Love Letters: Studies in 1,2 & 3 John, Lesson 6 of 8/ 1 John 5:1-21
Love is a Verb 1 John 5:1-3
Love is a verb! A verb is an action word. As we learned earlier from John’s writings:
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and truth.” 1 John 3:18
Love is not a word only, a card, a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates, a dinner date, a walk on the beach, a hug, a kiss or sexual intercourse for that matter! These expressions that we equate with love are not love enough in the biblical sense of the word (1 Corinthians 13:1-8). Love is sacrifice, hard work, and uncompromising fidelity. Love is self-willed service and devotion to another. Anything else that we might call love is a pathetic, watered down, pagan definition of the word…by the way, Happy Valentines Day! When John says: “God is love” (1 John 4:8b) he is absolutely correct. God has loved us lavishly and unconditionally even while we lived in sin against His law (Romans 5:8).
With these facts about “love” in mind let us consider those who would say “I love God.” First of all, if one truly loves God he will also love Christ for Jesus is born of God (e.g. the “exact representation” of God born into this world: Hebrews 1:3). Anyone who claims to love God and yet hates Jesus is an antichrist (1 John 4:3) and does not love God. Secondly, “everyone who loves God (“the Father”) loves His child as well”. That is to say that anyone who says that they love God will also love His people. John clearly defines these people too. A “child” of God is “one that carries out God’s commands.” (those laws that Jesus fulfilled and passed down to us by His living example : Matthew 5:17). Remember…Love is a verb. Accept no imitations or politically correct salutations!
Overcoming The World 1 John 5:4-5, 2 Timothy 1:13-14, Galatians 6:7-9
You may have heard the saying “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” The phrase is used to say bad company corrupts good morals. (1 Corinthians 15:33-34) The phrase is true in both the physical and the spiritual sense. One rotten apple will quickly spread that rot to the whole bunch, just as one persons bad morals will quickly effect the morality of a whole group if they are left uncorrected or unpunished. This is why we have laws in the civilized world. This is also why God introduced law with the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20:1-21). Carrying out God’s commands not only shows our love for Him (1 John 5:3) but it also keeps us from being “spoiled” or corrupted like the rest of the world who is without Christ. We may be among many “bad apples” but our faith in adhering to God’s commands (the standards for living that we find in His Word) will keep us from rotting along with the rest of the world.
We must guard our faith wisely. (1 Corinthians 16:13, Philippians 4:7, 2 Timothy 1:13-14)
Spiritual rot creeps up so cunningly. See how it has crept into our nation once founded upon God? See how it has crept into the church in the guise of being politically correct?
The Gnostics of John’s day, like many of the “religious” people of today, talked very spiritually, but lived worldly lives. The true teaching of Christ and His church has always been: “a man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7-9) The Gnostics taught “anything goes”. John made it clear that only “he who believes” will overcome the world. The Greek word here for “believe” is pisteuo which means to be faithful to and believing in. Our love and faith in Christ is always characterized by our living according to His Word (the Bible).
By Water And Blood 1 John 5:6-12
The Old Testament law required “the testimony of two or three witnesses” to establish the truth of a particular matter (Deut. 17:6, 19:15). In this passage John lays out the fact that the testimony of salvation through Christ alone is true (according to that law) and witnessed by both heaven and earth through Jesus’ 1.) physicality of birth, 2.) life and 3.)death on the earth witnessed by humanity, and by the Holy Trinity in 1.) Jesus who came through water (both in earthly birth and through baptism) and by blood (both through physical life and by death on a cross), 2.) The Holy Spirit who was present at His baptism and 3.) God the Father who was also present and spoke to those gathered that day (Matthew 3:16-17). John doesn’t even bother to mention the witness of the angels who also attended Jesus’ birth and resurrection (Luke 2:10-13, Matthew 24:1-8) or the scriptures which both prophesied and later historically recorded the events of His life that fulfilled them.
John points out the irony of the fact that man readily accepts human testimony but God’s testimony is greater! The bottom line in these passages is that rather one accepts the earthly testimony of man in history or the heavenly testimony of God the truth of Jesus Christ has been established as factual truth. “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12)
Note: You may notice a difference in the passage reading of 1 John 5:6-8 if you compare the KJV to later translations like the NAS or the NIV. The KJV actually says: 7. “the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. 8. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood and these three agree in one.” It appears that the early church fathers took liberty to explain the passage in its translation; however, the earliest Greek manuscripts (before the fourteenth century) do not support the wording found in the KJV although theologically both translations come to the same conclusions.
Praying and Living in Love 1 John 5:13-21, Romans 6:23
John reminds believers that their prayers will be answered when they ask and live according to God’s will. In our praying John also reminds us not to pray for the dead as the Gnostics did, but to pray that those living will stop sinning and be saved to live the abundant life in Christ.
John closes his letter by reminding us that the world is under the devil’s control. God’s children are like sweet apples living in a barrel of rot, but we know the truth and He is our protection. God’s Love prompts our hearts to cling to Him in faith. The practice of our Faith will keep us from all artificial love and the Idols ( anything we put before God) that rot the soul. John’s salutation reminds us of who we are (“little Children”) and what we must always do to live in God’s love… May we all take heed and “keep ourselves from idols!