Idols rob us of the immense joy God wants to give us. Everything good in this life is from God, given to us in love (1 Timothy 4:4-5). And yet, because of our sin nature, those good gifts often get turned into false gods. Our hearts were made to worship the one true God; if we are not worshiping him, we will always find something else to worship.
This is why Jesus came, to set us free from idols so we could receive the love of God and love him fully (1 John 4:9). He wants to bless us with the very best, with the very most, thus he made us for himself.
Therefore, here are 5 sigs God is setting you free from an idol so you can fully enjoy him and his gifts like he originally designed.
1. If You Feel Let Down By Something in Life, This Is Often a Sign God Is Setting You Free from an Idol
Before you can be set free, you have to want to be free. Before Jesus healed the man in John 5, he asked him, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6). When people do not want to give up their idols, God won’t make them.
In love, therefore, God allows us to test our idols so that they will fail us. If we will not listen to his warnings and turn to him in faith, he will show us with our own eyes how devastatingly inadequate are idols really are (Romans 1:24-25). When your heart needs God’s perfect love but all you have is an idol, you will always feel let down in the end.
Take heart. If you feel let down in your life, this is the beginning process of being set free from an idol. God is showing you that you have put your hope in something other than him. Now you can repent and take hold of that which is truly life (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
2. If You Have Been Convicted By the Holy Spirit of an Unholy Behavior in Your Life, This Is a Good Sign God Is Setting You Free from an Idol
Whatever we worship is what we will obey. If you worship women, every decision you make will be motivated by trying to find pleasure in a woman. If you worship men, your whole life will be organized around trying to be happy with a man. If you worship money, you will always put your career before everything else.
When our hearts our worshiping God, we obey God. When our hearts are worshiping an idol, we sin (Romans 6:16-19). Thus, all unholy behavior is really a symptom of idolatry. When the Holy Spirit lovingly convicts you of sin, he is also setting you free from idolatry (John 16:8).
3. If You Feel Inner Pain Because You Are Resisting This Idol, This Is a Good Sign God Is Setting You Free from an Idol
When you start resisting this idol and letting it go, you might imagine you will feel an immense joy and sense of freedom immediately. You may feel that right away, or you may not. Sometimes your heart has been so dependent on this idol for so long that it feels lost and empty once it finally starts letting this idol go. Like a drug addict who has to go through a period of withdraw before feeling free, so too will our hearts often need time to adjust and learn how to depend on God alone for the joy we need.
For God to come in, we have to let everything else go (Matthew 16:25). We have to empty ourselves of everything else so Jesus can be first. In the beginning, the emptying process can be painful and lonely. But you have to have faith. You have to stick with it. Don’t turn back to that idol. If you never let yourself feel empty, you will never feel how much you truly need God. Sin numbs us to the reality of our true needs.
If you don’t turn back to sin and you use your pain to pursue God’s presence, in time, you will learn how to truly come to God. You will learn how to drink deeply of his love. You will see that he is incomparably greater than the idol you have left behind.
As Jesus said in John 4:13-14, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
4. If You Are Beginning to Realize that Your Greatest Need Is Always God, This Is a Good Sign He Is Setting You Free from an Idol
The pain of letting go of an idol, the pain of confronting your sin, the pain of losing your past life – all this pain points us to the pleasure we have always longed for.
When you stop worshiping false gods, your heart will have the energy to worship the one true God. And when you start serving him with your whole heart, you will realize everything you ever craved has always been in him.
As God said in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
5. If You Are Learning to Enjoy God’s Gifts for the Glory of God, This Is a Good Sign He Is Setting You Free from an Idol
Ironically, when you worship God and love him first and foremost, he then gives you the ability to also enjoy the many other blessings he desires for you to have.
A spouse must not be your god, but this person can be an immense blessing in your life (Proverbs 18:22). Money must not be your god, but having the resources to survive is an amazing gift from the Lord (Matthew 6:31-33). Sex must not be your God, but sex in marriage is a pleasure God created for our enjoyment (Proverbs 5:18-19).
Only when God is seated on the throne of our hearts can we experience his love and goodness that he made us for. As 1 Timothy 6:17 states, we must not set our “hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”