1 John 5:21

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. 1 John 5:21

John finishes this epistle with a simple thought. It seems almost disconnected from anything else he has said, as if it is an afterthought affixed to the main letter, but such is not the case. He begins this final verse with the word teknia, or “little children.”  It is the seventh time he has used this term, and it is the last use of it in the New Testament. He uses it in a form of fatherly address to his darlings, forming an appeal that is to be taken to heart. With that said, he continues with, “keep yourselves from idols.”

Here, John uses a much stronger term for “keep” than he did in verse 18. The word here can be equated with a soldier guarding a garrison. In other words, “defend heavily” yourselves from idols.

The word “idols” is prefixed by an article that is generally not translated, but rightly should be – “keep yourselves from the idols.” The people of the world were, and continue to be, surrounded by idols of all kinds. In saying, “keep yourselves from the idols,” it bears the intent of, “keep yourselves away from anything that will draw your attention from God.”

The connection to the epistle is obvious. In his previous verse, he said, “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” Idols are false gods, which are no gods at all. They do not reveal anything about God, nor do they offer anything from God. In drawing near to idols, one moves away from the true God.

Therefore, it is incumbent on all people to pursue the knowledge of Jesus Christ. In this, the true God is made manifest to us. And that thought then goes back another verse where John says that “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” If one draws near to idols, which are not of God, they are drawing near to that which lies within the domain of the devil.

John’s desire for God’s people, his “little children,” is similar to what Paul admonished toward those in Thessalonica – “Test all things, hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, 22). By keeping from the idols, John’s addressees would be on the proper path to do just that.

Finally, John finishes the epistle with the word, “Amen.” In essence, “So let it be.” John has instructed his little children, and now he anticipates that it will be so for them, and for all who afterward receive his letter, taking it to heart and applying its truths to their lives.

Life application: The book of 1 John has been an immensely wonderful learning experience on many levels. Now, more than ever, it is hoped you will find it a book to be viewed as a wonderful treasure of insight into God’s salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In this final verse, John doesn’t distinguish between types of idolatry. Instead, he speaks of all forms – both physical idols which were (and remain to this day) present in the world around us – as well as non-physical ones, such as false beliefs. Anything in our life which takes the place of worshipping God through Jesus Christ is an idol. It can be our car, our girlfriend, incorrect concepts of Jesus (such as those that various fringe cults proclaim), statues of religious figures, etc.

If you go into a church or other religious area and bow or speak to a statue, you are committing idolatry. This isn’t something to be taken lightly by saying, “Oh, I’m thinking about God as I do this.” Rationalizing away your actions which are in conflict with such a direct command from the Bible is actually a second form of idolatry. You have placed an idol before God, and then you’ve placed yourself above God by disobeying the word that He has given you. Think this through carefully; and please, please…keep yourselves from the idols. Amen.

Lord Jesus, we honor You because only You reveal the Father to us. Keep our hearts, our eyes, and our thoughts from idolatry, and keep our souls desiring only You. We love You Lord, and we give you our praise and honor. May You be highly exalted! Amen.






1 John 5:20

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20

John now presents his third and final “we know,” saying, “And we know that the Son of God has come.” John has laid out this fact, both in his gospel, and also in this epistle (which may have been a letter which accompanied the gospel or a letter sent separately).

John the Baptist proclaimed this fact right at the beginning of the gospel, saying, “And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” John the Apostle declared it right at the beginning of his epistle, saying –

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:1-4

The evidences are laid out through all of the gospels, Acts, and the other epistles as well. There is as much (and indeed there is more) certainty that the Son of God has come as any other event in ancient history. This is even more apparent when the prophets before Christ’s coming prophesied in minute detail of when He would come, to where He would come, what He would do, and etc. With this surety of testimony available, John then says, “and has given us an understanding.”

The words here are not referring to a new ability not known before. We are the same species now that we were since creation. All humans have the same ability (if they are willing to use it) to think rationally, to test the evidences before them, to make logical conclusions, and so on. What John is referring to are the evidences presented. The record of the prophets, the writings of the gospels, the explanation in the epistles, the unveiling of the mysteries previously hidden, and so on. They are now available to believers, and thus we have been given an understanding, which is, “that we may know Him who is true.”

This is speaking of God, the Creator, and the One to whom all men are accountable to. There is one God, and the writings found in Scripture are what we would call “special revelation.” We can know things about God from nature, from thinking logically, and etc. This is known as “general revelation.” But there are things we cannot know about God unless He specifically reveals them to us. The highest form of special revelation is the incarnation of Jesus Christ. From that, we learn what is written about Him and His work.

In knowing these things, we are given an understanding to “know Him who is true.” What is otherwise completely unknowable about God can now be understood. The testimony is true, as is stated in John 3:33, “He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true.” And not only do we know that the God we are presented with in Scripture is true, but we can also “know Him.” This was stated in John’s gospel as well –

“No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

The God presented to us is true, and it is the Son – Jesus – who has declared Him. Thus, we can “know Him who is true.” The thoughts presented fit as perfectly as the most carefully made glove. The one who is given this understanding has a sound, logical, verifiable, and readily available understanding of these things. Along with this blessed state, John then adds, “and we are in Him who is true.”

The words here speak of intimate union and fellowship. Where we once were alienated from God, we are now brought near though Christ. What is implied here, but stated explicitly elsewhere, is the truth that without Christ this intimate union would be impossible. The only way to be united to God – and to have this personal, eternal, and blessed relationship – is to come to God through Christ. This is, as John next says, “in His Son Jesus Christ.”

What this means is that to be in “Him who is true,” meaning in God, one must be in Jesus Christ. When one is in Christ, He is in God. It should be noted that the construction of the Greek here is the same as was seen in verse 5:19 concerning the wicked one –

“in the evil one”
“in the (Him who is) true; in the Son of Him Jesus Christ.”

John has formed a complete divide between the two. On one side is “the whole world,” and on the other are those “in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ.” There are no other options available. One is either in Christ, or he is in the devil.

John then finishes with the words, “This is the true God and eternal life.” The words are in the masculine singular – “He is the true God and life eternal.” Because of this, scholars debate whether this is referring to God or to Jesus. The Pulpit Commentary says, “We must be content to leave the question open; both interpretations make excellent sense, and none of the arguments in favour of either are decisive.”

Albert Barnes gives the most delightful 5-point analysis which resoundingly favors the words pointing to Jesus – for obvious reasons. It is well worth reading, and it can be seen at this link – https://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_john/5-20.htm.

The answer to this is not unimportant, and so to understand more fully what John is relaying, the previous clauses need to be carefully laid out and examined –

1) that we may know Him who is true.
2) and we are in Him who is true.
3) in His Son Jesus Christ.
4) This is the true God and eternal life.

The answer to the question is obvious when placed this way. John first gives the reason for the coming of Christ. It is so that we may know Him who is true. It is speaking of God. As noted above, we cannot know God in this special way without Him revealing Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ.

John then says, “we may know Him who is true.” This must be speaking of God, because he then says, “in His Son Jesus Christ.” He is showing that there are two entities being referred to by stating it this way – God and Jesus Christ. However, despite being two entities, they are One. The words “This is the true God” refer to both clauses – Him who is true/in His Son Jesus Christ. Despite being masculine singular, they are One. There is no Jesus Christ apart from God, and there is no God other than the God – who is inclusive of Jesus Christ – because Jesus is God, and because there is One God.

This is no different than Matthew 28:19. There it refers to the “name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” However, the word “name” is singular. There is One name because there is One God. The three Persons within the Godhead do not negate that they are – together – One God.

What John is doing is demonstrating the truth – repeated elsewhere – that God has revealed Himself, God reveals Himself, and God will eternally reveal Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ. When John says, “This is the eternal God and true life,” he is simply repeating, while restating, what he said as he opened his epistle –

“the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” 1 John 1:2

The life, meaning Jesus Christ, was with the Father. The life, meaning eternal life, was manifested to us in the Person of Jesus Christ – who is with the Father. This is the true God and eternal life.

Life application: We know we have been given an understanding which is the ability to clearly receive and discern spiritual truth. Unlike others who claim to be spiritual, but have no foundation, we have the absolute assurance that we “may know Him who is true.” This means that Jesus has revealed the very Creator God to us.

The God who is Spirit and cannot be seen, is clearly and completely revealed in the Son. This revelation is unlike the gods invented by man. All other religions, despite their claims, are based on an incorrect and finite understanding of God. Jesus, however, is the true revelation of God and His depiction reaches to the infinite – in other words, our ability to learn from Him and seek out His glory will never end. All other religions necessarily end because they are based on finite contemplations.

So “we may know Him” is an eternally ongoing gift to us. We also know that “we are in Him.” As believers in Jesus Christ, we are adopted sons of God. We have moved from death to life and are eternally secure in His salvation. This then “is the true God and eternal life.” We have the Son and therefore we have the Father. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Jesus is the cornerstone, and we are living stones being built into an eternal temple in which God will dwell. It is the most incredible thing to ponder! Thank You, O God, for Jesus.

Lord, may we never be so haughty as to assume that we have merited Your grace. We can only look to what You have done and say, “O God, how great Thou art!” When we were separated and lost, You sent our Great Shepherd to find us and bring us to Your fold. And here we are…looking forward to eternity in Your glorious presence, ever praising You. Amen.




















1 John 5:19

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.















1 John 5:18

Sunday, 14 June 2020

We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. 1 John 5:18

John has been speaking of sins which lead to death, and those that do not. In his words, he was addressing such sins in believers – “If anyone sees his brother sinning.” He now turns to something that, on the surface, seems contradictory. He begins the thought with, “We know.” This is the first of three “We know” statements in a row, and which are presented just before the epistle ends.

This first one says, “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin.” The verb translated here as “is born” is a perfect participle. More literally, it says, “having been born.” It was something that occurred and the matter is settled. The person is born of God, and that is that. It is a surety, and it is reflected in what John said in Chapter 3 –

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:1, 2

To be born of God is to be a child of God. It contains the guarantee, promise, and surety that “we shall be like Him,” meaning like Jesus Christ. Deal done. John says of such a person that he “does not sin.” The verb is present tense. Right now, at this moment, and at each moment that follows, he does not sin. How can that be when he has just said, “If anyone sees his brother sinning”?

The answer comes from what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19 –

“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”

There is the committing of sin, and there is the imputation of guilt for sin. The two are completely separate concepts.

Citing the psalms, and referring to a reality which is now realized in Christ, Paul says in Romans 4:7, 8 –

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”

Speaking of the position of a believer in Christ (meaning having died with Christ) and the benefit of that position, Paul says in Romans 6:7 –

“For he who has died has been freed from sin.”

And again, in Romans 6:18, Paul mirrors John’s words here and says believers have “been set free from sin.”

But Paul acknowledges that believers do, in fact, sin. For example, in 1 Corinthians 8:12, he says that we can sin against our brother and thus sin against Christ. Therefore, what Paul and John are both speaking of is the imputation of sin. We still do things which would otherwise be considered sin, but we are not imputed sin because we are “born of God.”

It is a note of eternal salvation all by itself. If we are born of God, and if we are no longer imputed sin, and if it is sin that separates us from God, then we can no longer be separated from God – because sin is no longer imputed. One plus one equals two in proper theology.

John next says, “but he who has been born of God keeps himself.” The Greek reads, “but the (One) having been begotten of God guards over him.” This is not referring to the person keeping himself from sin (which has just been shown to not be the case). Rather, and quite clearly, it is speaking of Jesus Christ – the One begotten of God – who protects the person from the imputation of sin.

The phrase ho gennētheis or “the was begotten” is only found here. John is clearly indicating that it is Jesus, and that He is guarding over those who have come to God through Him. The verb is present tense. Right now, at this moment, and at each moment that follows, He (Jesus) guards over him (the one born of God). Because of this, the resounding words of joy are next stated by John, “and the wicked one does not touch him.”

If sin was still imputed to a believer, meaning any sin at all – any single infraction – then that believer would lose his salvation. It only took one sin of Adam to plunge all of humanity into absolute and complete separation from God. The spiritual connection to God was lost, and it was only restored through the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Until that happened, all humanity was under the authority of the wicked one – meaning the devil. But this takes us right back to 1 John 3:8, 9 –

“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. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”

A change takes place in the believer when he comes to Christ. That change is one which is noted by Christ, and from then on, He personally covers the believer. The word that John uses, and which is translated as “touch,” is haptomai. As noted by HELPS Word Studies, it signifies “touching that influences.” It is touching “in a way that alters (changes, modifies) them.”

The devil can no longer modify what has been wrought by Christ. He may be able to ruin our day, ruin our testimony, or makes us miserable through allowed testing (see the book of Job), but he may not in any way change our state before God, because sin is no longer imputed to us.

It would be a pitiful existence if we were saved by Christ, just to be lost again to the devil. It would demonstrate a failure in the intent and purpose of Christ’s coming in the first place. But man is saved by Christ, he remains saved by Christ, and he will forever continue to be saved by the glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

Life application: Yes, we may be afflicted by Satan or his demons, but He can never possess us. We are securely in the powerful grasp of Jesus and should have no fear that we can ever lose our salvation. The devil is permanently defeated in our lives.

Understanding this truth, no person who teaches that a believer can lose his salvation should be heeded. That person is to be rejected, his theology is to be ignored, and his lack of understanding the glory of what God has done in Jesus Christ is to be looked at with utter astonishment. Such a teaching diminishes the glory of what God has done, it mars the significance of the cross, and it mocks the power of Christ to continue to protect those who have come to Him by faith. Turn away from such perverse people.

Lord, we know that the devil will buffet us and try to pull us away from You, but we also know that You are stronger than him – infinitely stronger. We will have no fear as we go about our lives. Should we falter, we will get back up, brush ourselves off, and proceed on in Your good grace! You are fully able to keep us from his ability to gain control over us ever again. Thank You for this surety! Amen.









1 John 5:17

Saturday, 13 June 2020

All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death. 1 John 5:17

In the previous verse, John spoke of sin leading to death, and of sin not leading to death. He now notes that “All unrighteousness is sin.” It is a general proposition similar to what he said in 1 John 3:4 –

“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”

Despite what he noted about sin that does not lead to death, John is emphatic that all unrighteousness is sin. The difference is that some sins lead to death and some don’t, but all are an offense to God and cause a rift between us and Him.

John has included this statement to show that those sins which do not lead to death are still in the same category as those that do. We cannot point our fingers at another believer (John is speaking to and about believers, as was noted in the previous verse) and say, “Your sin is greater than my sin.” All unrighteousness is, in fact, sin. The difference in the outcome of committing one sin or another does not change the fact that a state of unrighteousness exists. He notes this because “there is sin not leading to death.”

The statement is obvious, but it was necessary to repeat. Just because people commit unrighteous acts (sin), it does not mean that they will die because of it. A believer may get drunk. It is unrighteousness (Ephesians 5:18). However, it will not necessarily lead to death. On the other hand, a believer may be an alcoholic and – unless he leaves that lifestyle – it will lead to his death. But what John emphasizes is that the one who got drunk has committed unrighteousness, just as the alcoholic commits unrighteousness.

Having noted this, and understanding the ultimate consequences of sin, as well as the redemption from the state of sin (because we are familiar with Paul’s letters which have been placed prior to John’s epistle), John has tremendously good news to repeat to those of us who – with all certainty – commit acts of unrighteousness, and thus commit acts of sin. He will lay out that good news in the next verse.

Life application: When we sin – whether it is sin that could lead to death or not – we are to confess it as such. To act high-handedly against God because of unrepentant sin is an act of defiance and demonstrates that we really don’t appreciate the position we are in (meaning in Christ).

Jesus did more for us at the cross of Calvary than we will ever be able to imagine. The divide between us and God was infinite in its scope. Thus, there was the need for Him to unite with human flesh in order to bridge that gap. Jesus is the finite united with the infinite. In the capacity of His finite humanity, He fulfilled the law which we could never meet. Then He gave His life up in exchange for ours (in which were already condemned as is noted in John 3:18).

God accepted this as a perfectly just exchange – the law was satisfied by Jesus on our behalf. Our salvation places us in Christ, and therefore we are sinless in Him on a positional basis. When God sees us, He is looking at us through the filtering lens of Jesus. Because of this, we can never be condemned again, but this in no way excuses us sinning intentionally or sinning and not confessing it as sin.

When we do these things, we lose rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and we also harm the fellowship with God that we should be enjoying now. How can the Holy Spirit fill us when we are disobedient to Him? He cannot. So, let us attempt to keep from sin, confess sin when it occurs, and pray for others when they sin. All of this is pleasing to God and keeps us in a right relationship with Him.

As always Lord, when we contemplate the great work You wrought on our behalf, it makes our sin seem so utterly vile. Because of this, may we never look at it any other way. Instead, may we see our sin for what it is – rebellion against You and unrighteousness that needs to be dealt with. We love You, Lord, and we desire to be obedient to You always. Amen.