In 1 Corinthians 10, there is a section on idolatry from verses 14 to 22. In our Bible study group, we talked about what it means for something to be an idol. Most often, we think of an idol as some kind of image set up in a temple or a home that people worship. However, what makes an idol an idol is not just its physical structure or appearance; we probably would not consider all carvings or statues to be idols. So what is an idol? Idols are oftentimes very detailed carvings made of valuable materials, and people gather around them to pray to them and worship them. So, the primary characteristic of an idol is that it is something people put a lot of care into, and something they put their hope into.
With this perspective, an idol can be anything in our lives, physical or not, that occupies our heart. When Paul talks about idols in this chapter, his focus is not on the physical idols, but that behind idols are demons, and the believers are making sacrifices to them and not to God (vv. 19-20). The point I appreciated most was that when we make sacrifices to the idols in our heart, whether it be through time, money, or energy, actually “we provoke the Lord to jealousy” (v. 22). The Lord loves us; He is not only concerned for us to be His good worshipers, but He really loves us. Thus, when we love idols, His emotion is not anger, but it is jealousy, in the same way that a husband/wife would be jealous over their spouse if they loved other people.