There is a place in the heart of man for God. Anything or person that takes the place of God in the human heart is an idol. Idols in the heart are responsible for secret sins. Secret sins have a hardening effect. Idols in the heart prevent prayers from being heard and answered.
The vast majority of Christians have idols in their hearts. These idols birth rebellion and stubbornness. The end result is hellfire for the unrepentant. It is impossible to meet God’s standard for the Rapture of the Church which is the gateway to heaven for any Christian with an idol in his heart.
- An evil eye. This is the sin of covetousness. It is the tendency not to be satisfied with what one has. It is related to greed.
- Bitterness. Malice, venom. Simon Magus became a Christian after listening to Philip’s gospel message. “Simon himself believed also … was baptized and continued with Philip” (Acts 8:13). There was bitterness in his heart. It did not manifest until he saw what he thought was an opportunity to get power and continue to mesmerise the people. Here the sin was trying to become rich through religious activity, a sin that is very prevalent in the modern church. But Simon was genuinely saved for he repented of his sin and sought forgiveness from the Lord when the state of his heart was revealed to him by Peter. “Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.” Peter obliged him and he was cleansed (Acts 8:23).
- Confusion. This is a state of absolute disorder. Disorientation that is not expected in normal situations. Bestiality for example is absolute confusion. (Lev 18:23). A confused state of the mind is the product of envy, strife and every evil work. Thinking of doing unnatural things produces a state of lawlessness in the heart. Many people are confused in life.
- Discouragement. Discouragement like fear is a spirit. It resists faith. It produces murmuring and complaining. The evil report of the ten spies Moses sent out to reconnoiter Canaan so discouraged the Israelites that a whole generation, from twenty years and above, wasted in the wilderness. In Col 3:21 Paul exhorts fathers not to break the spirit of their children through discouragement. They should be allowed to develop their natural abilities.
- Contentious Jealousy. It is usually hidden. It is the ambitious desire to surpass others in some of human reckoning or achievement. It also means flagrant resentment of those in superior positions. It amounts to putting down in one’s heart those God has lifted above someone.
- Envy. This is similar to emulation except that jealousy is so intense as to lead to murder. It is malicious hostility that smothers in the heart of a close person. In Acts 7:9 Stephen said: “And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him.” It was their murderous envy against Joseph because of his dreams that led his brothers to sell him to Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.
- Evil thoughts. Every form of sinful conduct originates from the heart. The Lord said such sins as “adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” proceed from within, out of the heart of men. Meditative indulgence in dead works leads into captivity.
- Fear. Fear is Satan’s first fiery dart. It is a spirit. Fear is Satan’s property, It brings torment and discouragement. Whenever there is fear, boldness disappears. (Mt 10:31).
- Foolishness. This is presumptive faith. It is closely related to pride. Many adults exhibit the silliness and perverseness characteristic of children. Foolishness is doing good works rather than Godly works. There are many people in the Vineyard of the Lord who are doing good things nobody asked them to do. God is not impressed with activity. Jesus told Martha He was not impressed with her busyness in the kitchen. Jesus came to their home for evangelism not a party. She was doing good works whereas Mary was engrossed in a Godly work. In Luke 7:39 the self-righteous Pharisee was foolish. Foolishness dries the bones.
- Hatred. This is hidden enmity. It is also extreme dislike. Delilah’s hatred for Samson led to the death of both Samson and a multitude of the Philistines.
- Impatience. This is the opposite of hasty imprudence. It is the iintolerance of delay and restless longing for something before its time of manifestation. It also means failure to endure affliction, suffering, annoyance, or other inconveniences of life with equanimity.
- Indecision. Unusual equivocation. The inability to make up one’s mind on matters of faith. As Paul stood before Governor Felix and “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee” (Acts 24:25). He never had and went to hell at death. Many people will end up in hell through indecision when confronted with Jesus.
- Jealousy. The consuming fear, suspicion, or belief that one is being or might be displaced in someone’s affections. The spirit of jealousy is the distrust of the fidelity of a spouse. It produces resentment, anger and wrath.
- Lasciviousness. The intense desire to commit adultery, fornication or uncleanness. By and large, adultery, fornication and uncleanness are physical manifestations of sin. Homosexuality is an aspect of “uncleanness.” Lasciviousness is a sin committed in the other sins in the heart. It is self-gratification which may be expressed in lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life or seeking the glorification of self. The grace of God can be turned into lasciviousness (Jude 4).
- Malice. Translated as evil, naughtiness and wickedness in Scripture, malice means the heart-felt desire to injure another person. It is concealed ill-will, hatred and wrongful intention. The command of Scripture is “be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men” (1 Cor. 14:20).
- Passivity. Lack of concern especially for things that have eternal value. Non participation in spiritual warfare is passivity. Some Christians have settled it in their heart not to obey some scriptures. Romans 12:1-3 Paul instructs believers to “present your bodies a living sacrifice … and be not conformed to this world.” It takes an act of the will to do this. Its absence is largely caused by lukewarmness fostered by passivity.
- Pride. This is self-exaltation as shown in having too great an opinion of oneself, achievement or possession. Most of the contentious issues in the affairs of men and nations are caused by pride. Pride is a harbinger of shame. God hates pride. It brought shame to Lucifer, Miriam, King Uzziah and Nebuchadnezzar. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
- Rebellion. Secret and determined defiance of constituted authority. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, a sin that carries the death penalty.
- Selfishness. This is inordinate concern with one’s own personal advantage and welfare to the exclusion of the wellbeing of others. It is the lack of consideration for others which is an aspect of hatred.
- Strife. Rooted in envying and divisions, strife is rooted in vanity. “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth” (James 3:14).
- Unbelief. Doubt, a spiritual bar to faith. “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12. Unbelief always leads away from God.
- Unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is the product of anger. When someone annoys or hurts you physically, you get angry. This is a normal human emotion. Take notice of the spiritual implication if reconciliation does not take effect soon after the offence. The offended person then arrests the offender in a spiritual sense. This is the work of the spirit of unforgiveness. Jesus taught that we must forgive those who have sinned against us. What you do not forgive is bound here and in heaven and God cannot violate your will. The second point to note about unforgiveness is that it deprives God of His right to judge. A person cannot be convicted twice for the same offence. Unforgiveness is the execution of a sentence of imprisonment. Those who harbour unforgiveness make themselves ‘gods.’
- Wickedness. To be wicked is to be absolutely without love. This is malicious work of evil in the heart. According to the AMG Reference Bible, wickedness refers to something that is ‘bad, mischievous, injurious, hurtful i.e. giving pain or causing unhappiness.’ It is the hideous thing, a calamity or tragedy that is fashioned against someone.
- Worry. This is a state of mental unease and anxiety arising from one’s cares, uncertainty about the future and fear of failure. Faithlessness is the result of needless concern and anxiety. The command of Scripture is to be anxious for nothing “but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6)
The way to get rid of idols of the heart is a total surrender of one’s life spirit, soul and body to the Lord. Through various means such as Bible study, scripture meditation and sitting under anointed teachers of the Word, the Holy Spirit will identify the idols one by one. It is what Prophet Hosea called ‘breaking the fallow ground.’ As it is is written: “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12).
Each highlighted idol must be dealt with ruthlessly as by fire. To entertain an idol in the heart is witchcraft. It attracts the death penalty. Many Christians are already in hell because of secret idols in the heart at the point of death. The standard of God says forgive everyone who has offended you. Who is right or wrong is not the issue. Idols of the heart are sending more people to hellfire than physical indulgence in sinful acts. In Hebrews 12:15 the Bible exhorts believers to conduct their lives properly by “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” Idols of the heart can defile. Defilement is a gateway to the lake of fire.