God’s help arrives in many forms. One of the most common is pain. God allows us to experience the hurt, emptiness, and despair that envelop us when our idols betray us (as every idol eventually does). He puts us in positions in which we must lean either on our idols or on Him. If we choose to lean on the idols, they fracture. We lose what we thought we loved. Worse, when the idols shatter, their shards and splinters damage us in other ways.
Our greatest temptation is not to treat evil things as if they were good. Our greatest temptation is to treat good things as if they were God.
We were created to worship. We can’t help ourselves. The most earthbound among us are compelled to look upwards toward something outside ourselves, to give ourselves to it, to delight in it, and to find our satisfaction in it. Seeking satisfaction in anything less than the true and living God, however, is the essence of idolatry.
The miser who seeks satisfaction in money is an idolater. The lecher who seeks satisfaction in promiscuous sex is an idolater. The stoner or drunkard who seeks satisfaction in drugs or alcohol is an idolater. But so is the patriot who seeks satisfaction in service to country, the mother who seeks satisfaction in children, and the executive who seeks satisfaction in upward mobility. Every one of these people places some created thing in the place of God.
Not that these things are wrong. Money? God gives the power to get wealth (Deut 8:18). Sex? Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled (Heb 13:4). Alcohol? Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts (Prov 31:6). The problem is not the things. They are all good gifts of God. The problem is with their use. Anything can be used wrongly, and the most serious misuse of any created thing is to make it a substitute for God.
We were not created to worship just anything. We were created to worship the true and living God. Our souls contain an emptiness that only He can fill, but as sinful creatures we try to stuff that void full of things that are not God. We give ourselves to non-Gods, delight in them, and seek satisfaction in them.
It will not work. All created things together are too small to fill the cavity left in our souls by the absence of the one true God. They cannot take His place; they cannot bear the weight of the human soul.