Reading for Wednesday, May 30: 1 John 5
After establishing the Christian ethic of love born from the character of God, John closes out his epistle on a high note with language of victory and life.
V4-5, “…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” If he hasn’t made it clear already, John emphasizes faith in Jesus as the only path to victory. The successful life is not contingent upon material wealth or power or any of the usual suspects. Instead, we turn to the crucified Christ, His life ebbing from Him freely as an act of love. By faith, we see the possibilities rendered to us through resurrection. We CAN live as redeemed persons, made whole by our faith in His death and resurrected life. This is victory, powerful enough to overcome the brokenness of our fractured world.
This testimony comes by revelation from God Himself. “We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son,” (v9). Belief brings the Son to us, giving us life, even life eternal (vv11&12). Thus, John writes this epistle for the same reason he wrote his Gospel: that we might believe (v13). The sign of the victorious life is the confidence we have as we approach the throne of God (v14).
We often say that there is no difference in our sins, that they are all the same in the eyes of God. I understand what we mean by that. We mean that all sin separates us from God and we are incapable of rectifying our sinful state on our own, thereby we stand in need of the Gospel. And yet, John seems to distinguish between sins that lead to death and sins that do not. Again, John’s general language is important to keep in mind. The victorious life is characterized by a renunciation of our former practices and an embrace of the new life, liberated by God’s grace.
John closes with a final reminder: Keep yourselves from idols. We would do well to be on guard against those idolatrous forces that will always vie for our allegiance against the claim Christ has made on our hearts.