1 John 5:18-21
We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 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.
The last line of John’s letter may seem to come out of nowhere. It’s an odd way to end an epistle, for sure, but if you pay attention to all that John has been addressing, this warning against idols becomes a fitting conclusion. Followers of Jesus, who are held safely in God’s hands and who commit our hearts to faithful obedience, must continually reject the world’s temptations, including idols and all the traps set by the evil one. John understood what modern people often ignore: we live in the midst of a spiritual battle. The evil one, known as Satan, uses all his powers of deception and cruelty to enslave people and, above all else, to keep them from finding new life in Jesus. Idols are the ultimate symbol of spiritual delusion. Whether they are actual statues of false gods or just abstract objects of false devotion, idols are Satan’s favorite way of enslaving people to the worship of something other than the true God we know through Jesus Christ.
So, two complimentary truths flow from this passage. First, God protects his children. Those of us who know and follow Jesus are held securely in God’s mighty hands, and nothing, not even the weapons of the evil one, can pry us away from God or harm us spiritually. That promise, repeated often in scripture, should give us comfort and confidence. The second truth taught in this passage is about our responsibility as followers of Jesus. We must resist temptation and reject the seductive offers of Satan. Just as John has encouraged us throughout his letter to follow Jesus’ example of love, we also need to keep ourselves free from the spiritual entanglements of idols, anything that we put in God’s rightful place in our hearts. We belong to God, through faith in Jesus Christ, and we need to keep working at deepening that relationship, even in the face of Satan’s schemes.
Hold fast to the truth we have read in John’s letter. Remember God’s extraordinary love that teaches us how to love. Remember the sacrifice Jesus made to take away our sins. Remember the call to turn away from sin and to live in obedience to God. Remember the exhortation to love one another. Above all, remember that you are God’s child, loved and protected, through faith in Jesus Christ.
Father, You are good, kind and loving. Thank You for keeping me from falling into the temptations and traps of Satan. Give me strength to honor You and to follow Jesus every day. I ask this in the wonderful name of my Savior. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian