The first letter of John comes as a breath of fresh air to those who are trying to live for Jesus. People around us tell us so much that simply isn’t true. It seems many think if they say something often enough and loud enough that it becomes true! Let’s notice some of the truths that John gives us in the last chapter of this short letter.
“For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith” (1 John 5:3-4 CSB).
Sometimes we hear people complaining that doing what God wants is difficult. Obedience, we are told, is just too hard! So does it really matter, they think, if we obey God or not?
Notice what John wrote: “his commands are not a burden”. What does this tell us? It is assuring us that obeying God, following his commands, is something that we can do. The reason? Through Jesus, by being a child of God, we have conquered the world. How do we know this? Because of our faith! If we truly have faith in Jesus we can overcome anything that the world throws at us. That is good news – and that is a breath of fresh air.
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has life. The one who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).
Does it really matter what religion we are? Surely as long as we are ‘spiritual’ that is what counts – at least that is what we are often told. But notice what John says: eternal life is only found in God’s son, Jesus. Nothing else will do. If we don’t have Jesus, we don’t have eternal life. It really does matter what we believe. If we don’t accept Jesus as the son of God and Messiah, we can’t have eternal life. That is surety – and that is a breath of fresh air.
“I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)
Have you ever heard a Christian, when asked if he has eternal life, answer with “I hope so”. John says that it isn’t a matter of ‘hoping’ (meaning you wish it would happen) but it is a matter of certainty. If we have faith in Jesus – and, as we saw earlier, that means we are obedient – then we can know that eternal life is ours. This is a certainty we have as Christians – and that is a breath of fresh air.
“This is the confidence we have before him: If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
The way many Christians pray – or perhaps don’t pray – it would seem that many question whether God hears us and answers our prayers. Notice the confidence that John had: if we ask according to his will he hears us and if we know he hears us we know he grants our requests. But notice the condition here: what we ask has to be according to his will – not ours. Too often our prayers are selfish and self-centered – it is what I want for me. We find what is important to God in his word. If we are spending time listening to God, we learn his will and can ask for what he wants to give us. This is a confidence we have as Christians – and that is a breath of fresh air.
The remedy for so much of what we hear around us is to get back to God’s word. It is here that we find the confidence we should have to live as a child of God.
Readings for next week: 1 John 4-5; 2 John; 3 John; Jude; 1 Thessalonians 1-2