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1 John 5:18-21 - Victory Over Satan

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Christians Have Victory & Power Over Sin (v.18-19)

a)        The Christian Does not sin (v.18a): Whoever is born of God does not sin 

q         If we are born of God we do not make a habit of sin; we do not constantly; continually, habitually sin.

q         Before we knew Christ, the trend & direction of our life was toward sin

q         After the new birth the trend is reversed, we do not make it a habit to sin, we may sin occasionally but we will not sin habitually.

The Amplified New Testament says: “We know [absolutely] that anyone born of God does not [deliberately and knowingly] practise committing sin, but the One Who was begotten of God carefully watches over and protects him - Christ’s divine presence within him preserves him against the evil - and the wicked one does not lay hold (get a grip) on him or touch [him].”

God Protects the Believer (v.18b)

Whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself…   for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot get his hands on them (NLVT)

               This statement may give the impression that it is the child of God who keeps himself.  But this is not a reference to the child of God but to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Keeps himself is not in the best manuscripts. The better reading in the original language is “keeps him,” referring to the fact that God protects the believer. 

The Doctrine of the Perseverance Of The Saints

A man who had been deeply moved by the death of a friend spoke to the minister who conducted the grave side service. The man expressed his desire to become a Christian, but added, “There’s just one thing that makes me hesitate: I’m afraid I won’t be able to hold out. I work with a pretty tough group. They’re hardly what you would call religious. I don’t think there’s a real Christian in the bunch, and I know they won’t take kindly to there being one.”

The minister stooped down to pick up one of the flowers adorning the grave and commented, “Take a good look at this flower. It grew right in the mud and slime and decay of the earth, yet see how clean and spotless it is. That’s because God kept it. And He can keep you too!”

You and I will go through our share of slime in this world. Yet one of the greatest comforts God gives to His children is that we will come out smelling like a rose. The theological label for that encouraging reality is the perseverance of the saints.

All Who Are Truly Born Again Will Persevere to the End

There are many passages that teach that those who are truly born again, who are genuinely Christians, will continue in the Christian life until death and will then go to be with Christ in heaven. 

q         Jesus Said Everyone Who Believes In Him Will Have Eternal Life (John 6:38-40)

This text emphasizes that Jesus does the will of the Father, which is that he should "lose nothing of all that he has given me". Those given to the Son by the Father will not be lost.

q         Jesus Gave Us Eternal Life, He & The Father Has Us In Their Hands (John 10:28-30)

q         Peter Wrote That We Are Kept By The Power Of God Through Faith (1Peter 1:5).  You And I Are No More Able To Keep Ourselves Than We Are Able To Save Ourselves.

The word kept guarded means "kept from escaping" and "protected from attack," Jude Wrote That He Is Able To Keep Us From Stumbling (Jude 1, 24)

q         Jesus’ Prayer To The Father (John 17:11, 12, 15)If it is the power of God that keeps us, & Judas was lost, does that mean that Jesus failed in keeping Judas or did not have the power to keep him? 

1.         Judas was never really one of those given to Christ (18:8, 9)…  He had never really been a believer (6:64–71; 1John 2:19); he had not been cleansed (13:11)…   he was a dead branch (John 15:2,6).   Judas was with Jesus; he seemed like a “branch.” But he did not have God’s life in him; therefore he departed; his destiny was like that of a dead branch.

2.         That the scripture might be fulfilled (v12)…   this does not mean that Judas was not compelled to betray Christ in order to fulfill prophecy, but he chose to betray the Savior and in so doing the Scripture was fulfilled.

3.         Man has his own free will (Acts 2:23; 4:28).   

2)        Only Those Who Persevere to the End Have Been Truly Born Again.

q         Persevering Through Trials Is Proof Of Living Faith (James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:6-8)

q         When A Professing Believer Doesn’t Endure, He Or She Has Failed The Test Of Genuine Faith (1 John 2:19).

q         Realize That God Works On Our Behalf

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way. (Psalms 37:23)

For the LORD loves justice, and does not forsake His saints; They are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off. (Psalms 37:28 NKJV)

You who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked. (Psalms 97:10 NKJV)

Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep.   The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand.   The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.   The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. (Psalms 121:4-7 NKJV)

And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.   "But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." (Luke 22:31-32 NKJV)

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14 NKJV)

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Philippians 1:6 NKJV)   

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. (2 Timothy 1:12 NKJV)

3)        Once Saved Always Saved?  Some say this means you can live anyway you want if your saved – as if God were stuck with you.    The perseverance of the saints is the human response to the predestinating work of God. You reveal you are kept by God if you don’t abandon your faith in the midst of a trial.  The mark of true justification is perseverance in righteousness to the very end..

q         Believers are saved because God chose them before creation (Eph. 1:4), yet they are not saved without exercising faith (Rom. 10:9–10; 1Peter 1:5).

q         Eternal security is brought about through the power of the Spirit in energizing the true believer to endure all trials.

q         God does not guard us apart from our faith, but only by working through our faith so that he enables us to continue to believe in him.

One example of this kind of passage is John 8:31-32: "Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."' Jesus is here giving a warning that one evidence of genuine faith is continuing in his word, that is, continuing to believe what he says and living a life of obedience to his commands. Similarly, Jesus says, "He who endures to the end will be saved" (Matt. 10:22; 24:13), as a means of warning people not to fall away in times of persecution.  (See also 1 Cor.15:1-2; Col.1:21-23; Heb.2:1; 3:14; 4:14; 6:11-12; 10:39; 12:14; Rev.3:8-13)

q         Eternal security is a great scriptural truth, but it should never be presented as merely a matter of being once saved, always saved—with no regard for what you believe or do. The writer of Hebrews 12:14 states frankly that only those who continue living holy lives will enter the Lord’s presence.  No such thing as ‘easy believism”

Christians may get themselves into trouble, but they will never ultimately abandon their faith because God has enabled them to persevere. Whenever trials come into your life, look at them as opportunities to persevere and thereby prove the genuineness of your faith. And having persevered, you can look back and say, “Yes, I know I belong to the Lord.” Look at life that way, and you won’t have any trouble being assured of your salvation.

c)         The Result (v.18c-19): The Wicked does not touch him… Because we are born of God & God is keeping us, therefore the wicked one cannot touch us.

The word “touch” (hapto) means to lay hold of, grasp, and grip. The idea is that Satan cannot touch the believer to harm him. The genuine believer is under the keeping power of Jesus Christ; his sins are covered under the blood of Jesus Christ.

q         Jesus Christ has released us from the bondage of Satan (Rom.6). 

q         Unbelievers are held captive by Satan (2Tim.2:26)

1)        We Must Not Depend Upon Ourselves To Overcome Satan.  Peters Experience With Satan Helps Us Understand This Truth

q         Satan Must First Have Permission From God To Touch Any Believer                    (Luke 22:31-32; Job 1:12).  Whenever Satan attacks us, we can be sure that God gave him permission. And if God gave him permission He will also give us power to overcome, because God will never permit us to be tested above our strength (1Cor. 10:13).

q         Jesus Said Speaking of the Ruler of this world, “he has nothing in Me”                (John 14:30).  Believers are told ‘not to give place to the devil’ (Eph.4:27) & one of the ways we give him place is by unforgiveness.                                                    

2)        Realize That We Are Of God, But The Whole World Is Under The Power Of The Wicked One.

q         Satan has brought corruption and deterioration to the world.

q         Satan has affected the governments and societies of the world.

q         Satan has injected and infected the world with sin and with lust, evil, pride, and rebellion against God.

q         Knowing this means we can be free to be what we are in Jesus and separate ourselves from the world system in rebellion against Him.

If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:19)

And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." (Acts 2:40 NKJV)

Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you."   "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:17-18 NKJV)

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:11 NKJV)

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. (2 Thessalonians 3:6 NKJV)

The Christians Perception (v.20)

       And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

1.       We have an understanding-knowing the true God.

a)        That we may know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ: In the conclusion of this letter, John returns to his major theme: fellowship with Jesus Christ. We must know Him, and the word John uses for know (ginosko) speaks of knowledge by experience. That is how Jesus wants us to know Him!

b)        Has given us an understanding: The work of Jesus in us gives us an understanding, and the ability to know Him, and to be in Him - the abiding life of fellowship that John invited us to back in 1 John 1:3.

q         Significantly, this understanding must be given. We cannot attain it on our own. If God did not reveal Himself to us, we would never find Him.  We know Him, and can know Him, because He has revealed Himself to us.

q         How has God revealed Himself to us? More than any other way, by Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the key and the focus of it all. We see the personality and character of God by looking at Jesus.

q         Him who is true also reminds us of a theme John has had through the letter: the importance of true belief, of trusting in the true Jesus, not a made-up Jesus. The Jesus of the Bible is Him who is true, who is His Son Jesus Christ.

c)         This is the true God and eternal life: Who is Jesus? He was a man (as John declared in 1 John 1:1, 4:2, and 5:6), but He was not only a man. He was totally man and the true God and eternal life. John does not, and we can not, promote the humanity of Jesus over His deity, or His deity over His humanity. He is both: fully God and fully man.

2.       Idolatry (v.20)

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

I kept myself from my iniquity (Psalms 18:23)…   Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23)…   keep oneself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)…   Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life (Jude 1:21)…   Keep yourself pure (1 Timothy 5:22)…   Keep yourself far from a false matter (Exodus 23:7)…   Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life (Deuteronomy 4:9)…   Keep yourself from every wicked thing. (Deuteronomy 23:9)  Joshua 6;18

John was probably writing to believers in the city of Ephesus, a city given over to the worship of idols. The temple of Diana, one of the wonders of the ancient world, was located in Ephesus, and the making and selling of idols was one of the chief occupations of the people there (Acts 19:21-41). Surrounded by idolatry, Christians there were under tremendous pressure to conform.

a)        What Is Idolatry?

q        In our minds we picture a little statue of Buddah or some carved little God.

q        An Idol Has No Real Existence (1 Corinthians 8:4) – The stone, precious metal, or wood is real, but there is no god behind it, it only reflects the imagination of the one who designed it, or the impersonation of the demon who deceives through it (10:20).

q        An idol is anything that takes first place in a person’s life, anything that a person puts before God.

q        Few people today bow to idols of wood and metal. Nevertheless, other idols capture their attention and affection. Covetousness, for example, is idolatry (Col. 3:5). A man may worship his bankbook or his stock portfolio just as fervently as a so-called heathen worships his ugly idol. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve” (Matt. 4:10). The thing we serve is the thing we worship! Whatever controls our lives and “calls the signals” is our god.

q        This explains why God warns us against the sin of idolatry. Not only is it a violation of His commandment (Ex. 20:1-6), but it is a subtle way for Satan to take control of us. When “things” take God’s place in our lives, we are guilty of idolatry. This means we are living for the unreal instead of for the real.

q        A Christian has “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thes. 1:9).

q        So John’s admonition, “Keep yourselves from idols,” can be paraphrased, “Watch out for the imitation and the artificial and be real!”

Luke 12:15; Rom 1.22-23

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