7573 - No Idols

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Today we complete our verse by verse study of the First letter of John.

This last verse in 1 John is chapter 5 verse 21, which says:
“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”

At first glance this seems like a strange thought for John to use as he ends his Epistle. He has not mentioned the word idol in any other place in this book. In fact, the only other place where John speaks of the worship of idols is in Revelation (9:20). In that verse John is writing about the independent, rebellious people during the tribulation period who will not repent or stop worshipping... idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood. He observes that such idols cannot see or hear or walk. In other words, they have no life & no power. Yet people worship them.

In this last verse of 1 John the Apostle John is warning these people about any attitude of tolerance or worship of such lifeless objects. The fallacy of idolatry is explained in Romans one. We are told that God has revealed Himself to every person through the intricate and marvelous design of creation. In the many beautiful and complex objects, which were created by the wisdom and power of God, He has revealed His invisible qualities, his power and character to all men everywhere. So no person on earth can say, “I didn’t know.”

Romans 1:21 says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” You see, people have not responded to the revealed God. We do not even have an appreciative attitude. So God took His mighty protective hand from over us, so that our rational minds have turned to foolishness and darkness.

This passage goes on to say (v25), “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator...” It is almost unbelievable that people would turn away from the awesome, invisible, Creator God, and start worshipping the objects which He created –– Oh how foolish we are.

Some define an idol as anything, which is worshipped and adored, and this extended to anything which takes the place in our life which is intended for God.

In modern society the idols are things like riches, power, prestige, pleasure –– anything which takes the place of God in our lives.

As I observe the slippery downward slope on which society is joyfully skiing today, my mind searches through history and the Biblical record; and I conclude that the two greatest obstacles to godliness and holiness are prosperity and being carefree. The wide road of time is littered with demised cultures and nations, as well as corpses of hopes and dreams of well intentioned people destroyed by opulence and indulgence.

God warned Israel of this danger before they entered the promised land. In Deut. 28:47 (RSV) He said: “Because you did not serve the lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of things.” He points out the punishment will be captivity and slavery. This is exactly what happened to Israel.

Egypt, the Roman Empire, the splendor of Greece and many other cultures testify to this principle. The prophet Isaiah tells us (44:10-11), “Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit him nothing? He and his kind will be put to shame.”

The Apostle John’s exhortation is timely for the children of God in a society, which is largely composed of unbelievers. We must not fall into the devil’s trap.

So let us keep ourselves from idols.