How can we know for sure that we’re part of God’s family? Is there a way to “test” yourself to find out? And what about other people—when somebody approaches you with an idea or teaching that they claim is from God, how can you determine the truth of that claim?
1 John 5 is a short chapter, but it’s packed with important teachings. The book of 1 John was written to an unidentified Christian community that was apparently in danger of being pulled away into false teachings. If you’ve ever struggled to distinguish godly ideas and behavior from cleverly-disguised counterfeits, these words will resonate with you:
1 John 5 (NCV)
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is God’s child, and whoever loves the Father also loves the Father’s children. This is how we know we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands. Loving God means obeying his commands. And God’s commands are not too hard for us, because everyone who is a child of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world—our faith. So the one who conquers the world is the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus Christ is the One who came by water and blood. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit says that this is true, because the Spirit is the truth. So there are three witnesses: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three witnesses agree. We believe people when they say something is true. But what God says is more important, and he has told us the truth about his own Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has the truth that God told us. Anyone who does not believe makes God a liar, because that person does not believe what God told us about his Son. This is what God told us: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life, but whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
I write this letter to you who believe in the Son of God so you will know you have eternal life. And this is the boldness we have in God’s presence: that if we ask God for anything that agrees with what he wants, he hears us. If we know he hears us every time we ask him, we know we have what we ask from him.
If anyone sees a brother or sister sinning (sin that does not lead to eternal death), that person should pray, and God will give the sinner life. I am talking about people whose sin does not lead to eternal death. There is sin that leads to death. I do not mean that a person should pray about that sin. Doing wrong is always sin, but there is sin that does not lead to eternal death.
We know that those who are God’s children do not continue to sin. The Son of God keeps them safe, and the Evil One cannot touch them. We know that we belong to God, but the Evil One controls the whole world. We also know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we can know the True One. And our lives are in the True One and in his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and the eternal life.
So, dear children, keep yourselves away from false gods.
Questions to Consider
- Have you ever fallen under the sway of an ungodly teaching that was presented to you as a godly one? What helped you to break away from it?
- What do you think the author is referring to when he mentions “sin that leads to eternal death”?
- According to this passage, what “evidence” is present in the life of a genuine child of God?