“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” -1 John 5:21 (NIV)
When we were children, there were things and practices which our parents told us to stay away from. A classic example of this is eating too much junk food. One day my mother bought a whole bag of cookies. Knowing my love for them she instructed me to not eat too many in one sitting. But in my childish folly I continued to devour them despite her repeated warnings. The next day I woke up with the most painful stomach ache I have ever experienced! It was in that moment that I learnt a very important lesson. I had a choice to listen to my mother and refrain from overeating. But because I chose to submit myself to my cravings, I allowed them to steer me away from the wise instruction of my mother; a decision which I had to pay the consequences for.
It is the same with idols in our lives. While an idol usually conjures up images of statues made of stone and wood, the definition of the term is much broader than that. In the eyes of God an idol is anything that draws us away from Him and living in obedience to His perfect will. Scripture tells us quite clearly that we are to keep ourselves away from them, and for good reason. Initially our idolatry may seem harmless and even enjoyable; just as how a child takes pleasure in his over-indulgence in sweets. However, we will soon realize that our idols have deceived us with their false promises of pleasure and that their sole purpose is to destroy us and our relationship with God. When we allow the Spirit of Christ to reside within us, He will not hesitate to reveal areas of our lives where we have erected idols that need to be cast aside. If we cling to these idols, we are only depriving ourselves of the restorative work He wants to conduct in our hearts. But if we submit ourselves to His Spirit and choose to abide in Him, we will find life and security that no idol on Earth can provide.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.