Heart Idols?

Contrary to what you will hear in many counseling circles today purporting to be Christian, the way to help people solve their problems does not lie in discovering some idol(s) in their hearts. Listen to what Scripture says about hearts:

You alone know the human heart  (2 Chronicles 6:30)

Since that is true, it is foolishness—not to say presumption—to claim to be able by some technique or other to be able to know what Scripture teaches that only God can know!

Why, then, is this idea so prevalent among Christians who counsel? A good selling job has been done it seems.

I warn you against adopting this approach in which such silly things as calling “over-sleeping” an idol are “discovered.” True, a person may (along with other matters) have a sleeping problem, but that it is an idol which he has manufactured in his heart—sounds strange to me,  How about you?

5 thoughts on “Heart Idols?

  1. What about 1 John’s closing comment?

    Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

  2. I thought it strange when I first heard this teaching about a new way of helping people by detecting their heart idols. It sounds like a “I found the truth after all this time”, based on a single Old Testament prophetic-figurative Scripture. Other reason I started to doubt that approach is, “How can I, being blind (or short-sighted, at best), be able to tell exactly what’s happening inside my own heart (or someone else’s heart)? Maybe a better counsel would be, “Repent, go to the cross and humbly trust that God can know exactly what is happening inside of you, and he can disentangle it.”

    I believe in the sufficiency of Scriptures in counseling and I don’t believe modern psychology. I’m afraid we are just creating a new psychology, and using this or that portion of the Bible to support it.

  3. I’m reminded of Jesus’ words “Where your treasure is, there your heart shall be also,” in Matt. 6:21. I know the context is the storing up of possessions that supposedly offer security and most assuredly divert our attention away from God. Don’t we sometimes elevate those possessions to positions of worship? And if we do, wouldn’t they be considered idols? For instance, ancient people worshiped statues and gods for prosperity, which the Lord calls idols. Can it not be said that while our focus is not on material figurines, the craving for anything other than God takes on idol status?

    • “Can it not be said . . .”


      Sure, anything “can be said” but the idea that “craving for anything other than God takes on idol status” is a metaphor YOU have constructed. It does not rise from the Scriptures. With perhaps one exception, Scripture just does not use the term “idol” in this way. Jay’s point is that it is an artificial construct and, for the counselor, it is misleading and unhelpful. Counselors cannot know what is happening in a counselees heart, only God can.

      • Thanks for such a quick reply. I do want to have a reasoned understanding why we cannot refer to “idols” in one’s life, especially when the Apostle Paul says in Col. 3:5 that greed is idolatry. In temptation to do evil, Paul instructs us not to become idolators in 1 Cor. 10. I do believe that only God knows the heart. But does mean idolatrous behavior cannot be identified? For instance, I see many who worship sports figures.