Today, Monday September 27
“Keep Yourselves From Idols”
1 John 5:19-21 “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
What an amazing finish to a fantastic book! “Keep yourself from idols”! My sister Janet Baldis, who lives in Slovakia, wrote me an email yesterday, which I did not read until just a couple minutes after I recorded my video chat this morning and before I wrote this blog. She wrote, “I too have often been fascinated by the last verse in the book of 1 John, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols". I remembered what I heard Sproul say years ago, God knows our tendency to idolatry. And also if you think about the whole book, being on loving God, relationships with Him and others, and the people John was writing to were surrounded by an idolatrous culture, you can see why He would say that. Idolatry would ruin all the good things he was encouraging them to do right. But I love how he ended that book. I will listen tomorrow to see how you finish up the book.”
Thanks Janet for sharing that! Perfect! We all need to think about how idols can really mess up our walk with God and our lives. The Apostle Paul addressed this same subject in his letter to the Corinthian believers, “But we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one" (1 Cor. 8:4). That is, "an idol has no real existence". The tragedy of idolatry is that a dead image can do a worshiper no good because it is not genuine. Hebrew writers in the Old Testament called idols "nothings, vain things, vapors, emptiness." An idol is a lifeless, useless substitute for the real thing.
The Psalms contain many warnings about idolatry (Psalms 115:1-8; 135:15-18). To human vision, an idol looks real—eyes, ears, mouth, nose, hands, feet—but these are but useless imitations of the real thing. The eyes are blind, the ears are deaf, the mouth is silent, the hands and feet are paralyzed. But the real tragedy is that "those who make them will become like them; everyone who trusts in them" (Ps. 115:8). We become like the god we worship!
This is the secret of the life that is real. Because we have met the true God, through His Son Jesus Christ, we are in contact with reality. Our fellowship is with a God who is genuine. As we have seen, the word "real" means "the original as opposed to a copy" and "the authentic as opposed to an imitation." Jesus Christ is the true Light (John 1:9), and true Bread (John 6:32), and true Vine (John 15:1), and Truth itself John 14:6). He is the Original; everything else is a copy. He is authentic; everything else is only an imitation.
Believers live in an atmosphere of reality. Most unsaved people live in an atmosphere of pretense and sham. Believers have been given spiritual discernment to know the true from the false, “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding” (v. 20). But the unsaved do not have this understanding. Christians do not simply choose between good and bad; they choose between true and false. An idol represents that which is false and empty; and a person who lives for idols will himself become false and empty.
Not many of us today bow to idols of wood and metal. Nevertheless, other idols capture our attention and affection. Covetousness, for example, is idolatry (Col. 3:5). Or we may worship our bankbook or our stock portfolio just as fervently as a so-called heathen worships his ugly idol. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve" (Matt. 4:10). The thing we serve is the thing we worship! Whatever controls our lives and "calls the signals" is our god.
Who are you worshipping today?