Monday, September 30, 2013

1 John 5 - Love God and Keep His Commandments

LINK: 1 John 5 (memorize 5:11-12)


An immature believer considers the commandments of the Bible burdensome, but when we taste more of God's love experientially, we begin to love the Words that He said because it is His love letter to us. His commandments are there because He loves us, not because He wants to burden us with "dos and don'ts" (Matthew 11:28-30). Love lightens our burdens.

Keeping His commandments includes love for God and love for others in His family. If we do not keep His commandments and go on sinning without confessing (1 John 1:9) our hearts turn away from God and His Word. 

If we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, we already have the victory (nike) to overcome (1 John 5:4; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7) the world because we have the divine nature of God living inside of us (2 Peter 1:4)! 

This Greek word for victory is nike (pronounced NEE-kay, not the way we pronounce the sports brand). Nike was the Greek goddess of victory. Jesus is the GOD of victory! We do not do this by faith in ourselves but faith in Christ who overcame the world (John 16:33)! 

John says that Jesus came "by water and blood" because he was writing to people who were influenced by the popular false teaching of Cerinthus who taught that Jesus was just a man whom "the Christ" had descended upon when Jesus was baptized and left Him before the crucifixion. If Jesus had died only a man, He could not have taken on the sins of the world. John refutes this false teaching and presents the three witnesses to prove Jesus is God: the water, the blood, and the Spirit. 

The water refers to Jesus' baptism where the Father said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:13-17). The Spirit also descends upon Jesus to confirm this. 

The blood is the crucifixion where the Father responded to Jesus asking Him to glorify His name: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again" (John 12:28). The darkness falling, the earthquake, and the tearing of the temple veil from top to bottom also witness to Jesus' deity (Matthew 27:45, 50-54). 

Jesus said that the Spirit bears witness of Him (John 15:26; 16:14). The Spirit within us bears witness that we are children of God (Romans 8:15-16). Also, the Spirit bears witness through the Word (1 Corinthians 2:14).

1 John 5:11-12 are important "assurance" verses to memorize. If we believe in the Son (and that belief is proven by our character and actions), then we are children of God. 

1 John 5:14-15 are about confidence (boldness) as a result of knowing that we have eternal life (5:13; 3:19, 22). God answers prayer according to His will, and we discern this by being in His Word and listening to the Spirit (Romans 8:26-27).

ALFORD well says, If we knew God’s will thoroughly, and submitted to it heartily, it would be impossible for us to ask anything for the spirit or for the body which He should not perform; it is this ideal state which the apostle has in view. It is the Spirit who teaches us inwardly, and Himself in us asks according to the will of God.  
(A Commentary Critical and Explanatory, 1 John 5:14, p. 537)
Also, 1 John 3:22 says, "and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight." 

God has promised to supply our needs (Philippians 4:19). Bathe in the promises of God and ask with confidence and faith (Hebrews 11:1). We may not always see the answer right away, but we can be assured of it.

Why ask if he already knows our needs? "Because prayer is the way God wants His children to get what they need. God not only ordains the end, but He also ordains the means to the end -- prayer" (Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, 1 John 5:14-15, p. 529). 

It can also be surmised from the context of the passage that John is saying that a believer can ask God for help in keeping His commands because we know that is according to His will!

Now John turns to praying for another person. God's love flowing through us cannot help but give us love and compassion for our brothers and sisters. The outflow of that is prayer for them. 

If that person is continuing and making a practice of sin, John is saying that praying for him might not be according to His will and a waste of time and energy. What does the "sin leading to death mean" (5:16-17)? Sometimes sin leads to physical death as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11), and Paul mentions those who died who took communion in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27-30). Also, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit results in spiritual death (Mark 3:29), and Hebrews 6:4-6 describes the spiritual death of a person who falls away. This may be people who are making a practice of sin in a way that leads to eternal death. We must be subject to the Father in order to live spiritually (Hebrews 12:9). 

John might also be referring to those people who have left the fellowship in order to join the antichrists. These people had rejected salvation. 

Since we do not know who the people are who have wholly rejected Him, we need to continue to listen to God's voice; and if He prompts us to pray, then we should pray! God is the ultimate judge. The key is LISTENING prayer. Listen to God and pray as He prompts you to pray!

If one is truly born of God through believing in Jesus Christ, he or she will not make a practice of continual sinning. We are no longer a slave to Satan and have the means of forgiveness through confession (1 John 1:9). 

John's final words involved an admonition for the "born ones" to keep themselves from the idolatry (and accompanying moral laxness) that surrounded them in the Greco-Roman world in which they lived. 

D.L. Moody often said, “Every Bible should be bound in shoe leather.” We show our love to God, not by empty words but by willing works. We are not slaves obeying a master; we are children obeying a Father. And our sin is a family affair" 
(Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, 1 John 5:1, p. 524)
One thing I have noticed throughout this time of reading the epistles by all these authors is that they are about maturing in Christ. What does that look like? It is beyond just knowing the Bible but letting the life of Christ live through us resulting in willing works and love for others.

That is where I realize how woefully immature I really am. I think the more I grow, the more I know that I have so much more growing to do. It never stops. My 80+ year old mentors say the same thing. They have never stopped growing and learning! I want to be like that.

I want to grow more in love with Christ rather than the world. How about you?

Victorious faith is the result of maturing love. The better we come to know and love Jesus Christ, the easier it is to trust Him with the needs and battles of life. It is important that this maturing love become a regular and a practical thing in our daily lives. 
How does a believer go about experiencing this kind of love and the blessings that flow from it? 
To begin with, this kind of love must be cultivated. It is not the result of a hit-or-miss friendship! A previous study pointed out that a believer slips back into the world by stages: 
1.      Friendship with the world (James 4:4)     
2.      Spotted by the world (James 1:27)    
3.      Loving the world (1 John 2:15–17)    
4.      Conformed to the world (Rom. 12:2) 
(The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, 1 Jn 5:4, p. 526) 
Now turn that around and develop a friendship with Jesus. Let that friendship "spot" your life. Let that give you an even deeper love for Him (remember what we learned about "deeper knowledge" in 2 Peter 1?). Let that love conform you to His image (Romans 8:29). Complete conformity will come when we see Him face-to-face (1 John 3:1-3), but let's strive to reverse the influence of the world on us!

My husband and I were friends for two years (1987-1989) before we started courting, fell in love, and got married (1990). The love gets deeper and deeper every year. I cannot even begin to tell you how his character has influenced my life. For example, I am very direct by nature, but his diplomacy with others has really rubbed off on me. That love has resulted in a transformation of character and actions toward others. That is what Jesus wants to do for us!


Take some time to do some listening prayer. Ask Him to show you what He wants you to learn from this passage. Ask Him for an "I will"! He will give it to you. What are the "willing works" He wants you to do?


Lord, please speak to every person who reads this. May our love for You result in willing works! Amen. 
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