Keep Idols Out!

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

We come to this verse and we are tempted to think it has nothing to do with what John has already said—he has mentioned nothing about idols. But if we think about context, John said that Jesus is the true God and eternal life (v. 20), so to worship anything or anyone other than him is idolatry. So, in fact, it does fit the context.

But that’s only half the battle in comprehending this last verse. We still have to apply it. We have to move beyond thinking, on the one hand, that an idol is merely something made by the hands of man from wood or metal, and recognize that anything can become an idol. On the other hand, we have to actually live out this command and keep ourselves from idols. We must keep idols out of our hearts!

Now, it takes effort to guard ourselves from idolatry. Why else would we be commanded to “keep” ourselves from idols if it didn’t take some work on our part? It will take discipline. Calvin puts his finger on why it will take discipline when he points out that our hearts are “idol-making factories.” Our hearts are busy producing idols. And if we are not careful, they will produce false gods.

But we may be left to ask: What’s the best way to keep idols out of our hearts? We have to worship the only who deserves our worship. We must turn our hearts to Christ and give him the honor, glory, and obedience that he alone deserves. So, let’s keep idols out by worship Christ alone.