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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

The Ultimate Goal

Knowing Him.

1 John 5:20–21

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

John’s wrap up is simple and beautiful. Understanding is a priceless gift.

And in a final purpose construction, John tells us that the understanding is for the purpose that we may know him who is true.

Note this well. The ultimate goal is knowing Him. Yes, eternal life is part of the package. He is the true God and eternal life.

It’s understandable if we think that our own eternal life is the ultimate goal—only a fool would think it unimportant—but the secret of life is actually knowing Him.

Seek knowing Him and you’ll get eternal life in the balance.


John’s last sentence seems to be out of the blue.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

The word “idol” appears nowhere else in the entire letter. John hasn’t said anything about idols or idolatry. They haven’t been a topic.

Yet right at the end John blurts out this blunt warning. It’s too brief for him to be making a point; it must be a parting term of endearment—like when I say, “Drive safe,” to the kids when they’re headed out.

That means it’s recognition of an ever-present danger. My advice to drive safe is real, though trite. The advice goes without saying, so saying it is just a salutation.

The takeaway from John’s use of this standard good-bye line is to realize that his readers already had a healthy respect for the danger of idolatry. We don’t have that nowadays. If I said to my kids, “Keep yourselves from idols,” instead of, “Drive safe,” they’d giggle.

We need to be more sensitive to this issue. We’re surrounded by things that John’s readers would be shocked by. Imagine their reaction to a bobble-head doll.

Idolatry is too long a subject for a devotional. It’s not the things that matter; it’s what we do with them.

Do not ignore this subject.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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