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1 John 1:1-4 New England Series
1 John 1:5-7 New England series
1 John 1:8-10 New England series
1 John 2:1-2 1 John 2:3-6
1 John 2:7-11
1 John 2:12-17
1 John 2:18-27
1 John 3:1-9 1John 3: 10-23
1 John 3:24 to 4:6
1 John 4:7-16
1st John 4:17-21
1st John 5:4-13 1st John 5:14-15
  1 John 5:16-17   1 John 5:18-21  
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          1st John 5:18-21


“We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.  And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.  And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we  are in him that is true, even his Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God, and eternal life.  Little children, keep yourself from idols.  Amen” (1 John 5:18-21). 


“Well we are going to finish up our study today in 1st John.  Maybe you’re a visitor this morning.  We use the opportunity, we just basically have church once in a while here next door outside, and as a church we kind of go through the Bible in the expository manner, verse by verse.  We’ve been teaching through 1st John and this morning we should finish it.  But if you’re visiting with us, you know, we advertise too, use the opportunity with the radio and things, to advertise this service as a community service.  But it is a community service, but it’s also just one of our normal church services.  And so we’re going to pick up with 1st John, and we’ve been studying this, this is now our seventeenth study, so if you haven’t been here you’ve missed sixteen studies.  But you can get the tapes if you’d like.  1st John is a tremendous Epistle.  I would like to just give you a couple things to pray about before we get started.  If you could continue to pray about the radio, I know I continue to mention that to you.  Often we air our services generally each week, Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights, we air them on the radio.  Although this service right now isn’t on the radio because we can’t get the audio feed very easily across the street.  So the service isn’t on the radio.  Of course it’s a privilege, it’s a blessing, a lot of folks aren’t able to make it to church on time, they’re able to tune in.  We have people in southern New Hampshire, west of here, others places tuning in, listening on the radio.  And I think it’s been very fruitful.  But right now, we, and I’ll say this to you as a word of prayer, but this radio station we have locally is for sale.  We don’t own it.  My wife and I got it on the air in 1994, and it’s been broadcasting almost nine years now.  And I never anticipated for this to happen, but the station is for sale.  But what may actually happen is the church may buy the radio station.  So, if you could be praying.  You know it’s kind of an up-down cycle right now.   I mentioned to you not long ago that CSN was granted an FM license in Gardner, and that hopefully, prayerfully, in the next year that station would be built [it is, along with the Wellfleet station on the Cape, and one in Plymouth, MA].  But it’s just a time where we don’t know what all is going to shape out with the radio, it’s kind of an interesting time. And just please continue to pray.  There’s lots of different things going on.  I personally believe that our local AM station, that we’ll continue to use it, and also we’ll in time have FM in the area to broadcast with.  But boy there’s going to be some critical meetings in the next couple weeks, if you could just keep it in prayer, I would appreciate it.  Also, this very stadium, I’ve mentioned the Festival of Life, next October 2004, Mike McIntosh, some big bands, Christian bands, and different types of people, potentially thousands of people.  There may actually be a thousand people who are on the evangelistic team on their own, are going to come to the Boston area, and one day, it seems to this town, very well at this stadium at a night in October next year, and just love this city and declare the Word of God.  And so, we have a smaller group with us this morning, but imagine maybe a couple thousand, several thousand gathered together worshipping and singing, listening to some great Bible teaching.  Keep it in prayer, there’s a lot of planning, a lot going on and you’ll hear more and more about it in the days ahead.  And then in two weeks from now, I just mention this to you because I’m excited about it, but Randy Cahill, Pastor of a large church in Boston, he’s on the radio, WEZE and other stations in Boston, we have the privilege of having him with us on a Sunday morning.  So something you want to keep in prayer, and also maybe invite some friends.  Randy is a real popular Bible teacher and he’ll be with us two weeks from now on the 14th of September [2003].  Well let’s say a word of prayer again, and we will get started in 1st John chapter 5, picking up with verse 18 and we’ll look at these last few verses, four verses of 1st John together.  ‘Lord we thank you for the privilege of being here together again.  I thank you for the nice weather, Lord, I thank you for the blue sky and the thin clouds, and just the beautiful view, just really neat blessings you’ve given to this ministry here, and the believers here, that we can just gather together and be outside so easily and so comfortably and have a service.   I just thank you for blessing us, Lord.  You’re so good to us.  But as we’re here together, too, Lord, and we want to hear your voice, we want to consider your truth, consider your Word.  And I’d ask that, of course being outside, there could be distractions, our minds can wander, but I’d ask in your grace you’d help us to focus and hear your voice speaking to us, to our own hearts.  So key that we hear from you and learn from you, so Holy Spirit I’d ask that you be upon all of us, and upon myself now as we go through your Word.  In Jesus name, Amen.’


Jesus, our Protector


          Yesterday I was with my friends, they are college friends, haven’t seen them in a number of years.  So though I study on Saturdays [to prepare these excellent expository sermons], you know they had called about coming by.  Of course I rarely talk to anybody on Saturday, I try to prepare and study for Sunday morning.  But being who they were and haven’t seen them in years, we decided to get together for a little bit.  I showed them the church, and they were blessed by seeing what God is doing [in 9 years from 1994 to when this was given in 2003, this congregation has gone from a tiny Bible study given on Sunday mornings, with about 12 attending, to 125 two and a half years later, to over 400 now meeting in a large factory building they’re renting and have remodeled into a wonderful meeting hall for the church].  But on the way home we stopped by Market Basket to buy a package of Tortillas, and so they were outside in their car and I went inside Market Basket to get a package of Tortillas, my wife was making taco’s, one of my more favorite meals.  So here I am in Market Basket for a few minutes, and don’t you know, I hear this lady screaming this tremendous shrill scream of a scream, one of those frantic cries.  Something really awful is happening.  I was wondering what it is, and I’m sure everybody else was wondering what was going on.  So I kind of made my way to the end of the aisle, and as I did I heard this lady scream “He took my purse!  He took my purse!”.  Well, obviously there was a purse-snatcher, I guess, in the store.  And as I was coming around the end of the aisle, don’t you know this man in a red ball-cap comes barreling around the corner, and he’s got a purse in his hand, and he’s going full speed.  And looking back in hindsight, you know, I guess I’d like to think of myself positively, but, I’m hoping anyway, but I thought, I guess, about maybe putting a little small block on this guy, you know [laughter].  I hope that was what it was.  But somehow we ended up arm-in-arm for a second anyway, kind of doing a little dosie-do there with our arms, and I don’t know if that’s what did it, but at that moment the purse went flying, and landed on some produce or some meat, I don’t know, one of those stands next to us, and a Market Basket worker was looking down, there was the purse, landed right in front of him.  And there was this really macho Hispanic guy, in fact a couple times, I said “Good job.”   But he, ah, taller, brave guy, he just grabbled a hold of this guy.  And so they went down, struggling down the aisle, and the lady was right behind screaming and hollering.  I guess when it got to the other end of the aisle a couple other guys helped out, and they stopped this guy.  When I came and checked out what was going on, this Hispanic guy actually had, you know, from the back had the arms pulled back on this purse-snatcher, and they were yelling and screaming at him to just stay.  And of course they called the police, and a little bit more happened after that, but eventually the police came.  Well, of course, this poor lady, man, she was shocked, she was afraid.  I went looking for her later, because the people wanted to speak to her from the store.  So I went looking for her, and she had worked her way back to get her purse, and man she was shacking like a leaf, and just emotionally on overload.  And I mentioned, ‘the people at the store would like to speak to you, of course, it would be important that you speak to them.’  And she walked over with me to where they were, and of course they had this guy at that point down on the floor.  And there was all the intensity of the moment going on, and she didn’t want to get anywhere near him, didn’t want to see this guy again.  He kind of really scared her.  So, I asked her what had happened, and she asked me who I was.  I mentioned I was a local pastor, and then I asked her if I could pray for her, she was just shaking and just really overcome with anxieties.  So I said a little word of prayer for her.  But then she began to tell me that as she was going down the aisle she kind of sensed this guy was following her.  In fact, she said, “I noticed he was picking up, you know, an item, he’d put it back, he’d pick up another one, and everything he’d put back, and I just sensed he was following me.  And then just at the opportune time, I guess I turned, and he grabbed my purse, and then he bolted and he ran.”  Well, I start with that story today.  You know I left the store there and my friends were outside in the car waiting, and of course by then the cruisers had pulled up, and they wondered what was going on, and it took a little while to get this bag of Tortillas [laughter], but we just considered the timing of things, sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time.  But you know I start with this story because of sometimes you can use a story like Jesus did to paint a picture, and we’re going to look at some truths this morning.  And in this story that happened yesterday, especially I see a picture here that I also see here in 1st John.  You know, this lady, she had this guy following her.  His intent was to steal from her.  And the Bible tells us that there is a devil and he has demons, and he’s extremely evil, and he certainly is on the prowl.  In fact, the Bible says he seeks to steal, destroy, to devour and to kill.  And he’s out there, and his victims are indeed real people, and he’s trying to destroy them and devour them.  And of course, the Bible says that many of his victims are people that don’t even know what’s going on, they don’t even realize what’s happening.  But yet darkness has got them, they’re in the grip of darkness.  But also like this lady yesterday, you know fortunately she was able to get her purse back and the man was captured.  So there was some protection that went on, ultimately with the police.  And as we’ll see in the truths here in 1st John, we’re told that there are people, they are born-again Christians, that though the Devil would love to steal and just destroy and devour our lives, yet we’re told in the Bible that there is One who protects us, One who keeps us.  In fact we’ve already seen this in 1st John chapter 4, the apostle John said “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  So John is encouraging and exhorting us that though there is this one who wants to devour, yet we know that as Christians we have Jesus Christ in us, and he’s greater.  And John is going to make points to us this morning that not only is he in us, he’s also our Protector, and he keeps us from the evil one.


Final verses of 1st John


          Let’s look at verses 18-21, “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin.  But he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.  We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.  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.  Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen.”  Well, again, this is our last study, our seventeenth study.  And if you haven’t been a part of these studies before this time, certainly John has given us a lot to think about, a lot to consider.  He’s also greatly encouraged us.  I know I’ve been encouraged by studying this Epistle.  But John’s style, if you don’t know, is very direct, it’s very straight and to the point.  He’s very bold and he just says it like it is.  Yet at the same time he’s also very gracious, and he gives words of comfort and words of hope and words of peace at the same time.  No doubt about it, these are great words from a great man.  Well these last verses we’ll look at here, these last words, are no different than what we’ve seen thus far.  Again they’re very direct, straight to the point.  But yet in these words are hope and encouragement.  And I really appreciate John’s style, especially here, because there’s this sense of great confidence.  He just says it like it is.  He writes with a sense of absoluteness.  And in our time, in this day in our world where there’s such uncertainty, in a time where everything goes, in our pluralistic society where everybody believes anything and everything, ‘but just don’t say there are absolutes’, I appreciate John here as he stands out so boldly and reminds us in the closing words of his letter that as Christians there are a number of things that we can know that are positively absolutely 100 percent true, absolutes.  Now in this letter John has written a lot about knowing certain things.  You might remember as we’ve been studying this together.  In fact, in these five chapters alone he’s used the word, you see there in verses 18, 19 and 20, he starts these verses with the phrase “We know”.  And in fact that very phrase “we know”, he’s said that 18 times thus far.  I mean, he believes certain things, he’s not ashamed about saying it, this is absolutely true.  He says “We know, we know, we know”.  The word that he uses there is that Greek word oeda, which means to know intuitively, to perceive intuitively.  And then in verse 20 he uses the word “know” again, as you see a little bit later in the verse, he says “that we may know him”, “that we may know”.  That word is the word ginosko, which means to know experientially.  So he talks about knowing certain things and knowing them as truth.  Now he’s used the word “know” in one form or another 40 times, “know, know, knows”, just over and over, “you can know”.  And I love that about John, because I believe what I believe, and I believe it is true, and I’m not ashamed to say it, even though in our world today, man, there is this pressure to maybe not say things that are so absolute, so certain.  But John doesn’t mess around, he just says “This is the deal, we know, we know, we know, we know”.  Well, given this, all this happens to be through the Holy Spirit, what are the critical points here that John wants to remind us?  I mean he’s getting to the very end, he’s got a few more points to make at the end of his letter as he closes off.  What are these important things that he says we know, and can know with complete certainty? 


As born-again believers, we will not live in a lifestyle of sin


The first point, verse 18, he says as born-again believers we know that we will not live in a lifestyle of sin.  That’s what he says.  “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin.”  He’s referring to a child of God, somebody that’s born-again.  Now if you remember, if you’ve been studying with us, this is something we’ve heard him say before.  Those that are born of God do not sin.  And if you remember from before, he’s speaking of continuing in sin.  He’s not just referring to somebody stumbling, somebody struggling, he’s referring to somebody whose in a lifestyle, somebody whose remaining in a lifestyle of sin.  What I really like about here is he comes at it from a certain angle to encourage us.  Not to condemn us, but of course maybe to convict us, but really with a sense of encouragement.  And his thought here as you look at the words, ‘Is that I can know as a born-again believer that I will never be sucked in and lured in to the darkness in this world in such a way that I will remain in it.  I can be sure of that, as a born-again believer I’m never going to be sucked back into the darkness.  I may struggle, I may stumble, but I can know that as somebody whose born of God that I’m going to make it.  That’s really the heart of it.  You’re going to make it.  And that’s encouraging to me, you know.  You look at all the temptations, all the allurements, all the things that are trying to entice us.  And as Christians, we have a heart, we want to do right, we want to please God, we want to honor God, we want to glorify God.  And yet we struggle, and there’s this weakness in our flesh, and maybe sometimes you’re wondering ‘Man, am I going  to get to the end of this race?  Am I going to make it?’.  But John writes that we would know that we are going to make it.  That’s the sense, that we’re not going to return to a lifestyle of sin and remain in sin.  We’re not going to be sucked back into the darkness.  And the reason why, as he writes here, is because Jesus Christ himself ensures that that would be so.  That Jesus himself, he keeps us, he guards us, and therefore the wicked one cannot touch us.  That’s why.  “Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.”


A debated phrase, two views


Now he uses this phrase “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin.”  But then he says “That he who has been born of God keeps himself” [KJV, “but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”], that’s one of those phrases that is debated by scholars, ‘What exactly does it mean?’.  And there are two main views.  One view is that the “he”, when it says “but he who has been born of God [begotten of God]”, the “he” there, one belief is that it refers to a born-again believer, and the idea is that John is saying that born-again believers are going to make such effort, going to take such steps, such strides, live in such a way, that they’re going to make sure to keep themselves from permanently falling into a lifestyle of sin, permanently being sucked into the darkness.  Now that’s something that I do believe is true, although I don’t believe that is what he is saying here in this particular verse, although that is something I believe is taught in other parts of the Bible.  In fact, at the very end of this letter, as you look in verse 21, John says “Little children, keep yourselves”, meaning you do the work of keeping yourselves, “from idols.”  So, that’s got that sense to it.  So some say he means here, ‘but he who has been born of God keeps himself out of sin’ (back in verse 18).  Now the second theory is one that I believe, is that the word “he”, “but he who has been born of God”, should be capitalized.  And you have to look at the Greek, and you have to look at the way this Greek word is used in other places in the New Testament.  But there is another view, and I believe this, it’s referring to Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God.  So this phrase could be rendered this way, “For God’s Son keeps him, or holds him, again the believer, securely, and the evil one therefore cannot touch him.”  So God’s Son holds me, keeps me, so the evil one cannot touch me.  I personally believe that is the meaning of the phrase, and that is certainly consistent with other teachings in the New Testament.  In fact, Jesus in his High Priestly prayer in John 17, listen to how many times he uses the word “keep”.  John 17, verse 11, this wonderful prayer just before Jesus went to the cross.  “Now I’m no longer in the world” (he says this to the Father) “but these are in the world, and I come to you.” (he’s praying for the disciples, you and I) “Holy Father, keep through your name those whom you have given to me, that they may be one as we are one.  While I was with them in the world I  kept them in your name.  Those whom you gave me I have kept, and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”  Over and over he says “I keep, I’ve kept, God you keep”.  And I believe that’s what he’s saying here, “keep” as ‘keep close to you, keep you from being sucked back into this whirlwind, this big alluring temptation in the world, this big pool of darkness.’  Well, I believe that’s what he’s saying, that Jesus keeps me, man.  I don’t know about you, but that’s certainly encouraging to me.  I think that’s also what Paul refers to in 1st Corinthians chapter 10, verse 13, a Scripture a lot of us have memorized “No temptation has overtaken you except as common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it.”  So, as a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, John is saying here that I can know that Jesus is with me, and he is keeping me in such a way that I’m going to remain with him until the end, I’m going to make it, and that the devil and his buddies will not be able to draw me back onto their side, back into darkness.  I may struggle, I may stumble at times, but as a child of God, I will always be a child of God, I will remain as a child of God, and that will be evidenced by a lifestyle that will continue to walk with God in the future.  [This is where the two apparently apposing doctrines “once saved, always saved” and “he who endures to the end will be saved” kind of meet.  Our salvation is more an act of God within us, keeping us, than from our own power of enduring to the end.  It is Jesus in us that makes it possible for a believer to endure to the end.]  So, thank  you Jesus, that’s what I say.  Encouragement for me today, no doubt it.  I want to be faithful, I want to glorify God, and John here is saying you’re born of God and you will not live in a lifestyle of sin, Jesus has got you.  He’s going to make sure that you don’t return to a lifestyle of sin.  God is faithful to that. 

          Now, maybe today, maybe you’re here this morning, and there’s a sense of fear, maybe there’s a sense of anxiety in your heart, maybe you’ve been struggling.  Maybe you’ve been wondering, ‘I’m I going to make it?  Am I going to make it?  I haven’t been doing very well.’  Maybe you’ve been wondering if you’re going to be able continue to resist some of the things that are going on, some of the temptations.  Well the Bible again says “Absolutely, positively yes you will be able to, Jesus is going to keep you, you’re not going to be sucked back in, you’re going to make it.”  Of course, the Bible also says before I was saved I was once in darkness, I was once back in the darkness, back in the ways of the world, but Jesus came and he saved me and he washed me and he sanctified me and he justified me.  This is what Paul said to the Corinthians in 1st Corinthians chapter 6, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Do not be deceived, neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexuals nor sodomites nor thieves nor coveters nor drunkards nor revelers nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).  So he says you’re new creatures, that’s what you are, now you’re a new creature, a new creation, the old is gone, the new is come.  And I say ‘Thank you Jesus’, because I don’t want to go back.  I want to live for God, man, I want to glorify God now in my life.


“The wicked one does not touch him”


          Now, when he says at the end of verse 18 “and the wicked one does not touch him”  that’s also an interesting phrase, because the Greek word there for “to touch” is the word haptumai, and it means literally to touch with a purpose of attaching oneself to, it means a constant touching, and influencing in such a manner that the union which exists between me and Christ would be somehow effected.  So it’s a real grip.  In fact, in John chapter 20, remember when Mary came out to Jesus, and Jesus is resurrected, and when she recognized Jesus she just fell down before Jesus and evidently really put a grip on him, almost a death-grip on him.  And Jesus responded, he said “Don’t cling to me”.  That word click is haptumai, he says ‘Don’t haptumai to me, don’t cling to me.’  And here is that word here, “the wicked one does not haptumai to him”, meaning he doesn’t cling to him, doesn’t keep him in his grip, doesn’t influence him in such a way that his relationship with God is going to be effected.  So, there’s a side-point we can make here.  And if you look at the Greek, and understand the text there in other verses, I believe this is another verse the says Christians can’t be demon possessed.  Because greater is he who is in me than he that is in the world, and Jesus has got me in his grip.  And in no way can the devil and the demons have such an influence on me that it would in any way hinder my relationship with God.  So, as a Christian this morning, yes the devil will tempt you, yeah, he may try you, he may even try to torment you, he may even seek to make you retched and miserable, he may try to depress you and make you unhappy, but no they will never, ever, ever, never, ever, ever get you back in his clutches again.  Because Jesus makes sure he’s got you in his grip.  I think of this story about Stone Mountain, it’s the largest boulder in the world.  And evidently one day on top of this mountain, it’s a big boulder, and it’s got this gradual slope to it.  And evidently some people were watching and looking at this boulder, this mountain, and this young man was on top, and he was just walking along, but not really paying attention.  And as he was walking along, going down the curvature of this stone, this dome-like mountain, suddenly he became aware that he had gone to a point that he couldn’t return back.  He continued to go down the decline, and eventually he got to the point, he realized ‘I can’t make it back up here, I can’t make it to safety.’  So he had gone to the point of no return, so he began to scream out, cry out ‘Help! Help!  Help me!  Help me!”  Well as the story goes, though he pled and cried, horrified spectators watched a moment later as he hurtled to his death below.  But he had gone too far, to the point of no return.  But John is saying, ‘Christian, you may have fears at times and anxiety, but no, you’ll never go to the point of no return.’eHe

   Jesus will stop you.  If you’re on that Stone Mountain boulder, he would say ‘Hold it right there, that is far as you’re going!  Any farther, it’s just too dangerous, you’re staying right here.’  And I just thank God for that.  I need that assurance, I need that confidence, I need that peace in my life.  Well, John wants to again remind you, that God is with you, and you will never return to a lifestyle of sin if you’re born-again.  You can know it positively. 


We’re children of God


The second thing we can know positively, absolutely, without any doubt is as he says in verse 19a, that “We know that we are of God”, that we are God’s kids, that we’re children of God, literally born out of God, meaning we have received something of God himself.  As Peter says in 2nd Peter chapter 1, “I’m a partaker of his divine nature.”  I’m God’s kid, like children have the nature of their parents, I have the nature of God, I’m his child, I can know that.  Now through the Holy Spirit I have this intuitive understanding that I’m a child of God.  But also as he says in verse 19, “that the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”  [KJV, “and the whole world lieth in wickedness.”]  Here J. Vernon McGee writes that those Greek words that state ‘that the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one’, he says that it’s similar, the Greek words, the words are similar to when a mom has her sleeping baby in her arms.  You know, she rocks her baby and wants to make sure the baby stays asleep.  And those words there “lies under the sway of the wicked one” are similar words, so it’s like Satan has the world in his arms, cradled, and he’s swaying the world back and forth, going ‘Don’t wake up, don’t wake up.  I don’t want you to realize where you are.  I got yah.  You’re asleep.  You don’t know it, but you’re in my grip.’  That’s literally the sense of those words.  So, the statement here then says, and the Bible says as Christians we can know this, it suggests that without any doubt, apart from God, the world is in the grip of Satan, he is the prince of the world, and therefore the world is positively absolutely evil.  [Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world….”]  That’s what’s meant here.  Listen to what Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, chapter 2, verses 1-3, “And you he made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the coarse of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom once we conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath just as the others.”  So John, John is saying this is something that we also know, we know that we’re children of God, but we also look around and go, ‘Man, the world is evil, the world is under the sway of the Devil.’  And that is the issue in this city where our congregation is.  The real problem in this community is not the economy, it’s not the education, it’s not a political issue, it’s not a cultural issue.  The real issue with this city, and all the communities around is that the world is in the grip of the Devil.  There are people, many people in this city, the Bible teaches this, so I state it emphatically, that are in the grip of the Devil.  That is the issue.  In fact recently, I met with the Police Chief of this city.  Neat man, got a heart for God, and he’s gone to the churches in the area, and wanting the churches to help work in the city and try to turn this city around.  And as we met, and he perceives the same thing, and I shared with him, I said ‘You know, I appreciate what you’re doing because you guys are out there fighting evil, you know, and are trying to restrain it.’  But the real issue in this county and this city is spiritual, that’s why the things happen as they do, that’s why this man was ultimately taking this purse yesterday.  It wasn’t an issue of his education or his culture, the real issue was his heart.  The heart of the problem is spiritual.  So therefore what this city and all the surrounding cities and towns need is to be converted to Jesus Christ.  That’s what the Bible says.  That is the real issue.  So what this city needs is the Word of God to be taught, it needs churches that are praying.  So September 19th, at the high school auditorium, many of you were there, taking turns in different cities, churches, evangelical churches gathering together and praying for the city, because we realized the need of the city is a spiritual need.  And that is what will ultimately change the city is hearts turning to God, hearts getting right with God, and hearts receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  That is where true victory is.  Many of you have the same testimony in your life.  I was once like Paul said to the church in Ephesus, I was once this way, but I no longer am, and it’s because of Jesus Christ, because I turned to him, and he forgave me, and he washed me, and he sanctified me, and he made me a new creature.  Well the victory, that’s exactly how the victory comes.  You know I was listening to our radio the other day, and we have a call-in program at 6 O’clock, “To Every Man an Answer”.  And somebody called in and they were talking about all the evil that they see progressing in the world….[part of sentence lost by tape-switchover] and I’m sure there are some men collaborating here and there.  But the reason why all these things are moving in one direction is because the world is in the grip of the enemy, and he’s moving it along.  And that’s exactly what the announcer said.  He said the Devil is orchestrating all these things, he’s got the world in his clutches, and that’s exactly what the Bible teaches.  In the latter days it would continue and continue in great ways. That’s what’s happening in the world.  But as Christians, you’re going to make it, man.  You’re going to make it.  Be encouraged.  Those of us that are born of God, we’re God’s kids and we will not return to a lifestyle of sin.  Jesus keeps us, we’re born of him, we’re his children, we have an eternal inheritance waiting for us.  We are saved from the darkness.  And though the world is under the sway of the wicked one, we will not be ultimately swayed, permanently by the world.  Well, John says these important things.


Thirdly, “we know the true God”


But also he says thirdly,  verse 20, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God, and eternal life.” He says, summarizing, ‘we know the true God.’  That’s something again, you say in this age, man, ‘Wow, that’s intolerant to say that, that’s prideful.’  We only say it because the Bible declares it.  I also believe the Bible is true.  But John writes, we as Christians, we know the true God, as you look at the words that he’s saying there.  And that is because Jesus has come, he came to this earth 2,000 years ago, but also that word “come” means he’s here presently. He came, he didn’t leave us as orphans, he left the Holy Spirit in us.  He’s come and he’s given us an understanding, and a knowledge, and it’s an understanding we have now in experience, and that is that Jesus Christ, that God is the true God and Jesus Christ his Son is also the true God and eternal life.  And he’s our Lord, he’s in us, and we’re in him.  So that’s what he says, we know the true God.  Now that word “understanding”, as you look in verse 20 in your Bibles, “and we know that the Son of God is come,  and has given us an understanding”.  That word in the Greek is the word dianoia, [Strongs # 1271, deep thought---imagination, mind, understanding] and that word means literally, “the mind”, “the depth of the mind”, “the rational part of our being that enables us to grasp truth.”  To come to Jesus Christ isn’t to toss away my mind, it’s not a blind faith.  In fact, we’re outside today and we were worshipping with the song Jehovah, There’s no other God Jehovah, we’re talking about his majesty, you know, he’s beyond the galaxy, and I love being outside singing songs like that, because you look at the artwork and say, ‘Yeah, there’s a great artist in this Jehovah God.’  Well, he says we know this understanding with our mind, of course this is something he gives to us, he gives us the ability, he gives us the life.  When I come to Christ and open my heart, God gives me now life [this is through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as explained in 1 Corinthians 2:11-13], life to perceive, life to understand.  It’s something that comes with the experience of opening my heart to God.  It’s something that happens through the Holy Spirit, and now I know in my very mind that Jesus, that God is the true God, Jehovah God.  You know, it’s the same word, that word for “understanding” is same word for mind that’s used in Matthew 22, Jesus said “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  It’s intellectual, it’s understanding.  Now, before I came to God, before I came to Jesus my mind was like the rest of the world, the Bible says, it was blinded.  Just listen to what Paul said to the Ephesians again, in Ephesians chapter 4, verses 17-18, “This I say therefore and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness that is in their heart.”  So, the world is darkened, there’s a blind, there’s even a veil the Bible describes that’s over many hearts.  But I turned and opened my heart to God and the Holy Spirit then removed that blindness and gave me life, and now I’m able to see and to understand.  This is something that God has given to me, and I especially see and understand and know that Jesus Christ is the one and only true God.  Now when he says there at the end, verse 20, “And we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God, and eternal life.”  I believe he is stating there, referring to emphatically that Jesus Christ is God.  He is the true God, and eternal life.  [Messianic believers and most Christians believe Jesus was the one the Israelites worshipped as Yahweh in the Old Testament, Elohim being God the Father, Yahweh-the Word, and the Holy Spirit.]  Now because of the words he uses, some might debate that and say ‘maybe he’s referring to God the Father when he says ‘the true God, and eternal life.’’  But if you just go back to the beginning of 1st John, why don’t you just go back a couple chapters, 1st John right at the very beginning he introduces, verse 2, chapter 1, “The life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and declare to you that eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us.”   When he says “eternal life”, as you look at the context as we study, very clearly without a doubt, referring to Jesus Christ.  So then back at chapter 5, verse 20 he says “This is the true God, and eternal life.”  I believe he’s referring to, without a doubt, Jesus Christ.  Now today, in our pluralistic society, there are mounting pressures for the Church to accept other religions, to validate other religions, to accept them as other ways that you can know God and get to God.  There’s even a recent movement, and it even has started in some churches, there’s pastors encouraging Christian churches to take down their crosses, because the cross offends, the cross separates, ‘and we certainly don’t want to offend and separate ourselves from other Jewish synagogues or other Muslim mosques, so we should take them down.’  When I read that newspaper article my immediate response was ‘Let’s put up a cross on our church, man, let’s put a bunch of them on all the windows and all the doors.’  Because the Bible is clear, and though it may offend, and though it’s not popular, and though we’re saying you’ve got to believe everything and just accept everything [the Bible teaches], if that isn’t true, people are going to be judged, and they’re going to reap the horrific result of believing in the wrong things.  The Bible says there is a truth.  In fact, I like the way the early Church, study in the Book of Acts in your own fellowship, the early Church was called the Sect [called “the Sect of the Nazarenes” in Acts], called the Way.  I guess it will go back to that again, the conservative Christians will be called the Sect again, I think we’re going there again.  But the Way, and why were they called the Way?  Because of John chapter 14, verse 6 where Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life.”  And when he said “I am the way” he meant ‘he is the only way to the Father.’  “There’s no other way but by me.”  So, let’s put up some crosses, man.  Put ‘em on our cars, on our churches, not to say we’re better, it’s not prideful at all, it’s not arrogant at all, it’s just a simple truth as God said thousands of years ago through his Word.  Well, you might be accused of being intolerant, I might be, be so be it.  John is saying we can know absolutely, be 100 percent confident that we will not return to a lifestyle of sin as Christians, that we are of God, we’re born-again, we’re children of God, and that we absolutely know the true God, and it’s Jesus Christ, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, the Truine God, and we know it without a doubt.  And of course he is our eternal life.

          So this morning if you’re here, maybe you’ve been invited by a friend, maybe you’ve heard it on the radio, and you’re here and you want to know God.  But you don’t know if you know God, and you want to know that you have eternal life.  And you want to know that when you die you’re going to be with God in heaven [some believe  “We will be with God after the 1st resurrection to immortality, when we’ll be part of the Kingdom of God which will be on earth after the 2nd coming of Jesus.” cf. 1st Corinthians 15:49-54; Zechariah 14:9 (read whole chapter); and Revelation 20:4-6.  For a complete in-depth study on this subject, log onto].  And you’re going, ‘Yeah, I want to know that.  I’m seeking, checking out this religion, checking out that religion.’  When I used to be a mechanical engineer at Caterpillar I used to meet with other engineers that were kind of open to exploring other religions, and I would just challenge them, ‘Let’s just study the Bible together.’  Because you will find the answers you’re looking for in the Bible.  And I saw a number of the engineers I worked with come to Christ through it.  But maybe that’s you here this morning, and you’re wondering, you’re exploring.  Well, my encouragement to you, open your heart to God and Jesus Christ.  This morning place your faith in Jesus Christ, and you will know with absolute assuredness, without any doubt that Jesus is indeed the true God, and that he is eternal life, and you will have eternal life through him.  The Bible says “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”  [To see who Jesus really is log onto]


Final verse


Well, the last words here of this Epistle, man John’s style, you grow to really love it.  Verse 21, I haven’t ended many letters like this myself.  But he says “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen.”  That’s how he ends.  But yet you look in this very phrase and it’s bold, it’s direct, it’s straight forward.  Yet at the same time there’s a tenderness, there’s words of comfort, it comes with comfort and encouragement and hope because he starts off, he says “Little children”.  That’s nine times he’s said that, nine times, “little children, little children”, spiritual dad to spiritual children.  ‘Little children, I’m concerned for you, I care for you.’  “Little children, keep yourself from idols.”  Now when he says “keep”, the word there is different than the word “keep” up there in verse 18.  When he says “keep” here, the word literally means to “stand watch, to guard”, like a guard would guard a prison, ‘you need to guard your heart and stand guard so certain things don’t get in, to guard as if from a dangerous situation.  That’s what the word means literally.  “Guard your life, little children, guard, keep yourselves from danger from idols”, that’s what he means, and idolatry, from the horrific fruit of idolatry in your life.  Little children, man, this is so important to the Church in America today.  I was with Pastor Randy Cahill, I love to spend time with him, I was with him on the North End for dinner, him and his wife and my wife on Friday night.  I like to just pick his brain, God has really been using him with a massive ministry, and he was sharing with me, he says, “You know, I see more carnality in the Church than I’ve ever seen before.”  And it’s sad, but it’s true, isn’t it?  So much idolatry in hearts.  So many Christians being allured and tempted and trying to live a double life.  And John ends, and says ‘Little children, keep yourself from such dangers, keep yourselves from idolatry.’  And what is an idol.  An idol is defined as anything in our lives that would occupy the place that God should occupy, our devotion, our passion, our love.  And an idol can be just about anything, it can  take the form of anything, it can even be a person, it can be a place, or it could be a material thing, anything that steals my devotion to God is an idol.  Somebody put it this way, ‘The thing we serve is the thing we worship.  Whatever controls our lives and calls the signals is our God.’  I think then of F.D. Meyer, and this is what’s happening assuredly in our country.  You wonder with all that’s going on with immorality, sexual immorality in our country, but the phrase, “You become what you worship.”  F.D. Meyer says this, “The human heart is always so willing to substitute the material for the spiritual.  And where the idol takes the place of God, man profits the only antagonistic force strong enough to counteract the workings of his passion.  Thus in every nation under heaven, idolatry has sooner or later led to impurity.”  You got idolatry, eventually you got a nation, a culture that’s very impure.  And you see that happen in our culture.  Man, we worship so many idols, we’ve worshipped superstars, people and musicians and athletes and rich people, and all these things, and all these things ultimately lead to impurity.  And that’s where we are man, as a culture.  F.D. Meyer goes on and says, “Self is our greatest idol.  And it’s so ambiguous, so insidious, so protean.”  Well, the question to you, who do you serve and worship, what controls your life, and daily calls the signals in your life?  I like, as we studied this last two weeks ago on Wednesday night, the words of Joshua, you know this great leader, telling the very people of Israel as he was getting ready to die and he says, ‘Put away the idols, put away the idols from your life.’  And then he stood before all the nation of Israel and he said this, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  How about you this morning, anything controlling your heart?  Anything consuming your passion?  Is anything getting in the way of you and God?  John just ends his letter, maybe these are his last words.  We’re going to look at two more letters he writes, but this could be his final letter, and maybe this was written even after he recorded the words of Revelation.  But if these are his very last words, it’s interesting, simply they are “Little children,” to the Church, you and I, “keep yourselves from idols.  Amen.”  Folks, man, Christians, keep yourselves from idols, anything, anything that would de-throne God in your life.




 Well John is pretty strong, isn’t he.  Pretty clear.  I love it, actually, man.  He says ‘This is what we know, this is absolute.’  Time right now, we’re in a pluralistic age, ‘This is the truth, we know as born-again Christians, we know without any doubt that we will not return to a lifestyle of sin.  We’re going to make it, man.  Yeah there’s darkness all around, and the evil one keeps the world just in this sway of darkness, but we’re not going to get sucked into it again.  We may stumble, we may struggle, but we’re going to make it.  God himself, Jesus Christ ensures that we’ll make it.  He keeps us, he guards us, and the wicked one cannot touch us.  Secondly, we also know that we are God’s kids.  We are of God.  The rest of the world indeed lies in the sway of the wicked one.  But thirdly, we also know that we know the true God, and that’s Jesus Christ.  He’s come, he’s given us this understanding, we now have an experience, and we know that he’s the true God and eternal life.  Well with all that, final words from a great man, final exhortation as he signs off “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”  I think of, I was recently looking at a little news article, and there’s a Christian song that’s very popular, I really enjoy it, I love this song, and I read recently that it’s actually made its way to the top of secular charts.  And I guess it’s still in the top 40 on the charts.  But for a little while, from the way I understood from the article, it was even up at number one.  But what’s interesting about this Christian song, there’s been a number of songs the last few years that Christians have written that were kind of crossover songs, you know, they kind of didn’t really have a bold message, but they were nice songs.  But this song doesn’t mess around.  It gives a very bold message.  And it’s been all over the secular radio stations, it’s a song by Mercy Me, “I Can Only Imagine”.  It’s a wonderful song, if you’ve never heard it, I’m sure you’d be blessed by it.  But I’ll read to you the words of this song.  This song is all about worshipping Jesus.  Doesn’t mess around.  In fact, there was an interview done of the man who wrote it, his name is Mark Miller, and he says, “I’m just being myself, I haven’t tried to water down the message, I’m just being myself.”  And we’re surprised, but this is at the top of the charts.  Here’s the words:


“I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by your side.  I can only imagine when my eyes will see, when your face is before me, I can only imagine.  Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel?  Will I dance for you Jesus, or in awe of you be still?  Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall?  Will I sing Hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all?  I can only imagine, I can only imagine.  I can only imagine when the day comes, when I find myself standing in the sun, I can only imagine when all we’ll do is forever, forever worship you.  I can only imagine, I can only imagine.  Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel?  Will I dance for you Jesus, or in awe of you be still, will I stand in your presence, or to my knees will I fall, will I sing Hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all?  I can only imagine, I can only imagine.  I can only imagine when all I will do, is forever, forever worship you, I can only imagine.”


Interesting, John ends with the words “Little children, keep yourself from idols.”  Mark Miller says “I can’t wait, I imagine until the time I’m finally in glory, and all I will do forever and forever, is worship you.”
Let’s close in prayer….”  [transcript of the final expository sermon of 1st John 1-5 series (1st John 5:19-21), given somewhere in New England.]

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