Biblical truth is never given simply to increase our knowledge, but always to change our lives.
At the end of his first letter, the apostle John reviews a number of Christian certainties, with sentences beginning ‘we know’ (1 John 5.15-21). Among them is a statement which we often forget, or ignore, as children of God: ‘we know that the whole world is under the control of the evil one’ (v.19). Whenever we are surprised or overwhelmed by the tidal waves of godless rebellion sweeping through our culture, we have forgotten what we ought to know and to expect. But a couple of sentences later, this knowledge is applied to our living, with John’s concluding exhortation: ‘Dear children, keep yourselves from idols’ (v.21).
Exchanging truth for lies
Idolatry has always been a major means by which the devil keeps the unbelieving world in his grip. From the time that Adam and Eve capitulated to his subtle invitation to ‘be like God’ (Gen 3.5), we human beings have always wanted to exchange the truth of God for lies and so to worship and serve ‘created things rather than the Creator’ (Roman 1.25). The way we do it is by idolatry, because worshipping what we invent or construct is ultimately about worshipping and serving ourselves, and that is what our sinful hearts most desire. We are not willing to let God be God.
David Jackman is the past President of the Proclamation Trust and writes the ‘Notes to growing Christians’ column for en.