What a privilege and a joy to have fellowship with God the Father and God the Son, and genuine Christian fellowship with God’s spiritual saints!
The Apostle John, who wrote this Epistle, was one of the intimate disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ; he saw Him, he heard Him, he had his head upon the Saviour’s breast and in this Epistle he declares these facts so that we might have this Divine fellowship.
“THAT WHICH WE HAVE SEEN AND HEARD DECLARE WE UNTO YOU, THAT YE ALSO MAY HAVE FELLOWSHIP WITH US: AND TRULY OUR FELLOWSHIP IS WITH THE FATHER, AND WITH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST.” I John 1:3.
Note two statements in the fourth chapter of Acts concerning John and his fellow-apostles, “. . . And they took knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus.” “And being let go, they went to their own company. . . .” Acts 4:13 and 23.
THE KNOWLEDGE AND JOY OF SALVATION
Note again that God’s message in I John is written that believers might have the knowledge and the joy of salvation. We quote I John 5:13; I John 1:4, and I John 2:1:
“THESE THINGS HAVE I WRITTEN UNTO YOU THAT BELIEVE ON THE NAME OF THE SON OF GOD; THAT YE MAY KNOW THAT YE HAVE ETERNAL LIFE, AND THAT YE MAY BELIEVE ON THE NAME OF THE SON OF GOD.” “ AND THESE THINGS WRITE WE UNTO YOU THAT YOUR JOY MAY BE FULL.” “MY LITTLE CHILDREN, THESE THINGS WRITE I UNTO YOU, THAT YE SIN NOT. AND IF ANY MAN SIN, WE HAVE AN ADVOCATE WITH THE FATHER, JESUS CHRIST THE RIGHTEOUS.”
The sinners knew that John and Peter had been in close fellowship with Jesus. When the sinners ceased their persecutions for a little while, John and Peter were let go and they went to their own company. Their own company was a company of saints of like precious faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Every saint is identified with an innumerable company of saints but they should also be identified with a local assembly of saints while waiting for God’s Son from heaven.
John’s Gospel was written that sinners might believe on Jesus Christ and have eternal life. This Epistle of John was written that believers may know that they have eternal life.
“But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.”
I John 5:13
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, that ye might have life through His name. Believing this that ye might know that ye have eternal life.
Presently we shall see in this Epistle how we may know that we have eternal life and how our joy may be full. But first let us note some general facts.
Concerning John, the human author, we read in Galatians 2:9 that he and Peter and James (the Lord’s brother) were pillars in the Jerusalem Church and they agreed with Paul that they would go with their message to the Jews. However, there is little in this Epistle to mark John as a minister of the circumcision. Again we learned in John 20:2 and 21:20, that John was known as that disciple whom Jesus loved. In John 13:23, we read “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples whom Jesus loved.”
Now we can better appreciate I John 1:1 to 3:
“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, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
First John has been called the sequel of the Gospel of John. Perhaps after reading this Epistle we shall want to challenge the statement.
In the closing chapters of John’s Gospel we left Christ in His resurrection ministry. In reading the five chapters of I John we rather marvel that there is no mention of Christ’s resurrection. Of course, it is implied in I John 2:2, “We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” It is also taught in I John 2:27 and 4:13, “the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you.” “Because He hath given us of His Spirit.” We remember John 16:6 to 9, that it was expedient that Christ should go back to heaven before the Holy Spirit would be sent.
However, after comparing John’s Gospel with his First Epistle we find much in common in the two messages and we learn that the Holy Spirit in the Epistle added some wonderful truths not mentioned in the Gospel.
Note this great difference. In the Gospel of John is found the word “Jew” more than 70 times, the word “Israel” 4 times, “sabbath” 11 times, “synagogue” 5 times, “temple” 14 times, “Jerusalem” 13 times, “Moses” 13 times, “Abraham” 11 times. These total more than 140. Not one of these words is found in John’s Epistle.
In the Epistle the Holy Spirit emphasizes the fact that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the World and that Jesus Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. I John 4:14 and 2:2. We find the word “world” about 77 times in the Gospel. We find the word “world” 22 times in the Epistle. In both messages the fact that God’s love for the world is given much emphasis.
We read in I John 4:8 “God is love.”
And note 4:9 and 10:
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
The word “love” is found 56 times in the Gospel and 46 times in the Epistle. Then it is interesting to mark the words “live” and “life” in the two Records. “That we might live through Him.” “But have everlasting life.” This is why the God of love sent the Son of His love. “Life” and “live” are found in the Gospel 60 times; in the Epistle 16 times. “Believe,” in the Gospel, occurs 100 times; in the Epistle, 9 times. And then we find the word “faith” in I John 5:4: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
After reading this wonderful Epistle we are impressed with the fact that the Father wants His redeemed children to have a real “know-so” salvation, for the word “know” is found in these five chapters 32 times. The same word is found in the Gospel more than 120 times.
The early Church fathers believed that the Holy Spirit led John to write a definite answer to the gnostics of his day. The gnostics or agnostics do not know but believers do know.
Note I John 2:18 to 23:
“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.”
WRITTEN TO SAINTS (Believers)
On account of erroneous teaching among God’s people it is necessary to explain that there is no difference between a believer in the Body of Christ and a saint who is a member of that Body. All such believers are saints. A saint is a sinner saved by grace through faith.
“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering o f the body o f Jesus Christ once for all.” Saints are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
It is interesting to note in I John that the writer uses the expression, “my little children” or “little children” nine times. I John 2:1, 2:12, 2:13, 2:18, 2:28, 3:7, 3:18, 4:4, and 5:21.
Undoubtedly John was a very old man when he wrote this message, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” Certainly the Holy Spirit would not have led any servant of the Lord to write such a message to an unsaved person.
Neither would He have led Him to write I John 2:15:
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
A sinner loves the things of the world
“They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.” I John 4:5. The saint is in the world but he is not of the world. Note also I John 5:4 and 5, and 3:13: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” I John 5:4 and 5. “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” I John 3:13.
Then note I John 5:19:
“AND WE KNOW THAT WE ARE OF GOD, AND THE WHOLE WORLD LIETH IN WICKEDNESS.”
The whole world lieth in the evil one. The Greek literally is, “the whole world lieth in the lap of the devil.” But the saints say, “we know that we are of God.” Jesus Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. I John 2:2. This is the way in which the believing sinner gets out of the lap of the devil. Note how it is stated in Colossians 1:13 and 14: “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” This Epistle is written that believers may have their joy full. Saints cannot love the world and have their joy full.
“THESE THINGS HAVE I WRITTEN UNTO YOU THAT BELIEVE”
Note some of these things written unto believers:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” I John 1:8 to 10.
Now compare I John 1:9 with Romans 10:9 and 10:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sans, and to cleanse us front all unrighteousness.” “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Let us remember that God’s Word does not say to the sinner that he will be cleansed from all unrighteousness, if he confesses his sin. Neither does God’s Word say to the sinner, when he sins, that he has an Advocate with the Father. These messages are to saints, to believers, to those who already have received God’s free gift, which is eternal life. Remember the message of I John was written that the believer’s joy may be full. The believer who lives in wilful sin or unconfessed sin cannot have this blessed experience.
The sinner should confess his sins when convicted by the Holy Spirit. But let us remember that, according to John 16:7 to 10, “the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin,” said Christ, “because they believe not on Me.” The great sin question that must first be settled by the sinner is the “Son question.” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” “Confess with thy mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead and thou shalt be saved.”
THE DIVINE RECORD—THE DIVINE WITNESS
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” I John 5:10 and 11.
This brings to our minds the messages of John 3:18 and 19:
“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loveth darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
What is God’s Record? That He hath given eternal life to believers.
We remember John 6:47:
“VERILY, VERILY, I SAY UNTO YOU, HE THAT BELIEVETH ON ME HATH EVERLASTING LIFE.”
And John 10:28:
“AND I GIVE UNTO THEM ETERNAL LIFE; AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH, NEITHER SHALL ANY MAN PLUCK THEM OUT OF MY HAND.”
And John 3:36:
“HE THAT BELIEVETH ON THE SON HATH EVERLASTING LIFE: AND HE THAT BELIEVETH NOT THE SON SHALL NOT SEE LIFE; BUT THE WRATH OF GOD ABIDETH ON HIM.”
This life is in the Son.
Now compare John 5:23 and 26, and I John 2:22 and 23
“That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.”
“Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.”.
And I John 5:12:
“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
To be without the Son, therefore, means to be without the Father and without life.
We learned in John 1:10 that the world knew not Jesus Christ the Son. Now we read in I John 3:1, that believers are called the sons of God— “Therefore the world knoweth us not because it knew Him not.”
IF WE SAY
Now note again I John 1:8 and 10:
“IF WE SAY THAT WE HAVE NO SIN, WE DECEIVE OURSELVES, AND THE TRUTH IS NOT IN US.” “IF WE SAY THAT WE HAVE NOT SINNED, WE MAKE HIM A LIAR, AND HIS WORD IS NOT IN US.”
No saint desires to be deceived. No saint desires to make God a liar. Therefore no saint should say, “I have not sinned since I became a saint,” or “I never sin now.” He can truthfully say:
“For he that is dead is freed from sin. But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” Romans 6:7, 17 and 18.
Every saint joins in the question of Romans 6:2, 15 and the answer of Romans 6:22:
“God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”
So many untaught saints have been led into the wrong kind of fear and into unbelief and doubt by the erroneous meaning of Hebrews 10:26:
“FOR IF WE SIN WILFULLY AFTER THAT WE HAVE RECEIVED THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH, THERE REMAINETH NO MORE SACRIFICE FOR SINS.”
It does not say, “there remaineth no more forgiveness of sins.”
Hear God’s message to the saints:
“IF WE CONFESS OUR SINS, HE IS FAITHFUL AND JUST TO FORGIVE US OUR SINS, AND TO CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.” I John 1:9.
THAT YE SIN NOT
And I John 2:1: .: . . . “MY LITTLE CHILDREN, THESE THINGS WRITE I UNTO YOU, THAT YE SIN NOT. AND IF ANY MAN SIN, WE HAVE AN ADVOCATE WITH THE FATHER, JESUS CHRIST THE RIGHTEOUS.”
But how about I John 5:16 to 18
“If any man see his brother sin a sin, which is not unto death. he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”
How about I John 3:6:
“WHOSOEVER ABIDETH IN HIM SINNETH NOT; WHOSOEVER SINNETH HATH NOT SEEN HIM, NEITHER KNOWN HIM.”
How about I John 3:9?
“WHOSOEVER IS BORN OF GOD DOTH NOT COMMIT SIN; FOR HIS SEED REMAINETH IN HIM: AND HE CANNOT SIN, BECAUSE HE IS BORN OF GOD:”
Surely these Scriptures have brought discouragement and distress to many souls. Others have followed leaders into their manmade believer’s schemes in their determination to reach a state of sinless perfection. Many have persuaded themselves that they have rid themselves entirely of their sinful natures. According to their testimonies they have obeyed II Corinthians 7:1 and have reached the sinless state described in I Thessalonians 5:23. We quote these two verses:
“Having therefore these promises dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Some of the “holiness” preachers actually teach that only those believers who have reached this state of genuine holiness, sinless perfection, are saved.
It is Scripturally true that no unrighteous man shall enter the kingdom of God. I Corinthians 6:9. But it is also Scripturally true that Christ is the believer’s righteousness. I Corinthians 1:30. It is Scripturally true that without holiness, or sanctification, no man can be saved. It is also Scripturally true that Christ is the believer’s holiness or sanctification. I Corinthians 1:30.
In this connection we quote three very helpful verses: Hebrews 13:12, II Thessalonians 2:13, and I Corinthians 6:11:
“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate.” “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:” “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Here we learn that until God sanctifies the sinner by the Holy Spirit, and the sinner believes the truth concerning Christ’s sanctifying work on the cross, he cannot be saved. In I Corinthians 6:11 note that “sanctified” precedes “justified.” And remember the words of the Holy Spirit concerning those sanctified Corinthians in I Corinthians 6:8 and 6:7. They were not sinless in their walk and conversation “Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud and that your brethren. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you . . .”
They were, however, included in the blessed ones of Romans 4:8, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
Here we see that these sanctified Christians were sinning. Should they have obeyed James 5:16? “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
The word here translated “faults” is the same Greek word used in Ephesians 2:5, “dead in sins.” In James 5:16 the Holy Spirit was writing to saints to confess their sins to fellow-saints.
We have already quoted I John 1:9:
“IF WE CONFESS OUR SINS, HE IS FAITHFUL AND JUST TO FORGIVE US OUR SINS, AND TO CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Here saints are to confess their sins to God.
If saints are without sin then the Holy Spirit would not instruct them to confess their sins to God and to fellow-saints. Who is the man of Romans 4:8: “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not imputed sin.”? This blessed man is the one who has been by faith to Calvary to appropriate the redemption work of the Son of God.
Note Ephesians 4:32 and Colossians 2:13:
“AND BE YE KIND ONE TO ANOTHER, TENDERHEARTED, FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER, EVEN AS GOD FOR CHRIST’S SAKE HATH FORGIVEN YOU.”
“AND YOU, BEING DEAD IN YOUR SINS AND THE UNCIRCUMCISION OF YOUR FLESH, HATH HE QUICKENED TOGETHER WITH HIM, HAVING FORGIVEN YOU ALL TRESPASSES:’
But we are still confronted with the truth of I John 3:9:
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”
The only intelligent method of Bible study is to study one Scripture concerning any doctrine in the light of other Scripture touching the same doctrine. Let us study I John 3:9 in the light of Romans 7:22 and 23 and 7:20 and Romans 6:12 and Galatians 5:16 and 17.
No saint can keep sin from dwelling within, but, by the grace of God, the saint should keep sin from reigning. Compare Romans 7:20 and 6:12. When the Lord Jesus Christ said to the sinful woman, “Neither do I condemn thee,” He also said, “go and sin no more.” John 8:11.
After Paul said, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” for deliverance, he added, “So then with the mind I serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Now note again I John 1:8 and 10:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
We have quoted Hebrews 10:26, but we here quote it again: “FOR IF WE SIN WILFULLY AFTER THAT WE HAVE RECEIVED THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH, THERE REMAINETH NO MORE SACRIFICE FOR SINS.”
As to the fact stated here, the fact remains, whether or not the word “wilfully” is omitted. “THERE REMAINETH NO MORE SACRIFICE FOR SINS.” This fact is stated in this language in the same chapter “AND THEIR SINS AND INIQUITIES WILL I REMEMBER NO MORE. NOW WHERE REMISSION OF THESE SINS IS, THERE IS NO MORE OFFERING FOR SIN.” Hebrews 10:17 and 18.
Whether or not we sin ignorantly or wilfully after that we receive the knowledge of the truth there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin. But thank God; there remaineth FORGIVENESS of sin. I John 1:9. If saints sin, “we have an Advocate with the Father.” I John 2:1.
God’s way for saints’ victory. over Satan is told in Ephesians 6:10 to 20. There the whole armour of God is fully described. God’s way for the saints’ victory over sin and the flesh is told in Romans 6 and many other Scriptures.
We quote Romans 6:11:
“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin. but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Ephesians 4:22 to 24: “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
and Colossians 3:8 to 10: “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”
The “old man” and the “new man.” This message is written to sanctified ones and to saints. The “new man” cannot sin at all. The “old man” can sin plenty. But here is Divine help “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” I Corinthians 10:12 and 13.
But how about the prayer “O God, we have done the things we should not have done, and we have left undone the things we should have done”? Is there any honest saint who would exclude himself from this prayer? We think also of James 4:17:
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
And James 2:9 and 10:
“But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”
What are the two great commandments? “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.”
Where is the saint who does that? If sin is the transgression of the commandments, the greatest sin is the transgression of the greatest commandment. What saint does not break this commandment either wilfully or ignorantly?
Now note Ephesians 4:30:
“AND GRIEVE NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD, WHEREBY YE ARE SEALED UNTO THE DAY OF REDEMPTION.”
Do saints grieve the Holy Spirit? Certainly. What percentage of saints today: are innocent in the matter of grieving the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit desires to convict every sinner of sin, “because they believe not on Christ.” He does this when saints give the gospel to the sinner. Every time, therefore, that any saint passes up an opportunity to testify to the sinner, he grieves the Holy Spirit. But every saint is sealed by the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption. They can truly say, with Paul, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38 and 39.
So we see that the “new man” cannot sin, cannot even be tempted with sin.
But how about I John 5:16:
“If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it:”
Who has not asked the meaning of this verse? First of all it does not mean that either a sinner or a saint can commit the unpardonable sin. Neither does it mean that a saint can lose his salvation after he has been saved. If we give either of these meanings then we make the Scriptures contradict themselves. Note God’s Word in Romans 5:20, in Ephesians 2:3 to 5, and in Acts 13:39:
“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Among who also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;).” “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
These sinners were dead in sins. Note Ephesians 4:18:
“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”
They had committed every known sin. None of their sins were unpardonable. But all their sins, including their sin of unbelief, were unpardoned until they received God’s grace and God’s Son, and then note what took place:
“BUT NOW, IN CHRIST JESUS, YE WHO SOMETIMES WERE FAR OFF ARE MADE NIGH BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST.” “. . . FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER, EVEN AS GOD FOR CHRIST’S SAKE HATH. FORGIVEN YOU.” Ephesians 2:13 and 4:32.
Then they were justified from all things. Now all their sins were pardoned. And note God’s purpose in saving them by grace
“Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose . and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” II Timothy 1:9.
Note again Ephesians 2:7:
”That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness toward us, through Christ Jesus.”
Perhaps with I John 5:16, we should study another verse which has perplexed many saints: “FOR IF YE LIVE AFTER THE FLESH, YE SHALL DIE: BUT IF YE THROUGH THE SPIRIT DO MORTIFY THE DEEDS OF THE BODY, YE SHALL LIVE” Romans 8:13.
Some have thought the sin unto death in I John 5:16 is explained in, I Corinthians 5:5:
“To deliver such a man unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the, spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
They also referred to the death judgments upon Ananias and Saphira. They claim that these two were saints and were saved. But they sinned unto death. We quote Acts 5:5 and 10
“And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.” “Then fell she down” straightway at his feet and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her: by her husband.”
They also refer to the saints whom God punished with death for taking the Lord’s Supper unworthily. I Corinthians 11:30.
By the process of elimination, in the light of other Scriptures, we know that the sin unto death does not mean that either a saint or a sinner can commit an unpardonable sin. And God’s Word tells us plainly that so far as eternal death is concerned no saved person can be condemned with the world. I Corinthians 11:32.
Let us compare John 5:24 and I John 3:14:
“VERILY, VERILY, I SAY UNTO YOU, HE THAT HEARETH MY WORD AND BELIEVETH ON HIM THAT SENT ME, HATH EVERLASTING LIFE, AND SHALL NOT COME INTO CONDEMNATION: BUT IS PASSED FROM DEATH INTO LIFE.” John 5:24. “WE KNOW THAT WE, HAVE PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE, BECAUSE WE LOVE THE’ BRETHREN. HE THAT LOVETH NOT HIS BROTHER ABIDETH IN, DEATH.” I John 3:14.
When does the sinner pass out of death into life? When he believes God’s Word and accepts God’s Son as his Saviour. How does he know that he has passed out of death into life? Because he loves the brethren. He does not pass out of death because he loves, but he loves because he has passed out of death into life by believing.
We know we are saved. First. Because we believe God’s Record: “AND THIS IS THE RECORD, THAT GOD HATH GIVEN TO US ETERNAL LIFE, AND THIS LIFE IS IN HIS SON.” I John 5:11. Second. Because God has given us His Spirit to witness: “AND THEREBY WE KNOW THAT HE ABIDETH IN US, BY THE SPIRIT WHICH HE HATH GIVEN US.” I John 3:24. Third. Because we love: “WE KNOW THAT WE HAVE PASSED FROM DEATH INTO LIFE BECAUSE WE LOVE THE BRETHREN. I John 3:14…… GOD IS LOVE; AND HE THAT DWELLETH IN LOVE DWELLETH IN GOD, AND GOD IN HIM.” I John 4:16.
Note that the word “love” is found 33 times in I John.
Our joy is full when we love not the world, but love God and our fellow-men. When we walk in the light as He is in the light. When we live in victory over sin. When we know the Divine truth concerning Christ as the believer’s Advocate and obey that truth.
1. John a minister of the circumcision? How was he known among the other disciples according to John 20:2 and 21:20 and 13:23?
2. Compare the opening verses of John’s Gospel and I John. What lesson is taught in both?
3. Why was this Epistle of John written according to I John 5:13?
4. Is every saved person a saint? A member of the Body of Christ? Hebrews 10:10.
5. Why was I John written according to I John 1:4?
6. Of what sin is the world convicted by the Holy Spirit? What is the great sin question that must first be settled by the sinner?
7. Quote John 6:47, 10:28 and 3:36. Also I John 5:12.
8. What are believers called according to I John 3:1.
9. What teaching concerning sin proves that the believer is a liar?
10. What question and answer is there for saints in Romans 6:2, 10 and 22? Quote Romans 6:11.
11. Does Hebrews 10:26 read “no more sacrifice for sin” or “no more forgiveness for sin”?
12. Who is our Advocate? Name two things that Christ is to the believer in I Corinthians 1:30.
13. Can a saint commit the sin unto death, meaning that he will lose his salvation?
14. Where does sanctification belong according to II Thessalonians 2:13 and I Corinthians 6:11?
15. Should saints today confess their sins to fellow-saints, according James 5:16? To Whom according to I John 1:9?
16. What does James say about “he who keeps the whole law and offends in one point”? Does any one perfectly keep the two great commandments?
17. Can the “new man” sin? When does the sinner pass out of death unto life?
18. How does the believing sinner get out of the lap of the devil according to Colossians 1:13 and 14?
19. What did Paul say after he thanked God for deliverance, according to Romans 7:25?
20. Quote I John 5:11; 3:24 and 14 and 4:16, giving three reasons why we know we are saved.
THE SECOND EPISTLE OF JOHN
“The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever. Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. I rejoiced greatly that I found of Thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after His commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. FOR MANY DECEIVERS ARE ENTERED INTO THE WORLD, WHO CONFESS NOT THAT JESUS CHRIST IS COME IN THE FLESH. THIS IS A DECEIVER AND AN ANTICHRIST. LOOK TO YOURSELVES, THAT WE LOSE NOT THOSE THINGS WHICH WE HAVE WROUGHT, BUT THAT WE RECEIVE A FULL REWARD. WHOSOEVER TRANSGRESSETH, AND ABIDETH NOT IN THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, HATH NOT GOD. HE THAT ABIDETH IN THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, HE HATH BOTH THE FATHER AND THE SON. IF THERE COME ANY UNTO YOU AND BRING NOT THIS DOCTRINE, RECEIVE HIM NOT INTO YOUR HOUSE, NEITHER BID HIM GOD SPEED: FOR HE THAT BIDDETH HIM GOD SPEED IS PARTAKER OF HIS EVIL DEEDS. Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.”
THE THIRD EPISTLE OF JOHN
“The elder unto the well-beloved Gains, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoice greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Beloved, thou dost faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: Because that for his name’s sake, they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth. I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true. I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.”
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.