The First Letter of the Apostle John : Study No.5

Study No.5 (1 John 2:7-14)

Review (1 John 2:1-6)

 A salvation that leaves a sinner still sinning is not the salvation provided for us in the Lord Jesus the Messiah. Sinning and confessing continuously is not the mark of a born again believer (1 John 3:6-9). One of the reasons John writes is that believers might have the right understanding where sin is concerned. He writes so that they may not sin or be led into sin, However, he allows for the fact that the possibility of committing sin is still a very real danger spiritually that must be checked at all times.

If we become conscious that we have sinned then we need to confess it and put it away but also recognize that we have someone to plead our case in God’s law court. The term “advocate” is a legal term denoting one who defends us in court before the judge. As it is written; “But by His doing you are in the Messiah Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

God pardons our sin when we confess it for the sake of the Lord Jesus whose righteous standards God has credited to our account (Philippians 3:7-9). The idea of the phrase “if anyone sins” is not speaking about wilful sin but that which can overtake any of us in a moment of weakness and severe temptation which all of us are continuously exposed to. It also needs to be said that there may well be an occasion when we do actually commit a sin wilfully but in that case it is the result of an area in our spiritual lives that the Holy Spirit does not have complete control over. Having said this habitually committing sin and living a lifestyle of sin is not the way of one in whose inner spirit man dwells the Spirit of God.

The Lord Jesus’ atoning death not only paid for our sins as believers but also for the sins of the whole world, hence God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth as it is in the Lord Jesus and He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Having said this, while God foreknows who will be saved and who won’t be saved, the choice is still given to repent and believe or to reject the salvation offered in the Lord Jesus. If we claim to know Him by an inward revelation of the Spirit and have the witness that we belong to God then we will keep seek to keep the commandments of God as revealed in God’s Word, the Bible. We will be empowered by the Holy Spirit and by the power of Jesus blood to keep the spiritual and moral laws of God summed up in the 10 Commandments. We will not be violating them if we are really born again and are a new spiritual creation in the Messiah (2 Corinthians 5:17).

If we claim to know Him by an inward revelation and do not keep His commandments then we are liars and the truth is not in us either in our minds or in our hearts and we are self-deceived. Of course the two greatest commandments which produces all of the other ones in our lives is that which commands us to love the LORD our God with all of our heart, with all of our mind and with all of our soul and with all of our strength and to love our neighbour as we would ourselves. All of the other commandments hang upon these two great commandments (Matthew 22:37-40).

The truth is that if we really love God, love the Lord Jesus, love the Holy Spirit, and love the Word of God, love our brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus and our unsaved neighbour, then we will not want to sin. In full unconditional and unreserved surrender to Him God takes away the desire to sin even though the temptations will still come thick and fast as the Lord Jesus said they would (Luke 17:1). Fully surrendering everything to God is primarily an action of the will and not the emotions. It is a will surrendered to God with the desire to be changed from within supernaturally by the blessed Holy Spirit. R. A .Torrey used to say “If you are not willing are you willing to be made willing?”

If we keep God’s Word then God’s love will be fully expressed in our daily life and conversation and this will bring us the assurance that we really belong to God. As we seek to abide, to rest, to trust and to obey Him and to walk by faith in Him and walk moment by moment in step with the Spirit we will become more like the Lord Jesus in what we say and do every day and that in increasing measure. His nature will be seen in us by those who do not know God because in this world we will be like Him, not perfect of course as He is, but most definitely exhibiting His nature in the things we say and do before the unsaved.

Exposition (1 John 2:7-14)

(Vs.7) “Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.”

John is known as the apostle of love and was the one who leaned upon the breast of the Lord Jesus at the last supper (John 13:23). The theme of the love of God flows continuously through his gospel and his second and third letter. The commandment from the beginning was the great commandment from God to love Him with all of our being and with all that we are and have and that without reservation, and to love our neighbour as we would ourselves. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7) (Matthew 22:37-40) (Mark 12:30-31).

(Vs.8) “Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.”

The new commandment John mentions is the same one that God Himself and given concerning loving Him and loving our neighbour and brought into a much clearer light in the person of the Lord Jesus who said; “If you love Me keep My commandments” (John 14:15) and He also said; “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

When we have this love in our hearts at the control centre of our lives we will not be giving into sin. We will not be ill-tempered, critical, sensual, indulging our fleshly appetites, seeking to please ourselves only, insisting on our own way, backbiting others and giving into the works of the flesh which run contrary to the working of the Spirit (Galatians 5:13-25). We will in fact be striving to walk in the love of God which He has shed abroad in our hearts by the blessed Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Even though the desires of the fallen human nature will be at war with the desires of the Spirit within us we will not yield any ground to Satan as we continuously allow ourselves to be filled with the Spirit through faith and by the continuous action of our will submitted to the Word of God.

At times this will mean we have to go against our feelings and our circumstances as we live in a world where people think if it feels good then do it. In our walk with God we are on a spiritual battlefield and our adversary Satan and his minions from Hades are constantly seeking ways and means to destroy our faith and commitment to the Lord Jesus. They are always laying down ‘mines’ hoping that we will tread on them. It is only the blessed Holy Spirit that can guide us safely through the spiritual minefield that Satan keeps setting out before our path.

The light is already shining in those who are walking in a faith that is working through walking in love. Our faith is not only one of obedience to God’s Word but also one that works by love and that love being the motivating power for that faith we have (Romans 1:5; 16:26) (Galatians 5:6). We love God because He first loved us and gave Himself for us in the Lord Jesus and we should love our brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus in the same way as He loves us (1 John 4:7-21). Humanly speaking we cannot do this alone or by our will power but only by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Loving our brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus will let the world know that we are not only Jesus’ disciples but that God’s love really works and is superior to any kind of ‘love’ generated by the world. The unsaved people in the world love those who love them but do not love those who do not love them. And so John puts this love into its proper perspective…

(Vs.9) “He, who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.”

We can hate what people do yet love them at the same time. We hate their actions but still love them with the love that God has shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). While God hates wickedness and punishes sin He still takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18: 23) (Ezekiel 33:11). The idea of the word “hates” is an ongoing continuous action, a settled and brooding attitude towards another wishing upon them the worst kind of misfortunes to befall them. It is an attitude controlled by selfish ambition, greed and jealousy. It is the sin of Satan.

As John also writes in this letter concerning Cain when he killed Abel his brother; “This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he slay him? Because his own deeds were evil, while those of his brother were righteous… We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that eternal life does not reside in a murderer” (1 John 3:11-12, 14-15).

Those who harbour hate are walking in darkness. They may still be members in good standing in their denomination and have an outward appearance of ‘spirituality’ but inside they are full of sin and spiritual putrefaction as far as God is concerned. If we refuse to forgive others who have hurt, offended or opposed us in some way we ourselves will not be forgiven in this life or in the life to come. As the Lord Jesus Himself said; “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive yours” (Matthew 6:14-15).

We must all learn how to forgive others if we ourselves want forgiveness from God. The apostle James writes; “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the Law that gives freedom. For judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” (James 2:12-14).

If we have really experienced the mercy and compassion of God then we will be merciful and compassionate towards others, even those who hate us, ridicule us and despitefully use us. Forgiveness of our enemies is not optional for a believer in the Lord Jesus but a command to be obeyed whether we feel like forgiving or not. It always requires an action of the will and a crying out to God to give us the power and capacity to do it. We are to comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received from God (2 Corinthians 1:4).

(Vs.10) “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”

Once again the word used for “loves” denotes a continuous action. It is a willingness to love and to continue walking in love motivated by a complete surrender of the will to the Holy Spirit. If we are walking in love then we are walking with God and in His light and will enjoy His presence in our lives. While our emotions are important they are not the barometer but the action of our wills is the catalyst that will allow the Holy Spirit to love through us because He has poured out the love of God into our hearts if we have been truly born again from above (John 3:3) (Romans 5:5).

Apart from union with God this kind of love, that loves even the unlovely by human standards, is beyond any human being. Who really loves murders, thieves, drunkards, and despots? God does because the Lord Jesus died for all men and women boys and girls. To walk in the supernatural love of God is to abide in the light and if we walk in the light of God’s Word then our feet will not stumble into the potholes of sin, neither will we hate our brothers and sisters and those unsaved who denigrate and persecute us for the sake of righteousness. If we walk in love we fulfil the law of God as far as He is concerned and in doing so we will not sin (Galatians 5:6).

We may experience mental anguish, frustration, tiredness and even depression and a spirit of heaviness through manifold temptations of one sort or another, however, if the Spirit of God is living in our human spirit then we will still experience the Shalom of God deep down on the inside of us even though our emotions are being battered by the storms or adverse circumstances of life which all of us are subject to from time to time.

We all live in this fallen world and need to recon continuously on the fact that “those who belong to the Messiah Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). So loving is a continuous action of the will supported, sustained and empowered by the blessed Holy Spirit living in us as believers in our Lord Jesus. Apart from the Lord Jesus nothing good dwells in our flesh by God’s standards (Romans 7:18a).

(Vs.11) “But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

Once again we see clearly that to hate is to have that unabated attitude of malice or evil intent in our heart towards another person and specifically in its context towards another brother or sister in the Lord Jesus. To walk in continuous hate is to walk in continuous darkness without the light of God’s presence. Many sitting in Church pews singing sweetly harbour hate and resentment and an unforgiving attitude in their hearts towards a brother or sister in the fellowship and no matter how sweetly they sing or loudly praise God they are in spiritual darkness so long as they hang on to their resentment.

This is why the God’s Word says, “be angry but do not sin and do not let the sun go down on your anger” why? Because in the morning that anger will have become hate and we are also told that “that anger of man does not work of facilitate God’s righteousness.” We all get angry at times and sometimes our anger is justified but we must deal with it appropriately otherwise overnight it can turn into a settled and brooding attitude that will ultimately lead us into spiritual darkness. We need to be ready to forgive. As Peter said to the Lord Jesus; “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22).

The number seven is designated as God’s perfect and complete work. It is a number of His perfection when related to Him in scripture. Forgiveness is a continuous attitude that has no end to it but is an eternal spiritual principle. This is implied in the term “seventy-seven times.” We need to keep on forgiving even when an offence is repeated time and time against us. With our human will this is an impossible task but with God all things are possible. The Lord Jesus was saying to Peter that our forgiveness of others must be the same as God’s forgiveness of us which is perfect and complete and without end.

While we have breath in our bodies, forgiveness for sin and offences is available, both for us from God and from us to others. We cannot know continuous hate and possess eternal life. The two are incompatible as darkness is to light or as the Lord Jesus is to Satan.

(Vs.12) I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.”

These “little children” are those who are new spiritually reborn babies in the Messiah. They do not know the deeper truths of God’s Word, neither are they able to handle the meat of the Word of God but need the sincere and simple milk of the Word. They may not know about the wiles of the devil or his subtleties but the one thing they do know is that they are loved by God and that He has forgiven and cleansed them from all sin and that they belong to Him and they are accepted in the beloved Jesus (Ephesians 1:6).

The love of God has been liberally shed abroad in their hearts and they know God has accepted them. They also have the witness of the Spirit within that they have been loosed from their sins by the blood of Jesus. Their constant attitude is to call God “Abba father” or “Daddy” being the first word that a newly born infant says. It is a word that denotes unreserved trust. They are totally dependent of their father and their mother of course. These “little children” new in the faith have then the inward assurance that all of their sins have been forgiven for the sake of Jesus’ name.

(Vs.13) “I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father.”

The “Fathers” are those believers who are seasoned battle-hardened veterans in God’s campaigns against the devil and his hosts from hell. These are experienced believers who know God intimately and deeply and are acquainted with Him and know the Word of God and can rightly divide the Word of truth.

They provide a spiritual foundation and stability within the local assembly for the younger believers in the faith. These are men and women of faith, of prayer and of the Word of God. They know the voice of the Holy Spirit and have trained their spiritual senses to discern good from evil and the difference between the weaknesses of the human emotions from that of the flesh when enticed by Satan to sin. They are aware of the devil’s strategies and know how to outwit him.

They are not easily moved or troubled by Satan even though they are the hardest hit by him because they are the generals and commanders within the ranks of God’s people. In a war the snipers always go for the officers if they can because without officers an army will lose their advantage over the enemy especially when fighting in enemy territory.

The “young men” are those believers who have learned to overcome the wicked one. They not only know that their sins are forgiven but know who they are in the Messiah and are capable of using the spiritual weapons God has provided. These weapons they use are the power of the blood of Jesus, the power of God’s Word, the power of prayer, the power of the Holy Spirit and the power that resides in the name of Jesus. These powerful spiritual weapons can pull down the strongholds of Satan in their lives and in the lives of others when used to great effect. These are spiritual weapons (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

These are those who overcome Satan by the power of the blood of Jesus, by the power of their testimony and do not love their lives in this world even to the point of death (Revelation 12:11). Satan avoids these like the plague because they have submitted themselves unconditionally to God and as they steadfastly resist Satan he is forced to flee (James 4:7). When Satan or one of his principalities or demons see a New Covenant believer fully clothed in the armour of God holding high the shield of faith and wielding and waving that great sword of the Spirit he takes a wide berth and flees in abject terror! (James 4:7).

Once again John mentions “little children” and this time he says that they, like “the fathers” in the Messiah, these little ones, new in the faith also know God like the fathers in the faith do. Maybe not to the same degree or level of spiritual maturity but never the less they know God personally working in them as their “fathers in the Messiah” who also know God. It is the privilege and birth right of every born again child of God to know God and to know the Lord Jesus and to experience the eternal life that comes through and by faith in Him. As the Lord Jesus himself said; “Now this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

(Vs.14) “I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the Word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.

Once again John addresses the Fathers in the faith and he says again that they have known Him who is from the beginning and this clearly shows their level of walking in the Spirit and that they steadfastly and consistently maintain their relationship with the Triune God, being in fellowship with the Father and with the Son and with the Holy Spirit. They maintain a consistent faith of obedience to the Word of God, a faith that works by love and walk in that love of God shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit and walk as the Lord Jesus walked in this world.

They are no longer overcome by temptation when sin is presented to them by Satan. While they are not perfect or free from bodily sickness, fragility of intellect or changing emotions and feelings or free from troubles or even physical problems of one sort or another, or situations that can vex and trouble their souls. They consistently maintain the life of living by faith in the Kingdom of God because they have learned by experience that “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit and that whoever serves the Messiah in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men” (Romans 14:17-18).

The “young men” John also mentions again and this time he says that the Word of God abides in them. It constantly remains the catalyst and springboard for everything they say and do. These know how to use the Word of God against the devil and to defeat him at every turn. They can use the Word of God effectively as a mechanic uses a wrench. Their knowledge of the Word of God and their obedience to it gives them the power to overcome the lust of the eyes, the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life. Satan hates these “young men” because they are at the peak of their spiritual strength and are actively engaged in spiritual warfare.

In any Assembly of the local body of the Messiah you will find these three categories of believers. Together they form a formidable task force against Satan and his cohorts from Hades. These soldiers of the cross may be at differing levels of spiritual maturity and understanding and experience in spiritual matters but they all know Him who is from the beginning and they all have the spiritual weapons they need to fight against the world, the flesh and the devil. They all know the power of the blood of Jesus, the power of God’s Word, the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of prayer and the power of the name of Jesus and most of all the power of God’s love. By these spiritual weapons, also being part and parcel of God’s spiritual armour, overcome all of the powers of hell arrayed against them because “He who is in them is greater than he who is in the world!” (4:4).

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