1 John 5:13-21

Assurance of Eternal Life

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The earlier verses in this chapter give us a clear account of our assurance of salvation, how that we have the witness of God that our eternal life is by faith in the finished work of His Son for our sins. What a wonderful truth that God will give eternal life to men, and that the source of this life is in His Son. His teaching is unmistakable. You can't find eternal life in education or philosophy or science or good works or religion or the church. We have to have the Son of God. On the other hand, anyone who doesn't have the Son of God doesn't have eternal life.

There is no eternal life apart from faith in Jesus Christ.

Verse 13 "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God."

We are nearing the conclusion of the Epistle. First of all, John states in the clearest terms why he has written the preceding passages. He is confirming that those who believe in the name of the Son of God may know they have eternal life.

This verse also teaches another precious truth, namely, that assurance of salvation comes through the word of God.

John wrote these things so that people may know that they have eternal life.

The Scriptures were written that those who believe on the Lord Jesus may have assurance they are saved. It's not presumption to say that we are saved. John states in the clearest possible manner that those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus may know they have eternal life, and that eternal life is in Christ Jesus.

Verses 14-15 "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us:
15: And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him."

When we know that we have eternal life we are invited to go before the Lord in prayer with confidence that He will hear us. We know that if we ask anything according to Godís will, He hears those prayers and will answer them. Maybe you are asking, "But how can I know the will of God?" In a general way, the answer is that Godís will is revealed to us in the Scriptures, so we can study His Word in order to know exactly what Godís will is and how we can pray more intelligently.

Don't be afraid to pray, but use common sense in doing so. Ask God to show you what His will is for you. God sometimes answers us with a 'yes.' Sometimes a 'no.' Sometimes it's 'wait a bit.' That's the difficult answer for most of us and where we make our mistakes. Remember Sarah and Abraham? They couldn't wait for God's time to have a child so they took matters into their own hands and had a child by the servant girl. That child's descendants and the ones that did come from God to Sarah in her old age have been bitter enemies ever since. There have been times when I thanked God for a "no" answer to a prayer when I realized later that He had something better for me.

Verse 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."

John gives an instance in which the believer can have confidence in prayer, but he also cites an example in which confidence is not possible. Sometimes a Christian may sin so seriously that God judges that sin with a swift physical death. Most of the sins we see a Christian commit aren't of this nature. If we continue long enough in any sin, it may well become a threat to our life.

Proverbs 11:19: "As righteousness tends to life: so he that pursues evil pursues it to his own death."

Proverbs 13:14. "The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death."

There may be a case where a Christian sees a fellow believer engaging in some sinful activity. If that sin isn't of a nature that will bring death to the person committing it, the believer can pray for the recovery of the erring person, and God will grant the recovery of that person from that sin. On the other hand, there is sin leading to death, and the apostle says, "I do not say that he should pray about that."

We have human laws that prescribe a fixed penalty for things we do that are wrong. We're aware there is a penalty for those things but sometimes we do them anyway. We have no legitimate plea when we are punished by the human authorities in those cases.

By the same token, God has set out specific things in His Word that we are to avoid, and if we do them, we can expect a corrective action as the result. Sometimes this may even be removal from this life. It's difficult to say with finality just what sin leading to death is, and so here is a list of interpretations:
1. It may refer to the continuation of a sin we know eventually leads to death and is by one who is a believer and the sin is un-confessed by him.
2. It may be the sin of murder that's referred to here.
If a Christian murders someone, then we shouldn't pray for his release from the death penalty, because God has already stated that it's His will that "whoever sheds manís blood, by man his blood shall be shed." Genesis 9:6. God hasn't rescinded that statement so the death penalty is still in effect regardless of man's inclination.
3. The sin referred to here could be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus said that those who attributed the miracles which He did in the power of the Holy Spirit to the power Beelzebub, the prince of demons, had committed the unpardonable sin, and there was no forgiveness either in this age or in the age to come.
4. The sin of apostasy may be one John is pointing to. An apostate is one who has heard the truth of God, is intellectually convinced that Jesus is the Christ, has even made a profession of faith, but he has never been truly saved. At sometime in their lives, an apostate completely renounces the Lord Jesus as Christ.

In Hebrews 6:4-6, we learn that this is a sin leading to death. "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
5: And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
6: If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."
Those committing this sin have no way of escape, since "they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame."

The false teachers John previously wrote about had once been in the Christian fellowship. They professed to be believers and had known the facts of the faith, but had turned their backs on the Lord Jesus and accepted a teaching which completely denied His deity and His atoning work. Prayer for their restoration to God is of no avail since God has said in His word that they've sinned unto death.

Verse 17. "All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death." There are distinct differences in the degrees of sin for the believer. Some are not so serious in nature as to result in physical death.

However, the sin of unbelief has already condemned man to hell for eternity, regardless of how few sins he has committed.

God still offers that person salvation through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Verse 18. "We know that whosoever is born of God does not sin; but he that is born of God keeps himself, and that wicked one touches him not."

The Believer is given a sinless status before God based on the total forgiveness of our sins by the blood of Christ.

We are still able to, and do, sin, but God has accepted pre-payment for those sins through Jesus Christ's payment for us at the cross. God stated, in Hebrews 10:17 "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."

John brings his Epistle to a close by telling again the wonders of the Christian Faith. We know that "whoever is born of God does not sin," He doesn't go on practicing sin. If the one who is born of God keeps himself in the way God has instructed, then Satan, the wicked one, can't touch him. This refers to the true believer who is kept from habitual sin through the divine nature given at the moment of salvation. Satan can't tear down the hedge around you unless you allow him to do so.

Verse 19. "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness." The true Believer knows they are saved and that God will direct our lives if we permit it. This understanding will keep us from sin and the works of Satan. There are two paths we can follow. One is the way God offers us. The other is the way of the world, or Satan. Satan's way leads to hell, God's way to heaven. John doesn't mince words here. It's either black or white.

You're either in Christ or under Satan's control. Everyone is either saved or lost, and their position depends on their relationship to Jesus Christ.

Verse 20. "And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life."

Another great truth is the Incarnation of Jesus, the fact that God became man in the Person of Jesus Christ. We know that the Son of God came to die for mankind's sin. This is the same truth that John wrote at the first of his Epistle and now he is going to close with that truth. The Lord Jesus came and revealed to us the One who is true, that is, the true God. God the Father can only be known through the Lord Jesus Christ. John 1:18 "The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." Here in verse 18 of 1 John 5, John adds: "and we are in Him who is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ."

The only way we can be in God, or have God in us, is through Jesus Christ. Jesus stated that "No one comes to the Father except through Me." In our passage here, John states "This is the true God and this is eternal life." This is a fact that the natural man tries to deny, Jesus Christ is God, and eternal life is found only in Him. The Holy Spirit enables us to understand the truth and believe God's Word so we can be saved. We are set apart by the Holy Spirit.

1 Peter 1:2: "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." In this verse we see that the whole Trinity is involved in our salvation. Chosen by God, set apart for salvation by the Holy Spirit, redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

1 John 5:21. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." Here is John's closing appeal to Christians, "keep yourselves from idols.

Jesus Christ is God. Any other belief is idolatry.

John isn't writing about idols carved out of wood or molded in pottery. Surely man is intelligent enough to know an inanimate object can do nothing for us. Beware of any teaching that opposes God's written truth.

He wants believers to guard against any ideas about God other than those that have been given in scripture. An idol is a substitute or false god taking the place of the true God. There is a lot of false teaching on television religious programs today. One of the sure indications of their intent is when a good part of their time is spent on fund raising. Money and monuments and cathedrals become the focus of their messages.

The believer is given something much better to concentrate on than buildings and rhetoric. Test their teaching with the Scriptures. Hebrews 12:2 " Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith." The Lord was the author of the original manuscript on faith in the original language of heaven. Jesus set the perfect example of what it means to live a life of faith, dependent on God the Father. The scriptures tell us that He sought ever to do His Father's will.

We write our life manuscript while in our earthly bodies, and we are to be faithful copies of Christ, even though our lives are lesser copies of His.

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen."