The Epistle of I JOHN
[Note: These teachings should be read in sequence beginning with I John Chapter One.]
1. Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him [God] not.
The world will never understand our being "sons of God." Salvation is an internal, spiritual working and natural men cannot understand spiritual matters. The world does not know God, for as I Corinthians explains:
I Corinthians 2: 14 -- But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they [spiritual matters] are spiritually discerned.
2. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, (and [but] it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he [Christ] shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
When are we Sons of God? Now. Right now in our everyday life, we are Sons of God. This guarantees that we will see him as he is when Jesus Christ returns.
Starting with the words "and it doth not yet appear" in verse 2 through verse 4 is a parenthetical section dealing with Christ. Then in verse 5 we return to the subject, God. To be like him [Christ] is to be as he will be in his resurrected body at his return. When Christ returns, we shall be like him because we are joint-heirs with Christ* and sons of the same Father.
* Romans 8: 17 -- And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
3. And every man that hath this hope [Christ's return] in him purifieth himself, even as he [Christ] is pure.
We have hope for Christ's second coming. Thus, we who have this hope should purify ourselves by renewing the mind. Our minds should be made as pure by us as our spirits are pure, the gift from God.
4. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.)
The phrase "transgression of the law" is the Greek word anomia, "lawlessness." One who practices illegalities, thereby not observing the law, is a transgressor. To fulfill the law, man must follow the instructions given in Galatians. [This verse marks the end of the parenthesis that began in verse 2.]
Galatians 6: 2 -- Bear ye one another's burdens [baros], and so fulfil the law of Christ.
This is the type of burden that can be shared with others unlike the type of burden [phortion] mentioned in verse 5 which a person must bear on their own. This is not a contradiction as some people point out. It is the usage of two different Greek words with different meanings.
5. And ye know that he [God] was manifested [in Christ and shown to the world] to take away our sins; and in him [God] is no sin.
When Jesus Christ said that he who hath seen me hath seen the Father, Christ was using a figure of speech. Jesus Christ always did the Father's Will so that people could see what God was like by observing the works and life of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ never said he was God -- he was the Son of God. Even devil spirits called Jesus Christ the Son of God. This major controversial point will come up in more detail later in chapter five.
6. Whosoever abideth in him [God] sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him [God], neither known [beyond initial acquaintance] him [God].
Verse 6 is speaking of a believer abiding in God (fellowship), not God abiding in a believer (salvation). For the sake of your renewed mind, please be able to clearly make this distinction once and for all. A believer sins by breaking fellowship with God, not in the spiritual life which he received when he was born again, for that life is perfect and cannot sin. If one has a perfectly renewed mind, he does not sin because he does not break fellowship. We will not have a perfectly renewed mind until Jesus Christ returns.
7. Little children, let no man deceive you: he [the man] that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he [God in Christ in you] is righteous.
How righteous was Jesus Christ? As righteous as God because God was in him. No one can do righteousness until the person himself is righteous. Righteousness is of God and is therefore included in the gift, spirit. Righteousness is God in Christ within, which makes it possible to manifest righteousness without.
8. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he [Jesus Christ] might destroy the works of the devil.
Every sin is due to the influence of Satan over the person committing the sin. Jesus Christ was manifested that he might break the power of Satan. In his first coming he did defeat the devil's work; however, the total destruction is yet to take place with Christ's second coming. That is a very important point and one that needs to be understood. The Son of God has defeated Satan for those who are born again and have renewed their minds according to the Word. If a person does not renew his mind, Satan is not defeated in that person's life. In such a case, Satan thwarts this person with diseases, worries, fears and other satanic negatives. I cannot stress the importance of this paragraph enough. Read it again before moving on.
The words "from the beginning" in the verse refer to the beginning of iniquity found in Lucifer, the devil.
Ezekiel 28: 15 -- Thou [both Adam and the devil] wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
9. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin [in the spirit]; for his [God's] seed [Christ] remaineth in him [the man]: and he cannot sin [in that of which he is born, the seed of God, Christ in him], because he is born of God.
In this seed of which a man is born again, he cannot sin. It is perfect spiritual seed. The spirit part of man CANNOT SIN -- but the flesh part of man can and does sin. Again, this is another simple but important point that sometimes is erroneously taught. Christians are not impervious to sin. Some so-called teachers of God's Word misquote this scripture to say that a born again Christian cannot sin.
10. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not [born] of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
If you remember, this point came up before in our study of I John. This is in reference to the "unforgivable sin" -- those who are born again of the seed of the serpent. The Word of God refers to them as "children of the devil". Note the sharp line of demarcation between the two spiritual seeds. The children follow the pattern of their respective fathers, the devil, or the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
11. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
Believe it or not, many Christians have a problem in this area. The world is such a cold place, sometimes we have to learn how to love. We should not let an opportunity pass where we can do something that you know will bless someone and you have an open door to do so. Some people are so difficult to love that the only way to 'bless them' is to leave them alone. God will show you and teach you how and when to manifest the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation. Remember, we are nothing without it.
12. Not as Cain, who was [born] of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.
Cain was "of that wicked one"; he was born of the seed of the serpent and manifested the devil's hate and evil works. Cain had committed the unforgivable sin -- that's why he was able to 'hate' his brother to the point of murdering him.
13. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
God says clearly in His Word in James 4: 4b that if we are friends of the world, we are in conflict with Him. So if you don't exactly 'fit in', you should not be surprised. The devil is presently the god of this world and if you are renewing your mind to God's rightly divided Word, he is going to oppose you in whatever way possible. In many respects, you need to be fearless to continue to stand for God in the midst of the darkness of this present age. Only the Word of God will uproot the fear out of a person's life.
14. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
The word "brethren" has the connotation of "saints" as sons of God. We know that we have passed from death unto life when our deeds are motivated by the love of God. Our salvation is manifested to ourselves and to the other saints as we love with the love of God in our renewed minds. No one has this agape love until he is born again of God. The natural man at best can only have philes, human love. In the last part of verse 14 the words "his brother" are not in the oldest texts. "He that loveth not" refers to the unsaved man. The unsaved person cannot love with agape love and remains in darkness.
15. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
Some churches have taught that anyone who commits murder, one who actually takes another's life, does not have eternal life abiding in him. The Word of God does not say this. "Whosoever hateth [hate is of the devil and only the devil's children can have it] his brother [in the flesh] is a murderer." The brother is not killed, but the man who hates, who is born of the seed of the serpent, is causing his own death. "No murderer [who causes his own death because he is born of the seed of the serpent] hath eternal life abiding in him. He cannot have eternal life, he is born of the seed of the serpent. You should be able to understand this verse and help others likewise. It is a verse that is often privately interpreted to teach something that is not true.
16. Hereby perceive [understand] we the love of God, because he [Jesus Christ] laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren [saints].
We ought to lay down our lives, put our selfish desires in subjection to our spirit, to help our fellow believers. How many of us can honestly say that we are willing to do this? You need to be walking with the love of God to be able to do this and that means you must be renewing your mind to God's Word.
17. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother [saint -- fellow believer] have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
We have frequently been taught that we are to help the unsaved who are starving. This Scripture tells us that our primary responsibility is to our brothers in Christ. That doesn't mean that we can't help others in need also, but in a priority sense, we should help the believer first. That is what the Word teaches.
Galatians 6: 10 -- As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
18. My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
Let us love in our actions and not just talk about it. When a believer is manifesting God's love toward you, you will know it because it will bless you immensely. The love of God is unselfish and expects nothing back in return. Don't just talk the walk, walk the talk -- be a DOER and not just a hearer.
19. And hereby we know that we are [born] of the truth, and shall assure [persuade] our hearts before him [God].
We persuade our hearts by renewing our minds after we are born again. God tells us this time and time again because He knows we learn by repetition.
20, 21. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
If, in the innermost part of our being, our heart, we are condemning or accusing ourselves for any reason, then we CANNOT get answers to prayer because we do not have confidence toward God. Due to condemnation, we cannot believe for the simple promises of God's Word. Once we know and claim our sonship right of 'righteousness', we should have no reason to fear. Then we can have confidence toward God and live and think victoriously.
Condemnation is one of the worst and most destructive tricks of Satan brought upon a believer. Learn Romans 8: 1 by heart:
Romans 8: 1 -- There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. [The verse stops there.]
IT IS A SIN - BROKEN FELLOWSHIP - TO CONDEMN YOURSELF.
22. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him [God], because we keep [in our minds] his commandments, and do [in our actions] those things that are pleasing in his [God's] sight.
If our hearts are condemning us, we are out of fellowship with God. We have sinned by not walking in the renewed mind. When we are out of fellowship, we have no confidence toward God, and we cannot get our prayers answered.
Broken fellowship results from 1) NOT KNOWING THE WORD or 2) NOT LIVING THE WORD.
God is faithful in that what He has promised, He will bring to pass. If it doesn't come to pass, it is due to a flaw on the man's part.
23. And this is his [God's] commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he [God in Christ Jesus] gave us commandment.
We can stake our very lives on the goodness which God has provided for us if we practice His Will. Here we have a command, not a demand; we should believe on the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the firstborn, and we, his brethren, are to manifest the love from the Father within His family.
24. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him [God], and he [God] in him. And hereby we know that he [God] abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
The person who keeps the commandments not only has sonship but also fellowship. We can know that God in Christ dwells in us by manifesting the spirit which He has given to us -- by renewing the mind and operating the manifestations of Holy Spirit.