1 John 5:1-12

So far John has spoken a lot about love and obedience, but now he is going to combine the idea of faith and its necessity in our life. In chapter 5 we learn that the road to love is paved with faith in Christ. 
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Sermon Outline:

The essential elements of a transformed life:

1. New Faith (vv. 1a, 6-10)

  •  Have an insatiable desire to know Jesus. 
2. New Love (vv. 1b, 2-3)
  •  Learn the heart of God and act on it. 

3. New Life (vv. 4-5, 11-12)

  •  Look for Jesus’ life in yours so you may enjoy Him more.

Watch the message here:

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 Sermon Transcript:

We have the car seats all in our minivan and we are getting used to 4 kids. I don’t know if you’ve bought car seat lately, but if not let me tell you: this is no small undertaking. There are all sorts of rules, regulations, specs and procedures you must follow. Point: though we love our kid, love is not enough. The same is true with our relationship with God, love is not enough—we need laws/boundaries to help us love God and love others.

So far John has spoken a lot about love and obedience, but now he is going to combine the idea of faith and obedience and its necessity in our life of love. In chapter 5 we learn that the road to love is paved with faith in Christ.

This is the final chapter of this great little book. John is still passionate to ensure that we love one another, but he is keeping with the central message of assurance that can be found in Jesus Christ. As he rounds the corner to end, faith becomes the central theme.

In the first part of this book, we saw that God is light [truth] and that we must walk in the light to have life. In this last part of the book, John is laying out what it means for God to be “Life” to us. In the middle of the book, John has spoken a lot about love and obedience, but now he is going to combine the idea of faith and its necessity in our life.

John spells Christian love F-A-I-T-H. There are ten reference to believing in 1 John, seven of then are in the fifth chapter. “The road to love—such a great concern of John’s—is paved with faith in Christ.” (ESV Study Bible).

For us to have assurance of our faith, we look to signs of love for marks of a true believer, but John wants to be very clear that faith in Christ, not loving people, is the means by which we have union with God. Faith propels us to live out our love for others, and by doing so we are remaining (or abide) in Him.

Don’t compartmentalize the Christian faith. As we dive into the passage this morning you need to realize that, new birth, faith in Christ, and loving people are all related.

Today we are going to talk about the essential elements of a transformed life. Many organizations today have this as their motto: banks, universities and even churches. But the very business of God is turning your life into something new. 2 Corinthians 5:17, says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

God makes all things new—and praise God that is true. You and I don’t want to be left up to our own devises to be changed. We will fail to be all that God has for us to be if we live in our strength. The power of God through the Holy Spirit is what comes in (1) to forgive us of our past but (2) to make sure we don’t go there again. He is making all things new.

In the passage we are looking at today, John gives the essential elements that transform us from a life based on selfishness to a life lived out in love. Take your Bibles and open with me to 1 John 5. We are going to look at the first twelve verses of this passage. This is found on page 1023 or my notes are in the Bible app for you to follow along. 1 John 5:1:

[1] Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

The word that is important in the context. It is not merely everyone who believes but there is a clear point of WHAT he or she is to believe in.

Saving faith believes that Jesus Christ has been born of God. This is the beginning of true transformation. The way we are changed is when we embrace the truth that Christ is God. When we know this, the love of the father is in him or her and the individual will begin to loves what the father loves, namely others who have been born of God.

True regeneration comes when our lives have been changed, but this starts when we see Christ as He really is and trust that He is the son of God. The first essential elements of a transformed life begin with:

  • New Faith (vv. 1a, 6-10)

What is that new faith? It is believing that Jesus is from God, but he expounds on that in verses 6-10. Let’s read:

[6] 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. [7] For there are three that testify: [8] the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.

John has not minced words in this letter; as he begins to wrap up, he underscores the basis or authority he has for saying such forthright things in these pages. He says, not only is Jesus the new faith we’ve found, but he is the new confidence we have that the message of God is in us and has saved us.

He mentions three bases for credibility to his message about Jesus being our new foundation for faith:

  1. The water most likely speaks to the baptism of Christ and the symbolism that surrounded it to approve Christ as the true Son of God. More in a minute.
  2. The blood was the atoning work of Christ on the cross. 1 John 1:7 says that the “blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness.”
  3. The spirit is the one who testifies is speaking of the saving work of the Holy Spirit to make a way for faith in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the one who works in the heart to convict for sin and show a need for the savior. In the same way, once the believer has the Holy Spirit in them, they are instructed by Him and given assurance of their salvation in God.

Just to be clear where John is getting these three items that provide credibility, lets briefly look to the Gospels, were we saw the water and the spirit working together to affirm Jesus Christ (testify) at His baptism. We remember that as Jesus began his earthly ministry, he went to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptizer. In doing so, he allowed for his disciples and many others to see God testify that this was His son.

Mark 1:10–11 says, “[10] And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. [11] And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The same account was recorded by John himself in John 1:32–34 where says that John the baptizer knew this was God’s own because He saw God’s Spirit on Him.

John’s point is that our faith is founded in the very one who God has said “This is my son.” Not a made up religion or a dearly loved man, but the one true God-man, verified by God himself. This passage says that there are three that testify and we do not need to merely trust human words about the Gospel, but can trust God’s Word about the Gospel.

That is significant to the original readers, because the Old Testament taught that every charge must be confirmed by “two or three witnesses” (Deut. 17:6; 19:15), a principle continued in the New Testament (Matt. 18:16; 2 Cor. 13:1). John’s point: you can’t deny this testimony that Christ is the one in whom we should have true faith. He is verified, but it is also the testimony of God, not man. Look at how John continues in verse 9-10:  

[9] 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. [10] 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.

The testimony of God is greater as compared to anything that man has provided. We can here a person say, “This is true… believe it.” But when the highest authority of all claims that something is true, we must believe it. The testimony of God is about His Son.

The testimony is what he has borne concerning His son. But look at where that testimony resounds: The passage says that if we believe in the Son of God we have the testimony in himself. This means that the Holy Spirit confirms God’s Word and brings them into the life of the believer. Quite literally, we have internalized the message of God and it now bears witness within us.

But to say that Jesus is not the son is to make God out to be a liar because He has said it is true and even given the Holy Spirit to be a witness in the life of a believer. To deny the deity of Christ is to say that God is not God and therefore prove that the presence of the Holy Spirit is not in you.

So How do we avoid making God a liar in our life? No one wants to live a lie. So with this idea of being given a new faith in Jesus Christ in mind, what do we do?

We have an insatiable desire to know Jesus. We never stop growing in our knowledge Jesus is and what He does. Paul said to the Corinthians “I resolved to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified.” In the same way, we make ourselves students of who Christ is, what He has done, what he is doing, and what He is going to do.

Some of us have dedicated more time to studying things outside of Christ. This can be hobbies, instruments, cars, video games, fly fishing, and cooking more than Christ. Some of us have dedicated more time to studying business, finance, leadership or entrepreneurialism more than Christ. Some of us have dedicated ourselves to studying doctrine, tongues, Calvinism, headship, eschatology or other peripheral doctrines more than Christ. None of these things are bad things to study, but if we are growing in our knowledge of something more than Christ, it begs the question, are we cultivating an insatiable desire to know Jesus?

John doesn’t say that this desire comes without affection or passion. It is not our duty, but our delight, to know Jesus and walk with Him. Our new faith produces a new love in our life, look at verse 1 (again) but notice how it ends and propels us into verse 2 and 3:

[1] Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. [2] By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. [3] For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Three verses but 5 times the world “Love” is used. Keeping with the theme, not only of our series of study, but the book of 1 John, we see John saying that our faith produces:

  • New Love (vv. 1b, 2-3)

We must remember that love is the outward sign a person is saved, not the means for a person to be saved. But the love because they have faith in Jesus and are made new.

The Bible is not describing some sappy and sentimental love toward other people that is not fixed on faith in God first. He says that we love others by loving God; that cannot be missed. This is different than the world—they can love, but if they do not love God they are not truly loving, John says. A love that starts with faith will flow out into authentic love.

The way that we love God is when we obey His commandments. A true believer, loves other beleviers; notice what is sas, we “loves whoever has been born of Him.” As we’ve seen the point made before, we make Go’s love visible in the way we obey God. Our obedience to God shows in our love for other because all of God’s commands take our attention off of ourselves and putting them on God and others.

Get this: every command in God’s Ten Commandments deal with love—either love for God or love for others. Romans Makes that clear in chapter 13:9-10:

“[9] For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [10] Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Boom. Drop the mic. There it is. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” The same author who was inspired to write that, wrote in Galatians 5:14, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The law of God and the love of God are complementary; they goy hand-in-hand.

But this is not drudgery. Just as love is a powerful concept and something we all desire, so should we also desire to walk with God by obeying His commands. 1 john 5:3 says, God’s law is not burdensome. On the contrary, we want to please the Lord in the way that we live and it is our passion to do so. We don’t fulfill His law out of obligation, but we do so out of desire and discipline.

Keeping God’s commandments is not just about external obedience. It is about cherishing the things of God and finding them as a way of life. When he says that they are not burdensome, he is meaning that we find in our heart a desire to keep them and not an obligation to fulfill them. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30

“[28] Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. [29] Take my yoke upon you [that doesn’t sound like rest, but it is] and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [30] For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” [b/c we love him!]

This was not a new idea in the New testament or just with Jesus, listen to how  the psalmist speak about the commands of God:  

  • Psalm 40:8: “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”
  • Psalm 119:24: “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.”
  • Psalm 119:35: “Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.”
  • Psalm 119:92: “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.”

Loving God means admiring and valuing and treasuring and desiring him with such authenticity that his will is your delight and is not burdensome.

We could paraphrase v. 3 like this: “This is the love of God: that we love others, especially his children. A life of sacrificial Christ-like love is not burdensome; it’s what we deeply desire to do as an expression of our love for the Father.” (J. Piper)

Our take-away is that we should learn the heart of God and act on it. We find opportunities to live out the heart of God in our daily lives; intentionally parenting our kids; loving on a friend, working with the needy, giving generously. Our new faith and new love in Jesus provides our imperfect love to be made perfect ad we reach out to others. Jesus as the grounds of our salvation gives us the opportunity to build a life of love that makes his perfection and righteousness known in the world.

This love, this faith is what gives is victory to overcome the world. Now look at v. 4-5:

[4] For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. [5] Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Nothing is impossible for those who have been born of the God who overcomes the world. Verse 4 is the reason that his commands are not burdensome.

Faith conquers the world because it believes that Jesus is better than anything in the world.  When he is talking about the forces of the world, it is appropriate that we would think of what he mentioned in 2:15-17 where he mentioned the world before: (1) the desires of the flesh, (2) the desires of the eye (3) And the pride of life.  

The world will corrupt us with self-centeredness and covetousness, but we can overcome this and love others if we remain in Christ. Without Christ showing us His true worth, we treat him like nothing more than a cosmic sugar daddy. The solution to overcoming this is to have NEW FAITH, NEW LOVE and NEW LIFE. This comes from a greater understanding of who Jesus is in reality, not who we hope Him to be in our desires.

I like to think of the new life God gives us as moving Jesus to a place of superior desirability. Through regeneration, we are able to see that Jesus is better than the desires of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. He gives us, quite literally:

  • New Life (vv. 4-5, 11-12)

Look at the last two passages of today’s section:

[11] And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. [12] Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

The testimony that God has given is not a vague spiritual feeling that is temporary. Rather is the eternal life that He has given us in His Son.

Whoever has the son means those that have saving faith in Him and a true devotion to Him. Mark 8:34-38 says that those who “Lose their life will gain it.” When we have true devotion to God we will have life in return. If you do not have the Son you are subject to eternal punishment (John 3:36). The Bible is clear here, and elsewhere that Jesus is the one and only way to God, (cf. John 14:6; 1 John 2:23).

So let me be clear—it is only through faith in Jesus Christ that you are saved. Saving faith is not just faithfulness to love or obey.

Faith in Christ and loving people are inseparable, but they are not indistinguishable. They are similar enough that John can sum up the Christian life by combining them in 3:23: “This is his commandment [singular], that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” BUT the order of them in John’s writing is crucial. Faith is the only thing that will save you. Love is the outplay of that faith.

That is important to you because there will be a day when you do not love the way you should. If loving others is a means to saving faith, then on that day your heart will condemn you and say see, you are not saved. You are not God’s very own. Wrong.

Your faith is what saves you. So even when your love is inadequate, your faith in Christ is what gives you salvation and the therefore the hope that you can be forgive and get back on track with loving people correctly.

In the moment when your heart condemns you, go to 1 John 2:1 and read, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin [that is, fails to love others as you ought], we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

You will never be able to love perfectly, but Christ does. You will never be righteous enough, but Christ is. This perfect savior advocates for you—not ever against you, but for you. Christ is the RIGHETOUS one. He perfectly does what we fail to do. Our faith receives him fully and then He becomes our righteousness and perfect love. This is our hope in the new life—eternal life that starts the moment we believe and His life is divinely joined with ours.

We have no salvation by loving others, but only by trusting God. But that trust in God is the very key to loving others. If we lose faith, we lose all power and victory and will fail to love authentically.

So my final application from today’s passage is look for Jesus’ life in yours so you may enjoy Him more. Look for the areas where Christ’s presence is undeniable: Do you believe that Christ really is enough for you? That new faith! Do you sense his forgiveness in your life? That’s his love! Do you have a passion to live your life out by investing in others? That’s new life! Foster that superior desirability that is fulfilled in His sufficiency.

I have heard it said, “Joy is the flag that flies over the castle of our hearts announcing that the king is in residence today.” May you enjoy Him continually; your life of joyful love be a display to the world that our king is at residence in your life.

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