According to Webster’s dictionary, idolatry is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces God.




The main drive of idolatry is to distract us from the true worship of God. There is a subtle form of idolatry that I am going to address, it is the worship of Men of God.The placing of leadership upon a pedestal is actually idolatry. In the early church we see some glimpses of this, the good thing is the apostles would always reprimand and correct people when they would do this to them. In Acts 10:25-26 it says:


And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.


The points to take note of here are that Cornelius viewed himself as a lesser man than Peter, and saw Peter as some form of god. Peter immediately corrected that misconception: He says stand up for I also am a man. Whenever leaders start claiming that they are better than everyone else, and claim that they are the ones who can hear God that’s a dangerous place to be for it encourages in the followers a sense that they are lesser people.


In Acts 14: 11-18


 And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.  And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.


There are men of God who are endowed with the power gifts: healing, miracles and power just as the Apostles of the early days. Unfortunately for us men because of our fallen state, the moment we see a man who can perform these miracles we start worshipping them instead of worshipping God. There need to be men of God who arise and inform people that it is God who is working to do these things and they are just vessels.


Here are some warning signs that can indicate idolatry in the house of God:

  • The congregants have to stand/ kneel every time that the pastor/men of God enters the room. Those who do not stand/kneel are branded as not following God’s will
  • When the man/woman of God starts taking the place of Jesus in people’s lives
  • When the man/woman of God starts saying that they are the only ones who can hear God accurately and every decision in your life has to be run past them for guidance.
  • The congregants no longer read the bible for themselves but only rely on hearing the word from the man/woman of God





In 1 Kings 11:1-10


But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.


Idolatry just does not happen, there is a cause. In Solomon’s case it was his love of strange women that led him into idolatry. What are some of the causes that have led our modern day church leadership to build idols or for themselves to become idols?



It’s sad that so many leaders in the church today now treat their sermons, prophecies and things they say as infallible. If a congregant dares question anything that is said on the pulpit or by a preacher they are told that they are now messing with God and they are in danger of judgement. How different from the biblical pattern where in Acts 17:11 we are told that the Bereans where more noble than the Thessalonians for they searched the scriptures to see if what Paul was saying was true. Acts 17:10-11 says


And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who      coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.


The greek word translated searched is anakrino ̄ (an-ak-ree’-no )

properly to scrutinize, that is, (by implication) investigate, interrogate, determine: – ask, question, discern, examine, judge, search.


Paul is one of the greatest apostles that ever lived, he was a man mightily used by God who did extraordinary miracles, he was an educated man who wrote most of the New Testament and yet the Bereans just did not blindly take what Paul was preaching to them. They scrutinized, they investigated, they judged, they discerned. And the bible speaks highly of them for such for God was pleased with them.


What we have to understand is that God cannot make mistakes, his words are true and he is perfect in all of his ways. On the other hand men of God are vessels of clay who can make mistakes. The moment a man/woman of God wants to be treated as if he is perfect and gives the impression that everything that they say or do is flawless they have made themselves idols for they have equated themselves to God!







This one applies to the lower level leaders. In an attempt to gain promotion in the ministry lower level leaders will bootlick their seniors, doing everything they can to advance in the ministry through hero worshipping the Pastor/ Worship leader and praising every decision that they make. This type of leader idolises position and serves at the altar of ambition making decisions not based on the word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit but based on what will make them to be promoted by the senior leadership. This type of leader has forgotten or does not understand that promotion comes from the Lord (Psalm 75:6-7) and so he/she unwittingly/knowingly chooses idolatry as a way of rising through the ranks in the church.



In Acts 8:9-24

But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.  Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.


This is a modern day tragedy in the church where people think they can buy the anointing. And preachers now sell anointing oils for healing, they sell seats that are close to the pastor were the anointing is said to be stronger.




1 Kings 12:25-33

Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel. And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.  Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi. And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.


Jeroboam feared that he might lose the people he had now becoming king over, but how foolish of him to forget that it was God who made him King in the very first place. Now he worships fear more than he worships God and he devises a wicked plan, he makes idols and instructs his flock to worship the creature instead of the creator.


A Jeroboam type leader worships fear and insecurity, fear is their idol, they think that they own the congregation so decisions are made to protect his position and influence rather than based on the word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Such a leader will dominate the flock, demand that they attend no other fellowship/church even if they are just visiting because their hearts might then go to that fellowship. Any leader who is seen as doing a good work apart from this leader is demoted since this person will be deemed as a threat. If it’s a worship leader they don’t want anyone they might feel has a better voice than them in the worship team. Such a person will be doomed to just sing in the choir and will never be given a song to lead or worse still they can be frustrated by the worship leader so that they leave the worship team. In 1 Samuel 18:5-29 we see that Saul had such an attitude. He idolized himself and feared losing his kingdom hence could not stand it for someone else to be doing great feats even if his kingdom was benefiting from David’s work. The leader that idolizes themselves have to be the ones that come up with the ideas for the church, they have to be seen doing everything that’s significant, everything has to be attributed to them lest if someone else do that the flock would then fail to see them as a leader and maybe start going after this other person.


The word of God lets us know that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind. Whenever a leader starts making decisions based on fear, fear has become their idol and their heart slowly turns away from God.




In Acts 17:15-34 while Paul is in Athens his spirit was stirred in him when he saw that the city was given to idolatry. In verse 24-31


God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.


Is a church building bad? Certainly not. We need to have beautiful church buildings and I think amazing edifices where we can worship have been erected all around the world but then the moment the building starts taking the place of God, we have lost it.



Fame is not a bad thing, we see it throughout the bible how God made Joseph, Joshua, Solomon, David e.t.c famous. Even Jesus himself was famous. However when fame gets to the head it breeds pride and a prideful person worships self, is pompous and arrogant no longer taking heed to the advice from fellow brethren, becoming a law unto themselves. When pride comes this person no longer seeks God, God is no longer in all this persons thoughts as Psalm 10:4 says

The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.


Now we have celebrity preachers and celebrity worship leaders and unfortunately most of these celebrities are not basing their actions on the model from the word of God but are rather copying the world which has its root in an idolatrous system.




Jesus never said to people you have to honour me and yet our modern day preachers have now created a doctrine of honour that is preached from the pulpit more time than is even necessary. Yes those who labour among us are worthy of double honour but that honour should not be demanded, it should not be a law: it just has to be freely given. In Mathew 20:25-28 Jesus says

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.


Men and women of God should be serving not lording it over the flock. The moment we treat them like lords we have made them idols.



Money in itself is not a bad thing but the love of money is the root of all evil as 1 Timothy 6:10 tells us

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.


When a man/woman of God is driven by the love of money they have made money their idol and because they now worship that idol they will also lead their church in this path. In such a church there is a continuous and unreasonable call to be always sowing to the man of God to get their blessing.

The love of money is covetousness which essentially is idolatry as stated in Colossians 3:5

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry


Jesus lets us know in Luke 16:13-15 that you cannot serve God and serve money, you will hate one and love the other.

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.  And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.  And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.


In Jesus day the Pharisees where the religious leaders/pastors of that time and the bible lets us know that they were covetous, they worshipped money. There is another warning in  Ephesians 5:5 & 2 Peter 2:1-3


For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.




For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. ( 1 Samuel 15:23 )


What happens when a pastor/ worship leader is no longer obeying God’s word is that they start worshipping self or they worship other people opinions or they worship what they deem will be the outcome of their actions if they choose to obey the word thinking that they can make decisions in their flesh. This is exactly what happened to Saul and God immediately rejected him as King because he had shifted his allegiance from the worship of God. You can read the whole of 1 Samuel 15 and also read 1 Samuel 13:8-13 to get the context of the whole story.


Saul was walking in the flesh and Romans 8:5-8

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.





Is serving the Pastor/man of God bad? Certainly not. On the contrary it is good for you to serve your pastor but make sure you do this out of a love for your pastor and not because you think that you are doing God a service. God can also tell you to serve your pastor, this is for your benefit, and there might be some skills or some lessons that God wants you to learn.


Modern day idolatry is so cunning. We can never and should never equate a man of God to God. Actually some people serve their pastor with the intention of rising through the ranks and unfortunately some pastors use this as their thermometer to measure those who should be given leadership posts in church instead of seeing by the Spirit and identifying the gifts of a person.




With this one the ministers idolizes his family. Now don’t get me wrong they are times that God will use the whole family in ministry but this is the exception and not the rule. Unfortunately today the moment someone is a pastor’s wife/husband/child they automatically qualify for church leadership and church positions regardless of character, knowledge of the scriptures and calling. The prophet Samuel when he was old tried to have his kids take over the ministry with disastrous results ( 1 Samuel 18:1-3 )


And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.



At least Samuel was a good leader. When the elders told him what his sons were doing he did not try to defend his family, he corrected the situation though it caused him much grief which he would have never had if he had not made his sons judges in the first place.


Eli the priest however did nothing about his sons. By right the sons of priests would also be priests in the Old Testament. However Eli’s sons were wicked and Eli knew it but did not take decisive action because he was blinded by the family element. If these were not his sons he would have had them killed for this as the law was very harsh in the Old Testament and this was what was required. Eli knew this and yet just gives them a light reprimand. God eventually killed them but the bible lets us know in 1 Samuel 2:12-17 & that


Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.  And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.


Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.  And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD’S people to transgress. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.



In 1 Samuel 2:29 God tells us the problem:

Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?


Eli was worshipping his sons, God says he honoured his sons more than he honoured God. His sons were more important than the sanctity and holiness of the sanctuary. Also the people now abhorred the offering of the Lord. In a church were the pastors family is worshipped people end up despising God, speaking ill of the church or just becoming passive in their worship as they will be feeling that their contributions to the body of Christ do not matter as it is not their church but rather the Pastor’s church. The church belongs to Jesus Christ and pastors are just stewards. You can read the whole of 1 Samuel 2 & 3 to get the whole context of the story.


Idolatry is no small thing. Solomon the wisest man that ever lived fell prey to it, countless leaders in the bible were held captive by it, and it is a recurring theme in both the old and new testament. We should not take it lightly.  The moment you start worshiping idols your heart is no longer devoted to God and the decisions you make start to be influenced by those idols that you worship. The nation of Israel was now in turmoil, there was a crisis. Because of Solomon’s idols God had to tear away the kingdom from his son and raise another leader Jeroboam. Now this Jeroboam lost his way and he led the nation of Israel into sin. From there on we see the nation of Israel spiralling further and further into idolatry. As I said when a leader worships idols, or worse still creates an idol the result is the congregation will follow where the leader goes and it gets perfected by the generations that follow.


Let us take the warning of Jesus seriously that he gives us in Mathew 7:21-23


Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.


This scripture used to trouble me because I did not understand how Jesus could say he did not know people who had done all these works in his name. It is because modern day idolatry is all masked under the guise of worshipping Jesus. People have built church buildings in Jesus name and yet idols not Jesus is worshipped in those houses. Some people are doing miracles in Jesus name yet using magic and not truly it being the spirit of God. I can go on and on. Revelations gives us the final warning



We need to be like King Josiah who in 2 Kings 23 brought an end to idolatry after the word of God had enlightened them of how Israel had degenerated into idolatry to their shame!


Take Pauls warning in Romans 1:18-25


For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.