May 29 – Faith, Love, Obedience a Tapestry


“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” – 1 John 5:2-3 (ESV)


Twice in our verses today the apostle John says that love and obedience to God’s commandments go hand-in-hand. We are members of God’s family because we have been born of God, that is reason enough that we love all of God’s children ⸺all others who are born of Him. This kind of love is the second characteristic of the overcomer. We who by faith believe in God are the overcomers. We have overcome the stain and guilt of sin and our sin has been forgiven. Having never sinned Christ paid the penalty when He died on the cross in our place. The third characteristic of an overcomer is obedience. Let’s not think that obedience to God’s commandments, is too difficult or and onerous chore. God promises that his commandments are not burdensome. What is burdensome is the effort of earning our way by following the requirements of the false teachers and false religions. Trying to be “good enough” is difficult and tiring. Faith, love, and obedience to God are the characteristics of a true believer which are woven into a tapestry of our lives. Following in the way of Jesus Christ is not taxing but liberating.

196

May 28 – It Takes Saving Faith to Overcome


“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.” – 1 John 5:1 (ESV)


We have been finding promises of God in the first letter written by the apostle John. Our verse today is essential in understanding the characteristics of who is a Christian. Using the label and claiming to be a Christian is not enough in itself. It’s sincere belief in Jesus of Nazareth and that He is the promised Savior that results in spiritual rebirth by God. Christians become overcomers, but not by their own good works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Saving faith is the first characteristic of an overcomer. The term “believes” in our verse expresses the idea of continuing faith, which marks authentic believers. They continue in faith throughout their life. Saving belief is not simply intellectual acknowledgment, but is unreserved dedication to Jesus Christ that is eternal. Jesus is the Christ. If one asks who his Christian brother or sister is, the answer is that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. It is not by being born to Christian parents. It is a believer’s faith in Jesus, that He is the promised Messiah or “Anointed One” whom God sent to be our Savior from sin, to die for sins of all people, and to rise again.

199

May 27 – Being Overcomers


“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” … “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:1 & 4 (ESV)


The first letter written by the apostle John that we have in our Bible is a powerful letter of truth. A great amount of encouragement is given to those who have by faith, believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. When we accept Christ’s offer of forgiveness and in faith believe that He is our Lord and Savior, we overcome the false teaching and false teachers. They are everywhere and we must be on our guard not to be tripped up by them. In another verse we share today from John’s letter is this: “I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. 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.” 1 John 2:14 (ESV) We know that all who believe and have the word of God abiding in them have by God’s will the strength to overcome evil. Since John addresses “little children” and “fathers” and “young men” we know that none are excluded from this promise. All faith believers overcome evil and false teaching. All are made strong in God love.

197

May 26 – It’s What Satisfies God


“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. 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)


Yesterday our promise focused on the small word, ‘sin,’ how in truth we struggle with sin and our need for confession of sins. Today’s promise comes from a much bigger word and one which is not in our common vocabulary. It is ‘propitiation.’ It is appropriate for John to address his readers as “my little children” because when he wrote this, John was greatly advanced in years. He was the sole remaining survivor of the apostles who had enjoyed intimate, eyewitness association with Jesus throughout His earthly ministry. Yet not exiled to Patmos where He receives the Revelation of Jesus Christ, John was actively serving the church in Ephesus. He taught that Christian must continually acknowledge and confess sin (1 John 1:9), but we’re not powerless against it. Fulfilling the duty of confession does not give license to sin. When we do sin, we have a promised defense attorney, Jesus Christ our Advocate. Why is this a promise for us? Because the death of Jesus on the cross satisfied the demands of God’s holiness for the punishment of sin. That’s what ‘propitiation’ means – “satisfaction” or “appeasement.” Jesus is the satisfaction of God for us each time we sin, we’re covered. 

199

May 25 – Living In Truth, Not Denial

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” – 1 John 1:8-10 (NASB)

Now here is a little word that none of us consider a favorite word. In fact we don’t even want to think about the sinful acts that we do. Yet, the truth is this, we cannot escape from sin being a part of our lives. We do sin. Everyone sins. There is no one who does not sin. If we refuse to acknowledge the sin that assails us and pretend to claim that we have no sin, as our verse tells us, we are deceiving ourselves. We can’t profess to live in truth if we are not addressing the sinful actions and thoughts we do and have. In fact, if we deny having sinned, we make God a liar. Our promise is if we sin (and we do) then we confess our sins. What is confessing? It is being honest and saying the same thing about our actions that God says. We agree with God that we have sinned and God faithfully and lovingly promises to forgive and clean us up. The bad thoughts and actions are washed away. We’re done with them. It is an ongoing process in our lives until we get to heaven.  

196

April 26 – No, Not Burdensome


“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)

Struggling to be obedient to God as if obedience is a heavy burden is not evidence of love for Him. Our acts of loving God amount to much more than just keeping His commandment. Truly, loving God is having a heart for God that enables us to keep the statutes and instructions without that becoming a burden. John explains why God’s commandments are not burdensome. When we are born of God – and this is for all who are truly born of God – He makes us overcomers of the world system. We have what overcomes the many pitfalls and obstacles to keeping God’s will. It is the new nature we have through being born of God. That new birth creates in us a new creature and that creates a faith developing and maturing within ourselves. This faith in God who loves us and gave us His only Son, does more than enable us to assent to God will, it also enables us to embrace all that He is for us in Christ. Eighteenth-century pastor Jonathan Edwards wrestled with this text and concluded, “Saving faith implies love. Our love to God enables us to overcome the difficulties that attend keeping God’s commands.”

200

April 7 – Inclusive Experience


“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.” – 1 John 2:12-13 (ESV)

It seems best to view John’s division and categories to be referring to all who would hear this letter read. Each experience attributed to them is appropriate to the category named. As one of God’s “children,” we have experienced forgiveness through grace from our heavenly Father. As “fathers,” we have had an experience that connects us to eternity past, since we have known Him who is always from eternity with no beginning. (In the light of 1 John 2:3–6, this indicates we have a true relationship with God.) As “young men,” we have engaged in spiritual warfare and have overcome the evil one, Satan. Here again in verse 2:3 the word “Him” could refer to either God the Father or God the Son; the difference does not appear to be important to John. His readers as we are, know God and therefore we know both the Father and Son. Thought of in this way, the sequence “children,” “fathers,” and “young men” is meaningful. We know what it is to have sins forgiven and to have fellowship with God the Eternal One. As a result we are like vigorous young men who have defeated satanic assaults through Christ Jesus.

199

February 6 – Honest Before God


“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” – 1 John 1:8-10 (NASB)

We do not much care for the parts of the bible that reveal our weaknesses and our sinful nature do we? Yet these truths are there for us to learn the grace and love of God. John wrote this short letter to those who were living under some serious persecution from Rome and the non-believing population. The reminder in these three verses is our promise. We still sin and we cannot claim to be sinless. If we claim to have no sin or have not sinned we deceive ourselves of any truth in us and we make God a liar. In that state we need forgiveness for we can’t claim we hold the Word of God in us. But we can confess our sins each time and our faithful God, who is righteous promises to forgive us our sins. He washes the unrighteousness out of us. Those who suffer difficulty might be tempted to sin in many ways. John writes for us. If we live according to the flesh we will transgress God’s law. But He gives us grace to confess and be forgiven each time. We are restored by His promise to live according the His Spirit.

198

December 23 – Close In Fellowship


“…what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3 (NASB)

These words from the Apostle John’s first letter are good for us to read this season as we are thinking these days the coming of Jesus as a newborn baby in Bethlehem. This is of the Christmas event we celebrate each December. Tomorrow is the eve of Christmas which we often consider the night of Jesus’ birth in a stable. It was a night of marvelous fulfillment of the promised redeemer. In the verse before (1 John 1:2), The Apostle John wrote that the life was manifested and they had seen it – they were eyewitnesses. God had revealed His life through His Son Jesus and you and I have received new life by believing in Jesus as our Savior. We also read in our verse that this life is a fellowship with God the Father and with Jesus the Son. We are in a close relationship, a fellowship, in which God shares His blessings with us. And that is all because of Jesus. God’s gift of faith enables our acceptance of Him. We trust that you, friend, will experience this Christmas the blessings of this fellowship that has been promised to all who believe.

194