The last sentence of this verse used to puzzle me. But no longer. I see too many people who follow their ideologies and worship them alone, damning those who do not. Who expect perfection for all others, and forgiveness for themselves regardless.
We have to keep ourselves from idols, particularly if they are our ideologies. For we can break in and destroy: for the sake of fleeting political gain.
We need to keep ourselves from idols. I’d speculate that this relates to the sin that we cannot be forgiven from, on which more is needed. I would argue, like Calvin, that this relates to an active rejection of such an extremity that no grace can prevail. It is not an offense, nor the simple worship of the spirit of the age, for that latter is universal in this degenerate time, and if that was the case none would be saved.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.
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 5:13-21 ESV)
We need to be warned against the mind that will not accept the forgiveness that our brother can bring to us, and we need to watch that we do not project — place upon those in Christ — the damnation that our conscience whispers we deserve. There is a difference between preaching against sin and leaving the sinner in an unshriven state. For if we damn another, we would damn ourselves: before Christ we are all evil. And we need not fear the unforgivable sin, for God is greater than our acts.
But what does this mean? Here Calvin’s commentary helps: and it seems he had more than a few people come to him with troubled souls after reading this passage.
What, then, is the meaning of the Apostle? He denies that sins are mortal, which, though worthy of death, are yet not thus punished by God. He therefore does not estimate sins in themselves, but forms a judgment of them according to the paternal kindness of God, which pardons the guilt, where yet the fault is. In short, God does not give over to death those whom he has restored to life, though it depends not on them that they are not alienated from life.
There is a sin unto death I have already said that the sin to which there is no hope of pardon left, is thus called. But it may be asked, what this is; for it must be very atrocious, when God thus so severely punishes it. It may be gathered from the context, that it is not, as they say, a partial fall, or a transgression of a single commandment, but apostasy, by which men wholly alienate themselves from God. For the Apostle afterwards adds, that the children of God do not sin, that is, that they do not forsake God, and wholly surrender themselves to Satan, to be his slaves. Such a defection, it is no wonder that it is mortal; for God never thus deprives his own people of the grace of the Spirit; but they ever retain some spark of true religion. They must then be reprobate and given up to destruction, who thus fall away so as to have no fear of God.
Were any one to ask, whether the door of salvation is closed against their repentance; the answer is obvious, that as they are given up to a reprobate mind, and are destitute of the Holy Spirit, they cannot do anything else, than with obstinate minds, become worse and worse, and add sins to sins. Moreover, as the sin and blasphemy against the Spirit ever brings with it a defection of this kind, there is no doubt but that it is here pointed out.
But it may be asked again, by what evidences can we know that a man’s fall is fatal; for except the knowledge of this was certain, in vain would the Apostle have made this exception, that they were not to pray for a sin of this kind. It is then right to determine sometimes, whether the fallen is without hope, or whether there is still a place for a remedy. This, indeed, is what I allow, and what is evident beyond dispute from this passage; but as this very seldom happens, and as God sets before us the infinite riches of his grace, and bids us to be merciful according to his own example, we ought not rashly to conclude that any one has brought on himself the judgment of eternal death; on the contrary, love should dispose us to hope well. But if the impiety of some appear to us not otherwise than hopeless, as though the Lord pointed it out by the finger, we ought not to contend with the just judgment of God, or seek to be more merciful than he is.
Now to those who think that us Calvinists have no place for free will in our theology, Calvin did allow for it, because one can reject the witness and word of God. ANd this is what the spirit of this age wants, for the spirit of this age is indeed apostate. ANd as it becomes more evil, it becomes more stupid.
The current liberal habit of shamelessly lying about their opponents makes civil debate impossible. Similarly, the mockery of non-liberals before stacked audiences of trained seals a la Jon Stewart is part and parcel of the same strategy of delegitimizing any opposition. Closing down the option of discussion leaves their opponents with only the option of action. So far, the action has only been in funding campaigns for oppressed pizzerias and in the voting booth – though they’ve trying to nullify that too.
I’m not advocating violence – I am warning liberals that they are setting the conditions for violence.
And that better worry them, for the coastal elites are uniquely unsuited to a world where force rules instead of law. The Serbs were, at least, a warrior people. The soft boys and girls who brought us helicopter parenting, “trigger warnings” and coffee cups with diversity slogans are not.
I grieve for the West and my culture. It is gong down the toilet. We have rejected the very salvation that made us great: the British Empire did much good, and much of that good was done by the missionary doctors and priests. In New Zealand, it is 200 years this year since the gospel was first preached: within 20 years (1835) the Maori people had converted and their habits of slavery, and using their enemies as food (or indeed their slaves) had ceased. The wars were genocidal, and weakened the nation: the almost collapse of the Maori population — again stopped by the tribes sending their best and brightest to be educated (when we did that) and then changing their habits so that infections disease did not spread (The introduction of childhood and infant nurses among Maori and Pakeha, which reduced mortality, happened in parallel) is a consequence of the Free Church Scots arriving in Dunedin in 1841 and having a university built by 1865.
We have fallen from Christendom into a neopagan sludge. We have stopped being smart and anre now stupid. Yes, I know that God preserves a remnant of all people, but I pray for revivial, and far more than a remnant. For tha alternative is a long night, and only those who have fled the modern Babylon our elite is building having their lives and honour. For in doing so, their fortunes will be sacrificed.