1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 You turned to God from idols to serve a Living and True God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.
True believers serve a Living and True God. They do not serve idols and they do not serve false gods. Their God is a living God. Unlike a lifeless idol, their God is someone who is alive and personal. Their God is not an image of God but God Himself, a Living Being whom they know, a Living God who truly dwells with their hearts.
Modern people within the world of the organized church system tend to think of idols as little stone men carved up by ancient pagans. In this way, they delude themselves into supposing they have no idols. Idolatry is not confined to stone or wooden sculptures sitting in a shrine. Notice carefully how the Apostle John ends his first letter:
Little children, guard yourself from idols. 1 John 5:21.
Many folks read these words as if John is having some kind of afterthought not have any idea why he decided to say such a thing at the end of his letter. He concludes his letter with these words. Why? Notice the context of John’s words:
1 John 5:20-21 We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know the True One and we are in the True One, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the True God and eternal life. 21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
Idols are not the True God but false gods. Observe that we are in “the True One” if we are in His son Jesus. Through Jesus we know the True God. The True God is He who is known in/through the Son. Here John is saying essentially the same thing we find in John’s Gospel. Eternal Life is that we might know the Father, the only True God, and Jesus Christ whom the only True God sent (John 17:3). Since Jesus is the Way to the Father (14:6), we cannot know the Father apart from the Son.
John tells us to guard ourselves from idols in this context. Why?
There is the True God. And there are idols. If we are not serving the True God, we are serving an idol. John’s letter is addressing a false prophet antichrist teaching. In his letter, he emphasizes that the True God, the Father, is known through the Son, Jesus. You must confess the Son to have the Father and whoever denies the Son also denies the Father, the True God.
Today, most people serve idols, images of God. They serve doctrines of men depicted with paper and ink, images of God. They serve things which do not have life and do not give life. The images they serve are paper and ink images of God, the doctrines of men. They are images of God in words on paper, images which do not have life nor give life. They serve lifeless things which do not give life. For most people, their God is not the Living God, but an image of God they have in their minds and which depict on paper and ink. Their God is an image imagined in their imaginations rather than the Living God Himself. Here is another image of God which man have crafted and command you to serve:
This is a man’s image of God. Idolatry. Men command you to serve this God, this lifeless image of God created by men. This is not the True God which John is describing. The True God is a Living Being not an image and He is the God who we know through Jesus: the Father. The above image is a lifeless idol created by men. But such images of God are the only God most people know; they do not know the Living and True God. The only know an image in their minds which they project in paper and ink. The above image is not the True God; it is a man’s graven image of God. You can believe in this image all you like and it will do nothing for you but lead you away from the True God. This image is an idol of men. It is not the Living God; it is a lifeless creation of men and it will not give you life. The True God is the Living God who is Life and gives Life, our Father. And we know the Living and True God through His Son Jesus His Anointed One.
John ended his letter with the words, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols” for a very good reason. He had just described how we might know the True God. Anything other than the True God is a false god. Any god other than the True God is an idol and not the True God. And John identified the True God here for us. The True God is the God we know through His Son: the God of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And who else would be the True God but our Lord’s God? For if our God is not his God, we only know a false god and not the Living and True God whose Son delivers us from the coming wrath.
They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” Exodus 32:8