Book of 1 John, part four

Here it is, the fourth and final installment of my look at the incredible book of the bible, 1 John.  There’s just so much wisdom and guidance in this book, it was a great blessing to me.

verses that jumped

This next verse is one my brother often returns to, and for good reason.

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

It’s the beautiful truth of God that he went out on the line for us first. Jesus loved us so much that he died for us even though he was innocent of all sin. He did that for us before we accepted him. Jesus died for sinners, he died for his enemies, so that they might one day come to love him. We love because he first loved us.

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Moving into the final chapter of 1 John, several quick verses jumped out at me. I talked about this next verse with my pastor recently, as it’s something that’s become so true in my life lately.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Getting my life in alignment with God’s will, working to put him first and letting him be Lord of my life has led to so much beauty and gain in my life. God’s done so much work on my mind and my heart, and the more I commit to those changes that he’s making I find that the above verse becomes truer and truer. His commandments are not burdensome. Love God, love others, and just be a good person. What’s more is that he’ll change your desires, he’ll make it so that you delight in keeping his commandments. From the outside they may appear like a list of rules, but when God gets you on the inside you find that walking His path becomes a source of joy and enjoyment. Helping others, serving those in need, loving people, these aren’t burdensome behaviors. They’re joyful ones, ones that are their own reward when you live by them.

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1 John 5:4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.

I’m going to directly quote from the Believer’s Bible Commentary because it expresses this better than I ever could. “The world system is a monstrous scheme of temptation, always trying to drag us away from God and from what is eternal, and seeking to occupy us with what is temporary and sensual. People of the world are completely taken up with the things of time and sense. They have become the victims of passing things.”

What an incredible description! So what saves us from the world’s monstrous scheme of temptation? John gives it to us plain and simple. We get our victory over the world through our faith. Our faith in God, our hold to the truths of His word, our focus on the Godly things instead of the worldly things. This is what gives you victory over the world.

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John continually drops some simple but powerful truth bombs as he wraps up 1 John.

1 John 5:12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

As a believer of the absolute truth of the bible, I find it hard to fathom, but apparently there are those who argue as to how we come to gain eternal life. Here, John spells it out plainly. Get Jesus, get eternal life. No Jesus, no eternal life. Anyone who argues against that concept is either really misguided or they don’t believe in the same bible that I do.

__________

The final verse that jumped out at me in 1 John is the final one. It’s a quick sentence that’s shoved in here. The way in which it stands out from the paragraph it’s in makes it feel even more important to me, like John was led to add it on despite it not gelling completely with the paragraph.

1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

People may not regularly worship golden statue idols like they did in biblical times, but we live in an age of unlimited idols. We worship our phones, our computers, our televisions, our sports teams, our cars, our money, our shoe collections, our pets, our celebrities, and even ourselves. Anything that we’re putting above God becomes an idol. I was so absolutely guilty of this. I could watch five hours of television and spend zero seconds with God, either in prayer or in reading His word. On that particular day, my TV was an idol, because I was placing it above God in my life. We express our hearts through our time. You don’t spend your days off with people you can’t stand, you spend it with people you love. You don’t watch a TV show you despise, you watch the one you love. Our love for God should be evident in our time. Jobs, relationships, kids, school, chores, responsibilities, they can all gobble up hours in a day. But we need to spend time with God, too. Just as John cautions in this final verse of 1 John, we need to work to keep ourselves from idols. A surefire way to do that is to work to get God into his proper position in our lives. I’d love to say I’ve got it down perfectly, but I don’t. So far for me it’s been a difficult challenge. After a lifetime focused on what I want to do, what game I want to play next, what book I want to read next, what novel I want to write next, what TV show I want to watch next, I’m having to re-train myself on how to allot my time each day. I try to remind myself each morning that God gave me life, and he gives me each day. Who am I not to give at least a portion of each day back to him?

closing and prayer

So there we go.  The book of 1 John imparts some beautiful and crucial wisdom to us.  I’d encourage each of you to read it for yourselves sometime.  I’m looking forward to coming back to it someday soon and see the new ways in which it speaks to me.

For prayers today I’d like to ask that we pray over those recurring things in life that interfere with our walk with God.  Maybe it’s a bad habit you never broke, or that one friend who always seems to get you to misbehave, or maybe it’s just that one hobby that always seems to take up all of our time and keep us from spending time with God.  Whatever the case, if you’ve got something like that in your life, I’d just ask that you lift it up in prayer.  Give it over to God, tell Him that we need His help in dealing with whatever it is.  If you don’t have something like that in your life, I’d ask that you please just say a blanket prayer over all of us who do.  And if you’re someone out there who prayed that prayer, know that I prayed it in agreement with you as your brother in Christ.

I love all of you guys, and the coolest thing of all is that no matter who you are and no matter what your thoughts are of God, He loves you too.  His love is deep and infinite and eternal.  He thinks of you, and He wants to have a relationship with you.

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