Little children, keep yourselves from idols. I John 5:21
A good definition of an idol is anything that hinders your relationship with the Lord. In the Ten Commandments an idol is defined as a graven image or a man-made image or likeness. In this article I'll focus my attention on this second definition because I meet too many Christians who are missing the greater blessings of God because they won't let go of man-made idols.
A Christian teacher in a foreign country once told how many of his students would day-dream and sleep in his class. Of course, he taught a boring subject in the afteroon, so the students would naturally be tired. This went on for a period of time. One day he noticed a little idol of an imaginary creature on one of the window sills. It was small enough to fit in your hand, and he had never even noticed it before. Not knowing where it came from or whose it was, he decided to take it down and put it away somewhere.
The next day not one student fell asleep. Over the next several weeks, the teacher observed that none of the students were tired anymore. He explained that he knew that idols were bad, but didn't realize to what extent. Throughout the Old Testament we see stories of idols hindering the plan of God.
Joshua and his army lost a battle one time because one person had an idol hidden in their tent. In Acts 19:19 we see the people of Ephesus coming to the Lord, and burning their books of false religions and witchcraft. When they did this, the Word of God grew "mightily" and "prevailed". From a small beginning, the Ephesian church grew to be one of the most influential churches in the first five centuries of Christianity. If we want to see revival, we need to get rid of anything related to false religions and idols.
I'll give you another example. A certain couple decided to purchase a new house, and put their current home on the market. It was for sale for many months, and the seller of the new home gave them a certain timeframe to close the deal. It wasn't happening, and they were getting discouraged.
For years they had a calendar of a false relgion hanging over the couch in their family room, which was a gift from their grandmother. Because it was a gift and so ornate, they had a tough time getting rid of it, although they knew as a Christian, they should have nothing to do with false religions. So, they decided to take it down and put it in the garage.
Less than 24 hours later, after going to church, they came home to find some people at their door wanting to see the house. They explained that they had been looking in this neighborhood for several months for a house just like theirs. Of course, the Christian couple was thrilled, and gladly showed the house. They got a deal together, and were able to make it to the sales office of the new tract before they closed, on the last day of their original agreement.
Subsequently, they threw the idol in the trash. Think about it. A three dimensional ornate calendar hanging on the wall kept back the blessings of the Lord all those months. I wonder how many of us have missed out on the blessings of the Lord because we were unwilling to give up an idol. They didn't worship it. It was simply a gift, and a piece of art. According to the Lord, it was an idol. If we would rid our houses of anything that resembles an idol, we will see the blessings of the Lord.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. Exodus 20:4