Time for another SOAP Notes devotional!
If you aren’t sure what I am referencing, see this post for a full explanation of this series!
Today’s key scripture is 1 John 5:21
Before I dive into the S.O.A.P note on the very last verse found in 1 John 5, I want to give some context to the scripture. The titles that sum up the two distinct thought sections that make up the entire chapter of 1 John 5 (in the AMPC version) are:
“Overcoming The World” and “This Is Written That You May Know”
Toward the end of the chapter ¹(see reference verses 18-20 here or below), John has just finished talking about how we as believers will know that we are truly sealed by God and are operating under His will and authority, while the world we live in is under the control and power of Satan. He gives an account of the ways in which we can rest assured that the truth of Christ is within us, as well as how we can continually grow into deeper knowledge of that truth. He points out that anyone who is a new creation in Christ and is born into God’s kingdom will not continually practice sin. He goes on to call special attention to the sin of idolatry in our key verse today.
Keep tracking with me…
Despite the fact that the world we live in is under Satan, we are born of God. Jesus came into the world and gave spiritual wisdom and insight to those who are found in Him. This knowledge and growth potential is limited only to the degree which we are willing to receive it… We receive it to the degree that we are willing to lay down that which stands in the way of His authority, seeking instead to magnify Him. Because of this, we are still able to come to know him better and more clearly while living in a divided world which turns readily to idols.
John states that Christ’s presence in us preserves us against the evil surrounding us. This is because God’s power rests on Christ, and since we as believers have Christ in us, we then in turn have all the power and strength of God which rests on Christ also within us.
Because of this, we are able to:
1/ Overcome when Satan tries to lay hold of us.
2/ Resist any grip he would have on us.
3/ Stand un-stained by even the slightest of the world.
Here is where I want to deep dive, because the full importance of this progression of the world’s power over us (hold, grip, touch) is ultimately found within the context of verse 21.
S: Little children, keep yourselves from idols (false gods)—[from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life]. Amen (so let it be).
O: Going back to the context of verse 18, we recognize that there are various stages of being affected by Satan and the authority he has via the influence of the world and its principles. These stages range from captivity / living in bondage (hold), to being influenced by it in specific ways (grip), to being stained or corrupted by it at a more surface level (touch).
- Hold: Most of us recognize the full fledged hold that the world has on some individuals. They are very clearly running hand in hand with the ways of the world throughout every aspect of their life.
- Grip: Other, more subtle things may have a grip on only one area of our life. Or, perhaps we are choosing to overlook something we consider to be “no big deal.”
- Touch: It is difficult for even the most devout followers of Christ to avoid being “touched” by the world and its influences as we walk through it. It is a passive and unintentional consequence of being in a world that is not our ultimate home. It rubs off on us without us choosing to actively participate in its ways.
A: We typically think of “idols” and “false gods” as the more drastic strongholds which can be found in our life… the “big sins” that everyone recognizes and agrees upon as sin. The truth is that the most potent and abusive of our idolatrous masters often come in the most subtle of forms. I would argue that it is the small idols that have the potential to do the most damage of all, at least for the believer who is trying to habitually walk under and within Christ’s authority. Because they are small, seemingly insignificant things, they are easy to overlook or to rationalize away.
There are also times when it’s easy to justify that we have to operate, at some level at least, within the world standards or cultural norms. The truth is that as believers, we are called to live as aliens in this world, even to the point of looking foolish and standing out from the rest of the world ²(see reference 1 Peter 2:11 here or below).
Even while one area is tightly gripped by the world, we are often still able to “keep it together” in other areas of our life. Whether we intend to or not, we are often being touched or bumped by worldly things, and that can leave stains and marks. It is virtually impossible to walk in this world and not experience this. But there is good news! The protection of God which is given to us when we are found in Him has come with the ability to overcome through Christ’s indwelling. When we are clothed with Christ ³(see reference Galatians 3:27 here or below), even the touch of the world is unable to rub off on us.
John goes on to explain that idols are not necessarily even things that we elevate to the point of worship, but they are also come in the form of any thing that we simply put before God’s place in our heart or life. This can include choosing the world’s standards above His—compromising our morals and Godly values, laying them down in favor of the worlds value system. Can you see how this laying down of the Lord’s principles in favor of taking up the world’s means that we have elevated the wrong thing? This falls under the context of magnifying the wrong thing—meaning we have essentially created idol.
P: Praise be to you Lord for our ability to overcome this world through Christ! Even as we walk in the world, may we choose to overcome it at every level. Empower us through Christ to never settle. Help us to recognize quickly even the smallest stain on our lives and then immediately surrender and submit to Christ’s cleansing power. May we never elevate anything above You or position anything before You in our life. Amen.
18 We know [absolutely] that anyone born of God does not [deliberately and knowingly] practice committing sin, but the One Who was begotten of God carefully watches over and protects him [Christ’s divine presence within him preserves him against the evil], and the wicked one does not lay hold (get a grip) on him or touch [him].
19 We know [positively] that we are of God, and the whole world [around us] is under the power of the evil one.
20 And we [have seen and] know [positively] that the Son of God has [actually] come to this world and has given us understanding and insight [progressively] to perceive (recognize) and come to know better and more clearly Him Who is true; and we are in Him Who is true—in His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah). This [Man] is the true God and Life eternal.
Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges (the evil desires, the passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul. 1 Peter 2:11
For all of you who were baptized into Christ [into a spiritual union with the Christ, the Anointed] have clothed yourselves with Christ [that is, you have taken on His characteristics and values]. Galatians 3:27
I hope you enjoyed this longer than usual S.O.A.P. Note!! ❤