This is how the Apostle John closes his first letter (1 John 5:21). At first read, I would imagine most of us think of this as a command that has little to do with us. We reason that this must be some culturally loaded comment that is distant from us and the world we live in. But John’s words are as relevant for us today as they were when he first penned them. Idolatry is our besetting sin. The quote below is from Tim Keller’s book, The Prodigal God. It is a reminder and a challenge to remain steadfast in the gospel, to preach the gospel to ourselves, to continue to ask how the gospel can sanctify us, and not simply to reflect on how it justified us.
“We habitually and instinctively look to other things besides God and his grace as our justification, hope, significance, and security. We believe the gospel at one level, but at deeper levels we do not. Human approval, professional success, power and influence, family and clan identity- all of these things serve as our heart’s ‘functional trust’ rather than what Christ has done, and as a result we continue to be driven to a great degree by fear, anger, and a lack of self-control. You cannot change such things through mere willpower, through learning Biblical principles and trying to carry them out. We can only change permanently as we take the gospel more deeply into our understanding and into our hearts. We must feed on the gospel, as it were, digesting it and making it part of ourselves. That is how we grow.”
What idols will tempt you this very day? This weekend? Let’s heed John’s words together in the fight of faith: “Little children, keep yourself from idols.” –Pastor Steve