THE VICTORY OF FAITH PROVES A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD —
TRUE BELIEVERS WILL DEMONSTRATE A NEW NATURE
(See notes from previous message; some overlap in terms of verses covered.)
I. (:1) OUR LOVING RELATIONSHIP TO THE BRETHREN DEMONSTRATES OUR NEW NATURE
A. Connection Between Faith and Love = the New Birth
“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God;”
Which comes first: faith or the new birth? Complex issue of the order of salvation.
B. Evidence of Our New Nature
C. Connection Between Love for God and Love for the Brethren
“and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.”
II. (:2-5) OUR FAITHFULNESS TO GOD’S COMMAND TO LOVE DEMONSTRATES OUR NEW NATURE
A. Connection Between Love and Obedience
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”
Love makes the commandments light; cf. Ps. 19 — God’s Word is refreshing; we want His guidance and His standards. Contrast the enslaving, burdensome commands of the Pharisees. The problem comes when we prefer our will (= the way of the world) to God’s will; what was intended for our good now seems cruel and restrictive.
B. Evidence of our New Nature
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world”
Why mention the world here? Because the opposite of loving the brethren and of godliness is worldliness (cf. 2:15-17) = pride, hatred, unforgiving spirit, lying, ambition, lust, selfishness, jealousy, greed, fear, boasting.
That which is victorious over the world is that which has its origins in God; apart from the reality of new life implanted by God, no victory is possible.
C. Connection Between Faith and Victory = the New Birth
“and this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
Plummer: “Our creed is our spear and shield.”
Peck: “Victory doesn’t rest on a political party or candidate, it doesn’t rest on the opinion polls, it doesn’t rest on how big our church is. It rests on God’s Son, Jesus, the one who conquered death. Our circumstances may seem to contradict that victory. But like John’s friends, we need to be reminded to go back to our faith, to trust in God for the spiritual victory. When we go back to our faith we see that this bond of trust with Jesus enables us to see our circumstances for what they really are. You see, this faith isn’t pie in the sky wishful thinking, but it’s a sturdy and unshakable confidence placed the risen son of God who conquered death. We get out from the weight of discouragement by remembering that, so we can once again trust in God for his spiritual victory.”