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Modern Day Idolatry | 17 Surprising Idols We Worship Today

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters.

Sometimes, without even realizing it, you might even fall into the trap of modern day idolatry. This age-old vice has taken on new forms, but its essence remains the same – prioritizing something above God.

But…what does modern day idolatry look like?

It’s no longer about bowing down to a golden statue or worshipping at the altars of false gods. It’s not even necessarily some evil desire in your heart.

Modern day idolatry can manifest in seemingly innocent ways, like placing too much importance on material possessions, success, or even relationships.

The key is to recognize these subtle idols and learn how to put God back at the center of your life.

Throughout this article, we’ll explore various examples of modern-day idols and provide insights on how you can redirect your focus towards God. By acknowledging these hidden idols in your life, you’ll be empowered to strengthen your spiritual connection and live a more fulfilling life.

What is the Definition of Idolatry?

Idolatry, in its simplest form, can be defined as serving, loving, desiring, or trusting anything apart from God to fulfill your needs.

It can take many different forms and often disguises itself in ways you may not even realize. Things or ideas that occupy your thoughts, time, resources, or relationships can become idols if they take the place of God.

For example, idolatry can manifest through the pursuit of wealth, success, or power.

If achieving these things becomes more important than nurturing your relationship with God, then they have become idols. Similarly, if you look to your career or education for identity or validation instead of finding your worth in God, this too can be a form of modern-day idolatry.

Sometimes, even seemingly harmless hobbies or interests can turn into idols if they consume too much time or energy. Social media, for instance, can easily become an idol when it dominates your thoughts and steals your attention away from God.

I love pastor John Piper’s definition of idolatry. He said, “It starts in the heart: craving, wanting, enjoying, being satisfied by anything that you treasure more than God. That is an idol. Paul calls this covetousness — a disordered love or desire, loving more than God what ought to be loved less than God.”

Identifying the worship of idols in our own lives can be tricky, but there are a few questions that can help get the ball rolling:

  • Do I love or treasure anything or anyone more than God?
  • Does anything hold a higher priority in my life than my walk with God?
  • Does anything bring me more pleasure than the things of God?
  • Do I place my identity in anything over my status as a child of God?
  • Do I look to anything or anyone to meet my needs instead of God?
  • Do I seek fulfillment or satisfaction from anything outside of God?
  • Do I seek comfort outside of God?

In short, you’ll want to examine what you prioritize, invest your time in, and rely on for your sense of worth. It might be a good thing in theory, but should never hold the place of the “ultimate thing” in your life.

Take note of any aspects that have taken precedence over your relationship with God and seek to redirect your focus and desires back to Him. Remember that it’s not the interest or object itself that’s bad, but rather the way it takes up space in your heart and mind that should be reserved for God.

By becoming aware of the many forms modern day idols can take, you’ll be better equipped to recognize and address them in your own life. Keep your heart and mind open to God’s guidance, and trust that He will help you maintain a balanced and focused life.

The Concept of Idolatry in the Bible

As you explore the Bible, you’ll come across various references to idolatry, which refer to the worship of idols, images, or false gods. Let’s take a look at some Old Testament and New Testament insights that will give you a better understanding of idolatry within a biblical context.

Old Testament References

In the Old Testament, one of the most well-known instances of idolatry occurs during the Exodus when the people of Israel created a golden calf statue while Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments. This act violated the first two commandments that warn against creating, bowing down to, and worshiping other gods or idols (Exodus 20:3-6).

Unfortunately, the golden calf wasn’t the end of Israel’s worship of idols. Throughout the Old Testament, idol worship was a recurring theme as the Israelites continually struggled with this sin, sometimes turning away from their one true God to worship the gods of other nations.

Here’s a quick overview of a few key Old Testament verses on idolatry:

  • Exodus 20:3-6: You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself any graven image or any likeness of what is in heaven or earth; you shall not bow down to them or worship them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…
  • Exodus 34:14: For you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
  • Deuteronomy 4:15-19: Be careful not to create an idol in the form of anything that God has forbidden…
  • Isaiah 44:9-20: A lengthy passage describing the foolishness of creating and worshiping idols.

New Testament Insights

While the New Testament speaks more about spiritual idolatry, it also warns against worshiping false gods or images.

In Colossians 3:5, the Apostle Paul instructed believers to put to death their sinful nature, including evil desires and greed, which he equates to idolatry. This shows a shift from physical idols to the worship of things other than the one true God, Jesus Christ.

Key New Testament references about idolatry include:

  • Romans 1:25: They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:14: Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.
  • Colossians 3:5: Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry.

As you study God’s Word, it’s clear that idolatry is a significant theme throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is a reminder to keep our focus on the one true God and to be aware of any temptations that may lead us away from worshiping and serving Him.

Self and Idolatry

In today’s world, far from ancient times, the concept of idolatry has taken on a different form.

One major aspect of modern day idolatry, especially in western culture, revolves around the idea of putting the self at the center of everything. Your ego, pride, and identity can become the objects of worship, drawing you away from a genuine connection with something greater than yourself.

It’s important to remember that self-centeredness can take many forms. You may think that your accomplishments, social status, or even physical appearance define your worth.

This is a form of idolatry, as it elevates your ego above all else. By focusing on your achievements and external factors, you may overlook the significance of humility, compassion, and personal faith.

Another way idolatry manifests itself is in a lack of self-control. When you give in to unhealthy habits or indulgence, you’re placing your desires above everything else.

This not only impacts your well-being, but also prevents you from being fully present with others. Being mindful of how your actions affect you and those around you can help you identify and overcome these behaviors.

In conclusion, it’s important to avoid making your ego and identity the primary focus of your life. While self-improvement and personal growth are essential aspects of life, don’t forget to appreciate the world and people around you.

By fostering meaningful relationships, practicing humility, and nurturing your faith, you can avoid the pitfalls of modern day idolatry and lead a balanced, fulfilling life. Remember, it’s always easier to navigate the complexities of life when you keep your priorities and values in check.

Modern Day Idolatry in Materialistic Culture


Having money, even being incredibly wealthy, is not the same as holding it up as an idol. First Timothy 6:10 clarifies, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (NIV).

Not money. Love of money.

Do I love money? Do I trust money to meet my needs more than I trust God?

Am I drawing a sense of stability from the one true God, or from a fat bank account?

Idolatry of Possessions and Nice Things

In today’s world, and especially in western culture, materialism often drives people to value possessions more than spiritual growth.

It’s easy to become attached to the things you own, like your car, clothes, or gadgets. This attachment can lead to idolizing possessions, where you place the importance of material possessions above anything else, potentially distracting you from developing deeper relationships and personal growth.

Not only can we become too attached to our possessions, we can start to rely them for comfort and happiness.

I experienced an ugly breakup 15 years ago and responded by attempting to shop away my depression. I filled my closet with tops and shoes that made me feel beautiful, invested boatloads of money into more beauty products than I could possibly use all at once, and decorated and redecorated my apartment several times.

Rather than turning to God for comfort and a renewing of my joy, I sought satisfaction in things. And surprise, surprise, it didn’t work, even $10,000 later.

Idolatry of Success and Careers

The pursuit of career success and professional achievement is usually perceived to be a positive and good thing! But if you’re not careful, it can quickly turn into idolatry.

When you prioritize work success over your personal life, relationships, and well-being, it becomes a form of worship. It’s essential for you to find a balance between your professional life and your faith to avoid such idolatry.

Idolatry of Technology

As technology advances and becomes an integral part of our daily lives, it can become an object of worship, too.

Social media, phones, and other devices have the potential to consume your time and attention, leading you to idolize them over more meaningful connections. It’s crucial for you to be aware of how dependent you are on technology and strive to maintain a healthy balance in its usage.

Idolatry of Sports and Entertainment

Sporting events and entertainment occupy a significant place in modern society.

While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying these activities for relaxation and entertainment, they should not become the main focus of your life. When you place too much importance on sports and entertainment, it can lead to idolatry, taking your time and energy away from your faith and other valuable areas in your life.

Idolatry of Fame

The pursuit of fame and celebrity status is another form of modern-day idolatry. As you might have observed yourself, many people become obsessed with the idea of being famous or gaining notoriety.

This obsession can lead to neglecting other aspects of your life, such as relationships, personal growth, and faith. Remember that genuine fulfillment comes from only God alone, not external validation or fame.

Modern Day Idolatry | 17 Surprising Idols That Can Separate Us From God

Modern Day Idolatry in Personal Identity

Weight and Appearance

Of course, we want to treat our bodies well. They’re the temple of God and caring for them is definitely a good thing.

But it is so easy to place special diets, cross-fit classes, Fitbit readings, or the number on the scale, front and center in our lives…the rightful place of God. First Timothy 4:8 reminds us, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

We should eat well and exercise, but we can’t allow reaching our goal weight to distract us from our underlying need and true purpose on Earth, helping others to know and follow Jesus Christ! 


It’s so easy to find an identity within our hobbies.

I run marathons. Or everything I make in the kitchen is to-die-for.

Or I’m crafty and always throw Pinterest-worthy parties. I’m a foodie…a gardener…a reader.

None of these activities are good or bad. It boils down to how we hold them in our hearts.

Just like a career, do I identify more as a runner, or as a believer? Do I look forward to making my next craft more than I look forward to spending time with God?

Maybe the toughest question of all, do I invest time and energy into my hobby that I should be investing into time with the one true God?

Modern Day Idolatry in Relationships


Whether it’s your spouse, someone you’re dating, or that handsome coworker, seeking satisfaction in our significant other not only sets them up as an idol, but also sets them up for failure.

Why? Because God created humans so that only God Himself can truly complete us and bring us a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

Books, magazines, tv shows, and movies tell us differently, don’t they?


When a life is completely dependent on us for survival, it’s easy to forget that being a parent is not, in fact, our entire identity. It can feel like it, especially when our children are small, but it’s not.

Our identity must always be found in the one true God, and in his calling on our hearts. It’s also very easy to treasure our children more than we treasure the Lord, or seek to please them more than we seek to please God.

Of course, our children are precious to us. They’re precious to God, too! In fact, God loves them even more than we do.

But we cannot allow our children to take God’s place in our hearts.

Friendship and Family Relationships

Friendships are a vital aspect of our lives, providing us with companionship, laughter, and support during both good times and bad. However, just like romantic and familial relationships, friendships can veer into idolatry territory if not kept in check.

If you find yourself prioritizing your friends’ opinions over God’s Word, compromising your values to please them, or devoting too much time and energy into keeping them happy, you may be bordering on idolizing your friendships.

In order to prevent your friendships from becoming modern-day idols, it’s essential to nurture a strong relationship with God.

Develop a consistent prayer life, engage in worship, and spend time in His Word. By doing this, you’ll be able to share your faith with your friends and maintain a healthy balance between your friendships and your devotion to God.

Idolatry of Emotions and Desires

In today’s world, it’s not unusual for people to become consumed by their emotions, to the point where they can even become a form of idolatry. When you allow your emotions to dictate your actions and decisions, you might be unknowingly participating in this modern-day form of idolatry.

For example, passion can be a powerful motivator that drives you to achieve great things.

But when that passion becomes all-consuming, leaving no room for anything else in your life, it can lead to obsession and unhealthy attachments. It’s important to recognize when your passion is overtaking you and learn to channel it in a balanced way.

Similarly, anger can be a constant companion for some people.

Instead of working through it or seeking healthy ways to express and process anger, they let it fester, eventually allowing it to guide their actions and decisions. When anger dominates your life, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate its root cause and find healthier ways to deal with it.

On the positive side, emotions like joy and happiness can bring light and fulfillment to your life. However, it’s possible to become overly dependent on attaining happiness and valuing it above all else.

Remember that life is full of ups and downs, and it’s important not to put happiness on a pedestal. Embrace a full range of emotions, even the uncomfortable ones, because they can provide valuable insights and growth opportunities.

Lusts can present another challenge in the realm of emotions and desires.

When we allow our physical desires to take precedence over our spiritual growth and well-being, we’re engaging in a form of idolatry. It’s important to remember that your needs and desires should never overshadow your connection with your higher self or God.

In conclusion, it’s essential to be vigilant about how you manage your emotions and desires. When you find yourself becoming consumed by them, take a moment to reflect and recalibrate your priorities. Foster a healthy balance in your emotional life to ensure that you don’t fall victim to the idolatry of emotions and desires.

Idolatry and Spiritual Fulfillment

Finding spiritual fulfillment is a lifelong journey for many people.

As a believer, you strive to deepen your relationship with the Lord and nourish your soul. However, there might be hidden obstacles in your path preventing you from experiencing spiritual fulfillment.

One of these obstacles is modern day idolatry. Although it may not involve a golden statue or false gods, idolatry can still harm your heart and mind as you try to grow in the truth.

Your search for fulfillment begins with worship. When you attend church or worship gatherings, be conscious of your motives.

Are you there to experience the grace of God, or are you seeking admiration from others for your talents and abilities? In order to achieve true spiritual fulfillment, always approach worship with humility, focusing on God’s glory and not your own.

In your daily life as a Christian, it’s also crucial to prioritize a personal relationship with the Lord above earthly pursuits.

Material wealth, success, and fame can be seductive and easily become modern-day idols that divert your attention from your spiritual walk. Remind yourself that eternal life and God’s love are far more valuable than any worldly treasure.

Keep a watchful eye on your heart and mind to recognize when something is becoming an idol in your life.

It might not be something inherently negative; sometimes it’s just a matter of priorities. When you find that you are spending more time, energy, and thought on a particular aspect of your life than deepening your connection with God, it’s time to reevaluate your priorities.

Finally, remember that your spiritual fulfillment thrives on grace, humility, and love.

By actively pursuing a relationship with God and remaining mindful of potential idols, you can stay on the path to a more fulfilling life in Christ. Continue to nurture your heart, soul, and mind, and watch your spiritual growth flourish in the light of God’s truth.

The Sin of Covetousness

In our western culture, it’s easy to overlook some of the more subtle sins that can creep into our lives. One such sin is the sin of covetousness.

This sin occurs when you desire or obsess over something or someone more than you desire or love God. In essence, you are placing those things higher in your life than your relationship with the Creator.

Covetousness can manifest in various ways.

It could be a relentless pursuit of material possessions, like trying to keep up with the Joneses. It might present itself in the form of seeking approval or validation from others.

Whatever form it takes, the underlying issue is a disordered love or desire that displaces God as the center of your life.

Now, you may be wondering why covetousness is associated with idolatry.

According to the Bible, when you covet something or someone, you place that object or person in a higher position of importance than God. In doing so, you’re essentially worshiping that thing or person instead of giving your full devotion to the Lord.

This form of idolatry is subtle and may not be as noticeable as the more traditional forms, but it is just as harmful to your spiritual growth.

So how can you guard against the sin of covetousness? First, remind yourself of your priorities and the place that God should hold in your life.

Being grateful for what you have and focusing on the spiritual, rather than material aspects of life, can also help keep your desires in check. Remember that true contentment comes from your faith and your relationship with God, not from the accumulation of things.

In summary, it’s essential to be mindful of the sin of covetousness and its sneaky nature. By recognizing the different ways it can manifest in your life, you’ll more easily address this form of modern-day idolatry, allowing you to keep God in His rightful place at the center of your world.

Idolatry: The Way Forward

So…how do we ensure that nothing holds a higher priority in our lives than our relationship with God? That the things of this world haven’t become modern idols in our hearts?

In order to overcome modern day idolatry, repentance is a crucial first step.

Acknowledge the modern daay idols in your life and turn away from them. By admitting your shortcomings and seeking forgiveness, you’re starting on the path of redemption.

Next, it’s important to prioritize transformation in your life.

Changing your mindset and habits will allow you to break free from modern day idolatry. This transformation can be achieved through prayer, reading God’s word, and fostering a deeper relationship with Him.

Throughout this journey, it’s also essential to rediscover the joy of walking with God.

In times of struggle or temptation, remember and focus on the happiness and satisfaction gained from putting God first. Cling to the peace and contentment that come from worshiping Him alone.

Another vital part of overcoming modern idolatry is understanding the role of grace.

God’s grace is freely given, and recognizing that you don’t earn it helps you stay grounded in humility. Embrace God’s grace and continually seek His guidance throughout your life.

Practicing humility is also a key aspect to consider in this process.

By letting go of pride and the desire for control, you make room for God to lead your life. Remember that you’re not all-knowing, and leaning on God’s wisdom will help you combat idolatry.

Additionally, develop self-control to resist the temptation to idolize worldly things.

Establish healthy boundaries and take practical steps to prevent these distractions from taking over your life. Engage in spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, and meditation to strengthen your ability to resist temptation.

As you move forward in your journey to overcome idolatry, the ultimate thing to remember is to always keep God at the center of your life. Replacing false idols with the one true God brings lasting peace, joy, and spiritual growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are common forms of idolatry in today’s society?

In modern society, idolatry can take many forms.

Some common examples include prioritizing material possessions, wealth, fame, relationships, or even social media popularity above spiritual values. It can also manifest in the form of excessive attachment to political ideologies or sports teams.

How is idol worship addressed in various religious contexts?

Many religious traditions condemn idol worship as sinful or misguided. In Christianity, the first commandment clearly states, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

Similarly, Islam prohibits idolatry and promotes the strict worship of Allah alone. Other faiths, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, also have teachings that guide people to avoid attachment to worldly objects or deities.

How can individuals identify and confront idols in their lives?

To identify and confront idols in your life, it is important to engage in self-reflection and assess your priorities. Consider where you invest your time, energy, and resources, and if you might spend too much time or energy in any one place.

Seeking guidance from religious texts, spiritual mentors, or personal introspection can help you uncover any idols that may have taken root in your life. Once identified, it’s essential to realign your focus on your faith and inner spiritual values.

What are the consequences of idolatry according to religious texts?

God’s Word often warns of grave consequences for those who engage in idolatry. For example, the Bible states that idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Many other religious texts also caution against the perils of idolatry, such as distancing oneself from the spiritual realm, divine punishment, or social discord.

How are graven images linked to idolatry in modern times?

While graven images may not be as prevalent today as they were in the past, they can still play a role in modern idolatry.

This connection can be found in an individual’s excessive reverence for objects, symbols, or images that represent their chosen idols. It could be a specific brand, a celebrity, or even the representation of a certain political ideology.

What is the role of technology in perpetuating idolatry today?

Technology, particularly social media, plays a significant role in perpetuating idolatry today. It amplifies the visibility of material wealth, fame, and other potential idols, making them appear more important, accessible, and desirable.

Additionally, social media platforms can create an unhealthy cycle of seeking validation and worth through external validation, further feeding into idolatry. Being mindful of your digital consumption and focusing on personal growth, relationships, and spiritual development can help counteract this influence.

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Jeanne Doyon

Monday 1st of April 2024

This is a great article--thank you. I am teaching about Gideon right now and would love to share some of your insights. Is there a way I can print this article so I can use It in my sessions?


Tuesday 2nd of April 2024

Thanks so much for reading it, Jeanne! You could try choosing the "Print" option from your web browser or you could click the "Email" button at the top of this post to email it to yourself, then print it from your inbox. I hope this helps! 😀

Jeanne Doyon

Saturday 16th of March 2024

Thank you for this insightful article. I'd love to share your list for identifying idols in our lives with a group of women at a retreat. I am sharing the life of Gideon. Please let me know if that would be okay (giving you credit of course). Thank you and blessings on your words.


Sunday 24th of March 2024

Hi, Jeanne! I would be absolutely honored for you to share my thoughts on idolatry! Thanks so much for reading and for holding such an important conversation with others! ❤️


Friday 12th of January 2024

Thank you for this article, Sister Deb! It's excellent reference material. =)


Wednesday 17th of January 2024

You're so very welcome! I'm glad you found it helpful. Thanks for reading! ❤️

Cherita Warren

Monday 13th of November 2023

I truly appreciate this post on Modern-Day Idolatry. God showed me how I struggled with idolatry and in prayer, I asked Him to give me some examples of idolatry. I stumbled upon this article two days ago, and it has been helpful in my walk with Christ. I now know what to pray for and pray against. Thank you so much for sharing and I will definitely be spreading this article to whomever will listen. Thank you again and God bless you.


Tuesday 14th of November 2023

Thanks so much for reading the post and sharing your story, Cherita! I pray you continue to grow closer to God and wiser in His ways each day!! ❤️


Friday 7th of July 2023

I am a doll maker and make them from scratch spending a lot of time on each one. No two are alike and they are each very detailed. I have spent hours on them and it dawned on me that this could be idolatry. I do not like this thought. One doll I made was about 28" tall and I nit picked it to death while striving for excellence. I put it away because I was feeling that I was spending way too much time on it, checking it constantly, just not getting it done. I read the word every day taking notes and learning my Bible and praying more. I feel that this is more productive.


Wednesday 12th of July 2023

I completely feel that. I enjoy writing and creating new websites and can sometimes become consumed by that hobby. Even though I believe it's an interest that God has placed in me and a gift that He's given me, I have to be constantly mindful that I'm not obsessing over a writing project and dwelling on it more than I dwell on prayer and worship and reading God's Word. It often helps me to bring my interests to God and ask, "How would you have me serve you with this gift that you've given me?" Thanks so very much for sharing, Debbie!