Well Kats and Kitties – we’re coming to the last teaching in our study of 1 John. I really enjoyed reading his letter – and I gained a lot from digging into his instructions. This Sunday we’ll be reading 1 John 5:14-21.
John will be wrapping up his letter, and giving us his parting thoughts. He wants us to be confident as we continue our journey into life. What does he want us to anchor our confidence on in v14-15? I used to belong to a crazy church that used those verses to teach that if we just could muster up enough faith, God would do whatever we asked him to do in life. That, of course, is not what the text is saying. But what is it saying? What qualifier does he put on our prayers? How does that effect the way you ask God, and what your expectations are?
V16-17 are like finding a live hand-grenade hidden in a flower basket. The views on what John is talking about here are many and varied – and unfortunately, there is no universally held interpretation of what he means. The Roman Catholic Church uses these verses as the foundation for their doctrine of mortal vs venial sins – which the Protestant church rejects. Some believe he is referencing what Jesus talked about in Matthew 12:30-32 – what has become known as the “unpardonable sin”…but most conservative scholars believe Jesus is talking about an obstinate rejection of salvation through Christ – a rejection of forgiveness results in no forgiveness. Plus…how would anyone know if a person had consistently rejected salvation enough to consider them over and done with? The Apostle Paul sure started out that way…but things changed. Another view is that this is talking about physical death only, not spiritual. That if a person is suffering the consequences of bad choices, God has not necessarily obligated himself to undo those consequences. Even there, we aren’t told not to pray for such a person, only that there is no guarantee of efficacy. In all honesty…most scholars that I read in preparation for this teaching sort of throw the views out there and then tip-toe away…..which is what I’m doing now. Do you have any thoughts on this subject?
We sort of loop back to the ideas he presented back in chapter 3 when we get to v18. The phrase “keep on sinning” doesn’t mean sinless perfection, but is talking about a new normal for life. Sin is no longer a tolerable option, but something to be overcome and rejected. We still stumble, but now within a new framework of expectations for our lives. John throws a promise in at the end of v18 – in what way can that promise result in confidence in our walk?
Truth is mentioned three times in v19-20 – who or what is he describing as truth? How can acquiring that truth stabilize us in our spiritual journey?
When we get to then end, v 21, we get the overview of his whole intent. In The New Living Translation it says: Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. That’s about the best understanding of idolatry we can present. Given all that John has addressed in this letter – what could be an idol to be on guard against in your life? How can we keep ourselves from them?
Well…I hope you’ve enjoyed this study too! Hope to see you Sunday!