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Scripture reading – 1 John 1; 1 John 2

Today’s Scripture reading is 1 John 2, but I am taking liberty to review 1 John 1 and give some background to this wonderful letter to believers of the latter years of the 1st century. Lord willing, we will consider 1 John 2 in the future.

Introduction

Scholars suppose The First Epistle of John was written near the close of the first century between A.D. 85-90. The apostle John was an elderly man, and in the last years of his remarkable life. While he failed to identify himself by name, the beauty and style of the writing is similar to the Gospel of John. John’s name also does not appear in his Gospel either; however, he references himself on several occasions as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20). The same pattern holds true in the  Epistles of 2 John and 3 John. In addition, the historical details presented in the introductory verses were written by a disciple who had intimate knowledge of our Lord.

An Eyewitness Account of the Person and Earthly Life of Christ (1:1-4)

Consider the following eyewitness account regarding the historical evidences of Christ’s incarnation: “That which was from the beginning [Eternal God], which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life” (1:1; John 1:1-3, 14)

Many reading John’s letter were the children and grandchildren of believers who had been contemporaries of the apostles. With assertive, apostolic authority, John was writing to second and third generation believers. Imagine being part of that generation, and receiving a letter from John giving his eyewitness account of Christ’s sufferings, crucifixion, death, and resurrection! (1:1-4)

The Existence and Nature of Sin (1:5-6)

By the time of this letter, persecution was an ever-present threat, and several apostles were martyred. Adding to the danger was the presence of false teachers in the congregations. The doctrine of Gnosticism (a blend of paganism, Greek philosophy, Judaism, and “Christianity”), had created doubt among some. Heretics were spreading that doctrine, boasting spiritual enlightenment, and proposing a progressive, amoral view of what some call today, “Christian liberty.”

Purveyors of Gnosticism suggested sin was no longer an issue, and taught believers were free of any concern for God’s Law and Commandments. Adding to their heresies was a rejection of Christ as the pre-incarnate Son of God made flesh, and His virgin birth, bodily crucifixion, and resurrection from the dead.

If you are reading today’s devotion and doubt your salvation, or wonder, “Is it possible for a man to know he is saved?” The answer is yes, and John stated four conditions that authenticate the sincerity of a man’s salvation and profession of Christ as Savior.

Four Conditions Test the Authenticity of One’s Salvation (1:7-9)

The first condition of authentic salvation is a sincere believer will not continue in sin. Of the Gnostics, John warned, “God is light [altogether righteous], and in him is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with him [Christ], and walk in darkness [continue in sin], we lie, and do not the truth” (1:5-6). In other words, a person is a liar, if he claims to be a believer and follower of Christ, and continues in sin.

Another test involves fellowship with other believers. We understand that sin inhibits our fellowship with other believers. John wrote, “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another” (1:7a). Fellowship with God and fellowship with others are dependent on our commitment to “walk in the light” of God’s truth.

A third test of one’s sincerity is an understanding that, sin deceives, and if tolerated, will snatch away the truth. Again, John wrote, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1:8).

Lastly, true believers accept only by confessing sins are we forgiven, cleansed, and “walk in the light” (1:9). So, we read, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9)

Closing thoughts (1:10) – Though under a different name, and perhaps more sophisticated than it was in the 1stcentury, Gnosticism has been revived. Today’s Gnostics are more subtle in their denials, but what they do not say with their lips, they demonstrate with their lies and lives. The Gnostics of the 21st century preach and follow a grace and liberty that denies the holiness of God. Regardless of what some profess, be forewarned: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1:10).

Warning – Unconfessed sin will blind you spiritually, and leave you in darkness.

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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