Living in a prosperous and industrialized nation, we often tend to believe idol worship is an act of the past. But what if we are wrong? And more to the point, what if we are personally guilty of it?
If we take the Second Commandment for what it says, “You shall not make for yourself an idol," it is a command to not have idols in our lives. As author and conservative pundit Dennis Prager explains, many people in the West put little thought into this commandment because we believe it is an old ritual. However, the differentiating variable is that idols are not merely “graven images,” but rather anything we put before God. The Second Commandment does more than frown upon idolatry; it forbids the practice. When Jesus expressed the importance of a subject matter, He would often repeat Himself. With such an important commandment as to not replace the true God with a false or substitute god, we should expect it to be mentioned again in the Bible, which is exactly what we see.
Examples can be found in Exodus 20:4, Exodus 34:17, Leviticus 19:4, Leviticus 26:1, and Deuteronomy 5:8. Not only here, but the subject is further discussed in the New Testament.
Matthew 22:37 commands us to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Anything less than this is idolatry. Examine Jesus’ statement in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” James makes a similar statement in James 4:4.
Jesus is saying that if we are not fully devoted to God, then we are not serving Him. He echoes this is Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” and in mentioning the “lukewarm” Christian in Revelation 3:16.
Idolatry takes place when we cease to wholly follow God—when we put something between us and God. We do not have to make a graven image to worship to be considered an idolater, but we can do it by means of our thoughts, intellect, actions, emotions, words, or anything that is capable of being pushed in front of God.
The idea behind the Second Commandment is to protect man from idolatry so we can live a life for God with no other obstacles in the way. With a pure spiritual life, we can live as a servant of Christ to the fullest extent, and we can truly love God with all of our heart, all of our soul, and all our mind.