They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.
And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?
He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?
There is an instinct towards worship but because of sin that worship is given to things that are not worthy. We were created to worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness. As a result of the fall we look for a substitute in place of God and turn to idols, both physical and intangible. That inborn, God-given trait is used towards perverted purposes that God never desired. Paul sheds some light on the topic:
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
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.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Idolatry’s deception is that it blinds us to the self-evident fact that we are worshipping something of our own creation. People used the same wood to fuel a fire and make an idol that they worshipped as god. It should have been pretty clear that it could not be a representation of a god that has created the world. But we choose to be deceived and God hands us over to be blinded and unreasonable. The cycle continues from blindness to further deception and back again. It’s not that we do not know who God is but that we do not want to acknowledge Him.
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
We should not be deceived, even as followers of Christ, that we are immune to this problem. Paul has to admonish the Ephesians against it because they are susceptible to the temptation to live a pagan lifestyle, else it would not be necessary to make such a warning. Wherever we see idolatry we can be sure to see delusion, blindness, and lack of understanding. Also, wherever see idolatry we may also see sexual perversion. It is almost as if there is a straight line from idolatry to sexual depravity.
As believers in Jesus we have the privilege of worshipping the living God. It is a privilege to live and walk in the light, as He is in the light. We now enjoy liberty after having been set free from captivity to sin. Our eyes have been opened and we have been brought from death to life. Living without knowing and acknowledging the Lord is like when a machine begins to operate without any input from the operator. We recognize that as a machine that is out of control and dangerous. How much worse it is when we do it. Because we know God we can live the life we were meant to live because we know who created us and gave us our purpose.