1 John – A Free Online Commentary – Life in the Family

The following is a free online Bible commentary on 1 John. It contains study notes and insights from Pastor Ed Underwood.

Since this page is a FULL commentary on 1 John, you may not be able to read it all in one sitting.

So if you are leading a Bible study on 1 John or preaching through 1 John in your church, you may want to bookmark this page and return to it frequently for your own study purposes.

1 John—Life in the Family!

Overview of 1 John

And these things we write to you that your joy may be full
(1 John 1:4)

1 John commentary and Bible studyThere is something inside all of us that enjoys being on the “inside”—one of the initiated, with insider information that is novel and exciting. Over the centuries false teachers of the Bible have used this desire for the latest or most advanced spiritual knowledge and techniques to lure true Christians into cultic teachings.

One of the oldest lies offered to Christians is a brand of super-spirituality known as Docetism (from dokeo, “to seem”), the doctrine that Christ only seemed to have a human body or only used His human body as a shell for His spiritual self. Since pagan philosophies consider matter inherently evil, the Docetist must explain how Jesus dealt with His physical body—by denying the reality of the Incarnation. A first century teacher named Cerinthus is said to have actually debated the Apostle John on this issue, maintaining that the man Jesus and the divine Christ were two distinct beings, and that the Christ descended on Jesus at His baptism, but left Him prior to His death.

Whether Cerinthus was the source or not, we cannot be sure. We can be sure that this Christological heresy was being taught to the churches John had started in the Roman province of Asia (Western Turkey). Some of the most talented brethren left these fledgling churches to form new communities that denied the reality of Christ’s humanity (1 John 4:2) and taught an “advanced” spirituality that promised to take its initiates beyond sin (1 John 1:8).

John’s responds as a father protecting his “little children.” What they must know is that these new teachings are not only wrong, but they will steal the greatest joy any believer will ever know—the joy of life in the family of God.

The theme of First John is fellowship—that experience of intimacy with Christ and His people only available to those who belong to Him. The passion of John is, “don’t lose it by listening to these lying teachers.”

Over the centuries false teachers have continued to deceive even the elect with false promises of insider knowledge and super-spirituality.  The warning to Christians of every generation is clear:

Don’t miss the joy of fellowship!

By comparing the history of the background of 1 John with the Apostle’s plea to His people we can understand why it is so important to stand against these errors that neutralize Christians by stealing the joys of life in the family of God.

I. Heresy inevitably involves a denial of Christ—something about His Great Person and His claims makes us uncomfortable, so we explain Him away.

A.   John writes with a deep concern for the churches he helped start in the Roman province of Asia (western Turkey).

1. My little children, used throughout the epistles, reveals the close relationship John had with these churches as their spiritual father (1 John 2:1, 12-14)

2. He writes to the leaders (those anointed by the Spirit, 1 John 2:20, 27) to assist and affirm them in the face of a crisis.

3. False teachers from Jerusalem (1 John 2:19), whom John calls antichrists (1 John 2:18-26), were attacking the churches.

B. False teachers were denying that Jesus was the Christ who had come in the flesh (1 John 2:22-23; 5:6-8).

1. This may be the teaching of a man named Cerinthus, who held the idea that the man Jesus and the divine Christ were two distinct beings, and that Christ descended on Jesus at His baptism, but left Him prior to His death.

2. This led to a belief that the physical aspects of life were somehow separated from the spiritual (note John’s emphasis on the physical in the prologue—we touched Him!)

3. This led to a general rejection of the importance of Christ’s commands related to the physical world (note John’s emphasis on the importance of following the Lord’s commands, 1 John 2:3, 4, 7; 3:23; 4:21; 5:2-3).

4. This made them vulnerable to sin, even idol worship (1 John 5:21).

II. Heresy always ends with a loss of the joys of fellowship!

A. Resist the false teachers so that your joy may be full!

1. I want your joy to be full (1 John 1:1-4).

2. There is no gray when it comes to the joy of fellowship (1 John 1:5-2:11)

3. Resist those who deny Christ’s sufficiency (1 John 2:12-27).

4. Abide in Christ so that your joy will be full at His Judgment Seat (1 John 2:28-4:19).

5. Live obediently so that your joy may be full on earth (1 John 4:20-5:17).

6. There is joy, even in this wicked world (1 John 5:18-21).

B. It’s not about being right; it’s about “little children” and their life in the “family”!

1. This is why we are committed to right doctrine.

2. This is why we weep for those who come under the influence of false teachers.

DISCUSSION: Do you know someone who is heading in the wrong direction doctrinally?

1. What is at stake? That is, if this person is a Christian, what will happen to his or her life if they continue pursuing this lie?

2. What do you feel the Lord wants you to do? How can your friends in HUB group help you devise a plan of action?

PROLOGUE: 1 John—Call to Fellowship!

1 John 1:1-4

And these things we write to you that your joy may be full
(1 John 1:4)

There is something inside all of us that enjoys being on the “inside”—one of the initiated, with insider information that is novel and exciting. Over the centuries false teachers of the Bible have used this desire for the latest or most advanced spiritual knowledge and techniques to lure true Christians into cultic teachings.

One of the oldest lies offered to Christians is a brand of super-spirituality known as Docetism (from dokeo, “to seem”), the doctrine that Christ only seemed to have a human body or only used His human body as a shell for His spiritual self. Since pagan philosophies consider matter inherently evil, the Docetist must explain how Jesus dealt with His physical body—by denying the reality of the Incarnation. A first century teacher named Cerinthus is said to have actually debated the Apostle John on this issue, maintaining that the man Jesus and the divine Christ were two distinct beings, and that the Christ descended on Jesus at His baptism, but left Him prior to His death.

Whether Cerinthus was the source or not, we cannot be sure. We can be sure that this Christological heresy was being taught to the churches John had started in the Roman province of Asia (Western Turkey). Some of the most talented brethren left these fledgling churches to form new communities that denied the reality of Christ’s humanity (4:2) and taught an “advanced” spirituality that promised to take its initiates beyond sin (1:8).

John’s responds as a father protecting his “little children.” What they must know is that these new teachings are not only wrong, but they will steal the greatest joy any believer will ever know—the joy of life in the family of God. The theme of First John is fellowship—that experience of intimacy with Christ and His people only available to those who belong to Him. The passion of John is, “don’t lose it by listening to these lying teachers.”

The Apostle begins with a prologue that presents the subject and the purpose of his letter. This is a declaration of Christ from an eyewitness to increase the joy of fellowship in the church:

The joy of the apostles can be yours,

if you abide in their teachingsand their Lord!

Prologue—call to fellowship: John will be presenting the reality of life in Christ so that his readers may share the joy of apostolic fellowship with Christ and one another (1:1-4). The path to joy is the same path the apostles walked—guided by His truth, we follow Him closely.

I.   First John begins with a call to a New Testament experience of fellowship with Christ and His closest followers (1 John 1:1-4).

A. John openly announces his subject, purpose, and intended result.

1.  Subject: John is declaring the truth about eternal Life from the perspective of an eyewitness to the Incarnation of that Life—Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3a).

a.  In contrast to the false teachers’ “new” teaching about Christ (Docetism), John is declaring (appengelw, to announce, to declare with reference from the source) the truth about the message (logos) of life (objective—life giving word, life-giving message) that was manifested (fanerow, to be revealed) to the apostolic witnesses (we, from the beginning, emphatic—from the beginning of the apostolic experience with Christ) in the Incarnation of Christ (that eternal life that was with the Father and was manifested to us).

b.  In contrast to the false teachers’ “theories” about Christ, John and his apostolic companions teach what they actually experienced while walking with Christ—which we have heard (perfect) and seen (perfect), which we have looked upon (aorist of qeaomai, to look at, gaze upon, continuous contemplation, John 1:14), and our hands have handled (aorist of yhlow, to grope or feel in order to discover as in the blind and voiceless).

2.  Purpose: John wants his readers to experience the fellowship (sharing of eternal life) the apostles themselves (we) shared with the Father, the Son, and one another (3b, note—he can only share what he saw and heard {perfect, aorist}, but the declaration is intended to share the actual experience of intimacy).

3.  Result: After reading these things that they (apostles) write, there will be a full experience (plhrow, state of completion, maximum) of the joy of fellowship (probably referring to the apostles’ joy, our [NIV, NASB] rather than your [NKJV], 4; Cf. 3 John 4).

B. The emphasis of the prologue is clear—truth, fellowship, and joy!

1.  Emphasizing the origins of the Christian message, John is speaking of the message of life (eternal life) declared to the apostolic witnesses (1 John 1:1).

2.  Emphasizing the accuracy of his message, John is declaring to his readers exactly what had been manifested to the apostolic witnesses (1 John 1:2-3a).

3.  Emphasizing the wonder of his purpose, John wants to share the fellowship (sharing of life) the apostles had with one another, the Father, and the Lord (1 John 1:3b).

4.  Emphasizing the passion of his heart, John desires that all who read would know the joy of the apostolic witnesses shared (4).

II.  True spiritual joy is based upon the truth of the apostles and contingent upon fellowship with Christ!

A. Three concepts, three priorities, three words:

1.  Apostolic Truth: Teaching that deviates from the doctrines brought to the church by the apostles will destroy fellowship with one another and with God. Revealed truth is the basis for all fellowship with God and His people (1 John 2:24).

2.  Fellowship with Christ and His people: The historic reality of sharing eternal life manifested in Christ can be manifested in His people as well as they abide in Him. Abiding in Christ is the way to all fellowship with God and His people (41 John :9-16).

3.  Joy of fellowship with Christ and His people: True spiritual joy comes to those who share eternal life by walking in the truth (3 John 4) and abiding in the truths of eternal life (1 John 2:24). Joy in Christ is the result of all fellowship with God and His people.

B. Where are you on your spiritual joy meter?

1.  If your joy is running low, could it be your commitment to apostolic truth, the historic doctrines of the church taught by the apostles? Remember—there is no “new” truth concerning Christ   (1 John 4:1-3).

2.  If your joy is running out, could it be your walk with Christ? Remember—there is no gray in fellowship! You are either walking in the light or walking in the dark (1 John 1:5-10).

Fellowship—Walking in God’s Light

1 John 1:5-2:2

God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5)

There is something inside all of us that enjoys being on the “inside”—one of the initiated, with insider information that is novel and exciting. Over the centuries false teachers of the Bible have used this desire for the latest or most advanced spiritual knowledge and techniques to lure true Christians into cultic teachings.

One of the oldest lies offered to Christians is a brand of super-spirituality known as Docetism (from dokeo, “to seem”), the doctrine that Christ only seemed to have a human body or only used His human body as a shell for His spiritual self. Since pagan philosophies consider matter inherently evil, the Docetist must explain how Jesus dealt with His physical body—by denying the reality of the Incarnation. This Christological heresy was being taught to the churches John had started in the Roman province of Asia (Western Turkey). Some of the most talented brethren left these fledgling churches to form new communities that denied the reality of Christ’s humanity (1 John 4:2) and taught an “advanced” spirituality that promised to take its initiates beyond sin (1 John 1:8).

John responds as a father protecting his “little children.” What they must know is that these new teachings are not only wrong, but they will steal the greatest joy any believer will ever know—the joy of life in the family of God. The theme of First John is fellowship—that experience of intimacy with Christ and His people only available to those who belong to Him. The passion of John is, “don’t lose it by listening to these lying teachers. True joy is based on apostolic truth and is only possible in fellowship with God” (1 John 1:1-4).

In the preamble to his book, 1 John 1:5-2:11, the Apostle discusses the nature of this fellowship he desires for his readers. True fellowship is for those who walk in the light—sin (darkness) will always break fellowship with a holy (all light) God:

Fellowship and Sin:

Live to avoid sin, but it when you do, admit it!

 

OUTLINE: 1 John 1:1-2:2

1 John: Life in the Family

Prologue—call to fellowship: John will be presenting the reality of life in Christ so that his readers may share the joy of apostolic fellowship with Christ and one another (1 John 1:1-4).

Preamble—living in fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-3:10).

Walking in God’s Light—stay on the path of holiness (1 John 1:5-2:2).

As John refutes three false claims from the heretics’ teaching on sin, he answers one of the most important questions any Christian will ever ask, “What do I do when I sin?”

I.   I must admit my sin to God to walk in the light (1 John 1:5-10).

A. True fellowship with God allows His light to penetrate the darkness of our lives (1 John 1:5-10).

1.  Fellowship begins with a basic understanding of the nature of God: The apostolic message about God is that He is absolutely holy (1 John 1:5).

a.  God is all “light” (emphasizing His pure and holy character), there is no “darkness” (sin, imperfection) in Him (literally: Darkness is not in Him—none!).

b.  The pagan gods that were influencing the false teachers are capricious and quite willing to do harm in the world. The message from the Apostles is that Jesus Christ is not at all like that.

2.  Fellowship continues when we deal with our sin by walking in His light (Five “ifs” of fellowship, 1 John 1:6-10 are in the context of three sets of false claims, If we say…/counter claims).

a.  Those who claim fellowship while sinning (walking in darkness) are liars, and are not acting consistently with the truth (1 John 1:6)

b.  Those who walk in the light (live in the presence of His light) have fellowship with Him, not because they are perfect but because the blood of Christ is cleansing them from sin (7, Cf. 1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 1:7—forensic forgiveness—to 1 John 1:9—familial forgiveness).

c.  Even those who walk in the light must admit their need for cleansing because of our continuing struggle with sin (1 John 1:8).

d.  When the light of His presence exposes darkness we must confess (admit) the sins the light exposes, trusting God to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (even darkness or sins we are unaware of, 1 John 1:9).

e.  Those who rationalize or deny their sin and refuse to confess are calling God a liar and are not listening to His word (1 John 1:10).

B. When you think of God as your Loving Father, you will understand John’s teaching on fellowship and sin!

1.  Fellowship is about honesty, not denial. You must be open and honest with God about your sin. The worst plan of action is to try to hide your sin.

2.  Fellowship is relational, not mechanical. You must not walk into darkness “planning” to confess your sin. Confession is for those who are in the light. When you walk outside the light and into darkness you must turn back to the light (repentance—turning to God).

II.  I must avoid sin to walk in the light (1 John 2:1-2).

A. True fellowship with God stays away from two extremes in dealing with sin—indulgence or panic (1 John 2:1-2).

1.  All this discussion about what to do about sin should never lead a believer to stop resisting sin (My little children, dramatic shift from speaking for the apostles to speaking as their spiritual father, 1 John 2:1a).

2.  All this discussion about the seriousness of sin should never lead a believer to stop trusting in Christ’s work on our behalf (the 6th and big “if” of the passage, 1 John 2:1b-2).

a.  The sinning Christian is never abandoned—Jesus is always our Advocate (for us, not for our sin), especially when we are weak and failing (1b, Cf. Luke 22:31-33; John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7)

b.  Jesus’ mighty work on the Cross satisfied God’s displeasure with sin (propitiated). God looks at Christ with complete satisfaction that the price for sin for the whole world has been appeased. He is ready to listen to our Advocate who purged our sins and now sits at His right hand (1 John 2:2, Cf. Hebrews 1:3). Propitiation means a payment that restores favor. It is used in the Bible to describe the turning away of God’s wrath because of the offering of Christ (see also, 1 John 4:9-10).

B. When you think of Christ as your Advocate who propitiated your sin, you will confess your sin.

1.  Don’t take sin lightly. Jesus did not die for you so that you could sin more!

2.  Don’t take Jesus’ work lightly. Jesus did die for you, and He is on your side—even when you sin!

Fellowship—Knowing the God of Light

1 John 2:3-11

By this we know that we know Him, if we keep His word and love one another (1 John 1:5, 10)

As a father protecting his little children, John warns his friends that the false teachers who have left their assemblies will steal the greatest joy any believer will ever know—the joy of life in the family of God. The theme of First John is fellowship—that experience of intimacy with Christ and His people only available to those who belong to Him. The passion of John is, “don’t lose it by listening to these lying teachers. True joy is based on apostolic truth and is only possible in fellowship with God” (1 John 1:1-4).

In the preamble to his book, 1 John 1:5-2:11, the Apostle discusses the nature of this fellowship he desires for his readers. True fellowship is for those who walk in the light—sin (darkness) will always break fellowship with a holy (all light) God. As we walk in the light, a growing desire to obey Him and love His people allows His love to have its way with us—and we come to really know the God of light:

Those who know God live to obey Him and love His people.

1 John: Outline

Prologue—call to fellowship: John will be presenting the reality of life in Christ so that his readers may share the joy of apostolic fellowship with Christ and one another (1 John 1:1-4).

Preamble—living in fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-3:10).

Walking in God’s Light—stay on the path of holiness (1 John 1:5-2:2)

Knowing the God of Light—follow Christ and love His people (1 John 2:3-11)

As John refutes three false claims from the heretics’ teaching on knowing God, he answers one of the most important questions any Christian will ever ask, “Who can say they really know God?”

 

I.   I must obey God and love His people to really know Him well (1 John 2:3-11).

A. True fellowship with God means knowing Him by remaining attentive to His Word and loving to His children (1 John 2:3).

1.  Fellowship involves knowing God as an obedient child (3). Only those who keep His commandments can say they know they have come to know God (perfect indicative of ginwskw—to know, here in the perfect tense it carries the idea of real and personal knowledge, see John 14:7-9 where the Lord challenged Philip’s knowledge of Him). terew, to keep, watch over, guard, concern for, attentiveness to. This is not mere compliance but living with a concern for, attentiveness to His Word. It is much more proactive than simply not sinning or confession (1 John 1:5-2:2, walking in the light).

2.  How do we know who really knows God in this way? Three sets of false claims (‘o legwn—the one who says)/counter claims—what it really takes to come to know God (4-11).

Anyone who knows God must be in Him. While it is clear that everyone who believes in Christ is placed in Him (John 14:20, Ephesians 1:7), we must not conclude that those who claim to know Him are actually in Him. One indicator of being in Him is to see His love being perfected (a growing reality) in us, as we are attentive to His Word. John views this throughout his book as a secondary confirmatory experience to the promises of the free gift of eternal life and continuum of being in Him and abiding (1 John 2:4-5).

Anyone who knows God must abide in Him. Only those who walk in His footsteps by following the old/new commandment “know” (real, personal knowledge) God. Jesus gave this as a new commandment while walking on the earth—love one another (John 13:31-35), the message from the true light whose light is dawning (John 1:5, 9) in the passing darkness (1 John 2:17) in preparation of a new day (2 Peter 3:13), Jesus loved His own (John 13:1, vv 6-8).

Anyone who knows God must abide in the light. Only those who love their fellow Christians (a brother) abide in the light (fellowship, deeper knowledge, living in His presence). Those who hate their brother cause themselves and everyone else to stumble in the darkness (1 John 2:9-11).

B. The immediate context of 1 John 2:3-11 answers the question, “Who should you listen to? How can you tell if someone who claims to know God really does?”

1.  Anyone who claims to know God but does not follow His commands (as a general trajectory and settled attitude in life) is lying. You should not listen to this person!

2.  Anyone who claims to know God (walk in the light) but does not love his or her brothers and sisters in Christ is walking in a darkness that causes everyone to stumble. You should not listen to this person!

II.  Fellowship with God (knowing the God of light) demands taking obedience as seriously as He does—especially His command to love one another (Selected Scripture).

A. True fellowship (knowledge of God) with God is only for those who are first “in Him” and then “abide in Him”.

1.  Fellowship, or friendship with God, or knowing God, involves a deep experience of intimacy with Him based upon obedience, especially loving one another, and resulting in the sharing of intimate information  (John 15:13-17).

2.  In Him is the believer’s spiritual union with Christ (John 14:20)—the sharing of eternal life. In Christ is the redeemed person’s new environment in the sphere of resurrection life—the life of Christ Himself. Being in Christ frees believers from the bondage of sin to live righteously before God (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 3:24; Galatians 2:4; 17; Romans 6:11, 23; 8:2).

3.  Abide in Him is the believers’ responsibility to live out the potential of union with Him (John 15:1-8) that results in the fellowship John describes in 1 John. Abiding in Him in 1 John terms is when we are walking in His light  by acknowledging our sin and knowing the God of light by obeying His commands.

B. The broader application 1 John 2:3-11 helps answer the questions, “Do I really know God?” and “Who really knows God?

1.  Though our primary personal assurance lies in the laminated promises of God that whoever believes in Him has eternal life (John 6:47), the growing desire to keep His word, especially our love for one another, has a secondary confirmatory value that is very comforting to those who are growing in their knowledge of Him and fellowship with Him.

2.  Those who claim to know Christ but have no desire to obey His word or hate other Christians may be categorized in one of three ways

A non-Christian: An unregenerate person who is simply confused about salvation. Often these people were raised in the church or have been exposed to religion and are not truly saved because they are depending on their works, not Christ. They have never believed in Jesus (1 John 5:11-13). A carnal Christian: A regenerate person who has a baby’s attitude because he or she is so new in the faith (1 Corinthians 3:1) or their flesh rather than the Spirit is controlling them, they are flesh-dominated (1 Corinthians 3:2-4). A tare: Unregenerate person planted by Satan to disrupt the work of the church. Tares closely resemble wheat, but are poisonous to human beings. Until Christ returns, both genuine believers and counterfeits will be allowed to grow together (Matthew 13:24-30).

Resist the World!

1 John 2:12-17

Do not love the world or the things of the world (1 John 2:12).

In the preamble to his book, 1:5-2:11, the Apostle discusses the nature of this fellowship he desires for his readers. True fellowship is for those who walk in the light—sin (darkness) will always break fellowship with a holy (all light) God. As we walk in the light, a growing desire to obey Him and love His people allows His love to have its way with us—and we come to really know the God of light.

All of these spiritual truths are designed by God to be lived in real life—on this planet…in this world! Fellowship with God is not for those who live in caves and run from reality. Fellowship with God is for His children who know Him well and are mighty in their victories over Satan. To these Christians, the evil and transient allure of the world will have no appeal. In fact, this is exactly what John recommends to his flock as they face the pagan world they lived in:

Exploiting your resources in Christ exposes this evil and transitory world!

1 John: Outline

Prologue—call to fellowship: John will be presenting the reality of life in Christ so that his readers may share the joy of apostolic fellowship with Christ and one another (1 John 1:1-4).

Preamble—living in fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-3:10).

  • Walking in God’s Light—stay on the path of holiness (1 John 1:5-2:2)
  • Knowing the God of Light—follow Christ and love His people (1 John 2:3-11)

Body—the confidence of fellowship (1 John 2:12-4:17-19)

  • Reassurance—spiritual assets to resist the world (1 John 2:12-17)

Before exposing the lies behind the allure of everything this world has to offer, John reminds his readers of their spiritual assets…twice! The point is clear—when you are in fellowship with Christ you will over come the world!

I. Resisting the world begins by living in victorious fellowship with Christ (1 John 2:12-14; John 16:33).

A.   John emphatically asserts the spiritual competence of his readers (1 John 2:12-14).

1. Structure: These verses repeat a pattern of children, fathers, and young men (1 John 2:12-13a, 13b-14). It seems that the children refers to all of his readers whom he considered to be believers. And then the two subsets are the leaders and spiritually mature among them—father emphasizing their spiritual maturity, young men emphasizing their spiritual strength.

2. These three categories are repeated twice for two reasons: (1) the epistle was being read out loud—for emphasis; (2) there is a progression of what he is asserting about each group (I write, am writing, change in verb tense for more emphasis).

Children: Every reader who is a child of God is not only forgiven of their sins (1 John 2:13a), but also has come to know God in the way John was talking about in v 8 (1 John 2:13c). These are maturing flocks that should be overcoming the world.

Fathers: The leaders of the churches are very mature—they have come to know God well in intimate fellowship (1 John 2:12b, 14b).

Young Men: The maturing disciples have had victories over Satan (1 John 2:13b, this may be a synonym for the victory of salvation) and have grown strong by abiding so that their victories are renowned (14b).

B. The best defense is a good offense: Those who are strong in Christ will resist the world well.

1. If you are going to resist the world (see below), you must have assurance of salvation as a child of God (John 1:12; 16:33).

2. If you are going to resist the world (see below), you must have an intimate and victorious walk with Christ (John 14:1; 15:7-8; 18-25; 16:1, 33).

II. Resisting the world demands a biblical estimation of all this world has to offer—it is evil and transitory (1 John 2:15-17).

A.   The world is that system organized by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4), headed by Satan (John 12:31), and run by Satan, which leaves God out and is a rival to Him (James 1:27; 4:4). Three verses, three principles of exposure:

1. It is impossible to love the world and love God at the same time (1 John 2:2:15; 1 John 4:4-5; Luke 16:13).

2. Why? Everything the world has to offer is evil because it does not originate with God, but with Satan (2:16; John 16:18-25; 12:31). John breaks organizes this evil into three categories:

a. The lust of the flesh—the flesh is that part of us that wants to leave God out of life and still make it work (Romans 7:5; Colossians 2:11). Our “human” or fleshly desires will want to cling to the world for meaning and hope. This includes immorality, but also noble human causes—career, success, good works).

b. The lust of the eyes—all the world has to offer that is physically appealing. This of course includes all the world tries to tell us we need to get by—both immoral and moral.

c. The pride of life—all that the world says we should be proud of and find security in.

3. Why? Everything the world has to offer is now in the process of passing away, but everything the Lord has to offer is now in the process of bringing eternal meaning and significance to our lives (1 John 2:17; 2:8; John 1:5, 9).

B. So, what is it for you? Are you following the world and investing in what is only evil and will not last, or are you following Christ and investing in what is only good and will not be destroyed?

1. Do you really consider the world evil and transitory? Take the time, treasure and talent test!

2. Which of the three categories of worldly allure do you struggle with the most, and what are you going to do about it?

a. The lust of the flesh? Are you leaving the Lord out of the security your flesh demands for in your finances, relationships, schedule, priorities?

b. The lust of the eyes? Are you preoccupied with what you should not have (immorality) or do not have (materialism, fantasy life)?

c. The pride of life? Are you living your life so that you have something to boast about to men rather than God?

Resist Christ’s Adversaries!

1 John 2:18-27

Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning
(1 John 2:24).

In the preamble to his book, 1 John 1:5-2:11, the Apostle discusses the nature of this fellowship he desires for his readers. True fellowship is for those who walk in the light—sin (darkness) will always break fellowship with a holy (all light) God. As we walk in the light, a growing desire to obey Him and love His people allows His love to have its way with us—and we come to really know the God of light.

All of these spiritual truths are designed by God to be lived in real life—on this planet…in this world that belongs to Satan! Fellowship with God is not for those who live in caves and run from reality. Fellowship with God is for His children who know Him well and are mighty in their victories over Satan. These maturing disciples of Christ will resist their spiritual adversaries—the world (1 John 2:12-17) and Christ’s enemies who deny Him, the antichrists (1 John 2:18-27). The world has nothing to offer believers who exploit their riches in Christ; and the false teachers will not persuade those who abide in His Word:

Resist the enemies of Christ by abiding in His truth!

Outline: 1 John: Life in the Family

Prologue—call to fellowship (1 John 1:1-4)

Preamble—living in fellowship with God (11 John :5-3:10)

  • Walking in God’s Light—stay on the path of holiness (1 John 1:5-2:2)
  • Knowing the God of Light—follow Christ and love His people (1 John 2:3-11)

Body—the confidence of fellowship (1 John 2:12-4:17-19)

  • Reassurance—spiritual assets to resist the world (1 John 2:12-17) and the antichrists (1 John 2:18-27)

The world is “passing away” (1 John 2:17). One of the surest signs of its passing is the arrival of “antichrists” to harass and confuse the church. Rather than being dismayed by these enemies of Christ, the Apostle John describes them—knowing that this is simply a sign of the times and no threat to those maturing disciples of Christ who abide in His truth!

I. During this last phase of human history, forerunners of the Antichrist will try to deceive Christians (1 John 2:18-19).

A.   The church age will see precursors of the Antichrist trying to deceive Christians in the same way the Antichrist himself will deceive the entire world during the Tribulation (1 John 2:18-19)!

1. It is the last hour. Hour here is not a fixed period of time but a unique period of time (John 2:4; 4:21, 23; 5:25, 28; 16:25) that is passing away (1 John 2:12-14) until Satan’s final deception using the Antichrist. God experiences time differently than man does (2 Peter 3:3-8); Christ is coming “quickly” (Revelation 22:20)—as soon as the church age ends with the appearance of the “man of sin” and his false prophet, the Antichrist (Revelation 13:11-17; 16:13; 19:20; 20:10).

2. And as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming. His readers had been taught that the Antichrist is coming. The “man of sin” or Beast who will claim he is God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) and will rule the world (Revelation 13:5-8) will be assisted by a “front man”—the False Prophet, or Antichrist (1 John 4:1-3; Revelation 13:11-17; 16:13; 19:20; 20:10).

3. Even now many antichrists have come…they went out from us. John exposes the teachers of error who denied Christ (1 John 2: 22) as precursors of the Antichrist who will deny Him.

He then explains that they should not be surprised that they “went out from us”—either from the churches receiving the letter or the church in Judea. This is Satan’s most effective strategy during the church age—to deceive through false teachers who “seem” very Christian (false brethren secretly brought in, Galatians 2:4).

B. If you know prophecy the enemies of Christ will not surprise you!

1. They are many but doomed—their appearance remind us Jesus is coming soon!

2. They are stealthy but evil—though they look “Christian” they deny the reality of Christ and His promise of eternal life.

II. Resist their lie by abiding in the truth the Holy Spirit taught you and is teaching you—receive and apply apostolic doctrine (1 John 2:20-27).

A.   Only those who abide in the words the Holy Spirit teaches and applies (apostolic doctrine) will resist false teaching and abide in Christ (know the joy of fellowship, 1 John 1:3; 2:20-27).

1. You…have the anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. John assures them that they have the truth to resist the lies. The Holy Spirit was sent to “teach you all things” (John 14:26) and “to guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). The specific truth John has in mind is that Jesus is the Christ (the one who guarantees to every believer both resurrection and eternal life, John 11:25-27). Those who deny that, deny what the Spirit teaches about both the Father and the Son, and have neither (1 John 2:20-23).

2. You…let that abide in you which you have heard from the beginning. From the beginning takes us back to the Prologue—the teachings of the apostles about what they had seen and heard as eyewitnesses to the Christ (1 John 1:1-4). This is the only command, abide in that—apostolic doctrine taught by the Holy Spirit—and you will abide in the Son and the Father (joy of fellowship, purpose of the book). The specific truth John had in mind is the promise of eternal life. This was the deception of the false teachers (1 John 2:24-26).

3. You…have received the Holy Spirit who teaches you all things. The ongoing teaching of the Holy Spirit grows believers to apply the truth of apostolic doctrine. This is probably speaking primarily of the leaders of the fellowship who may have been intimidated by the slick teaching of the antichrists and their popularity (1 John 2:27).

B. If you know the Bible the enemies of Christ will not neutralize you!

  1. You have no need of their teaching—the Holy Spirit has taught you that Jesus is the Christ!

Note: This does not mean that we do not listen to others. This is speaking specifically of the teaching of false teachers. Even the most mature believer profits from the ministry of other believers who teach them to understand and apply God’s Word.

2. You do need to abide in what the Spirit has taught you—apostolic doctrine, especially eternal security!

3. You have no need for “new” teaching—the Spirit continues to teach you truth that is consistent with what you already know—the basics He taught you as a young Christian!

Are you vulnerable to the lies of today’s antichrists? On a scale of 1-10, how settled is the Word of God in your heart? Are you living in the settled state of a personal and growing relationship with God’s Spirit as He teaches you the content and application of the truth?

Live Like a Christian!

1 John 2:28-3:10a

And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure
(1 John 3:3)

As a father protecting his little children, John warns his friends that the false teachers who have left their assemblies will steal the greatest joy any believer will ever know—the joy of life in the family of God. The theme of First John is fellowship—that experience of intimacy with Christ and His people only available to those who belong to Him. The false teachers were telling them lies that would steal this intimacy.

This joy is not confined to our existence here on earth as Christians. A day is coming when every believer will stand before the Savior to give an account for his or her life. John’s extended exhortation to live in fellowship with Christ now so that we will have confidence at His Coming is marked by the inclusio—that you may have confidence at His coming judgment (1 John 2:28; 4:17). This introduces a new idea to the discussion of the joy of fellowship: The joy or lack of it at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Three inclusios within the inclusio paint a portrait of the abiding and loving Christian who will stand before Christ with the open confidence of a friend who has nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of.

The confident believer lives righteously, loves other Christians, and releases the life of God (1 John 2:29-4:16):

  • Inclusio—key word, manifest: You know that the life of God produces righteous behavior, not sin (1 John 2:29-3:10a). Live like a Christian!
  • Inclusio—key phrase, love one another: You know that the love of God produces love for Christians, not hate (3:10b-23). Love like a Christian!
  • Inclusio—key idea, God abiding in believers: You know that the Spirit of God produces spiritual victory—confessing Christ and overcoming the world (1 John 3:24-4:16). Live like a New Creation!

The first unit makes a simple, logical point. If we are abiding in Christ we will display His righteousness. The Greek word for manifest, translated manifest appear or reveal, occurs six times. What we display today in our lives on earth will be acknowledged at His Judgment Seat:

Christians who abide in Christ will display His righteousness—live like a Christian!

 

Outline: 1 John: Life in the Family

Prologue—call to fellowship (1 John 1:1-4)

Preamble—living in fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-2:11)

  • Walking in God’s Light—stay on the path of holiness (1 John 1:5-2:2)
  • Knowing the God of Light—follow Christ and love His people (1 John 2:3-11)

Body—the confidence of fellowship (1 John 2:12-4:17-19)

  • Reassurance—spiritual assets to resist the world (1 John 2:12-17) and the antichrists (1 John 2:18-27)
  • Exhortation—live in fellowship with Him now and you will be confident at His Coming (1 John 2:28-4:19)

Abiding Christians display Christ’s righteousness (1 John 2:28-3:10a)

Sin and abiding are mutually exclusive. Abiding produces the righteousness you would expect from a child of God.

 

I. Only those believers who live righteously are truly abiding in Christ (1 John 2:28-3:10a).

A.   Those who live in fellowship with Christ will have confidence when they meet Him and not shrink away in shame (1 John 2:28)!

1. Every Christian must give an account of his or her life in Christ—from the time they believed to the time they died (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10). This is not merely a citing of our “good works” to be rewarded but a comprehensive review of both “good and bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:5-15). The goal of every believer should be to hear Christ’s “well done” as we stand before Him at His Coming.

2. The word abide was repeated seven times in 1 John 2:12-27. This same abiding relationship with Christ—intimate fellowship—that brings joy here on earth brings confidence at His Judgment Seat.

3. When Christ is manifested (appears) believers will either greet Him confidently or shrink away in shame.

B. The purifying hope of seeing Him who came to display His righteous glory motivates us to display His righteousness here on earth (1 John 2:29-3:10a).

1. When Christ is revealed (manifested, Rapture) the essential character of those born of God will be revealed—our purifying hope (1 John 2:29-3:3).

2. Since the sinless Christ was manifested (1st Advent) to take away sin and destroy the wicked works of the devil, abiding in Him and sin are mutually exclusive (1 John 3:4-9).

a. Sin stands in opposition to the purity that our hope of seeing Him should bring. Lawlessness has more to do with wickedness than it has to do with following specific laws. The false teachers were trying to separate sin from righteousness (4). But two facts believers know prove that sin is a serious issue—Christ became incarnate to remove sin and there is no sin in Him (review, God is light, 5).

c. Abiding Christians do not sin and are the only ones who can claim they see and know God (review, intimate fellowship, 6). Note: If abiding in Christ equals being a Christian, this verse contradicts what John wrote in 1 John 1:8 and 10, and the personal experience of every honest believer. But, if abiding in Christ is living in intimate fellowship with Him and confessing any and every sin that His light exposes (1 John 1:5-10), then there is no contradiction. The present tense solution, continually sin (NASB, NIV), cannot be supported by the grammar: For instance, we would never read John 14:6 to say, “No one continually comes to the Father except through me,” implying that this same person would not come to the Father intermittently. The Christian who sins is not seeing and knowing God at that time, not in the way John means it—see Him up close because you are in His light (1 John 1:7) and know Him intimately because you are following Him (1 John 2:6).

d. To refute the false teachers’ claims that sin had nothing to do with spirituality, John reminds his readers that conduct manifests spiritual relationship. God hates sin (1 John 3:5) and sin has its source in the devil (1 John 3:7-8). Note: Though devilish conduct should cause us to reconsider someone’s claim to be a child of God by examining their belief, the primary application of these verses is to expose the false claim that we can abide in Christ while tolerating sin in our life.

e. When a Christian sins he or she is behaving like a child of Satan—who they really are is not made evident (9; 1 Corinthians 3:3). Sin is never the product of our new nature (seed=what God imparted when we believed and were reborn).

3. The absence or presence of righteousness manifests the children of God and Satan (3:10a). Again, though a professing Christian who lives like the devil needs to be challenged to see what he or she is believing about Christ, the primary application is for the Judgment Seat of Christ. “If you live your life embarrassing Christ by your devilish behavior, then He will embarrass you when you see Him.”

II. Righteous behavior is required if you want confidence at the Judgment Seat of Christ!

A.   Only those who abide in Christ will have confidence at His coming!

B. The mark of an abiding Christian is righteous behavior; sin is never the result of abiding!

Confidence at His Coming

1 John 2:28-4:19

Abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence before Him
(1 John 2:28)

As a father protecting his little children, John warns his friends that the false teachers who have left their assemblies will steal the greatest joy any believer will ever know—the joy of life in the family of God. The theme of First John is fellowship—that experience of intimacy with Christ and His people only available to those who belong to Him. The passion of John is, “don’t lose it by listening to these lying teachers. True joy is based on apostolic truth and is only possible in fellowship with God” (1 John 1:1-4).

This joy is not confined to our existence here on earth as Christians. A day is coming when every believer will stand before the Savior to give an account for his or her life. Imagine staring into the face of Christ! Just the two of you as you see your life from His perspective—you see what He sees.

  • No hiding—it’s all there.
  • No spinning—all of your excuses are gone.
  • No attorney to defend you or counselor to explain away your decisions.
  • The look in His eyes says it all!

Though many believers would rather “not think” about this face-to-face reckoning with the Lord Jesus, the Bible says that you and I will stand before Him. 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). Christ Himself will evaluate the true spiritual maturity and worth of our lives. This was on the heart of the Apostles as they taught the early church, that believers should live to please Christ on earth to hear His “well done” in heaven. There will only be two types of believers at the Judgment Seat—the confident and the shamed:

Two choices at the Judgment Seat of Christ: Confidence or Shame.

Choose confidence now— abide in Him and love His people!

 

Outline of 1 John: Life in the Family

Prologue—call to fellowship (1 John 1:1-4)

Preamble—living in fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-2:11)

  • Walking in God’s Light—stay on the path of holiness (1 John 1:5-2:2)
  • Knowing the God of Light—follow Christ and love His people (1 John 2:3-11)

Body—the confidence of fellowship (1 John 2:12-4:17-19)

  • Reassurance—spiritual assets to resist the world (2:12-17) and the antichrists (1 John 2:18-27)
  • Exhortation—live in fellowship with Him now and you will be confident at His Coming (1 John 2:28-4:19)

John makes it perfectly clear that those who live in fellowship with Christ by abiding in Him and loving His people will be the ones who stand confidently, but those who follow the false teachers will shrink away in shame. He devotes a major portion of his letter to the confidence (1 John 2:28) and boldness (1 John 4:17) he desires for them at the Judgment Seat.

 

I. Only those believers who abide in Christ and let His love mature in them will have confidence at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 John 2:28; 4:17).

A.   The life that leads to confidence before Christ at His Judgment Seat is lived in intimacy with Him and His people (1 John 2:28; 4:17)!

1. Every Christian must give an account of his or her life in Christ—from the time they believed to the time they died (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10). This is not merely a citing of our “good works” to be rewarded but a comprehensive review of both “good and bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:5-15). The goal of every believer should be to hear Christ’s “well done” as we stand before Him at His Coming.

2. There are two possible responses to His evaluation of our life lived for Him having been delivered from the presence of sin: 1) Confidence—the pure (without sin, no boasting, no ambition, only loving Him) joy of knowing that we lived for Him. 2) Shame—the pure (without sin, no defensive protests, only loving Him) regret of knowing that we did not live for Him (1 John 2:28).

3. There are two general guidelines for living a life pleasing to Him that leads to confidence (Inclusio, 2:28; 4:17): 1) Abide in Him—live our life in intimate fellowship with Him (1 John 2:28). 2) Mature in His love—live our life in the power of His growing love for one another (41 John :17).

B. There is no “I wish I had known” at the Judgment Seat of Christ. His Word tells us now what every Christian will wish they had known then!

1. Abide in Him—live to be near Him!

2. Love His people—live to love His people!

II. The portrait of a Christian who will stand confidently before Christ (Outline of 1 John 2:28-4:19).

A.   The confident believer lives righteously, loves other Christians, and releases the life of God      (1 John 2:29-4:16).

1. Inclusio—manifest: You know that the life of God produces righteous behavior, not sin (1 John 2:29-3:10a). Live like a Christian!

2. Inclusio—love one another: You know that the love of God produces love for Christians, not hate (1 John 3:10b-23).Love like a Christian!

3. Inclusio—God abiding in believers: You know that the Spirit of God produces spiritual victory—confessing Christ and overcoming the world (1 John 3:24-4:16). Live like a New Creation!

B. There is no “I wish I had known” at the Judgment Seat of Christ. His Word tells us how to live now so that we will have confidence then!

1. Manifest His righteousness through your life—live like a Christian!

2. Love one another during your life—love like a Christian!

3. Live from your new nature—live like a New Creation!

Bottom Line:

You will be there, and He will call your name!

You know now what every believer will wish they knew then! You do not have to shrink away in shame. If you knew Christ was coming next week, what would you change about your life?

Do it!

Love Like a Christian!

1 John 3:10-23

Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and truth
(1 John 3:18)

The joy of fellowship is not confined to our existence here on earth as Christians. A day is coming when every believer will stand before the Savior to give an account for his or her life. John’s extended exhortation to live in fellowship with Christ now so that we will have confidence at His Coming is marked by the inclusio—that you may have confidence at His coming judgment (1 John 2:28; 4:17). This introduces a new idea to the discussion of the joy of fellowship: The joy or lack of it at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Three inclusios within the inclusio paint a portrait of the abiding and loving Christian who will stand before Christ with the open confidence of a friend who has nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of.

The confident believer lives righteously, loves other Christians, and releases the life of God (1 John 2:29-4:16):

  • Inclusio—key word, manifest: You know that the life of God produces righteous behavior, not sin (1 John 2:29-3:10a). Live like a Christian!
  • Inclusio—key phrase, love one another: You know that the love of God produces love for Christians, not hate (1 John 3:10b-23). Love like a Christian!
  • Inclusio—key idea, God abiding in believers: You know that the Spirit of God produces spiritual victory—confessing Christ and overcoming the world (1 John 3:24-4:16). Live like a New Creation!

The second unit defines true Christian righteousness as more than mere morality. The righteousness that manifests a child of God is inseparable from genuine Christian love that is expressed in concrete, Christlike acts. The Greek term for love has only occurred seven times so far in 1 John. From this point forward it will be repeated 35 times! There is no refuting John’s emphasis—if you want confidence when you stand before Christ then you better start loving your brothers and sisters in Him now:

Christians who abide in Christ will display His love for one another:

Love like a Christian!

1 John: Life in the Family: Outline

Prologue—call to fellowship (1 John 1:1-4)

Preamble—living in fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-2:11)

  • Walking in God’s Light—stay on the path of holiness (1 John 1:5-2:2)
  • Knowing the God of Light—follow Christ and love His people (1 John 2:3-11)

Body—the confidence of fellowship (1 John 2:12-4:17-19)

  • Reassurance—spiritual assets to resist the world (1 John 2:12-17) and the antichrists (1 John 2:18-27)
  • Exhortation—live in fellowship with Him now and you will be confident at His Coming (1 John 2:28-4:19)
  • Abiding Christians display Christ’s righteousness (1 John 2:28-3:10a)
  • Abiding Christians display Christ’s love for one another (1 John 3:10b-23)

Lack of Christian love and abiding are mutually exclusive. Abiding produces the righteousness you would expect from a child of God—Christlike love for the brethren.

I.   Only those believers who love one another are truly abiding in Christ (1 John 2:28-3:10a).

A. Those who live in fellowship with Christ will have confidence when they meet Him and not shrink away in shame (1 John 2:28; 4:17)!

1.  Every Christian must give an account of his or her life in Christ—from the time they believed to the time they died (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10). This is not merely a citing of our “good works” to be rewarded but a comprehensive review of both “good and bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:5-15). The goal of every believer should be to hear Christ’s “well done” as we stand before Him at His Coming. Only those who “abide” in Him will be affirmed in this way.

2.  A sure sign of abiding is the growth or maturity of the God-given love we received when we believed in Jesus. His mature love in us now brings confidence at His coming (1 John 4:17).

B. Believers who abide in Christ produce the love for one another you would expect from a child of God (1 John 3:10b-23).

1.  The abiding influence of God only produces righteousness—more specifically, the righteous and “divine” love God gives Christians for one another (1 John 3:10).

2.  What righteous love is not: Any believer who hates his or her brother in Christ is not abiding in the new life He gave them but doing the work of the devil as they abide in the sphere of death they were delivered from (1 John 3:10b-15).

a.  Biblical proof that not loving one another is not of God: Not loving one another breaks Jesus’ foremost commandment 1 John 3:11; 2:3-11; John 13:34); the most famous example of brother-to-brother hatred, Cain’s murder of Abel, was the devil causing spiritual envy (1 John 3:12); and the world—Satan’s evil world system—hates Christians (1 John 3:13; 2:15-17; John 15:18-19).

b.  Experiential proof that not loving one another is not of God: When we passed from death to life we began loving one another—that is how we expressed our new life, eternal life (14a). When we hate one another we are expressing our old life—Cain-like hatred that just wants to get rid of a brother—and cannot be expressing our new life (1 John 3:14b-15).

3.  What righteous love is: True Christian love is self-sacrificing and expressed in tangible acts of kindness (1 John 3:16-18).

a.  True Christian love has an objective standard: The love Christ demonstrated when He laid down His life for us (1 John 3:16; John 15:13).

b.  Christ’s love in us is never expressed by lack of compassion for the needs of the brethren or mere words, but by sacrificial deeds of kindness that truly follow Christ’s example and teaching (1 John 3:17-18).

4.  What righteous love does for believers: True Christian love brings confidence to a believer’s prayers on earth and appearance before Christ in heaven (1 John 3:19-23).

a.  Though the needs of other Christians will always seem overwhelming and we may feel inadequate in our love, those who express Christ’s love in specific acts of kindness will have confidence in their prayers because the Spirit will let them know they pleased Him (1 John 3:19-22)

b.  Summary Statement: The confident believer at His judgment (context) knows he or she has pleased Him by doing what He says (1 John 3:22, John 15:4)—trusting Him (John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24) and loving His people (John 13:34-35) (1 John 3:23).

II.  Christlike love for other Christians is required if you want confidence at the Judgment Seat of Christ!

A. Are you expressing or suppressing Christ’s love for His church and other Christians? How? Why Not? Any Christian you wish was out of the way? One way you can love an unlovely believer?

B. When someone tells you they “abide” in Christ, consider the evidence! If they “hate” the church…

1.  Ask them if they have believed in Christ because this is not what you would expect from a child of God.

2.  If they have believed, ask them if they have heard of the Judgment Seat of Christ because this is not what He approves from His people.

Live Like a New Creation!

1 John 3:24-4:16

God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
(1 John 4:16)

The joy of fellowship is not confined to our existence here on earth as Christians. A day is coming when every believer will stand before the Savior to give an account for his or her life. John’s extended exhortation to live in fellowship with Christ now so that we will have confidence at His Coming is marked by the inclusio—that you may have confidence at His coming judgment (1 John 2:28; 4:17). This introduces a new idea to the discussion of the joy of fellowship: The joy or lack of it at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Three inclusios within the inclusio paint a portrait of the abiding and loving Christian who will stand before Christ with the open confidence of a friend who has nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of.

The confident believer lives righteously, loves other Christians, and releases the life of God (1 John 2:29-4:16):

  • Inclusio—key word, manifest: You know that the life of God produces righteous behavior, not sin (1 John 2:29-3:10a). Live like a Christian!
  • Inclusio—key phrase, love one another: You know that the love of God produces love for Christians, not hate (1 John 3:10b-23). Love like a Christian!
  • Inclusio—key idea, God abiding in believers: You know that the Spirit of God produces spiritual victory—confessing Christ and overcoming the world (1 John 3:24-4:16). Live like a New Creation!

The third unit reminds us that true Christian righteousness is never the work of mere humans. The righteousness that manifests a child of God is inseparable from the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit. The emphasis of abiding now shifts from us abiding in Him to Him abiding in us. When the Spirit who indwells every believer is comfortable in our lives, we will speak the truth about Christ and love one another with His love:

Christians who abide in Christ will display His truth  and love :

Live like a New Creation!

1 John: Life in the Family: Outline

Prologue—call to fellowship (1 John 1:1-4)

Preamble—living in fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-2:11)

  • Walking in God’s Light—stay on the path of holiness (1 John 1:5-2:2)
  • Knowing the God of Light—follow Christ and love His people (1 John 2:3-11)

Body—the confidence of fellowship (1 John 2:12-4:17-19)

Reassurance—spiritual assets to resist the world (1 John 2:12-17) and the antichrists (1 John 2:18-27)

Exhortation—live in fellowship with Him now and you will be confident at His Coming (1 John 2:28-4:19)

  • Abiding Christians display Christ’s righteousness (1 John 2:28-3:10a)
  • Abiding Christians display Christ’s love for one another (1 John 3:10b-23)
  • Abiding Christians display the Spirit’s truth and love (1 John 3:24-4:16)

Lack of Christian testimony and abiding are mutually exclusive. Abiding produces the righteousness you would expect from a child of God—the release of spiritual power.

 

I.   Only those believers who release the power of the Spirit are truly abiding in Christ (1 John 3:24-4:17).

A. Those who live in fellowship with Christ will have confidence when they meet Him and not shrink away in shame 1 John (2:28; 4:17)!

Every Christian must give an account of his or her life in Christ—from the time they believed to the time they died (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10). This is not merely a citing of our “good works” to be rewarded but a comprehensive review of both “good and bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10;  1 Corinthians 3:5-15). The goal of every believer should be to hear Christ’s “well done” as we stand before Him at His Coming. Only those who “abide” in Him will be affirmed in this way. A sure sign of abiding is the growth or maturity of the God-given love we received when we believed in Jesus. His mature love in us now brings confidence at His coming (1 John 4:17).

B. Believers who abide in Christ produce the fruit of truth and love that can only be explained by the abiding presence of God’s Spirit (1 John 3:24-4:16).

1.  Obedient believers who love one another not only know that they abide in Christ but the Spirit assures them that God abides in them (1 John 3:24, 4:16).

a.  Mutual abiding is the ultimate experience of fellowship the Lord Jesus promised in John 14:20-23 and offers to every believer in Revelation 3:20. Keep in mind that abiding means to be comfortable in a relationship. Every believer is in union with Christ (John 14:20), but only those who love Him enough to keep (guard) His word are abiding in Him and Him in them (John 14:23).

b.  The Holy Spirit indwells every believer (John 15:4-7; Romans 8:9), but the Spirit manifests Himself only in those believers in whom God abides (those who keep His commandments, 3:24; those He fills, Ephesians 5:18; those who abide in His love for one another, 4:16).

2.  Warning: Be careful to distinguish the work of the Holy Spirit from the work of evil spirits  (1 John 4:1-6).

a.  Anyone who cannot confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not manifesting the work of the Holy Spirit but the spirit of the coming Antichrist (1 John 4:1-3).

b.  The Holy Spirit who indwells every believer (1 John 3:24; 4:2, 13; Romans 8:9) is stronger than Satan and his evil world system (John 16:33). The popularity of false prophets should not surprise us since their message comes from Satan who is the god of this world (John 12:41;     2 Corinthians 4:4), but believers should discern between truth and error (though believers can be deceived, 2:24; 2 John 2:7-11) (1 John 4:4-6).

3.  True Christian love comes from God, not from believers  (1 John 4:7-10).

a.  True Christian love is superhuman—it comes from God and is only displayed in believers (born of God) whoknow God (virtual synonym for fellowship or abiding, 1 John 2:3-5) (1 John 4:7).

b.  Those who do not love cannot say they “know” the God of love (not abiding, 1 John 4:8).

c.  That love comes from God is obvious in Christ’s atoning sacrifice that God initiated because He loved us, not because we loved Him (1 John 4:9-10).

4.  God’s love for us motivates us to love one another in Spirit and in truth (1 John 4:11-16).

a.  God’s love for us is never comfortable remaining in us but matures (has its end) only when it is expressed toward others (1 John 4:11-12).

b.  God’s Spirit confirms His abiding presence in us as He works in us to confess Christ and love one another (1 John 4:13-16).

II.  God abides in believers who allow His Spirit to display His truth and love through their lives—and these will have confidence at the Judgment Seat of Christ!

A. Are you expressing or suppressing the Spirit’s ministry in your life? He always tells others the truth about Jesus and always loves others with Jesus’ love!

B. When someone tells you the Holy Spirit is their source of power, consider the evidence: The Spirit will confess the truth about Christ and display God’s love—for the lost and other believers!

Loving One Another and Meaning It!

1 John 4:20-5:17 and 4:9-11

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us

and sent His Son (1 John 4:10).

As a father protecting his little children, John warns his friends that the false teachers who have left their assemblies will steal the greatest joy any believer will ever know—the joy of life in the family of God. The theme of First John is fellowship—that experience of intimacy with Christ and His people only available to those who belong to Him. The passion of John is, “don’t lose it by listening to these lying teachers. True joy is based on apostolic truth and is only possible in fellowship with God” (1 John 1:1-4).

In his extended discourse on the confidence of the believer at Christ’s coming (1 John 2:28-4:19) John exhorted his readers to love with the pure love of God and promised that the maturity of this love would be a key source of confidence on that Day. In the final segment of his epistle, he applies all he has said about love to the everyday life of every Christian.

Exactly how we can love one another in these wonderful ways is his primary aim in these paragraphs (1 John 4:20-5:17). The “how” to love of this section must not be severed from the “how” we were loved portions of the epistle it follows. Nothing but legalism and failure will proceed from the life of the believer who tries to follow the guidance of these verses apart from the liberating truths of the first four chapters.

Today we transition into this section with the Lord’s own reminder of the depth of His love for us—the Lord’s Table. This is a wonderful way to prepare our hearts for the demands of the teaching of the next few weeks—remembering that it all begins with His love for us:

He loved us; we believed; we live through Him; we love one another!

The Apostle divides his exhortation to really love our fellow Christians into three sections—no excuses, only faith, and the preeminence of prayer.

I. The Majesty of Christian Love (1 John 4:20-5:17).

A.   No excuses accepted! Christians who love God and keep His commandments (by the way, the two are the same, John 14:19-21; 23) will love every believer in Jesus (1 John 4:20-5:3a).

B. No personal power required! When you believed you received the power to love others and pray to the Father (1 John 5:3b-15).

C. No limit to the power of loving prayer! Your love and prayers have the power to save the life of a sinning brother or sister in Christ (1 John 5:16-17).

II. Remember—it’s not our love for Him but His love for us that made this possible! (1 John 4:9-11)

A.   Remember—He sent His Son to demonstrate His love for us (1 John 4:9a).

B.   Remember—when we believed in Him we received eternal life and the capacity to love with His love (1 John 5:11-13)

C. Remember—He sent His Son into the world so that we might live (and love) through Him (1 John 4:9b).

D. Remember—He loved us first and sent His Son to be the propitiation (payment that turns away wrath) for our sins (1 John 4:10).

E. Therefore—we ought to love one another (1 John 4:11, thorough explanation in 4:20-5:17).

How has the Lord’s love for you broken the chain of unloving sin in your life?

Really Loving God!

1 John 4:20-5:3a

He who loves God must love his brother also (1 John 4:21).

As a father protecting his little children, John warns his friends that the false teachers who have left their assemblies will steal the greatest joy any believer will ever know—the joy of life in the family of God. The theme of First John is fellowship—that experience of intimacy with Christ and His people only available to those who belong to Him. The passion of John is, “don’t lose it by listening to these lying teachers. True joy is based on apostolic truth and is only possible in fellowship with God” (1 John 1:1-4).

This joy of fellowship is only for those who abide in Christ by keeping His word—especially His foremost commandment to love one another (1 John 1:5-2:27). In his extended discourse on the confidence of the believer at Christ’s coming (1 John 2:28-4:19) John exhorts his readers to abide in Him by loving God and their fellow Christians with the pure love of God and promised that the maturity of this love would be a key source of confidence on that Day. In the final segment of his epistle, he applies all he has said about love to the everyday life of every Christian.

Without apologizing for his demanding teaching on the absolute necessity of loving our fellow Christians, the Apostle dedicates three paragraphs to removing every excuse believers offer for not loving one another with the love of Christ (1 John 4:20-5:17):

  • Love every believer in Christ: If they confess Christ, they are your brother or sister—love them because they are His children! (1 John 4:20-5:3a)
  • Love with the power you have already received: If you believed in Christ, you have the power to love—love them because you can! (1 John 5:3b-5:15)
  • Love until God takes them home: If they are sinning, God will decide when to take them out—love them to save their lives! (1 John 5:16-17)

A common defense from a Christian who is resisting the message of First John because he or she feels guilty for their unloving attitudes and actions toward another believers is to claim, “Well, at least I love God!” No they don’t. It is impossible to be loving God and hating a fellow Christian at the same time:

Christians who truly love God do not offer excuses  for not loving His children!

Any believer who claims love for God while harboring lovelessness toward a fellow Christian is lying. But there is a way to know for sure if a Christian truly loves God.

 

I. Christians who love God will love His children—all of them and each of them (1 John 4:20-5:1).

A.   Christians who say they love God should love His children—those who believe in Jesus (1 John 4:20-5:1).

1. Bold, absolute statement: Any Christian who claims to love God while hating his fellow Christian is a liar (1 John 4:20a).

2. Reason why this is a false claim: Love for the unseen God will find expression in love for our brethren (1 John 4:20b; 3:17-19). Practical insight: True love is an up-close type of love. It doesn’t abandon the relationship when intimacy reveals faults and shortcomings.

3. Reason why this is a false claim: Love for God always involves keeping His commandments (John 14:19-21, 23), especially Christ’s foremost command to love one another (John 14:15; 13:34-35) (1 John 4:21). Textual insight: “We have this commandment” is a blending of two commandments that cannot be separated or both are broken—love God; love your brother also.

4. Reason why this is a false claim: Everyone who confesses to believe that Jesus is the Christ (the Anointed One whom God promised to provide as a substitute sacrifice for the sins of the world) should be loved as a child of God (1 John 5:1; John 1:12).

Background insight: A “proverb” in Israel at that time said this about loving a father and his children: “Everyone who loves the father also loves the children fathered by him.”

B. First John’s demand to love one another intensifies as John removes our excuses not to love!

1. The “super-spiritual” excuse: “Well, at least I love God!” No you don’t! You cannot love Him and disregard His commandment to love one another!

2. The “Jewish lawyer” excuse (Luke 11:27-29, “And, who is my neighbor?”): “I don’t need to love him or her! The way they behave, the way they have hurt me, he or she could not possibly be a Christian!” No picking and choosing! Our brothers and sisters are those who believe that Jesus is the Christ. So, don’t ask, “Who is my brother or sister?” to define your responsibility away. The Word of God plainly tells you who the children of God are—believers in the Christ!

II. Those who keep His commandments (guard or love His guidance) truly love God (1 John 5:2-3a).

A.   Genuine love for God will result in obedience to His commandments (1 John 5:2-3a).

1. Summary Restatement: Loving His children=loving Him=keeping His commandments (1 John 5:2).

2. Climax: Any believer can know who truly loves God—those who keep His commandments (1 John 5:3a).

B. First John’s offer to enjoy fellowship with God in the church and at His coming will only be experienced by those who truly love Him!

1. Are you close to someone who claims to love God but is holding a grudge, refusing to forgive, or gossips about a fellow Christian? What is God asking you to say to them?

2. Are you wondering why you are not experiencing the joy of fellowship? Is your love for God waning through disobedience when it comes to loving a fellow Christian? What is God saying to you today?

Break the chain of hatred in your marriage, your family, your church, and your world—write out a specific plan of action for loving the most unlovely child of God in your life today.

 

Confess—Father, I agree with your condemnation of my excuses for not loving                   .

 

Claim—Father, I know you have given me the power to love .

 

Commit—Father, I expect you to give me opportunity to love and tell you now that when these opportunities arrive, I will do what you say.

 

Really Loving by Faith!

1 John 5:3b-15

And His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).

This joy of fellowship is only for those who abide in Christ by keeping His word—especially His foremost commandment to love one another (1 John 1:5-2:27). In his extended discourse on the confidence of the believer at Christ’s coming (1 John 2:28-4:19) John exhorts his readers to abide in Him by loving God and their fellow Christians with the pure love of God and promised that the maturity of this love would be a key source of confidence on that Day. In the final segment of his epistle, he applies all he has said about love to the everyday life of every Christian.

Without apologizing for his demanding teaching on the absolute necessity of loving our fellow Christians, the Apostle dedicates three paragraphs to removing every excuse believers offer for not loving one another with the love of Christ 1 John (4:20-5:17):

  • Love every believer in Christ: If they confess Christ, they are your brother or sister—love them because they are His children! (1 John 4:20-5:3a)
  • Love with the power you have already received: If you believed in Christ, you have the power to love—love them because you can! 1 John (5:3b-5:15)
  • Love until God takes them home: If they are sinning, God will decide when to take them out—love them to save their lives! (1 John 5:16-17)

A common reaction to the absolute requirement to love every believer is, “You don’t know how difficult this will be for me. I can’t do this; it’s too hard to love that Christian!” Yes you can. Your faith in Christ made you a world-conqueror, a new creation with the capacity to keep every command by His grace. Only faith in Christ brings the new birth that makes obedience to God’s command an achievable goal:

Love the unlovely Christian because you can !

 

Christ invites His weak and exhausted followers to a rest of obedience to His commands (Matthew 11:28-30). When we take on His yoke, He pulls with us. And we discover that His commands are not burdensome but easy, and His burden on us light.

I. The only way to really love God is by trusting in Jesus as the Son of God, who answers prayers to do His will (1 John 5:3b-15).

A.   Only those who keep His commandments (guard, keep watch over, observant, careful, attentiveness to God’s will), especially His command to love one another, truly love God (1 John 4:20-5:3a).

But His commandments are not burdensome (oppressive so as to crush) (1 John 5:3b). John is repeating the teaching of Jesus—the Christian life (following Him) is not at all an overwhelming yoke if we will come to Him (Matthew 11:28-30).

B.   Every Christian can keep His commandments—all who believe that Jesus is the Son of God have the power to overcome the world (Metonymy, substitution of one word for another with which it is associated, of effect for cause: the world is the evil world system in rebellion against Christ that is all about disobeying His commandments and every Christian is pressured by this world system headed by Satan to disobey, especially when it comes to not loving fellow Christians) (1 John 5:4-5).

1. This fundamental understanding of the Christian life, that it is lived from the new nature (whatever is born of God), protects us from two extremes: 1) Viewing spirituality as a “new” version of the Old Testament requirement to obey commandments that the New Testament teaches was an impossible standard. 2) Compromising the absolute necessity to keep His commandments if we love Him.

2. The only way to receive this new nature is by faith in Jesus as the Son of God who has overcome the world (John 16:33; 1 John 2:13; 4:4).

C. Faith in Jesus as the Son of God overcomes the world because He is the Son of God who gives life to all who believe and answers their prayers (1 John 5:6-15).

1. Reason why faith in Jesus as the Son of God overcomes the world—it is true that He is the Son of God: Three witnesses confirm the truth that Jesus is the Son of God (this seems to be confronting the heresy that Jesus was not fully God): Holy Spirit’s teaching through the apostles and prophets, at Jesus’ water baptism (Matthew 3:7; John 1:32-33, 34; plus God’s voice, Matthew 3:17), and the blood of His crucifixion (John 19:35-37; plus the miracles). The heresy circulating in these churches was that the divine Christ that descended upon the human Jesus at His baptism left Him before the crucifixion (1 John 2:22). These witnesses refute this lie that God did not die for sin (1 John 5:6-8)

2. Reason why faith in Jesus as the Son of God overcomes the world—everyone who believes in Jesus in this way receives His overcoming life: Those who believe in the Son of God’s name (the Christ, the Anointed One whom God promised to provide as a substitute sacrifice for the sins of the world) can know that he or she has this life—eternal life (1 John 5:9-13; John 1:12—believe in His name).

3. Reason why faith in Jesus as the Son of God overcomes the world—He answers believers’ prayers to do His will: Since we are able to do His will (1 John 5:123), we can ask for help as we do His will (14) and know that He is granting our request (1 John 5:15; John 14:13-14—ask in His name).

II. How to really love God by keeping His commandment to love one another:

A.   Receive His life by believing in His name—the Christ who is the Son of God.

1. The life of God has the power to overcome the world and can only be received by faith in Jesus who is the Son of God according to all witnesses (John 1:12; John 6:47).

2. God promises that all who believe in the name of the Son of God (Christ, Anointed One sent by God as the sacrifice substitute) have this life (John 5:24; 20:30-31).

B. Release this life by trusting in His word and asking Him for strength!

1. Christ made you a world-conqueror (Colossians 1:13) when you believed in Him! You are not who you use to be and you do not have to live the way you use to live—especially in relationships (1 John 5:3b-13; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 2:6; 2 Corinthians 5:7, 17

2. Christ will help you become the world-conqueror (Overcomers of Revelation 2 and 3) you were meant to be! You can know the petitions you ask for will be granted when they are according to His will—especially in relationships (1 John 5:14-15; John 16:23-24).

Break the chain of hatred in your marriage, your family, your church, and your world—write out a specific plan of action for loving the most unlovely child of God in your life today.

 

Confess—Father, I agree with your condemnation of my excuses for not loving                   .

 

Claim—Father, I know you have given me the power to love .

Commit—Father, I expect you to answer my prayer to help me love and tell you now that when the answer comes, I will do what you say.

 

 

Life-Saving Prayers!

1 John 5:16-17

If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, He will ask,

and He will give him life (1 John 5:16).

The joy of fellowship is only for those who abide in Christ by keeping His word—especially His foremost commandment to love one another (1 John 1:5-2:27). In his extended discourse on the confidence of the believer at Christ’s coming (1 John 2:28-4:19) John exhorts his readers to abide in Him by loving God and their fellow Christians with the pure love of God and promised that the maturity of this love would be a key source of confidence on that Day. In the final segment of his epistle, he links love for one another with love for God.

As he makes his point John dedicates three paragraphs to removing every excuse believers offer for not loving one another with the love of Christ (1 John 4:20-5:17):

  • Love every believer in Christ: If they confess Christ, they are your brother or sister—love them because they are His children! (1 John 4:20-5:3a)
  • Love with the power you have already received: If you believed in Christ, you have the power to love—love them because you can! (1 John 5:3b-5:15)
  • Love until God takes them home: If they are sinning, God will decide when to take them out—love them to save their lives! (1 John 5:16-17)

Eventually, all of us will know Christians whose lifestyle is so wicked that we find it almost impossible to love them. John’s final words on loving one another tell us precisely how to express love to the prodigal:

Love the prodigal  by praying for them until the Father calls them home!

Our Heavenly Father takes sin seriously. Only He knows when one of His children has crossed the line to the discipline that leads to a premature death. Our part in all of this is to pray.

 

I. God the Father disciplines His children and brings the hopeless or disruptive prodigal home to heaven (Selected Scripture).

A.   God convicts His children of sin so that they will confess (agree with His condemnation of their sin) and stay in the light of fellowship (1 John 1:9).

B. God disciplines His children who persist in sin so that they will repent—turn back to Him—to produce the fruit of righteousness  (Hebrews 12: 5-11).

C.   God severely judges His once-mature children whose persistent sin defames Christ and leaves them insensitive to church discipline (Hebrews 6:1-8).

D.   God finally calls some believers home when their sin-scarred souls are beyond repentance or when the offence is so seriously resisting the work of the Holy Spirit in a local church that it must be dealt with swiftly by death (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 11:30; James 5:14-15; 1 John 5:16-17).

1. “Premature death” is a better phrase than “sin to death” or “sin leading to death.” The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and it manifests in two ways: There is spiritual death (separation from God) for all who do not accept Christ’s payment for their sin by believing in Him (1 John 5:11-13). There is physical death (separation from the body) for all except the Rapture generation and the few God translated to heaven in the Old Testament (Romans 5:12).

2. Some believers in Corinth sinned in their self-centered and calloused worship at the Lord’s Table so that many were sick and some even died prematurely (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

3. James exhorts elders to make sure that sickness is not due to sin (1 John 5:14-15) and every believer to confess sin and pray for one another so that this type of death might be avoided (1 John 5:16).

4. Like Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11), these believers do not lose the salvation of their souls, but their physical life on earth is ended. This is why “premature death” is better.

5. In cases where discipline results in physical death, prayer will not succeed in turning away the divine rod of discipline. The “sin unto death” is not a single, isolated act, but one that has been repeated over and over again by the disobedient child of God. The words “If anyone sees” seem to indicate that the sinning involved some overt action, probably something that affected the entire assembly of believers (1 John 5:16-17).

Helpful Notes, 1 John 5:16-17: These verses are speaking of Christians: “The fact that John needed to warn his readers against the possibility of sinning and failing to continue in the truth and in the doctrine of Christ (1 John 2:24; 2 John 7-11) suggests that he did not altogether exclude the possibility that a person might fall away from his faith into apostasy. Nevertheless, it was his clear expectation that his readers would continue in their faith without falling away from it” (Marshall). The subject of these verses is, “how to pray for the sinning Christian.” The thrust of these verses is, “you can give physical life to others if you ask God to be merciful to them.” The exception to these verses is, “unless they have sinned in a way that leads to premature death.” The specific words applied to the exception are, “I do not say he should pray about that.” There is no command not to pray for the sinning Christian. “Although there is no guarantee, it always remains possible that God might grant to the sinning saint repentance and relent from His judgment just as He did with Nineveh” (Jonah 4:2, Hodges).

II. God the Father instructs His children to cooperate with Him in this process of maintaining righteousness in the family (Selected Scripture).

A. Who should be involved in the process of helping the Father discipline His children? Only those who are spiritual, truly walking by the Holy Spirit and growing in the Lord should exercise discipline (Gal. 6:1). We need a spirit of humility, gentleness and patience, looking to ourselves lest we too be tempted (Gal. 6:1-2; 2 Tim. 2:24-25). Discipline must be done without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality (1 Tim. 5:21). (1 John 1:9).

B. What are the steps in helping the Father discipline His children toward reconciliation andrestoration of relationship with Him and His family?

1. Those who walk disorderly are to be admonished, warned, and appealed to in love (Matthew 18:15; Also: 1 Thess. 5:14-15; 1 Tim. 5:1-2; Eph. 4:15; 2 Tim. 4:2). This admonishing, is not restricted to church leaders, but may be done by any person in the body with another if that person is Spirit controlled and spiritually minded (cf. 1 Thess. 5:14 with Gal. 6:1).

2. If personal concern and confrontation fails, take witnesses to strengthen the effect of the discipline, preferably spiritual leaders, so that if it has to be brought before the whole church it can be firmly proven and established (Matt. 18:16; 1 Tim. 5:19).

3. If the concern and confrontation of a few loving friends and leaders fails, seek reconciliation and restoration through the whole body. This does not mean an announcement, except for leaders (Matthew 18:17a; 2 Thess. 3:14-15; 1 Tim. 5:20).

4. If this doesn’t work, the local body of believers is to treat the unrepentant brother as an unbeliever: removal from church membership and comforting fellowship (Matthew 18:17b). This is, in essence, the Lord carrying out discipline through the action of the entire body under the leadership of the elders or the spiritually mature (1 Cor. 5:4-5). Similar heavenly authority is seen in the ratification of this disciplinary action as spelled out in Matthew 18:18-19.

5. But keep praying for this Christian! Never assume that the Father is taking them home (sin to premature death). Your prayers could save their life! (1 John 5:16-17)

 

Certainties of Fellowship!

1 John 5:18-21

This is the true God and eternal life (1 John 5:21).

John ends his little letter on fellowship with some summary statements of certainty to strengthen the heart of every believer abiding in Christ.

Carefully dedicating the same portion of the closing as the opening (four verses, cf. the prologue, 1:1-4), he offers a series of declarations beginning with “We know” plus a concluding exhortation. He has taken his readers from reporting “what we have seen” in the prologue to reminding them now of “what we know” in the epilogue.

What we know from reading this book will brace us against the pressures and lies that could steal our joy of fellowship—especially idolatry:

We know true the God and eternal life—Jesus Christ our Lord!

The strength to walk the path to joy is the same for every generation—guided by His truth, we follow Him closely.

 

I. First John ends with a reminder of fortifying truths (1 John 5:18-20).

A.   We know that the new life we received from Christ cannot be touched by sin or the devil (1 John 5:18).

1. What the Apostles understood (what we have seen, vv 1-4), we now know for sure after reading this book: We know that we do not have to sin and that the devil has no power over us!

a. Contrary to the teaching of the false teachers, the new person, the regenerate person, as such, is incapable of sin. The new life we received when we believed and were born of God does not sin. The regenerate inward person we are in Christ never sins (Romans 7:22).

b. Though our inner self cannot keep us from every sin because of the weakness of the flesh (Romans 7:23; 1 John 1:5-10), those born of God have the capacity to keep themselves from sin—we do nothave to sin.

c. Not only can Satan not defeat this regenerate, new person in Christ, but he cannot even touch him.

2. This harkens back to a truth already taught in 1 John 3:9-10. The regenerate person’s inner man that is born of God has the inborn capacity to resist all evil—sin and Satan.

3. Strengthening Impact: In our most sinful moments and during Satan’s most severe attacks, we know that these failures and His lies have not and cannot change who we are in Christ (John 14:20).

B. We know that we are on the winning side in the universal battle between good and evil (19).

1. What the Apostles understood (what we have seen, vv 1-4), we now know for sure after reading this book: We know that we are different—we belong to God but everyone else belongs to Satan!

a. We are of God—the preposition here (ek) indicates both source and possession. We are from God, we belong to God, and consequently, in contrast to the rest of the world, we are on His side. We are distinct in our source of life and our Possessor. We are, in effect, on God’s team.

b. The whole world lies under the sway of the evil one. The original Greek sentence pictures the entire world passively resting within the operative sphere of God’s enemy—Satan.

c. But Satan cannot touch us without our Father’s permission (1 John 5:18).

2. This harkens back to 1 John 2:15-18. The regenerate person’s destiny is with Christ, not this world that is passing away.

3. Strengthening Impact: In our most discouraging and pressured moments, we know that the world’s evil is doomed and we will live with Christ forever (John 16:33).

C. We know that we know the true God—the Lord Jesus— who is our eternal life (1 John 5:20).

1. What the Apostles understood (what we have seen, 1 John 5:1-4), we now know for sure after reading this book: Jesus Christ is the true God and eternal life!

a. As the Son of God who has come He gave us spiritual understanding (understanding=the capacity to reason correctly or the faculty of knowing or understanding) through the anointing of the Holy Spirit (2:20, given—He sent the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 2:15-16).

b. The reason He came to give us this understanding (that, purpose) is that we may know the One who is true or genuine, and that we are in Him (John 14:20), the Son of God.

c. This one (pronoun emphatically referring to Jesus Christ), the One we know intimately through fellowship with Him is the true God and eternal life (John 14:6).

d. “Eternal life, for John, is a relationship with the Father and the Son. It begins in the present when a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ, but it continues uninterrupted into the age to come” (Hall Harris, note from John 17:3).

2. This harkens back to 1 John 5:11-13. The regenerate person’s relationship is with the true God and He desires relationship that is growing.

3. Strengthening Impact: In our most desperate and doubtful moments, we know that Jesus is always pressing for intimacy (John 17:3; Revelation 3:20).

II. The strength of fellowship will keep us from bowing to idols! (1 John 5:21)

A. These were mature Christians! Idolatry is always probing, always wanting us.

1. This verse is a restatement for Christians of the first commandment God gave to the Israelites (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7).

2. Though the original readers of this letter were surrounded by idols, it seems John is referring to the idolatry of departing from the true God and His teaching (apostolic teaching) by following the false teachers who did not confess Jesus as the Son of God and His Christ. “False teaching is ultimately ‘apostasy from the true faith.’ To follow after it is to become nothing better than an idol worshiper, especially if it is the matter of the truth of one’s conception of God. The author is blunt. The false teachers propose not the worship of the true God, made known in His Son Jesus, but a false god—an idol they have invented” (Barker).

C. What idols are after your heart today? An idol is anything that takes God’s place, good or bad—false teaching, church leader, financial security, materialism, relationships, pornography, recreation, entertainment, food, family, and even church! Your only reliable defense is fellowshipwith Christ!