Christian Anxiety & Depression Forum

Discuss your anxiety panic attacks or depression with other Christians. Find support from other Christians who are experiencing the same thing. Find answers. Pray and encourage one another through Jesus Christ.
HomeHome  CalendarCalendar  GalleryGallery  FAQFAQ  SearchSearch  MemberlistMemberlist  UsergroupsUsergroups  RegisterRegister  Log in  

Share | 

 Works versus Faith (Part 13) — The Book of 1 John

Go down 

Posts : 279
Points : 605
Join date : 2010-09-30
Location : Cleveland, OH

PostSubject: Works versus Faith (Part 13) — The Book of 1 John   Mon Oct 03, 2016 10:03 am

Works versus Faith (Part 13) — The Book of 1 John

We are continuing the series of eternal security.  We pointed out that salvation is by grace, through faith—this not from yourselves, it is the (free) gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).  We also pointed out that to require works would actually cancel grace.  Either one cancels the other.  Romans 11:6 says, “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”  We went over many verses that show that we are saved by grace alone apart from works, and that a Christian cannot lose his or her salvation by what they do because as far as salvation is concerned, that is not the grading scale we are being judged by.  The only grade we are judged by for salvation is whether or not we have the blood of Christ covering us.  Christians, by sinning, can lose fellowship with God, but are nevertheless, forever sealed by the Holy Spirit until the Day of Redemption (Ephesians 4:30), so they cannot lose salvation as long as they believe in the finished work of Jesus on the cross which includes his death and resurrection, and believing His person: that is, He is fully Deity (the Second Person of the Trinity) and fully man.  

After going through the Scriptures that asserts our eternal security, we then covered Scriptures that appear to argue the opposite of our starting assertions.  These are passages that people use to try to prove that salvation must be earned by our works or maintained by our works, and that it is possible for a Christian to lose his or her salvation based on his or her disobedience.  Today, I would like to cover the first epistle of John.  There are certain passages in 1 John that people tend to use (although incorrectly interpreted) to make their case that a Christian can lose salvation because of their sin, and that therefore salvation needs our works to be legit.  The main verses are in chapter 3.  For example, 1 John 3:10, which reads, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” And the other main verse is 1 John 3:15, which states, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him (NIV version).” Before diving right into these verses, it is imperative to understand the previous chapters and the theme of the book.  So while I don’t intend to cover every verse, I will cover the important sections that lead up to these verses.  

Before I do that, I would like to remind the reader why one should pause and be taken aback when one reads 1 John 3:10 and also 3:15.  Verse 10 appears to say that a person who is not doing what is right is not a Christian at all.  The honest reader who understands Paul’s entire message, should immediately protest that this verse contradicts what Paul says.  I have come to the notion that many Christian students are not honest readers.  They know intuitively that the bible does not contradict itself, and so they internally, perhaps unconsciously accept the apparent contradictions without acknowledging that something must be incorrect with the interpretation.  Ephesians 2:8-10 cannot be more clear.  Not only does it clearly state that salvation is a free gift, and not by works; it even states “so that no one can boast.”  The word “boast” there has nothing to do with pride.  We are supposed to boast of our great salvation according to other Scriptures.  That is not what this means.  The word boast in Ephesians 2 means that the one who is saved has absolutely no part in the means of them getting saved.  No one will be able to say in eternity, “I am saved because I…”  No one will be able to start one’s sentence off that way.  Nor will we be able to say, “I maintained my salvation because…”  There is no “I” in one’s salvation.  The “I” did not bring it about.  Nor did the “I” maintain it.  If anyone says, “I” and “salvation” in the same sentence, that would be boasting.  God says, “Nay, not you, but I!!!”  Our salvation is fully Jesus’ work, not ours.  Indeed we cannot boast, for that same passage says, “this not from yourselves.”  So it is important that the reader is sensitive to the apparent contradiction between what Paul says and how this text in 1 John 3 is normally, though cursorily interpreted.  The reader should always dig deeper when these apparent conflictions surface.  God wants us to take a closer look.  

Now I will cover the verses that lead up to that:

The author of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John is the same person who originally penned the Gospel of John and Revelation.  John wrote the Gospel of John to tell people how to get saved.  John wrote the book of 1 John to people already saved to tell them how to live in fellowship with God.  John’s intended audience in the Gospel of John is the world, or the unsaved.  John’s intended audience in the book of 1 John is Christians, people who have accepted Jesus as their Savior.  John wrote the Gospel of John to tell people how to live forever.  He wrote 1 John to tell people who are secured for the next life, how to live right now in history.  John wrote the Gospel of John to tell people how to overcome God’s eternal wrath because of sin.  John wrote 1 John to tell Christians how to overcome God’s discipline and abide in God’s favor, love and grace.  

One of John’s favorite words in his epistles and even in his Gospel book is the word “abide.”  The Greek word for “abide” is mӗnō.  It means “to hang out with” or “to dwell with”; it means, well, to abide.  It has the meaning of “keeping company with.”  It means “to have fellowship with.”  Unfortunately, if you are using the NIV, keep in mind that they translate mӗnō with the word “remain” in every occurrence, or they leave the word out completely.  “Remain” has a different nuance in meaning than how John uses mӗnō in his epistles.  Remain denotes never leaving, or maintaining an uninterrupted, permanent presence.  The more accurate translations correctly translate mӗnō as “abide.”  I’m going to still quote the NIV because it does a great job otherwise, but where it either uses “remain(s)” for “abide(s)” or leaves out the word abide altogether where the Greek manuscript has the word, I am going to insert the proper word: “abide.”  In fact, 1 John 3:15 more accurately reads: “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (refer to a more accurate version than the NIV, such as the ESV).”

The theme of 1 John is fellowship.  Let’s start by defining fellowship.  Fellowship means: to hang out in the same place of another in a mutually friendly relation.  God never fellowships with sin.  Fellowship is a relationship with God through Christ where God is pleased with the present lifestyle of the believer.  Fellowship is a relationship with God, where His wrath is not kindled, and His blessings, grace, and peace are dispersed to the believer with no obstacles.  Fellowship is abiding in the goodness of God’s love and grace by actively seeking to please Him.  It is a relationship with the believer who is not under a curse because of sin, but rather, is enjoying a clear conscience relationship with Jesus because of righteous living.  Fellowship is where God has cleared your conscience of sin, and has given you the freedom to live with joy and peace.  Unlike salvation, fellowship is part of the relationship that must be maintained.  John said that there is a sin that does not lead to death.  Rebellion, not simply light sin, kicks a Christian out of fellowship from God.  If one falls out of fellowship, repenting and obedience is the only way to find one’s way back in fellowship.  To be outside of fellowship is to be under a curse.  To be outside of fellowship is to be in darkness, confusion, misfortune, and discipline.  God does not answer the prayers of those who are out of fellowship with him.  

Fellowship is exclusive to Christians.  Non-Christians cannot experience fellowship with God.  But not all Christians are in fellowship with God.  Christians fall in and out of fellowship based on how they live.  Fellowship requires obedience without legalism.  Fellowship also requires a love for God and a love for your Christian family.  God will break fellowship with you if you do not have love for your Christian brothers and sisters or if you do not have love for Him.  Jesus said that to have love for God requires obedience to Him.  Without obedience one does not have love for God.  Obedience is a requirement for loving God.  God acts against the person who is not in fellowship with Him and temporarily treats him or her as an enemy, but with loving motives.  

1 John 1:3 says, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.  And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” Early on, John says that he wants the Christian reader to have fellowship with the Apostles who saw Jesus and testify of Him.  John tells the Christian readers that we Apostles, who are eye witnesses are enjoying fellowship and we want you to know how to enjoy fellowship with us. It is possible to be sitting in the same church congregation pews, but not have fellowship with others who are having fellowship with Jesus and the rest of the saints.  Fellowship is more than just proximity.  Verse 5: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” In order to have fellowship with God we must be in the light because God does not hang out in darkness. He is light.  All of the properties of light that makes light light, God has.  Light is pure.  There is no darkness or impurities in light.  Light also exposes and reveals hidden things; things that go unnoticed.  When light comes, darkness runs.  Light does not run from darkness, but darkness flees from light. Light and darkness do not blend together, but rather, light completely eradicates darkness when it shows up.  For sin to stay alive, it must remain in the darkness; it cannot dwell in the light.  John is going to answer the question: How can we who are born in darkness abide with God who is light?

Verse 6 reads, “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” Here is our theme again: “fellowship.”  God wants us to remain in fellowship with Him.  He commands us to be holy because He is holy.  But God cannot be in fellowship with us as long as we are walking in darkness.  Darkness is the opposite of the light.  While the light exposes sin, darkness hides the sin and refuses to repent.  The issue is not being without any sin, but rather, being in the light if you fall into a sin.  To hide your sin by not repenting of it and continuing in it is to walk in darkness.  To take your sin to God and repent and ask for not only His forgiveness, but also His grace to empower you to put the sin away using His power is to walk in the light.  All sin is darkness.  In God, there is no darkness at all.  Demons hang out in the darkness and promote their world view.  To be in the darkness is to walk with and agree with demons.  It is also to invite demons into your life and all of the consequences that comes from darkness, including depression, fear, unanswered prayers, no help from God, etc.  This is why Truth and remaining in the light is important because Satan is the great deceiver and will try to get you to walk in darkness and be content with it.  

Verse 7: “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”  These verses speak to Christians in the plural form: but if “we” walk in the light…  A requirement to walking in the light is to also be in fellowship with your fellow Christians.  So to be in fellowship with God one must not have hatred, jealousy, envy, etc., against one’s fellow Christians.  God hates pride.  He hates the attitude of people who think they are better than somebody else and He will not have fellowship with people who have such attitudes.  Christians are forever sealed with the Holy Spirit for the Day of Redemption because they have trusted the payment of Jesus on the cross to cover their sin debt.  But to remain in fellowship, we need Jesus’ ongoing forgiveness of our sins.  We are set for eternity as far as Heaven is concerned, but since it is possible for Christians to lose fellowship with God and walk in darkness, we need to constantly repent of our sins and make sure that we do not fall to those sins again.  The Greek word for “repent” means “to change one’s mind.”  We need to change our mind towards the sin and tell God to forgive us in the blood of Christ, and commit to not committing the sin again and ask that He empowers us to never commit it again.  There is no sin, by the way, that the blood of Christ does not cover.  For this verse says that He purifies us from all sin.

Verse 8 reads, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  Donald Trump was asked in an interview if he repented of his sins.  He responded, “I can’t think of any sin I have done that I need to repent of.”  It appears he never read 1 John 1:8.  This does not mean that a Christian cannot have a clear conscience in regards to sin.  In 1 Corinthians 4:4, Paul says, “My conscience is clear…” By that, Paul is not saying that he is without sin.  Paul’s sins are well documented for us.  He persecuted Christians.  But what Paul is saying is that He has repented of his sins and is trusting God to keep Him walking in the light of righteousness.  That is what God is calling us to do.  Usually when I hear this verse preached, the preacher would mention the sins of omission we commit even when we are trying our best.  How about Adam’s sin that we all inherit without doing anything at all?  We don’t have to omit good or commit sin to be guilty, we are born guilty because of the inherited sin from Adam.  Jesus, born of a virgin, did not inherit Adam’s sin.  Yet, despite this, it is possible for Christians to walk in the light and in fellowship with God, pleasing Him.  It is possible through grace, to live a righteous new lifestyle.

To make righteousness a lifestyle requires maturity and development from God.  It is not something that a new Christian learns in a day.  The flesh has to come under submission to God.  During this journey, Christians fall to the temptations of the flesh because the flesh is strong and Satan is deceptive.  The Spirit is stronger when the mature Christian learns how to live by Him.  God never gives up on us.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  When we sin, we are obviously living unfaithfully.  No matter how unfaithful we are, God remains faithful and just to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  Did it say that he will purify us only of the minor offenses?  No, it says “all” unrighteousness.  God’s grace surpasses human reasoning.  I’m sure that if humans were to make the rules, we would have limits as to how much we would forgive the offender.  God is faithful.  He loves and keeps those who trust Jesus as their Savior.  Verse 10 reads, “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”  No Christian who understands the Gospel, even on an elementary level, can make the statement that he or she has not sinned.  To say that, like Trump, is to not know God’s Word at all.

John states his purpose for writing this letter in 1 John 2:1.  He says, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.”  This statement suggests that it is possible for a Christian to stop sinning through God’s power.  As stated earlier, John’s theme is fellowship.  Fellowship requires that the believer refrains from sinning.  John is going to share how to live in fellowship with God so that we will not sin.  When we love, as he will show, we are able to live effortlessly in fellowship with the Father because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Fellowship is the theme; love is how to activate and live in fellowship.  He continues, “But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world.”  The first clause of the last statement is clearly referring to Christians.  Christians were reconciled through Jesus’ death on the cross.  All of our sins were forgiven, and the punishment of death that was on us, He put on Himself to do away with it.  But Jesus is still our advocate for our continual sins.  When a Christian sins, he or she is in danger of losing fellowship, but nevertheless, has the cross to appeal to and are able to repent to get back into fellowship because Jesus is our continual Mediator, or Advocate for our sins.  Not only ours, but the cross is available for anyone who would believe.  

1 John 2:3 reads, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.”  This is a very important verse to understand.  It is a conditional statement.  We know Him only if we obey His commands.  Those who do not obey God’s commands verify that they do not know Him.  The “Him” in this context refers to Jesus from verse 2: “He is the atoning sacrifice…”  But it ultimately refers to both Jesus and the Father: i.e. God.  To make this verse clear, it should be understood that there are many Christians who are saved for salvation, but do not know God at the same time.  “Knowing,” here, is an intimate knowing.  In fact, the word “know” is stated twice in this verse.  But in the Greek, the two words are in different forms from each other.  The first “know” is in the present indicative active form.  The second “know” is in the perfect indicative active form.  “Indicative” basically means that the action is a fact.  But as for the “perfect” tense (regarding the second know), Wikipedia defines the perfect tense as: “a verb form that indicates that an action or circumstance occurred earlier than the time under consideration, often focusing attention on the resulting state rather than on the occurrence itself.”  Whereas, the “present” tense describes an ongoing action that is happening when the statement is written.  The second “know” in this verse is an intimate knowing that has occurred (or matured) over a period of time through past experience.  

Jesus made similar statements to this verse.  In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”  And in verse 23, He states, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”  A brand new Christian is not able to love Jesus.  Love here is agape love, something not produced by the will of the flesh, but rather is produced by the Spirit over time.  It is possible to not know Jesus, to not obey Jesus, and to not love Jesus, but still be one of His and saved by their faith in His payment on the cross for their sins.  Over time a Christian learns to obey, learns to love, and then discovers Jesus on an intimate level and for the first time, know Him.  Isaiah was already a prophet in the first 5 chapters of the book of Isaiah.  He was already preaching to Israel against their sins.  Isaiah 1:1 says that Isaiah was a prophet during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Many misread and think that Isaiah didn’t become a prophet until after Uzziah died.  That is incorrect.  He was already preaching the first 5 chapters during the reign of Uzziah.  But it was when King Uzziah died in chapter 6 that Isaiah says, “I saw the LORD.”  And it also took up until chapter 6 when Isaiah was able to say, “Woe is me! I am ruined.”  This, after he had already been preaching to Israel regarding their sins.  To get saved requires believing that the finished work of Jesus on the cross is fully sufficient to cover your sins.  It is simply accepting the free gift of God. But to know God requires that we obey Jesus and God’s word, and rid our sins through the power of the Spirit. To know God also requires that we agape love God, which is also something else that only the Holy Spirit produces in us when we submit and empty ourselves of ourselves.  It is called the fruits of the Spirit, not “the fruits of man.”  The Spirit produces the fruits, not us.  

1 John 2:4-5a reads, “The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him.”  We already detailed that it is impossible to know God while disobeying His commands.  So if a person says, “I know him,” while deliberately disobeying, that person is obviously lying, though they possibly may not realize their own lack of truth.  Whether they think they know God or not, their statement of knowing Him is a lie.  However, it is possible to know God intimately.  So the person who obeys God’s word perfects the love of God in him or herself.  Knowing God is not about how many Scriptures we know, or how well we can interpret and explain Scripture; rather, to know God is about obedience to the Scriptures we know.  When we obey, God’s love is made complete or is perfected in us.  I believe this explains a confusing passage in Scripture.  1 John 4:18 reads, “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear.”  The confusion is: what is perfect love?  How can mere imperfect mortals obtain perfect love?  Only God is perfect.  We just read that obeying God’s word perfects God’s love in us.  So we obtain perfect love through obedience to the Scriptures, which in turn, casts out all fear.  Don’t expect peace if you are living in disobedience to God.

1 John 2:5b-6 reads, “This is how we know we are abiding in him: Whoever claims to abide in him must walk as Jesus did.”  Here, I had to correct the NIV version.  The NIV reads, “This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”  The word is “abide” in the two instances.  The first instance, the NIV says, “in [him]”.  The second instance, the NIV says, “to live in [him]”.   Earlier, we explained that abiding means fellowshipping with, or hanging out with God on good terms.  It means having a close walk with Him.  It is not referring to salvation.  We know we are in fellowship with Him when we are walking as Jesus did.  We know we are walking in God’s will when we are obeying Him.  God’s will is not as mysterious as many think it to be.  If we are obeying His commands, walking like Jesus did, we are living His will for us.  Where that leads us individually is up to God.  But we at least know that we are in His will although we might not know where that will will lead us to down the road.  

Verses 7 – 8 reads as follows: “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning.  This old command is the message you have heard.  Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.”  Love is a command.  Something we are to do in the power of the Spirit.  We are to love by emptying ourselves of pride, which allows the Spirit to do His thing in us and give us the power to love.  But John seems to state an oxymoron.  He says that the command to love is both an old command and a new one.  The sun has been around for ions, so the sun is quite old.  But each morning when we open the blinds, we are refreshed by the new sun light.  The sunlight is new even though it is old because its experience is new to us each morning.  God wants us to fellowship with Him in love as a new experience each day, not resting on our laurels of yesterday.  

1 John 2:9 reads, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.”  We already read that God is light.  1 John 4:16 states, “God is love.”  God is both light and love, so whoever hates his brother, namely Christian brother, is still in the darkness and has not graduated into the light because in Him is no darkness at all.  We cannot hate a part of the family and be in the light.  If we are in the darkness, that indicates that we cannot see. We cannot see God or His attributes, including righteousness, truth, love, peace, etc.  We may have a dim, vague understanding of those things, but we cannot see clearly.  Darkness also indicates that one is outside the fellowship of God because God hangs out, or abides in the light and never in the dark.  We are not able to see God for who He is, nor are we able to hang out with Him (and He with us).  

Verse 10 says, “Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.”  Wow, that’s interesting.  The ESV says for the last clause, “…in him there is no cause for stumbling.”  Love has the power to purge us of will of the flesh.  If we love then we have no pride because we are putting others before ourselves.  So the sin of pride is taken care of in love.  To love is to live in humility.  If we love, then we cannot steal, put others down, or mislead others.  Many sins are taken care of automatically when we habitually love our Christian brothers and sisters.  Not everyone is lovable, but that is not the issue.  When we were unlovable to God, Christ died for us.  While we were yet sinners, Christ died.  When we love we are imitating God’s love for us.  James, in stating a different truth, makes a similar conclusion to this verse.  James says in James 3:2, “We all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.”  John said that if we love our brother, then there is nothing in us to stumble.  James adds that if we are able to control our tongue, then there is nothing in us to make us stumble.  To be more like Christ, we need to, by the grace of God, control our tongue, and love our brother.  By our tongue we curse our brother and gossip against him.  Love is a prerequisite to being in the light.  When we are in the light, we are in fellowship with God because that is where God hangs out; that is where He is.  

1 John 2:11 says, “But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.”  When we hate our Christian brother, we are outside of God’s will.  We then wander aimlessly. That should remind the reader of an Old Testament story.  The Israelites wandered aimlessly for 40 years in the desert after complaining about their current state post Egypt.  They were really close to the promised land, but God blinded them so that they could not see and they walked in darkness for 40 years.  Interestingly, even though they did not know where they were going during those 40 years, God knew where they were and where they were going.  Even when we wander aimlessly, God will let us when we are in the dark, but He still knows where we are.  If we walk in the dark, we bump into things we did not know was in front of us.  When we walk in the dark spiritually, we get off course from God’s will and bump into trials and tribulations that God would have otherwise let us avoid.  Time is lost when we walk in darkness.  Israel lost 40 years that they could have otherwise spent in the promised land.  

Verses 12 – 14 is an interesting passage that is often glossed over.  Let’s look at it closely.  In verse 12, John says, “I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.”  We established earlier that John’s intended audience is Christians.  Among these Christians are those of different levels in their Christian walk.  John understood that his readers would include new Christians, mature Christians, and everyone between.  The Greek word “children” in this verse means “babies”.  In other words, verse 12 refers to new Christians—those who were just saved.  John says, “I write to brand new Christian converts because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.”  To have our sins forgiven requires only faith in the finished work of Christ.  God does the forgiving, not based on merit.  If it were based on merit, no one would ever be forgiven, because His standard is perfection, which all have fallen short of.  

Verse 13a says, “I write to you fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.”  John is not referring here to literal fathers, but rather any mature Christian.  This is a person who has had experience with Jesus and “knows” who He is.  This person has been with Jesus for many years and developed into a mature Christian.  This is to be juxtaposed to verse 13b, which says, “I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.  Twice, John says that the young men overcame the evil one.  He says it again in at the end of verse 14.  The evil one is Satan and includes his dominion of demons.  When John talks to the “young men,” he is talking to the teenager.  Now why would John attribute Satan to the teenager twice?  Because when a person becomes a teen, that is the time of Satan’s greatest attack.  Satan attacks the teenager because he does not want them to grow up and become men.  How a person responds to the teenage years often determines how that person will be years into adulthood.  Those are very important times of development.  The teenager who does not respond to the battle against Satan, is one who deters their spiritual development and maturity in the Lord, often for years to come.  The teenager who does respond to Satan’s attacks and overcomes, is one who is on the path to spiritual maturity that John here is outlining.  They are timely with their spiritual development.  It is easy to waste years in life.  God is waiting on us to develop before giving us the next part of his plan and will for our life.  The longer it takes for us to develop, the longer He holds off.  We can again think about Israel’s disobedience, and therefore procrastination of entering the promised land that God had for them.  

1 John 13c reads, “I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father.”  This entire passage cannot be fully understood in our English translations.  John mentions “children” again.  But this is not the same Greek word of “children” mentioned in verse 12.  The word translated, “children” in verse 12 means “babies.”  The word translated “children” here in verse 13c means “toddlers.”  In verse 12, John said of babes, “Your sins have been forgiven.”  Here, for toddlers, John says “you have known the Father.”  The word “known” in 13c is not the same Greek word as the word “known” in 13a (also in 14a) that was attributed to the fathers knowing.  The Greek word “known” in 13c refers to a basic recognition knowing. Whereas the word used in 13a and 14a for fathers refers to an intimate knowing.  New born babies do not yet know their parents.  So John did not say in verse 12 that the babies know God.  When a new believer gets saved they have not been saved long enough to know God.  However, as a baby grows up and gets to know their parents, they know them by recognition.  They are now able to say, “ma-ma” or “da-da.”  They now know their parents and how they look, but they know them by recognition.  They do not yet know them intimately.  Only the fathers, the really mature Christians, are able to know their own Father intimately.  

Please follow this closely, because understanding this helps one to understand what John will later say, “No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him”—and other similar verses.  John precedes those verses with this passage in chapter 2 to help guide them in their understanding of what he will talk about later.  

1 John 2:14a reads, “I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.” Both times, referring to the fathers, John uses the same word “know”, which is the intimate “knowing” Greek word.  And both times, John says, “who is from the beginning” when referring to the fathers.  The fathers, as we stated, are mature Christians.  We know God is from the beginning of time and pre-eternity (He has no beginning).  But for the mature believer’s experience, God is from their beginning—that is, when they first became a Christian.  The mature Christian has been-there-and-done-that.  The mature Christian understands that trials are good in that they refine our maturity, and without trials, a Christian cannot grow.  The mature Christian understands that God’s discipline of our sins is good.  God disciplines us to bring us closer to Him and His discipline is for our good.  The mature Christian understands Truth versus the opinions of this world.  The mature Christian is able to call evil evil, and good good even while the world is calling evil good, and good evil.  The mature Christian is able to discern the spirits and always wears the full armor of God and walks with the Spirit.  The mature Christian has put away their idols and pride.  The mature Christian has years of experience overcoming the evil one.  The mature Christian knows and loves God.  The mature Christian obeys God and loves his brother.  A disciple of Christ is a mature Christian—that is, one who takes up his cross for the cause of the Kingdom.

John refers to the babies and toddlers only one time each.  He addresses the teenager and fathers twice each.  The babies and toddlers are learning the basic truths of the Gospel.  The teenager and fathers are applying what they know to their daily living, and those are who Satan most attacks.  Those are the threats to himself.  So in 14b, John speaks again to teenagers, saying, “I write to you young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”  There’s our word “abides” again.  To abide means “to hang out with” or “to have fellowship with.”  The Word of God should abide in the life of the teenage, or maturing Christian.  In fact, that is the weapon needed to defeat this evil one that John says the teen will be battling.  Without the Word of God, the teen cannot overcome the evil one.  Jesus exampled that when Satan tempted Him in the desert.  I know the reader is fully aware of that passage.  Jesus didn’t battle Satan with the opinion of man. He didn’t call up His buddies and ask, “What you think?”  Jesus used the Word of God, which Satan has to submit to to battle and defeat Satan.  The bible says in Luke 4:13 that Satan left Him until an opportune time—in other words, Satan will be back to try to attack you again, so be ready for him.  Also, 14b says, “...because you are strong…”  The teenage years are often when the teen starts lifting weights to put on muscle.  The Word of God is the weights that the teen needs to exercise their spiritual lives with in order to get strong.  

I should state too that the growth of a Christian does not necessarily match the natural growth of humans.  A baby Christian could be 80 years old in human years.  A mature Christian “father” could be 12 years old in human years.  A “teenager” as John says, that is, a maturing Christian, could be 8 years old or 90 years old in human years.  A baby could be older than a father in human years.  

1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world.”  Sadly, entire doctrines have come out teaching the opposite of this verse.  This is called the gospel of prosperity.  John says do not love anything in the world.  We are not to have the same aspirations as others who seek the American dream.  We are supposed to trust God who will add those things to us when He sees our faith and love for Him.  To love anything in the world close to God is to have an idol in your heart.  John goes on to say, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  We cannot love God and something else and call ourselves loving God.  God does not share His glory with anyone or anything.  To love anything within the vicinity of loving God is to negate the truth of your love for God.  You are bringing an eternal God down to the level of that thing.  We are not to love any created thing as the Creator.  15b reads, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  The Christian life involves learning more and more about who God and learning to love Him more.  A brand new Christian does not start off loving God because they have just spent their entire lives loving the world and haven’t yet come to know God.  There is a process Christians go through to break down their love for the world and learn to love God.  Until the Christian learns to stop loving the world, they are postponing their growth to love God.  To do one is to halt the growth of the other.  No one can love the world and God at the same time.  God is the opposite of the world.  His ways are not the world’s ways; His will is not the will of the flesh.  Going with the majority vote or the popular opinion often put us in antagonism with God’s opinion.  

Verse 16 states, “For everything in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father, but is from the world” (ESV).  Be careful when calling that possession a blessing.  It could be a curse.  Nothing in the possession makes it bad, but it can become bad when it captures our hearts and gives us pride.  Those passions are not from God.  The world says you must have the better car or shoes, etc.  Verse 17 says, “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”  Remember, eternal life begins the moment the person believes.  There is life in Jesus.  Jesus said to Martha, “Believe in me and you will never die.”  Jesus said to His disciples, “I have come so that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.”  The life in abundance is there when we believe, but can go unexperienced.  As long as we are loving the world, God is not going to take the blindfolds off so that we can see and experience that abundant life that indeed we Christians, actually have.  

In the next section, John goes into warnings about the antichrist.  I’m going to skip commentary on that part because not only is it clear, for the most part, but also because does not fit the purpose of this write-up.  Note that for every instance that the NIV uses the word “remains” that the word “abide” better reflects the Greek word.  For instance, verse 24, which says, “See that what you have heard from the beginning abides in you.  If it does, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.”  Some readers see the “if” conditional and the NIV word “remains” and feel that we can possibly lose salvation by our actions.  But the Christian is commanded to abide or have fellowship with the Word that they heard from the beginning, which will put them in fellowship with the Son and the Father.  This is what that is saying.

I’m skipping down to verse 28, which reads, “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.”  It is possible for a saved Christian to be ashamed at the coming of Jesus.  A Christian who does not live his or her life abiding with Christ, but rather abiding with the lusts of the flesh and this world will be ashamed if Jesus were to pop in the sky with all of the Saints at that moment.  They will be saved and taken up to the sky after seeing the dead bodies of the saints rise from the ground and meet the spirits of the saints in the sky.  They will also be judged at the Bema Seat of Christ for all of their deeds in the body.  But, if we live a life of constant abiding in Christ, John says that it is also possible to have confidence in that day.

Verse 29 reads, “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.”  Here John says how to recognize a Christian.  John spoke of the maturing process of the Christian already.  A Christian’s natural growth process is towards righteousness.  The Holy Spirit in the Christian and God’s discipline leads the Christian towards righteousness.  Righteousness is given, not manufactured or earned.  In Christ, all are righteous; we are called Saints.  Righteousness is our new nature.  But righteousness is also a command.  God commands us to be holy because He is holy.  No person naturally knows how to live a righteous lifestyle.  The Word of God teaches righteousness, and the Spirit of God and grace empowers us to do it.  Just having the instructions is not enough to live the Christian life.  The flesh is not righteous, just the new spirit of a Christian.  Jesus’ resurrection did not renew the flesh, rather it renewed the spirit of a person.  The flesh still rebels against God.  Your soul, or personality, is growing and being refined by God to become more like Christ.  So with this process at work, we should be able to recognize a Christian by their righteousness.  The difference between a good work or a good deed is that good works brings glory to Jesus; good deeds are good acts of benevolence, and can be the same act as the good work, but the end result is glory for man, not God.  The world cannot do good works; they are able only to do good deeds.

Now we are in chapter 3.  This will be the final chapter I will cover because the last two chapters are quite straightforward.  1 John 3:1 says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”  Many Christians don’t realize the privilege it is to be adopted as a child of God.  Initially, that was only Israel’s privilege.  And we are really privileged because the adoption is a free gift to be received by faith.  As pointed out earlier, John’s intended audience is Christians.  He is writing to people who are already saved.  He goes on to say that the world does not understand us because it does not understand God.  The world’s truth is subjective.  They do not understand the objective Truth of the Word of God.  (The world does not understand demonic influences and deceptions either.)  The previous verse said that we can know, or recognize a Christian based on their righteous works.  But don’t expect the world to know you by your righteous works.  God must be known first before His children can be recognized.  

1 John 3:2 says, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”  Romans 8:19 states, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.”  We don’t know the intricate details of our new bodies, but we are told that our bodies will be like Jesus’ resurrected body.  Our new bodies will be able to consume food because Christians will attend the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and eat with Jesus.  Jesus ate while in His resurrected body.  Jesus also walked through doors and floated up to the clouds and above.  We also know that our resurrected bodies will be undefiled by sin.  And our bodies will never die again.  Indeed they will be physical bodies in the sense that we will be able to pick up physical objects and interact with physical things.  Yet, they will be spiritual in that there will be no defilement of that flesh.  John says that we will see Jesus in full light.  There are aspects of the resurrected Jesus that are still a mystery until we get there.  

Verse 3 is not translated well in the NIV.  The ESV reads, “And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.”  The NIV says, “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” The NIV implies that the statement is referring to the previous verse, as it says, “…who has this hope…”  We would have to look at the previous verse to see what “this hope” is referring to.  But the ESV is more accurately rendered.  By putting your hope in Jesus, you purify yourself.  You are trusting in the Pure One who purifies those who hope in Him.  He is the one doing the purifying.  He does it through our faith.

John just told us how to purify ourselves.  Let’s not forget that as he goes on to tell us that we are all lawbreakers in verse 4, which reads, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”  Paul tells us in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and have fallen short the glory of God.  When we put the two verses together we discover that all break God’s law.  Sin itself is always against God’s law.  God’s law teaches righteousness, which no one can claim because it must be held in perfection.  Sin is against righteousness.  John says in verse 5, “But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins.  And in Him is no sin.”  Jesus does for us what we could never achieve through obeying the law.  Jesus appeared so that He will take away our sins.  The last part of the verse goes with the next verse.  It says, “And in Him is no sin.” We saw that there is no righteousness in sin, because sin is lawlessness, and the law just shows us what righteousness is.  But in Jesus, there is no sin.  So in order to not be in sin, we must abide in Jesus, which verse 6 states, “No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him.” There may be sin in us, but there is no sin in Him.  So by abiding in Him, that is, by fellowshipping with Jesus or keeping a mutual loving relationship, we stop sinning.  If we do not stop sinning, then the reason for that is that we do not understand who Jesus is.  We do not understand His holiness, wrath to sin, what He went through to take away our sins, nor understand the power He gives us through His Spirit via grace to stop sinning.  We simply do not know Him if we try to fellowship with Him and yet bring our sins with us while we attempt to have that fellowship.  As already noted: baby Christians do not know Him.  They have to learn of Him.  Nor do immature, slow developing Christians know Him.  They are in the process of learning of Him, whatever speed that might be.  Mature Christians know Him and fellowship with Him freely.  So it is impossible to abide with Him and continue in sin.  One can have pseudo fellowship if they are living in rebellion, but it is not the real thing.

1 John 3:7 says, “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous.” This is not salvation by doing.  The nature of a Christian draws Christians to do righteous things.  It is the growth process we’ve been discussing.  The holy nature of the Christian is not derived from what we do, however, we are called to live holy lives which does demand doing righteous things.  A Christian naturally imitates his master.  John says in verse 8: “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”  I promise to explain this when we get to verse 10, which basically says the same thing.  But for now, let’s look at the logic of it.  Most Christians do not conclude from verse 7 that we are justified by doing right because that would blatantly contradict Paul’s teaching.  Verse 7 was not describing the nature of the Christians.  The next verse states verse 7 in the opposite way.  By doing bad, we are a child of the devil.  So if the first statement cannot be referring to salvation by works (according to Paul’s teaching), then logically, the next statement cannot be referring to Hell by bad works.  But please hold that thought, as I will come back to this verse after we look at verse 10.  John really gets deep in verse 9.  From the NAS, it reads, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Here, John says “no one who is born of God…” All Christians are born of God.  It says why no one born of God practices sin: “because His seed abides in him.”  God’s seed abides in the believer.  He goes on to say something quite odd: “he cannot sin.”  It does not say, “he cannot keep on sinning” as the ESV renders.  That is an addition and attempt by the translators to clarify the verse, but it is not in the manuscript.  The Greek says only “he cannot sin,” that is, he is incapable of sinning.  John, here, is not talking about the Christian in the normal way.  Here, he is referring to the new nature of the Christian.  

Paul says in Ephesians 4:24, “…put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”  Paul says in Romans 7:20, “Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”  He is actually repeating what he said in Romans 7:16, “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it [the bad thing], but it is sin living in me.”  The bible makes clear that the saint is distinct from the sin that the flesh deceives the saint into committing.  Our new identity is apart from and has nothing to do with sin.  The new you is righteous and holy. That is why the new you cannot sin.  You are a new creation.  The old has gone and the new has come.  You have been crucified with Christ.  You died.  The life you live is Christ living in you, which is the new you.  It is good to know who we are in order to facilitate our walk with righteousness and maintaining fellowship with God.  You are no longer a sinner.  You are a saint who sins as long as you have accepted Christ’s credit payment for your sin debt through His spilt blood on the cross.  God planted His seed in the believer, which is the Holy Spirit, and includes His righteousness.  Jesus is also in you through His Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  Many Christians start by thinking that they are sinners.  They don’t acknowledge that their identity has been changed by Jesus.  By starting with the wrong identity, one will act by the identity that they think they are.  We have to start by saying “I’m a redeemed, righteous saint, and the new me cannot sin.”  Only then will we be on the road to controlling the flesh and suppressing its desires.  The new you cannot sin because of the new birth and changed identity in Christ; that is what this verse in 1 John is saying.  

1 John 3:10 reads, “This is how we know who the children of God are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”  The careful reader should ask questions when studying Scripture.  How can a man know the heart of another man?  How can a person know if another is really saved or not?  No one can peer into another’s heart.  Notice what this verse does not say.  It does not say, “This is how we know that we ourselves are a child of God…”  John is describing how to recognize a Christian.  Jesus even said, “By their fruit you will recognize them.”  We have no spiritual X-ray to tell the heart of a person.  The only litmus test of distinguishing other Christians is whether or not that person is doing what is right and is loving his brother.  Now imagine for a moment, a person who is loving his brother, but is not doing right.  This verse says that person would flunk the test because they have to be both loving his brother and doing what is right.  The law is right.  It says do not steal, do not murder, do not lie, among the rest of the things that Moses taught was good according to God’s eyes.  Moses, the law-giver, even said that we must love others.  This verse is not saying that we must follow the law to become a child of God.  It is not even saying we have to love our brother to be a child of God.  To be a child of God is not of ourselves.  If the requirement of being a child of God now includes loving our brother, then that immediately cancels Ephesians 2:8-9, and it is of ourselves.  Salvation would then require Jesus and myself.  I would now have an opportunity to boast of my claim to salvation because Jesus needed me to love and do what is right for me to be saved.  This is saying, rather, how to recognize a believer and nothing more.  

The natural proclivity for the Christian is to grow in righteousness and to become more like Jesus because God’s seed is in us, directing us.  There are, however, prodigal Christians.  Christians who suppress the seed in them and choose to submit themselves to the flesh.  The seed is still in them.  Paul says that the seed is in us until the Day of Redemption, not until the day of condemnation.  Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Ephesians 4:30 says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  We see here that it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit, but the person is still sealed by Him for the day of redemption.  God sealed us.  Man (even ourselves) cannot break a seal that God seals.  He sealed us to a specified date: you are sealed, if you accepted Jesus, for this future date on God’s eternal calendar.  You are sealed for your entire lifetime.  It is this same seed that John is speaking of.  We can recognize those Christians who submit to that seed that is in them and allow God to change their ways and change them to be more like Jesus.  The Christian who is rebellious, however, and who grieves the Holy Spirit is still a sealed one, but such is unrecognizable by other fellow Christians.  Such is living as if he or she is a child of the enemy.  

I promised we would go back to 1 John 3:8.  It reads, “He who does what is shameful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning…”  A Christian cannot lose his or her salvation because they have been sealed, but it is possible for a Christian to be of the devil and of God in the same day.  Jesus said this of Peter.  In Mark 8, Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ.  We learn from the other Gospels that Jesus said something like, “Blessed are you Simon…”  Right after that, in Mark 8:33, Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Get behind me Satan!  You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”  Peter wasn’t able to pride in his esteem from Jesus for long, for he was rebuked soon after and was called Satan by Jesus.  Jesus gives the reason for calling Peter Satan.  He says that it is because he did not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.  When we have in mind, not the things of God, but the things of men, we are a child of the devil, that is, our actions have adopted Satan’s agenda and values.  

To be called a child of the devil is to adopt his world system and values.  In John 8:44, this same John quotes Jesus, who says to his Jewish audience, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.  He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  Jesus was accusing his listeners of being liars because they were not holding to the truth.  All lies originated from Satan.  So when we lie, we adopt his invention and personality.  This applies to the Christian as well as the non-Christian.  I know the reader realizes that some Christians, unfortunate though it may be, do tell lies.  Some Christians do not hold to the truth of the entire Scripture.  When whoever lies, they temporarily adopt Satan as their surrogate father.

1 John 3:11-12 says, “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one, and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him?  Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.”  Cain did not have love for his brother Abel, rather, he envied him.  Incidentally, it is interesting that God still protected Cain in Genesis 4:15 after he killed his brother.  Cain had godly descendants.  Genesis 4:26 says, “At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD.”  Most on Earth during that time were descendants of Cain.  1 John 3:13-14 reads, “Do not marvel, brethren, if the world hates you.  We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren.  He who does not love abides in death.”  Recall that “brethren” refers specifically to Christians.  Recall also that John’s theme for his entire book is fellowship with God.  To have fellowship with God requires loving our brethren.  If a Christian hates his fellow Christian, he or she is automatically outside the fellowship of God.  To be outside the fellowship of God is not only to live in darkness, as we discovered earlier; but also, to be outside the fellowship of God is to abide in “death.”  When we are in fellowship with God we are abiding in life.  Death, as the bible defines throughout is to be apart from God’s presence.  It is possible to be in death even while we live.  Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:6, “But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.”  God told Adam, “The day you eat the forbidden fruit thereof, you will surely die.”  Adam ate, and yet lived on for centuries more.  But the day he ate, he died.  There are 4 deaths in the bible:  1. All who are outside of Jesus, who have not accepted Him for their Savior are dead.  2. There is also physical death, where the body dies, yet the spirit lives on. (The spirit never ceases to exist.)  3. There is the eternal death of the non-believer.  This is the non-Christian who has died and is eternally dead and is currently in Hades, awaiting their next quarters, which is the lake of fire.  4.  A Christian dies when they are out of fellowship with Jesus.  The Christian does not lose salvation, but loses the connection of abundant life and answered prayers, and sanctified protection from God.

Again, verse 14 states, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren.  He who does not love abides in death.”  How do I know if I am in fellowship with God and that my prayers are being heard?  Again, the litmus test for knowing that we are in fellowship and good standing with God is when we are loving our brother: that is our fellow Christian, and doing what is right.  If we are despising members of the Christian family, God turns the lights out on us and puts us in death and darkness.

1 John 3:15 says, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”  Both eternal life and the death mentioned in the previous verses refer not to the next life, but this one.  This verse is spoken to Christians only, not to non-Christians.  A non-Christian is never commanded to love his brother.  Their brother is the world.  Our brothers are fellow Christians.  A Christian does not lose eternal life, if that were possible, it was never eternal to begin with.  Eternal life starts in this life time and continues forever.  On this side of life, eternal life refers to the abundant life that Jesus mentioned when He said, “I have come so that they may have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).  When a Christian despises his or her Christian brother or sister in Christ, they are not “abiding” in eternal life; and, eternal life is not “abiding” in him or her.  While outside of the fellowship of the eternal life that we experience when we are in the light, we are in darkness and death, and God responds with His strict discipline to get us back on the right road.
Back to top Go down
View user profile
Works versus Faith (Part 13) — The Book of 1 John
Back to top 
Page 1 of 1
 Similar topics
» How CoRoT works
» Drill Book
» Book Four - Book of Ablution
» The Book, the SOng of Solomon
» New Book on Transiting Planets

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Christian Anxiety & Depression Forum :: Bible Study :: Works vs Faith-
Jump to: