"Has a nation changed its gods?
Which are not gods?
But My people have changed their Glory
for what does not profit.
Be astonished, O heavens, at this,
And be horribly afraid;
Be very desolate," says the LORD.
"For my people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
and they have hewn for themselves cisterns-
broken cisterns that can hold no water."
Let's begin our time together with prayer...
"Holy Father, God in heaven above, today we will be studying about idolatry, Lord, and I pray that You will speak to me and my fellow sisters in Christ. I pray that You will be glorified as we study Your word this day. Speak to us, teach us, convict us this day so that we may be near to You.
I seek forgiveness of my sins this day, Lord. I know I am guilty of idolatry. I placed things and thoughts, and desires before You. I know this is sin and so I ask for Your forgiveness. I pray that You will cleanse me, wash me, make me whole again.
I lift up each lady reading this study today. I pray that You will speak to her and convict her of her sins of idolatry this day. I pray that You will walk with her and give her that peace about all the many things she needs to accomplish today.
In Jesus' name...amen."
Knowing True- Rejecting False
In this, our last study about 1 John, we will look at the sin of idolatry because that is how John finishes up this little book.
Why would John end this letter with an admonition about idolatry? Let's find out...
1 John 5:21-
"Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen."
The Greek translation of this verse is literally, "keep yourselves from the idols."
Remember to whom John is writing: a group of believers living among false teachers.
Perhaps John, out of love for his fellow believers, is trying to help them safeguard their assurance of salvation with this admonition. Remember that these last few verses are about having assurance of our salvation through prayer, knowing truth, and knowing false.
Our pastor gave a great sermon on idolatry back in June. I took some notes that I would like to share with you here on this blog since we are studying idolatry here in 1 John. At the time John wrote his letter, many of the new Christians were living side by side with pagan worshippers. Does this differ from how we in modern times live our Christian lives?
You may be thinking that you are not a pagan worshipper of idols, so you are safe. I used to think that way, too, but the fact is we are all guilty of some sort of idol worship. John reminds us of this in this last verse of his letter.
In our opening verse, we can easily see how heartbroken God is as He admonishes His people for their idolatry. He calls Himself the "fountain of living waters" as though to remind them of how He provided life for them in the desert only to be repaid with their betrayal.
What idolatry appears to be to God, our Father, is adultery. He has entered into a covenant with His people who have sworn to be faithful to Him and forsake all others only to be met with infidelity. How heartbreaking that is.
His people had forgotten all that He had done for them.
Instead, they provoked God and worshiped idols they had made.
They built shrines for their idols and erected them on every street! Here God likens them to harlots willing to give themselves to others whom they did not vow to love. Sound familiar?
You may still be thinking, "yeah, but I do not worship idols...."
That is what I say to myself often. Yet I know it isn't true. I LOVE television. I am a child of the 70's when TV was King of the land. I watched it in the morning, when I got home from school, at the dinner table with my family, and at night before bed. We had TV's in every room when I was a kid! When I was home sick from school, the TV was my comforter because my parents had to go to work. I would lie there and watch TV all day....it was my friend.
So, today it is still very hard for me NOT to watch TV. I sometimes have it on when I am not watching it just to hear the noise in the background. How awful is that?
But with much prayer over the years, I have gotten better at turning the darn thing off. But that led me to the computer. Now I have to be on the computer at least a few hours of the day. You see how easy it is to worship something other than God? It is something I have to pray about daily because it is such a struggle for me.
We try to make our gods as wonderful as the God of the universe. We use the best materials: fine wood, granite, gold, silver, pearl....everything we possibly can to make our idol outshine the sun. Big houses, fast shiny cars, big boats, RV's, incredible stereos, BIG TV sets, fancy computer systems, clothes, jewelry, careers, children, and the list goes on and on and on....
But how can we liken what we have in this world to the God of the universe who has always been?
1 John 2:15-17
Sometimes I want to watch TV more than do my work here at home. Sometimes I want to watch TV more than study God's word. How can this be? I know better than that.
We are told that everything in this world is passing away because the World is passing away! Yet we yearn to stay in it.
God tells us that no matter what we may build to worship, someday soon we will be put to shame because what we build will never compare to God.
Sometimes we watch that movie, "Castaway" with Tom Hanks. He is marooned on a desert island alone. As you watch the movie, you see that everything that is man made is limited. It will only work so well. Yet everything that God made is strong and works perfectly for the man. The island itself lasts for much longer than the flashlight the man brought with him. Even the ocean and the storm conquers the mighty airplane. The movie is a great study on how God's creation is far greater than anything man could ever make.
Even our idols.
Here God warns us not to even try and make Him into an image. He is God and has no "image" to contain Him. We would be foolish to even try. Yet we do. We, as people, carve statues of Christ, paint pictures of Him, even see Him in a tortilla!
God warns us in Deuteronomy simply because He knows us....and He wants us to know who He is so He tells us how to please Him and how not to.
Here He warns us not to even attempt any image because He knows we are prone to worship. That is how He made us. Had no sin entered into the world, we would be worshipping Him only...and that is how it will be in paradise with Him.....but sin did enter the world and so we worship everything BUT Him.
Take heed! God warns.....
With His voice God made the world and everything in it. So now we know that all things seen were made by the invisible...the supernatural.
Today we see that people are taking credit for God's work. Science is now claiming that it was science that created...not a "God" of the Bible.
But Paul tells us that these men of science know that God is. They know, but still they refuse to be grateful and worship the creation instead of the Creator. They worship the earth and claim to be able to "save" it.
So God will give them up to those futile thoughts.
1 Pet 1:22-25
But we are called to be separate from the world. We Christians know the God whom we serve. We know that His word formed the world and saved us from His wrath. We know that His word shall endure forever even after creation ends.
Well, ladies, this concludes our study of the book of 1 John. I hope you can see in this last verse how sincere John is in his love for fellow believers in that he calls them Little Children. he only wants what is best for them: the love of Christ.
Because he knows they are among wolves dressed in sheep's clothing, he wants them to be prepared and to KNOW for certain that they worship the One True God.
That is my wish for you reading this study: that you may know for certain that you have that eternal life and that you may continue in that assurance through Christ Jesus.
I pray that you have enjoyed studying this little book as much as I have. I learned so many new things that I never noticed before! I hope that you will always remember this book when times are hard and you wonder where God is. Turn to this book when you aren't sure if someone is a Christian or not. This book will give you the answers.
And for those days when you may have doubts, read 1 John and remember. Remember all that Christ Jesus did for you. He is your Advocate. He is there for you and wants to have that fellowship with you. Thank you for joining me and for being patient with my long posts, misspelled words, and other editing mistakes. I have truly enjoyed this study and I pray you have too.
Abide with Him: stand, remain, hold fast to His truths. And keep yourselves from idols!
Until next time.....
Psalm 96 O sing unto the LORD a new song; sing unto the LORD, all the earth.
Sing unto the LORD, bless His name; show forth His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the heathen, His wonders among all people.
For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.
Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.