1 John 5:1-5, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
In the previous verses the Beloved Apostle concludes what could be construed as the “tests of life.” Our Christian walk should be based on love; love for God and love for one another and these should be the hallmark that identifies us as Christians as was first recorded in the early church. (Acts 11:26). In the following verses, he again returns to what can be considered the “tests of doctrine.” In other words, these verses begin a commentary on our FAITH.
Concerning our faith, the Apostle breaks down the benefits or the results of our faith within the first three verses. The first can easily be described as belief in the divine birth of Jesus as the Anointed One of God, the second would be loving God, our Heavenly Father, by keeping His commandments, and then third, loving His children, our Brothers and Sisters IN Christ.
When we are born-again, spiritually renewed in Christ, we surrender to Christ Jesus, thus identifying us as True Christians, and we become part of a family that God, our Heavenly Father has created. What makes us Brothers and Sisters?
First you can say our faith, but faith that is directed towards God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Anyone can have some faith, in something, but what is that faith directed towards? For instance, if you walk into a darkened room in your home and reach for the light switch, you have “faith” that the light will illuminate that room. Why? Because it was created to be that way and as long as all the parts are working, experience tells you, the room will be illuminated. But this kind of faith doesn’t make you spiritual, or heirs with Christ Jesus and co-heirs with your Brothers and Sisters.
Having the same faith as one another, believing within the depths of your spirit that Jesus is the Son of God sent to redeem mankind from our sins, confessing Him and turning away, repenting of our sinful behavior demonstrates our faith and belief in the Saving Grace of Christ Jesus. It is THAT faith, that makes us Brothers and Sisters when we each believe in that. The Apostle Paul stated it very clearly, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. Our faith, simply stated should be in “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
The second point that makes us Brothers and Sisters is our birth in God. “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” It is the Spirit of God that has birthed us and as such we love God as our Heavenly Father and since others are also “begotten of the Father,” or birthed by God, it is only right in assuming that we should love them as family. Those who love the Father SHOULD love the Father’s children as well! I emphasize the word should, as strongly as I can for indeed it IS a commandment of the Lord’s. So even though our faith identifies us, so does being “birthed” by the Holy Spirit because of that faith.
The third identifier of what makes others Brothers and Sisters is found in this statement; “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.” Okay, let’s break it down. If I keep God’s commandments then of course I KNOW that I love God, for keeping His commandments is proof, demonstrable proof that I love God. I’m being obedient to Him. How does this identify us as Brothers and Sisters though? Because if we love God AND His commandments, then of course we will love the children of God, our Brothers and Sisters, because that IS one of His GREAT commandments! Thus, keeping His commandments is not only proof of our love for God, but also proof that we love those who have also been “begotten” of God and thus by familiar relationship we ARE Brothers and Sisters.
One other point I’d like to make concerning our love for our Brothers and Sisters and how to tell its genuineness. The world loves ITS own, or at least what it knows to be love to them who are spiritually blinded, but it is a love based on natural or secular reasons. They love because they are kind, or rich, or educated, or of the same religious denomination. God’s children and their love is not constrained to those base, natural ideas, for we love one another because we BELONG to the same Father and thus too – one another!
Now that long drawn out explanation may make it seem complicated but in actuality it isn’t. We believe in Christ Jesus the Son of God. We love the Son and the Father Who sent Him. We obey God’s commandments of which a main one is to love one another, thus we and anyone else who falls under these “guidelines” is a Brother or a Sister!
Now John falls back as he often does to reiterate a common, already established thought; “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” Yet here, it is as if he is emphasizing the previous verse. “We know we love one another, our Brothers and Sisters when we love God and keep His commandments.” When we actively do this, direct our love to God, the Father, by keeping His commandments, THEN we KNOW we love one another. But notice the intent behind verse three; “This IS love, this is the nature and character of what love IS, by the very act of doing His, the Father’s will.” In verse two we see love demonstrated by our actions; in verse three the Apostle is reiterating and reminding us WHAT love is, the very essence of love.
OUR love for God is expressed in willing obedience to follow His commandments. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” – John 14:15.
Then John tells us, “And His commandments are not burdensome.” Keeping God’s commandments and especially to love Him and to love one another should not nor ever be hard. He isn’t saying that at times following God’s commandments might not cause us some difficulty, but if you truly and sincerely love someone, you WILL do all to please them. When you realize that John IS talking to those born-again you realize he is talking to Brothers and Sisters who follow the Lord’s commandments because it is already something they choose AND desire to do.
I heard this example once used for another situation and yet it is perfect here; when you tell a mother or a father to take care of their child, you are only telling her to do something she already has a heart and a desire to do. In essence, you are just reminding her/him of the desire that is already a part of you. Sometimes taking care of a child has its difficult moments, anyone who has ever had a child knows this to be true, but despite the difficulties, because you truly and sincerely love them, you do what is necessary to care for them. So it is with following God’s commandments. The Lord’s commandments first of all are what is best for us as His children but even beyond that with our newly regenerated spirit, it is what we wholeheartedly desire to do, thus as John says, “they are not burdensome.”
We also have this promise from Jesus if we ever DO find our burden becoming a bit heavy; “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30.
I explained this in one of the previous lessons; His yoke is not heavy and especially when we surrender to it and do not fight against it. Thus, He is able to guide us where He wishes us to go and we do what is a common saying in the work world, “we work smarter and not harder.” When we do not struggle against the Lord’s yoke, the work is thus easy and the satisfaction derived of doing something at His leading is very, very refreshing to our souls!
Then John shares with us the source of ultimate victory; “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.” We all know that one of the saints most devious enemies is the world system that is operated behind the scenes by the “god of this world.” It is FULL of temptation meant to pull us away from not only God, our Father, but from everything that is eternal, and it’s goal is to occupy our minds AND our time with those things that are pleasing to the senses, sensual and temporary!
All you have to do is look around your community or watch the news or even “reality” shows on the television and you can see that people of the world are completely taken up with the things that consume time needlessly and the things that make them “feel” good. How many remember the slogan “If it feels good, do it!” It has become the rallying cry from the post-hippie generation that now for the most part defines most advertising. I remember when it started being shouted about! This IS the world’s slogan and motto! How cunning and deceptive has the enemy of our soul infiltrated everything that we are surrounded by.
But – the Apostle assures us that the man (or woman) born of God, renewed and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, born-again (John 3:7), is the only ones who can overcome the world and the influences OF the world! And what is the mechanism by which this victory can be accomplished? Our FAITH! Again, I have to remind you, it is our faith directed in the surrender to Christ Jesus and the obedience to the Father’s commandments. Our faith is a living, ever-growing gift from the Lord and just like an athlete who trains for a particular sport, ever stretching and using the muscles necessary to accomplish that sport, so it is with faith. Faith is like a “spiritual muscle” and the more we use it, the stronger it grows and there is one more extremely awesome benefit to “stretching” our faith, I say it all the time, we are able to PLEASE God, our Heavenly Father. As much as demonstrating our love through our obedience, walking in faith is a demonstration of trust in Him that is pleasing! (Hebrews 11:6).
I want to expound on this for just a moment. We walk in faith, it PLEASES the Father. What does spiritual pleasure produce? “But the fruit of the Spirit is . . ., joy, . . .” – Galatians 5:22. This Joy is a Fruit of the Spirit of God. We please Him, He is joyful. What is another benefit of this spiritual joy from the Father? “For the joy of the LORD is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10b.
Do you think I’m stretching this a bit? Again, who has the victory over the world? Those, born of the Father. What is the mechanism or tool of that victory? Faith, faith that pleases the Father which produces the Spiritual Fruit of Joy, which joy in us from the Father gives us strength! Now try and tell me the Bible is NOT inspired by the Holy Spirit! When you learn the Character and Nature of our Heavenly Father, you get to KNOW Him!
Now it may seem like circular reasoning, but the Beloved Apostle brings it all back in verse five. We know those born of God overcome the world by their faith in the very God that brought us back to spiritual life. So WHO are those who overcome the world? Those reborn spiritually because they believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and thus their faith in Him allows victory over the world.
John is bringing us back to something he has already established in our hearts; “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4. By this time in our study of John’s letter, there should be no doubt about the strength and assurance a child of God should have. The proofs of that have been laid out step-by-step by the Beloved Apostle over these five chapters.
You already have the victory if you are a child of God, born-again by the Holy Spirit walking in the faith of Christ Jesus. Are you sensing that victory in your life yet? Something to meditate on!