"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN"
Certainties Of The Christian Faith 1 Jn 5:18-21
1. In this last section of John’s epistle, we find him summarizing
three facts or "certainties" that his readers should have learned
– 1 Jn 5:18-21
2. These "Certainties of the Christian Faith" relate to sin, the evil
one, and the truth concerning fellowship with God and Jesus Christ
3. Each of these "certainties" is introduced by the words "we know",
and as we consider these three facts we shall begin each section in
the same way
[First of all, then, "we know"…]
I. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THOSE BORN OF GOD AND SIN 1 Jn 5:18
A. "WHOEVER IS BORN OF GOD DOES NOT SIN"
1. This statement, like the one in 1 Jn 3:9, can be somewhat
troubling to the English reader
2. But as we noticed in the lesson on that portion of
a. John has already affirmed that Christians sin –
cf. Jn 1:8; 1 Jn 1:10
b. To say we have no sin is to lie, and to make God a liar
c. So John is talking about one who does not "continuously
practice sin" (in light of the present tense of the verb,
this is an acceptable translation)
3. As stated by Plummer, "A child of God may sin; but his normal
condition is one of resistance to sin." (The Epistles of St.
B. "BUT HE WHO HAS BEEN BORN OF GOD KEEPS HIMSELF"
1. John explains why the one born of God does not continuously
practice sin, but it is difficult to know exactly what he
a. Some translations have "keeps him" instead of "keeps
b. This is because most translators believe "he who has been
born of God" is a reference to Jesus
c. And yet in his epistle, the phrase "born of God" always has
reference to the child of Christ, i.e., the Christian
2. Assuming that "himself" is the correct wording…
a. It becomes clear that the individual bears some
responsibility in keeping oneself from sinning
b. While it is true that we have help from God cf. 1 Jn 3:9,
"for His seed remains in him"), our faith must cooperate
with God’s power – e.g., 1 Pe 1:5
c. Thus the charge to "keep yourselves…" – cf. 1 Jn 5:21;
C. "THE WICKED ONE DOES NOT TOUCH HIM"
1. When we cooperate with God, Satan has no chance…
a. When we submit to God, and resist the devil, the devil
flees! – cf. Ja 4:7
b. For God who is in us is certainly greater than the devil!
– 1 Jn 4:4
2. Instrumental in our cooperation with God is allowing His word
to abide in us – 1 Jn 2:14
3. Even as the Word was instrumental in helping Jesus overcome
the temptations of Satan – cf. "it is written…" Mt 4:4;
1 Jn 5:7; 1 Jn 5:10
[So the first "certainty" of the Christian faith is that one born of
God does not treat sin lightly, and with God’s help is able to win the
conflict with "the wicked one".
Now for the second "certainty" summarized by John: "We know"…]
II. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US AND THE WORLD 1 Jn 5:19
B. "THE WHOLE WORLD LIES UNDER THE SWAY OF THE WICKED ONE"
1. Sadly, those in the world are not "of God"
2. For when one rejects Jesus Christ, they demonstrate who their
"father" truly is – cf. Jn 8:42-47
3. While they remain in their sins, they remain under the sway of
Satan – cf. 1 Jn 3:8; 1 Jn 3:10,
[Whose "child" are we? Those who are in Christ have the assurance that
God is their father. Those not in Christ are still under the
influences of Satan who has blinded them! – cf. 2 Co 4:3-4
Finally, "we know"…]
III. THE BASIS OF FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD AND ETERNAL LIFE 1 Jn 5:20
A. "THE SON OF GOD HAS COME AND HAS GIVEN US UNDERSTANDING"
1. Jesus has come to give us true insight concerning God
2. As John declared in his gospel: "No one has seen God at any
time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the
Father, He has declared Him." – Jn 1:18
B. "THAT WE MAY KNOW…
1. "…Him who is true"
a. Or as expressed in other translations: "He is the true God"
b. "By true God [John] does not mean one who tells the truth,
but him who is really God." (Calvin, The First Epistle of
John, p. 273)
c. By coming in the flesh, Jesus has manifested the true God
to us – cf. Jn 14:7-9
2. "…and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ"
a. Jesus has also given us understanding about how we can be
b. It is through His Son, as we keep His words and His
commandments, that we can abide in God – Jn 14:21; Jn 14:23
C. "THIS IS THE TRUE GOD AND ETERNAL LIFE"
1. Again, the expression "true God" is saying He who is "the real
2. With this declaration, John is also defining what "eternal
life" truly is…
a. It is to "know" Him who is true
b. It is to be "in Him" who is true, and "in His Son Jesus
3. I.e., eternal life (as defined by John) is that abundant
a. Which comes from "knowing" the Father and the Son
b. Which comes by having "fellowship" with the Father and the
4. So John intimated at the beginning of his epistle – 1 Jn 1:2-3
5. And so Jesus declared in His prayer in Jn 17:1-3
1. Here then are the "Certainties Of The Christian Faith" as summarized
a. "We know" the relationship between those born of God and sin
b. "We know" the difference between us and those of the world
c. "We know" the basis of fellowship with God and eternal life
2. May the First Epistle of John always serve to remind of these
certainties, and may the last verse always remind us of the need for
"Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen."
3. With his favorite term of endearment, John admonishes us to stay
away from anything that would replace our devotion to the One True
a. We may think that we are too sophisticated to succumb to idolatry
b. But as Paul pointed out time and again, anything that replaces
God in our hearts is an idol – Ep 5:5; Co 3:5
NOTE WELL: If there was no danger of being led astray, there would be
no need for a warning!