kingdom of God in all areas of our lives.

Romans 1:22-23 

Bible verse about idols Romans 1:22-23

Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

This verse describes the foolishness of those who exchange the true glory of God for the worship of created beings and objects. Our worship but focus on the word of the Lord instead of works of the flesh.

Acts 17:29 

Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 

This passage reminds believers of their divine origin and warns against reducing the Creator of all things to man-made images and materials.

Revelation 9:20 

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk.” 

This verse talks about the danger of idols and portrays the persistence of idolatry even in the face of the righteous judgements of God. It shows us the need for repentance and turning away from false worship.

1 Thessalonians 1:9 

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.

In this passage, the apostle Paul commends the Thessalonian believers for their repentance and turning away from the customs of the people to serve the living God. We should follow their example, asking the Lord to show us any idols we have set up in the high places of our hearts that need to be torn down.

Revelation 22:8-9 

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’

This is another passage that demonstrates the importance of worshiping God alone, and rejecting foreign gods, even when faced with divine revelations.

1 Corinthians 10:14 

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

Here is another straightforward command that urges believers to actively avoid and distance themselves from idolatry. God wants our hearts to be pure and undivided towards Him.

Isaiah 2:20 

In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats.

This verse in Isaiah prophesies a future time when humanity will recognize the emptiness of idol worship and cast away their materialistic idols. We learn in the book of Philippians that a day is coming when every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord and every knee will bow to Him. 

As we reflect on these verses, we are reminded of the relevance of these teachings in our own lives. The call to prioritize a relationship with the one true God, to turn away from lifeless idols, and to live a life devoted to life in God’s kingdom is a much needed message for us today.

In a world filled with endless distractions and temptations, the wisdom found in these verses serves as a guide for believers to navigate the trials of life. Whether it be the pursuit of material wealth, the worship of created things, or the enticement of worldly pleasures, the message remains clear: true fulfillment is found in a genuine relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Lets be vigilant in recognizing and casting away the idols that threaten to take precedence in our hearts. Let these verses inspire us to embrace a life of worship, devotion, and service to the living and true God, freeing ourselves from the empty pursuits of idols. In doing so, we can experience the profound joy and purpose that comes from a life centered on the Creator, our ultimate source of meaning and fulfillment.

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