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Applying 1 John:: 3


Keeping in Stride

This week I’ve already posted two major take-a-ways from John’s conclusion to his epistle. Theology is incomplete without application, and so far we’ve observed that genuine faith results in, at least, believing prayer and loving “carefrontation.” The third major application from 1 John is joyful obedience.

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. (1 John 5:18-21, NLT)

John’s concern is twofold: our sins and idolatry (5:21) Because of our fellowship with Christ we are not powerless to obey him and renounce sin and idolatry. He pointed out that even though the world is under the control of Satan, Satan does not have God’s children in his (literal rendering) grasp. Sin is the distortion of God’s good gifts, and idolatry happens when we take a good thing and make it a “god thing”–and that’s a bad thing.

The larger issue with sin and idolatry is that they uniquely reveal that we are trying to seek satisfaction outside of Christ. When we sin or erect idols, we are in a sense conveying that Christ is somehow incomplete or insufficient to meet our needs. The antidote for such challenges is not obedience, but joyful obedience. Joyful obedience recognizes that there is nothing in this world worth having apart from Christ. Joyful obedience esteems God above all things. When our values are shifted from the transient and temporal to the eternal, we see sin and idolatry for what it is: unappealing and unsatisfying.

Thanks for taking the journey with me through 1 John. On Sunday I challenged our congregation to take time to read 1 John in its entirety in one sitting. I believe that 15 minute exercise will help open the book to you in a fresh way. Thanks for recommending this site to your friends.

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