What about 1 John 1:9? Part six.

Posted: Wed. Jan, 24 2018

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Introduction

We are now in the home stretch with our look at the opponents of John in the letter of 1 John.

We have been going chapter by chapter, verse by verse, in order to gain more and more information about these false apostles.  

At times it’s been somewhat tedious.  That’s all right.  It’s the best way to gain an appreciation for the central role these impostors play in the letter.

The insights we gain now will be a great help to us when we return to 1 John 1:9.

So today we finish up with chapters 4 and 5.

Remember: John is doing two things in this letter.

He is exposing the opponents as false apostles and antichrists.

He is reassuring the believers in his congregations that they indeed have eternal life (are saved).

 We are looking at what the opponents  say (their claims , their teaching), what they do (their behavior), and who they really are (their real identity).

What they say and what they do reveals who they really are.

 

The opponents in 1 John 4

1 John 4:1-6
4  Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 5  They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 6  We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

The opponents denied that Jesus had come in the flesh.  In other words, they rejected His humanity.

Now recall that in chapter 2 they rejected His deity.  So after reading this, it’s not clear exactly who they thought that He was….or even  IF He was…..

Such are the lengths to which they would go to deny everything they could about our Lord Jesus Christ.

This proves that they are false prophets who have gone out into the world.    Further, they have the spirit of the antichrist, the spirit of error, and are not from God

 

“The world” in 1 John

Whenever John brings up “the world” in 1 John, he is always dealing with the opponents in one way or another.

1 John 4:5  They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.

By the way, in 1 John,  John uses “they” and “them" to refer to the opponents. 

The opponents were from the world.   They had tried to pawn themselves off as true apostles sent from God.  They may have even attached themselves to the apostles for a time.  But eventually their true nature was revealed by their actions.   (1JO 2:19)

In fact, the opponents are the personification of the world in this letter.  They are agents coming from the world to try to deceive the congregations.

They are from  the world. They hate the brethren.  They deny Christ.   They practice sin and unrighteousness. Yet they boast that they have no sin and have not sinned. (Note the blatant lies and  hypocrisy.)

A passage in 2 John reinforces what John says in 1 John 4:1-3  :

2 John 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.

So when John talks about the” world” in this letter, he is talking about the opponents, who are false prophets and are of the spirit of antichrist.

The gospel of John also a great deal to say about “the world”.

John 15:18-19
18 " If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.  19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 

Those who are of the world hate Christ and hate the saints.

The opponents were from the world. Therefore, the opponents hated Christ and hated the saints.

Their ruler, the ruler of the world, is satan. (2CO 4:4)

1 John 5:19  We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

1 John 4:5  They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.

Because  the opponents  are from the world, they speak as from the world.  And the world listens to them.

The world listens to false prophets .

So when a teacher is embraced by the world…

When the world listens to him …televises him…promotes him…… idolizes  him…

That is a really bad sign!

Why?  Because the world  loves its own.

 

True and false apostles

1 John 4: 6  We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Finally, we learn that these opponents do not listen to the teachings of the apostles.  John and his fellow apostles are from God.  The ones who know God listen to them.

And here again John uses black and white language and mathematical precision.

Apostles are either from God or not from God.   There’s no middle ground.

The word apostle means “one sent”.

The word apostolos in the New Testament is used to mean a delegate, a messenger, one sent with orders and with full authority.

An apostle is one chosen and sent with a special mission as the fully authorized representative of the sender.

There are true apostles, and there are false apostles (impostors). 

True apostles are sent by God.  False apostles are sent by the world.

The ones who know God (believers) listen to the true apostles.

The one who is not from God does not listen to the true apostles.

 

Who are “We”?

1 John 4: 6  We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Remember, “We” is defined in 1 John 1:1-4.

1 John 1:1-4
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life —  2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us —  3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4  These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

This passage clearly identifies the “we” of 1 John with men who had heard, seen, looked at and touched the Word made flesh - our Lord Jesus Christ.

 They also saw and testified about eternal life as manifested in the Son.  In other words, they had also seen the risen Christ in His resurrection body.

That means  they were true apostles. Men like Peter, James, and John.

“We” in 1 John 1:1-4 refers to true apostles.

Now, in the second part of 1 John 1, verses 6-10,  “we” takes on a different role with regard to the identity of an apostle.   It stands for all those who present themselves as apostles, whether they truly are or not.

So in  1 John 1:6-10, “we” includes both true apostles and false apostles.  John writes 1 John 1:6-10 to reveal who’s who.

1 John 4: 6  We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Again, here in chapter 4, “we” refers to the true apostles.

Unfortunately, we have pastors today that try to apply this verse to their own teaching ministry.  Ridiculous! 

Today this refers to the teachings of the apostles found in the completed canon of Scripture.

And the writings of the apostles are primarily found in the New Testament letters.

Finally, verse 6 states that a teacher either has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of error.

Absolute language.  You are either one or the other.   The opponents have the spirit of error, again because they do not listen to the teachings of the true apostles, the ones sent by God.

 

Summary of chapter 4

The following table summarizes what we learn about the opponents in chapter 4:

Verse(s)

Say

Do

ARE

1JO 4:1

 

Have gone out into the world.

They are false prophets.

1JO 4:2-3; 2JO 1:7

They do not confess that Jesus has come in the flesh (His humanity).

 

They are deceivers.  They are not from God. They are false prophets. The have the spirit of antichrist.  They do not have the Spirit of God.

1JO 4:5

They speak as from the world.

 

They are from the world.

The world listens to them.

1JO 4:6; 1JO 1:1-4

 

They do not listen to John and his fellow apostles.

They are not from God.

They have the spirit of error.

They do not have the Holy Spirit (Spirit of Truth).

 

The opponents in 1 John 5

1 John 5:5-12
5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8  the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9  If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12  He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

 

Denying the blood of Christ

The opponents denied that Jesus came not only by water but also by blood.  In other words, they denied that Jesus, God in the flesh, died on the cross, laying down His life for us (1JO 3:16).

By denying the blood of Jesus, they show that they  do not believe God, and in fact have made God out to be a liar.  Why? Because God through the Spirit has testified that Jesus is the Son of God and that He came by water and blood.  This blood cleanses believers from all sin (1JO 1:7). 
 

They do not have eternal life

God has given His own testimony concerning His Son.  God has given us eternal life because we believe in the Son of God.  We have the Son.  The opponents do not have the Son of God, and therefore they do not have the life.

This is the other big subject in 1 John: eternal life

John’s main purpose for writing 1 John is to reassure his audience that they do in fact have eternal life.

1 John 5:13
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

So here, at the end of the letter, the two  subjects - the opponents, and eternal life -  come together.

The opponents do not have eternal life.


Summary of chapter 5

Here is the summary of what chapter 5 tells us about the opponents:

Verse(s)

Say

Do

ARE

1JO 5:5-8

They do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  They do not believe that Jesus came by blood. This means they deny that Jesus died on the cross. 

 

 

1JO 5:9-12

They do not believe the testimony of God concerning His Son.

They do not believe that God has given us eternal life or that eternal life is in His Son.

They made God a liar.

They are unbelievers.

They do NOT have the Son of God.

Therefore they do NOT have eternal life.

 

Conclusion

John wrote this letter to combat the teaching and behavior of these opponents.  His purpose was to assure the believers in the congregations that since they have believed in Christ the Son of God, they in fact had eternal life.

The opponents appeared to have a lot to say about God and how close they were to Him and how they had  the real life from God.

But they denied Jesus Christ: who He is, and what He has done.  They rejected Him as:

  • the Son of God (1JO 1:3, 1JO 5:5)
  • the One who came in the flesh (1JO 4:2)
  • the One who appeared in order to destroy the works of the devil (1JO 3:8)  
  • the Word of life (1JO 1:1
  • the Propitiation for the sins of the world (1JO 2:2)
  • the One whose blood cleanses us from all sin (1JO 1:7,1JO 5:6-7)
  • the righteous One who is our Advocate with the Father when we sin (1JO 2:1)
  • the Christ, the  Messiah of the Jews (1JO 2:22)
  • the Savior of the world (1JO 4:14),
  • the One who has eternal life (1JO 5:11). 

What  they said and did revealed who they really were:  false apostles and unbelievers.

Next time we will look at the complete picture, all 5 chapters together,  in table form.

Then we will briefly examine the things that John says about believers.  We will see that these things are the opposite of what he said about the opponents.

And remember: this is all in the service of gaining a solid understanding of 1 John 1:9.
 

Until the next time, we’re all ….

In His grip,

Pastor John

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