“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” – 1 John 5:3-4 (ESV)
Just yesterday we read the promise of Jesus that His yoke is easy and his burden is light. He offers to teach us how this is true. Today’s passage is from John the Apostle who continues the same promise. If we love God as He calls us to, we show that love by keeping the commandments He gives us. Not many of us bow gracefully on our own under the commandments or restrictions that are laid upon us. We do not like the idea of being told by someone what we are to do. It can be difficult to buckle under to the mandates and the laws made by men. But not so with God’s commandments. It is our love of God that relieves us of any weight from keeping His commandments. Today’s promise is that God’s commandments are NOT burdensome. Why is this true? Because having been born of God we overcome the difficulties of obedience to God. What seems insurmountable we now overcome and we have our victory in this struggle. What is that victory? It is our faith in God. By faith we believe and this victory becomes ours. It’s how we love God and each other
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” – 1 John 5:3-5 (ESV)
The Apostle John emphasized what he has written by saying it again because obedience is a characteristic of an overcomer. It is overcomers that are victorious. In the first five verses of 1 John 5 John weaves faith, love, obedience all together inextricably. It is a dynamic relationship and the genuine proof of love is obedience just as the genuine proof of faith is love. The word “keep” is one that means ‘guarding by constant obedience.’ A special promise is here for us in these verses, along with several others, is that keeping His commandments are not burdensome. We can do it because God has promised to help. Unless of course, we try to do so all by ourself in our own strength and using our own reasoning. Every other religion in the world has commands to obey to please their system but offers no spiritual help in doing so. The Christian has the Spirit of God alongside. We overcome by being yoked to Jesus who makes our burden light. (Matthew 11:28-30) We confirm ourselves to be overcomers not by our works but by faith believing that Jesus is the Son of God.
“Everyone 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. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” – 1 John 5:1-2 (ESV)
We have been promised a victorious life. Tomorrow we will consider the substance of this promise in the following verses but today we have the promise of what it takes to have that triumphant life. All who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Anointed One, the Messiah who was promised from the beginning to make a way for our reconciliation with God the Father. Everyone who believes this is born spiritually by the power of God. We who have been born into God’s Spirit will manifest love for God the Father. We also will have and show love for all others who have been born of God. Our love of others is made possible by our love and obedience to God. Our promise is this, we can know that we love each other when we obey His commandments. These are the precepts in the teaching which Christ gave to all when He was on this earth. Recorded and written by the Holy Spirit into the inspired writings of our Scriptures, we know what the commandments are from the Bible.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.” – 1 John 4:1-3 (ESV)
The mention of the Holy Spirit in the previous chapter (1 John 3:24) motivates John to advise his readers that other spirits exist, such as demonic spirits, who produce false prophets and false teachers to spread their false doctrine. We are warned repeatedly through Scripture of the danger of apostasy, especially in later times. (1 Timothy 4:1-2). We are in later times as it is the period from the first coming of Christ until His return for his Church and judgment of the world. Do be on guard against falling prey to false teaching that tickles our ears and stirs our desire for the things of the world. Our promise is this, we can know and do know the Holy Spirit of God if we by faith given to us have believed in Jesus and His sacrifice on our behalf. We just might be in a time where the opposition is increasing and it is wise for us to cling to this instruction. We can test the spirits by discerning whether they confess Jesus as Lord and Savior. Those who do not so confess, but pretend to be preachers and teachers, are apostate.
“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” – 1 John 3:1 (NASB)
What a wonderful promise of hope we have today. It is something to think about and rejoice in. The Apostle John just bursts out this good news as he introduces to all readers why our hope is a sure thing. Our hope as believers in Jesus Christ is strengthened by the fact that God initiated his salvation out of His love for us. There is no other way for any person to be called a child of God. This is a promise and as one said “We who are in Christ are there because God took us out of the world and put us in Christ. But there is another promise here and that is the world we live in, that which is not abiding in Christ or following His commandments does not really know us. The world can’t figure out how or why a person is a Christian abiding in Christ because they do not know Christ. For that reason we are to not love the world or try to look like the world. Let’s be thankful that God has called us His children and such we are because of the Love He has for us.
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. ” – 1 John 2:1-2 (ESV)
In today’s verses we have a couple of high dollar words. Most of us know the word “advocate” and likely use it from time to time. But few of us have cause to use the word “propitiation.” Both words are packed with significant promises for us. Advocate: likely brings to mind the idea of an attorney, especially as counsel for the defense. An accused person needs good counsel and for that they hire an attorney. This word is also used and translated as “helper” because its literal meaning is “one called alongside.” Jesus is our advocate when Satan accuses us of our sins. Propitiation: He paid the price for us and His sacrifice on the cross is the propitiation for our sins. Our Advocate declares his word was “satisfactory” to answer the demands of our sins. What Jesus did for us, when he died in our place was an “appeasement” that promised to satisfy the demands of our holy God for the necessary punishment of sin. This propitiation is available for all those in the whole world who believe, repents and confesses their sins. Jesus took the punishment and makes the appeasement available as a promise.
“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—” – 1 John 1:1 (NASB)
Each of us who by faith believe Jesus of Nazareth is the Word of Life has a beginning point of faith in Him. The Apostle John, who also wrote the Gospel of John, uses the phrase “from the beginning” here in a different way than he used it in the Gospel, “in the beginning.” In the Gospel, John wrote he was referencing eternity past, even before the creation of the world and where there is no first point. In this letter, written some years later, John is saying “from” the beginning referring to the beginnings of preaching the gospel. A time when his readers first heard about Jesus. Within the context of verses 1-4* (see below) the phrase promises and emphasizes the stability of the gospel message; its contents do not change but remain stable from the very beginning; it is not subject to change based on fads or philosophical ideas. John affirms his testimony with the words, “we have heard…we have seen…we have had physical contact with Jesus. We can trust John’s witness.
*…the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” 1 John 1:2-4 (ESV)
“…but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin..” – 1 John 1:7 (NASB)
Today we have a promise that is wondrously great! Yesterday our verse and blog focused on David’s plea for forgiveness and cleansing from God after his sins of adultery and murder. But we know from the record in the Bible that David was one who walked in the Light of God – which our verse talks about today. God knows perfectly well that during our time on earth and until we depart this world and go to heaven, we will face temptations. We will actually commit sins for which we need forgiveness and cleansing. Any person who has by faith from God, believed in Jesus, is a genuine Christian, (a faith believer) and does not walk in darkness but only in the Light, and cleansing from sin continually occurs. As genuine Christians we walk in the Light (truth and holiness); we do not walk in darkness (falsehood and sin). To habitually walk in the Light means we share in the character of God because we permanently abide in Him and He in us. We will be consistently characterized by His holiness (3 John 11), revealing our true fellowship with God.
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” – 1 John 3:14 (NASB)
How is your love-life? No, not the way we normally use those words. This ‘love-life’ is more according to the teaching of the Apostle John and the words of Jesus Himself. It’s the love we have in our life for one another. John calls us brethren because we are in the same family. We have God as our Father and by grace we have been saved and born again in Jesus Christ. It is most important that we understand the promises in our verse today. How do we know we have salvation? How do we know that death no longer has claim on us? We know because we love our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible says that we are saved by faith but that we must love people in order to finally be saved. That means our faith in God’s promises must be so real that it produces a love that proves the reality of the faith. Conversely the lack of love proves otherwise. The next verse says that hating our brother is equal to murder in consequence and proves the lack of eternal life. It is a serious matter – love, don’t hate our siblings in Christ.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” 1 John 5:14 (ESV)
Knowing that God has promised eternal life when we believed on the name of the Son of God, gives us confidence and certainty in our lives as Christians. We have a wonderful promise today but we need to be careful to understand it rightly. Many these days speak of “praying” for others. People reach out to friends and friends of friends asking for prayer and receive assurances that the “prayers are being sent up.” But can just anyone who prays know for certain that God even hears? Does God answer and deliver on any and all prayers?” Our verse today gives us confidence that God will hear us but consider this very important condition. “…that if we ask anything according to His will…” To pray according to God’s will is to pray in accord with what He has told us He wants, not simply what we decide or desire we need. God may not respond to prayer made by those who do not believe on Him. God does not respond or answer prayers that are contrary to His will. God hears the prayers which are according to His will, not just according to our will only.