Reading the Word
1 John 5:13–21 (ESV)
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.
Understanding the Word
John summarizes his reason for writing this letter in 1 John 5:13 when he says “I write these things to you who believe…that you may know that you have eternal life.” The purpose is assurance. It is being able to know for certain one’s relationship with God.
In these verses, John uses the word “know” seven times. Throughout the letter he uses it forty times. It is the theme of the letter.
Applying the Word
Most people believe that they will one day stand before God and give an account for their lives. They hope that they have done enough good things to outweigh the bad so that God will grant them an afterlife of eternal bliss rather than one of punishment.
The Bible tells us that we can know even now if we have eternal life with God. 1 John gives us tests that can help us know where we stand. A summary of the tests are as follows:
- Do you believe the right things about Jesus and do you trust in him? He was the Son of God born in the flesh and died as a sacrifice for our sins.
- Are you obedient to the word of God? This is not a way to gain favor with God, but a response to his grace.
- Do you love fellow believers? The one who has been given new life from the God of love should be loving also.
We do not have to wait until we die to know if our relationship with God is as it should be. The Bible helps us to know even now. Take the time to read through 1 John again so that you may know where you stand.
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