Water and blood

“This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.”

The fact that Jesus is the Son of Man as well as the Son of God is central to the doctrine about who Jesus is. He took upon Himself a human body, became man, so that He would qualify to be our Saviour. He came by water when He was born in Bethlehem’s stable and was born into this world as a baby. The eternal Son of God humbled Himself and became like one of His creatures, so that we could be saved from certain destruction and have eternal forgiveness and life with Him. He also identified with us in baptism, asking John the Baptist to baptise Him in the Jordan river. Jesus identified Himself with sinners, as He is the Saviour of sinners and took upon Himself our sin and was punished for it instead of us. The Scripture says that Jesus became sin for us and therefore bore away all our transgressions on His body on the tree.

Jesus was born of blood through the power of the Holy Spirit and was baptised into death for our sake. His body was enveloped in His blood when it was shed to pay for the sin of so many. His blood was His only covering as He was subjected to such shame. As the red blood coved His shame, so it also covers ours and gives us the opportunity to possess that robe of righteousness that we need to cover our sinful nakedness.

We know the truth about Jesus because of the Word of truth, which is the Word of God and the inner witness of the Spirit of God who dwells within us. It is not just emotion or intellectual impressions of what we think is true, but the Spirit witnesses with the Word of God that the words are right and true. The Spirit of God never goes against the Word of the Lord. Anything that is outside the Scripture is not to be trusted, for there is no way we can corroborate that is being put forward. We stand completely on the Holy Word and what it teaches us about our Saviour Jesus.

We live in dangerous days, beloved, for error and deception abound. We must not give our hearts to anyone except the Lord, as He is revealed in the Word of God. We have no other foundation and we must guard our minds and hearts fully against all evil, error and delusion.

“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another builds on it. But let each man be careful how he builds on it. For no one can lay any other foundation than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 3:10-11

We build our faith on the Word of God alone – on the Old Testament law and prophets and the New Testament Apostles. There is no other foundation than Christ and what has been revealed to us. Let us guard our minds and not give ourselves to emotion and impressions which have no concrete evidence that they are from God.

Who is he who overcomes the world?

“Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

This is a rhetorical question that John has touched on before. If we say we love God then we have accepted who Jesus the Christ is. John has dealt with this in Chapter four verse two.

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,”

1 John 4:2

John is showing us that all these doctrines and teachings, all add up and make a cogent whole belief and system of truth. We overcome the world through our faith and faithfulness to the Lord and His truth. If we neglect the truth about Jesus and do not rehearse it in our thoughts and prayers, we can find ourselves drifting away and following the wrong Christ. We can easily make a Jesus of our own invention and adapt ourselves to false doctrine, which abounds in our day, and we move away from the truth of God to fables.

The only way to overcome this corrupt world is through Jesus Christ. We must know Him personally and learn the truth about Him in the Word of God. We need to ensure we are believing in the right Jesus, the one revealed to us in God’s Word and not a pale and insipid modern reflection of some sort of peace guru!

Jesus is the Christ of God and holds the keys of death and hell for every human soul. He is the Eternal Son of the Father and has been given all things into His dominion. He will be the judge of every soul and is the Lord over everything that happens and decides the fate of every life. He has humbled Himself and become obedient to death for our sake, that we might never have to pay the just penalty for our sin and therefore He alone is the Saviour of the world. We come to Him in repentance and faith and He gives us forgiveness and eternal life. It is only through this renewed and reborn life to God that we can overcome. No amount of will power or strength of character will do it, but only through the power of Christ that we can fight the sullying effects of this world. He makes us able to do it and He makes us willing to want it. Those who are not willing and therefore fail to turn and repent are not of Christ…

“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his.”

Romans 8:9

It does not matter how vehemently you espouse the name of Jesus if you are not believing in the right person revealed. There are plenty who name Christ but have no idea about His person and who exactly He is. They have a false picture of Him and therefore deny the power of God, because they don’t actually believe in the revealed Son of God at all.

“… holding a form of godliness, but having denied its power.”

2 Timothy 3:5

The issues of this life eventually sweep them away and they become just like everyone else in the world – full of the concerns of this life and no real saving faith. Therefore what we believe about Jesus in the revealed Word of God is of prime importance if we are to enter into salvation and persevere against the onslaught of this wicked world.

This is the victory

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world: your faith.”

In this verse we have another indicator of our love for God – our personal faith in Him. If we truly love God and have a living and real faith, we will be able to overcome the corruption which is in our world. We will be able to resist its temptations and delights, that feed our flesh and take our hearts away from the Lord. The hearts of the people of this world are at enmity with God, so the fruits of it will necessarily take us away from Christ and keep our interest in earthly things rather than the spiritual realities of a life walking with God. Those who have been made alive to God are dead to this world, and have no interest in it. It’s gaudy pleasures and fallen mindsets are far way from the reality of Christ.

“But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

Galatians 6:13

We can be victorious over it, by the mercy of the Lord. He gives the motivation and strength to overcome in the greatest temptations and leads our feet on straight paths. He teaches us also to walk these paths and keep ourselves in the love of God.

“… and make straight paths for your feet…”

Hebrews 12:13

It is the life of determined faith that will stand the test of time and reach the victorious courts of heaven. We cannot afford to play about with this world, for it easily leads us down wrong pathways and many spiritual dead ends. As we stay close to our Saviour in His Word and in prayer, so we will gain the victory through His power. We cannot have it all ways. We must endeavour and persist in godliness with singleness of purpose, to be over-comers. God will lead and uphold us, but we must follow. We have no personal power, so the closer we stay to the Lord, the greater our victories will be.

Not grievous

“For this is loving God, that we keep his commandments. His commandments are not grievous.”

Faith makes the impossible possible, but love makes all tasks easy. It is easy for the Christian to obey the commandment because we love the God who gave them…

And yet, we find it so difficult. Our resident flesh still has a strong pull for the Christian against the work of the Spirit dwelling in our life. We still fight against selfishness and rampant pride. We are so used to it we don’t even notice and don’t see the depths of our depravity. We are sinful, even as Christian people and God has still to teach us so many things about ourselves, that we might know Him better as we seek His forgiveness. We can think we are keeping the commandments, but not really understanding the depth and breadth of their scope. We tend to see the superficial and don’t digger deeper into the application of them in our own personal lives. We think we don’t murder, yet we resent other people and rehearse grievances against them, rather than pray for those who hurt us and use us. We need to examine the moral law and find that we are actually law breakers and need to repent daily.

The Christian life is very straightforward – we see our sin, are convicted of it, so we repent and turn away, becoming more godly in all our thought processes and behaviours. But the difficulties come in the ability to face up and turn from evil, because our human propensity is towards that way of living. We find it easy to just fall into lazy and sinful mindsets and motivations, and forget the Lord. We must fight the fight and put self, which is our fleshly propensities, to death. The Holy Spirit will lead, teach and convict us so that He helps us in our fight against temptation, sin and the enemy, Satan.

For the Christian, the motivation to keep the commandments comes from our love of the Lord and not some stoic idea of sticking with things and tightening our resolve to be good. We love our Father in heaven and want to please Him and that gives impetus against the forces of temptation. His laws teach us and are for the protection of our life, so they are not grievous to us, but we embrace their holiness and justice.

Beloved, may we find our loving God to be sufficient today as we face life in all its faces, and may God help us to obey and please Him as He ministers to us through His Spirit.

Submit to God

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

James 4:10

The answer to our deepest problems as individuals and as a society are not about self-worth, self-confidence or self-fulfilment. The answer is found in submission to our Lord and God, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. This is not a popular concept in our foolish days and we have already rejected it, even as we read this text. We think life is all about keeping ourselves in the centre of things and keeping up in social media land, but God tells us something quite different; He ought to know because He has made us for Himself and knows what is best for us. Even that idea can make us cringe with its antiquated thought.

God tells us what to do in this passage of Scripture. We are to wash, purify, grieve, mourn and wail and then worst of all we are to humble ourselves before Him and take our place as hopeless people full of sin and iniquity.

It is appropriate that we practice these skills, for we are full of pride and our own conceits and need the forgiveness of the Lord as a matter of urgency. We cannot know Him any other way. We must climb down of our high horses and thrown ourselves at His feet for mercy and pardon.

We don’t want to do this, we want counselling and support and therapy, rather than humbling ourselves before our maker and seeking His way and His love. We would rather have all other loves than His love. How much that must hurt Him who gave up His own Son for our sake.

Try it and see.

Beloved, let us bow before Him and pray like we never prayed before and He will certainly hear us and answer our prayer. The question remains, do we really want Him?

Love the children of God

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments.”

The Apostle John has already taught us that the love for God requires we also listen to His Word and keep His commandments. He goes one step further in his reasoning, in this verse, and teaches us that keeping the commandments is about loving other people also. To have regard for our sisters and brothers in Christ will involve keeping the bonds of love in the obedience to the holy moral law of God.

To be a law breaker is to contravene the social situation and cause upset among God’s redeemed people. We must not offend our sister or brothers by breaking the laws of God and creating dissention and upset. We are bound by the cords of love to live at peace with everyone and keep the law that is set down for us in the commandments. This will also mean we are keeping the law of love for each other in the family of God.

“Therefore, let’s not judge one another any more, but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block in his brother’s way, or an occasion for falling.”

Romans 14:13

We are to live our Christian life as law lovers and law keepers and not in the conceits of our own way. We should be sensitive to the habits of other people and not offend them. We do not offend the righteousness of God in the family of God by living careless lives with no regard for the law of God. Our love is expressed towards each other as we obey the Word of Christ and submit our will to the will of God.

If I have no regard for the Christian ethos and laws of God, then there is no evidence that I love the family of God and therefore do not love God either. The Christian life is not a free-for-all, but we bind ourselves to each other under the law of God, to obey and follow in God’s holy way.

The law of love for us moves in all directions. We love the Lord our God and His holy law, which we show by our obedience to it, and we necessarily also love the people of God, since they are our family members also following the law of God. This is evident through our godly meetings and interactions, all done orderly according to the patterns laid down for us in the New Testament.

We also love the outsiders and our enemies and pray for them. The law of love is practiced by the believer and this refines our character and our love will grow.

Born of Him

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. Whoever loves the Father also loves the child who is born of him.”

Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father, the only God and Lord, and is the one designated to be the Christ of God. The holy trinity of God worked together in love, to plan a redemption strategy to save fallen human kind. Jesus, the second person in that trinity, has set Himself to be the Saviour of the world and the one who would come in the flesh to rescue us from the effects of our sin. Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed one spoken about all through the Old Testament ages where the message of salvation is proclaimed to the people of the Jewish nation through the prophets, recorded for us in Scripture.

The prophets of old spoke of Him to the people who were waiting for Him right from the beginning, and we can trace His presence throughout the whole Word of God. The Apostles proclaim Him and show His truth, and lay down the doctrines of the faith spoken about in the New Testament.

To see the truths of Christ in the Scripture, all through the Scripture, is a blessed thing. The two saints of New Testament time, on the road to Emmaus, entered into the delightful teaching of the Lord Jesus about Himself, starting at Genesis and right through the Scriptures. We should search the Scriptures that we might see our Saviour in them, and know for sure who He is and His eternal purposes.

“They said to one another, “Weren’t our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us along the way, and while he opened the Scriptures to us?”

Luke 24:32

What a Bible study that would have been! They believed and so they belonged to the Lord. They were born of God, as is everyone who trusts in this Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus told Nicodemas that he must be born again by the Spirit of God if He was to see the kingdom of heaven.

“Jesus answered, “Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and Spirit, he can’t enter into God’s Kingdom. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don’t marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’”

John 3:5-7

Those who are born of the Holy Spirit and believe in the only Saviour – Jesus the Christ, are the children of God. To be born into a family requires human birth – the birth by water, and to enter the family of God requires birth by the Spirit. There is no other way and we should seek it diligently. This is our spiritual birth certificate, that we are born of God and spiritually alive in His family. It therefore stands to reason that we will love the other members of our spiritual family and express it in word and deed. John is keen to labour this point at the beginning of this chapter.

This commandment…

“This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother.”

This teaching is not just a Christian ideal that we should be working towards, but a holy commandment from the Lord. It is intrinsically bound up with our justification and sanctification as Christian people. We are justified through the love and grace of the Lord and are made part of the family of God freely, so also we make others part of our lives and share with them the practicalities of living and the blessings of the Word of God. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us, so also we are willing to make that same sacrifice for each other as children of the heavenly kingdom. God has freely forgiven us all our rottenness and we also forgive others freely through the power of the Holy Spirit who works in us.

Our sanctification will necessarily require that we become like our Lord and God and conform our ways to His ways. We therefore put self to death and throw off every hindrance that would separate us from loving the sisters and brothers and subjugate the powers of evil in our psyche, becoming the people of God, after His heart and mind. We pursue personal holiness which will demonstrate love at the centre of its practice as we are deepened in the knowledge of the Scripture and the love of God. Our prayers will be natural and in full communion with the Lord, since we are walking with Him. Our prayers will be greatly intercessory as we pray for the sisters and brothers that they will be greatly helped and will enter the love of God in their daily walk with Him.

“I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and givings of thanks be made for all men…”

1 Timothy 2:1

Our thought life will change as we obey the command to love and we will be less and less concerned about ourselves and more and more for the good of others. We will offer practical help and also prayer to the Father as we minister to the body of Christ in this spiritual way. Our reasons for doing things will change as we become more outward looking and concerned about the situations of other people. We will help and support others because the Lord would have us do so, which will improve our motivations and desires and separate our lives to godliness.

“In love of the brothers be tenderly affectionate to one another; in honor prefer one another, not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, enduring in troubles, continuing steadfastly in prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, and given to hospitality.”

Romans 12:10-13

Our outward looking gifts will grow and our confidence in the Lord, so that we will better relate to other people and have peaceable relationships with them. We will find our love growing and better able to reach out to others in compassion and help. The commandment is set and so we are confident that God will give us the grace to keep it and therefore please the Lord.

Liar

“If a man says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”

What does hating our sisters and brothers look like? Resenting, holding grudges, petty jealousies, gossiping, backbiting, put downs, manipulating, taking advantage of, domineering, and all manner of ill will. The loving Apostle is very clear about our spiritual standing in this verse. We cannot stand before God and say we love Him and be indulging our fleshly hearts and minds in such hateful activities. It does not have to be out and out hatred, but just ignoring the needs of the other and putting ourselves first.

Self-centredness is a key feature behind our sinful mindset and putting God into second or third place in our life will result in lack of love for others. If we are entertaining ideas against others, then we cannot say God is first in our life and our greatest love. If we cannot love those who are central in our earthly life, how can we say we love a God we have never even seen!

“He plots iniquity on his bed. He sets himself in a way that is not good. He doesn’t abhor evil.”

Psalm 36:4

The Apostle John is superbly clear about our mindset. If we do not love others we do not love God and to think that we do, is just lying to ourselves and others. We have not faced our sinfulness and have not dealt with our lack of love and are not being honest. It’s the same principle from chapter one regarding people who say they know God, but can’t be bothered with obeying the commandments. John says they are lying to themselves.

“If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don’t tell the truth.”

1 John 1:6

So the Apostle John lovingly identifies two instances where we can lie to ourselves: knowing God and loving God. The two instances are related, for if we would know God we must love Him and to love we must know God. If I do not follow the way of God, I neither know Him nor love Him.

Beloved, let us not lie to ourselves but ensure we are truly the Lords by loving Him first and foremost. All other love is secondary to His love and with His love all other loves become brighter and reach their full fruition.

We love Him

“We love him, because he first loved us.”

We will never come to God in our natural, sinful state. Our hearts and minds are at enmity with God and we want nothing of His kind of love. Indeed, we do not understand it, for our minds are darkened in the sin we entertain and live by. Our desire for God has been compromised by our sin and so we do not chose Him. 

“… because the mind of the flesh is hostile towards God; for it is not subject to God’s law, neither indeed can it be.”

Romans 8:7

Something fundamental and systemic has to happen to change that mindset and make us think of God and our position before His holy throne. How do we move from hating God to loving God with every part of our being; being devoted to Him in worship and adoration; giving over our lives to Him in His service. It seems an impossible situation, but God is the God of the impossible…

“Looking at them, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:26

In His purposes in salvation God works a miracle of grace in our mind and heart. He can change the most recalcitrant and make us willing and able to desire Him. No matter how far we have lived away from His holy commandment, he can turn us and make us willing to come Him and seek what he wants rather than our own selfish ways. 

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked man forsake his own way and the unrighteous man his own thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.”

Isaiah 55:6-7

The Holy Spirit works in our hearts and softens our hearts towards God and causes us to feel the weight of our sin. We become convicted by our sin and seek relief from its guilt and shame. The only one who can deal with this is our Saviour Jesus. Only He is able to forgive our sin and take the burden away from us and give us relief. The Holy Spirit enlightens our mind to understand the gospel message and gives us the faith we need to believe in Jesus and trust in what He did for us on the cross. This is the way we walk to enter into the love of God.

God loves us first. What a glorious truth! Our redemption is not dependant on our love, but on the Lord of the Father in heaven. He has provided all things for His children and has set His heart on us from eternity past, that we might enter into the reality of His love and be able to love Him back. When His Spirit works in us, He gives us the deep desire to seek the Lord and be rid of our sin. God is ready and willing to accept us as we come to Him in repentance for what we have done. In His great love He forgives us and shows us His forgiving love. We see it demonstrated on the cross of Calvary and see there, the lengths our God was willing to go to save us. What amazing love for us! 

We love Him because He loves us… we must never lose sight of this glorious fact so that we will remain dependant on His love and not on our foolish pride.