1 John 5:13-21 | In Christ
13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
- John starts to conclude by stating the purpose for his letter; ‘so that you may know that you have eternal life’. John’s main emphasis throughout this book is assurance of salvation, of which love is the evidence.
14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
- There are multiple times throughout the New Testament which describe God giving us what we ask of him, but here we see a clear condition of ‘asking…according to his will’. This can be assumed for all the other times too.
- Note the emphasis on God hearing us first, and then responding. God’s ears are inclined to his children, like a loving father and so he hears the requests of his children. However, God’s ears are not inclined to the disobedient who deny him, he does not desire to give what they ask since they ask without faith in him. Their requests fall on ‘deaf ears’.
- It is God’s desire that our hearts and minds are aligned with his, and we can have confidence that when they are, he hears and responds to what we ask. Our task is to keep our hearts and minds aligned to the will of God.
16If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.
- Sin that leads to death (total spiritual death and everlasting judgement) is the complete rejection of God, his Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is what Jesus refers to as ‘blasphemy against the holy ghost shall not be forgiven’ (Matt 12:31). Unforgivable sin which leads to death is the blasphemy and rejection of the saving work of Christ, through his Spirit.
- John says to not pray about this in regard to others, assuming that this is a prayer of petitioning God’s mercy and forgiveness for the sinner. This is inappropriate for we would ignore the conditions of the gospel if we were to do so. We would be asking God to forgive someone even though they rejected Christ.
- Sin that ‘does not lead to death’ is all sin except the above. If we see a (saved) brother or sister fall into these sins we can pray for their strengthening against sin and for God to express mercy towards them on account of Christ.
18We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 19We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
- Those born of God do not continue to wilfully sin since they know the will of God. The one who was born of God (Jesus) keeps us safe by giving us his Spirit to convict, strengthen and protect us from the evil one.
- A willful continual of sin is from the influence and control of the evil one. Children of God do not continue in sin since they are protected from the influence and control of the evil one.
20We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
- The whole world is under the control of the evil one who denies that Christ is Lord. But the children of God have been given understanding to know him who is true.
- This is why faith in Christ is the victory which overcomes the world (v4).
- Rather than being in the world which has a false idea of God, children of God are ‘in Christ’. We live in the reality of the true God who gives us eternal life.
21Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
- This phrase seems rather strange to put right at the end of John’s epistle, it seems as though there should be more to follow. But when assessed against this concluding passage and John’s theme of ‘assurance’ throughout the whole epistle it is quite fitting
- What is the greatest danger which might deceive someone regarding their salvation? What is the greatest danger of someone thinking they are in Christ but are not truly? – idols
- Idols create a form of worship and religion, and when mixed with Christian beliefs can pass as genuine faith. They distort and mis-shape the gospel to something which isn’t the gospel and so deceive potential believers
- So John lays down a final exhortation to keep us safe and assure us of our faith in Christ, and one which we would all do well to remember