Sunday, January 6, 2013
1st John Chapter 5 Part 11
5:18-19 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
Since we just finished reading in verse 16 that Christians can and do still sin after being born again this is not a statement affirming sinless perfection after rebirth. Rather, it is in reference yet again to our spiritual attitude, whether or not we live in a habitual state of sin, or we practice righteousness habitually.
John concludes that anyone truly born again sins not in the sense that a lifestyle of sin is left behind when new life enters into us, courtesy of the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. When posing the question as to whether or not Christians should continue to sin after salvation Paul passionately writes “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Romans 6:2.
The second portion of the verse clarifies the issue about the practical effect of our sanctification: “he who has been born of God keeps himself,” NKJV. We have a vested interested in moral purity after receiving new life in Christ. One of our great hopes and aspirations as Christians is to become like our Lord in our moral life, so that when Jesus is revealed He finds us walking after Him, instead of away from Him, 1st John 3:2-3. This motivating factor should drive the saint to desire moral purity, a holiness of character imparted by Christ capable of cleansing us to be useful to God for ministry, 2nd Timothy 2:21. The type of ministry is irrelevant; the simple fact that God chooses to use us in any regard should humble us for the chance to experience such a privilege.
The wicked one cannot touch such a saint, lest God permit it for the testing of our faith. Why? James writes “Therefore submit to God (the first imperative). Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you,” James 4:7-8. Peter adds “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,” 1st Peter 5:8. John testifies that the Christian who keeps himself (from sinning) will not be molested by the devil. Peter asserts the same by warning that the saints should be both sober (very aware) and vigilant (always on guard) against the devil’s wiles. James, always straightforward in his writing, tells us that if we draw near to God and submit to him we have power to resist Satan and he will flee from us. It is not our strength, our godliness or our naturally produced purity that can restrain the devil’s advances; it is the authority of Christ over a believer’s life as we walk in the Spirit that will preserve us from danger. As Solomon tells us, we must rely on God to direct our paths and simply walk where He directs, Proverbs 3:5-6. The saint so walking will find safe pasture and a good Shepherd who protects us from evil, Psalm 23:4; Matthew 6:13; John 10:11
The NKJV translates verse 19 as “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” The term “world” in this verse refers to the world system Satan has been given authority over. Jesus states in John 14:30 “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.” Satan brazenly claimed to be the one who had the authority over kingdoms given to him and Jesus did not contest this claim, Luke 4:5-6. The godless world system in which the saints live but have no true home in belongs to Satan. At length his kingdom will culminate with the rule of the Antichrist for a seven year period termed the Tribulation. When this reign is over Christ will return with His saints, destroy the Antichrist with His coming and cast Satan into the bottomless pit for one thousand years. This will usher in the millennial reign of the Lord, and all authority on earth will at last be exercised as Jesus governs the world on behalf of His Father in total righteousness, Psalm 2:7-8; 110:1-2; 1st Corinthians 15:24-27; Revelation 11:15; 20:6.
Christians are of God, called out of this present evil world and made His children and inheritors. The very term “church” is the Greek word “ekklesia” and literally means “calling out” or “called out ones.” If you are part of the church through the new birth by the gospel you are no longer a part of the world order Satan governs, but are one of God’s Heavenly citizens waiting for your pilgrimage to end so you may enter into your inheritance, John 14:1-3; Colossians 1:13. The stark contrast is clear. The world (that is, this earth) is peopled with the saved and the unsaved. You are either a servant of Christ or a slave of Satan, 2nd Corinthians 4:3-4; 2nd Timothy 2:25-26.
I would merely like to address John’s mention of the wicked one in his epistle. His first mention is in 1st John 2:13-14. Twice mention is made of the triumphant Christian overcoming the wicked one. Verse 14 tells us that this is accomplished because we are strong (in Christ), the word of God abides in us, and the result is that Satan is overcome. In contrast we see Cain, who was instead overcome by the wicked one when he gave way to his sinful desires, 1st John 3:12; Genesis 4:7. You see, those taken captive by Satan are not demonically possessed; rather, they are his followers in the sense that they reject God’s will and insist that the only government they will submit to is their own. We see this manifested in Cain and every man or woman thereafter who does not wish to submit to God. Satan’s sin is pride, and only a humble heart is willing to submit and allow another will (even God’s perfect one) to govern it. But we have seen from previously cited Scripture that only the submitted heart can both draw near to God, and likewise resist the Devil.
Finally we see the righteous contrasted with the unsaved in 1st John 5:18-19. The one born of God refrains from sin as a lifestyle and thusly keeps himself in the practice of sanctification or holiness, and the wicked one does not touch him. On the other hand, the unregenerate world lies in the arms of Satan. Whereas God commands a moral conformity that comes into alignment with His own as the believer walks with Him, Satan looses the reins of men’s hearts and encourages whatever selfish pursuit we desire, knowing that man’s sinful nature is already enticement enough to pursue the things we know we should not crave. The Devil does not override the will of man but rather appeals to it; God must, through spiritual birth and the indwelling Spirit, inject man with a new will that can likewise be appealed to before man can begin walking with Him. This new will is acquired through the reception of the gospel message which imparts new life. The Holy Spirit convicts and draws, but we must accept the message given with more than mere mental assent; it must be in faith as we trust this saving message and begin to live in light of it. The Lord does not override man’s will either, and even His saints may resist His will for them when our sin nature shouts louder than the Spirit’s promptings.