Please read: I John 5
John wraps up this epistle by giving the requirements for being born of God. A person must believe in the incarnate Son of God to be born of God. Assurance that they are born of God is that they love others born of God and are obedient to God’s commands. Believing in Jesus as the Messiah requires that you have confidence that God came to earth in the form of Jesus, and you trust what the Bible says about Jesus. John’s reference to “being born of God” is not talking about a baby being born from the womb more of a belief that comes into reality in your heart. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit woos us to Jesus and bears witness that the Bible is true.
Love for other believers is evidence that we love God. It is a reversal of what John stated before in 4:7 in that if we love God, we will love other believers. Loving God and truly believing in Him is expressed by obeying God’s commands and loving others. God’s commands are not burdensome; they are to be a blessing to us. Following this commandment to love one another should be easy and natural. Loving one another can and should be a blessing to us in many ways. God made us in His image with the capacity to love and be loved.
In verses 4 and 5, John assures us that we have overcome the world and its temptations if we have been born of God. God has given us the ability to resist temptation to satisfy our fleshly desires. Also, resist the pressure to conform from the world, particularly the Secessionists. The same false teachings try to pressure us and influence us today. Telling us that Jesus didn’t really die for our sins, or our sins aren’t that bad.
Verse 6 is difficult to understand. John says, “that He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.” The mention of “coming by water” could be referring to when John the Baptist baptized Jesus and God the Father spoke “this is my beloved Son whom I am well pleased,” and the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus like a dove. “By the blood” could refer to Jesus’ death and the blood that was the atonement for our sins. Secessionists believed Jesus was baptized and anointed by the Holy Spirit, but they denied that He died for the sins of mankind. John continues to build his case by stating that three testify. In biblical times decisions were made on two or three witnesses. In verse 8, John identifies the three witnesses to Jesus Christ: the Spirit, the water, and the blood. The Holy Spirit bears witness to the truth of Jesus. It is more difficult to say how the water and the blood bear witness. John could be saying alongside the Holy Spirit bearing witness in your heart, he points to an event, remember the water baptism and the blood that was shed for our sins on the cross. Together with the two events and the Holy Spirit working in your heart, make three witnesses that point to the truth of Jesus.
In closing, John wrote to reassure the believers of their eternal life with Jesus. This has a direct impact on their prayer life. They now have confidence in going to God, knowing that He hears their petitions. Earlier in the epistle, John connects answered prayer to obedience; now, he associates it with asking according to God’s will. John gives instructions regarding brothers and sisters that you should pray for them when you observe sin. Sins that lead to death or unforgiveness are a serious matter. John is referring to the Secessionists. They did not believe that Jesus came in the flesh or His atoning sacrifice.
The “we know” statements in verses 18-20 encapsulate three essential truths for believers.
- The One who is born of God: Jesus the Son of God
- Him who is true: refers to God the Father
- The True God and eternal life: refers to God the Father and Jesus.
Johns’s last warning to us is to keep ourselves from idols. This could mean not getting involved in pagan worship or not accepting the secessionist’s teaching because false teaching about Christ is equivalent to idolatry. It is so true for us even today. Idols pop up in our hearts, and before we realize it, something has taken priority in our lives over Jesus. Beloved, guard your heart, and seek Jesus first.