Today: [1 John 5:] The Essential Belief of the Christian. In the concluding chapter of 1 John the apostle clarifies for us the fundamental necessities of Christian belief. What does it mean to believe that Jesus is the Christ? How does one become “born again?” After being born again, what then?
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[1Jo 5:1-21 KJV] 1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he that came by water and blood, [even] Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 16 If any man see his brother sin a sin [which is] not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. 17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. 18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. 19 [And] we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. 20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, [even] in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
In v. 1 of our chapter, the apostle clarifies the basis of the new birth. If you believe that Jesus is the Christ you are born of God. This is a “whosoever” statement therefore not exclusive to the Jews but extended to all of humanity. If a condition of being born again is based on believing that Jesus is the Messiah, it becomes crucial to know what that belief is. In the first century, there was a general messianic expectation of a deliverer who would come to usher in a time of universal peace and acknowledgment of the sovereignty of God, followed by a general resurrection of the dead. This would be the fundamental perception of any Jew and most Gentiles who might read John’s letter. To believe in Jesus begs the question of what do we believe? John declares in his gospel the following:
[Jhn 1:1-3 KJV] 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
The “word” that John speaks of is Jesus, born of Mary, conceived supernaturally by the Holy Ghost of God. He was born without inherent sin or any evil in his nature. He exercised total authority over nature and other supernatural elements such as angels, demons, etc. He healed the sick and raised the dead. He declared his intent to bring men into the same relationship with God that He enjoyed on the condition that they believe He is the Christ of God and accept Him as their personal Lord and savior. To accept Jesus as Lord would be received by a first-century person as selling oneself into slavery to Jesus. We don’t readily understand this in our day as slavery is not an accepted social institution that we would be familiar with.
If you believe that Jesus is the Christ what is it to be “born-again.” These terms have little or no meaning to secular society. Our children are mostly uneducated and what they are instructed in tends to be presumptive in nature without full explanation or elaboration on what these things mean and why they are necessary. To explore further requires the testimony of scripture which is no longer fully accepted to be the infallible word of God. Even Jesus Himself in preaching His gospel did not rely totally on scripture but validated his own claims with signs miracles and wonders.
Regarding the New Birth Jesus said the following:
[Jhn 3:3, 5, 7 KJV] 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. … 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God… 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Whatever the New Birth is it is a requirement if we believe that something called the kingdom of God exists and we want to be a part of it. After his baptism by John Jesus message was characterized by preaching the kingdom of God:
[Mat 4:17 KJV] 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
What is the kingdom of God? The word kingdom is “basilea” which means “sovereignty, royal power, dominion.” We understand it to refer to the sphere of God’s rule and the field in which God’s governance is recognized in the hearts of men. The kingdom is both a present reality contending with the opposing spiritual and human influences of the world, and it is also future pointing to a time when God’s total and enforced sovereignty will govern all of humanity without exception or reprieve.
How do we know we are a part of this kingdom and born of God? Paul makes this clear:
[Rom 10:1, 6-10 KJV] 1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. … 6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down [from above]:) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, [even] in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Paul carried in his thinking the idea that all men needed to be “saved.” That word means to be “delivered, preserved, made safe…” Outside of Christ men are captive. They are subject to decay; they are not safe…” In Christ, we are free in ways that an unredeemed person would find hard to comprehend. We are delivered from the moral, spiritual and physical decay inherent to human existence. We are rendered safe by the intervention of God in our lives at every level.
We become saved by confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord personally over our lives and believing our heart that God raised Him from the dead. This is not head belief but heart belief. It is anchored not in logic or intellect because the idea of resurrection is insensible to the rational mind. It is a heart belief. You simply choose to know and on the basis of that knowledge you abandon your own life of self-determination and posture yourself daily in the expectation that the unseen resurrected Jesus will direct your steps through His word found in scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit through inward spiritual prompting.
If we are born of God, the most prominent feature of our character v. 1 tells us will be love. We will love our fellow believers, and we will love God and demonstrate that love by being a commandment keeper. The commandments are not grievous but are grounded in loving God and loving others as our fundamental testimony in life.
If we are born of God and our love for God and others demonstrates that birth, we can expect (v. 4) to overcome the world. What does this mean? We overcome the world by faith. Anything in your life that is affected by your faith constitutes the world that is thereby overcome by the exercise of our faith in Jesus. If Jesus conquered the grave even so we believe in Jesus and experience His rule over the lesser issues of our life by the same faith.
We overcome (v. 5) by believing that Jesus is not only the lamb of God and the Messiah but also the Son of God. This is He who was born of water and blood. He was born of water when He was baptized of John in the Jordan and born of blood when He hung on the cross, died and rose the third day. The birth record of Jesus is filed in triplicate as the testimony of the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. The testimony of the Father that confirmed Jesus when He was baptized declaring that this was His beloved Son. The testimony of the Spirit was the dove that appeared over His head. The testimony of the water was His baptism by which John declared that this was very Christ.
This is the record given by God in front of hundreds of witnesses who stood on the banks of the Jordan when Jesus was baptized. When Jesus came out of the water, and these things happened, it was an act of God giving eternal life to all those who believe. If we receive the son, we have the son, and we have eternal life. How do we accept the son? By accepting that He rose from the dead and selling yourself into slavery to Him by a verbal declaration in prayer. These things (v. 13) John is writing to us that we might know we have eternal life and in accepting the offer we follow through with our belief.
Having come into the New Birth, we may now (v. 14) have confidence before God. We may now ask anything according to His week, and He will hear us and give us whatever we petition Him for as long as we pray according to His will. What is His will? It is expressed in the promises of His word which we should make an absolute priority of being familiar with for that reason.
What if we sin? Having become born again, there will be instances John refers to whereby we fall short (v. 16). There is mention of sin which is not unto death and sin which is unto death. Sins not unto death we may pray for but sins unto death we are not to pray for. What is the sin unto death? If we let scripture interpret scripture, we would look to the example of Ananias and Sapphira. They sinned unto death by conspiring to lie to Peter when in actuality they were lying to the Holy Ghost. How might that apply in our situation? Whatever the case may be we need to recognize that this possibility exists and conduct ourselves accordingly.
If we are born again (v. 18) sin is no longer non-optional. How does this happen? By the believer “keeping” himself that the wicked one touches him not. Here is the opposite of being “touched by an angel.” When we give in to sin, we have invited the caress of Satan. That word keep means we are to “keep an eye” on ourselves. The word “touch” implies that when we don’t keep an eye on ourselves, Satan will attach himself to us. Here is the answer as to whether a Christian can “have a demon.” When we sin, it opens the door for Satan to “attach” himself to our soul. It is up to us to keep ourselves – to keep an eye on ourselves that we don’t open the door for this to happen by engaging willful ongoing sinful conduct.
Now the whole world (v. 19) lies in wickedness. That word wickedness means that labors, annoyances, and hardships characterize the entire world around us. Are you laboring? Are you annoyed? Is life hard for you? Jesus is come (v. 20) as the true God to deliver us from these things. For this reason, John concludes we are to keep ourselves from idols.
This last statement of John is astounding. He is writing to Christians telling them not to visit the shrines and altars of the pagan world around them. What is modern-day idolatry? Idolatry proposes the dwelling place of God to be somewhere other than the human heart. Idolatry constitutes any alternative dependency other than who Jesus is on the inside of you as a believer. Christ in you (Col. 1:27) is the hope of glory. Any other dependency is idolatry and must be exposed and dealt with, and we are the only ones that can do it.
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