Daily Bible Verse
By Charlie Garrett
and Rory Wilson
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth. Psalm 115:1
This page comprises the Daily Devotionals that I sent out while working through the book of 1 John. If there's a particular passage in this book that you don't understand, scroll down to read the analysis. I hope what you find will bless you. I want to give my sincere appreciation to Rory Wilson who took the time to compile and edit these for me. God bless you brother!
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 1 John 1:1
We’ve come to the first of John’s three epistles. This is the Apostle John who wrote the Gospel of John and is called the disciple “whom Jesus loved” in John 13:23. This epistle is comprised of 105 verses and deals with combating moral laxity and error concerning the Person and work of Jesus Christ. It was written somewhere between the mid 80s and mid 90s and highlights certain key words – The Word, Life, Light/Darkness, etc.
He opens his letter, not with a greeting, but in a manner similar to the Gospel of John which reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” As in the gospel, John proclaims here that the Word was from the beginning. This isn’t stating that He was created in the beginning, but that He was already there at the beginning – He is from eternity past; fully God; the Word of life.
And yet John proclaims that this Word became incarnate, thus revealing the unseen Creator. He says, “we have heard” – the Word was proclaimed audibly from the mouth of the incarnate Son of God; “we have seen with our eyes” – the incarnate Son of God was visible, the glory of the Creator was veiled in human flesh allowing us to see Him; “we have looked upon” – not only was He seen by eyewitnesses, but He was viewed by them, studied, and analyzed in an intimate way by them; “our hands have handled” – Jesus Christ was not spiritual emanation, but a physical being. He has a body, He walks, He talks, He eats, He moves about in the very creation which He created. These are the aspects of the Word of life which verify the incarnation of the Creator and which testify to the Person of Jesus Christ – the unique God/Man.
This first verse was meant to dispel heresy which had already crept into the church and which continues to this day. To diminish either aspect of Christ Jesus – being fully God and being fully Man – is to fundamentally error in His nature, purpose, and ability to redeem.
Lord God Almighty – that You would step out of eternity and unite with human flesh is beyond comprehension. To imagine what occurred and what will be for eternity in the Person of Jesus Christ is astonishing. Thank You for the insights to be provided by Your beloved Apostle John...insights into the glorious work of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
…the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 1 John 1:2
When reading John’s gospel and epistles, it’s hard not to get the sense that he simply couldn’t believe the blessing of encountering Jesus Christ, the Son of God. His words overflow with amazement at the immensity of what he’d personally experienced. Today he continues with the thought of the previous verse when he says “the life was manifested.”
From eternity past, the Word existed. But John exclaims that he and others saw the Word, looked upon the Word, handled the Word – all evidences of the incarnation. This is the life that was manifested to him and those he walked with. He again says “we have seen” the Word. It’s as if he’s saying, “It’s really true and my words are insufficient to explain; let me repeat myself in an attempt to do so.”
Because of the absolute surety the apostles held concerning their eyewitness, John says they “bear witness, and declare” to us that eternal life. One can imagine him going to bed, night after night, and saying “These eyes beheld the Lord; my own two eyes.” When waking up in the morning, he probably repeated himself, “My own two eyes….” And so he proclaims what he saw – that the eternal life which was with the Father became flesh and dwelt among the sons of men. It is this life – this bridge between the finite and the infinite – which was manifested to a select group of people who would tell the story of eternal life to a world stained by sin and by darkness.
In the days ahead, John will weave together his words in a way which will detail the work of the Word, the significance of the Word, and the love of God as displayed in the Word. All of this was done to give eternal life to anyone who would but believe. Today, take time to think about the eternal Word of life, coming in human flesh to reveal the heart of the Father.
Surely no greater story has ever been told than that which details the life and work of Jesus Christ. O God, thank You for allowing my eyes to see Jesus in the pages of the Holy Bible. In seeing Him, I see You. May I faithfully study the words You have provided and may my doctrine be pure as I pursue an understanding of His work and His glory. Amen.
…that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3
Let’s look at the first three verses, which form one complete thought –
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
As in verse one, John today says “that which we have seen and heard.” He’s stating adamantly that Jesus Christ came in the flesh – God became incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ.
Despite the unclear thinking of cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Bible clearly proclaims the Godhood and Manhood of Jesus Christ. Here John is addressing the Gnostic belief that Jesus wasn’t truly a man, but was rather a spirit being. His proclamation could not be any clearer. This is similar to his writing in chapters 20 and 21 of the gospel of John which relates that they physically handled and also ate with Jesus. The writing is purposeful and meant to make explicit the physical nature of the risen Christ – something various cults, incredibly, still deny.
It is this incarnation which allows the fellowship described in today’s verse. Without a complete understanding of Jesus, we can never truly understand God the Father. But, because of Christ’s coming, we have the surety that our fellowship with them is real and in turn our fellowship among other believers is both sound and worth pursuing. Unlike other relationships, that of Christian fellowship should be on an entirely different level because of the work of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, You are the bind that ties – You tie us to a sound understanding of God the Father; You tie us to eternal fellowship with Your Holy Spirit; and You tie us together as friends in the fellowship of believers. Because of You, our fellowship is complete. Thank You for what You have done to unite us! Amen.
And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. 1 John 1:4
In the book of 1 John, we are given seven reasons for the things he writes –
1) that our joy may be full; 2) that we might not sin; 3) to share the commandments of the faith; 4) because our sins are forgiven in Jesus’ name; 5) because we know Jesus – who was from the beginning; 6) because we have overcome the wicked one; and 7) because we know the Father.
All of these weave together into one major reason – the first given – that our joy may be full. Think it through…
1) If we don’t sin, we are living rightly in God’s presence and are free from condemnation and/or judgment – a true joy.
2) If we receive the commandments and accept them, we will be following the instruction our Creator has given. This instruction is for our benefit, not ill. Therefore when we receive them and follow them it is a true joy.
3) The fact that our sins are forgiven in Jesus’ name means that we are granted eternal life. The wages of sin is death; therefore, if we are now sinless in God’s sight, we receive eternal life – a true joy.
4) Knowing Jesus means knowing the Creator. He “was from the beginning.” As there can only be one Creator and everything else contingent and temporary, then Jesus Christ must be the eternal Word of God – the means of creation. Therefore to know Him is to know true joy.
5) Overcoming the wicked one is something mankind has waited for since expulsion from Eden. Restoration between us and our Creator was impossible until Jesus came. But through Him we have that restoration and this, in turn, opens the doors to a restored paradise – this is true joy.
6) Knowing the Father is to know the Source. He is the One we look forward to with anticipation – ever straining our human hearts in hopes of knowing Him. Jesus reveals to us the Father because He and the Father are One. Through Jesus, we have the full revelation of who God is and are restored to eternal felicity and intimacy with Him – our joy is full.
Praise be to God for what He has done in the Person and work of Jesus Christ our Lord. Truly we have attained joy!
Simply unimaginable! What a glorious honor to be called a child of the Living God because of what Jesus did on our behalf. There is no greater joy to be obtained in all of creation than the restored relationship we now posses! We look forward to the Day when our faith will become sight and our eyes will behold the beauty of the Lord forever! Amen.
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5
Let’s take a short trip back to 1 Timothy 6:13-16 –
“I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.”
If you notice, Paul describes Jesus as “dwelling in unapproachable light.” He is the same God being referred to by John in today’s verse, but when we see Jesus, He is concealing the glory of God; veiling it for our benefit in human flesh. There is no darkness at all in God, but only light. This also what John wrote about in his gospel account when speaking of Jesus –
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:4, 5
Again, Jesus spoke to the people and claimed,
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12
In Jesus is the light of God. He reveals to us the fullness of the Godhead and only through Him can we understand who God is in an intimate way. Apart from the created order, which reveals God in a general sense, we are left with no intimacy unless we know Jesus. And it is through the Bible that we learn about Him.
Please! Take time each day to read your Bible.
Heavenly Father, I ask that You open my eyes to the truth of Your written word – the word that directs me to Jesus who, in turn, shows me You in an intimate way. I long to know You more fully, so be with me and guide me as I study Your precious word! Amen.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 1 John 1:6
The first time darkness is mentioned in the Bible is right at the beginning in Genesis 1:2 where darkness was over the face of the deep. At that point, there was only formless void and chaos. But God brought order out of it and established His creation – including the creation of man. However, man rebelled against God and died spiritually at that moment. Since then, man has been born physically alive but spiritually dead; we pursue the things of the world, but not the things of God.
Our great need is to be born again, this time from above. As Jesus said in Matthew 6 –
“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:22, 23
Just prior to saying this, and then just afterward He spoke of worldly treasure and money. These and other things keep our eyes fixed on the things of the world and its system instead of on the things of God. Because of this, we remain spiritually dead and at enmity with God.
This is the case with many professing Christians as well, but John says that if we walk in darkness we’re lying, regardless of whether we say we have the light or not. Each of us needs to evaluate ourselves and determine if we’re truly following Christ or if we are only paying lip service to Him in hopes of worldly gain.
If we’ve called on Jesus in spirit and in truth, then what we need to do is to continue to fix our eyes on Him, lest we get sidetracked and pulled back into the world. We won’t lose our salvation if this happens, but we will surely lose our joy.
Heavenly Father, give me wisdom to pursue the light of life and not the darkness of this world. Keep my eyes directed on that which is eternal and keep me from being distracted by the prospects of temporary wealth, fame, power, or any other thing which can never truly satisfy. Help me always to keep my eyes and heart directed toward the Lord Jesus. Amen.
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7
Let’s look back a few verses to refresh ourselves in the context of what is being said today –
1) God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.
2) If we claim to have fellowship with Him, but walk in the darkness we are lying and not practicing the truth.
Today John says “but.” But if we walk in the light, meaning to have fellowship with God just as Jesus does, then we also walk in fellowship with one another. We simply can’t claim to be walking with God but not walking with Jesus Christ, who is God. People who reject Jesus’ deity cannot be walking in the light of God. If we acknowledge Jesus and walk in His light, then we also have fellowship with other Christians who are like-minded in accepting the incarnation. How important it is to understand who Jesus is! If someone denies what is clearly presented in Scripture concerning Him, he remains in darkness and his sin remains. But when one calls on Jesus as Lord, declaring Him truly God and submitting to Him, then fellowship with other believers is established and Jesus’ blood cleanses them from “all sin.”
Again, as is proclaimed throughout the New Testament, eternal salvation is clearly presented. Jesus saves us and continues to save us – despite ourselves. He is a mighty Savior and fully able to keep us from even our own weaknesses and failings. As you can see, John ties fellowship with God in with fellowship with Jesus and, in turn, fellowship with other believers. We are united into one holy temple.
Because of this, we should endeavor to lay aside any bitterness or infighting which is unproductive. Matters of doctrine need to be addressed and resolved, but lesser issues need to be set aside to maintain the bond of fellowship which unites us in Jesus.
Lord Jesus, give me wisdom to walk in Your glorious light and to pursue the knowledge of who You are and what You have done for us. Give me the ability also to fellowship with other believers in a manner which will be pleasing to You. Help me to put aside petty differences and unite in the common goal of sharing Your good news. Amen.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.1 John 1:8
A common belief among some denominations is the attainment of a sinless state in this life – Wesleyan Holiness and 7th Day Adventist among others, believe this. When confronted with this verse, they will say this is referring to our sinful state before salvation, but that once saved, we can grow in the Holy Spirit (holiness doctrine) to a point where we can be sinless.
This is incorrect and causes detriment to congregants because tied in with this theology is the belief that one can lose their salvation by committing sins. This type of thinking leads to bondage never intended by the New Testament writers who spoke on behalf of the risen Lord. Think of the consequences as you contemplate this – a pastor (or the denominational teaching) explains to followers that they can become sinless. This implies that they themselves are beyond the grasp of sin. When a congregant falls into error the pastor (who believes himself sinless) can point to them as an example of one who has lost their salvation. Suddenly human neurosis takes over this individual and he becomes willing to do anything to “regain his salvation.” He is now in bondage to the whims of the leader or sect; living in fear of any misstep and never having the very assurance of salvation which is so clearly demonstrated in the Bible.
Because of his failure to understand the grace of God imparted at the cross of Jesus, he also fails to notice the hypocritical position of the very person who has incorrectly counseled him – a person who is no more sinless than any other person and who is actually self-deceived.
The word “ourselves” is in the emphatic position, and shows that people like this are not innocent victims, but have taken a lead role in deceiving themselves and, by default, those around them. Please understand – and the Bible is very clear on this point – that we cannot attain a sinless state in this life, nor can we lose our salvation. Both of these doctrines lead to error and bondage. Hold fast to the grace imparted to you at the cross.
Grace, grace, wonderful grace! I trust in God’s grace to carry me through to eternal life despite myself and despite my failings. May I never be so arrogant as to assume that I have become sinless in this life, but remain dependent on the mercy of God and His abundant love to hold me securely in His salvation. Amen.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
Let’s make sure we take today’s verse in the right context and compare it with other verses in the Bible. Here are two of numerous verses that state we have been forgiven in Christ –
For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 2 Peter 1:9
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, Colossians 2:13
Therefore, what John must be speaking about today is the complete forgiveness which comes at the moment of confession of Jesus as Lord and an acknowledgment of our inability to save ourselves. The moment we do this, we are forgiven for all sins – past, present, and future. We cannot look at today’s verse as an indication that a saved believer will remain unforgiven if he doesn’t acknowledge a sin after coming to Christ. Having said this, it is wholly appropriate to continue to confess our sins after salvation and to ask continued forgiveness, even though it is already granted. Our health, relationships, and general life can suffer from a lack of confession and a generally unrepentant attitude even if our salvation remains unaffected.
Remember to have balance in your walk with the Lord, understanding that we are saved despite ourselves, but we should never flaunt our salvation and treat it as license to live in sin, thus bringing discredit upon His name. Continued confession and repentance is a sign of a healthy spiritual life in Christ.
Heavenly Father! I thank You for the eternal forgiveness I was granted when Jesus first came into my life. Because of His magnificent work, give me wisdom to remember to call on Him in repentance as I fail Him in my daily walk. I know that through this process, I will be a sound, responsible, and effective witness for Him each day. Amen.
My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:1
In the first chapter, John was stating hypothetical cases which involved non-believers, but also which pointed to the life of believers. Here at the beginning of the second chapter, he switches to the term “my little children.” There is no doubt that he’s addressing saved believers in his coming thoughts and he’ll use this term eight more times before he finishes. He uses the term to show affection to those who are growing in the family of God.
The statement “so that you may not sin” is given in anticipation of keeping his readers from sin, but fully expecting that they will sin… “and if anyone sins...” This isn’t a contradiction in thought, but rather an understanding of our fallen nature.
This is no different than going to a sound biblical sermon today. The pastor who properly handles God’s word will give instruction in right living, proper behavior, and God’s expectations. However, he will also empathize with the struggles of the congregation and explain the importance of confession. If he’s truly honest, he’ll even include his own regular failings and how he handles them.
The very fact that John brings in Jesus’ role as our “Advocate” proves that he knows sin will come. No one needs an advocate when they haven’t been charged with an offense. In the book of 1 Timothy, Paul calls Jesus our “Mediator.” Today John calls Jesus our “Advocate.” Although similar, it would be good to define both roles –
1) Mediator – a person who intervenes to bring about an agreement.
2) Advocate – a person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor.
As you can see, a mediator brings about an agreement between two parties, but an advocate pleads in defense of his accused. When we sin, we stand accused of violating one of God’s precepts. But Jesus, who has already taken our punishment, stands in defense of our failing – His scars are proof that the punishment has been meted out. When we are in Christ, the sins we’ve committed are covered by His righteousness.
Thank You, O God, for Jesus who stands as my Advocate when I fail to meet Your infinite and perfect standards. Forgive me of my transgressions, not because I deserve it, but because of what Jesus did for me on the cross when He satisfied Your righteous demands. Amen.
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 2:2
How often do we hear someone say, “We’re all God’s children.”? This sounds wonderful and is especially appealing to those who focus entirely on the love of God. A problem rests in this type of thinking though – a problem which is evident from both the Bible and from mere reason.
Biblically, the Bible says that we are “children of wrath” by nature, but even without the Bible, we can reason out that God must be infinitely holy, righteous, just, etc. The problem arises when we try to grab hold of the love without meeting the other standards – a tension between them exists which can’t be satisfied by anything we do.
For example, we simply can’t fulfill what is necessary to attain His righteousness or meet His just standards. The only option, when left to fend for ourselves, is to receive His wrath; it is by necessity the default position.
The word “propitiation” in today’s verse is hilasmos and was used in secular Greek writings to note a sacrifice used to appease a wrathful or angry god. This doesn’t merely imply a payment for sin, but indicates that God is – by nature – truly and justifiably angry at sin; it violates His very nature.
Jesus’ cross – his suffering and death – therefore, provide the propitiation or “appeasement” of this wrath. He is the one who stands between us and the righteous anger that God pours out on our wrongdoing. As a Man, He suffered and died – He was crucified for our sin. As God, He was able to deflect away from us the suffering we deserve and yet prevail over death.
Thus, in one amazing action –
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor 5:21.
This appeasement is available to all people – “the whole world” – but is applied only to those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. God’s infinite mercy – stemming from His perfect goodness – is expressed to the sons of Adam in a most amazing and wonderful way – the cross of Jesus.
Lord God, it is beyond my comprehension – the work performed by Jesus. Everything which comes into play at His cross is simply beyond imagination. All I can do is look with awe and wonder at what You have done for one such as I. May I never fail to acknowledge Your greatness, Your splendor, and Your majesty! In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 1 John 2:3
News flash – this verse is not speaking of the Ten Commandments, nor is it speaking about the Law of Moses. As it says in the book of Hebrews –
1) The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. Hebrews 7:18, 19
2) By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. Hebrews 8:13
3) He sets aside the first to establish the second. Hebrews 10:3
Not only is this taught in Hebrews, but the main discussion of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 specifically dealt with gentiles observing or not observing the Law of Moses – the decision was that they do not have to observe it. And again, the entire book of Galatians deals with this subject as portions of most other New Testament books do.
Those commands which we are obligated to observe are those repeated in the New Testament. Nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated, but observing the Sabbath Day isn’t. Nor is the requirement to observe the Jewish holidays, dietary restrictions, or any other tenet in the Law of Moses not specifically repeated in the New Covenant.
Read your New Testament, believe your New Testament, and understand what it’s teaching you lest you be brought again into “bondage,” as Paul calls it, by theologically unstable people or by those who intentionally manipulate the freedom found in Christ so that they can benefit from you.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. John 13:34
Lord, give me wisdom and insight into the treasure of the New Testament – the covenant that came at such a high cost. May I never fall from the grace found in Your work by going back to the works of the law in an attempt to satisfy You. Rather, let me live in Your rest and satisfied by Your accomplishments alone. Amen.
He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 1 John 2:4
As stated yesterday, this is not speaking of the Law of Moses, but is speaking of New Testament commandments. Nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament and are binding on believers, but the Sabbath isn’t and is therefore set aside in Christ. There are many commandments given in the New Testament, all of which are binding on the believer. Paul goes so far as to say in Romans –
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. Romans 13:1, 2
As you can see, Paul tells us we’re to obey the laws of the land in which we live because the authority there comes from God. Whether we agree with the laws of the land or not is irrelevant. What matters is that God has placed us where we are and under the conditions in which we live. There is an exception though – we are to obey God before men. If any law of the land in which one lives is contrary to that established by God, then we must “obey God rather than men.”
If abortion is legal but not mandated in the land, we can work to have the laws changed. However, if abortion becomes mandatory, we as Christians must disobey the law of the land as we are to protect human life, created in God’s image.
Some cases aren’t as obvious and so we must rely heavily on our understanding of the Bible. If we have erroneous doctrine, then our decisions will be faulty. Therefore, let us be careful to diligently study and know the Bible and to apply it to our lives. We need to obey what God has ordained or the truth is not in us.
Lord God, please help us to understand Your word and to think its precept through clearly that our lives and our doctrine will be sound. May we never fail to obey that which is ordained by You and may our lives as Christians be evident to those around us so that You will be glorified through them. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 1 John 2:5
This is the first of many times that the word “love” is used in this epistle. John will deal with the subject of love on many levels as he progresses. Today he ties keeping God’s commandments in with loving God.
Although the “love of God” could be inferred to mean from God to us, it is more likely indicating the love we show for Him. Our love is imperfect at best, but the Greek word used here for “is perfected” is teteleiotai. This word conveys the meaning of completeness in love rather than absolute perfection. In other words, this is a love which moves to completion when it results in an action that loves.
So, by keeping the word of the Lord – by obeying His commandments as set forth for us – we are demonstrating an action that loves God for who He is and what He expects of us. When we do these things and act in this manner, we know that we are in Him.
If someone calls on Jesus as Lord, they are a saved believer. However, when they don’t follow what He has given us as proper direction in life, there is always that nagging sense that maybe they aren’t in the Lord – both in their own mind and in the minds of others. Such thoughts shouldn’t exist, but they do because we are prone to not keeping His commandments.
This is the case with even the strongest Christians with the deepest of faith – how much more so when people carelessly fail to follow the Bible. The case for “ignorance is bliss” can be made at this point.
If we don’t know everything the Lord expects, then we won’t feel bad when we transgress His wishes for us. But this approach lacks commitment, fails to regard the Person and work of Jesus, and puts us in the sad position of facing the Lord’s judgment seat with nothing to offer Him in exchange for the salvation He has provided us. This will lead to an eternity of regret; a sad exchange for a life led in the bliss of ignorance.
Jesus, forgive me for not pursuing You and the knowledge of Your word more. Give me a strong desire and a great hunger to know You more with each passing day. Give me the wisdom to set aside time each day to read Your word, study Your commandments, and apply them to my life. Forgive me for past failings and set me on a new and straight course. Amen.
He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. 1 John 2:6
Lets’ review the previous three verses in order to keep today’s verse in context –
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
Jesus “walked” in a state of perfection, fully keeping the laws of the Old Testament that we could never keep. After doing this, He gave His life up on the cross for us. It is therefore by faith in what Jesus did that we stand justified before God. Paul explains this clearly in Romans 3 and throughout the book of Galatians. In Galatians 2:16, he says –
…knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
Our faith in Jesus’ accomplishment (to God be the glory) is what puts us in a right standing with God. Once we stand justified, we should walk in a manner fitting His work. We are to keep His commandments and live for Him, not for the world and all it holds. Those who say they abide in Christ should live as if they really believe it and thus bring credit, not disgrace to His name. May we pay heed to the words of the apostle today and walk just as Jesus walked – to the glory of God the Father.
O Heavenly Father – You sent Jesus to fulfill the impossible standards of the law so that we could be justified by faith in Him and stand in a right relationship with You. What a marvelous story Your word tells; what a wonderful Gift has been offered to us if we will but receive it. Thank You, O God, for Jesus. Amen.
Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. 1 John 2:7
In our verse today, John is saying that he is adding nothing to what was handed down to him from the Lord; he was not adding in some arbitrary standards of his own. The word “new” is the Greek word kainen and means “new in kind” or “novel.” Rather, he is repeating “an old commandment.” This is one that had already been proclaimed to them – even from when they first heard and received the gospel.
As the coming verses (9 through 11) are dealing with loving the brethren, John is certainly referring to Jesus’ command which he penned in John 13:34, 35 –
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
Jesus told his disciples that the mark of a Christian, and the way which they will be known as true disciples, is by their genuine love for one another. This is a commandment and means a love which is demonstrable and visible. Whether we like the fellow Christian we’re dealing with or not, we are to love them in a way which identifies them as a brother in the Lord.
This is “the word which you heard from the beginning.” John could pen these words with conviction as he was present with the Lord when he heard Him speak them – this new commandment. It was his duty as an apostle to pass them on to his hearers and it is our continued duty – even to this day – to receive them and apply them to our own lives, lest we be found false disciples.
Lord Jesus, you have commanded me to have love for my fellow believers – Oh, but it can be hard. They are so… they do such… they act like… But rather Lord, change me, not them. Make me into the loving vessel You have commanded me to be. Change me so that I will be a pleasing disciple in Your eyes. To Your glory I make this petition. Amen.
Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. 1 John 2:8
Let’s read yesterday’s verse and today’s verse together –
Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
It seems John isn’t thinking clearly – “no new commandment,” but then “a new commandment.” In fact, he’s speaking more clearly than one might imagine.
As quoted yesterday, Jesus said in the book of John, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” He spoke this before the crucifixion when darkness still covered the world. But just as a sailboat disappears over the horizon, fading into the sea, the spiritual darkness would fade away as the Light of what Jesus did rose to an anxious world. The love He directs us to – the gospel message – was already beginning to shine, but His victory over death brought it to its full splendor when He rose from the grave.
The darkness is simply dissipating from its own inability to overcome the Light; the Light dispels the darkness. And so the “new commandment” is the fullness of the love received in the Person of Jesus. We now have not only the command, but also the ability to love our fellow Christians. This “new commandment” is given from the mouth of Jesus before His death and is repeated by His apostles after His resurrection. Truly, what Jesus says in Revelation is true – “Behold I make all things new.” Revelation 21:5
Marvelous and wise God! Thank You for the New Commandment – that I love my brethren even as You have loved me. Give me the desire, and wisdom to be a loving and gracious friend to those who belong to You. Let me not withhold my own love just as You didn’t withhold Yours when You gave us Jesus – the greatest demonstration of love ever. Amen.
He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 1 John 2:9
You can see how John thinks as he writes, going from positive to negative statements about issues. Today he builds on the thought from yesterday which discussed the increasing light –
…because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
Yes, the light is already shining and the darkness is passing away, but John uses this terminology to give us insight into what the light expects and brings about – love.
If someone hates his brother and thus remains in darkness, then it implies that one who is in the light is one who loves his brother. The term “brother” lets us know he is speaking of fellow believers. We simply can’t hate our fellow Christians and claim we’re walking in the light of God’s love. The two are incompatible and John is immensely blunt in what he writes.
We need to be careful though and not take this to an unintended extreme. If a brother has bad doctrine, if a pastor teaches what is inappropriate, if a preacher fails to preach the truth, we aren’t asked to simply roll over and cover their waywardness with a blanket of gushy love. Rather, such teachings need to be addressed, rebuked, and even excommunicated from the fellowship lest they poison the minds of those who are seeking out the truth.
Balance is needed in the Christian walk – love for the brotherhood while maintaining doctrinal purity. To have love without doctrine is a demonstration of untrue love; to have doctrine without love leads to only coldness and condemnation. When the two are properly balanced, Christ is in His rightful spot as the giver of truth and the sustainer of the fellowship. Lets us fix our eyes on Jesus and we will be well rounded in our walk, which is in His light.
Jesus, let me never forsake love when speaking Your word to others, but surely…keep me from compromising Your truth for the sake of false love and tolerance of what isn’t right. Give me the proper balance when discussing Your word and fellowshipping with my brothers in Christ. Amen.
He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 1 John 2:10
Notice that it says, “He who loves” rather than “He who says he loves.” John is making sure that this is a true heartfelt condition in the believer and not just a casual acknowledgement of an expected condition – “Yeah, I love Brother John, but….” There is no “but” and no other conditional argument to be posed here. In other words, we need to actively pursue the love we may not really be feeling until we come to the point that we really feel it.
It’s way too easy to pay lip service to this concept and deprive ourselves of the true joy of brotherly love. And not only do we deprive ourselves of this joy, but we also keep a rift between us and the Lord. Darkness surrounds at least a part of what should be intimate fellowship with Him.
John says that such a person who truly loves his brother “abides” in the light. Rather than being a temporary pilgrim who steps in and out of the light, this person lives as a permanent resident in God’s presence which is absolute light; in Him there is no darkness at all.
There is also “no cause for stumbling” in a person who lives in constant love of his brothers. John Wesley said it like this, “He that hates his brother is an occasion of stumbling to himself. He stumbles against himself, and against all things within and without; while he that loves his brother has a free disencumbered journey.”
Don’t feel bad if you know in your heart that you haven’t measured up to the command here. All Christians struggle with the challenge of loving an annoying brother, all struggle with the challenge of loving a bitter brother, and all struggle with the challenge of loving an antagonistic brother. The path of least resistance is to remove oneself from their presence, but the condition which brings about a real walk in the light of God’s garden is to demonstrate that high and noble love even to the one who is otherwise unlovable.
Heavenly Father, I see me written all over the opposite of today’s verse. I merely “said” I love my brother instead of really loving him. I’ve not kept myself in the light, but have waffled between the shadows and the sun. And Lord, I’ve stumbled and I’ve fallen. Pick me up and set my feet on the right path, which is the one You desire for me. Amen.
But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.1 John 2:11
In verse 8, John brings in the subject of the light. He follows the introduction with these verses –
He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (vss. 9-11)
The contrast is made to show the complete illumination of the light in the believer’s life and the absolute darkness of the person deceived through hate. Notice that the previous three verses are almost like a light switch for us to use as a demonstration –
1) The brother who hates is in the darkness (regardless of what he claims, the switch is “off”);
2) (Switch on the light and see the contrast…) The brother who loves abides in the light and has no occasion to stumble.
3) (Turn the light back off and see the result – “See, the difference!”) This brother is in darkness, his walk (meaning the direction he’s heading) is in darkness and hence he is completely lost, and the darkness has robbed him of any light at all – he is overshadowed and overcome by darkness.
Such is the tremendous power of hate. It not only robs us of light, but it robs us of any sense of proper direction, and it also robs us of any possibility of spiritual discernment (thus the “blinded eye” metaphor). The lesson being imparted is obvious – if you’re consumed by hate, you’ve completely departed from spiritual light, regardless of what you claim; you are self-deceived. Hate is powerful and blinding, so be on guard against it.
O God – You who dwell in light, keep me from hating my brother and thus blinding myself to the light of Your word. Take away any bitterness that resides in me and give me the power to hand my grief, frustration, and bitterness over to You. Fill me with love for the brother who has been my enemy that I may again walk in Your light, without fear of stumbling. Amen.
I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. 1 John 2:12
Today’s verse starts an entirely new section of this letter; one which is ordered by repetition and one which has a decided symmetry. Modern translations tend to offset the section in a manner one would recognize as poetic. It’s formed as a pair of “triplets” and in the original Greek the tense switches in the middle of the section, but without any indication as to why this occurs.
Today John is writing to the “little children” because their “sins are forgiven for His name’s sake.” John will address his next thoughts to the “fathers” and to the “young men.” It’s possible that he’s describing different people groups based on actual age, but he also may be describing the same people while using different terms to relate to them based on their Christian maturity.
Today, he’s addressing the forgiveness of sins and thus he is addressing his “little children.” In the same way that a father will speak tenderly to his children when he’s forgiving them of some transgression, we’re being reminded of the tender care our Heavenly Father demonstrates to us when He speaks to us of our forgiveness in Christ.
The term “your sins are forgiven” is in the perfect tense, meaning the forgiveness has already been accomplished and is complete. Again, for the ten jillionth time in the New Testament, we have the absolute assurance of eternal salvation. That which has been forgiven is finished, complete, and perfect. Future transgressions are already under the blood and forgiven even though we haven’t yet committed them.
Let’s endeavor to not commit them though, but to live for our Heavenly Father through the great sacrifice of our Lord Jesus and for His name’s sake. Should we falter in our attempts, let’s recognize our failure and press on in His great and eternal assurance. No greater gift has ever been given, so let’s remember it in both our failings and in our determined effort to move forward, putting them behind.
O Heavenly Father! As your little child, I thank You for the tender words of forgiveness You provide me. Thank You for being the gracious and loving Creator who cares enough, even about me, to send Your Son as an offering of peace and reconciliation. Give me the determined effort to live for You, through His name all the days of my life. Amen.
I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. 1 John 2:13
In today’s verse John is finishing his first triplet to the addressees. He started the triplet in yesterday’s verse by writing to “little children.” The word used there was teknia – a term he uses as an affectionate description. In this verse, he begins with “fathers.” This would be those more mature believers or those who are more grounded in sound doctrine. They are fathers because they “have known Him who is from the beginning.” In other words, they understand that Jesus is the eternally existent Creator – fully God and yet fully man because of the incarnation.
Understanding this concept demonstrates an adult grasp on who Jesus is and the depth of what He accomplished on our behalf. John moves on to the “young men.” If he’s addressing a specific age group and not those with a lesser understanding of the work of Christ, then he is addressing people around 25-40 years old. He acknowledges that they have “overcome the wicked one. It appears that rather than a specific age group, this is referring to those who not only understand their sins are forgiven (the “little children” of the previous verse), but those who understand that this forgiveness means they have assurance of salvation. In other words, just because a believer in Christ knows his sins are forgiven (a “little child” in the faith), they may not understand that this indicates eternal salvation; they are immature in their understanding of this.
After noting the young men, John mentions the “little children” again, but this time he uses the Greek word paidia. This new word translated as “little children” is still referring to believers, but speaks of real immaturity in Christ and a great need for doctrinal improvement. They know the Father because of the Son, but they are completely confused in their theology about the Son.
As you can see, John is writing to the body of believers, but he is making real distinctions in there doctrinal maturity without questioning their salvation. May we act in a like manner towards those of less understanding and maturity in Christ.
Lord Jesus, help me to understand that just because someone is less informed about the mystery of Jesus’ work and the significance of what He has done, that person is no less saved than I am. May I never arrogantly point my finger at another blood-bought believer in Christ just because I have a deeper knowledge of who He is and what He did. Amen.
I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.1 John 2:14
Today’s verse completes the second triplet and concludes the poetic offset. John addresses the fathers first in this verse, but secondly in this triplet. He changes “I write to you fathers” as stated in verse 13 to read “I have written to you fathers.” Other than that, he doesn’t change anything. As previously noted, they are complete in their faith and doctrine and he re-acknowledges that by repeating “because you have known Him who is from the beginning.”
Next John addresses the “young men” again and follows the past-tense pattern “I have written to you.” However, in addition to acknowledging that they have “overcome the wicked one” (as was previously stated in verse 13), he adds in the statement “because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you.” The word “strong” is the Greek word ischuroi and is normally associated with physical strength and the abilities associated with that condition. The fact that he adds in “the word of God abides in you” is clearly tied into the reason that they have “overcome the wicked one.”
As noted in the previous verse, this overcoming is referring to those who not only understand their sins are forgiven (the “little children”), but those who understand that this forgiveness means they have assurance of salvation. Where does this understanding come from? This knowledge of the doctrine of eternal salvation is tied into a greater understanding of the Person and work of Jesus Christ and the baptism, or indwelling, of the Holy Spirit. Such knowledge comes from “the word of God being heard, remembered, and reflected upon.
Two people may hear the doctrine of forgiveness of sins, but only one may understand the full implication of this because he accurately process what has been relayed to him. This person has the word of God abiding in him, not just a casual understanding that Jesus died to forgive him of his sins. He understands that Satan is defeated and can never again take hold of him or his eternal soul.
Thank You Lord for the past few verses which have been so instructional in the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins, eternal salvation, and the greater depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of You. Help our doctrine to be pure and may the word of God abide in us richly all the days of our lives. Amen.
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. 1 John 2:15
The apostle jumps directly from the poetic thoughts of the previous three verses which described overcoming through Christ and headlong into a fixed and firm statement about not loving the things of the world.
This is, apparently, a rebuke to some extent because the command “do not love” is in the present tense. This indicates that at least some of the addresses may have been following the way of the world. As it’s likely that the “little children” addressed in the previous verses where immature believers, it could be that he’s addressing them specifically.
This is more than probable when we see that it is they to whom he said “you have known the Father.” This then is a sudden and stern warning that they need to grow up and become more doctrinally sound. The fact that this is in the present tense doesn’t negate it applying to believers today. As this letter has become a part of Scripture, we know that it certainly applies to our lives as well.
The church is no less filled with immature believers now than then – and probably more so. Such people have one foot in the church and the other is stuck in the mud of the world – meaning its systems and enticements. This world system has been arranged by Satan and is at enmity with God. There is no middle ground in the battle which is occurring; the spiritual battle between the Light and the darkness John previously mentioned. But the immature believer clings tenaciously to the world; loving it and all it contains. John says if they do this, the love of the Father is not in them.
God is due our highest devotion, our greatest adoration, our fixed attention, and our loudest praise. This should be such that there isn’t room for anything else in our lives but Him. Have you yet arrived at that place? If not, press on in His grace – using the world in which we live but not loving it or clinging to it. Fix your eyes on Jesus and your heart on the Everlasting God.
Lord, it’s a high and hard goal to completely let go of the world, but this is what I desire. Keep me from loving it and all it contains. Despite the things which are ever-so tempting, I know that I need to put them behind me and focus solely on You and the glories which are ahead. Until then, remind me again and again that it is Jesus where my eyes should rest. Amen.
For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 1 John 2:16
What we see here today hearkens all the way back to Genesis chapter 3. “And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:2-6
As you can see, Eve was tempted with, and fell for,
1) the lust of the flesh – the “tree was good for food”;
2) the lust of the eyes – “it was pleasant to the eyes”; and
3) the pride of life – “in the day you eat of it…you will be like God.”
If you follow the account of Jesus’ three temptations by Satan, he offers Jesus the same three enticements –
1) When Jesus was hungry, Satan said “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
2) After showing him all the kingdoms of the world, Satan proclaimed “…if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”
3) After asking “If you are the Son of God” Satan challenged “throw Yourself down from here.”
But where Adam failed, Jesus prevailed. Today, Satan challenges us in exactly the same way. To succumb to these temptations is to succumb to the love of the world – Satan’s domain. This is the proper interpretation of “the world” in these verses and it is meant to remind us that we simply can’t live for God without relying completely on –
1) the indwelling of the Holy Spirit,
2) our knowledge of the Bible, and
3) complete faith in the Person and promises of Jesus Christ.
If we don’t hold fast to these, we are opening ourselves up for complete disaster in every aspect of our lives. Let’s hold fast to the truth God has given us in these three ways.
Heavenly father, the devil is there tempting me every step of the way – luring me to fall back into the life of sin Jesus saved me from. Please, I ask of You, keep me from his temptations and give me the will and the power to hold fast to my commitment to You. I know I’m powerless without You, so be with me every moment and in every step. Amen.
And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:17
What an amazing verse to contemplate! John says that the “world is passing away.” This statement is made in the present tense and tells us that “it is already passing away…” The decay has begun and the final end of what we now see and live in will continue to ebb until it’s completely used up.
Think of what he’s saying in comparison to a tank of gas. “The fuel is being used up.” Again, the present tense in our language tells us it’s being used and is diminishing. At some point, the tank will be empty. The verb “is passing away” is pargetai and suggests that this is occurring all by itself; it is like a canker on a tree which, in destroying the tree, destroys itself.
John says in the same context “and the lust of it.” The same thing which is happening to the world system is occurring to the lust of the world. The eyes which lust the temporary are also temporary and will have an end – being used up in futility.
John then contrasts these things with “he who does the will of God,” using “but” to make the contrast between the two. The one who does God’s will aligns himself with the eternal, not the temporary. The words “abide” and “forever” both speak of this and provide the believer with the assurance that the will and promises of God go beyond the current age into the eternal sphere. The Greek word aiona or “ages” assures us of this. This all points back to the one who reflects on God’s word as is noted in the first Psalm –
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
Lord, when the trials and sadness of this life seem too much to bear, or when I look on the wickedness occurring around me, I can return to the beautiful words You have given us and rejoice in the promises of eternity to come, when all this trial and trouble will be no more. May You return soon and set up that eternal system! Amen.
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.1 John 2:18
As in verse 13, John uses the word paidia for “little children. This is indicating their immaturity in the doctrine he’s going to talk about and explain – that of the antichrist and the last times. He says “it is the last hour” which is a term used only here in the New Testament. It doesn’t contain a definite article “the” in the Greek. This may indicate that he didn’t believe Christ’s return would be soon, but is rather a general statement about the entire church time; something that is of indeterminate length.
This is supported by the statement of Jesus at the ascension when the apostles asked if He was going to restore the kingdom to Israel at that time. His answer indicated that they needed to get about the work of the gospel and not worry about what was under the Father’s authority, but it also indicates that his recipients knew the Antichrist was coming.
This term “anti” can mean someone standing openly against Jesus (the Christ) or someone who is attempting to be a substitute for Him; something more subtle and fitting the pattern of the workings of the devil. The latter is more likely especially when we see Paul’s description of him in 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10 – “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
John takes time to note that the world was already influenced by the power of “many antichrists.” These are people who deny the workings of Jesus Christ, God’s Messiah, the Son of God. Any tenet which diminishes His work or His deity falls under the category of “antichrist.” To deny the Son of God wasn’t possible until He was manifest in the flesh. Since that time, Satan has come to dismiss the work He wrought on behalf of the world. This will continue to increase until the rapture of the church. At that time, his work will climax in the person of the Antichrist himself.
Heavenly Father, you sent Your Son, my Lord Jesus, to show us the way to You. Keep me from the deceitful lies of Satan and protect me from the spirit of the Antichrist which is intended to diminish Jesus’ work and misdirect my faith in Him. Prompt me to “…fix my eyes on Jesus…” as nothing else will do. Amen.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 1 John 2:19
John made a play on words when he wrote this in Greek that we don’t clearly see in the translation. When he says they went out “from us” it’s the term ex hemon. He again uses ex hemon when he said they would have continued “with us.” Then a third time he uses ex hemon when he says that none of them were “of us.” He’s letting us know that although there are those who are with us physically, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re of the body of believers spiritually.
John notes that if they were true believers, they would “have continued” in the faithful walk of believers. However, as has happened throughout the ages, some people are simply twisted in their concept of God or are even complete disbelievers in any creator. They may totally depart from any faith at all and simply lead their lives from a totally human perspective, or they may look around and see the power that spiritual leaders have over others and decide to “invent up” a new religious sect that will bring them the glory due the Lord.
Such was the case with Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons. His apostasy led to tearing away many souls from sound religious doctrine – a pattern which unfortunately continues today. The list of such antichrists is long and scary because quite often they fuse their false doctrine with smidgens of sound doctrine. But as Paul says in Galatians 5:9, “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”
Once heretical doctrine is infused into instruction, it permeates and pollutes the entire doctrine. Be careful to evaluate the church you attend or are considering. What may appear as sound and honoring could very well be reason for dismissal from the presence of Christ. The best advice for us to follow is to never direct our attention to a charismatic leader but rather “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…” Hebrews 12:2.
Lord Jesus, I pray for those who would consider following the strange and unsound doctrine of false teachers. Give them clarity of thinking that they may reject them. Likewise, keep me secure as well and let me not be drawn away by strange and unprofitable teachings, but rather help me to keep my eyes and thoughts on Jesus. Amen.
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. 1 John 2:20
This verse marks a sharp rebuke against false teachers – which we’ll see in a minute, and is particularly directed at those who believe they have the secret knowledge of God at their disposal or locked up in their simple and irrational denomination when in fact they have no true knowledge at all.
Should you find yourself attending a church and they make exclusive claims on the truth and that everyone else is false, you’re probably in a place which is opposite of what is described in today’s verse. If you’ve never been in one, try attending a “Jehovah’s Witness” meeting or some other off-target sect and you’ll see this attitude pervades everything they do… “We know all things.”
Rather, John uses the word “anointing” from the Greek word chrisma today which is a play on words, contrasting the antichrists antichristoi of the previous verses. The “anointing” believers have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – the third member of the Trinity. If someone denies the reality of, or the deity of the Holy Spirit, they are doing the same thing as denying the deity of Jesus Christ. It is the Spirit of God which illuminates Scripture for the believer. It is He who comforts the believer and reminds him of the salvation he received when he accepted Jesus as Lord.
In the Old Testament, oil was used to anoint priests, prophets, and kings to symbolize that they were ordained for the task they had been given. This oil is a symbol or picture of the anointing of the Holy Spirit on believers today. As Peter says in his first epistle – “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” It is the anointing of the Holy Spirit which places us in that position and makes us suitable to perform our tasks in a manner pleasing to God.
Finally, this verse says, “you know all things.” The Holy Spirit is the One who leads us in the proper knowledge about the truth of God – the source of all things. He opens our understanding as we search out God’s truth in the Bible.
Thank You, O God, for the gift of Your Holy Spirit, indwelling me and filling me with the ability to understand who You are and what Your intended purposes are for me. Thank You for this anointing and may I never take it for granted that Your good and Holy Spirit dwells in me. May You be praised by the life I live for You. Amen.
I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 1 John 2:21
The tense used here in the original indicates that John is referring to this epistle and not the gospel he previously wrote. Not only that, it’s more specifically referring to this particular section of the epistle – that dealing with the antichrists and their teachings.
He indicates that what he’s written isn’t because they don’t know the truth, but they know it; he’s obviously already told it to them and he’s reminding them of it. Not only this, but there is no “secret” truth which is discernable to only a select few. Rather, God’s truth is available to us through His word and we have that truth for individual and corporate study. We are not to be misled that we don’t have the truth available to us.
Further, the truth is that “no lie is of the truth.” The devil is the father of lies and all lies stem from him. In contrast, God is absolute truth. Being fully God, Jesus claimed to be the embodiment of truth. This being the case, His words, His gospel, and His being are absolute truth. No lie comes from Him and no lie is of or about Him as is recorded in the Bible. We have God’s complete and absolute word for the matters of faith and doctrine in the pages of the Holy Bible.
If you’re confused about biblical matters, it’s wise to get varying opinions from teachers, pastors, commentaries, and devotionals. But it’s also wise to ask God to lead you to the truth of what’s being analyzed. This is because there are so many interpretations of what is being said, but only one truth. We’re individually responsible for our doctrine and in the end we stand or fall on the truth being revealed in the pages of the Bible. If we get it wrong, we may end up in an unhappy spot on the day we face our Lord.
Yes Lord, please give me the proper reading of each and every passage I study. Let me not be misled by poor analysis of Your word, but rather I ask that Your Spirit lead me to teachers who will provide me with the truth as You have relayed it. I ask these things to that my doctrine will be pure in Your eyes. Amen.
Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 1 John 2:22
Here it is – the definition and spirit of the antichrist rolled up into one concise and abruptly placed verse. John has talked of the different stages of believers – children, young men, and fathers. He then proceeded to state that it was the last hour because “many antichrists have come.” After this he spoke of the anointing of the Holy One because “you know all things.” Everything he has been saying has been built upon the fact that Jesus is the Son of God and that any teaching contrary to this – even if they use the term “Son of God” but deny its meaning – is the antichrist.
In the Greek, a definite article “the” is used – “Who is ‘the’ liar?” The liar is anyone who would, in any way, diminish the deity of Jesus Christ. Gnostic heretics at the time of John claimed that Jesus was only a man who was indwelt by the spirit of Christ until the time of the crucifixion. This or any other attempt to diminish Jesus as the God/Man is in effect attempting to nullify the entire purpose and meaning of the New Testament. In turn, this diminishes the entire point of the Old Testament which leads up to the coming Christ – God incarnate.
What you must ask yourself is this all important question – “Is Jesus Christ fully God and at the same time fully Man?” If you cannot answer the question with an emphatic “Yes” then you are under the influence of Satan and are of the body, not of Christ, but of the antichrist. According to John (and the rest of Scripture) it is that simple.
This same truth follows through with any of the other major points of doctrine – the Virgin Birth and the bodily resurrection of Jesus, for example. This analysis might seem harsh, but it is given us by the apostle’s own hand under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. God’s word is what matters and it will hold up under the scrutiny of time and under the attacks of the devil. Who is Jesus Christ? It is the most important question you can ever answer and one which holds eternal consequences for all peoples of the world.
Today I state where I stand on the Person of Jesus Christ – He is God incarnate and also Man. He was born of a virgin and the Holy Spirit and His work fulfilled that of the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. I proclaim what the Bible proclaims – because I have known Jesus, I also have known the Father. I proclaim Jesus as Lord! Amen.
Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:23
Again, for the third verse in a row, John has made an absolute claim about the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Either you accept Jesus Christ or you don’t. And in connection with that proclamation comes either your acceptance or rejection by God the Father. In verse 22 John said that to deny the Son is to deny the Father. This verse adds on to that by saying if you deny the Son, you do not have the Father. In other words, you forfeit your right to become a child of God and, as Paul says elsewhere, God’s wrath remains on you.
These verses may seem redundant or cumbersome, but that is the farthest thing from the truth. John is spending this time and detail because people were already attempting to diminish the work of Jesus. Since then, these attempts have become more pronounced and exacting in nature. For every subtle heresy which is refuted, a new attempt arises to claim the Bible is true and yet manipulate it to refute the very truths it proclaims.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, will say Jesus is God’s Son (they must because the Bible is so specific about this), but then they will deny that His Father is God in the sense of Him being born of God and thus fully God. Rather, they say He is a created being. Their wording is slick and manipulative and clearly denies what John is so specifically proclaiming. There is no love of the Father in them because there is no love of the Son (the Son proclaimed in Scripture) in them.
Islam also teaches that God has no Son. In fact, it is a principle tenet of the faith. Because of this, they have no relationship with the Father and God’s wrath remains on them. Such is the case with every human soul on earth. One proclaims Jesus Christ as the God/Man or he doesn’t – there is no middle ground and no room for compromise. Where do you stand on this most important of all issues?
Heavenly Father, I pray today for all those whose eyes are blinded to the truth of who Jesus Christ is. May Your glorious Holy Spirit move in a great way upon the earth, calling many from darkness to the glorious Light of Your Son – our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 1 John 2:24
The Greek of this verse begins with the word “you” and is emphatically saying, “As for you…” This then is a verse of contrast to the previous two verses which began “Who is the liar?” and “Whoever denies the Son.” Instead of being counted among these false witnesses (the spirit of the Antichrist), John is speaking to those who heard the truth of the gospel message and cling to it, live in it, and won’t be moved from it. “Let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning” is telling them to remember that very message. But hearing and remembering isn’t enough.
Even the false teachers had heard the truth of the gospel and they remembered it too. But they didn’t abide in the truth. This is what many people have come to call the necessary “fourteen inch conversion.” It is one thing to have head knowledge and it’s a completely different thing to move that knowledge to a belief deep in your soul. Deep seated faith in the promises of God allows a person to “abide in the Son and in the Father.” As is so commonly done in the New Testament, dwelling with, believing in, and acknowledging the Son is linked directly to doing the same with the Father (and the Holy Spirit also).
To fellowship with one is to fellowship with all. To reject one is to reject all. It’s no different than saying, “I believe that Clint Eastwood exists, but I don’t believe he existed yesterday and if he’s alive tomorrow I won’t believe he is the same person that’s alive today.” The entire thought process is mentally unsound and can only be attributed to an unstable person. The Bible proclaims the Father is God; the Bible proclaims Jesus is God; the Bible proclaims the Holy Spirit is God; therefore, to reject any is to deny the reliability of the Bible and completely blow any chance of faith in what God has clearly presented.
I do believe! I trust that Jesus is my Lord and that He is the image of the invisible God. He reveals the Father to me. Though I don’t fully understand the doctrine of the Trinity, I believe it on faith – because it is what the Bible presents and I believe the Bible to be God’s written word. Hallelujah! God has given us His word. Amen.
And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life. 1 John 2:25
There are two great hopes for the faithful Christian. The first and preeminent hope is for us to see the beauty of the Lord and to dwell in His perfect goodness. No higher aspiration should fill the soul of the believer and no occurrence for the ages to come will compare to moment it comes. Second to that, but which is wrapped up in it, is the promise of eternal life. The promise as stated here is emphatic and it will come to pass because God “cannot lie.” (Titus 1:2).
When John says “And this is the promise that He has promised us” he may have been thinking of Jesus’ very words to him as are recorded in John 17:3 – “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” This is not only an unending existence, but is also a quality of life existence we can experience now. The reason for this is that because of the sure promise of God, we have an internal hope which can (if only we will allow it) pervade our very person.
When we fix our eyes on Jesus and what He has done, we can have every confidence that what He promises will also come about. If we consider this unmovable and sure foundation, then our lives now will also be unmovable and sure – even through trials difficulties and sadness. Let’s take a firm stand in our convictions and radiate to the world that we have a hope they should long for. We should be so content in our position in Christ that everyone who knows us will also want to know Him. May He be glorified through our hope of eternal life!
One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple. Psalm 27:4
There is no greater hope than that of seeing Your beauty, O Lord. And I know that when I do, my failings will be burnt away, leaving a soul acceptable to dwell in Your Light for all eternity. I send You my love and my highest praise this day for being the faithful God who will never fail to keep every promise! Amen.
These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.1 John 2:26
The term “deceive” here is indicating someone who would “seduce” or “lead astray” in an active sense those who are in the congregation. John uses a present participle and seems to be indicating that there was, even in the church he was addressing, those who were attempting to, but had not yet, lead members away from the sound gospel. His epistle then is not only an attempt to clarify and instill doctrine, but it is a plea to hold to it and to not be led astray by people – either in the church or in another congregation – who were actively seducing members with false teachings.
It’s important to note, especially in today’s world, that these deceivers aren’t just waiting in the shadows of the church, but are out in the open teaching heresies, false doctrines, and watered down truths right on the internet and even on Christian television. It cannot be stressed enough that if you don’t read and study your Bible you’re setting yourself up for manipulation by these people. How can you determine the truth or a lie if you don’t know how to properly analyze verses which are thrown out at you by deceivers?
Understanding the context of a verse is absolutely essential to understanding the meaning of that verse. But a false teacher knows that most people don’t know the context of the verse and therefore can throw out any verse and claim his use of it is under the authority of “the Word of God.” But guess what… this is exactly what Satan did when he tempted Jesus. He used the Scriptures in an attempt to mislead Jesus. Fortunately, Jesus knows the Scriptures far better than the devil, being the very Author of them.
It cannot be stated enough – read your Bible; study your Bible; remember your Bible so that you will be safe from the active and persistent attacks of false teachers who would lead you astray for their own evil intentions.
Jesus, I have been far too negligent in my personal study time of Your word. Give me the wise discernment to understand that the rest of the movie on the DVD can wait, the baseball scores will be posted tomorrow, the play time can be ended earlier…whatever the distraction – it is not nearly as important as studying Your precious word. Amen.
But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.1 John 2:27
John is speaking directly to believers today about the anointing they have. It’s important to review the doctrine of the Holy Spirit for this verse because great confusion about His baptism and His indwelling permeates the church. There is one baptism into the Holy Spirit, and only one. This comes the moment a person truly believes in their heart that Jesus is Lord. To see someone speak about a “Holy Spirit Baptism” of someone apart from this occurrence is to completely misunderstand what happens in the believer. Paul sums up this doctrine in Ephesians 1:13 –
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,…
Because of the baptism (seal) of the Holy Spirit, believers have received the permanent and eternal anointing. The Spirit of God - the Spirit of Christ - becomes a part of their existence. The Holy Spirit convicts us of wrong doctrine, but it doesn’t force right doctrine on us. We must follow His leading to determine truth. If we reject the leading, our doctrine will falter.
In order to ensure we stay in tune with His wishes, the second thing we must do after His baptism is to be filled – a repeatable occurrence – with Him. When we’re disobedient and sin the Holy Spirit’s filling decreases. When we live for Christ, we are filled anew. This is the working of the Spirit and it is through this process that we learn to determine truth from falsehood. The truth we learn will abide in us because of the power of God through the working of His Holy Spirit.
Thank You, O God, for the baptism of Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that You would condescend to dwell, even in me, and to lead me to all truth as is revealed in Your precious word! Fill me today and each day with Your Spirit that I will be an exemplary student in the knowledge provided in the pages of the Holy Bible! Amen.
And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 1 John 2:28
Here we begin a new section of thought with the words “and now.” Again John calls his readers his “little children” from the endearing form of the word teknia. He asks them to “abide in Him” which is certainly referring to keeping His commandments as is indicated in verse 6 and elsewhere, and living in the love previously mentioned such as in verse 10.
By living in this manner, we will abide in Jesus and we will have confidence or boldness as is implied in the Greek word parrhesian. This particular word was used to note the free citizens who lived in Athens and who were permitted to speak in the assembly with confidence about whatever was on their mind. If we live for Him in this life, we will be able to speak with complete confidence when we stand in His presence for judgment.
John ties into this confidence that we will “not be ashamed.” This says literally we will “not shrink from shame from Him.” In contrast to living for Him and in the fellowship of love, if we fail to do these things we will be just like a child caught with his hand in the candy jar. We will feel the guilt and the remorse at being caught completely unready for the glory which He intends to bestow upon us.
As the wording of the rapture which is explained by Paul indicates no set time or day it is no different than the moment of our death. It will happen when it happens and it would be good for us to be about His business when the moment occurs in our lives. Should we die doing something naughty, we will wake ashamed of our last moment on earth. Likewise, if we’re acting in an inappropriate way when He comes for His church, we certainly don’t want to be found living foolishly. As you live out your days, remember the cross of Jesus and what He endured to purchase you from this world. Live in a manner which is wholly fitting and honoring to Him.
Dear Lord, give me the sense and discernment to live properly until Your return. Let me be found living my life in a pleasing manner which will bring a smile and not shame when You call me home. This I ask that You will be glorified by the life I lead. Amen.
If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. 1 John 2:29
This verse presents a complex thought which is actually rather hard to follow. First it says, “If you know that He is righteous…” This is certainly speaking of Jesus based on the context of the preceding verse. It also makes sense because the righteousness of God should be taken as an axiom. As this is so, then this must be speaking of Jesus’ human nature and the righteousness He demonstrated, proving His character and validating His position as the Christ.
Understanding this, we can then move to the next concept – “everyone who practices righteousness.” This is a present tense verb and indicates practicing righteousness habitually or constantly. Immediately after this, John says that anyone who does practice (habitually) righteousness is born of Him. This “Him” is speaking about either God the Father or God the Son. If it is God the Father it is because He is the one who begets His children as is indicated in 1 John 5:1 and elsewhere –
“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.”
However, if this is speaking of Jesus it’s rather unique because it would be the only time in the Bible that speaks of Christ’s work as begetting. Having said this, it still makes sense because a change in this one verse from the Son to the Father seems rather cumbersome and without adequate acknowledgement of the change.
To resolve this difficulty, it’s probably best to understand that John, when referring to God and His work in relation to human beings, does so by associating it through the work of Christ. In noting the work of Christ, both in His gospel and in his epistles, John never considers Jesus’ human nature without (or apart from) His divine nature. This would then explain the immediate change in the work of “He” in the first half of the verse to “Him” in the second half.
Lord God, surely Your word gives us wonders to consider and to learn. Thank You for challenging our understanding of the Person and work of Jesus as well as the role of the Father and the Holy Spirit. May we be given eyes and understanding to properly evaluate Your word so that we don’t fall into error as we study. To Your glory!!! Amen.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 1 John 3:1
For someone who understands the nature of God, the state of fallen man, and the importance of the work of Jesus Christ, it’s immensely sad to hear non-Christians say “We’re all children of God.” This is because they fundamentally misunderstand their unhappy state in this fallen world and the wrath God feels toward sin. Were it not so, God would never have sent His Son, our Lord Jesus, to the cross. But sin necessitates such a sacrifice. There is one overlying truth about sin – Either the sin in man is judged, or the man is judged in sin.
To judge the sin in man means that a substitute took sin’s place. The only acceptable substitute is another man (animals are in a different category). But another man is unacceptable if he too has sin. Thus we see our need for Jesus – the sinless Son of God. Paul explains the transfer in 2 Corinthians 5:21 –
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
If you understand the preceding thoughts on sin, then you can taste a glimpse of John’s exuberant proclamation in today’s verse. Behold! What manner of love the Father has bestowed on us. It’s at the very edge of our ability to grasp and actually beyond our ability to fully appreciate what happened on the cross of Jesus Christ. The significance of that act is more incredible than anything else in all of time and throughout all of creation. And it occurred for a good and beautiful purpose – that we should be called children of God. Hallelujah to the Lamb of God who takes away our sin. Man need not be judged in sin, the sin in man has been judged.
I marvel at the perfection of Your glorious work, O Christ. May I never tire of telling the story of Your life, Your cross, and Your victory over death. May I never fail to proclaim Your majesty all the days of my unworthy life. To You, O God, be the honor and glory – now and forever! Amen.
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2
There is a great deal packed into this one verse. First, this speaks of our present state in Christ – “children of God.” It also speaks of our future state in Christ – “we shall be like Him.” Our present state is adoption as sons through the work of Jesus and not any meritorious action on our part. John says, “…it has not yet been revealed.” This is true in the ultimate sense. We haven’t personally seen Christ and we have (and cannot in this life) attain His sinless perfection or glorification. However, in a lesser sense, it has been revealed.
The book of Revelation is an unveiling of Jesus Christ. In the first chapters we behold his glory through the eyes and pen of John. At the end of the book, we see where we will dwell and what it will be like – all a foretaste for us of the glory to come. When we are made like Him, there won’t only be a physical change, but a spiritual change as well. This change involves purity, a sinless state, and righteousness – all spoken of in the verses ahead.
These changes, both physical and spiritual, will be fully realized at the rapture of the church. Yes, the rapture is real and is clearly laid out in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4. Even now, we are “partakers of the divine nature” as indicated in 2 Peter 1:4, but when John above says “we shall be like Him” this denotes similarity, not a completely identical state. To see the consistency of God’s word as brought to us by the various apostles, let’s review a part of what Paul describes when “we shall be like Him.” –
So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:45-49…
Take time to read the entire context of Paul’s words today. They are found in 1 Corinthians 15:35-58
Jesus, I simply can’t wait for the day that I will be like You. Amen.
And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:3
Notice how John uses the term “everyone,” or as is stated in the King James Version “every man.” When he uses this term, he’s using it in order to refute some heresy which had already begun to invade the church, even at his early time. It’s a way of saying “Every single person, and this means you guys as well,…” In other words, he’s actually addressing individuals, but making the plea in a universal way.
After making this universal appeal, he then states the reason for calling such individuals out – “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself…” This is speaking about the hope in Jesus of course. Because the plea is to the individual, but universally applied, the message it carries is universally applicable. If you hope in the One who is pure, you must also purify yourself. “Purifies” is in the present tense and therefore indicates continual purification. It’s not a one-time deal, after which one is pure always. It’s also based entirely on the hope we have in Jesus.
The idea behind the purity is that of ritual cleansing, or ceremonial purification before coming into the presence of God. This is explained in Exodus in the Old Testament and Hebrews in the New. However, this isn’t just an outward purification, but it includes the internal as well; we need to have the whole person free from defilement in this purification process. How to accomplish this purification will be dealt with in the verses to come, but it particularly deals with righteousness and love. We need to ensure we have both qualities working in an appropriate manner or we simply can’t be pure in the way we need to be. Let’s look to the words of the psalmist to see a portion of what’s needed to please God –
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully. Psalm 24:3, 4
Lord, I look to You for the necessary cleansing required to make me pure. Though I try under my own power, I will only fail. But by appealing to You and Your good and Holy Spirit filling me anew, I know that I can be purified and cleansed – an acceptable offering to You. May this be provided according to Your great wisdom! Amen.
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4
Again, it seems from the translation that John is being redundant and it’s almost hard to think this is making anything more than a repetitious point. But such is not the case. The tense of the first half of this verse indicates the idea of someone committing sin continually and as much as possible. Think of it in this way, “Everyone who sins also practices lawlessness.” It is the state of all human beings born of Adam.
We are born in sin and our state is one of actively falling short of God’s standards and committing lawlessness in a continual fashion; it is our very nature. For someone to say, “I’ve never sinned” is simply unimaginable when put in the context of our fallen nature – not just once or twice in a lifetime, but in a continual stream of sin throughout our existence.
In the second half of the verse, we have an additional confirmation of this. Because of the use of an article with both words, the term is interchangeable – sin is lawlessness and lawlessness is sin. Either way this is an apt description of the state of sin and lawlessness. The word for “sin” is what most Christians would describe as “missing the mark.” It’s as if one is shooting arrows and not hitting the target. The word for “lawlessness” points to much deeper offenses which are the purposeful and intentional violation or neglect of God’s laws.
John may have added the second half of the verse to show the recipients (and we who still receive the letter today) that we simply can’t hide from the minor offenses as if they were unimportant. They carry the same mark of rebellion against God as do the weightier matters which we attempt to avoid committing. By doing so, we think we can stand and say, “See the good life I’ve been living. The bad things I’ve done aren’t really bad at all.” Rather, the little offenses are lawlessness and rebellion just as are the big ones. They all put a wall between us and God and necessitate a sacrifice. Thank God for Jesus… our only hope from the life we’ve lived.
O God, it’s hard to imagine the displeasing life I’ve lived when I see sin for what it truly is. I can now look back on my life and see that the little things I’ve done are really much worse than I thought. I look to the cross, I cling to the cross, I thank YOU for the cross which takes away my sin… even my sin. Thank You for Jesus. Amen.
And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 1 John 3:5
Jesus came to take away our sins. The word “sins” is plural and tells us that Jesus didn’t just come in the flesh to atone for sin, but to remove the power of sin in our lives. Both are possible because of His sacrifice combined with His continued influence on our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The first action, atonement, takes away the penalty of our sin and is known as “justification.” In this action we are declared not guilty because the punishment has been meted out on our Substitute, Jesus.
The second action, taking away the power of sin in our lives, is known as “sanctification” and is, unfortunately, not pursued by many saved believers. We stand justified, but we fail to allow that justification to sink in and become a working part of who we are. It’s as if what Jesus did in our atonement was “good enough” and now we can play out our lives ever walking on the marginal line of mediocrity.
Next we read, “In Him there is no sin.” The word “is” indicates that Jesus is sinless in the whole state of His eternal existence – past, present, and future. Because He is, we are expected to remove ourselves from the presence of sin to the maximum degree possible based on our on-going process of sanctification. It is true that we can never become sinless in this life; to say otherwise is bordering on heresy, but it is also true that sin no longer has mastery over us. We should live in the Spirit continuously and make every attempt to flee from sin as we live in the presence of God.
Think it through clearly – Jesus was “manifested” to the world for the very purpose of destroying the devil’s work and allowing us to have victory over his accomplishment – the introduction of sin into the world. Why then would we serve a lesser god, who is no god at all? Instead, let us determine right now to have victory in Jesus and the work which is already finished. To the glory of God!
Heavenly Father, forgive me for not pursuing holiness and righteousness to the fullest degree possible. Give me the wisdom and mental attitude that says, “Yes, I will live for Jesus; I will have victory over the sin in my life.” And by doing so, may You receive all the glory that You are due. Amen!
Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 1 John 3:6
In order to understand what John is saying, today’s verse needs particular care, attention, and thoughtful contemplation. This thoughtful process is needed to keep from running into a theological quagmire. But this is what often occurs when it’s quoted with a misunderstanding of what the verse is actually leading us to understand. It has led individuals, congregations, and entire denominations to claim a sinless state is possible in this life.
“Holiness” doctrine refers to this type of belief and clearly finds its basis in today’s verse, even though this verse isn’t indicating such a doctrine in the first place. Such thinking sets up a contradiction in doctrine when compared with 1 John 1:8 and 1 John 2:1 which clearly teach that we have sinned, sin, and will sin until we are away from this body of flesh – thus the need for an “Advocate” as is mentioned in 1 John 2:1.
In today’s verse, both the terms “abides” and “does not sin” are in the present tense. “Does not sin” is referring to a habitual life of sin and “abides” is referring to a person who is actively living in Jesus Christ’s salvation. In other words, just because we do sin, it does not mean we cannot habitually sin. When a believer does sin, he should feel remorse and confess his actions as sin. But a person who flagrantly and continuously sins demonstrates that he hasn’t ever come to a permanent relationship with Christ Jesus; his habitual life of sin is an ever-present reminder of his unregenerate life.
Abiding in Christ and habitual sin are mutually exclusive terms and therefore such a relationship cannot exist. Therefore, someone who lives in habitual sin “has neither seen Him nor known Him.” If a person has met the risen Christ and come to the point of salvation, they are free from condemnation, but not free from the remorse that is caused by sin. If you’re living in open, rebellious sin and don’t feel convicted by your actions, you may need to rethink your salvation altogether. You very well may hear unexpected words of condemnation on the Day of the Lord’s visitation.
Lord God, I cannot deny that I sin, but when I do I know it’s wrong and that I need to turn to You in remorse, convicted of my actions which are sinful and an offense to You. Give me the desire and ability to overcome my weaknesses and to turn from any action which is contrary to the salvation Jesus wrought in my life. This I pray to Your glory! Amen.
Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 1 John 3:7
Once again, John uses the endearing term teknia for “little children.” It’s as if he’s saying, “Take care little ones and listen to my instruction, for it will keep you from harm.” This is very similar to the voice used in the first chapters of Proverbs when the father admonishes his son. Notice the similar language to today’s verse in Proverbs verses 1 and 9 of Chapter 2 –
My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you,
Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path. Proverbs 2:1 & 9
The word John uses for deceive means “to lead astray.” Again, as in the Proverb where Solomon said that by following sound advice they would understand “every good path,” so those who take John’s advice won’t go astray.
So let’s see, little children, what will keep us from wandering. John says here that “he who practices righteousness is righteous. The verb “practices” is present tense and indicates one who “habitually practices.” It is those whose deeds are aligned with their conversion in Christ that are properly demonstrating righteousness “just as” He is righteous. Christ is the standard, we are the emulators; Christ is righteous in and of Himself and we are endeavoring by continual practice to be molded into His image.
Don’t be deceived by those with an agenda contrary to the biblical model and the Role Model – who is Jesus – we are to live in God’s presence always pursuing holiness and righteousness. When we fall short, let’s make every effort to acknowledge our shortcoming and ask for forgiveness that we may again be pure.
How wonderfully glorious to know that because of Your Holy Spirit I have the ability to act righteously and please You. Now Lord, fill me with the wisdom to follow that path and to bring honor to You through careful attention to my life, conduct, deeds, and words. To Your beautiful honor I pray. Amen.
He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8
As with other verses, this one needs to be fully appreciated in the tense it’s spoken, which is the present tense – He who (continuously) sins is of the devil. This indicates a habit of life and a continual procession of active sin. This is not speaking about the sins which we as believer’s get caught up in for which we feel remorse and of which we repent. The devil has sinned from the beginning and likewise the habitual sinner lives his life as he did from his conception – under the authority of the devil.
It is Jesus who breaks the bonds of this life of sin and frees us for His good purposes. After this thought, John states the preeminent reason in all of Scripture for the coming of Jesus. The Bible makes many statements about why Jesus came such as to preach, to reveal the Father, to die on the cross, etc. However, all of these would be unnecessary if Adam didn’t fall. In other words, Jesus’ entire ministry was to restore that which was lost because of the work of the devil.
The word “destroy” is actually “loose.” Jesus’ ministry has loosed the bonds that man was held in by the power of the devil. Isaiah, speaking to the people of Israel the word of the Lord, indicates that this is what their actions and reliance on God were meant to do –
Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6
Israel was intended to be a light to the nations, but only Jesus – the true Israel – was capable of making this desire a reality. In Christ, our yokes are broken and the heavy burdens are removed.
Thank You, O God, for Jesus! Thank You that He loosed the works of the devil which had me bound with heavy chains. Now, in Christ I am free to live in Your presence and I have the assurance of eternal life ahead of me. May I never forget the great and awesome work He accomplished that I might be reconciled to you! Amen.
Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. 1 John 3:9
Notice the pattern of John’s writing – he makes basically the same statement in both a favorable and an unfavorable light. “Whoever is…does not sin” and “he cannot…because he has been.” This particular statement is adamant about the expected life of holiness that the believer is to live in and therefore intimates the obvious state of those who don’t live as mentioned.
What he says here may seem contradictory to what he said in other verses, such as 1:8 which says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” However, such a contradiction is only apparent in our English translation. The tense used in the Greek for the verses is different. The example from 1:8 tells us that we can’t claim to be sinless because we all fall and sin from time to time. The verse today tells us that we “can’t live habitually in sin and be born of God.”
The reason we can’t live in habitual sin is because “His seed remains in” us. As we were told in verse 2 of this chapter, because of Jesus Christ we are now children of God. When a child is born, he naturally takes on the characteristics of his father. This is the genetic pattern of life which was established all the way back in Genesis 1. As we are sons of Adam through the physical world, we bear the image of Adam in the physical world. Likewise, we bear his image in the transmission of sin.
However, when we come to Jesus Christ, our spiritual nature takes on the nature of God. If the marks of the physical world are so obvious that we resemble Adam hundreds of generations and thousands of years after his life, how much more will our spiritual nature resemble that of God when we move from spiritual death to spiritual life through the regeneration by the Spirit?
Should we fall away and walk in a pattern of habitual sin, the circumstances will be the same as if we fail to drink water when we thirst; we will die because of our actions. One cannot live in habitual sin without reaping the consequences of that sin. Physical death will ensue and our rewards from God will be excluded. Only our spirit will be saved on the day of the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 5:5).
Lord, as the psalmist said, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.” And so Lord, I ask that you look over me and keep me from the habitual sins which can only bring about sadness and death. Instead, let me live now in Your temple as a living stone, holy and acceptable to You. Amen.
In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:10
This is the only time in the Bible that the terms “children of God” and “children of the devil” are in the same verse. It let’s us know – with absolute and complete surety – that all humans fall into one category or the other. There is no “middle ground” and there are no “exceptions.” This may seem like an unusual revelation, but it’s not. It is the very basis of what Paul talks about several times in the New Testament. One example is in Ephesians 2:3 –
…among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
We are children of wrath by nature. Only when we come to Jesus Christ as Lord is our nature changed. It is this moment that we are “born again” as Jesus states in John 3.3. This is also a logical conclusion based on God’s curse of Adam in Genesis 3.
God told Adam in Genesis 2 that he would die on the day he ate of the forbidden fruit. In Genesis 3, Adam is cursed and removed from Eden and from fellowship with God; he died spiritually that day and that spiritual death remains in all humans, through Adam, until we move to Christ.
To “practice righteousness” is to accept the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ and thus enable victory over sin in our lives. Until we do this, we can’t attain the state necessary to be righteous because our very nature excludes what is necessary – spiritual life. The two go hand in hand and are inseparable. Either we are in Jesus and able to practice righteousness, or we are in Adam and unable to do so.
“Practicing righteousness” then is more than doing good works. It is the complete state of the person based on his position in Jesus Christ. Attempts at good works apart from Christ actually further remove us from him because they become trust in self, not in God – an amazing paradox.
Lord, I can only thank You for the gift of righteousness that came through Jesus my Lord. Without His work on my behalf, I would have remained dead in my sin and lost…a child of Your wrath. By Your infinite grace and mercy though, I am saved, saved, saved by the precious blood of Jesus. Hallelujah and amen!
For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,… 1 John 3:11
Think about the times in which the recipients of this letter lived – under the weight of the Roman Empire. The emperors were heralded as living gods and vows of allegiance to them and the complete authority of the empire was required. People living in the empire were expected to verbally acknowledge the deity of these emperors or forfeit their own lives. This very well may have been what John was thinking about as he wrote this. The Christians were desperately in need of sticking together, despite petty differences. As it says in Ecclesiastes –
Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
There is strength in numbers. More importantly, the bond of love is that which securely holds those numbers together; cementing them into one strong and impenetrable union. This is truly the message we have heard from the beginning, because love is the very state which would have kept us from all of the grief of ages past, which sustains us in the present, and is the perfect state we can anticipate for eternity future.
Listen well to the advice – We should love one another.
Most glorious Creator, You who created love…give me the ability to love others, even as You loved me. I can look to the mystery of the Trinity and see infinite and perfect love. I can look to the cross and see unimaginable love. I can look to the eyes of my Savior and see eternal love. May I reflect these examples in my love for my fellow man, and particularly my brothers and sisters in Christ! Amen.
…not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. 1 John 3:12
Enter Cain – the first human being ever born…and a murderer. The Bible records that he “was of the wicked one” meaning the devil. Jesus said elsewhere –
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. John 8:44
The devil “was a murderer from the beginning.” Jesus was indicating that it is through the work of the devil that death came into the human experience. This doesn’t mean only physical death – a result of the removal of the tree of life. It also, and more specifically, means spiritual death. This spiritual death occurred when Satan enticed Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Just as Satan is a murderer, so Cain, who followed the path of the devil, became one. John says Cain killed his brother “because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” There is a long-standing debate as to what made one’s works acceptable and the other’s unacceptable, but the debate is pointless because the Bible explains exactly why Abel’s offerings were acceptable. In Hebrews 11 we read the following –
By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. Hebrews 11:4
The offering of Abel was one of faith. The type of offering made no difference. Instead, what matters to God is that the offering then, and our offerings now, be of faith.
Lord, I pray that you will accept my offerings based on the faith I place behind them. Though I may not be rich by the world’s standards, I know that you will accept whatever amount I give when it is done with the proper attitude and in recognition of who You are and what You have already done on my behalf. Amen.
Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. 1 John 3:13
Yesterday’s verse spoke about Cain and his wickedness, leading to the murder of his brother Abel – a man more righteous than he. Today John tells them “do not marvel.” The term he uses is literally “stop marveling” and indicates that they were somehow surprised that they were being persecuted.
They had obviously been caught unaware by persecution from the nonbelievers around them. Nothing has changed since that time. The sons of disobedience who are under the devil’s power have and will continue persecuting the sons of God. When John says “if” the world hates you, he’s using it as a foregone conclusion; it is a fact and not a mere possibility. The reason faithful believers are hated is because their lives are a testimony to the fact that the unsaved are… well, unsaved.
The problem with people is that they don’t want to admit that it’s possible that God has chosen one path, and one path alone, for men to be saved. Rather, man desires to follow the desires of his heart, knowing inside that this path condemns him. But the prospect of condemnation is something no one looks forward to. And so a conflict rises which demands a choice –
1) Give up on self and trust in Jesus (with all that entails, such as giving up on one’s favorite vice or perversion), or
2) Mentally blocking out the truth of the gospel and directing anger at a God who is intolerant of their behavior.
In the case of the second option, the anger at God is directed at the people of God. If you don’t believe this, simply go to the internet and type “Christian Persecution” into your image search engine. You simply won’t believe the horrors perpetrated on faithful believers around the world – all because of the name of the One who can bring about reconciliation with God. When a believer understands the depravity of the unregenerate human heart they should in no way marvel when persecution comes. Be faithful to the Lord regardless of what you may face in the future. He has promised a far better eternal existence for those who love Him.
Thank You, O God, for Jesus! May I be willing to endure whatever it takes to remain a faithful and obedient son – bringing glory to You through His name! Regardless of what the world can do to me, I cherish above all else the title of “Christian” because it reflects my personal relationship with Jesus! Amen.
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.1 John 3:14
John returns to the previous thought of verse 10 which concerned love for the brethren. It is such an important issue in his mind (and thus in Jesus’ mind) that he goes over it again.
When he says “we,” he states it emphatically. In other words, he is contrasting believers with the world – a stark contrast in the mind of God. We “have passed” from death to life. This thought is one of moving from one place to another – something we actually have done. We have moved from darkness to light; from death to life; from the devil to God. These are not made up concepts, but each of them has been used by John to show us our new position because of our faith in Jesus.
John states this move in what is called the “perfect” tense. In other words, it’s a done deal; the action is complete and we have become united with Christ in the move. John says we know this has happened “because we love the brethren.” There is no other option than to state that this love equates to life and hate then equates with death.
The test for us then in considering the truth of our being born again is not that the world hates us. The test is whether we love the brethren. Anytime someone claims exclusivity on the road to salvation, the world will hate them. This is simply because no one wants to be left out of God’s paradise. Therefore, when anyone claims their way is the only way, they’re going to be hated. This is no guarantee of following the truth though.
Cults do it all the time and yet they are as far from God as the pagan. It is the born again believer who trusts Christ with his salvation and who has thereby come to love his fellow believers that has moved to the sphere of light and life. Despite other’s failings and idiosyncrasies, make every effort to love the brethren and be at peace with those who may be annoying. It is what God calls us to do as His saved children.
Again Lord, I feel the conviction of not loving other believers as I should. Make my heart soft and tender towards my fellow believers. Rather than demanding they change, make it me who does the changing. Give me the ability to be the one to reconcile all the petty and insignificant differences we have. This I pray for Your glory. Amen.
Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15
The word used for “murderer” in today’s verse is used only one other time in the New Testament, in John.–
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. John 8:44
Because of the terminology used in both of these verses, the term “murderer” is to be taken literally, not figuratively. Just as Cain murdered his brother, when we hate our fellow brothers, we merely need to act on our hatred. Again, in the gospel of Matthew we see that “intent of the heart” is equated with the actual deed in God’s eyes –
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. Matthew 5:21, 22
Jesus uses the same type of analogy concerning adultery, and even the Ten Commandments search the hearts for intent – such as coveting. When we have such heart problems, they inevitably lead to action. Therefore, no murderer is a regenerate soul possessing eternal life.
O God, You know that my heart treads in unsafe waters from time to time. You know the deepest secrets it holds and the depths of wickedness that I am capable of. So Lord, please keep me from allowing these thoughts and intents to grow. I know if they do, I could even act upon them, bringing great shame to Your name in other’s eyes. Guide me from this course. Amen.
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1 John 3:16
When John says “we know” love, he is using the perfect tense of the verb. In other words, he is speaking of a completed action. It’s obvious what he’s referring to – it is the cross. By this example, above all other examples, we know love. Along with this indication is the explicit comment – “He laid down His life for us.” John is confirming here what he recorded in his gospel…the very words of Jesus –
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. John 10:17, 18
Later, in the 15th chapter of John, Jesus tells us this is the greatest of all love – that a man would lay down his life for his brother. Thinking on Jesus’ words and processing it in light of the crucifixion which he personally witnessed many years earlier, John stood in complete awe of the God/Man who would demonstrate such amazing love. John’s words, in all of his writings, simply exude the love of God. For this reason, he is also particularly hard on false teachings.
Such teachings attempt to undermine the heart of what his eyes had witnessed and what his mind had thought about – complete, pure, and perfect love. And now, in his old age, John repeats to us what the Lord did and asks us to act in the same manner. He tells us that we ought also “to lay down our lives for the brethren.” This isn’t an act of removing their sins as Jesus’ was. Instead it’s a demonstration that our sins were removed and that we wish to fellowship with Jesus in His death if it means life for another. Simply amazing…simply astonishing – what a path to peace!
Lord Jesus, if it will bring You glory and if I am in the right time and place to be given the honor of laying down my life for another, let me do it without reticence or timidity, but to do it with the intent of saving that person so that he can live another day. Should my life end for this reason, then I’ll consider it an honor and a reward in itself. Amen.
But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 1 John 3:17
In the previous verse, John spoke of us laying down our lives for one another as the greatest example of love and something we should be willing to do for one another. Today, John brings another type of person into stark contrast with a person who would do lay down his life in this way – the person who won’t simply help a brother in need. In other words, dying for one another is the high and lofty goal we should set, but simply helping those around us who are truly in need is an outward demonstration of the basic sort of faith that anyone can and should possess.
The term “has the world’s goods” here speaks of someone who has the personal necessities of life to sustain him. It’s implied that what he has is enough to share with others. Next we have the term “sees his brother.” This indicates an obvious observation of the person and the dire straits he’s in. He sees him and continues to see him in this situation and yet he allows his heart to harden to that person’s unhappy situation. A person like this “shuts up his heart from him.” This indicates an intentional and perverse attitude concerning his fellow man; his brother, who is in need. Such a person fails to meet the basic description of what John terms “the love of God.”
The stated question then is not only rhetorical, but it demands a harsh answer –
Q: “How does the love of God abide in him?”
A: “It doesn’t. This man fails the basic test of demonstrating he is a child of the living God.”
Search yourself carefully and see if you pass this basic and carefully worded test. If you do, then don’t forget that there truly are those in need who can use love, assistance, and prayer. Remember to tend to them and be the type of child that God has called you to be. Do this to His glory and honor and to the praise of Jesus – the ultimate example of the love of God.
Yes, O God! I will give my best at helping those around me who are truly in need. Let my heart not be callous and cold to such people as I live my life in the abundance You have given to me. May I be willing to share what is rightfully Yours in the first place. And this I pray to Your glory and the glory of my Savior Jesus. Amen.
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18
John takes a very similar stand in today’s verse as did James in his epistle. In chapter 2 of James we read these words –
If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? James 2:15, 16
In both instances, the tongue is used to “love” the brother, but nothing is done to demonstrate the love indicated. In John’s verse, he says we shouldn’t “love in word or tongue,” and James indicates that this is completely unprofitable. It’s as if these two men were singing the same song and echoing each other as their voices rose above the false living around them. As John finishes his verse, he says to love “in deed and in truth.” You see, anyone can love in deed – “Here’s a twenty, go get something to eat.” However, they can do it without any love at all. Rather, deeds need to be backed up by real love or they’re without any true value… “You look hungry, can I get you anything to eat? And is there anything else I can do to help. I’m sorry for your troubles and I’d like to pray with you if you’d like.” As Solomon noted long ago –
Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.
Let us then love in deed and in truth and not just wag our tongues at the plight of those around us. This can be applied to both the physically and the spiritually needy. Have you taken the time to tell the poor in spirit about Jesus? Eternity is waiting for them too.
Lord Jesus, what little time I’ve actually devoted to the needy around me – both those who are physically needy and those who are spiritually living without you. Turn my heart to be one that breaks for the poor in body and in spirit and direct my steps to tend to their needs. Amen.
And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 1 John 3:19
John’s been talking about love for our brethren for quite a few verses now. He indicates that this is the test of being a true believer. When we have the ability to love our brethren as we’re supposed to, then we have the complete knowledge that “we are of the truth.” This knowledge assures our hearts before God.
The word “assure” here carries the thought of persuading or even tranquilizing our hearts…we can have completely pacified hearts when we come into God’s presence. Obviously, the opposite should be true. We should feel convicted and uneasy about our prayers and our expectation of meeting God when we fail to love our brothers in Christ as we should. It really is a double edged sword. We can overcome the guilt though by simply acting in a manner which unities us in Christ.
In the book of Hebrews, we read these words –
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
Jesus endured the same emotions and feelings as we did and so He can sympathize with us in our own weakness. If you’re struggling with the love-of-the-brother issue, then go boldly to the throne of grace and ask God to help you with it. Tell Him you need a spiritual tune up and a change in heart about the brother you’re at odds with. When you do this, your heart will be assured before Him – tranquilized and at complete rest in His peaceful presence.
Thank you Lord, that I can come boldly into your presence to find help this matter. I do struggle with loving some fellow Christians and I know the wall it sets between me and you, but when I come to You for the purpose of settling this difference, the door is open and You are there to help me. Thank You for this my Lord. Amen.
For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 1 John 3:20
Today’s verse needs to be looked at in connection with the two previous verses –
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 1 john 3:18-20
“For” or “because” if our hearts condemn us…. Maybe we’re being too harsh on our fellow brothers. Or maybe we’re being too soft on them. Either way, our heart – our conscience – is condemning us because of it. Have you ever overly accused a fellow Christian of something and later felt remorse at it? Or on the other hand, have you seen a fellow Christian doing something and not been harsh enough on them. If so, maybe later you felt your conscience attacking you over it.
But maybe you handled the matter exactly as you should have and you’re not even sure about that. In all three of these cases, God is greater than our heart (and our actions which condemn our heart.) He knows all things and looks inside of us, knowing what our true intent was and the love that our action was intended to be carried out with.
Because He knows us, even better than we know ourselves, He is there approving of the correct attitude of the heart, even if the appropriateness of the action we took is uncertain to us. Have confidence that He knows your heart and your intent and is there to soothe you when you talk to Him about such things. Just like the closest of friends (and even more) He has an ear for our thoughts. Don’t be afraid to talk to Him about them
Thank you Lord, for knowing me even better than I know myself! Thank you for listening to the trials of my heart as I walk uncertainly in some of the actions I take. You peer deep inside and know the very motives for the things I do and so I know I can trust that You are dealing in the fairest way towards me. I love You Lord. Amen.
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 1 John 3:21
We talked about this yesterday – “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” Today we see the opposite, following the pattern of how John writes. This is known as a fortiori argument, meaning for “with even stronger reason.” Such is a situation in which if one thing is true then how much more will a second thing be true?
1) If our heart condemns us, God is greater then our heart;
2) If our heart doesn’t condemn us, how much more then will we have confidence before God!
We have complete intimacy towards God in our prayers, in our relationship, in our position in Christ. In this verse are the words pros ton theon which are translated as “toward God.” These are the same words used in John 1:1 where it states “the word ‘was God.’” It reflects and intimacy as if you were standing face to face with the Lord. Taking all this in, we can infer that when we act, live, pray, etc., we should do it with a pure conscience and in a manner that keeps our heart from condemning us in the things we do. When we live this way, we have a special confidence that allows us complete comfort and even a sense of restful peace as we live in His presence. As it says in Acts 17:28 –
“…for in Him we live and move and have our being…”
Because we live in the presence of God; because our actions are in the presence of God; and because our very existence is in the presence of God, when we have pure hearts and an undefiled conscience, we have a confidence and assurance which is unshakeable. However, let’s think back to what it’s like when we don’t possess these qualities. When they’re lacking, we have the ever-present reminder that we are still in His presence and He’s aware of the things we are doing, even apart from His will. Let’s endeavor to be in His will and have confidence towards Him.
Lord, what peaceful assurance we have when we are living in Your will and conducting our lives in a manner pleasing to You. Remind us by convicting our consciences of our need to live in a way which is pure and undefiled all times. We pray this knowing that You will do more than we ask or imagine. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 1 John 3:22
Today’s verse is one of great expectation for the believer and yet it can also be one of great misunderstanding and even abuse. John clearly states that “whatever we ask we receive from Him.” This is a wonderful promise that God hears every prayer and that none are left unattended. However, it is not without conditions attached to it. The words “keep” and “do” are both in the present tense. The believer who receives must first give. He must give of himself by actively keeping God’s –
1) Commandments – those things which are explicitly named in the Bible as expected of believers. These are not options.
2) Those things pleasing in His sight – these are the general things that are implicitly taught in the Bible and that lead to a whole, rounded, and faithful walk in Christ.
If we don’t act faithfully on His commandments and if we don’t do what’s pleasing in the sight of the Lord, then how can we expect to receive “whatever we ask from Him?” Can we expect this from our parents? Can we expect it from a business when we go shopping? Can we expect it from our government agencies? Of course not! Unless we do as we’re asked or told, no one will fulfill our wishes.
And finally (and just as important) – we cannot expect “whatever we ask” if it is not in accord with His will. It is faithless at best to demand anything of God. He is in heaven and we are on earth. When God doesn’t give us what we ask for directly, it’s because He has given us what is best for us indirectly. He has responded according to His glory and according to our needs, both realized and unrealized by us. He knows what they are even if we don’t.
Lord Jesus, may I never claim anything in Jesus’ name, but rather may I humbly ask for “whatever I ask” knowing that You will respond according to my obedience and according to Your glory. Forgive me if I’m faithless and make the correction in me, that I may be a pleasing vessel ready for Your use. Amen.
And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. 1 John 3:23
This is it – this very well may sum up the expectation of the Christian as well as any other verse in the New Testament. First we are to believe on the name of Jesus Christ. The tense of the verb used indicates the initial conversion of a believer. This requirement is stated by Paul in Romans 10:9, 10 –
“…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Believing on the name of Jesus means believing on everything His name represents in the context of “Lord.” Jesus is our God united with human flesh. He is able to save us, freeing us from our sin debt. He is able to continue to save us despite ourselves, etc. In other words, He is all-sufficient. Secondly, after believing, we are to “love one another as He gave us commandment.” Jesus repeated this commandment twice in the Gospel of John – in verse 13:34 and in verse 15:12 –
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Love for other Christians is to be the defining characteristic of the faithful…let’s live as if we believe it truly is the case!
Lord Jesus, it was some time ago that I believed; I trusted in You with all my heart for my salvation. Since that time, I’ve not always been faithful and I’ve not loved my fellow Christians as I ought to have. Forgive me of this and lead me to the point of loving them, even as You love me. To Your glory I pray, Amen.
Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. 1 John 3:24
It’s important to keep this verse in the context given which is speaking of belief and love as the overarching commandments (see verse 23). If we follow these two commandments after saving faith, then we abide in Him and He abides in us. This is not speaking about the Old Testament law in any way, shape, or form, but far too often people re-insert the OT Law into verses like these and cause mountains of confusion for faithful Christians.
The Law of Moses and in fact the entire Old Testament law is set aside in Christ. This is mentioned specifically four times in the book of Hebrews; it is obsolete –
In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. Hebrews 8:13
When this verse was written, the temple was still standing, so the words “becoming obsolete” were used. In a few years after it was written, the temple was destroyed and only worship under the New Covenant remained. If you’re in a church that mandates any Old Testament concept – Sabbath Day observance; tithing; etc, then you should discuss this matter with the church and determine why they are clinging to that which is unprofitable. Instead, the Lord asks us to worship in “spirit and in truth.”
Let us endeavor to fulfill His commandments – believing and loving – and not grieve the Holy Spirit by trying to reintroduce that which has been set aside by the glorious work of Jesus our Lord.
Yes Lord – I will endeavor to live faithfully and love wholeheartedly. I do this because it’s what you desire of me. May my life be a testament to You and Your work and not an attempt to purchase that which You have already paid for. To Your honor and glory I pray. Amen.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
Here we see the antithesis of verse 3:24, which is the Holy Spirit, as John brings in false prophets and their wayward spirit. As he often does, he uses the antithetical method to strike real contrasts to help us understand the truth. Just as light and darkness are opposing forces, so the Holy Spirit is opposed to the spirit of falsehood.
When he says “do not believe every spirit” the literal translation is “stop believing.” In other words, he was countering a person or persons who were at that time presenting false truths to his audience. However, this still applies to us today – “Stop believing every spirit…” Unfortunately, it’s in our nature to want to believe the sensational or exciting. Because of this, it’s incredibly easy to get drawn into deceit and lies. This is especially true when we don’t know our doctrine well.
People give a great deal of their money and effort to people who don’t say anything of value from the Bible. Instead, they manipulate choice verses and give promises of blessing while filling their own coffers. If you’re ever tempted to send someone money because you can “reap a harvest” then you’ve been deceived. If you believe you can be healed by someone over the telephone after “sowing a seed” then you’ve been deceived. If you believe someone has accurately picked the date of the second coming of Christ, then you’ve been deceived. These things should be obvious, but it’s much easier to believe a lie filled with hope than it is to believe the truth which delays that hope – even if it’s in God’s good timing to do so.
Remember that “false prophets” are simply “false teachers.” They are instructing in that which is a lie; manipulating the truth for their own benefit. You are responsible for your own doctrine, so never take anyone’s interpretation of the Bible at face value. Rather, go and research it for yourself. This is noteworthy and yet is what’s expected in the believer.
Heavenly Father, give me a wise and discerning heart concerning the things relating to You and Your word. Help me not to be drawn in by a teacher who has a hidden motive that isn’t in line with the gospel of Jesus. Instead, help me to discern that which is right and that which is wrong so that my time and resources will be properly dedicated to You. Amen.
By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,… 1 John 4:2
One thing that we can be completely sure of is that if the Bible says something, then nothing will contradict what it says and still be of the Spirit of God. This is an important axiom to remember because churches and Christians ascribe a ton of things to the workings of the Holy Spirit which clearly can’t be such. Instead, they’re the fanciful dreams of people – meant for good or for harm. A very good case in point is the speaking of tongues.
Paul gives very specific guidelines for the speaking of tongues in his letter to the Corinthians. This was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and therefore, any “speaking of tongues” in a church which doesn’t adhere to those guidelines is only made up drama and not a working of the Spirit. Are the tongues translated? Are the tongues spoken one at a time? Do no more than three people speak in tongues during the service? If these three (and other) requirements aren’t met, then this wasn’t an act of the Holy Spirit – it was an invention of the person in an attempt to gain attention.
Likewise, when a pastor, teacher, etc. confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, then he has passed one of the basic tests necessary to be considered sound in his message. It isn’t the only test, but it is a necessary one. “Confess” means to openly acknowledge this truth. Unless this is done, no confession has been made. The mode of the confession is “in flesh” with no article demonstrating the completeness of what occurred. And what John says is in the perfect tense (is come) and therefore indicates Jesus’ incarnation is permanent. No one can speak truth about Jesus unless he confesses that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, that He is fully God and fully man, and that this incarnation is permanent. The permanence means He wasn’t resurrected in spirit only, but bodily. Likewise, this resurrected body is eternal in nature.
Listen carefully and make sure these points are acknowledged as truth.
Heavenly Father, may I never stray from the words of the Bible into things which are either sensational or detracting from its truth. Instead, give me wisdom into Your word so that I won’t be foolish in my worship or duped in my beliefs about the Person and work of Jesus my Lord. To Your glory I pray this! Amen.
…and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. 1 John 4:3
An actual translation of the first part of this verse would read, “Every spirit who is of such a kind as not to confess…” It’s stated in a negative form rather than a positive. John is drawing lines in the sand with his theology. His use of “confess” is in the present tense and, as has been the case many times in this letter, is speaking of a person who does not actively and consistently follow through with an action. In this case, it is to confess that Jesus has come in the flesh. Sure, anyone can say Jesus is God incarnate to impress an audience, but he can also be speaking a complete lie. If he truly believes this is so, he will continue to confess it and live in such a manner that he believes it’s really the case.
Another interesting point is that there is a definite article before “Jesus.” In essence its saying “…does not confess that the Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” Why would John do this? It’s because there were, there are now, and there will continue to be people who claim faith in Jesus, but it is not the same Jesus described in the Bible. They are proclaiming a “false Jesus.”
If you’ve studied Mormon theology, you’ll see that they believe something entirely different about Jesus than that of biblical Christianity; they are professing a false Jesus – a Jesus which is of the spirit of the Antichrist. Islam denies that Jesus is God incarnate and is therefore of the spirit of the Antichrist. This is the test John lays out so clearly.
Either one teaches that Jesus Christ is fully God, clothed in human flesh, or they are under the control of the spirit of the Antichrist. Be attentive to this – John could not have been any clearer in his presentation. We are expected to believe this as a fundamental truth of our faith. To deny Jesus as coming in the flesh means one has never called on the Jesus of the Bible and their condemnation remains.
Heavenly Father, though I struggle with the concept of the incarnation, I accept it as truth by faith in You and in Your word. Thank You for sending Jesus to reveal You to us in a way in which we can comprehend. What a wonderfully magnificent Creator You are! Amen.
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4
The word “you” here is plural and refers to all of the recipients who have rejected the false prophets and influence of the devil; the spirit of the Antichrist. It also includes us if we hold fast to the teaching of Jesus.
Again, as he has so tenderly done in the past, John calls his audience “little children” using the Greek word teknia. His little children have “overcome them” meaning the false prophets and the spirit of the Antichrist spoken of in verses 1 through 3. He states this in the perfect tense meaning that they overcame them in the past and continue to do so. The action is complete to this point, but his letter is one of warning for believers.
We need to continue into the future with our eyes on Jesus and our hearts and minds on the things of God lest we get swept up into false doctrine and false belief. Standing fast in sound doctrine was, is, and will be possible because “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” Although the “He” isn’t specified in these verses, it is referring to the Holy Spirit. This is certainly the case for several reasons –
1) Verse 3:24 speaks of the Spirit given to us by God.
2) After this was mentioned John speaks of testing the spirits and continues with the contrast between the Spirit of God and the spirit of the Antichrist.
3) It is the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, fills us, and leads us into all righteousness.
Because we are indwelt with the Spirit of God, we have the power to resist and overcome the devil, but we can’t be filled with the Spirit if we are disobedient to the Word of God. Further, we can’t be filled with the Holy Spirit if we don’t comply with the acknowledgment of Jesus. Nor can we be filled with the Spirit if we fail to accept Jesus’ authority. Being filled with the Spirit then is not an emotional state in any way, shape, or form. Instead, it is a state brought on by obedience and then opening up to the Sovereignty of God in our lives.
Thank You my Lord for the Gift of Your Holy Spirit – that He indwells me and will, when I am obedient, lead me to all righteousness. Because of His power in me, I am able to overcome the false prophets, the spirit of the Antichrist, and even the work of the Devil himself! What an honor that I have such a close and powerful Friend in my times of need! Amen.
They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.1 John 4:5
John returns to his mode of making contrasts. Yesterday he said, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” Today he makes a bold distinction –
Of God/of the world
True believers in Jesus Christ are of God and in contrast false prophets and those who listen to them are of the world. They are sons of the Devil and the system he employs. The world in which they live and fellowship is the source of their speech even if it isn’t necessarily the subject matter they teach.
In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul equates all people as sons of Adam and “of the dust.” But he says that the believers who bore the likeness of Adam will also bear the likeness of the “heavenly Man,” that is Jesus Christ.
The people John speaks of today were and remain sons of Adam. Just as Adam believed the lies of the devil, so these people continue to follow in the same lies. Any teaching contrary to the Bible is a part of this system, but specifically denying the manifestation of Jesus as coming in the flesh is what John is speaking of. Their denial, whether explicit or implicit, is of the world and the world rejoices in hearing them.
Accountability to the true God is thrown out the window so that the deeds of darkness and wickedness can abound. Take time today to evaluate your stand on the Person of Jesus – it is through Him that we are granted eternal life and fellowship with the Creator; nothing else will do. Stand firm on the faith which leads to eternal life!
Lord God, keep me from the influence of those who speak from the system of the world, but whose hearts are cold to You and the wonderful message of reconciliation through the blood of Jesus. May You be praised for bringing about this glorious restoration! Amen.
We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:6
When he says “we are of God,” John is referring to himself and the other apostles who are speaking the truth of God’s message. It’s actually kind of nuts to think otherwise when John was one of the apostles who lived with, saw, felt, heard, and learned from Jesus.
If someone were proclaiming a false message, all they needed to do was to talk to John about what was and what wasn’t true. He is the messenger for Jesus and therefore whoever “knows God” listens to him and his message (including the letter which he is writing and which is included in the pages of the Bible for our benefit.) Likewise, to know who is not of God, just look at who rejected John and the other apostle’s message (and those who teach it falsely today.)
This isn’t difficult and it doesn’t take a degree in theology to figure out. When someone teaches or preaches what is right from the Bible, he is teaching based on the spirit of the truth. When he isn’t, he is teaching from the spirit of error. If there’s disagreement, then all we need to do is go to the Bible and read which is right and which is wrong.
It should never cease to amaze us that those televangelists who promise blessings, healings, and miracles get any support at all. Instead of prospering by receiving gobs of money, people should be checking out their teachings against the Bible. There we can see that they take Scripture entirely out of context and misapply it for financial gain. And yet they keep getting richer and those who listen to them keep finding themselves in the same unhappy circumstances. This is also the case with other false teachings – things which are unprofitable and yet which flourish because tingling ears are deep wells of uncertainty.
The best part of waking up shouldn’t be what’s in your cup, but it should be the time you spend in your Bible. Make every effort to know and cherish this incredible gift of God.
Give me wisdom, O God, into the vast riches of Your word. Keep me from error and being deceived by people with unsound agendas. Instead, give me right reasoning concerning those things which are profitable in Your eyes and which will bring You glory! This is my heart’s prayer today. In Jesus’ name... Amen.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7
This verse marks a sudden change in the overall topic being discussed. John starts with “beloved” indicating those who have experienced the great love he’s about to discuss and which comes through faith in the work of Jesus Christ. This action results in adoption as sons of the Living God. He previously mentioned love as a test of faith – such as in 3:10-24 – but now he’s explaining the logic behind this claim. It’s because everyone born of God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ knows God. To know God is to know the complete expression of love because God loves infinitely.
In the first part of this verse, John says “let us love.” This indicates continual practice, not just a one time or a fleeting occurrence. Rather, it should reflect everything we do, think about, and to all with whom we fellowship in the Body of Christ. Just as this love is from God and therefore it gives evidence of a sound relationship with Him, in the same way our love should give evidence of a sound relationship with those around us.
The way John terms “born of God” indicates a completed action. Through God we have been begotten and we remain his child eternally. As is taught clearly and without exception, the doctrine of eternal salvation is referred to here. One is born of God and is forever a child of God. The only thing we can expect from backsliding and waywardness is a loss of joy in this life and a loss of eternal rewards in the next.
When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, let us be found acceptable as sons and daughters of the One who adopted us into His eternal kingdom.
Because love stems from You and because You are the source and meaning of true love, fill me with Your love O God so that it will overflow to those around me. May my life be a demonstration of the love which is possible when a person understands the enormity of what You have done for us in the Person of Jesus. Amen.
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:8
John makes specific points about the nature of God in his writings. What he says in his points cannot be mistaken (although they can be twisted by perverse thinking) and his clarity in them gives us real and valid insights into our Creator. Today’s verse is the third of its kind. The other two come from John 4:24 and 1 John 1:5 –
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:24
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5
God is Spirit; God is light; God is love. These statements tell us that they are not qualities of God which he merely possesses, but they are statements about His very nature and being. Taking today’s verse then in its proper context, we can now see why he says, “He who does not love does not know God.” How can one be acquainted with God – who is by His very nature Love, and yet not possess the very quality defined by that acquaintance? It’s not possible as John so clearly points out; this person is cut off from God.
It’s interesting to note that there is an article which precedes “God” but not one preceding “love.” What this means is that the statement is not reversible. We cannot say “Love is God.” God’s nature is love, but we cannot limit Him to only love. God is the embodiment of love, but love is not the embodiment of God. It would be inappropriate to attempt to state it is, so we need to be careful not to make this error as we think on His nature.
Of one thing I am sure, O God – You are Love. When I look to the cross of Jesus and reflect on the marvelous majesty of His great work, I can see Love in a way which transcends all other things. Knowing this about You allows me to revel even more in Your glory. May I never forget that You are Love! Amen.
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:9
This verse, like others from John, is reminiscent of John 3:16 –
For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
It’s important to remember that the term “begotten” and not “one and only,” as many modern translations state, is the correct term to use. The reason for this is more than translational from the Greek, but it is scriptural based on Exodus 4:22 – “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son, My firstborn.” God has more than one son – in several contexts. Israel is called God’s “firstborn son.” We are also sons of God through adoption. Therefore, the term “one and only” is entirely incorrect. Additionally, the Greek supports “begotten.” Jesus was generated of the Most High and the power of the Holy Spirit through Mary and He is unlike any other. Because of these points, it is far preferable and proper to use the term “begotten.”
John begins with “In this…” This is referring to sending His Son and therefore everything else here is based on that. Next he mentions “the love.” The article which precedes “love” then isn’t referring to a general love, but the specific love, one which is particular to that demonstrated in the work of Jesus. In the next thought, John says “God has sent His only begotten Son into the world.” This is an action that was performed in the past, but it has continuing results for us today – that we might “live through Him.” Because of the great love God has for the people of the world, He sent Jesus Christ to restore us to true and spiritual life and to grant us eternal life – free from the trials, troubles, and temptations of this world. Let us never forget this great and awesome love, demonstrated at the cross of Calvary!
How tender and precious it is to be called a son of God because of the work of Jesus! I can now call you Father in a way which was never possible before. Thank You, thank You O God for the wondrous and extravagant love You have for us! Glory, honor and majesty – they belong to You alone! Amen.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10
In this is love – that God loved us and sent Jesus. But even more, the word love is preceded by an article “the love.” This indicates the very nature of God. His love simply is – it doesn’t increase or decrease, but it is constant, complete, and perfect.
In contrast to this perfect love is John’s statement, “not that we loved God.” The “we” is stressed showing that our love is lacking, but despite this God’s is more than sufficient. The contrast couldn’t be any clearer. While we are looking out for ourselves and never considering God in our little world, God never forgets His creatures and loves them regardless of how we have considered Him.
Our lack of love resulting in sin has caused a rift between us though and that rift needs to be mended. And so God sent Jesus to be “the propitiation for our sins.” The word “propitiation” means satisfaction. Jesus is the one who restores felicity between God and man when we accept His work. Interestingly enough, the Greek word for “propitiation” is the root of the word used to describe the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant. In other words, this lid on which blood was sprinkled was a picture of the body of Christ.
Seven times, the high priest would sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat on the Day of Atonement. This pictured the seven times Jesus shed His own blood for us – first in the Garden of Gethsemane, then when He was beaten and bruised, the third time was when they placed the crown of thorns on His head, the fourth when he was flogged, the fifth when his hands were nailed, the sixth when His feet were nailed, and finally when a spear was thrust into His side. This shedding of His blood, which was prefigured in the temple rituals, is what has restored us to God. Think on this today, the perfection of what God has done for us through Jesus!
O God, that You would send Jesus for me – it’s more than I can imagine. What a great and splendid love You possess to restore me to You through the blood of Christ! May I never forget the majesty of this act and may I never fail to proclaim it to others! Restoration and life are available because of Jesus. Hallelujah and Amen!
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11
Earlier in this chapter John was speaking of false teachers and the spirit of the Antichrist. In verse 7 though, he changed his direction to speaking of love. But the two ideas he’s built upon are not disconnected. If we go back and look at the entire chapter thus far and then evaluate today’s verse in context, we can see where John has made love out to be a moral obligation. He uses the term “beloved” meaning he is speaking to believers and more than likely is contrasting his thoughts with non-believers.
He then says “if” but the term here is assuming the truth of the coming statement – “If God so loved us.” Right in the middle of this assumption of truth is the word “so.” This two-letter word is calling to remembrance the great and exalted actions of verses 9 and 10 –
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
If this is so (and John confirms it is), “then we also ought to love one another.” So think it through clearly. When John uses the term “ought” he is placing on each of us a moral obligation – because God/so ought we. Now that we can see that, we can complete the picture by comparing the false teachers of verses 1-6.
John’s contrast is against them and whatever perverse teaching they employed which held to no moral absolute. They had teaching without heart; doctrine with no purity; and instruction without morality. Be attentive to such teachers and hold to the strict and pure gospel of Jesus - the gospel which builds love upon love and which exalts the work of Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father, just as You sent Jesus to reconcile us to You, so also give me a change of heart that I may be reconciled to those with whom I am at enmity. May You be glorified as I act in a manner which brings about complete harmony between myself and those around me. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray, Lord. Amen.
No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 1 John 4:12
It could be that when you read this chapter and come to today’s verse, it may seem out of place. But instead, it’s actually extremely well positioned. It’s giving us insight into how God may be known both in and to the believer. Despite this, it’s a rather difficult verse to fully understand without careful thought.
The original Greek places “God” in the emphatic position and there is no definite article in front of His mention. The actual reading is “God no man has seen at any time.” It is stated this way in order to show the very nature of His being – that He is spirit. This is a concept demonstrated in both the Old and the New Testament and brings us to a very important point about people who claim to have “visions” where they see God…they are either liars or nuts. No one has ever seen God – at any time.
The Old Testament visions of God, known as theophanies, were visions of God in the sense that they came from God – not that they were actually seeing God. Apparently, at John’s time (and which continues until today) people were claiming to have seen God and had received special insights and knowledge from Him. John, however, is denying their claim – such people have left the boundaries of truth and have headed off into unsound areas of boasting.
What John is saying is that because no one has seen God, we can only know that He abides in us by the love we demonstrate. This is the “vision of God” which demonstrates His presence. If we love each other, then He abides in us and His love (the love He demonstrated in His Son Jesus) has been perfected in us. This is the true and clear revelation of God. Don’t be fooled into believing people who have deluded themselves with anything else!
O God, what more could we ask in this life than to see You as demonstrated in true love and faith? When believers are at harmony with each other and completely sold out to You, isn’t this a surer testimony of Your presence than any supposed vision? Yes! Because everyone can share in it – not just a select few, but all of Your chosen people! Amen.
By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 1 John 4:13
“By this…” John often uses this term to open the door to his coming thought. Today it’s to tell us how we know that the reciprocal relationship between us and God truly exists – “because He has given us of His Spirit.” But this isn’t just an introduction into something new. Rather, it’s building upon what he stated yesterday which said, “No one has seen God at any time.
If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” John is a master of the pen and builds carefully and precisely each argument and each point. In fact, he is so careful and so intentional, that his thoughts weave into a colorful tapestry. Each point overlaps above and below each previous and subsequent point.
Had John said, “No one has seen God at any time…” and stopped, we would be left wondering how we could know God at all. But we aren’t left in that untenable situation. Instead he tells us that love is one way of knowing Him. Another is because “He has given us of His Spirit.” This doesn’t mean we receive an actual slice of the Holy Spirit, but rather we receive gifts as He apportions them and we receive His indwelling – which is a seal of ownership.
As the Wycliffe Bible commentary states, “A believer can never obtain more of the Holy Spirit, for he indwells the Christian’s life in all his fullness. But the Holy Spirit can get more of the believer; that is, he can exercise complete control of the life that is yielded to him.” This thought is confirmed by Jesus’ own words –
…for God does not give the Spirit by measure. John 3:34
We are given the fullness of the Spirit, but we often fail to give the Spirit the fullness of ourselves. Yield your life, your actions, you very soul to the Spirit of God and you will live in complete harmony with your God!
Lord God, that You would send Your Spirit to dwell in me is simply amazing. I stand in awe of the work You did and continue to do on our behalf. Thank You for Jesus and His work which allowed this close and personal relationship. All glory to God! Amen.
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 1 John 4:14
Let’s revisit 1 John 1:1, 2 for a moment –
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—
Just as he did at the beginning of the letter, and elsewhere in his writings, John testifies that he has seen the physical manifestation of Jesus Christ. Remember that during chapter 4, John has been speaking of error in those who claim falsities about God, the Spirit, and related doctrine. Then just a couple verses ago, he says that “no one has seen God.” He is quite clear that people who claim to have seen God in visions are false teachers and liars. But what God has done is to reveal Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, His Son.
The word of Jesus is the work of God in the physical world we live in. And this work… as glorious as it could possibly be! It is the work of salvation through the “Savior of the world.” Jesus is the one who saves us from the work of the devil and from the fallen state we’re in. Should you be suffering in pains, trials, financial troubles, family troubles, or in any other way, remember that these things are temporary.
The world and its system are passing away and Jesus will herald in a new order of things which will completely remove all of these woes and replace them with eternal and complete joy. John testifies to what the whole Bible proclaims – that God loves us and has a great plan and purpose for us if we will only allow Him to fulfill it in our lives. He won’t override our free-will choices, so it’s up to us to bend the knee and submit to the work He has accomplished for us. What a great, tender, and loving God!
The choice is ours and the work is done! Call on Jesus and anticipate a glorious eternity in His marvelous light.
Marvelous indeed is the Lord Jesus! O God, thank You for Your wonderful plan and purpose for my life. Not because I somehow merit Your favor, but because of Your infinite love and mercy. And I accept both willingly. May my eyes never stray from the Prize, which is Jesus my Lord! Amen.
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 1 John 4:15
Yesterday we saw that Jesus is “the Savior of the world.” Yes, this is true and He is the One that can bring salvation; no other name will do. But this in no way implies universalism. Jesus is not the Savior to everyone in the world, despite being the Savior of the entire world. There is a requirement for this salvation to be realized. This requirement is consistently stated in the Bible – faith in Jesus.
Today John says, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God…” This is the vehicle of salvation, but faith is the gas which makes the car run. In other words, anyone can say “Jesus is the Son of God,” but not really mean it. Tied into this confession is the sincere belief that it is true. Also tied into it is what’s implied in the confession. “Son of God” means exactly that, Son of God.
If God is God and God has a Son, then the Son of God carries the very nature of His Father – He is fully God. Likewise man is man. If Jesus was born into humanity, then the Son of Man carries the very nature of humanity – He is fully Man. The confession that Jesus is the Son of God is a confession about the very nature of the Person, and it is a confession based on faith. This isn’t complicated, but it is so enormously twisted by cults – Gnostics, Arians, Mormons, etc. that the concept no longer carries the same meaning intended by the Holy Spirit who authored Scripture.
This shouldn’t be difficult for us to grasp, but it carries eternal consequences. If you’re struggling with Jesus’ nature, pray to the Lord and ask Him to clear this up in your thinking. God has given you all the necessary information and wants you to process it properly. When you do, God abides in you and you in God.
Lord Jesus, I confess that You are the Son of God – born of God and bearing the very nature of Your Father. You came in human flesh to give us restoration so that we can now call on Him as our Father! Thank You for this glorious work and may Your name be praised for all eternity! Amen.
And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16
It may seem a bit repetitious as John speaks almost the same thing today as he did in verses 14 and 15, but there is a difference. Let’s quote them and see –
(14) And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. (15) Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
In verse 14, John says “have seen and testify.” In this case he was certainly speaking of his personal testimony and that of the other apostles. They were first-hand witnesses of the Son.
In today’s verse he says “have known and believed.” In this case, he’s speaking of himself and his audience. Through the apostolic testimony, there is the ability to both know and have faith in the great display of love that God demonstrated for us. Then, for a second time, John repeats that God is love. Because He is, and because it is His very nature, then anyone who lives in that love must also abide in Him; the two are inseparable. And if we abide in Him, then because of the nature of the relationship, He also abides in that person. There is a bond which is intimately woven together and which is complete and unspoiled – the bond of the perfect love, which is God.
Because we share in that perfect love, it should then be the very mark of our lives as Christians. Although we are bound by our physical bodies, we can still strive to demonstrate God’s love in our lives and in our actions. Let’s determine to do so to testify to the world that God truly abides in us and that we abide in Him.
Lord Jesus, help me to be the proper and loving example of the Christian faith that You would have me be. It’s not an easy walk at times, but I truly wish to reflect Your love – the infinite love. Give me that ability so that others can see You in me and desire that same love for themselves. Thank You for hearing my prayer, O God. Amen.
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 1 John 4:17
In our verse today John says, “Love has been perfected in us…” This is not referring to absolute perfection in love, but rather a state of complete love or full development of our love. We know this because John says “that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment.” The fact that we will face the Day of Judgment implies completion, not perfection.
Our love is complete or fully developed in that we can be certain that on the Day of Judgment God will look upon us in favor and not condemnation – all because of our proclamation of faith in Jesus. Paul explains that we are free from condemnation in the book of Romans –
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1
So, we are free from condemnation, but we must still face judgment. Again, Paul explains why –
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10
Though we have fully developed love because of our faith in Jesus, we still fall short in our daily walk and in our Christian life. The better our deeds during this time, the greater our rewards when we face the Judgment Seat of Christ.
John concludes the thought with, “as He is, so are we in this world.” Just as God is love, we are now included in that perfect love of God when we belong to Him. Our love is complete in the work of God through His Son, Jesus.
What a bargain – call on Jesus and receive eternal life! And thrown in with this is the complete and full love of God; promises of rewards; and freedom from any possibility of condemnation. What a supremely glorious Creator You are! All hail the Lord God Almighty! Amen.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
Let’s review yesterday’s verse and today’s verse as a single unit to see what John’s intent is –
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
What he’s telling us is that as we have boldness when judgment day comes because of the love which is us, there should be no fear as we wait on that coming day.
As Christians, we’re expected to know the perfect love of Jesus Christ. If God sent Jesus to the cross to pay the debt we owe and to execute the torture we deserve, then the payment has been made and the punishment has been meted out – it’s over. The cross is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us because it involved the torment of Jesus in our place. This perfect demonstration of love has removed the anxiety from us and where anxiety is removed all fear should also be done away with.
John next says, “But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” If you’ve accepted Jesus Christ, but not completely comprehended what this means, your full realization of God’s love is still incomplete and this is the reason why you have fear when you sin… “O, I hope I don’t lose my salvation;” “O, I just know God will send me to hell for what I did;” “O, how could God ever forgive me for that?” All these involve fear and demonstrate you lack the fullness of God’s love in your Christian walk.
Jesus has (past tense) forgiven you for your sins when you call on Him. Your judgment can never lead to condemnation, only a loss of rewards.
Jesus, I struggle with sin in my life and I struggle with the thought that my sin is really under Your blood. I want so desperately to understand the doctrine of eternal salvation – completely and absolutely. I know that as the light is shed on this, that all fear will truly be cast from my mind. Thank You for being patient with me as I grow in You. Amen.
We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19
Just in case your Bible translates this differently and leaves off “Him,” it’s because some ancient manuscripts don’t include that word. In this case, it would read “We love, because He first loved us.” This isn’t a point which affects doctrine, so we’re going to evaluate it as is translated in the New King James Version which includes “Him.”
The tense of the verb “loved” signifies an action that occurred. Of course we know what that action was – the cross of Jesus Christ. We love God because He demonstrated His love to us in the Person of Jesus. As amazingly incomprehensible as it is, God united with human flesh – His creation – and walked among us, demonstrated holiness and perfection among us, and then willingly endured the cross in front of us. All of this was done to signify the immense love of God. There is simply no other explanation and anyone who would attempt to lessen the significance of the cross is worse than a demon.
Those who attempt to connect the cross with material blessing, financial gain, prosperity, status, or any other thing have a perverse streak in them which is a complete departure from the Christian faith. The cross signifies our reconciliation with God and our sins removed. Therefore our goal and desire should be to bring honor to Him and fellowship with other believers. We are free from enmity with God and we are able to love Him intimately, just as He first demonstrated His intimate love for us.
What a story! What a Savior! What a God. He is the Father that never fails, the Papa who protects, the Daddy who delivers. Set aside time today to simply walk and talk with this wonderful Creator who loves You so very much.
Heavenly Father, at one point in my life, I was in a battle against You. I had a my shield up and my sword out, but instead of destroying me where I stood, You sent Your Son between the battle lines and He demonstrated Your love in such an immense way that I can no longer bear the thought of my rebellion. Please accept my fallible and failing offer of love in return. Amen.
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 1 John 4:20
What we see today is a more aggressive repetition of a lesson John has already stated in 1 John 3:17. Let’s review that passage for comparison –
But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
As John has built his logical case for truth and sound doctrine, he has inserted obvious questions for us to consider. Today’s question is painfully blunt and demands an answer which is rather unpleasant when the mirror is on us. Too many people hold up their hands and say, “Yes, count me in to the ‘God’ family…I really love Him!” However, after their proclamation, they show complete disregard and even contempt (hates his brother) for the brethren. John says that we don’t need to wonder about this person’s motivations or sincerity concerning God – he is a liar. There is no love of God in him.
When we have contempt for our brother who we can see, how can we have love for God whom we can’t see? Contempt for our brother and love of God are mutually exclusive. As you evaluate yourself and others, ensure you use the biblical model. If your evaluation is based on doctrine, truth, and love, you will be able to identify the truth of the person. As Jesus said to His disciples –
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another John 13:34, 35
O God, I have complete faith in You and in Your word. I know that Your promises are true even though I’ve never seen You. But I honestly struggle with loving my brethren. Give me the ability and wisdom to handle difficulties towards them in a way which shows my love for You. In Jesus’ name I pray! Amen.
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 1 John 5:1
Whoever believes… John has used the term believe rather sparingly in the first four chapters of this letter, but he uses it seven times in this chapter. He is coming to the end of the letter and is culminating his thoughts with an amazing amount of information for the believer to process. In this chapter are several very difficult verses to grasp and there is even a verse which is highly disputed as to whether it even belongs in the Bible. Let’s not lose sight of the importance of what John is saying over such differences though.
John says that faith in the fact that Jesus is the Christ is an essential truth to being “born of God.” Being the “Christ” means that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies that state this One is both human and deity. One cannot claim a belief in Jesus Christ and disregard that He came in the flesh and dwelt among us. However, if one can mentally acknowledge this and then avow its truth, then he is born of God. Once this is realized in the believer’s life, a change takes place which is identifiable as the work of God.
It is God who “begot” us because of our faith. In turn we love Him for this action. We become a member of the family of God and there is harmony and peace between us and Him. However, there is more to identify us as children of God. Just as we love Him who begot us, we also love him (meaning other believers) who is begotten of Him. In other words, and is stated several times already in his letter, John tells us that our love for other believers is an identifying mark of our conversion.
Therefore, we need to strive – really strive as if it is as important to us as it is to God – to be faithful in loving our family of believers. How can we be a part of a family we don’t love? We can’t. Just as we are excluded from fellowship with our earthly family when we don’t love them, we are likewise excluded from our heavenly family when we act in hatred toward them. Let’s make every effort to be loving members of the family of God.
Heavenly Father, John’s letter has – time and again – revealed to me my failings as a member of Your family. I haven’t been as loving towards my fellow believers as I should be and I know this causes a wall between us. I know this must be corrected and I ask that You change me so that I can be a pleasing member of Your household. Amen.
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 1 John 5:2
Today’s verse begins with “By this…” It is his way of telling us we can know something and saying it in a way that leaves no doubt about his message. What we can know is led in with “By this we can know that we are the children of God…” In other words, if we don’t comply with what he is going to say, then we have every reason to assume that we are not children of God.
This brings up a point that needs to be readdressed. If some are the children of God, and we can know how they are, then this by default means that those who don’t comply with the directive aren’t children of God. When we find out what that directive is, we’ll see that the vast number of people in the world don’t qualify as “children of God.” So what is the directive? It is
1) “when we love God,” and
2) “keep His commandments.”
He says these in a united way. We cannot love God if we don’t keep His commandments. Likewise, the reciprocal is true. If we don’t keep His commandments, we prove that we don’t love Him. This brings up the need to review 1 John 4:20, 21 –
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
The commandment is love – specifically love for the brethren. If we don’t have this love, which John has been so clearly explaining, then we’re not keeping God’s commandments and we therefore don’t love God. Are you having troubles loving your brothers and sisters in Christ? If so, you’re not alone, but make every attempt to be the pleasing soul God wants you to be by demonstrating true and sacrificial love for your fellow Christians.
Lord Jesus, move my heart that I’ll be able to love my fellow Christians as You have directed. Because this is Your commandment for us, I truly wish my life to reflect what You have said. Take away the feelings of enmity I have towards others and mold me into the thoughtful, loving person that You intend me to be. To Your praise I pray. Amen.
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3
John uses a definite article in front of the word “love,” in other words, “the love.” He’s speaking about the same unconditional and eternal love that he’s been referring to throughout this epistle. It is grounded in our love for the Father, based on the work of Jesus. When we have this love, it will be demonstrated in our keeping of His commandments. Please understand that this is not referring to the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament. The Law of Moses is set aside in Christ and is therefore obsolete. This is talking about any commandment, Old Testament or New, which is repeated in the New Testament. These commandments “are not burdensome” and stand in contrast to the commandments of man. His are a light and easy choice as we can see by His words in the gospel of Matthew –
“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. Matthew 23:1-4
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus’ yoke is light because He’s already done the hard and heavy work for us. Now we can live in the joy of the Lord and demonstrate our love for God in the keeping of His commandments.
I know, Lord, that Your commandments aren’t burdensome, but I also know that I often fail You. Be with me and help me to learn, live, and love the commandments which you give. May my life be a demonstration of Your great love for me as I pass it on to others and also return it to You as well. This I pray that our fellowship may be complete. Amen.
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4
NEWS FLASH: Deeds are not and cannot be a part of our salvation – either the declaration of salvation (being declared righteous and thus justified) or a continuation of our salvation.
John repeats the gospel message in today’s verse…it is by faith that we are saved – completely and entirely. If you’ve been brought up to believe that you cannot ever truly know if you are saved, if you’ve been told you must “participate” in your salvation by doing things, or if you’ve been told that your faith isn’t real unless you “demonstrate the fruit of your salvation” then you’ve been completely and sorely misled.
Jesus Christ asks us to believe, the apostles ask us to believe, and their written testimony which is the Holy Bible asks us to believe. If we have faith in Jesus’ work then we “overcome the world.” The term “whatever” indicates the victory of being reborn, not the strength of the person. The word “born” is in the perfect tense and it speaks of the new life of the believer, not just the action of being born. This new life is complete in its effect and duration – the continuous battle is already won.
In this verse we also have the term “overcomes.” This could mean either the actual work of Jesus on the cross, or it could me the moment we have faith in this work. Because the two are necessary for salvation, we can affirm that it’s speaking of both. The engine of Jesus’ work is sufficient for anyone to overcome the world, but it won’t do so unless it has the fuel of our faith. No person is saved unless they have faith in what Jesus did, but glory to God in the highest, our faith in His work moves the mountains! Thank You, Jesus! Thank You. You have given us of Yourself and then You have given us faith to believe. Thank You!
I am SO VERY GLAD that my salvation isn’t up to a denomination, a church, or any person. Instead, my salvation is entirely up to the work of Jesus Christ and my willingness to believe it is so. And I have that faith! I believe Jesus died for me, that He rose for me, and that His work is all I ever need. Glory to God, it is sufficient and it is finished!!! Amen.
Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:5
John uses the term “overcome” six times in this letter alone, he uses it 11 times in the book of Revelation, and once in the Gospel of John, totaling 18 times – more than the rest of the Bible combined. This is the last time he uses the term in this letter and he applies it directly to the belief that Jesus is the Son of God.
As He does so consistently in all of his writings, he brings in the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ. To him, and therefore as a necessity to us, the idea of the God/Man is an area which is not debatable and it is the defining line of the Christian faith. Either a person believes that Jesus is fully God and also fully man or that person stands condemned and will be eternally separated from God. In other words, they have failed to “overcome the world.”
In the instance where John uses the term in his gospel we read his quote of Jesus’ own words –
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Because Jesus has overcome the world, we too can overcome the world. This is not something we can actively do. Rather, only Jesus was able to fulfill the law and to take upon Himself the sins of the world. And not only was He able to do so, but He accomplished His mission – defeating death and the ruler of this world, who is the devil. Because He did, our faith in Him is what allows us to overcome also. But our faith must be properly directed.
When we “call on Jesus as Lord” it must properly acknowledge who He is. Jesus is Lord because Jesus is fully God. Stand firm on this truth and you also will overcome the world.
Yes Jesus, You are my God and I bow my knee in submission to You. It is You who prevailed on my behalf and I wholeheartedly confess You as Lord – to the glory of God the Father. Instruct me in the truths of Your word and guide me all my days so that I will be an acceptable and faithful follower of You! Amen.
This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. 1 John 5:6
Today’s verse is an especially difficult one and has been interpreted in several ways. Here are the four prominent options –
1) The baptism and death of Jesus Christ;
2) The water and blood which came from His side when He was pierced on the cross;
3) Purification (washing) and redemption (through His sacrifice); and
4) Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
The last two are symbolic rather than literal and are unlikely. The second one is also unlikely because it reverses John’s terminology of the “blood and water” at the cross – “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out” (John 19:34). The first is the most likely of the traditional views, but this devotional would also suggest another view.
5) Jesus came by water (the water of the womb in which He came into humanity) and the blood (demonstrating His human life).
The Old Testament states several times that “the life is in the blood” and it therefore makes an apt description of proof of humanity, particularly when Jesus’ blood was what proved His death and our atonement. Finally, “the Spirit bears witness” to Jesus’ deity. As is stated at the announcement of His coming – “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Therefore, the evidence of his birth into the stream of humanity is treated in the conception and natal period signified by the water. His physical life and human characteristics are evidenced by His blood. And, His deity as evidenced by the work of the Holy Spirit as proclaimed in the gospel accounts.
Whether it is the first of the traditional options or the option suggested here, both testify to the Person and work of Jesus – fully God and fully Man. This is the witness John proclaims and to which these three testify.
Heavenly Father, Your glorious word testifies to the Person of Jesus, coming in the flesh. He is both fully God and fully Man and is the bridge between the infinite and the finite, between the Spirit and the flesh, between Your eternal being and our temporal being. Thank You for Jesus who has bridged the gap and restored us to You! Amen.
For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 1 John 5:7
This verse has become known as the Johanine Comma (the “exception” of John) and is one of the most disputed verses in the Bible. Many translations leave out the part which says “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.” Even if this part isn’t completely left out, it’s often only footnoted.
Despite it not being in many ancient manuscripts, it does date back to the time of Cyprian who lived in the 3rd century and it survives in his treatise against heretics who denied the Trinity. Of this verse, John Calvin said, “However, the passage flows better when this clause is added, and as I see that it is found in the best and most approved copies, I am inclined to receive it as the true reading.”
The term “best and most approved” is subjective as also is his point about the passage flowing better, but Calvin had a keen understanding about the word of God and his opinion shouldn’t be dismissed outright. In the end, God knows the truth of whether this verse belongs in the Bible or not, but one thing we can know is that the verse is truthful, regardless of its authenticity. Apart from this verse, the Bible implicitly teaches that the Father, the Word (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit are one. This is found throughout the New Testament and is absolute truth. The Trinity is as sure of a doctrine as it the fall of man or that there is but one God. Jesus’ own word in Matthew 28:19 confirm it –
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,…
The word “name” is from the Greek onoma and is in the singular. Jesus’ proclamation here is making the same claim as John’s in today’s verse. We serve a Triune God – three persons in one essence.
Thank You, O God, for the mysteries in Your word… things that challenge us to even stronger faith and things which ask us to diligently study matters rather than accepting or dismissing them without careful thought and contemplation. What a wonderful gift You have given us in the pages of Your reliable and trustworthy word, the Holy Bible! Amen.
And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. 1 John 5:8
In Deuteronomy 19:15 (and as is repeated elsewhere in both the Old and New Testaments) we read, “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.”
John then is making a legal case for the Person and work of Jesus and is thus refuting any Gnostic heresies which had already developed in his lifetime and which continue today in various cults and sects. John states in the present tense that the three “bear witness.” This means that they testify continuously to the facts that have been and are presented.
He goes on to say that “these three agree as one.” A literal reading of this would be “the three are unto the one.” They are a united front against doctrinal heresy. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” What testifies to this fact? The Spirit who authored the Bible testifies that Jesus is the Way. The water – either His baptism, or as previously suggested, His natal water, testifies that He is the Word of God incarnate and is therefore absolute Truth. And the blood, which He shed proving His death and all-sufficient atonement and yet which also proves His literal and physical resurrection (the life is in the blood – Genesis 9:4) testifies to His eternal life because of the resurrection.
Because we have the testimony of these three and because all matters are to be established by two or three witnesses, then Jesus has provided the infallible proof that He is the God/Man and that His work is the work of the Messiah. If doubts are arising in your mind concerning Jesus and His work, then simply look to the evidence provided. It has legal standing – and not in a mere human court, but in the eternal court of the Living God.
Lord, as doubts arise, I can see that all I need to do is return to Your word and search it for answers. You have not only left us with a testimony of Your work in the stream of humanity, but You have left us with an infallible one. What You have given us is more than reasonable – it is the very legal proof we need! Thank You for this gift, the Holy Bible. Amen.
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. 1 John 5:9
In this verse John argues from the lesser to the greater. The law mandates that there be two or three witnesses in order to establish a true testimony. If we are willing to receive human witnesses in such circumstances, how much more God! Humans are fallible and often make faulty judgments. They also are prone to telling lies, even in testimony which is under oath. This is the reason for obtaining more than one witness. However, even this method of validation is subject to abuse.
In 1 Kings 21, we read the account of a man named Naboth who owned a choice piece of land which the King of Israel – Ahab – wanted for himself. Naboth refused to sell it, so false witnesses were obtained in order to convict him of something he didn’t do. The result is recorded for our learning –
And two men, scoundrels, came in and sat before him; and the scoundrels witnessed against him, against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth has blasphemed God and the king!” Then they took him outside the city and stoned him with stones, so that he died. 1 Kings 21:13
Here we are, accepting fallible and even falsified human testimony to establish matters of importance. How much more then when we have the witness of God! The Father verbally acknowledged His Son at His baptism and on the mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 3:17 & 17:5); the Word testifies in the Son through human activity (John 5:39); and the Holy Spirit continues to testify to the work of Jesus even now. (John 15:26).
Surely we have the infallible proof and witness of the work of Jesus Christ – all accomplished on our behalf! And all You ask us to do, O God, is to receive it… receive it by faith. And so I acknowledge in faith that Jesus is Lord, and I will forever continue to acknowledge His strong and guiding hand in my life. Hallelujah and Amen – I receive Jesus. Amen.
He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. 1 John 5:10
John sums up the objective evidence of the preceding verses in today’s concise and precise thought. The objective witnesses are:
1) That He who came by water and blood;
2) The testimony of the Spirit;
3) The witness of the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit (which are one);
4) The Spirit, the water, and the blood (which are in agreement as one);
5) The witness of God – meaning the entire Godhead mentioned in item 3.
These evidences now ask each person who hears to act upon their testimony and their witness and either accept or reject them at face value. He who “believes in” is speaking of continuous trust in the work of the Son of God. If a person has this on-going trust, he also has the “witness in himself.” This isn’t speaking of initial salvation, but it is indicating that they themselves have become an objective witness to the surety of the proclamation.
In the second half of the verse today, John says that any person who “does not believe” – here he leaves off “in” to indicate that it is not speaking of the work of God, but rather the truthfulness of God – “has made Him a liar.” If these evidences, all of which point to both the humanity and the deity of Jesus Christ, are not believed, then the man has called God a liar. There is, and there can be, no salvation for a person who denies this fundamental truth – until they recant and reevaluate the very witnesses which testify to the matter.
If you have denied the humanity or the deity of God, you have called God a liar. Go back, research the testimony which has been given, and accept God as truthful – believe and be saved!
Jesus, I believe with all my heart and soul that You are fully God and yet fully Man. I believe You are the infinite united to the finite so that I can know and understand the depth of God which was hidden in ages past. Glory to You my Lord and thank You, O God, for revealing Yourself to us in the Person of Jesus! Amen.
And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 1 John 5:11
“And this is the testimony” is speaking of the internal witness of the previous verse – “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself.” The same word is used in the Greek in both instances which ensures us that “the testimony” is understood in this context. In other words, “He who believes in the Son of God has witness in himself…that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” This construct of this verse is another witness to the doctrine of eternal salvation.
The tense of the word “given” when united with the term “eternal life” indicates something that has been granted to us right now. In other words, we don’t need to anticipate an existence which goes on forever. Instead, it is already in our grasp and it has been given by God who cannot lie. The eternal life which is in His Son, Jesus, is ours to enjoy from the moment we have the witness of Christ in ourselves.
As we walk through our day, failing in our Christian walk, we should be astounded at our eternal state and ever grateful that it was a gift given even when God knew we would continue to err. But, because of Jesus, God is pleased to grant that which is beyond us. This also should help us to reflect on those around us who are lost. As God has given life in His Son, then it must be true that there is no life without His Son. God doesn’t simply grant life to anyone for any reason. Rather, as sons of Adam we are already separated from Him and He is under no obligation to redeem us.
However, when He sent Jesus, He opened up an avenue by which restoration is offered, granted, and sealed. This path maintains His holiness and yet satisfies His righteousness. In other words, it is the surest deal in the universe. When the offer is accepted, complete and free access to eternal life is guaranteed.
O God, my God! Thank You for the sure witness I have because of Jesus Your Son. Even when I fall short and fail You, I have no fear that the pardon I received will ever be revoked. With all confidence, I can stand up, brush myself off, and continue in Your good grace – all because of the work of Jesus my Lord! Amen.
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:12
God is the source of life. The very definition of God is the One who alone is Necessary; the One who cannot not exist. Everything and everyone else is contingent on God for its being – both initial being and continued existence. God is the Source of all life. He is therefore pure existence. In John Chapter 1, we read these words –
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12, 13
Being “born of God” then means to have the same life which is in God – a life which is eternal. John expands on this today when he says, “He who has the Son has life.” In this case, he is using the term synonymously with a personal relationship or and acceptance of the work of the Lord Jesus. This is what we know of as being “born again.”
When we call on Jesus, we are no longer merely flesh which perishes, but we are born of God, from above. This is the gift of life which issues from God through the Son. John then turns his sights on those who do “not have the Son of God.”
Anyone who does not have the Son does not have life. Only a fool, a deceiver, or an imbecile could come to any other conclusion that this is what John is saying. God leaves the choice up to us – accept His offer of peace through Jesus Christ the Lord, or be eternally separated from Him. There is no other option and to say differently is to call God a liar, state His word is in error, and to claim the Son is not who He is presented as in Scripture. The choice is up to each of us – may you make the right one.
Lord God, You have given us the choice – life or death, light or darkness, heaven or hell…as incredible as it seems, You have allowed us to choose. May we be like the Roman soldier who stood at the foot of the cross of Calvary and exclaimed, “Truly this was the Son of God!” All hail the great and exalted name of Jesus! Amen.
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. 1 John 5:13
John now begins the closing section of his letter by stating, “These things I have written…” He’s letting his readers know the overall purpose of the epistle…
1) That you may know you have eternal life, and
2) That you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
He’s done this for the benefit of his readers – those “who believe in the name of the Son of God.” He wants those who already believe to be grounded in their faith and established in their doctrine so that nothing will draw them away from the truth of the message. Coming up in his second letter, he will go so far as to state this –
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. 2 John -10, 11
Jesus is the key to eternal life and apart from Him it is a concept without realization. John’s letter has specifically addressed Jesus’ nature, namely that He is the Son of God. Tied in with this is his directive that only by faith in this fact is salvation realized. Those who deny the deity of Christ deny He is the literal Son of God. Those who deny the humanity of Christ deny the very work God accomplished to bridge the gap between us. These are such important tenets that he tells us not to even greet someone who denies these fundamental truths. Stand fast in your theology and never let the devil get a foothold into your doctrine.
O God, keep me away from those who would attempt to diminish the truth of who Jesus is and the work He came to accomplish. Keep me steadfast in my devotion to Him and to the purity of His nature and His deeds that my doctrine may be acceptable to You. Thank You for the gift of Jesus my Lord. Amen.
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14
Take a moment and re-read this verse and think it over before we discuss it. Read it as if you’re reading it for the first time. We’ll be here when you get back…
Now that you’ve read it, let’s review two highly abused verses from elsewhere –
If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. John 14:14
“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. Matthew 18:19
Today’s verse is written by John to us and it is quite clear in its limitations – “according to His will.” This is even preceded by the giant word “if.” God will hear and God will respond when our petitions are in accordance with His will. This however, makes our requests subject to Him, not in authority over Him.
John 14 (above) was spoken directly to the disciples and is to be taken in that context. It is not a verse to make claims over Jesus by us. And most abused of all – Matthew 18 (above)… This verse is speaking about church discipline and agreement on those disciplinary matters. That is the entire context of what Jesus was discussing.
We cannot get a group of people together, make a claim that we will receive a new BMW and expect it to happen. Everything must be taken in proper context and then, when it is, it must be subservient to God’s will. It is the epitome of arrogance to make a claim in Jesus’ name for anything unless it is directly in line with the outlines of the Bible and in accordance with His will. Be content that God has a good plan for us and that He knows both what we want and even more – what we need. Let us be content with that!
Lord, help us to move away from the destructive prosperity gospel which teaches that You would have me blessed with material blessings in this life. What You provide I will be thankful for and what You withhold, may I understand that it was a desire and not a need. All things from You are in accordance with Your will for me and I receive them as such. Amen.
And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. 1 John 5:15
We learned yesterday that if we ask anything “according to His will” He hears that petition. Today builds upon this thought. “And if we know” leads in and assumes that the rest of the thought is an axiom – a truth that is given. In other words, “If we know that He hears us, therefore…” From this springboard, John states “whatever we ask.” Let’s be careful and evaluate this in context.
Yesterday said, “according to His will” and therefore “whatever” is to be used synonymously with that – our “whatever” must be aligned with “His will” to be realized. If the two are in agreement, then we have the petitions that we asked of Him. This action of knowing is to be taken at face value – completely certain. So why do we ask and not receive?
Why do we pray and our prayer isn’t acted upon in the manner we ask? Because it’s not in accordance with His will. If we ask that our beloved child not be taken from us and he or she is, this in no way means that we were wrong in asking, but it means that God’s will is that the child is to be taken. If we ask for our cancer to be healed and it isn’t, this in no way means that God didn’t hear, but that God has chosen to allow us to continue with the cancer.
This should in no way lead to a fatalistic attitude that God doesn’t hear, but it should remind us that God’s will and His way are not ours. He is the Creator, we are the creation; He is the potter, we are the clay. It is unreasonable to think that we can demand anything of God. But it is also unreasonable for us to get upset when a heartfelt prayer isn’t responded to in the manner in which we would like. He has an eternal plan for billions of people. We have a temporal life which will end and we have limited knowledge of His workings. Therefore, we pray, we believe, and yet in the end we acknowledge “Thy will be done, O God.”
Lord, my prayers are heard and my petitions are answered. I believe this with all my soul. But I understand that my prayers aren’t always in line with Your will and that the answer to my petition isn’t always what I want. Help me to be an adult – mature in my thinking – concerning Your plan and not only my immediate desires. Amen.
If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. 1 John 5:16
Here we have a verse which is highly debated, but not overly complicated if taken in context. The term “brother” is used and this is, therefore, speaking of saved Christians and is the springboard by which we can gauge the rest of the thought.
If we see a fellow Christian sinning (actively and in a continual state – “a” sin seems to imply a single sin, but this isn’t the case. Instead it’s referring to on-going sin) and that sin is not something that will result in his death (physical death, not spiritual – they are already saved believers), then we are to ask for the Lord to lead them to repentance and restoration.
When this prayer is made, the Lord will respond according to His wisdom in order to restore this person so that no further harm may come to him. If we go to 1 Corinthians 5, we see the account of someone committing immensely degrading sin. Paul said to hand that man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh (sin which will lead to death if not terminated) so that his soul may be saved on the day when Jesus visits us. John says such a sin leads to death. This or any sin which will result in death is included.
If you sleep around, maybe you’ll get AIDS or shot by someone’s husband. If you drink heavily, your liver’s going to go and your life will end. If you rob a bank to feed your family, the security officer may send you off to the check-out counter of life. As you can see, sin leading to death is obviously something that brings discredit upon the name of Jesus who saved you in the first place. John says that we don’t necessarily need to pray about this type of thing. In such cases, our fellow Christians have made their own beds and are now destined to lie in them. Choices like this bear the due penalty they deserve. Prayer for them is not necessary or expected.
Lord Jesus, I’ve sinned since I came to You and I see fellow Christians that do the same. In times when this sin isn’t active and with a high hand, give me the sense to pray about it for restoration. When the sin is greater and active, may You judge according to Your wisdom and bring about whatever will lead to the most glory for You. Amen.
All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death. 1 John 5:17
Despite what we learned yesterday, that there are sins which lead to death and sins which don’t lead to death, John is emphatic that all sin is unrighteousness – the difference is that some lead to death and some don’t, but all are an offense to God and separate us from Him.
When we sin – whether it is sin that could lead to death or not, we need to confess it as such. To act high handedly against God because of unrepentant sin is an act of defiance and demonstrates that we really don’t appreciate the position we’re in.
Jesus did more for us at the cross of Calvary than we will ever be able to imagine. The divide between us and God was infinite in its scope, thus the need for Him to unite with human flesh in order to bridge that gap. Jesus is the finite united with the infinite. In His finite self, He fulfilled the law which we could never meet. Then He gave His life up in exchange for ours (which were already condemned).
God accepted this as a perfectly just exchange – the law was satisfied by Jesus on our behalf. Our salvation places us in Christ and therefore we are sinless in Him on a positional basis. When God see us, He is looking at us through the filtering lens of Jesus. Because of this we can never be condemned again, but this in no way excuses us sinning intentionally or sinning and not confessing it as sin.
When we do these things, we lose rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ and we also harm the fellowship with God that we should be enjoying now. How can the Holy Spirit fill us when we’re disobedient to Him? He can’t. So let’s attempt to keep from sin, confess sin when it occurs, and pray for others when they sin. All of this is pleasing to God and keeps us in a right relationship with Him.
As always Lord, when I think on the great work You wrought on my behalf, it makes my sin seem so utterly vile. Despite this, let me never look at it any other way, but look at it for what it is – rebellion against You and unrighteousness that needs to be dealt with. I love You Lord and desire to be obedient to You always. Amen.
We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. 1 John 5:18
John again uses the term “we know” to state that this is a concept that anyone can grasp if they simply think it through. This is the first of three “we knows” that close out the letter and he will state it again right away in verses 19 and 20. Today is a repetition of verse 3:9 –
Whoever has been born of God does not sin…
As before, the tense of the verb tells us that John is speaking of habitual sinning. This verse in no way implies that we can become perfect in this life as is taught by the “holiness doctrine” of some churches. In fact, this is contrary to biblical teaching. We will fall, but we won’t participate in habitual sin. How this is accomplished was explained in the preceding verses – a sin unto death and sin not unto death.
In other words, if we somehow get trapped again in habitual sin, it will lead to death – so that we don’t keep sinning. Or, if we aren’t stuck in habitual sin, then we shouldn’t worry about dying from something we aren’t doing. If we are living a life free from on-going sin, “the wicked one does not touch” us. The word touch is used by John only here and in John 20:17, “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me…’” This is indicating more than just a brush, but a grasping of us.
Yes, we may be afflicted by Satan or his demons, but He can never possess us. We are securely in the powerful grasp of Jesus and should have no fear that we can ever lose our salvation. The devil is permanently defeated in our lives.
Lord, I know the devil will buffet me and try to pull me away from you, but I also know that You are stronger than him – infinitely stronger. I will have no fear as I go about my life. Should I falter, I will get back up, brush myself off, and proceed on in Your good graces! Amen.
We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. 1 John 5:19
This is the second “we know” in John’s concluding thoughts. Let’s take the first two together and in context –
We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. 1 John 5:18-19
John has clearly made the contrast between those “born of God” and the rest of the world. Because we are born of God, we know that we are of God. This is the same as saying “We know that we are of the human race because we are born of Adam.”
Being born of God then unites us with Him and in turn we can never again be overtaken by the devil. This is the dividing line between saved believers and the lost – those who are born of God are of God and those who aren’t are under the sway of the devil. This sway encompasses the entire system of the world. Although we live in the world, we are not of the world. For this reason, we need to live as if it’s the case.
If you’re struggling with this, understand that we all are, but also understand that we need to make every effort to put away the things of the world and focus on the things of God.
Heavenly Father, you’ve given us the dividing line between the world and You – our Lord Jesus. Give me the wisdom to study Your word and in turn learn more about You and what You have done for us in the work of Jesus. Keep me from the temptations of the world and keep me focused on You alone. I pray this that you will be glorified. Amen.
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20
This is the third and final “we know” of the epistle and completes John’s words to us about the reasons for his writing. We know the things he is about to say are certain because we have come to an understanding about truth. Why? Because God has revealed it to us.
We know that the Son of God has come – this is Jesus, the Christ. When it says He “has come” it is pointing back to the incarnation, but it is also speaking of His presence with us here and now. We know we have been given an understanding which is the ability to clearly receive and discern spiritual truth. Unlike others who claim to be spiritual, but have no foundation, we have the absolute assurance that we “may know Him who is true.” This means that Jesus has revealed the very Creator God to us.
The God who is Spirit and cannot be seen is clearly and completely revealed in the Son. This revelation is unlike the gods invented by man. All other religions, despite their claims, are based on an incorrect and finite understanding of God. Jesus however, is the true revelation of God and His depiction reaches to the infinite – in other words, our ability to learn from Him and seek out His glory will never end. All other religions necessarily end because they are based on finite contemplations.
So “we may know Him” is an eternally ongoing gift to us. We also know that “we are in Him.” As believers in Jesus Christ, we are adopted sons of God. We have moved from death to life and are eternally secure in His salvation. This then “is the true God and eternal life.” We have the Son and therefore we have the Father. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Jesus is the cornerstone and we are living stones being built into an eternal temple in which God will dwell. It is the most incredible thing to ponder! Thank You, O God, for Jesus.
Lord, may we never be so haughty as to assume that we have merited Your grace. We can only look to what You have done and say, “O God, how great Thou art!” When we were separated and lost, You sent our Great Shepherd to find us and bring us to Your fold and here we are…looking forward to eternity in Your glorious presence, ever praising You. Amen.
Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. 1 John 5:21
As incredible as it may seem, we’ve come to the last verse of 1 John. This has been an immensely wonderful learning experience on many levels and is now, more than ever, a book to be viewed as a wonderful treasure of insight into God’s salvation – our Lord Jesus Christ.
To close his letter, John addresses his recipients as “little children” or teknia one last time. Just as a father wants the best for his children, John addresses his desire for his own children in the faith – warning them against idolatry.
John uses a much stronger term for “keep” in this verse than he did in verse 18. Today’s word can be equated with a soldier guarding a garrison. In other words “defend heavily” yourselves from idols. John doesn’t distinguish between types of idolatry. Instead he speaks of all forms – both physical idols which were (and remain to this day) present in the world around us as well as non-physical ones, such as false beliefs. Anything in our life which takes the place of worshipping God through Jesus Christ is an idol. It can be our car, our girlfriend, incorrect concepts of Jesus (such as those that various fringe cults proclaim), statues of religious figures, etc.
If you go into a church or other religious area and bow or speak to a statue, you are committing idolatry. This isn’t something to be taken lightly by saying, “Oh, I’m thinking about God as I do this.” Rationalizing away your actions which are in conflict with such a direct command from the Bible is actually a second form of idolatry. You’ve placed an idol before God and then you’ve placed yourself above God by disobeying the word He has given you. Think this through carefully and please, please…keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
Lord Jesus, I bow to You because only You reveal the Father to me. Keep my heart, my eyes, and my thoughts from idolatry and keep my soul desiring only You. I love You my Lord and I give you my praise and honor. May You alone be exalted! Amen.