1 John 5 ends with the phrase: “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”
It’s weird because that’s the only place in 1 John where the writer mentions idols, so it’s curious to say the least – almost as if he throws it in as an after-thought.
But it begins to make sense if you know another meaning of the word translated “idol.” That meaning is the term “deception.”
Of course, to think that an idol is God is to be deceived. An idol is nothing compared to the God of the Bible. Idols cannot move on their own. They cannot speak. They cannot create. They can do nothing, good or evil. But when you believe in them as gods, you are deceived into many foolish ways.
1 John has not been so much about real “idols” as it has been about “deception.” There are those who say you can be a Christian without following Jesus. Some of them are teaching you don’t even have to believe Jesus came and you are still ‘good with God.’ Because it is untrue, but taught as truth, and because some have been led astray (which is why John is writing this letter in the first place), John calls it what it is: deception, and he tells his readers, including us, ‘stay away from such teaching – and those who teach it.’