Given over to the worship of Idols


John was probably writing to believers in the city of Ephesus, a city given over to the worship of Idols. In the city of Ephesus stood the Temple of Diana. The Ephesians were proud of the structure and the prominence it gave to their city.  Few people today, bow to idols of wood and metal.  However, other idols capture their attention and affection. Covetousness, for example, is idolatry (Col. 3:5). A man may worship his bankbook the same way, a so-called heathen worships his ugly idol. Anything that comes between us and God is an idol. The thing we serve is the thing we worship. When things take God’s place in our lives, we are guilty of idolatry.

We know that God’s children do not make it a practice to sin (v. 18). Because of Christ’s protection the devil cannot harm them. We know that we are the children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one (v. 19). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has made it possible for us to know the true and living God who gives eternal life (v. 20). Christians do not simply choose between good and bad; they choose between true and false. The world boasts of enlightenment, but a Christian walks in the real light, because God is light.

“My dear children guard your selves from idols.” With this sharp injunction John brings his letter to an end (v. 21). Short as it is, there is a world of meaning in this phrase. When the prophets spoke of the idols of the heathen, they meant that they were counterfeit gods, as opposed to the one true God.


I need to ask, is it possible that I still have an idol in my life? Is there anything that comes between me and the Lord? What actions do I need to take because of this? Lord, help me to deal with it!

I John 5:16-21 (English Standard Version)

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