Archive for the ‘1 John’ Category

1 John 5

1 John 5 has the author giving us some straight truth about Christ and God the Father.  “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him”.  It’s pretty simple.  If you believe in Jesus you are a child of God.  But John goes on to describe what our life should look like in regard to being a child of God.  “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome”.

Obedience is definitely an outcome of loving God.  When we receive Christ and become God’s child, our hearts should be impacted and changed in a way that we no longer are drawn to sin but do all we can to put that aside.  Obedience isn’t a burden we carry.  It is a privilege we have.  “For  everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God”?  Faith is our victory.  The power of Christ in us is what enables us to choose not to sin.  That becomes ours when we believe in Jesus.

John goes on to give us two promises that enable us to live in victory.  “This is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life”. It’s as clear as can be from John here about who will spend eternity in heaven.  It’s all about Jesus.  We have a decision to make.  We are all sinners and will stand before God as such and come up short in our efforts to enter heaven on our own merit.  We will fall short.  So our only option is a relationship with the Savior, offered to us freely through God’s grace.  If we receive the shed blood of His Son on the Cross, we can have our own sin covered by His blood and enter heaven.  If not, if we don’t have Jesus in us, we are not going to make it.

God also wants to interact with us as we live. “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”.  God answers prayer.  He promises to not only hear, but act.  That’s a promise that we need to cling to with all we are.  We face a very real enemy who is out to destroy us as Christ Followers.  But “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one”.  We are on the winning side as a follower of Jesus.  We not only know our roots, but the outcome of life.  Jesus died to make that certain and secure!

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1 John 4

1 John 4 has the author writing much to us about God and the love that we have because of Him.  He first reminds us of the power we have as children of God.  “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”.  As Christ Followers, we are on the winning side.  That’s the outcome of being a child of God.  “Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us”.  If we follow Christ, we must listen to God and the truth of His Word.  It is our guiding light.

John goes on to teach us the importance of love as a sign of being a true Christ Follower.  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him”.  Love is the sign post of being a Christ Follower.  We begin with loving God, but it goes much further to loving those in our patch.  We are to love one another because God is love and His love is in us as believers.  It has to come out to those around us.

It really isn’t optional.  “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another….if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us”.  If we don’t love each other, God won’t be around.  He lives in us when Christ is alive and received as our Savior and Lord.  “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God”.  God moves in when we get off the throne of our life and receive His gift of grace.  “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him”.  Love is the outcome of faith.

Love is strong.  In fact, it is stronger than fear.  “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love”.  If we truly love, we know that it is more powerful than anything we could fear.  God loved us when we didn’t deserve it.  “We love because he first loved us….whoever loves God must also love his brother”.  God loved us way before we even considered loving Him.  And as a result, we need to love not only Him but those in our patch.  God is love.  If God is in us, we must love one another!

1 John 3

1 John 3 has our author reminding us that we can be a child of God.  “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called  children of God; and so we are….Beloved, we are God’s children now”. Becoming a child of God isn’t some future event – it happens whenever we receive Christ as our Savior and Lord.  We instantly become His.  As a result, our life should be different.  Sin should become less and less. “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him”. So one mark of a true believer is that we begin to live with a focus on reducing and eliminating the sin from our life.

That isn’t so we can be saved.  It happens as a result of our salvation and our desire to serve and please God and each other as Christ Followers.  Jesus came to set the world free from the author of sin – the devil himself.  “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God”.  If we are truly a child of God, our desire will be to end our sinful ways and walk in God’s ways.  John reminds us that “whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother”.  Our faith walk is about action and living God’s ways!

John boils it down to a simple reality.  “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.  It’s how Jesus modeled life for us.  We need to continually love each other.  The love we need to demonstrate is not lip service or convenience.  It requires us to be all in.  “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers”. That’s God’s love – a love where there is no consideration of the cost, only of the person being loved.  John challenges us to “let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth”.  Love requires action.  It is not a passive thing, but something we intentionally do for one another.

So what will it look like when Christ is in us? We’ll have His power at our disposal.  “Whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us”.  When we love God, we live for God in obedience.  We abide in Him.  And His Holy Spirit is abiding in us.  Being a Christ Follower means we live differently than the world.  We walk with Him and love those in our patch.  And when we do, God’s power and truth is ours.  What a promise He has given us!

1 John 2

1 John 2 has the writer focused on how we should live as Christ Followers.  He begins by telling us that he is “writing these things to you so that you may not sin”.  Here is a truth we need to understand – we don’t have to sin.  Sin is absolutely a choice we make.  And while we know we will sin, it isn’t because we have to or are destined to, but because we are human and prone to making choices that are not aligned with God’s ways.  So it will happen, and God knows that and it’s why Jesus came to earth – to be the way for us to deal with sin through His shed blood.  John reminds us that “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”.  We can’t deal with sin on our own, but we don’t have to because Jesus has paid the price.

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world”.  Jesus has paid the price.  He was the atoning sacrifice that God sent to pay for sin once and for all through His death on the Cross.  So the question is not whether there is a way to deal with sin, but rather whether we will receive the gift God has offered and come into relationship with Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.  How do we know if we have?  “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked”.  It all boils down to obedience.  If we are truly in relationship with the Savior we are obedient to His ways.

John goes on to make it very clear that if we are saved we will live differently.  “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes”.  One of the outcomes of a saving relationship with Jesus will be love for all.  You can’t say you are His and fail to love.  It is an outcome of being saved.  It is what happens as a result of our sin being forgiven and our future secured.

John also addresses different groups of people where they are.  He writes to them in this way because:

  • “Little children
    • because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake
    • because you know the Father
  • Fathers
    • because you know him who is from the beginning (he says this twice to Fathers)
  • Young men
    • because you have overcome the evil one
    • because you are strong
    • because the word of God abides in you
    • because you have overcome the evil one

These are the realities that each group needs to know and understand.  We need to know, teach and live these truths.

He goes on to remind us that as Christ Followers we need to be set apart from the world we live in.  “Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world”.  We are in the world, but we need to not be of the world.  We have to realize that we are merely passing through, and that we should not put our focus on our desires – stuff, power, pride, etc.  God expects us to live in the world but not be consumed by it.  If we love the world, we cannot love God.  It is that simple!

1 John 1

1 John 1 has a long verse that begins the chapter, but defines the truth of the relationship John had with Christ.  “That which was from the beginning,  which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed  our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ”.

The beginning John wrote of is not the beginning of this world or the beginning of creation. It is the beginning before there was anything, when all that existed was God.  From there John reminds us that he has heard, seen, touched and known Jesus personally.  And he is testifying to the truth that Christ brings to all who will believe and receive Him – eternal life.  His mission was to proclaim the message of eternal life and to create fellowship with those that believe along with the Father and Son.  The idea of fellowship is one of the most important ideas in this letter. It is the ancient Greek word koinonia, which speaks of a sharing and common bond. It speaks of a living, breathing, sharing, loving relationship with another person – in this case Jesus Christ.

Why is John writing?  “We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete”.  The result of fellowship is fullness of joy. This joy is an abiding sense of optimism and cheerfulness based on God, as opposed to happiness, which is a sense of optimism and cheerfulness based on circumstances.  Happiness comes and goes, but our joy should remain full and complete because our relationship with Christ never changes.  We should be filled with a constant and never ending joy, because of the eternal fellowship we will have with the Father and our Savior!

What can impact our fellowship with the Savior?  In a word, it is sin.  “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us”.  But God is ready to cleanse us from all sin if we’ll only walk in the light and confess.  He wants us to be in fellowship and full of joy!

1 John 5

1 John 5 defines how a Christ Follower lives.  “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments….this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments”.  Is this how you live?  You love God – you obey His commands?  That is the definition of a real follower.  John goes on to tell us that “we know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning”.  Sin is not part of the life of a Christ Follower either.  It boils down to obedience.  Are you living that way? 

We do see the power of being a Christ Follower.  “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world…..Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God”.  We are overcomers as Christ Followers.  We have the One inside us that allows us to live victoriously.  Do you live that way?  Are you an overcomer?  “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son”.   We have been given a gift – an awesome gift.  And the source – is Jesus Christ.  He paid the price on the cross to set us free.  He bought us eternal life.  That is how we can be overcomers – because Jesus has won the victory over evil. 

So what does it matter?   “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son”.  Jesus is the issue.  If you believe in Him – there is testimony within you – if you don’t – you have called God a liar and have written off the power of Jesus.  It all boils down to what we think about Jesus.  It all comes down to faith?  Where are you with Jesus?  John reminds us that God hears our prayers when we are walking in relationship with Him.  “If we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him”.  God hears our prayers.  Always.  He doesn’t always answer them the way we want – but He always hears – and He always answers.  Sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes wait – but scripture is pretty clear – He hears and is listening.  Are you asking in faith?  Are you letting Him be part of the life you live?

John ends the chapter with this short verse: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols”.  While these words may seem a bit out of place compared to the discussion about Jesus and faith and our life as a believer – it actually calls out one of the biggest issues we struggle with when it comes to how we relate to Jesus.  We let other things take our focus and become an idol in our life.  It replaces the spot where Jesus must sit – right smack dab in the center of our heart.  An idol takes away our focus and our attention.  It pushes Jesus off the throne of our life.  Here is the reality – Jesus is not into sharing what is His rightful place.  He is serious about being King in our life. Do you have Him in the place that is rightfully His?  It matters.  It is important.  In fact – it is the most important thing about our life.

1 John 4

1 John 4 is all about love.  John tells us a number of things about God and our relationship with Him, but it is really the character of God’s love for us that is core to His lessons here.  He begins by reminding us that we can tell what truly is of God because they will confess “that Jesus Christ has come”.  It is a characteristic of one who is truly of God – they focus on Jesus.  We are reminded that we are overcomers – John tells us “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”.  Do you live like that?  As a victor and one who belongs to the greatest power in the universe.  As a Christ Follower’s have access to the One whom is the ultimate power in our world.  Jesus is the top of the heap – king of the mountain – there is none who has more power.  Yet sometimes we act like we are defeated.  We allow circumstances to overwhelm us.  It doesn’t mean life will be easy – but if we plug in – we will not be short of power!

The next thing John reminds us is that we identify ourselves by how we respond to God’s truth.  Either we are listening and living according to it – or we are ignoring an going our own way.  “Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error”.  There is only one source of truth in our world.  It is God’s Word.  It is what He has written and we need to listen and live by it.  Often we act like kids – we respond to God’s Word by sticking our fingers in our ears and humming loudly – that is what the reality is when we don’t read and study His truth.  God has given us His Word – it is up to us to take it in.  Are you listening.  “God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him…..He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins”.  God has given us His Word and His Son.  We need to get focused on both.  Jesus came to give us life and to free us from sin.  God’s Word was given to show us how to live.  We need to cling tightly to both!

John tells us over and over the power and the need for love.  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love”.  Those are the words to a great little worship song – but here is the reality – we are to LOVE.  It is the mark of one who knows God.  It is what we are called to do.  “We also ought to love one another….if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us”.  Remember the words to that old hymn “they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love”?  That is what John is telling us here.  Love is the way we know that God is alive in us.  We can’t be in relationship with Him without love flowing in us and through us.  Why?

Because “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him…. he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen….whoever loves God must also love his brother”.  Do you wonder where you are in your walk with Jesus?  Just answer this question – do you love your brother?  If you don’t then you can’t truly love God.  Love is to be our way of life.  It is to be the thing that marks us as His.  It is scary for many, but John addresses that as well.  Here is the reality, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us”.  Often people are afraid to love.  It is a lot of work, costs much of us personally, and takes time and effort.  But if we are truly His, we can’t run from love.  We have to live love.  We have to be love.  That is what God is.  And His love overcomes fear.  His love overcomes every objection and is the ultimate power in life.  Are you experiencing God’s love at work in your life?  Is that who you are?

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