KEEP YOURSELVES FROM IDOLS
We know that we are children of God and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also 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 by being in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Dear children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5: 19-21).
John lived in a world full of idols. Both Greek and Roman religion centred in the worship of idols which the people practised through sensual and sexual “pleasures”.
Jesus had taught His disciples that there were two kingdoms, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Everyone is born into the kingdom of Satan and is under his influence. God supernaturally transfers those who recognise Jesus as the Son of God and give allegiance to Him as Lord from the dominion of darkness to the kingdom of light.
God’s kingdom is both among us and within us. Jesus came to restore God’s rule in the earth. He made this possible by paying sin’s debt and removing the barrier which separated us from God. The Holy Spirit brings us back to life so that we can have fellowship with the Father and the Son. The devil no longer has the power to deceive us. He is not Lord; Jesus is, and we have given our allegiance to Him and acknowledge His authority over us.
The Holy Spirit gives us the power to live new lives, and to follow Jesus as our Master. He teaches us to obey God’s Word and to walk in the light of His truth. He has reunited us with Jesus in a union so close that Jesus called it being “in Him” and He “in us”. Just as a branch is connected to the vine and receives its nourishment from the vine, so we are connected to Him by faith and receive His life through the Holy Spirit in us.
Since we are citizens of God’s kingdom and come under His authority, we have nothing to do with the beliefs and practices of Satan’s dominion. He claims worship from those who worship idols because, though idols are nothing, Satan uses images as a shopfront to get unsuspecting people to worship him.
Therefore, dear friends, flee from idolatry . . . the sacrifices or pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons (1 Cor. 10: 14; 20).
Christians can inadvertently worship idols in many different ways without offering sacrifices to pagan gods, or bowing down to idols. Perhaps one of the most subtle forms of idolatry is the god we have created in our imagination from our experience of our earthly fathers.
The Book of Hebrews contains a profound statement, the meaning of which we often miss:
And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11: 6).
“. . . Must believe that He exists” has to ask the question, “Who is this who exists?” We must not look for the answer in our imagination, or from our experience of our human fathers but from the Bible. Who is the God to whom we pray? He is, first of all, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. If the Father to whom we pray is not identical to the Son who came to reveal the Father, we have created an idol in our imagination.
Unfortunately, many of God’s children have developed a distorted picture of God the Father, because their human fathers have represented a god who is harsh, abusive, uncaring or even absent.
John urged his readers to stay away from the pagan gods around them because these were the shopfront for demons. Whoever worshipped these evil creations became like them in character and behaviour. Believers were tempted to pay homage to them so that they could buy and sell in the market to survive. John said, “Don’t do it, even if you are forbidden access to the markets for food.”
Many of us in the western world are not tempted to worship idols, but what about the “things” to which we give allegiance by putting our trust in them, for example, our money, our assets, our investments, our income, our spouse, our families, even our church or our pastor. We give time to unimportant things which reveals what we value more than our fellowship with God.
We need John’s encouragement just as much as his readers in the first century. Keep yourselves from idols. There is not higher calling in life than to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbour as ourselves.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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