Verse: 1 John 5:20-21
20 And we know 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, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

Christian shared with us from the previous two verses about the encouragement that the more closely we follow Jesus, the more we are led away from our sinful past. As John concludes this book, he explains in more detail. We are able to follow Jesus only because he has come to earth, lived as a man, served as an example, and provided us understanding.

Part of following Jesus is seeking to understand him. We can do that by spending time in the Word, spending time in prayer, and spending time under the teaching and within the fellowship of other believers. This understanding allows us to know the Father, and to be one with him, as Christ is one with him.

It’s easy when we see a word like idols in the Bible to think of little statues that nonbelievers would worship. And that is included in what John is saying here, because it was a real issue for his audience. Many of them had come to Christ from those very practices. But really, an idol is anything we prioritize over Christ. It might be something sinful, like greed, power, fame, lust, etc. Or it can be something that seems good…service, family, even ministry. Anything we do with a motivation other than to glorify Christ risks taking the spotlight, not to mention our focus, off of him.

That is why John closes this book with a verse that seems randomly tacked on. But read it again, in conjunction with the end of verse 20…”He is the true God…keep yourselves from idols.” It fits perfectly, doesn’t it? And it keeps with the theme of these final verses. If we spend our time and energy focusing on following Christ and serving God, we won’t have the time or energy leftover to sin.

God, thank you for sending your son, Jesus, as an example of how we should strive to live, and to love. And thank you even more that he died to keep us from having to meet that impossible standard! Help us to focus on him, consuming your Word as we seek to understand, so that we may know you more. Amen.

Author: Dave MacDonald