Reading through the Bible together
In 1 John 5 the apostle replays many of his favorite themes as he makes his final arguments against the disruptive “sinless” liars. The first half of the chapter raises the Trinity issue again as it relates to their denial that Jesus is the divine Christ. Such people do not have eternal life, because “this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life” (5:11, 12). One of the great temptations down through church history has been to make Jesus either fully human or fully divine rather than to accept Him for the absolutely unique Person who He is. It is the fact that He is both fully human and fully divine that makes it possible for Him to be the Savior of the world (see Heb. 1, 2).
A second theme raised in the first half of chapter 5 is further insight on the relationship between love and God’s commandments. Here we find one of John’s foremost contributions to Christian understanding and responsible living. It should form a part of our daily meditations as we continue to grapple with what it means to be a Christian, what it means to develop a Christ-like character.
The second half of the chapter highlights again the problem with which the book began: sin and its implications. But here the apostle highlights the difference between “sins unto death” and “sins not unto death” (5:16 KJV). “All wrongdoing is sin,” he asserts, “but there is a sin which is not mortal” (5:17). And what sins are those? The ones that are confessed (1:9). God hears our penitent prayers and answers them (5:14, 15). Such people do not live lives of lawlessness because they are born of God (5:18; cf. 3:6, 9 in the light of 3:4).
And what does 1 John mean for my life? That I be honest with both myself and God about myself and my faults; that I get it straight that Jesus is indeed the fully divine Christ; that I let God perfect His character of love within me as I relate to my fellow church members and the world around me. Such is the stuff of possessing what John calls “eternal life” (1:2; 2:25; 3:15; 5:11, 13, 20).
George R. Knight