We Guard Ourselves for Drinking

New JerusalemThe water of life is seen from Genesis 2 to Revelation 22. Jeremiah 2:13 says, “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, which hold no water.” Here the Triune God is the real fountain and the real living water.

The cisterns are vanity (Jeremiah 2:5) because they are unable to contain or convey eternal life. These cisterns are anything that replaces Jesus Christ in our living, anything that draws more attention than our fellowship with Him, with His family, and in His word. We need to take care of our human activities and responsibilities but they should not have the highest place in our lives.

A synonym for cisterns is idols. First John 5:21 exhorts us, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” John could be saying, “guard yourselves from cisterns.” These cistern-idols are whatever (apart from Jesus Christ) is most important to us, whatever occupies the top place in our thinking, whatever we find ourselves drawn to or wishing for.

Here are a few of the many verses in 1 John which could help in guarding ourselves:
• “the Word of life,” “the life” (1:1, 2): when we open the Bible it is good also to pray and open our hearts to the One who is the living Word.
• “you also may have fellowship with us, and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1:3): we need communication with both the Father and Son and also with other Christians.
• “if we confess our sins” (1:7–2:2): when we walk in the light we are conscious of our sins; we need not be discouraged, but we should confess to receive His forgiveness.
• we guard ourselves from loving the world by loving the Father (2:15-17); we can speak often, Father, I love You.
• we don’t deny but rather confess “Jesus is the Christ” and “Jesus is the Son of God” (2:22-23, 4:15).

We can apply almost everything in 1 John to guarding ourselves from idols and cisterns. While we guard ourselves “from” we also come “to” the fountain of living waters to drink of Him. In Revelation 19–20 all negative things go to the lake of fire, so in New Jerusalem we no longer need to guard ourselves but we will be drinking the river of water of life (22:1).

Photo by Dr. David Goodrich, courtesy of NOAA/U.S. Department of Commerce.

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  1. Gayle Sherburne

     /  August 7, 2013

    A particular phrase really got my attention in this post. A cistern is anything in our living that draws more attention than the Lord Jesus. I take this to mean, “my attention.” If I sense myself neglecting the Lord Jesus in my living and paying more attention to something else, especially in a habitual or frequent way, then I need to ask myself if this is a “cistern/idol” to me.


    • Gayle, yes, “habitual” is an important word, implying this is the way we live. Tuesday night we had a rich prayer meeting, about half the time centered on Col 3:16. Part of our prayer was about our “singing with grace in our hearts to God.” Our longing is to have this inward singing (habitually) even while doing outward duties.


  1. Take Freely the Water of Life | New Jerusalem – A Biblical View

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