The Bible has a word for God-substitutes—idolatry.

We have worshiping natures; because we are created to love and worship God. Where we run into trouble is when we try to worship something other than God; in other words, idolatry is when we put someone or something else in God’s place.

Idols can be good things or bad things, with these God-substitutes always failing us; ultimately, they aren’t big enough, not divine, not supernatural, which is what we need to build our lives upon.

When making something or someone else our god/idol, we are trying to make them/it, our everything. These idols do not shout out, ‘I’m not god!’ Their effect is seen in how our idols reflect in how we view life, our world view, and how we live life.

With idols, we try to make the idol meet our every need, exhausting emotions and distorting our will’s ability to choose between right and wrong, truth, and deception.

According to the Bible, we suffer due to worshiping the wrong thing, and that suffering deep dives into our souls. That implication is immense…rising to the top only to be observed as dysfunction in relation to our journey to restoring the image of God to our lives.

This is why god-substitutes are seen as sin in the Bible, demanding they give us what only God can provide: identity, purpose, being totally understood, and perfectly loved.

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