13 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. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 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.
16 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. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.
18 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.
19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
John concludes his letter by explaining the reasons behind it. He is a man concerned with the body of Christ. He desires that we be made aware of the hardships and false doctrines that we will face as Christians, so that we might be ready to stand in the face of adversity. The apostle wants us to move forward in our walk with Christ, and to always remember that we are loved by the Father, because of the sacrifice that Christ has made on our behalf.
In verses 13-15 John says that as children of God we are to pray to Him, asking for anything according to His will. John is specific in what he means by ‘anything’. It must be in God’s will if we should expect God to hear us, and give us what we ask. This is not a licence to ask for a new car, or for some personal gain. The apostle says ask ‘in His will’ – for what God wants and wills to happen. What glory to God will a new car bring? What glory to God will your own personal gain bring? If it isn’t about God, it is not His will. God’s will is that we share the Gospel, and make disciples of all nations. He desires that none should perish, so He uses us to go out and spread the good news about what Christ has done. It is impossible for a person to be saved apart from the knowledge of Christ. This is why it says in Romans 10:15 ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news‘.
So when we ask in prayer for those things God desires, we will receive them. John continues on this thought in verse 16 that we should pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ when they stumble. If we pray for a Christian who has gotten into something he knows is wrong, we should come along side of that person and pray with them and for them to be freed from that sin. In doing this the Father hears our prayers and answers them, bringing that person back to God, or working on their sanctification.
However, there is an unpardonable sin that the Apostle mentions at the end of verse 16. He says that we ought not to pray about it, because what is done is done. Jesus talks about it also in Mark 3:28-29 “Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” This refusal to accept the message of the Gospel is cause for judgement. The rest of man’s sin is pardonable, and we are exhorted to pray for one another’s sins to be forgiven and brought to light.
Verse 18 is a reminder of what John covered in the beginning of this chapter (1 John 5:1-5). He reflects that because we have been born of God, we are no longer slaves to sin, and thus we can begin to be free of those sins as we learn from the Spirit and grow to be more like Christ – this is called sanctification. Not only are we growing inwardly because of the Spirit, but we are protected outwardly by Christ from Satan. In verse 19 the apostle tells us again that we are free from the evil one because we have been freed from sin, and now belong to God. We are separate from the world, set apart to our Creator.
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:10-12
In verse 20, we are reminded that we are assured of who we are because of our understanding of Christ (1 John 4:1-6). And finally, in verse 21 John sums up his entire letter with the words, “keep yourselves from idols“. Why is this the last sentence? All throughout John’s letter to the church he talks about what Christ has done, who we are because of Him, and how to maintain our identity in Him. The conclusion of this knowledge brings us to make a decision. If we know who we are and what He has done, if we know how much He loves us, how could we possibly set something else up as more important than Christ? So just in case we are still pondering what all of this means, John lays it out. Keep yourselves from idols.
There is an easy test to see what idol you have placed before God. Ask yourself these questions:
- What occupies most of my time?
- Is it something I have to do, or something I want to do?
- What do I think about most often?
- What do I wish I were doing right now?
There is none who will attain righteousness before our final glorification in death when we join Christ. The point is not to create a sense of perpetual wrong-doing inside of you, but to make you aware of what you place before God. Only He has the power to help you set those things aside so they don’t come between you and He. Pray to Him, and meditate on His words.
Lord’s Day 12
Why is he called Christ,
that is, Anointed?
Because he has been ordained by God the Father,
and anointed with the Holy Spirit, 1
our chief Prophet and Teacher, 2
who has fully revealed to us
the secret counsel and will of God
concerning our redemption; 3
our only High Priest, 4
who by the one sacrifice of his body
has redeemed us, 5
and who continually intercedes for us
before the Father; 6
and our eternal King, 7
who governs us by his Word and Spirit,
and who defends and preserves us
in the redemption obtained for us. 8
Why are you called a Christian?
Because I am a member of Christ by faith 1
and thus share in his anointing, 2
so that I may
as prophet confess his name, 3
as priest present myself
a living sacrifice of thankfulness to him, 4
and as king fight with a free and good conscience
against sin and the devil in this life, 5
and hereafter reign with him eternally
over all creatures. 6