What happens when a person abandons his faith in God? Cases differ, to be sure, but most faith-renouncers confess to sensing a void inside. They have an emptiness that must be filled. Inevitably, they turn to a God-substitute.

Almost anything can serve as a God-substitute—sports, art, sex, music, work, gambling, drugs, alcohol, TV—even another person.

Joseph Goebbels scorned his religious upbringing that taught him about Christ. He later remarked, “It is almost immaterial what we believe so long as we believe in something.” For Goebbels that something was really someone. None other than the murderous Adolf Hitler became Goebbels’ God-substitute. When Hitler was finally trapped and defeated, Goebbels killed himself and his family.

God spoke to the people of Judah through the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “My people have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and [have made] broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). They had turned from the one true God to worthless God-substitutes.

To abandon God means we risk being made “desolate” (v.12). But obedience to Christ brings complete fulfillment that gives life, peace, and hope.