Monday, 15 June 2020
We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. 1 John 5:19
John now presents a second “we know.” This time, he says, “We know that we are of God.” He just said, “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin.” The reason for this is that Christ keeps watch over us and guards us (through the non-imputation of sin) and therefore, “the wicked one does not touch him.” As a reminder, the word translated as “touch” signified that the devil has no power to bring about a change in the person.
Understanding these points, which John states as facts, we can then grasp the difference between believers and the rest of the world. When John says, “We know,” it does not mean that everyone grasps these things. It means that they are available to be grasped. In other words, these are truths which exist, even if we have not reasoned them out or been instructed in their contents. The first clause, however, should be something that every believer grasps. Unfortunately, it is not always the case.
The words of the gospels, including the words of Jesus recorded there – as well as the rest of the New Testament – testifies to the fact that when a believer comes to God, he can be certain of this truth. As John says, “We know that we are of God.” The Greek preposition ek is used. It signifies “out of” or “from.” The source of who we are as believers is from God. The truth of John’s words is clearly revealed in the first chapter of his gospel record –
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12, 13
To be begotten of God means to be of God. Paul frequently uses the term “son” to indicate the relationship between God and those who come to Him through Christ. There is a Father/son relationship which is established through a process of adoption into the family of God (See Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:5, Ephesians 1:5, etc). To contrast this, John next says, “and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”
These words support those of the previous verse. John said, “the wicked one does not touch him (meaning believers),” but those who have not come to Christ are under the complete control of the devil. The word John uses, translated as “lies,” means exactly that. When one lies, he is in a state which is set. One doesn’t amble around when lying. Thus, the idea is that of total control.
Therefore, the words “under the sway of” which are inserted by the translators are not strong enough. They make is seem as if the devil has the authority to manipulate them, something which is true, but it is stronger than that. The idea is that of full authority.
A person may be able to make an animal do certain things, but he may not have full control and authority over that animal. The same is true with a computer program. A computer hacker may be able to cause a computer (have sway over) to mine bitcoin for him, but the rest of the computer is still under the authority of the owner who doesn’t even know a portion of the computer is being used.
However, nonbelievers are under the authority of the devil. He doesn’t need to sway them; they are his property. This was confirmed, for example, in Chapter 3 –
“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8
This is why the doctrine of the non-imputation of sin is so important, and it is why John has brought it up several times in this epistle in various ways. If sin were imputed to believers, they would no longer belong to God. They would again be the possession of the devil. But John, like Paul, has clearly shown that this can no longer happen. It is, once again and logically demonstrated, a presentation of the doctrine of eternal salvation.
Believers go from the authority of the devil to the authority (once and forever) of God when they come to Him through Jesus Christ. To state otherwise is to call into question the truth of the Word of God, the faithfulness of God to His word, and it is to diminish – or rather to utterly obliterate – the significance of the cross of Jesus Christ for those who have trusted in Him.
Life application: Because we are born of God, we know that we are of God. This is the same as saying, “We know that we are of the human race because we are born of Adam.”
Being born of God then unites us with Him. In turn, we can never again be overtaken by the devil. This is the dividing line between saved believers and the lost – those who are born of God are of God, and those who are not belong – lock, stock, and barrel – to the devil. This power of the devil encompasses the entire system of the world. Although we live in the world, we are not of the world. For this reason, we need to live as if it is the case.
Further, we are to accept that the change in us is real, it is fully capable to save us, and it is fully capable to continue to save us. If sin is imputed to believers after coming to Christ, then the Bible is in error, the message of the cross is a lie, and there is no hope for man.
If you are struggling with these things, continue to think them through. The word is clear, but our ability to comprehend it is limited. The more we meditate on the word, the more our minds will become attune to the truths that are presented there. Put away the things of the world and focus on the things of God.
Heavenly Father, you have given us the dividing line between the world and You – our Lord Jesus. Give us the wisdom to study Your word, and in turn to learn more about You and what You have done for us in the work of Jesus. Keep us from the temptations of the world and keep us focused on You alone. We pray this so that you will be glorified. Amen.