Idol Factory: Self

“The human heart is a factory of idols…Everyone of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.” – John Calvin

The fact that we are made to worship doesn’t guarantee anything good. Our design guarantees that we will worship, but not that what we worship will be God. In fact for all of us, at different season perhaps, find ourselves worshiping that which is not God. We worship sex, money, fame, power, possessions, children, and thousands of other things. But at the core of all our idolatrous worship is really the idol of self. When worship sex, money, fame, etc. we are actually just worshiping ourselves. To appropriately disassemble the factory of idols we must first stop the production of the idol of self.

It doesn’t seem a stretch to me to suggest that at the heart of all sin is our attempt to be God in our own lives. Sometimes we attempt to be God by means of controlling our situations, controlling other people, and trying to guarantee a specific outcome. Other times we are attempting to be God by worshiping our own desires, our own plans, and our own well-being above all other things. When we, or what we want, is more important than God we have officially attempted to usurp his rightful place. This is essentially what happens anytime we worship sex, money, fame, possessions, etc. We are fundamentally putting ourself in God’s place.

We may rightly speak about a person’s god as being “money,” but in one sense they are worshiping themselves and it just so happens that it is money which gives them what they want (prestige, safety, etc.). They are worshipping their own desires and plans and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it, even if it is contrary to God’s desires and plans. In fact, rarely is a person consumed with only one “idol.” Though it may be that they worship money, along with that will come perhaps the worship of power, or sex, or fame. And so at the most basic level the idol isn’t really money, it’s an idol of self which manifests sometimes as the worship of money, sex, and fame. We worship ourselves.

Stephen Charnock once wrote, “”When we believe that we should be satisfied rather than God glorified in our worship, then we put God below ourselves as though He had been made for us rather than that we had been made for Him.” It is the same idea that Paul had in mind surely when he wrote to Timothy:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,  4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

These are lovers of self. These are people who love their own pleasure rather than God. These are people with  all sorts of idols, but at the top of them all is the idol of self. “What I want is what I deserve, and I will get it no matter what it costs.”

If we are going to root out the idols in our lives we must start at the top. We must start by examining the ways in which we worship ourselves. Do you make decisions based primarily on how you feel? That’s self-worship. Do you act as if you deserve everything you want? That’s self-worship. Does every change in your plan, offense from someone else, or disappointment drive you to despair? That’s self-worship. There are myriads of ways in which we express this idolatry, but to deal with all them we must first acknowledge that often we are putting ourselves on the throne, and acting as if we are God. Idolatry is a deep-seated heart issue; what we love is what we will worship. We must, then, begin by examining whether we love God more than we love ourselves.


  1. wonderful article …after identifying the ways of self-worship what shall we do later?


  1. […] them constantly the reality of Jesus as God, as savior, and the only one worthy of worship. When I love myself I will put an impossible expectation on my family, I will turn to them for salvation. And I will […]

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