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1 John 5:21: Little Children, Keep Yourselves From Idols

1 John 5:21
[21] Little children, keep yourselves from idols. (ESV)

This is the very last verse of 1 John. This is a letter he wrote to the church to encourage them in their faith. They had been devastated by false teachers. They needed to be reminded of the truth of Jesus the Son of God. They needed to be reminded that they belonged to God the Father and that they did not need the "secret knowledge" the false teachers boasted about.

So, how should John close this encouraging letter. "Best wishes."? "Keep the faith."? "God will be with you."? That is not what John says. Rather, he says this peculiar phrase, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." Is idolatry really a problem? I doubt that many of you reading this devotional have a statue of a false god that you bow down to, but can you still fall into idol worship. Here is a definition of an idol given by Dr. John Piper:

"What is an idol?  It is the thing loved or the person loved more than God, wanted more than God, desired more than God, treasured more than God, enjoyed more than God. It could be a girlfriend. It could be good grades. It could be the approval of other people. It could be success in business. It could be sexual stimulation. It could be a hobby or a musical group that you are following or a sport or your immaculate yard."
- John Piper

This definition changes our perception of idolatry. What is it that we desire the most? If it is anything other than God it is idolatry. That is a very sobering thought. I am convinced that people even have idols in church! When we desire to have our way in a church meeting more than we desire to honor God we are committing idolatry. Our preferences for anything cannot be greater than our preference for God being glorified. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

In this last verse of 1 John we are given an important admonition. Keep away from idols. Guard your heart against loving anything more than God.