Archive for the ‘1 John’ Category

1 John 5:16-18

In 1 John 5:16-18 John addresses the sin problem that all of us face.  “If you see a Christian sinning in a way that does not end in death, you should ask God to forgive him, and God will give him life unless he has sinned that one fatal sin.” When we see a brother in sin, John tells us the first thing to do is to pray for that person. All too often, prayer is the last thing we do, or the smallest thing we do in regard to our brother having a difficult time. God promised to bless the prayer made on behalf of a brother in sin, maybe because it demonstrates the love that we are commanded to have for one another.

But John stops short in telling us to pray for all sin that is committed.  “But there is that one sin which ends in death, and if he has done that, there is no use praying for him”.  Guzik writes “Apparently, a believer can sin to the point where God believes it is just best to bring them home, probably because they have in some way compromised their testimony so significantly that they should just come on home to God. However, it is certainly presumptuous to think this about every case of an untimely death of a believer, or to use it as an enticement to suicide for the guilt-ridden Christian. Our lives are in God’s hands, and if He sees fit to bring one of His children home, that is fine.”

John reminds us that sin is sin.  “Every wrong is a sin, of course. I’m not talking about these ordinary sins; I am speaking of that one that ends in death”. When he talks about not praying for a brother who is sinning unto death, it is a very specific situation.  Apparently, when a Christian is being corrected in regard to a sin leading to death, there is no point in praying for his recovery or restoration – the situation is in God’s hands alone. There is sin not leading to death which all of us are guilty of on a consistent basis. John takes pains to recognize that not every sin leads to death in the manner he speaks of here, though all unrighteousness is sin and disqualifies us from eternity without Jesus.

So where does sin fit into the life of a Christ Follower?  It doesn’t, or shouldn’t.  “No one who has become part of God’s family makes a practice of sinning, for Christ, God’s Son, holds him securely, and the devil cannot get his hands on him”. In the battle against sin, it is essential that we keep our minds set on who we are in Jesus Christ. If we are born of Him, we then have the resources to be free from habitual sin. John is not teaching here the possibility of sinless perfection. Scripture is clear that all of us are sinners and will continue to sin.  But the difference is the ‘practice’ or ‘habit’ of sin. As true Christ Followers we will not continue in sin but will strive to deal with it in the power of the Holy Spirit and claim God’s victory over it.  We’ll still fall, and wrestle with sin, but it won’t own us.

1 John 5:12-15

In 1 John 5:12-15 John reminds us that God has declared Jesus is the Son and the only way to gain eternal life.  One option, one way, one Savior, one Lord.  God has a simple plan, and it is Jesus.  If we have Jesus, we have eternity. “So whoever has God’s Son has life; whoever does not have his Son, does not have life”.  It is all about Jesus, and living in Jesus is the evidence of eternal life. “I have written this to you who believe in the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life”. Even if we already believe, John wants us to know that you have eternal life, so we can have this assurance, and so that you may continue to believe.

The need to hear the simple gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ does not end once we embrace the gospel. We benefit by it, are assured by it, and are helped to continue in it as we hear it and embrace it over and over again.  We need to soak in the reality of Jesus.  We can know our future.  We can have confidence in eternity. We can only know this if our salvation rests in Jesus and not in our own performance. If it depends on me, then on a good day I’m saved and on a bad day, I don’t really know. But if it depends on what Jesus has done for me, then I can know.  It is all about Jesus, not one thing that I might do on my own.

But the confidence related to our faith in Christ goes beyond eternity.  “And we are sure of this, that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will”. We can have confidence in Jesus.  It goes beyond eternity to power in prayer. John relates the idea of confidence in Him to prayer.  Guzik tells us that our prayer should include:

  1. God would have us ask in prayer. Much prayer fails because it never asks for anything.
  2. God would have us ask anything in prayer. Not to imply that anything we ask for will be granted, but anything in the sense that we can and should pray about everything. God cares about our whole life, and nothing is too small or too big to pray about.
  3. God would have us ask according to His will. It is easy for us to only be concerned with our will before God, and to have a fatalistic view regarding His will. But God wants us to see and discern His will through His Word, and to pray His will into action.

And if we really know he is listening when we talk to him and make our requests, then we can be sure that he will answer us”. If something is God’s will, why doesn’t He just do it without needing our prayers? Why would He wait to accomplish His will until we pray? Because God has appointed us to work with Him in this world we live in. God wants us to work with Him, and that means bringing our will and agenda into alignment with His. He wants us to care about the things He cares about, and He wants us to care about them enough to pray passionately about them. Prayer is us getting on God’s page, not us trying to make Him join our agenda.  When we get on God’s agenda, prayer is answered!

1 John 5:6-9

In 1 John 5:6-9 John reminds us how we know that Jesus is the only Son of God – because God said so.  Not in a quiet way, but in a bold, announcing way. “And we know he is, because God said so with a voice from heaven when Jesus was baptized, and again as he was facing death—yes, not only at his baptism but also as he faced death”. In fact, God said so twice.  When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and then when He was hanging on the Cross.  Jesus is God’s Son.  It is not debateable.  God has validated it and made sure we know.  Jesus is the Son of God.

There were some in this day that questioned that truth.  They were looking for excuses to disregard Jesus’ teaching.  They wanted to do things their way, not God’s way.  But pretending something is not true doesn’t change it.  Ignoring what God has said doesn’t make it false.  What God said defines truth.  And He has made it clear that Jesus is not only His Son, but is the Savior for the world. Jesus is the only way, truth and life that addresses the sin problem that we have as humans. “We believe men who witness in our courts, and so surely we can believe whatever God declares. And God declares that Jesus is his Son”.

Still some wrestle with the truth.  They just can’t accept the fact that Jesus is God’s Son and Savior for us all.  They don’t want to submit to the truth and the requirements of obedience that go with it.  So they deny it and attempt to destroy truth.  “All who believe this know in their hearts that it is true. If anyone doesn’t believe this, he is actually calling God a liar because he doesn’t believe what God has said about his Son”.  But they can’t truly dispute what God has said.  Their flimsy attempts merely turn out to be some name calling that God is a liar, but it doesn’t change the truth.  Jesus is God’s Son.

The message God gives us is simple and yet profound.  He has told us that we have a sin problem.  He’s told us that the sin problem will lead us to death, and that death means eternal separation from Him.  He’s told us that He loves us.  He’s told us that He made a way to deal with our sin, not by ignoring the price that sin carries of death, but by providing a sacrifice on the Cross to pay the penalty and provide us a way to eternal life with Him.  “And what is it that God has said? That he has given us eternal life and that this life is in his Son”. That solution is Jesus.  He alone is the source of eternal life.  He alone is the Savior of mankind.  God said it, and that settles it.  Jesus is the way!

1 John 5:1-5

In 1 John 5:1-5 John defines what it means to become a child of God.  It happens when we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.  That’s the moment we become God’s kid. “If you believe that Jesus is the Christ—that he is God’s Son and your Savior—then you are a child of God. And all who love the Father love his children too”.  It isn’t enough know about God.  It isn’t enough to have read about Him.  It’s when we believe and receive Jesus that we become God’s kid. That’s when we get a new eternal address.  That’s when we not only secure our future, but change who our Daddy has become spiritually.

The love God gives us through Jesus is amazing and powerful.  It lasts for eternity.  But it isn’t just for us.  That love has to flow to us and through us to those in our patch, and beyond.  And the love God gives us translates into obedience.  It causes us to DO something. “So you can find out how much you love God’s children—your brothers and sisters in the Lord—by how much you love and obey God”. While God doesn’t keep score, He does provide the means for us to love kike Him.  The power of Christ in us gives us the ability to love God’s way (agape love) and obey God’s commands.  That’s the measuring stick for our relationships in the Body.

John defines obedience as doing what God has told us to do.  It requires that we read the Word and know what it says.  It requires that we listen to God and the direction He provides through the Holy Spirit living within us.  “Loving God means doing what he tells us to do, and really, that isn’t hard at all; for every child of God can obey him, defeating sin and evil pleasure by trusting Christ to help him”. John says it isn’t hard, and it certainly shouldn’t be a mystery.  God’s commandments are not impossible to obey.  It just requires us to do what He has said.  We can live in obedience and defeat sin and evil by walking with Jesus.

On our own, trying in our own strength, we’ll lose the battle.  We don’t have to, but if we go it alone it is what happens.  But the good news is that Jesus is available and willing to stand with us against evil.  He’s already won the war.  So it’s a matter of us walking in His power and His strength and allowing Him to win for us. “But who could possibly fight and win this battle except by believing that Jesus is truly the Son of God”? It is all possible through faith, and knowing that He is indeed the Son of God.  We can know that through a deep personal relationship with Him.  But we have to receive God’s gift of grace and make Him our own Savior and Lord.  Have you done that?

1 John 4:18-21

In 1 John 4:18-21 John tells us that we don’t need to fear anything.  God is with us and loves us.  He is able, more than able, to care for us.  And while He is a God of judgment and righteousness and holiness, and His standard is beyond our ability to earn it, He has made provision for us through sending His only Son Jesus Christ to the Cross to bear our sin and gain victory over death for all eternity.  We need not be afraid any longer if we have accepted God’s gift of grace and made Jesus our Savior and Lord. “If we are afraid, it is for fear of what he might do to us and shows that we are not fully convinced that he really loves us”.

God loves us that much.  He loved us before we loved Him.  He made a way far before we deserved it.  In fact, we still don’t and never will.  But love caused Him to look beyond our sin and disobedient ways and caused Him to send His perfect and innocent Son to the Cross. So you see, our love for him comes as a result of his loving us first”. God started this love relationship.  In fact, without His love, we’d be heading to eternal separation and a life in hell.  We could never love Him enough to earn our way into heaven.  We could never live a life good enough to meet His requirements.  Love was and continues to be our only hope.

But love is more than something that happens between us and God through Christ.  Love has to permeate all that we are and do. If anyone says “I love God,” but keeps on hating his brother, he is a liar; for if he doesn’t love his brother who is right there in front of him, how can he love God whom he has never seen”?  We can’t love God and hate others.  That is incompatible and shows that what we call love for God is not really love at all.  Real love, God’s love, doesn’t stop with Him.  When the love of Christ enters us, we can’t contain it.  It will spill out on those in our patch.  It will cause us to love others the same way that God has loved us.

So how’s your love of the world around you going?  Do you love God?  Then you have to love others.  We can’t have one without the other.  God’s love is more than we can contain.  It will leak and ooze out of us on those around us.  We can’t control it. We can’t put it in a box or hide it under a bucket.  It flows into us and out of us, in us and through us.  And God himself has said that one must love not only God but his brother too”. It’s not an option.  If we truly have love for God, we have to love mankind as well.  Anything less is incompatible with having the love of God in us.  It is like a river that flows!

1 John 4:15-18

In 1 John 4:15-18 John reinforces the reality of the Trinity.  He has just talked about the Holy Spirit in the prior verses, and now makes clear that if Jesus is in us, God is too.   Anyone who believes and says that Jesus is the Son of God has God living in him, and he is living with God”.  Our belief in Christ brings all of the Trinity into our life.  We testify to Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of our life, but He came from the Father and is One with the Father.  The Spirit was sent by God to be our ‘comforter’ when Jesus went to the Cross and later ascended into heaven for His seat at God’s right hand.

God has made it abundantly clear that He loves us.  And not just a little bit.  His love is overwhelming and all encompassing. “We know how much God loves us because we have felt his love and because we believe him when he tells us that he loves us dearly”. His love is all around us and all over us and we experience His love in many ways.  If we’re paying attention at all, the love of God is upon us and we recognize it.  He’s told us of His love.  He’s demonstrated that love freely.  And we can know it intimately if we simply open our eyes and hearts to receive the love that abounds all around us.

The definition of love is really quite simple. “God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him”. God = love.  He is the definition of love.  If we experience love, we experience God, as He is love.  Love is real and it grows as we grow with Jesus. And as we live with Christ, our love grows more perfect and complete; so we will not be ashamed and embarrassed at the day of judgment, but can face him with confidence and joy because he loves us and we love him too”.  Love will be the common language for us as believers on judgement day.  We’ll stand before God in His love, because of our relationship with the Savior.

The blood of Christ will have cleansed us from all sin.  We’ll stand before God under the power of Christ’s cleansing. We can know that with confidence, as Jesus went to the Cross to pay the price, once and for all, that we would stand before the Father white as snow and completely free from the penalty of sin.  That’s what true love looks like.  Jesus took our sin upon Himself, carried it to the Cross, and paid the ultimate price to redeem us. We need have no fear of someone who loves us perfectly; his perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what he might do to us”. It’s the picture of perfect love.  He paid the price for all eternity.  That’s perfect love.

1 John 4:11-14

In 1 John 4:11-14 John challenges us to love.  It’s not a complicated and long list of things to do – just follow the example set by the Father Himself and love each other. Dear friends, since God loved us as much as that, we surely ought to love each other too”.  Seems simple enough.  We have experienced that love over and over in our daily lives.  God provides for us.  God is with us.  God protects us.  God created us.  And most importantly, God thought about our sin problem and the coming result of that choice and sent His only Son to give us a path to eternal life with Him.  That’s the essence of the love God has shown us.  It isn’t about Him.  It is completely about us.

God’s love isn’t based on what we deserve.  If it was, we’d be toast.  It isn’t based on what He owes us.  He doesn’t owe us a thing.  It isn’t based on who we are.  It is based on who He is.  We have never seen Him.  Yet He has completely seen and known us and still choosed to pour His unending love upon us.  For though we have never yet seen God, when we love each other God lives in us, and his love within us grows ever stronger”.  God continues to love us, and that’s the charge He has given to us.  We need to love those in our patch.  And when we do, God comes alive in us.  And the love He pours upon us flows through us and grows stronger.  We become a vessel of His love!

Love is not always easy.  But God has equipped us with a ‘Helper’ to make love possible.  When Jesus ascended, He promised the Holy Spirit would come to live in us.  That enables us to love God way, not on our own, but with the help of God in us.  And he has put his own Holy Spirit into our hearts as a proof to us that we are living with him and he with us”.  The Spirit bears witness to our spirit that God is not only with us, but is in us.  So we don’t have to figure it out on our own.  We merely need to listen to the Spirit and follow His promptings and lead.  God will help us love if we merely are willing to obey.

He gave us the greatest give of love that the world has ever, or will ever, experience in Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross.  We’re a lost people desperately in need of a Savior.  God knew that.  God’s love moved Him to do something about our pathetic condition.  He provided a way to overcome the penalty of sin (which is eternal separation from God) and live eternally with the Father.  And furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now tell all the world that God sent his Son to be their Savior”. The greatest act of love we can demonstrate is to share the truth of that Savior with those in our patch.  There is no greater love.  There is no better way to change lives.  Are you telling the world about Jesus?

1 John 4:9-10

In 1 John 4:9-10 we learn what the real essence of love is.  God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into this wicked world to bring to us eternal life through his death”. This shows us what true love is and what it means. Love is not only defined by the sacrifice of Jesus but is also defined by the giving of the Father. It was a loving sacrifice by the Father to send His only Son as a sacrifice to pour out the judgment we deserved upon Him on the Cross.  God’s love is multi-dimensional.  It is expressed to us by the entire trinity, and is not different between the three Beings of that Trinity.

Guzik writes “Some of us, for whatever reason, have come to think of God the Father as aloof and mean, perhaps the so-called “angry God” of the Old Testament. In this wrong thinking, many imagine they prefer the nice and loving Jesus instead. But the Father loves us too; and the love Jesus showed in His ministry was the same love God the Father has towards us”. The love of the Father was not only in the sending of His Son, but also in what that sending accomplishes for us. It brings life to all who trust in Jesus.  There is an outcome associated with God’s love through Christ – the forgiveness of and payment for our sin.

John explains it further. In this act we see what real love is: it is not our love for God but his love for us when he sent his Son to satisfy God’s anger against our sins”. Salvation is not something we initiate or actually have anything to do with except receiving God’s grace for our sin.  Some versions describe what happened when Jesus went to the cross as propitiation, which means that Jesus provided a once and for all time sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God. God will judge us, and hold us accountable for our sins meaning eternal separation apart from Him, as the outcome of His judgment.

 But when Jesus went to the cross to be the propitiation for our sins, we experience the true love of God. There was nothing better God the Father could give to a lost humanity than the gift of the Son of God Himself. He sent the Son, not on a fact-finding mission or merely a mission of compassion – He sent the Son to die for our sins. Boice described it this way: “If God had merely sent Jesus to teach us about Himself, that would have been wonderful enough. It would have been far more than we deserved. If God had sent Jesus simply to be our example, that would have been good too and would have had some value… But the wonderful thing is that God did not stop with these but rather sent His Son, not merely to teach or to be our example, but to die the death of a felon, that He might save us from sin.”  That’s what God’s love is – an overwhelming and never ending sacrifice for our eternity!

1 John 4:6b-8

In 1 John 4:6b-8 we are reminded that not only is the Spirit a way to validate where truth truly comes from, but also in how the world reacts.  “That is another way to know whether a message is really from God; for if it is, the world won’t listen to it”. Understanding just who hears what God has taught us through the apostles, as recorded in the New Testament, helps us to know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Knowing truth has nothing to do with how smart we are. We keep in the spirit of truth by clinging to Jesus, the One who said I am the truth.  He alone is the source and filter for truth.

After focusing the first part of this chapter around knowing truth versus the lies of the enemy, John turns his attention to another theme he has preached over and over in his books – LOVE.  Dear friends, let us practice loving each other, for love comes from God and those who are loving and kind show that they are the children of God, and that they are getting to know him better”. We are not commanded to love one another to earn or become worthy of God’s love. We love one another because we are loved by God, and have received that love, and live in light of it. Love is an outgrowth of our receiving agape love from an all loving God.

John shows us why it is so important for us to love one another.  If love is of God, then those who claim to be born of God, and claim to know God, must be able to love one another in the body of Christ. While this love is not perfected in the life of a Christian on this side of eternity, it must be present – and it should be growing. You can’t truly grow in your experience of God without also growing love for one another. But if a person isn’t loving and kind, it shows that he doesn’t know God—for God is love”. Love is the true litmus test of whether or not we know God and are a true Christ Follower.  If there isn’t real love for God’s people in your life, then your claim to know God and experience God isn’t true.

The love John speaks of here comes from the ancient Greek word agape; it is the concept of a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting re-payment – it is the God-kind of love. John tells us that God is love.  But we must be careful to realize that when we say God is love, we are not saying everything about God. Love is an essential aspect of His character, and colors every aspect of His nature. But it does not eliminate His holiness, His righteousness, or His perfect justice. He will deal with evil and sin as His nature requires, which means sometimes our interaction with Him will not ‘feel’ much like love.  That doesn’t change the truth that God is in fact love!

1 John 4:4-6a

In 1 John 4:4-6a John reminds us that the victory has already been won.  The battle has been completed, and if we’re a Christ Follower, our side has won. That doesn’t mean that no one is against us because there is a very real enemy that seeks to destroy us.  But we can live without fear, because the Spirit of God within us is greater than the enemy. Dear young friends, you belong to God and have already won your fight with those who are against Christ because there is someone in your hearts who is stronger than any evil teacher in this wicked world”.

As a Christ Follower, we have already won the victory, and have the vital presence of Jesus Christ in us through the Holy Spirit, which makes victory secure – if we will rely on He who is in you instead of relying on ourselves. For those of us walking in this truth, victory is assured – we have overcome the enemy for all time. It is truth, not just wishful hope. There is no reason for fear.  Our enemies in the spiritual realm are many, but there is no place for fear. We have many spiritual enemies, but not one of them is greater than Jesus who lives in us.  The spiritual forces of evil may be all around us, but our Savior has already defeated them all, once and for all!

In fact, we are surrounded by people of the world. These men belong to this world, so, quite naturally, they are concerned about worldly affairs and the world pays attention to them”. Those who are of the world are evident because they speak as of the world; the influence of the world in evident in their speech. Because they speak the world’s language, they have no problem getting people to listen.  In our efforts to share the gospel and speak God’s message, we have to compete with something that mankind readily likes to hear – the voices of the world.  They are not speaking truth but tickle the ears of those around them.

Those who are of God enjoy fellowship with other believers; they speak the common language of fellowship with God and with each other, because one flows from the other.  But we are children of God; that is why only those who have walked and talked with God will listen to us. Others won’t”. The language of fellowship overcomes differences in language, culture, class, race, or any other barrier. It is a true gift from God. When we know God, and are of God, we hear what the Bible says. Those who are not of God, while they may hear the truth, will not truly understand it and certainly will not believe it.  They will in fact reject it.  That’s why we need to be firmly grounded in God’s Word!

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