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1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Back when I was young and dinosaurs roamed the earth, we used to write letters that we’d put in the mail. Texting has destroyed this, but yes, we’d absolutely do this. When I ended a letter, I’d end with my name and something affectionate, like “I love you”.

Many of the books we have in the New Testament are letters the Apostles wrote to the Church. As the Apostle Paul closed his letter to the Romans he sends greetings from others in ministry with him. Paul closes with “The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” (Romans 16:24), and then adds a rather length “P.S.” that ends with “To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27). As Paul ends his first letter to Corinth he says, “My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” (1 Corinthians 16:24). The letter to the Hebrews ends simply with “Grace be with you all. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:25). The Apostle Peter ends with “Grow in Grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18).

Notice how the Apostle John ends his letter to the Church. What thought did John want us to remember, a final point that is so very important? He writes:

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

What In The World Is An “Idol”?

If I speak of “Idols”, some of you will think of television shows like “American Idol”, where people show off their talents for the adulation of other people. Humans can be idols. In Biblical times,

An “idol” (the Greek eidōlon, pronounced i’-do-lon) is an image, a likeness, a thing, a person, or a concept that is put in the place of and replaces the genuine God of the Scripture.

Idolatry is when we reverse what God did in creation. The Bible tells us that in the beginning God created mankind in His own image, male and female God created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).

In idolatry, we as humans create God
in our own image, after our own likeness.

Idolatry can be very visible, but it can also be very subtle. The ancient Egyptians worshiped many different idols (Osiris, Anubis, Sekhmet, Seth, etc.), and formed images that were honored as gods shaped like frogs, cats, dogs, and even lice. The ancient Romans worshiped many different gods and goddesses (Minerva, Jupiter, Bacchus, Venus, etc.). The ancient Greeks honored Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Hestia, Hades, and Apollo among others. Every society of every age from Adam till now has created and worshiped gods and goddesses in place of the God of the Bible. Idolatry begins in the heart when man considers himself wiser and more capable that God.

Homosexuality and Lesbianism is the unnatural consequence of idolatry.

The Apostle Paul is very clear on this when he writes:

Romans 1:22-24, 26-27 … Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. {this is idolatry} 24 THEREFORE God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men

Sexuality outside the scope of God’s creation is DISHONORABLE, not something to be PROUD of. When you reject the God of Scripture and create false gods, you unbind yourself from God’s design in creation. You become a law unto yourself, and following this pathway you move far away from God’s original intention in marriage.

Idolatry disposes of God, and creates a lesser more fallible god for the creature to heed.

The God of the Holy Scripture is merciful, gracious, patient, and filled with goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6-7). God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). The God of the Bible can never lie nor can He abide the presence of liars (Revelation 22:15). The God of the Bible is merciful and forgiving, but He will never allow those who are unrepentant and guilty to go unpunished. The false gods – the idols – that men worship teach that all people go to Heaven. The One True God teaches that only those who have repented of sin and who have given their hearts to Jesus Christ have the hope of Heaven.

Idolatry is the king of sins.

Idolatry caused Satan to fall from heaven. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself LIKE THE MOST HIGH” (Isaiah 14:14).

Idolatrous Satan – looking like a serpent, (the very first idolatrous image) (Revelation 20:2; 12:9) asked Adam, “Hath God really said?” Satan knows idolatry is contagious, and he invited Adam to join the delusion.

The very first murder committed was because of idolatry. Cain demanded that God accept his inappropriate sacrifice (Genesis 4:7). When God would not do so, Cain murdered his brother Abel.

When God called Moses to the top of Mount Sinai, what did Israel and her High Priest do? They melted down earrings and created a golden calf to worship and lead them. Israel’s idolatry kept them from inheriting the Promised Land for 40 years, and plagued the succeeding generations of Israelites to this day.

Why did Moses lose the Promised Land himself? He made himself an idol, and refused to glorify God. (Numbers 20:10)

Our Sunday School Lesson for today states (page 115, Bible Studies for Life, Spring 2023):

We often equate idolatry with worshiping images made of wood or metal, but idolatry happens whenever we place anything ahead of God. We can even make good things idols…”

Idolatry Cannot Make Us Children Of God

1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Let’s start with the words Little children. This is the Greek teknion, and is John’s favorite word in describing the believer. The word teknion is repeated in every single chapter of this Book except the first chapter(1 John 2:1,12,28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21). It is so very important that you understand,

BECOMING and BEING a Christian requires
you be like a LITTLE CHILD.

A little child doesn’t have to understand much. As a little child, I knew my father provided for my needs. As a little child, I also knew that I had better honor and obey my father – else I would be punished. I knew as a little child that I belonged to the custody of my parents. The lines were drawn. My parents set the tone – and I followed. Sadly with the rise of sexual sin and single parent households, many were not raised as I was, and so grow up too fast. That’s sad, because adults who behave like little children cause chaos in the society they are in.

To be saved does not require a seminary degree, nor does it require you understand the complexities of the God Who is. Jesus put it this way:

Mark 10:14-16 … {ESV} Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

Luke 18:17 {ESV} Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.

There will be people who will burn in hell for all eternity because they would not come to the embrace of Jesus and crawl into His lap like a little child. I am certain that Christopher Hitchins (April 13, 1949-December 15, 2011), the well educated Atheist who gained fame by bashing and mocking God, is now regretting his former life. Hitchens, like most idolaters, rejected the God of the Scripture for philosophies and “wokeness”. Jesus made it clear that there is no salvation available to those “too mature” to receive it.

The Gospel itself is exceedingly simple. The Scripture declares we are all fallen creatures because of Adam’s sin. Here many people fall away, for they make Adam to be an allegory, and Eden to be a myth. Yet the Scripture says, “by ONE MAN SIN ENTERED THE WORLD, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12). Since one man LITERALLY fell from God, ALL PEOPLE LITERALLY fell from God. Yet this is not the end of the Gospel.

God lowered Himself from Heaven to come to this earth so that He, in love, could deliver us from the power of darkness, and attach us to His Kingdom” (Colossians 1:13). The message of Scripture is that God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). It is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that the God of the Bible – in love – reaches out to this world. Unless a person rejects all other saviors and all other gods he cannot receive forgiveness from the Biblical God. It is only through Jesus Christ that we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). It is only by faith in Jesus Christ that a person can be saved from this present evil world, and guaranteed entrance into God’s Heavenly Kingdom in our next life. The Gospel is a message that is received as “a little child”. Once you receive the Gospel, the Scripture says:

Romans 8:15-17 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Galatians 4:4-6 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

If you have received Christ as a “little child”, then God sends His Spirit to you to adopt you as God’s Children. And as God’s Children, we humble ourselves and serve the Lord.

The way to ENTER Christ’s Kingdom is by the faith of a child. The way to ADVANCE in Christ’s Kingdom is by the faith of a child. Jesus called a child to His side & said:

Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

In America today our idols are not carved out of stone or wood, but our idols are formed in our hearts. Adrian Rogers once said:

“If you are saved you will have a desire to be holy, a hunger for the Word (the Bible), the inner witness of the Spirit, and a desire to share Jesus. These are the birthmarks of the believer.”

We who are His are to guard ourselves from idolatry, for idolatry robs God of what is rightfully His. It robs God of our hearts. This is why the Apostle of Love, John, closed his letter with this signature.

Idolatry Will Rob Us Of Our Heritage

1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Word Study: The next word we need to look at is the word keep, which is the Greek phylassō, which means “to guard against, set a watch {over your soul}, to watch lest violence come, to be a body guard to preserve the life of”. The word itself sounds like FOO – LASSO – to throw a LASSO around something valuable. People today are fond of saying,

Follow your heart”

This is some of the stupidest advise I have ever heard. The Bible says The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. The world follows its heart – this is the way of the lost. The heart detached from God is, according to Jesus, the source of “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). Following your heart can get you in a world of mess!

Illustrate: A little boy came to his mother with a cherished family heirloom – a vase – stuck on his hand. This vase was several hundred years old, and was worth several thousand dollars. The mother had planned on one day selling that vase to send her only son to college. The child – like children will do – put his hand in the vase, and now his little hand was stuck. Mother soaped his arm, and gently tugged, rotated, and pulled on the vase, but nothing seemed to work. The child started crying and finally, with nothing else she could do, the mother wrapped his arm in a towel and carefully broke the vase, freeing her son’s arm. That was when she noticed that her son’s little hand was clenched. Counting to ten she looked at her little boy and said, “Son, was your hand balled up into a fist the whole time I was trying to get you loose?” The child looked at her with his little tear stained face and said, “Yes mamma, it was.” Controlling her temper she asked her son, “Son, why didn’t you straighten out your hand? If you had just unclasped your hand I could have gotten you free from this vase without breaking it!” The child, opening his hand, said, “But mamma, if I had opened my hand I would have lost my penny”. A penny was what the child traded for his future education.

Idolatry robs us of the blessings that God wants to give us. I was talking with a dear friend the other day who told me, “You know, you are in the minority with what you believe”. I suppose I am in the minority. But the Bible tells us:

1 John 5:19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

The Way of God has always been a minority. Yet Christians who compromises with the darkness will find themselves in just as bad a place as the lost world. Jesus told us that we would be in the minority. Jesus Himself was and is the minority. Jesus warned:

Matthew 7:13-14 {ESV} Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

The world follows the WIDE GATE to DESTRUCTION. This is where the majority goes. The Bible says there is a way that seem right to a person, but its end is the way of DEATH” (Proverbs 16:25). Let me ask you:

Was it a MAJORITY that fought Goliath, or a MINORITY? The MAJORITY hid from Goliath for 40 days while he mocked God, but DAVID ALONE who stood up and said who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26).

Was it a MAJORITY who refused to pray to the Medo-Persian King Darius for even one day, or a MINORITY? The MAJORITY worshiped a human king for 30 days, whereas DANIEL ALONE openly prayed to God – and was cast into the lion’s den (Daniel 6:16-24). No harm came to Daniel or the lions, by the way.

Was it a MAJORITY who refused to bow down and worship the golden idol that the Chaldean King Nebuchadnezzar, or a MINORITY? Though all the kingdom bowed to this statue, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego ALONE said O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:18). Though cast in a fiery furnace, Jesus kept even the smell of smoke from attaching to their clothing.

When Gideon went forth to fight the Midianites, did he take a MAJORITY with him or a MINORITY? Though 32,000 warriors initially came to fight, God released all but 300 men (Judges 7:7). It was with the MINORITY that God defeated the Midianites.

When the MINORITY is standing with God, the MINORITY becomes the MAJORITY. This is proven over and over in the Scripture.

The foundation of our salvation can be traced back to a childless man named Abraham. God came to Abraham, and promised him that – IF HE WOULD LEAVE THE MAJORITY and follow God, then God would give him a child. Furthermore, God promised Abraham:

Genesis 12:3 {ESV} in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed

Abraham followed God. When Abraham was 100 years old he became a father for the first time. When his son Isaac was around 13 years old God came to him and said:

Genesis 22:2 … Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

Why did God do this? The MAJORITY of people would have refused God outright. “God, you want me to kill my ONLY son? No way!”. The MAJORITY would walk away from this. But Abraham knew something from being with God. He knew that God loved him, and Abraham loved God.

Abraham could have made an idol of Isaac,
cherishing his son above God.

But he didn’t. Abraham took his son to Mount Moriah, and planned on sacrificing that child that he so loved to God. How could he do this? Because Abraham knew God promised to bless the whole world through Isaac – and God is no liar. Abraham knew that God could resurrect Isaac (Hebrews 11:17-19). So he trusted God. He treasured God above all else. Abraham became a MINORITY, and was blessed because of it. You know the rest of the story. God provided a sacrifice to replace Isaac, and Abraham was richly blessed. You, too, will be richly blessed if you follow God and God alone. The Christian is commanded of God to:

Romans 12:1-2…. present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. {2} And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Did you get that? be not conformed to this world. Don’t be part of the MAJORITY. Be part of the MINORITY.

Idolatry Hurts More Than Just You

1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

So many people today buy into the lie that if “You do you” then it’s okay, because “it only effects YOU”. That’s not true. We are to keep ourselves from idolatry because what happens to you effects others around you. When God sent Israel into Canaan, it was with standing orders to destroy the rotted and idolatrous nations that were there, and replace them with righteousness and God’s rule of law. What did Israel do? Israel blended with the lost MAJORITY:

Psalm 106:35-38 {Israel was} mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. {36} And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. {37} Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, {38} And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.

We see the same thing happening in America today. God calls His people to stand in the truth of the Scripture. The great Pastor C.H. Spurgeon rightly said,

“Make no idol of your child, or your wife, or your husband; for by putting them in Christ’s place, you really provoke Him to take them from you. Love them as much as you please; I would that some loved their children, their husbands, or their wives more than they do; but always love them in such a fashion that Christ shall have the first place in your hearts.”

Illustrate: Jesus must have first place in your lives. In our bulletin today a so called “preacher” decides that he will explain away what Jesus said to the rich young ruler who wanted eternal life. Jesus told him:

Mark 10:21-22 {ESV} … sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Jesus will be first in your life (Luke 14:26-27). I end with these words from John Piper: “Saving faith receives Christ as a treasure, but not as second to lands, oxen, or spouses. He is valued above them. Or he is rejected. Embracing him as one among many useful treasures is worse than useless. It is worse because it gives the impression that he is willing to be used. He is not. He will be received as our supreme treasure, or not at all.” Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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