John ends the last chapter in his first letter to show us how “God is LIFE.” He says that we can know that God is life when three things are operating in our lives.
The FIRST thing that proves that God’s Life is working in us is: Our Undying FAITH. “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4 – ESV)
Faith in God is defined for us in the book of Hebrews. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. For by it the [people] of old gained [God’s] approval…” (Hebrews 11:1). For the “heroes of faith” mentioned in Hebrews 11 faith was HOPE, ACTION, and RISK. In HOPE they looked for something better than they already had. They weren’t satisfied with the status quo. They wanted more of God. For them faith in God was an ACT of faith. They were willing to step out and trust God for their future. And faith in God to them was the willingness to take a RISK with life.
So, the first thing that proves that God’s Life is working in us is Our Undying FAITH in Him. Let your faith in Jesus Christ – and His ability to work miracles in your life and the lives of others around you be the first evidence that “God is Life” in you!
The SECOND thing that proves that God’s Life is working in us is: An Undeniable WITNESS. “Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:5-12 – ESV).
Life comes from putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. And that life rests on three undeniable witnesses: the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ baptism, and his sacrificial death on the cross. This is passage is a reference to Jesus’ baptism and His death – two events that are critical to understanding who Jesus really is.
Remember the Gnostics? They wanted to reduce Jesus to a mere man. They said that He was only indwelt by a “Christ Spirit” from His baptism until He was crucified. But at his death He stopped being indwelt by this “Christ Spirit” – and that He never rose from the dead. Lots of people still believe and teach this today. But John says, “No! Jesus’ baptism and His death (water/blood) are a witness to His deity.” They prove He was God in human flesh. And the third witness is an inward one – the Holy Spirit. He verifies in our hearts that this is all true – and not just some made up bedtime story.
These three things – Jesus’ baptism, His death on the cross, and the Holy Spirit – serve as an undeniable witness to the RESURRECTION LIFE of God at work in each of us as we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. Jesus identified Himself with our sin at His baptism…Then He died for our sins on the cross…And all genuine followers of Jesus experience in their hearts the reality and the meaning of those two events – by the witness of the Holy Spirit. It’s that simple – and it’s that profound!
The THIRD thing that proves that God’s Life is at work in us is: Unconquerable CONFIDENCE. “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. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 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. 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. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. 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. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 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” (1 John 5:13-20 – ESV).
This confidence gives us assurance of four things: (1) Eternal Life: “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” (vs. 13). The assurance of eternal life is one of the greatest incentives for believing in Jesus Christ that there is. (2) This confidence also assures us of is Answered Prayer. “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 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” (vs. 14-15).
Ruby Hamilton, a businesswoman in her fifties, was stunned at the loss of her husband of 32 years in a car accident. Her anger and disappointment went deeper than a more typical expression of grief though. She had become a follower of Christ in her late twenties, but her husband didn’t share her newfound interest in spiritual things. She prayed for him unceasingly that he would come to know the Lord. And one day when she was praying, she felt a wave of peace wash over her, and that still small voice assuring her that her husband would be okay. She eagerly waited for the day when her husband would surrender his life to Jesus. And now this.
What do you do when faith doesn’t make sense? When God doesn’t seem to be answering or opening doors? Ruby Hamilton had no answers, so she stopped living for God.
Roger Simmons was hitchhiking his way home. He would never forget the date – May 7th. His heavy suitcase was making him tired and he was anxious to take off that army uniform once and for all. Flashing his thumb to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek new Cadillac. But to his surprise the car stopped.
The passenger door swung open. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. “Going home for keeps?”
“Well, you’re in luck if you’re going to Chicago.”
“Not quite that far – do you live in Chicago?”
“I have a business there,” the driver said. “My name is Hamilton.”
They chatted for a while, and then Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to share his faith with this fiftyish, apparently successful business man. But he kept putting it off, till he realized that he was now just 30 minutes from his home. It was now or never.
“Mr. Hamilton, I would like to talk to you about something very important.” Then he simply told Mr. Hamilton about the plan of salvation and ultimately asked him if he would like to receive Jesus as his savior and Lord.
The Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger expected that he was about to get thrown out of the car. Instead, the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger. He said: “This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.”
Five years went by. Roger married, had a couple of kids and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a trip to Chicago he found a small white business card that had been given to him by Hamilton five years previous. In Chicago, he looked up Hamilton Enterprises. The receptionist told him that it was impossible to see Mr. Hamilton, but he could see Mrs. Hamilton. A little confused, he was ushered into a beautiful office where he found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties.
She extended her hand. “You knew my husband?”
Roger told her about how Hamilton had picked him up while he was hitchhiking home after the war. “Can you tell me what day that was?”
“Sure it was May 7th, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army.”
“Anything special about that day,” she asked.
He hesitated, not knowing if he should mention how he shared the message of Jesus with her husband. “Mrs. Hamilton, I explained the gospel to your husband that day. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day.”
Explosive sobs shook her body. Finally getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, “I had prayed for my husband’s salvation for years. I believed God would save him.”
“Where is your husband, Ruby?”
“He’s dead. He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see, I thought God had not kept his promise. I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought God had not kept his word!”
God’s Word says: “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 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” (vs. 14-15).
At this point in the passage, John seems to take a detour. He says: “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. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death” (vs. 16-17). At first glance this may seem like a non-sequitor. But it does have something to do with intercessory prayer – which John just mentioned. And it’s a clear reference to prayer for a “brother” or a fellow believer.
Death here refers to physical death – not spiritual death – because a child of God has eternal life. But I believe that what John is saying here is that a believer in Christ can commit a sin for which God will send them home to heaven prematurely. In other words, God may choose to remove them from this life physically because they’re disgracing his name. It’s possible to commit a sin that God determines will lead to physical death. And it’s always a sin of presumption – not ignorance – usually habitual in nature.
And if you’re wondering what that’s got to do with the fact that God is Life – if we look at the remaining verses in the chapter – we’ll get an answer. There are two more “God is Life” assurances that our confidence in God gives us.
(3) Through this confidence we are assured that the Holy Spirit gives us Physical & Spiritual Protection. “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. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (vs. 18-19). If you’re struggling with a particular sin in your life that’s threatening to overcome you – and your sense of peace in God is waning… John says if you’ll take it to God in sincere and desperate prayer, that He will not let it have ultimate victory over you. You will eventually overcome that sin – IF you keep bringing it back to the Father in sincere repentance. According to these verses, that sin will not have ultimate victory over you! (4) The last assurance we have through this confidence that the Holy Spirit gives is Spiritual Understanding. “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” (vs. 20). If we’re experiencing “God is Life,” then we’re assured that we are “in Christ.” Being “in Christ” doesn’t mean that our world always stops falling apart. The storms of life may still topple some things – the storm will take its course. But our welfare depends on whether we’re in Christ – the rescue device God provides. That is our confidence!
John ends this book with a simple – but important – warning. He says: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21 – ESV). An idol is anything that stands between you and God. It may promise to give you what you want – but it always does so at cross-purposes to what God wants for you. “Idols are small and they’re for small souls…No matter the level of their quality, they usually read on the bottom, MADE IN PHILISTIA BY PHILISTINES. They’re powerless and little…most of their lives people worship little things and finally lose sight of the greatness of God altogether.” (Calvin Miller)