Our family, sin and the world
1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? – 1 John 5:1-5 ESV
As we continue to learn more and more about love and being in God’s family. We face some difficult situations. We get to a point to understand that there is a moment of conversion of being reborn or born into God’s family. Being adopted. Everything from that point to a moment of death is merely a sanctification process. A transformation or metamorphosis from who we are to who He wants us to be.
Whether or not a believer exhibits an admirable life, he should be an object of his fellow Christian’s love. That is us. This love does not come from something lovable in the person themselves, but from his paternity. Who’s they are, not who they are. It says in verse 1, “everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him“. This is not natural and definitely is not easy. We know many of the things God has has done in our life and we expect to see similar progress in others. What it really means is that we review, judge and compare who we are and make a judgement on the salvation of others.
Do you find it challenging to support and encourage those people in and around your life that don’t show much admirability in life? Do you set standards that you think born again believers should uphold to be a self-proclaiming Christian?
When we struggle with dealing with those relatives, we can get personally challenged and just decide to avoid such people or ignore any interactions that may arise. We must realize that lover for God’s children is not a mere sentiment or lip service, but is actually inseparable from loving God and obeying His commands. Which brings up another challenging question…”what does it mean to love God”? What the answer should be to obey His commands. A person who obeys God’s commands is doing what is right, both toward God and toward his fellow believers.
When God commands us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, but we avoid and judge them against our standards, how does that make us feel?
Have you ever been judged or avoided by another brother or sister, that just seemed self-righteous? Like you did not measure up? What was it like?
May we be reminded in this lesson that a brother is a brother if they are surrendered and adopted by God. We know that even children in the world rebel and hurt their parents, and that is no different with children of God. We just pray that they are making an honest attempt to listen and follow Christ’s will. Less of them and more of Him.
3Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. 4For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. 5And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. – 1 John 5:3-5 NLT
We have concluded that being able to do all of God’s commands are not easy. Many of them are actually quite hard. When you read these verses what comes to your mind when you reflect on who you used to be and who you are now? Knowing that you are going to fail and fall short of perfection, but still doing the best you can with all joy and happiness. That unique God given blessing.
Do you find the battles in this world, the failures and uphill climb burdensome? What do you do when you are getting weighted down?
6And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. 7So we have these three witnesses—8the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree. 9Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. 10All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.
11And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. – 1 John 5:6-12 NLT
John reminds us, once again, that the ability to persevere is not by our power, but that of God. John lays out the trinity and realness of God coming down as a real person. Many times in our life we face people that do not fully understand or believe the aspects of Jesus Christ. In reality, none of us know everything about Jesus, but we do believe. I trust and basis comes with an understanding of scripture and faith. Not faith in who we are, or what we know, but who He is. Our faith cannot be in ourselves, but in the God we read about, the God we are adopted by.
Example, I understand the concept of my body in one way and you understand my body and your body in a different way; in varying degrees. I have come to understand that there was a time when I was born, and a time I will die. I don’t understand all the details of my DNA, chromosomes, white blood cells, red blood cells, an immune system, a respiratory system, a nervous system, or a digestive system; but I know and trust they exist. There are so many people in this world that choose to not trust and believe, but they declare they don’t know enough about Jesus, so they can’t believe, yet they will trust in more things of this world with “blind faith” than what is laid out. The sad part is many don’t believe and don’t even care or desire to know or have an improved relationship with the creator of all.
The only way any of us can persevere is through our understanding of the bigger picture, it is not about this world, we have been rescued and adopted, and we are not alone in this journey into eternity. We have life!
How has your life changed since accepting the concept and invitation of Jesus as your savior by faith? Did you struggle with the initial idea, did you have or do you still battle times of doubt?
That we may know…
John insists that assurance of eternal life comes through belief in the Son of God, whom he has taken great care to properly identify throughout the letter. He also returns to the topics of sinful living and the identity of God’s children.
13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. 14And this is the confidence that we have toward 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 that we have asked of him.
Many of us have heard this interpretation, maybe even believed it, or maybe discredited one’s faith by whether the prayers were answered…
In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. – John 16:23 ESV
which brings the basic question…
If we know that God hears our prayers and he is all powerful, why do prayers not get answered?
It all has to do with the motivation behind the prayer. Who’s will is it? This is an assurance that God hears all prayers; however, God answers prayers according to his will, which doesn’t always align with human desires.
16If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.
18We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.
19We know that we are from God, and 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. He is the true God and eternal life. – 1 John 5:13-20 ESV
A confusing little section about sin can stir some confusion about different types of sin. It is not the sin that is different, but the consequences. The results in this world, and what we should and should not do.
All sin ultimately leads to death, but the expression “that does not lead to death” (mē pros thanaton) should be understood in the sense, “not punished by death.” The distinction is between sins for which death is a rapid consequence and sins for which it is not.
When a Christian sees another Christian sin in a way that is not fatal, he is instructed to pray for him and God will give him life. Like when we see a brother sinning and hurt himself spiritually and not immediately. Like when we see a brother getting drunk or high, or lusting and chasing after an inappropriate relationship. When we see a brother caught in a lie and digging himself deeper and deeper. Those are all sins that do not lead to immediate death. We need to pray for them, if not also intercede with them.
No matter what a person does, we should not pray for them to die. We support God and His will. If God intends someone to die, they will. We are not God and we need to align with His will not ours.
A surprising close
Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. – 1 John 5:21 NLT
Little children, keep yourself from idols. – 1 John 5:12 ESV
Do you find it kind of strange that John would close this first letter with such a statement? Why do you think he chose that?
John closes with a reference to anything that stands between people and God, whether physical or spiritual. All the falsehoods that John has opposed in this letter are forms of idolatry.
As we go out this week, realize that there is a real world out there that we are living in, engaged with and exposed to. We wise in your decisions and use every day with wise intent and passion. This is not a test, it is the real thing…
Holy Bible: New Living Translation (2013). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Walvoord, J. F., & Zuck, R. B., Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 902). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.