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Christian Certainties (1 John 5:18-21)
Sermon Notes
Sunday, 01 December 2013 00:00

On Sunday we concluded our journey through First John and although I may briefly review /overview it again in the future, we will be moving into some messages relating to responding to CHRIST – the true meaning and message of Christmas. Following is a text of my notes for Sunday's message:
As John closes out his letter, he plays three notes in staccato fashion to alert us to his final points.
(1) “We know that …” (v 18) we have God’s seed within us as a person who is born of God.
(2) “We know that …” (v 19) we are on God’s side as believers who have overcome the world.
(3) “We know that …” (vv 20) we have God’s search light (“Him who is true”) within us.
Together with the closing exhortation (v 21), 5:18-21 constitutes a kind of epilogue to his letter.
The fact that verbs whose subject is “we” predominate in both prologue (1:1-4) and epilogue is a further sign of stylistic balance. John is far from being the rambling writer some have imagined him to be. Rather, he is a literary artist of high caliber.

1. We know that we have God’s Seed within us 18 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.
We saw the expression “whoever is born of God” back in 3:9 ~ 9 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.
This is a reference to the new nature birthed within us by the God’s divine seed.

Back when we studied 3:9 we said that God’s seed that, as it says in 3:9, “remains in him,” refers to what God has imparted to the child of God that makes the inner, regenerate person incapable of sin. It’s the same idea that Peter expresses in 1:23 ~ 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,
Here in 1 Peter 1:23 the seed (Greek spora) refers to the life-begetting word of God.
One may also understand the seed here as another way of referring to the “living water” which, in John 4:14 ~ 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.
But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
The water that Jesus gives (the message of life = the “living water”), when believed, becomes in him an inward source, a fountain of water, springing up into everlasting life.
That “living water” is the life-bearing truth that “Jesus is the Christ” (John 4:25-26; 20:31; and
1st John 5:1).
These word pictures communicate to us that the life-producing word that enters the believer and regenerates him can be compared to a drink of water (John 4:14), to a “seed” sown in the heart like grain seed in a field (Luke 8:11; 1 Peter 1:23), or to a divine “sperm” (sperma) which creates a sinless life in the one born of God (1 John 3:9).

So then, the expression here in 5:18 is a reference to the divine nature birthed within us by God’s seed.
Whatever comes directly from God cannot sin because there is no sin in His Seed.
Sin is against God’s nature.
This divine nature is portrayed here as a person (a figure of speech known as personification, that means to treat something which is not a person as though it were, like calling a ship “she”).
That is why this nature is called “whoever,” “he,” “himself,” and “him.”
Here John says that the wicked one (Satan) does not touch this inner man, or that which is born of God.
Though the devil may work through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, he cannot touch our inner man, which is born of God.
Our core self is sinless and cannot be touched by Satan.
Some of you have children or grandchildren who believed in Jesus for eternal life when they were a child but have wandered away from fellowship with God. They have become a prodigal, and are wasting their lives. But hear this! If your child/grandchild is a believer, he/she cannot be touched in his/her inner self, which houses the divine seed of God and is completely sinless.
This is his/her true inner nature. Whatever you child has gotten into, it does not affect who he/she is at the core.
Zane Hodges has expressed it well: “At the very moment we are most humbled by our sinful failures, and when we confess them, it is helpful to be confident that those failures have not really changed what we are as children of God. The enemy, try as he might, cannot really touch us. Satan can only attempt to persuade us that he can, or has. But if we know the truth stated in this verse, he will not be able to deceive us. For if we let him, Satan will use our failures to lead us to further failure! So, after every sin, deeply though we may and should regret it, we ought to rise from our confession to God knowing that we are the same inwardly holy persons we were before we failed!” (Epistles of John, pp 242-243)

Some of you have children/grandchildren/friends who have gone after this world.
Some of these prodigals have been damaged by drugs. Others have been twisted by the perverted values of this world system. DO NOT GIVE UP! DO NOT LOSE HOPE!
For if your child/grandchild/friend is a believer, then at the core of their being he/she cannot be touched. The seed of God within him/her remains inviolate. As long as that seed remains, it can be watered by your prayers. As long as that seed remains, it can still grow. As long as that seed remains, it can blossom and eternal fruit can be borne. SO DON’T GIVE UP.

If a person has believed in Jesus for eternal life then they have been born from above and God’s “seed remains in him.” A fundamental change has taken place in his/her make-up.
A new nature was born within that could not sin, could not be touched by evil or the evil one.
That new nature born of God is a beach head, a base from which the Holy Spirit can work within that child to bring healing to his/her soul, and to bring him/her home. So God’s seed resides in every child of God, even a prodigal. It is important to know that.

So here in v 18 ~ 18 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. ~ John reminds us that the regenerate person as such, the child of God in his/her inner regenerate person, is incapable of any sin. This leads to the further observation that he who has been born of God keeps himself with the result that the wicked one does not touch him.
The inner man, born of God, has the inborn capacity to resist the pollution of evil and thus lies outside of Satan’s reach.
When John says here that the regenerate inward person (cf. Romans 7:22) keeps himself, John is not saying that somehow one’s inner self can somehow prevent all sin in the Christian’s life. That would contradict what John tells us in 1:5-10. What John means by this is that God’s seed remains in the regenerate inner self (3:9) as the controlling element of his/her born-again nature and is impervious to even the slightest contamination from the wicked one.
Believers’ failures are due to the sinful “programming” of their earthly bodies, as Paul himself taught in Roman 7:7-25.
But try as he might, Satan cannot really touch the believer.
But if a believer lets him, Satan will use his/her failures to lead him/her to further failures.
So when we have confessed our sin (1:9), we as believers ought to rise from our confession to God, knowing that we are the same inwardly holy person we were before we failed!

But there is something else we should know. If we know the truth stated in v 18, that we know we have God’s seed is within us, then we can also know whose side we’re on, that (#2} …

2. We know that we are on God’s side 19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

John says that we know that we are of God. To be “of” something or someone is an expression that must always be understood in its context.
Used of Christians, it normally suggests a dynamic experiential relationship with God. ****

As in 1 John 3:19a ~ 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19a And by this we know that we are of the truth,

[When believers act in love with deeds that reflect the truth about love as revealed in Christ, they can know that they are of the truth. By acting in love as v 18 directs, the believer can know that by such actions he is actually participating in the truth – that he is of the truth. By so loving he can know that his actions have their source in the truth. – ZH, p163]
And in 1 John 4:4 ~ 4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
[They are “of God” in that they have a dynamic fellowship with God because they stand firmly in the truth. The reason they are victorious in their fellowship with their Father as “little children” (and young men and fathers 2:12-14) is that they possess that they possess the Holy Spirit who is greater than he who is in the world.]

**** Here the words “we are of/from God” are juxtaposed with the state of the whole world which lies under the sway of the wicked one.
To be “of something” in 1st John means to be on the side of that something.
In reference to believers it means to have a dynamic, spiritual link to God, Who is obviously capable of giving us victory over the world.
To be “of God” means we are on His side, and He is on our side!
The world lies like a limp puppet in the lap of the evil one, ready to be filled with his power.
On the other side, we lie in the lap of the Lord, ready to be filled with His power.
The phrase “of God” literally = “from (ek) God” suggests that we are on God’s side as over against the world which is on Satan’s side, being under His sway. (We are strangers/aliens …)

In summary,
“The Christian should be aware not only of his own sinless inward man (v 18), but he should likewise be aware of his utter separateness from the whole world that lives under Satan’s sway (v 19).” (ZH, p. 243)

Believers, whom the enemy cannot “touch” (v 18), are not part of the world, which lies passively in control of the wicked one.
Thus believers must not love the world or the things in the world (2:15-17) and they must resist the ideas that the world promotes (2:18-23).

Parents/Grandparents, if your child/grandchild is a believer, he/she does not belong to Satan’s world, and he/she will always feel like a foreigner in this world system. Your child will never feel completely comfortable in this sin-sick world. This world is not our home, we’re just passing through; our home is way out there, somewhere beyond the blue. The child of God who wanders about aimlessly in darkness will always have a basic discomfort. They will always know something is wrong, something just isn’t right. This is not the real me.
Parents, God can turn discomfort into disgust. When your child’s discomfort turns to disgust, he will turn towards home. Regardless of what this child tells you, if he gets sucked into the cesspool of this world, he is acting out of character, and he will never be completely comfortable. Don’t listen to his lies. Keep praying that his discomfort will turn to disgust, and God will bring him home. When he finally realizes that he is wasting his life eating slop with the pigs in the pig sty, he will turn his eyes toward home.
Because of God’s seed within your believing child, he is on God’s side whether he consciously senses that or not, and he will feel like a foreigner in this world. God can turn this discomfort into disgust so that he will want to come home.
But how will he get there?
That brings us to the third thing we know …
3. We know that we have God’s search light within us
20 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.
This is the only time John uses this word understanding (dianoia) in his letter.
The word translated “understanding” means “intelligence.”
John is saying here that by virtue of the coming of God’s Son believers have been granted spiritual comprehension (an understanding) that makes it possible for them to know the true God!
It speaks of a “spiritual radar system,” or “search light,” the Holy Spirit uses to direct us to come to know the true God.
There are many false gods in the world (as the last verse will warn us), which can lead us far from the path of fellowship with God. This internal guidance system, this spiritual GPS (Godward
J ! Positioning System) can help bring us home.

[It is what Paul would refer to as “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:15-16} 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?”[Isaiah 40:13] But we have the mind of Christ.]

As I’ve pointed out, it is vitally important to remember that when Paul uses the expression “in Christ” he is speaking of the believer’s position as being baptized into the Body of Christ.
Paul uses en Christo to speak of the believer’s permanent relationship with God.

But when John uses the phrase “in Him” or “in His Son Jesus Christ,” it refers to our condition instead of our position. It speaks of the believer’s fellowship with God.
For example, in 1 John 2:5-6 John equates being “in Him” with abiding in Him, just as the branch is to abide in the Vine in John 15.
“Abiding” in John 15 is speaking of the believer’s discipleship (student-Teacher) relationship with Jesus. It speaks of the “abiding life” of obedience to God’s commands.
We have seen how “abiding” in John 15 is connected with fruit bearing, joy, and answered prayer – our spiritual condition, not our position.
In other words, these are statements about our fellowship with God, the theme of this little letter of 1st John that we’ve been studying.
And this fellowship is eternal life, where the emphasis is on the quality of our life, not the quantity.
These are the very thoughts with which John began his letter (1:1-4} “eternal life” (1:2), … “fellowship” (1:3) … and “joy” (1:4). Thus John has come full circle!

It is getting to know God in a more intimate and deeper way.
This knowledge is attained through fellowship and is verified by obedience to God’s commands.
The ability to acquire such knowledge, that is, the necessary intelligence for it, is made possible by the fact that the Son of God has come.
Christian love (obedience) is never absent where God is truly known.
[7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.]
There could be no true understanding of love or of God had not the Son of God come and died to reveal God’s love.
Through His death, the Son of God has given us an understanding (an intelligence) by means of which we may know God.
The obedient Christian is exercising the spiritual capacity to know God that he possesses as a child of God.
Look at verse 20 again ~ 20 And we know that the Son of God {Jesus} has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him {Father} who is true; and we are in Him who is true {Father},[Note that there is a comma, but no “and” here!] in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
Again, John has come full circle from his introduction:
[1 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— 2 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— 3 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. 4 And these things we write to you that our joy may be full.]
The phrase we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life} is one of the most straightforward statements of the deity of Christ!
To be in Him, that is, to abide in Him, is not only to abide in Him who is true (as John has described God the Father), but it is also to be abiding in His Son Jesus Christ.

Parents/Grandparents, the mind of Christ will always be there as a base for the Holy Spirit to whisper what is right in the ear of your child/grandchild.
And this inner, spiritual intelligence or search light can be used by the Holy Spirit to guide your child back home.

4. A Concluding Command (5:21) 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
Did you notice that the word “true” occurred three times in 5:19?
Our God is the One who is true. Our spiritual radar system helps us recognize the true God in contrast to the false gods in the world.
And what is a false god, other than an idol? So John concludes with a warning against idolatry, because idolatry will destroy our fellowship with God.
The heresy John combats undermined the Saviorhood of Jesus Christ and espoused compromise with the world. The antichrists’ teachings are agents of Satan, promoting various forms of idolatry (whether literal or metaphorical) that blind men to the true God and eternal life.
The apostle’s final words of warning should therefore reverberate down the corridors of human history: Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
We don’t have to study the Old Testament long to see that while kings ruled in Israel, idolatry reigned in the temple more years than Yahweh. So God used the Assyrians and Babylonians to purify His people from their idols. And since it was King Solomon who introduced idolatry into Israel through his intermarriage with foreign wives, we see how easily idolatry can creep into the life of a believer, even into a wise man’s life, a man who was even used by God to write inspired revelation (Proverbs, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes).
Idols are usually good things.
The bronze serpent (Numbers 21:4-9) was initially used by God to heal the Israelites from snake bites. But eight centuries later (2 Kings 18:4), Hezekiah had to destroy the bronze serpent, for it had become an idol called Nehushtan (piece of bronze) to which they burned incense.
Our idols are usually not evil things, but rather good things: our possessions (cars, houses, even yards), our retirement accounts, our bodies, our success – you name it.
Here are a couple of hints on how to spot an idol.
(1) Is it becoming more important to me than people (family, friends, ministry?)
(2) Is it blocking my view of the Lord?
They say an idol is like the eclipse of the sun – the moon gets in the way.
When something (anything) gets between us and God’s light, then darkness creeps in and whatever is blocking that light is an idol.
But beware! Solomon was no dummy!
He thought he was doing something good by expanding the land of Israel out to the borders promised by God to Abraham. But the problem was that he had to compromise the guidelines laid down by God for a king (Deuteronomy 17:17) in order to do it.

As we’ve move through the epilogue, I have applied the three “we knows” in vv 18-20 to parents and grandparents who are suffering the pain of having a child or grandchild chasing after the idols of this world.
John assures our hearts as we exercise love by praying for them with three promised from God:
(1) God’s seed is in that child of God if he/she has believed in Jesus for eternal life somewhere along the way;)
(2) Then he/she is on God’s side and will never be completely comfortable living for this world;
(3) God’s search light within that child can guide him/her back home to fellowship with his/her heavenly Father.


 

 

 

 

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