The idea of “worshiping a golden idol” is from biblical times, but the practice of it is still alive and well. What could better define the worship of false idols than addiction? In the bible, the term “golden idol” is used to mean anything we put above God in our lives. The Egyptians, Neo-Babylonians and other nations would erect golden statues to represent their gods, and it was often a crime not to bow before them. Worship of these false gods instead of the one true God would lead to personal demise, according to the bible.
In the present time, false idol worship is an old adage, and quite correctly represents everything that addiction is. It does not refer to a mere fondness for something unworthy of praise, it refers to a reverential worship of something unworthy of worship. Addiction drives a person to crave something so strongly that they are willing to serve it with their whole person in order to have access to it. For example, alcoholics will frequently organize their time, energy and money around alcohol. They are always sure to have funds for alcohol. They plan their days around drinking and will frequently avoid events that will inhibit their plans to drink. If anything unpredictable or stressful happens, they feel an overwhelming need to comfort themselves with alcohol. If drinking begins to harm their relationships, they will concoct elaborate schemes to hide their drinking from view of the people in their lives. Imagine, this incredible amount of thought and energy expended on serving a substance instead of the Creator of the Universe. This is the very epitome of worshiping a golden idol.
Though this phrase is commonly used with a severe connotation, conjuring up images of fire and brimstone as punishment for worship of a false idol, it is interpreted differently in modern times. The merciful and selfless life of Christ shows us that God does not desire punishment for us, but rather health, hope, joy and prosperity. God created us to worship him and to find fulfillment in him, so when we turn from him and place our adoration on something else, we are essentially doing something that is unnatural and toxic to ourselves. God does not want to condemn us, he wants to redeem us. He warns us to rebuke false idols – money, fame, glory, sex, drugs, alcohol – so that we will not become lost and fall into despair, but instead become rich in the spirit and pure of heart so that we may receive everlasting life in paradise with Him.