Category Archives: Authentic

1 John 5 • Devotion #6: Flee

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21

One of my all-time favorite movies is Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Within the first opening minutes, we find Indiana cautiously making his way through an ancient cave. Narrowly avoiding all the traps and obstacles, he ultimately finds what he has been searching for – the golden idol. Yet, after what he thinks is a clean exchange (the idol for a bag of sand weighing almost as much as the idol), the trap is sprung, and a chain reaction of destruction begins. 

In 1 John 5:21, John reminds us of a very similar idol which Indiana was seeking. Although the idol John is referencing is not necessarily a golden object, the outcome is the same. John, writing in 5:21 says, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Here, John is reminding us and warning us of the dangers of this world. The world is full of temptation, traps, and snares that, at a glance, are enticing. Satan knows how to deceive us. Ever since Genesis chapter 3, he has been doing it and doing it well. However, John is reminding us first of all of our faith in Christ; he calls us “little children.” This term is not used in a derogatory way, but a reminder of what he said in 1 John 2:28-3:1, “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. See what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” Secondly, John is warning us and reminding us to flee from temptation and the desire to place anything in this world before God.

When Indiana grabbed the golden idol, the chain reaction of destruction began. The world around him in the cave he was in literally began to fall apart. Church, I want to remind and encourage you to heed the warning of John here in 1 John 5:21. We are so privileged to be called children of God. However, sin has one goal, destruction. Flee from temptation; do not touch or dabble with the idols in this world and surrounding you. No matter how easy and harmless it may seem, you may think that you can simply take the idol and no one will notice. Yet, if we take that step and fool ourselves thinking that we have gotten away with it, we will trigger a chain reaction of destruction that, once triggered, is almost impossible to escape.  

1 John 5 • Devotion #5: Reminder

“We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know 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, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:18-20

As I read through this passage of Scripture, I realized that the apostle John is not treating this section as new information being given to his audience. John is not ending this letter with any mind-blowing information. Instead, John chooses to have this section serve as a reminder to the believers reading this of things that have already been taught either earlier in this letter, or the Gospels themselves. Why is this so important?

Being that I am not yet a parent, I cannot attest to the parental side of this, but I can speak for the child side of what I am about to say. I can remember growing up and having my parents tell me things multiple times. Usually, the things that mattered the most were told to me hundreds, if not thousands, of times. These were the things that were life and death. Sometimes I would understand and follow these things right away, and then sometimes it took thousands of times to hear it until it finally clicked, and I began to understand the importance of what was being told to me. The same thing is going on here. If we, as followers of Christ, could read the Bible once and understand and apply everything we have learned to our lives the first time, life would be amazing. Instead, it takes multiple times hearing and trying to follow the Scriptures until it finally sticks.

The apostle John is wrapping up his letter with reminders to stop living in our sinful ways. We need to understand that God will protect us, and if we are faithful followers, then the evil one cannot touch us. We need to remember that we live in a world that is filled with the power of the evil one. Finally, we need to understand that God has given us understanding so that we may know Him and understand that through His Son, Jesus Christ, we can have eternal life. This should serve as our battle cry as followers of Christ. We are so blessed to have a God that has given us protection from the desires of the evil one and has given us the ability to live eternally through Him. 

1 John 5 • Devotion #4: Lifting up a Brother

“If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.” 1 John 5:16-17

This has been a very difficult passage for me to break down. I like answers. Knowing exactly what something means is important to understand what to do with it fully. It is like working on a car and not having the right tool for the job. I like to tinker with working on a car in that if it is not an emergency and something that needs to be done immediately, I enjoy it. Say my main form of transportation breaks down and needs to be done today, I get stressed. You work quickly to get a job done, and when you do not have exactly the right tool, you make it work. I have done this, and so far, it has worked out okay. However, when I have the chance, a stop at Auto Zone is not far away, so I do not find myself in that position in the future.

I have studied commentaries and books looking for the answer to what John is referring to when he talks of a sin leading to death in verse 16. I have ideas, so do many scholars, but no one seems to want to say for sure. This assures me further that we will never be able to fully comprehend the magnitude of who God is and what the Bible says without the help of the Holy Spirit. One day, I will learn. 

In the meantime, I will look at this passage for the very clear part of what it says. I will pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ, who everyday struggle with sin. Knowing that, I and we will always fall short of the perfect mark of Jesus. John lays out that we should be praying for those falling into sin. We should not pray in a gossipy prayer circle kind of way when we pray together, but on our knees behind a closed door where no one will see us kind of way. We should be petitioning God on behalf of that person that they are convicted by the Holy Spirit to repentance and restoration.

When was the last time you saw a fellow believer struggling and went home, or right then and there, prayed for them to be delivered from that sin? I believe the honest answer to that question would be sad if we surveyed the entire body of Christ.

1 John 5 • Devotion #3: “That You May Know”

Am I really saved? This thought harasses even the most seasoned Christian. Our lives are filled with uncertainty and reminders that life is short. Too often, we fail, and along with guilt come feelings of inadequacy and fear that God will reject us. God knows that in our human frailty, we wrestle with these things, so He inspired the letter of 1 John, not to make us feel like failures but to encourage us. There are nine indicators throughout the book that we can look for in our own lives to give us the assurance that we have eternal life: 

Do we believe in the name of Jesus Christ (1 John 3:23)? Most would answer, “Yes! Of course, I do. I prayed when I was 6.” However, is our life distinguishable from the life of an unbeliever? Do we agree with the hard things Jesus taught? Is our hope based on what He promised to do?

As believers, God gives us His Spirit (1 John 4:13) to comfort us and give us peace. We can feel His guiding influence in our decision-making.

Do we strive to please God by following His commands (1 John 2:6)? Doing what He says should not be a compulsory action but a willing, joyful life of submission to the One who is worthy. His Word should not be a boring book filled with lists of “do’s and don’ts” but a window into the mind and character of the one true and living God, a book of promises that should fill us with hope. Are we walking in the light of Christ (1 John 1:6-7) seeing every obstacle, or are we stumbling in the dark tripping over addictions and distractions and wasted days? Are we grieved by our sin, knowing that it dishonors God? Do we confess (1 John 1:8-9) to Him with true repentance? Do we recognize that our flesh is sinful and plead with God to help us fight against our sin with the intention of violently destroying it, or do we claim grace over and over again with a live-let-live attitude? Do we truly love other believers (1 John 3:18) and demonstrate that love through serving and giving? Is a weekend spent with Christians an uplifting time of joy and encouragement, or is it so tedious that we cannot wait to get back to work, TV, or to our “real friends?” Do we love the things of this world (1 John 2:15) more than we love the things of God? Can we quote the interest rate of our investment account but have not memorized a Bible verse since we were in AWANA? Are our monies, talents, and time spent to further God’s eternal kingdom or our bottom line?

Lastly, have you been ridiculed, teased, avoided, or even assaulted because you are a Christian? The world hated Christ, and it should not come as a surprise that it hates His followers today (1 John 3:13). We should not want to just fit in or fly under the radar. The Bible says true Christians are lights in a dark world, a world that hates light.

God calls us to a life of self-sacrifice and love for others. Our greatest joy should be found in using the gifts He has given us to serve others and spread the Gospel of Christ to unbelievers. I challenge you to pray that He would break you of the love of worldly “stuff.” Pray that He would place you into the hard situation where you have to affirm or deny Christ, share your hope or stay quiet, and give or keep for yourself. If you do this, you will not be disappointed. God will answer so that you may know you have eternal life, overcome the fear of uncertainty, and walk confidently in His grace.

1 John 5 • Devotion #2: The Father Gives Evidence

Several years ago, my husband and I witnessed an incident of road rage that resulted in an individual’s death. It was a harrowing and life-changing experience. As a result, I, along with my husband, was called to testify in court. I was asked to precisely tell what I saw and heard. Specific facts and details were important to the case because the judge had not been present and was going to determine the punishment of the accused.

The circumstances of what John is telling us in 1 John 5:6-12 are so different. No witnesses are needed because God, the righteous judge (Psalm 50:6), is telling us that He knows the One being judged as the Savior of the world. He knows all about who Jesus is. Why? It is because Jesus is “His Only Begotten Son” (John 3:16 NKJV) manifest in the flesh, sent by God to be sacrificed for our sin and to raise from the grave as our living Savior.

Throughout Jesus’ life on Earth, God had been showing and telling the world who Jesus is. God’s angels declared it at Jesus’ birth. At the water-baptism of Jesus, a dove (the Holy Spirit) descended, but more importantly, God spoke from Heaven and said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased(Matthew 3:17). Even when Jesus’ blood was shed on the cross, the sky became dark, the earth quaked, and the curtain enclosing the Holy of Holies in the temple was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:45-51). Three days later, an angel spoke to the women from inside Jesus’ empty tomb (Matthew 28:1-7). So many signs and wonders that could only be acts of God declaring that Jesus of Nazareth was truly His Son. These things were evidence to man. Clearly, God’s actions were saying to people, “Stop doubting, this is my Son! Believe Him.”

In today’s culture, people often need evidence (facts and details) to believe that something is true. John was telling the world (both Christians and non-believers) that there was plenty of evidence as to Jesus being the one in which to place our eternal faith and hope. What is better verification there than what is given by a loving, merciful holy God?

Jesus Christ was God’s Son in the flesh. His humanity was affirmed when He was born as a human – by water and by blood. The Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, came from Heaven at His baptism, and God, His Father, confirmed Him as His Son. On the cross, Jesus’ humanity was confirmed when He was stuck in His side with a sword and out came water and blood.

All those years ago, I was a witness before a judge. I acted as his eyes and ears at an event that he did not witness. In the best selling book, The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel retraces his spiritual journey from atheism to faith by showing how the historical, archaeological, and ancient written evidence led him to a belief in Jesus as God. Yet, I just cannot help but believe that the most powerful declaration comes from the works and words of our God, who gave testimony to the veracity of the claims that Jesus was His Son and our Savior. As believers, we should need no other evidence!

At the end of this passage comes one of the most powerful and sobering verses in the Bible, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12).Do you truly have “life” through belief in Jesus as God’s Son?

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