Sermon quotes on idolatry

Augustine of Hippo

Idolatry is worshipping anything that ought to be used, or using anything that is meant to be worshipped.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected…. Hoarding is idolatry. 


Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The heart clings to collected treasure. Stored-up possessions get between me and God. Where my treasure is, there is my trust, my security, my comfort, my God. Treasure means idolatry.


John Calvin

Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.

John Calvin

For what is idolatry if not this: to worship the gifts in place of the Giver himself?

D. A. Carson

The heart of all idolatry in the Bible is the de-godding of God.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

We boast our emancipation from many superstitions; but if we have broken any idols, it is through a transfer of idolatry.


Timothy Keller

When people say, ‘I know God forgives me, but I can’t forgive myself,’ they mean that they have failed an idol, whose approval is more important than God’s.


Timothy Keller

If you love anything more than God, even if you believe in God, if there’s anything in your life that’s more important to you than God, than it is a master in your life…it will continually say, ‘serve me or die.

Peter Kreeft

The opposite of theism is not atheism, it’s idolatry



What each one honors before all else, what before all things he admires and loves, this for him is God.


John Piper

We make a god out of whatever we find most joy in. So find your joy in God and be done with all idolatry.


John Ruskin

God will put up with a great many things in the human heart, but there is one thing that He will not put up with in it–a second place. He who offers God a second place, offers Him no place.


J.C. Ryle

Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just. Such a God is an idol of your own.


Mike Slaughter

An idol is anything or anyone that receives my primary focus of both my energy and my resources, which should first of all, belong to God.


Tullian Tchividjian

If you uproot the idol and fail to plant the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back.


A.W. Tozer

An idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand.


William Tyndale

To have a faith, therefore, or a trust in anything, where God hath not promised, is plain idolatry, and a worshipping of thine own imagination instead of God.

Dallas Willard

The process of spiritual formation in Christ is one of progressively replacing . . . destructive images and ideas with the images and ideas that filled the mind of Jesus himself.


N. T. Wright

To get overprotective about particular readings of the Bible is always in danger of idolatry.

Timothy Keller

Idolatry is not just a failure to obey God, it is a setting of the whole heart on something besides God.

Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters (New York: Dutton, 2009, p.171).

Daniel Kahneman

Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Friedrich Nietzsche

There are more idols in the world than there are realities.

Twilight of the Idols

Stanley Hauerwas

Never think that you need to protect God. Because anytime you think you need to protect God, you can be sure that you are worshipping an idol.

Simone Weil

One has only the choice between God and idolatry. There is no other possibility. For the faculty of worship is in us, and it is either directed somewhere into this world, or into another.

Charlotte Brontë

“My future husband was becoming to me my whole world; and more than the world: almost my hope of heaven. He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun. I could not, in those days, see God for His creature: of whom I had made an idol.”

Jane Eyre, 1847.

Tony Reinke

In a world where sex, wealth, power, and beauty are the dominant idols, these idols will flood our dominant media.

Taken from Competing Spectacles by Tony Reinke, © 2019, p.133. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

French Proverb

Money is a good servant but a bad master.

Iranian Proverb

Great needs grow from great possessions.

Timothy Keller

To reach people we must appreciate and adapt to their culture, but we must also challenge and confront it. This is based on the biblical teaching that all cultures have God’s grace and natural revelation in them, yet they are also in rebellious idolatry. If we overadapt to a culture, we have accepted the culture’s idols. If, however, we underadapt to a culture, we may have turned our own culture into an idol, an absolute. If we overadapt to a culture, we aren’t able to change people because we are not calling them to change. If we underadapt to a culture, no one will be changed because no one will listen to us; we will be confusing, offensive, or simply unpersuasive. To the degree a ministry is overadapted or underadapted to a culture, it loses life-changing power.

Center Church

Blaise Pascal

There was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present. But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.

Pensées, (thought #425), trans.W. F. Trotter (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1958), 113.

Ashley Hales

Failure is a gift. When we are forced to drink the dust of our idols, we can begin to turn our sights toward home. Taken from Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much

by Ashley Hales Copyright (c) 2009 by Ashley Hales. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Timothy Keller

What many people call “psychological problems” are simple issues of idolatry. Perfectionism, workaholism, chronic indecisiveness, the need to control the lives of others—all of these stem from making good things into idols that then drive us into the ground as we try to appease them. Idols dominate our lives.

Eugene Peterson

American culture is probably the least Christian culture that we’ve ever had because it is so materialistic and it’s so full of lies…. The problem is people have been treated as consumers for so long they don’t know any other way to live.

G.K. Chesterton

The crux and crisis is that man found it natural to worship; even natural to worship unnatural things. . . . If man cannot pray, he is gagged; if he cannot kneel, he is in irons.

The Everlasting Man

G.K. Beale

What people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or restoration.

We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry, InterVarsity Press, 2009.

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