SBC Banner


Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

November 6, 2013

1 John 5:16-21

  1. Verse 16-17. Continuing our lesson from last week, the apostle John admonished the believers to take advantage of the privilege we have to God in prayer. These last few verses are most likely some closing things that John has on his mind to remind the church. In this week’s lesson the apostle reminds us to pray for other believers, especially believers we see falling in sin. John does not say, “If anyone sees his brother sinning, go tell the pastor so he can deal with it.” Nor does he say, “If anyone sees his brother sinning, call up all of your friends and tell them about it so that they can pray.” That is a thin spiritual cover for gossip. Rather, he says that if you see a brother in sin, pray for God to give life to him. While we all are responsible for our own sins, only God can truly deliver us from sin, because only God can impart life. So we’re dependent on God to deliver, but at the same time the sinning brother is responsible to turn from his sin and take the necessary steps not to fall into it again. Also, before we speak to a brother about his sin, we need to speak to God about the brother. Prayer is essential in the restoration process! The apostle John speaks about a sin that leads to death. Many have tried to figure out what this means, but we really don’t know. The early believers probably understood exactly what was meant. But we can only speculate. The point is that we are to pray for those we see fall into sin. From this admonishment, we can infer that the apostle knew that many were falling to sin, and makes this a priority in the prayer life of those who were in the believing community. Not to discount those who had fallen to sin, but to pray for their restoration. We pray that God would give them restoration (life).

  2. Verse 18-19. John does not want us to mistakenly think that it’s normal for true children of God to live in sin. So he restates the same point that he made in 3:4-10, “that no one who is born of God sins.” Sin is in the present tense, which allows for the sense of “continually sin.” Since John has clearly said that believers do sin (1:8, 10; 2:1; 5:16), he must mean here that no genuine child of God lives in a state of sin. John is saying that the new birth has an obvious result, namely, a righteous life. While true believers do fall into sin, they cannot live in it indefinitely. The changed nature results in changed behavior. If a pig falls into a mud hole, he wallows in it and doesn’t try to get out, because that is its nature. But if a sheep falls in a mud hole, it wants to get out, get cleaned up, and avoid that hole in the future, because it has a different nature. So it is with a true child of God. John gives as the reason that no one born of God sins that “He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch/harm him. John seems to be focusing on Christ as the one who keeps us from Satan’s clutches. Although the reference to Jesus as “He who was born of God” is unique, John probably wanted us to identify with our sympathetic Savior, who shares our humanity and yet who kept Himself from all sin (Heb. 2:17; 4:15). When John says that “the evil one does not touch/harm him,” he does not mean that we are completely isolated from Satan’s assaults. The enemy can tempt us and sift us like wheat (Luke 22:31) with God’s permission. But he cannot lay hold of us to make us captives of sin for the rest of our lives.

  3. Verse 20. John states three axioms, three things that true believers know with certainty: (1) No one who is born of God lives in sin. (2) We are of God, in contrast to the world that lies in Satan’s power. And finally (3) The Son of God has come and has given us understanding to know the true God. John uses a different word for know, which means, to know experientially. There is a great difference between knowing about someone and actually knowing the person himself. Through the understanding that Christ gives, we come personally to “know Him who is true.” The word “true” means “genuine” or “authentic.” He is the only genuine God; all others are fakes or impostors. We know Him because he lives in us and has revealed himself to us. We cannot know God without knowing the Son. God revealed the Son so that we could know him. If we know the Son we know God. The only way for us to fully know God was through the Son.

  4. Verse 21. John throws a quick reminder of something that can interfere with God being priority in your life, and that is idolatry. In verse 20 John has just mentioned the true God. This undoubtedly brought to his mind the false god of the heretics. They denied the God of the Bible. They said that “the Christ” came upon the man Jesus at His baptism and left just prior to His crucifixion. But they did not believe that He is eternal God in human flesh. In light of their false god, it is natural for John to warn his little children to guard themselves from idols. Idolaters make up their own gods to suit their desires and preferences. In the most basic sense, an idol is anything that takes the rightful place of God in your life. Paul equated covetousness or greed with idolatry (Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5). Your career, your pursuit of money, your possessions, excessive devotion to leisure and recreation, or even putting a human relationship ahead of your relationship with God, may all become idols. At the root of all of these is the idol of self. The idolater has not yielded the throne of his life to the true God. Rather, he wants his will and his way.

click here to select another lesson