“We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 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. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:18–21, ESV)
John reminds believers that if they are born of God, they will not persist in sin. This statement does not mean that a believer will never sin, but it does mean that they will not continue in a settled defiance and persist in that sin. Are we immune to temptation? Does the devil just ignore those that belong to Christ? No, the Son came to destroy the works of the devil. Therefore, the believer will not persist in sin. Christ's prayer and promise is accompanied by his power which is the guarantee where the believer places their confidence. There are only two kinds of people in the world. Those from God and those who lie in the power of the evil one. The devil has power in this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Ephesians 2:2; 6:12). God sent Jesus so that we understand and believe. We are not under the control of the evil one; we are in Christ who will keep us. We are saved to the uttermost. God is the ultimate reality because he is true.
John concludes in an affectionate and pastoral tone. He tells the precious ones to keep themselves from idols. The Son will keep the believer, but the believer has a responsibility and obligation to keep themselves and guard against idolatry. The believer is to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Idols are not real or true, and while they may offer the illusion of satisfaction, they cannot satisfy or save someone. Only Jesus can save and satisfy the soul. Idols are not merely small statues worshiped by less educated or primitive people. Idols are those things which the believer tries to substitute for the true God. Idolatry begins in us and is rooted in the worship of ourselves. Idols can be things like power, control, comfort, or approval. The desire for and worship of anything other than God is idolatry, and the believer should keep themselves from these things.