If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.
We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and that 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. This is the true God and eternal life.
Little children, guard yourselves from idols. – 1 John 5:16-21
I’m not sure how to understand John’s words here regarding not making a request for forgiveness for one who has committed a sin leading to death. I don’t know the full context of his words, and the implications of those who perhaps endangered others by abandoning their faith and betrayed Jesus followers. That sin would lead to the death of believers.
We are not in that situation today. No one is questioning me about who attends worship at St. John, or who I pray with. But if someone is moving toward the edge of idolatry I will pray for that person. I will talk with that person. I will seek to bring that person to a faith in the true God: Jesus Christ and eternal life.
Martin Luther is reportedly to have said, “A god is that to which you look for the highest good in life.” I like that. He speaks of it in regard to the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Few Christians have idols in their homes in the sense of golden calves or Ashura poles. But we all need to guard our hearts against idolatry. Ours idols are simply more subtle and well-disguised.
The great danger we face is disguising our idols so successfully that we fall prey to their powerless and empty promises, and become ensnared in the death trap of Satan. When we give power and place to money, power, sex, fame, or anything other than God and his promises, we endanger ourselves eternally.
We do really need to guard ourselves from idols – no matter what context we are in. I want to hold true to Jesus and guard my heart from idols. I pray you do too.