We humans need to find something greater than ourselves. A purpose or cause motivates us. Being motivated stirs us on all levels of our being: the body feels more willing to expend energy; the heart is encouraged and diligent, and the mind actively analyzes and determines effective courses of action toward achieving the purpose. Ironically humans, even ones claiming Christ, often substitute idolatry as a counterfeit for motivational purpose.
There is more to know here than simply the prohibition of the Ten Commandments against the making of graven images. Why the prohibition, if the idol holds no real power?
Idols reflect a sense of self back to the self. Herein is the downfall of all who trust in an idol, and the reason for God forbidding their fabrication. An idol’s power is the deception that the idol is significant. This significance is simply a projection of a person’s imagination onto the idol. When captivated by the idol, a person is in effect captivated by his or her self. Behind every emotional stirring fostered by an idol, all that is encountered is one’s own being, whose needs are teased but not met.
The circle of self -- idol -- self cannot foster true life. The idol is an illusion of life. It does stir something in the soul; the fallen nature is gratified for a brief moment. This fleeting gratification motivates a person through rationalization that a substantive and valuable outside-of-self experience is achieved. Consequently, pursuit of the idol continues.
There is a larger human quest the individual believes they have begun to gain, the quest for the illumination of spirit within the self. The gratification of idols means the idolater will put faith in the idol to know the feeling of being alive. The seeking soul of an idolater thus defines self through the idol, which is effectively only a self-by-the-self function. This consuming the self to gain life is a spiritual state and results in immaturity which cannot love others. All the emotional potential of the individual to love is cannabilizied by the self. Such a state of loving self in isolation is not life. The idol is devoid of the life which only love sustains.
Maturity in Christ means becoming free from the power of idols over the soul. Idols strengthen the sense of self in the soul; but as strength built on nothing but the self, it is the utmost state of human weakness. One’s own soul is the object of one’s will. The idol is used as the justification of how and why the soul interacts with the outside world of symbols, social structures, and conflicts. The idol is treated as a reality both important and larger than self. However, the idol and its justification intellectually is a natural world construct. It offers nothing of the power of life and love which are the supernatural domain of the Creator God alone. Only the life of God which exists outside the natural world the self inhabits satisfies the quest for illumination of the soul by the spirit.