"Little children, keep yourselves from idols." - I John 5:21 (ESV)
For the longest time, I didn't understand why John ends his letter with this warning. I mean, I know the warning is true and valid, but why did he throw it in here at the end? As I get older and I perceive more of the world around me, the more I understand why he did this. The whole letter has gone through to check our relationship with Christ, to really know where we are with him. Are we loving one another? Are we in fellowship with the brethren? Are we proclaiming the true Christ (Son of God who came in the flesh)? Are we staying away from sin and praying for one another in this same way? It is a challenge, all of this! And John know we get easily distracted. He knows that, despite our best intentions, we pick up idols and then wake up to find ourselves in a mess. Idols (whether it's a person, a hobby, a product, or a paycheck) are sly and slippery. Our walk with the Lord is serious, and the enemy knows it! So John says, avoid what you know will get you into trouble. It's obvious but it's deceptive. It's not enough to just run away, but we must be vigilant and keep our guard up against such things. It's a matter, brothers and sisters, of life and death.