Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.1 John 5:21 NIV
John, one of the twelve who followed Jesus during his time on earth, is commonly thought to be the author of this letter. It is a letter that is filled with instruction from an elder statesman of the church to those he had shepherded throughout a long life. He desired his children to walk faithfully with the Lord, growing ever deeper in their faith. And this verse was his concluding remark to them.
In John’s day, an idol was a carved image representing a commonly worshipped god. These idols would have been a very common sight nearly everywhere outside of Judea. John’s warning to them was to keep themselves from idols. To have nothing to do with idols or the gods that they represented. Rather, they should demonstrate wholehearted devotion to God alone.
Idols in Today’s World
It might be tempting to see this verse as irrelevant to us today. After all, there are not too many idols on street corners today. Yet his instruction is very relevant for modern readers. An idol was something worshipped in the place of, or alongside, God. And many things in today’s world do just that. It may be a job, another person, financial security, a sports team, a prized possession, or any of a number of other things. Those things are not necessarily bad in themselves. But when they begin to claim God’s place in our hearts, they become idols. John’s instruction here is to not allow anything else to interfere with our whole-hearted devotion to God alone.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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