“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.” Romans 1:21
Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry, for idolatry is at bottom a libel on His character. The idolatrous heart assumes God is other than He is—in itself a monstrous sin—and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness. Always this god will conform to the image of the one who created it and will be base or pure, cruel or kind, according to the moral state of the mind from which it emerges.
A god begotten in the shadows of a fallen heart will quite naturally be no true likeness of the true God. “Thou thoughtest,” said the Lord to the wicked man in the psalm, “that I was altogether such an one as thyself.” Surely this must be a serious affront to the Most High God before whom cherubim and seraphim continually do cry, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth.”
Let us beware lest we in our pride accept the erroneous notion that idolatry consists only in kneeling before visible objects of adoration, and that civilized peoples are therefore free from it. The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. It beings in the mind and may be present where no overt act of worship has taken place. “When they knew God,” wrote Paul, “they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
Then followed the worship of idols fashioned after the likeness of men and birds and beasts and creeping things. But this series of degrading acts began in the mind. Wrong ideas about God are only the fountain from which the polluted waters of idolatry flow; they are themselves idolatrous. The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true. – A. W. Tozer