"Son of man, these people have installed idols in their hearts. They have embraced wickedness that will destroy them."
Idols in their hearts! What a striking phrase that is, and one that describes the hearts of many of us. We tend to think of idols as things which people make to worship and bow down to. But God was very clear to Ezekiel that idols can be set up in our hearts and minds and we worship them.
There are many idols of this kind which we can set up in our hearts — thoughts about being rich, about immoral desires, about things we want to buy but can't afford, and especially anything that comes before God in our hearts and desires. One Christian said that "idolatry is anything that cools your desire for Christ."
Notice what God said about those who had idols in their hearts: "They have embraced wickedness that will destroy them." That is always true. If we put anything before God then we are on a dangerous road. The 'idols' never deliver what they promise; they deceive us. Jesus said: "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and these things (which we need) will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)
Make this verse of a hymn by William Cowper your own prayer: The dearest idol I have known — however much adored — help me to tear it from your throne, and worship you as Lord. Amen.