A Short Study of 1st John 5:21

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”
(1st John 5:21)


The apostle John, writing to the people of God who he describes as “little children,” says to them: “And we know that Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. (1st John 5:20) God’s people will all be “taught of God.” He will give them “knowledge” and “understanding” so that they might know (be able to distinguish) the true God. To know Him the only way He can be known, in His Son Jesus Christ. Furthermore, to know God, which is to have Him reveal Himself to us in the gospel and in us by His Spirit, is eternal life! Also, to know God in this sense is to love Him and to know that He loved us and gave Himself for us. So what will John say next in closing? “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (1st John 5:21) Every god, every person and everything that rivals the true God is an idol. All religion and experience prior to God revealing Himself to us through the truth was idolatry. Idolatry is all around us because it is naturally in us. It is always easy for flesh to embrace what can be seen, touched or felt. Thus, idolatry is always a problem, always a danger. It is very subtle since the great idol maker and all his legions of deceivers are “transformed into an angel of light.”

“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) When God saves a sinner, He delivers that sinner from the bondage, deception and practice of his former idolatry. As a matter of fact, if He has not delivered us from those old associations, methods, teachings, and practices of them, we are yet bound to them. He does not add the truth of Christ and the worship of His holy Self to that idolatry. His command to His elect is “come ye out from among them.” How can one be a part of, cling to, that which is so dishonoring to the true God and to the Person and work of His Son? (Read 2nd Corinthians 6:14-18) Paul says of the Thessalonian believers, “ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” (1st Thessalonians 1:9) I often see people dabble with the truth for a time but they cannot forsake their idols. They hold fast to the things and persons they love more than the true God. As did Ephraim of whom God said, “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” (Hosea 4:17) Let all who truly believe God hear the words: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”


G. Shepard

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