1 John (1 Jn)

Book 23 of the NT having five chapters. Written by the apostle John, about AD 90, to various churches to reassure them in their faith. Time to read: 15 mins.

Key people: John, Jesus.

Outline. It is a letter reinforcing good relationships; first towards God, commenced and maintained through confessing our sin and then, in the case of others, by love outworked in action (1 Jn 3:16-18). John warns about ‘new’ teachings that do not come from God. Wrong doctrines are from the anti-Christ who is opposed to people believing and walking in freedom and truth by trying to bring them into deception. The Holy Spirit who is in you is greater than any evil being or power that would come against us (1 Jn 4:4).

Main lesson. We are not to love the world’s system but our love is to be fervently directed towards God and our fellow man. “This is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us...This is love for God: to obey His commands” (1 Jn 3:23, 5:3).

Key verses and thoughts: * We proclaim to you the eternal life [Jesus] who we have seen, heard and touched, so that by having fellowship with us, you will also have it with the Father and the Son (1 Jn 1:1-10). Christianity is not about a set of rules, but rather a relationship with it’s originator, resulting in the outworking of His teachings by putting the truth into practice. Sin is the barrier to relationship with God, however, “If we confess our sin [initially at salvation but also in an ongoing basis as we sin]...He will forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. Unconfessed sin can’t be forgiven, and prevents us walking in the light of His presence. Being cleansed translates into a right love relationship with God, our own family members, the body of Christ and humanity in general.  How are my interpersonal relationships?  The degree of our fellowship with others reflects the degree of relationship to Jesus – the two are directly linked (1 Jn 1:5-7, 2:9-11, 4:21). Do I really know Jesus and am I walking in love and truth?  

* “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did” (1 Jn 2:4-6). There must be visible evidence in the outer life of the inner change we profess. Words are cheap and mental agreement is meaningless without corresponding actions. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day claimed to know God but it was only a hollow show to impress people as it lacked real substance. Do my choices and lifestyle confirm that I am a child of God? Unlike Jesus who never sinned, we were born in sin and regularly sin, however if we are we dealing with it – confessing and asking for forgiveness, in true repentance we will be changing for the better. As we grow in the Lord’s strength and resolve in our hearts, through the making of right choices, we will not sin so often, echoing these words “No one who lives in Him continues to sin” (1 Jn 3:6, 5:18).

* “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 Jn 3:8).  Until Jesus paid the price for our sin, humanity was helpless against the enemy of our souls – and we still are unless we give our allegiance to Christ who enables us to walk in victory, with the Word of God living in us, not loving the world or giving in to the various temptations of the flesh, purifying ourselves besides sacrificially loving others (1 Jn 2:14-16, 3:3, 4:11). Does this describe my experience? What areas do I need to address? Starting today, begin to work with the all-powerful risen Saviour on demolishing a stronghold Satan has established in your mind and life. Satan has been defeated by Christ but must hear it from us as we resist him and walk close to Jesus in obedience!

See also: anti-Christ, confession, false teaching, 2 John, 3 John, obedience, repentance, sin/sinner.