This epistle from John provides a rich amount of advice, particularly concerning how to discern the Christian from the antichrist.
Notes on the First Book of John
- "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:8-10 English Standard Version). No one is righteous, not one, but thank the Lord that Jesus Christ is our righteousness who takes away the sins of the world with the blood of atonement.
- "Whoever says 'I know him' but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." (1 John 2:4-6 ESV). As we continue as doers of the word so we are progressively perfected in the love of God.
- "Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes." (1 John 2:10-11 ESV)
- "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life-is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:15-17 ESV). The things of the world are (at this time) under the authority of the god of this world, Satan, so to desire the things of the world is to be captured by him, therefore we must turn our attention upward to the heavenly places. To mind the things of the world is to mind that which is temporal and subject to death but to mind the unseen things is to mind that which is eternal.
- From my reading of John's description of antichrists he is saying that they were originally part of the brethren but went astray. (1 John 2:19). So we must be mindful of the fact that there will be antichrists among us that will go out on their own and probably try and lead others astray.
- The test for the antichrist: "Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also." (1 John 2:22-23 ESV). So we see that antichrists will deny the special role of Jesus, that he is the Messiah (not a messiah but the messiah) and they will also deny his position as the Son of the heavenly Father as opposed to a son of the heavenly Father.
- "I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him who abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true and is no lie-just as it has taught you, abide in him." (1 John 2:27 ESV). The Holy Spirit is our backstop in all spiritual matters and we should listen to its testimony about others that we may not be led astray. If the Holy Spirit bothers you about someone or something, listen to him.
- "The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure." (1 John 3:2-3 ESV). I believe as we draw closer to Christ the world may find us more and more peculiar, but that is because we are not of this world.
- "Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness....No one who abides in [Christ] keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him....Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning." (1 John 3:4-9 ESV). This is a popular passage and many wonder if they are saved if they are struggling with a particular sin, my opinion is that it's a matter of the heart and whether or not the person wants to continue in the sin or not. I really think only God knows the heart of the person and whether they are guilty of what John asserts or not.
- "For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another." (1 John 3:11 ESV).
- "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." (1 John 3:15 ESV). The ultimate fruit of all hate is murder; it is by the grace of God that such things don't come to pass.
- Let us be doers of the word and lay down our lives (and possessions) for our brothers. (1 John 3:16-18)
- How do we know our standing with God? "By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him." (1 John 3:19-22 ESV)
- How do we know God abides in us? By the presence of the Holy Spirit. (1 John 3:24)
- John on testing the spirits: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already." (1 John 4:1-3 ESV)
- The people of God listen to each other: "Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error." (1 John 4:6 ESV)
- The definition of love: "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us." (1 John 4:10-12 ESV)
- "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God." (1 John 4:15 ESV)
- On fear: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." (1 John 4:18 ESV)
- "And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." (1 John 4:21 ESV)
- We are already overcomers because "everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world." (1 John 5:4 ESV)
- "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him." (1 John 5:13-15 ESV)
- On praying for the brothers: "If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life-to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death." (1 John 5:16-17 ESV). We should be active in praying for forgiveness for our brothers but if one has sinned the sin to death then there is no longer a purpose in doing so. What this "sin to death" is I believe depends on the person as I think the more holy one is the higher standard of accountability one is held to, but that is not to say the wicked are excused.
- On the assurance and protection of God: "We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him." (1 John 5:18 ESV)
- Finally, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." (1 John 5:21 ESV)
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