What We Know: Three Certainties
1 John 5:18-21 Additional texts: Eph. 2:1-10; Col. 3:1-17.
As John closes his letter he gives his readers three very bold certainties concerning Christians and their future. These certainties are at the heart of our weaknesses as we work out our salvation. Christians should take note and self evaluate these certainties and the results they will make in our life and as we walk in the Light. We should also take note of the order in which these certainties occur because one will relate to and affect the next one. Overall, John works to inspire us to “Know” with eternal confidence that we are “dear children” of God and sin is not a part of that Life. Our only way to “Know” is to fully embrace the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, because he is from the one and only true God.
Our focus in this last lesson will be two-fold: 1) recognize the three certainties, which John asserts and 2) summarize this letter from John to gain an overall sense of this inspired message.
1. Note the three certainties that are marked by the phrase, “we know?” In light of these three certainties, what should be the affects on Christians and how should we then live?
Remember a major theme in John's letter is the fact that he is writing to his children so that we may know the truth. In order to make this question more meaningful and to review this short book, I would suggest reviewing the entire letter, noting the number of times John uses the word “know” or a phrase that includes “know.” You will be amazed! This question could a major part of your last class with 1 John.
“Know” -Some examples from 1 John:
2:3 We know that we have come to know him……if we obey
2:5 ..we know we are in him….. if we obey his commands.
2:20 ..we all know the truth… through the Holy Spirit
2:29..you know that everyone who does what is righteous has been born of him.
3: 2-3 ..we know that when he appears, we will be like him..
3: 5....you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins.
3;10 …This how we know who the children of God are….
3:14 …We know that we have passed from death to life.. because we love our brothers...
3;16 …This is how we know what love is…
3:19 …this then is how we know that we belong to the truth…
3:24 this is how we know that he lives in us…we know it by the Spirit he gave us.
4:13 We know that we live in him and he in us because he has given us of his Spirit.
5:2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.
5:13 ..so that you may know that you have eternal life.
The reason John wrote to us!
In these last few verses beginning with 1 John 5:18, we know: 1) that if we are born of God, we will not continue in sin, 2) that we are children of God and the world is under the control of satan, 3) that Jesus Christ has come and will give us understanding. Jesus is true and we know him.
In light of these certainties and the others mentioned in John's letter, we should feel proud of our Father and what is has done to reclaim us as His children. The price He paid for our sins and our eternal souls was His son! We should be humbled and contrite at the same time because we have done nothing to deserve this offered salvation! Our response should be obedience and reciprocal Love. Love toward God our Father and to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Another important point is the number of times John tells us we can know something about our faith and salvation. Most people think faith is a blind leap into the unknown. Yet, in almost every phrase that contains the word “know,” John supports his statements with evidence. John gives us solid reasons to believe and support of our faith.
2. Why does John say the world is under the control of Satan? Does this imply that God is not in control? What does God control? See Eph. 2:1-10
From 1 John 2:15-17, we see that loving the world and the things in the world is the opposite of loving God and being of God. Spiritual life is light while the world is walking in darkness. This physical world is the region where Satan prowls around looking for people to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Thus sin is enslaving people to works of death and separations from God. The Greek word used to describe that Satan is in control literally means to “to lie in”, which indicates a condition of passiveness and helplessness or accepting defeat without a struggle. One must make a strong, positive choice to break those chains of sin by embracing faith and allowing Jesus to bring Light to a dark land. Sin makes us weak thus under Satan's control.
In Eph. 2:1-10, we see that there is a big difference in a Life in Jesus and death by sin. How can we get out of this sinful death?
3. In verse 20, John says we have been given “understanding.” Contrast this type and source of understanding we have as Christians verses Gnostism? Refer to the Introduction for the meaning and definition of Gnostism.
We have the truth; Jesus is the Christ! There is nothing difficult, nothing complicated, nothing secret about this truth. This truth will set us free according to John in his gospel. Gnostics nor any other group that claim to have a secret or special knowledge the adds to the message are liars and related to Satan. John reminds us that we have had the gospel message from the beginning. We do not need to speak in tongues nor do we need special gifts to understand God's message. Jesus is Lord!
4. In verse 21, John gives one last exhortation to avoid idols. What does John mean by this statement? Also use Col. 3:1-17.
An idol is anything that separates us or detracts us from obeying God and loving our brother. John completes his letter up in a short phrase, avoid idols. How simple! We should avoid the sins and trapping of the world that keep us from God.
Questions # 5 and #6 will be major review questions as well as good questions for class participation. General answers for both have been provided.
5. If you had to briefly summarize this short letter from John, what would be the majors points you would use?
Have your class answer this question. Use their answers as a base to define the major points. The answer provided for question #1 may help you review and answer this question.
6. If you could give this letter a title, what would it be?
You may note the title I gave to this series of study: “That we may know.” Your class may have other possible titles. The major points outlined for question #5 may also help answer this question. Get your class to discuss this question, which would be another way to summarize 1 John.
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