We Shall Overcome (1 John 5)
July 13, 2015
Faith is the most prominent word in religion. Sometimes the word refers to an entire religious system, such as Christianity or Islam or Judaism. In other contexts it refers to a body of doctrine, i.e., “Keep the faith.” But most of the time faith refers to our personal response to God. The “faith” of the Fifth Law is not a religion or a set of doctrines, but rather our daily, moment-by-moment trust in God. When our faith is put to work, when it is active and not passive, it releases God’s power in us and through us. John ends his letter on a triumphant note as he emphasizes that living faith in Jesus overcomes the world, gives us assurance of eternal life, enables us to pray according to God’s will, and allows us to have confidence in the day of judgment.
I. Assurance of Spiritual Victory 1-5
1) Loving God always involves loving his children. 1-3
A) Shared spiritual birth means shared spiritual heritage.
B) Everyone who belongs to Jesus belongs also to me.
C) Loving God means loving my brothers and sisters in Christ.
2) A living faith in Jesus Christ is the key to overcoming the world. 4-5
A) Love leads to obedience.
B) Faith leads to overcoming.
There are two kinds of overcoming the world:
Past—”Has overcome the world” Initial point of faith in Christ
Present—”Overcomes” Continuing day-by-day victory
The terms “victory” and “overcoming” remind us that faith wins the battle but not without a daily fight. These military terms teach us that the Christian life is a fight, not a picnic. By our faith we may win against the sinful patterns of the world, but it will not happen with a struggle, not without a battle. Victory comes but only at a high cost. Faith is not a guarantee but an enablement. We don’t need more faith. We need to exercise the faith we already have.
II. Assurance of Eternal Life 6-13
With the strong emphasis on love and obedience, the readers may wonder if they can have true assurance of their salvation. John answers that our assurance is not found in us or in anything we do but only through Jesus Christ.
1) The object of our faith, Jesus Christ–attested by three witnesses. 6-8
A) The Holy Spirit testifies to Jesus.
B) His baptism testifies to his deity.
C) His bloody death testifies that he is the Son of God.
2) The certainty of our faith–God testifies that we have eternal life through Jesus Christ. 9-12
A) The testimony of men is good.
B) The testimony of God is better because is certain and unchanging.
C) God testifies that eternal life is in Jesus Christ.
3) The result of our faith—We know that we have eternal life. 13
A) God intends that we have assurance of our salvation.
B) Assurance comes by believing in Jesus Christ.
C) Assurance ultimately rests in the promises God has made.
III. Assurance of Answered Prayer 14-17
1) We should pray according to God’s will. 14-15
Praying in God’s will means to pray in accordance with God’s revealed will in Scripture. God’s commandments are not burdensome. Praying in God’s will especially means praying for help to obey his commands.
Here are three prayers God will always answer:
“Father, forgive me for Jesus’ sake.”
“Thy will be done.”
“Give me strength to obey your commands.”
2) We should pray for sinning believers. 16-17
Sin not unto death = sin not quickly punished by death.
Sin unto death = sin quickly punished by death.
Note: All sins lead to death eventually. For a believer to continue on a sinful course may shorten his life. Some sins seem to lead to death quicker. John is not thinking of a particular sin but of the result produced by persistent sin—a hardened heart, a seared conscience, a rebellious attitude of defiance toward the Lord. Believers in this condition experience a kind of living death spiritually!
IV. Assurance of Fellowship with God 18-21
We know (18) . . . We know (19) . . . We know (20).
1) Our triple ground of safety. 18-19
A) Free from sin.
B) Free from Satan’s touch.
C) Free from world’s power.
2) Our triple spiritual privilege. 20
A) We have received spiritual understanding.
B) We know the true God.
C) We are in Jesus Christ—the source of eternal life.
3) Our one consequent responsibility. 21
A) We are God’s children.
B) We must keep ourselves from anything that pulls us away from close fellowship with him.