1 John 5
1Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.
2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.
3For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
In contrast to the spirit of antichrist, the believer believes that Jesus is the Christ sent to die for the sins of the world and that He is the Son of God. Who ever is born of God and loves God also loves any of God’s children. When we love God and keep His commandments, we know that we love the children of God. That we are born of God, that we know God, that we love God, that we love others, and that we keep God’s commandments come as a package deal for the child of God. We can’t be one, have one, or do one without all of the rest. God’s love leads us to keep His commandments which are not a toilsome or joyless task. It is not submitting to truths that will impair us or keep us from experiencing some healthy pleasure. Submitting to God’s commands give us the ability to experience the greatest joy. Yet the greatest motivator for keeping God’s commands is that we love God. The person who loves God by default delights in the commands of God. The person who doesn’t love God hates the commands of God and views them as inconvenient, inhibiting, and unpleasurable. We do the commands of God because we want to out of the love for God that He has put in our hearts. We are not under some law and trying to keep it to earn God’s favor or approval. We do the commands of Christ because it is who we are and in accordance with the delights of our hearts.
4For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.
5Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Whatever is born of God overcomes the world through faith, which is the victory. The only way to escape the love of the world and be transformed into lovers of God and children of God is to be born again by faith by believing that Jesus is the Son of God. The believer has overcome sin, death, and Satan through faith in Christ who conquered all three on the cross. The challenge for believers is appropriating the truth by faith that they can have victory in and through Christ. We must believe that we are not subject to sin, that we do not have to serve our flesh, and that we are no longer slaves to the law of sin and death. We have died to sin and been raised to new life in Christ. The old self is dead and a new creation has been born. This is what we believe by faith, and this is what will give us the daily victory over temptation.
6This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
7For there are three that testify:
8the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
When we received Christ, we were baptized in that our sins were washed away with a spiritual cleansing when we repented. We were also crucified with Him (Galatians 2:20), and His blood cleansed us from all sin (1 John 1:9). So there is repentance and faith and also the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit draws men to God and then testifies within their spirits that they are indeed born again (Romans 8:16).
9If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son.
10The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.
11And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
12He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
We often believe what another human being says, so how much more should we seriously believe and receive the testimony of God, especially concerning His Son. Indeed God has testified concerning His Son, saying that He has given us eternal life in and through His Son. The one who believes God has the testimony of God within Himself. The Spirit within him reminds him that he is a child of God. The person who refuses to believe in Christ makes God out to be a liar, saying in effect that God has not required faith in Christ for salvation. A person doesn’t merely ignore the message of the gospel, they accuse God of lying. He makes it out to be that God has not sent His Son to die for the sins of the world. When a person believes this and rejects Christ, he calls God a liar and stores up wrath for himself. John then gives a very black and white statement about who can be saved. Those who have the Son have eternal life. Those who do not have the Son do not have eternal life. Indeed, Christ is the only way to God (John 14:6).
13These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
14This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
15And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
John has written to the believers so that they can know that they have eternal life. Eternal life is not something that we wait until judgment day to see if we are in or out. Other world religions base entryway into the next life based upon works in this life. God bases it upon faith in His Son. Works are only the outgrowth of faith. John’s point is that we can know if we are saved and that we shouldn’t have to doubt. Our confidence will be strong if we walk according to the light, keep God’s commands, grow in our knowledge of God, and love our brothers and sisters. In fact, we ought to be walking with God to such a degree that we pray according to His will and get answers to our prayers. Answered prayer is another sign of the certainty of our salvation, and it is a great confidence booster for the believer. The believer should be able to see just how different he is from the unbeliever. A watered down gospel makes the dividing line between faith and hell blurry. The gospel of Christ that says faith is not apart from works makes things much more clear, especially when we understand that only a believer can truly love and experience answered prayer.
16If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.
17All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.
Sometimes believers sin. If we catch a brother or sister in sin, we need to ask God to restore such a person to practical holiness. God will answer that prayer because it is according to His will. But such a prayer must be in faith and from a righteous heart. A believer cannot commit a sin leading to the death of his spirit because He is a child of God. He may be a runaway or rebellious child of God, but he cannot undo the fact that he is a child of God.
There is a sin that leads to death, that is, the death of the flesh. This dynamic occurs when a believer has been confronted by one, then two, and then the whole church body. Yet he hardens himself so that church discipline must be carried out, and he must be put outside of the body. Paul speaks of this as delivering one over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so that his spirit can be saved (1 Corinthians 5:5, see also 1 Timothy 1:18-20). This is why we don’t pray for such a person to have life. We want their flesh to be destroyed. They must experience the ravaging affects of sin and be broken. Only then can they repent. Like the prodigal son, they must first dine with the pigs before they remember that they are a child of the King. They must stop leaning on themselves and controlling their destiny in the flesh. This will only happen if they can see the end of sin which is death. In this case, death is healthy because it is the death of the flesh and not death of the spirit.
All unrighteousness is sin, which we know from the rest of John’s letter. Sin is going against the commands of God, not loving others, rejecting Christ, lawlessness, and unrighteousness. There is sin that doesn’t lead to death. When a believer sins, this will not sentence him to death in hell. He has been redeemed by the blood of Christ which covers all sin. He is not under bondage to sin. The only time sin has power is when we yield to it. In such cases when a believer has given himself into sin and is unrepentant, his flesh must be allowed to indulge the full effects of the sin so that sin can do its damaging and murderous work. Once the flesh is destroyed and the person sees just how much harm they have done to themselves in going against the Word of God and against their loving Father, they may just repent in time to be able to live some time in their mortal body for Christ.
18We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.
Those who are truly born again do not continue practicing sin. This is a sort of summary statement as John has made this point several times. There is a difference between the believer and unbeliever. A believer may harden himself, but his sin will eventually break him down as Satan does his dirty work. The unbeliever is mired in sin and can’t do anything but continue in sin. God keeps the one who is born of God, and he will never experience spiritual death. Even as Satan works on the destruction of the flesh of an unrepentant believer, God preserves his spirit. Like Peter in Luke 22:31-32, Satan sifts his reliance upon his flesh, but because of the sustaining power of God in answer to Christ’s prayers, such a period of destruction of his flesh is actually a refining moment for him. He was a child of God, and God sustained him as He promises to do for us. The evil one cannot touch him in the sense of bringing his soul into hell. He can only do what God allows, which may be to break a person of his self-reliance.
19We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
20And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ This is the true God and eternal life.
John draws the letter to a close with reminding us about what we know. We know that the entire world is in the control of the evil one, though he is ultimately subject to the sovereign will of God. However, we are in the world but not of it. We are children of God. Since Jesus has come and has opened our minds and hearts to receive Him as Lord and Savior, we know the truth and the truth has set us free (John 8:32) from blindness and enslavement as children of the devil. We are in Him, and thus we are not of the world. Our behavior should be evidence of that fact. Jesus alone is the truth and the means of eternal life. Knowing Him is eternal life (John 17:3).
21Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
John closes with an exhortation that his dearly beloved children in Christ keep themselves from idols. Believers still have flesh and are susceptible to stumbling into sin. Yet, since John has made it clear that believers are to be different from unbelievers, it is only natural that he would challenge the believers to stay away from anything which would compromise their ability to manifest Christ. Anything that competes with loyalty to Christ is an idol. Anything that leads us to sin and have our affections taken from Christ is an idol. Whenever we do not seek the kingdom first, we fall into idolatry. Another way to define sin is idol worship. Many times the idol we worship is ourselves or our flesh, thinking that we can do things in our own strength apart from Christ. When Christ becomes our all in all, then we are living free from idols. Only then can we be a testimony of light for the Light. Only then can we experience answered prayer, and only then can we have abundant life (John 10:10). John wants us to know that we have eternal life because we live as those alive from the deadly affects of sin, and we will not be able to have such a confidence if we are following after idols.