Please advise me on the following: my elderly mother and unmarried sister are moving in with me and my husband. They are both practicing Catholics and have idols in their bedrooms. My husband and I are both believers and we have been praying for their salvation. My husband says they should not bring their idols with them but I do not want to offend them and risk being self-righteous because I know that only the Lord knows their hearts. What is the best approach to them?
I assume that by idols you mean the crucifix or statues of a saint or two. Forbidding your mom and sister to bring these will cause feelings of anger or persecution. Since they’re only doing what they’ve been taught to do, a better way would be to show them why you don’t believe in such things.
Regarding the saints you could show them that the reason you don’t pray to saints is that the Bible appoints only Jesus and the Holy Spirit to intercede on our behalf (Romans 8:26 & 34) Show them Ephesians 3:12 that says “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” We don’t need any other intercessors.
As for the crucifix, you could use Romans 8:34 and Ephesians 1:19-22 to demonstrate that Jesus is no longer on the cross, but seated at the right hand of God. That’s why protestant crosses are empty. You could also appeal to the 2nd commandment making it sin to worship an image of anything, and that includes God. This will help you to determine whether they believe Jesus is God and can open up a whole new discussion.
But the most important thing to do is pray. None of your threats will move their hearts, which is what you really want. You can prevent your mom and sister from bringing these things in your home, but God can make them more receptive to your teaching. Be prepared to spend some time at this. It probably won’t happen overnight. And remember Romans 2:4. It’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. Be kind in making your case.