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Sermon #54 — 1st John Series
Title: “We Know, We Know, We Know”
Text: 1 John 5:18-21
Subject: The Knowledge of Faith
Date: Tuesday Evening — February 11, 2014
This is a generation that despises dogmatism about anything, except the insistence that evil is good. In this evil day in which it is fashionable to be skeptical, suspicious, and unbelieving, it is refreshing to hear a man speak with the authority of sure knowledge. It is a remarkable thing, worthy of our notice, that John uses the word “know” constantly throughout this epistle. Again and again, he strikes the same note, “We know, we know, we know.” That is the title of my message. — “We Know, We Know, We Know.” My text is 1st John 5:18-21.
(1 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. (19) And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. (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. (21) Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
Why does John speak in such a positive, dogmatic manner? For one thing, he was simply echoing the words of his Master (John 14:4, 7: 17:7-8, 25).
(John 14:4) And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
(John 14:7) If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
(John 17:7) Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. (8) For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
(John 17:25) O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
For another thing, it appears that John was a man who could tolerate no mental conflict. Thomas was, for a time, more brain than heart; and he had his doubts. But John was more heart than brains; and his loving heart could not endure a skeptical doubt.
The full assurance expressed by the words “we know” arises from the fact that perfect love always casts out hesitancy and doubt, which is a form of fear. And John tells us that “perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment.” Love cannot endure doubt. If love is crossed with doubt, it becomes jealousy. And jealousy is as cruel as the grave.
We ought, all of us, to seek that firm, confident, undoubting, and assured knowledge which John expresses in this epistle. Nothing is more comforting and satisfying. But how does a believer come to enjoy such knowledge? To be sure, if we have any real knowledge of sacred, eternal, spiritual things, our knowledge is the result of that Divine illumination which the Holy Spirit gives to all of God’s elect (Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:34; John 6:45; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16).
(Isaiah 54:13) And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
(Jeremiah 31:34) And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
(John 6:45) It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
(Hebrews 8:10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.
(Hebrews 10:16) This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
All spiritual knowledge is God-given, revealed knowledge. We have this knowledge by the gift of God in the new birth (John 3:3). — “Blessed are your eyes, for they see.”
This God-given knowledge is a knowledge with certainty. It is neither speculative nor skeptical. — “We know!” Those are the words John uses over and over in these five chapters.
We may, at times, doubt our interest in the things of God; but we cannot endure the possibility of a doubt regarding the pillars of the temple.
All who are taught of God are born of God; and all who are born of God “have the mind of Christ,” a God-given discerning knowledge of Holy Scripture. John’s dogmatism is seen throughout this epistle (1 John 1:1-5; 2:19-20; 4:1-3, 6).
(1 John 1:1-5) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (2) (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) (3) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (4) And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. (5) This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
(1 John 2:19) They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (20) But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.
(1 John 4:1-3) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (2) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: (3) And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
(1 John 4:6) We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
John was inspired by God the Holy Ghost to write this epistle specifically that we might, being taught of God, enjoy this assured knowledge (1 John 2:3-8; 3:14, 24).
(1 John 2:3-8) And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. (4) He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (5) But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. (6) He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. (7) Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. (8) Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.
(1 John 3:14) We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
(1 John 3:24) And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
Knowledge of Faith
Now, I want you to see this: — This knowledge, this God-given, sure knowledge is a matter of faith in Christ. If you trust Christ, this knowledge is yours. Without faith in Christ, you can never possess it. Without faith in Christ, you will live and die a skeptic, doubting everything revealed by God in his Word (Hebrews 11:1-3).
(Hebrews 11:1-3) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good report. (3) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
Proposition: This God-given knowledge is a great, blessed privilege; and it lays us under great obligation. —— The greater our knowledge of Divine truth is, the greater our responsibility becomes.
In our text John reminds us of three things we know. Then he closes this epistle of love a very solemn warning.
As we read this epistle, we read five chapters of dogmatic theology, written out in words of the greatest possible love and tenderness. All five chapters were written with glorious dogmatism. John is dogmatic in his assertion of Divine truth. He does not hesitate, or fear, or doubt for a moment. His evidence is too sure. His conviction is too firm. Therefore, he rings the bell with a sure sound again and again. — “We know! — We know! — We know!” Blessed are those people who are instructed with such dogmatism!
1st — We know that that which is born of God does not sin (v. 18).
(1 John 5:18) 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.
We who believe, we who trust the Lord Jesus Christ, are born of God. This new birth, regeneration, is a sovereign work of God the Holy Spirit. It is a resurrection from the dead. God almighty sovereignly implants the Divine nature in a man’s heart (Ephesians 2:1-5).
(Ephesians 2:1-5) And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).
Being born of God, we no longer live under the reigning power and dominion of sin (Romans 6:11-14). That is to say, we no longer live under the dominion of sin’s guilt and no longer serve sin. But our text says much more. — That new man created within us, “created in righteousness and true holiness,” cannot sin (1 John 3:9; 5:18).
(1 John 3:9) Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
(1 John 5:18) 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.
Christ in you cannot sin. The new man cannot sin, because he is born of God (Romans 7:14-17; Galatians 5:15-23).
(Galatians 5:15-23) But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. (16) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (17) For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. (18) But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. (19) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, (20) Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, (21) Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
(Romans 7:14-25) For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. (15) For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (16) If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. (17) Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (18) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (19) For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (20) Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (21) I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. (22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: (23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (25) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Stay with 1st John 5:18 a little longer. The Spirit of God goes on to tell us, not only that God’s new creature cannot sin, but also that “he that is begotten of God keepeth himself.” Yes, we are kept by God, else we would not and could not keep ourselves. But here we read, “he that is begotten of God keepeth himself.”
We are kept by the power of God, through faith. The Lord God keeps us. But we must also keep ourselves (Jeremiah 32:40). The Lord will not leave us. And he will not let us leave Him. We are kept...
· In the love of God.
· In the hands of Christ.
· In the covenant of grace.
(Jeremiah 32:37-42) Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: (38) And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: (39) And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: (40) And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. (41) Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. (42) For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.
Being thus kept of God, we keep ourselves. — “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.”
· We keep ourselves with the shield of faith.
· We keep ourselves by the Word of God.
· We keep ourselves by trusting the Gospel.
· We keep ourselves by keeping ourselves near the cross.
Now, watch this: — “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” (1 John 5:18). What a great thing this is that we know! — Satan cannot touch God’s anointed! That is to say he cannot do us any real harm.
There are many things that Satan can and does do against God’s children. He…
· Accuses Us
But he cannot do us any real harm. The Lord God has hedged us about and fenced us in. He guards us as the apple of his eye. He says to Satan, “Touch not his life.”
· He cannot destroy our righteousness.
· He cannot nullify our pardon.
· He cannot corrupt our inheritance.
· He cannot hinder our final preservation (Matthew 16:18).
· He cannot cause us to lose anything (Revelation 21:1-5).
(Revelation 21:1-5) And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. (2) And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (3) And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (4) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (5) And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
2nd — We know that there are two races in this world, the one at enmity against the other (v. 19).
(1 John 5:19) And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
Those who are born again are of God.
The whole world lies in wickedness (Psalm 14:1-3).
(Psalm 14:1-3) The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. (2) The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. (3) They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
All men by nature abide in wickedness, addicted to sin, living under the power of the devil, the wicked one. What an indictment is here issued by God the Holy Spirit against all of Adam’s fallen race! — They are under the influence of that wicked one, led according to his will, governed by him, and are at his beck and call, taken captive by Satan at his will. — We know this by our own sad experience, for we once walked after the course of this world. — That this is the state and condition of all men by nature is a fact that is easily observed.
Jesus is God
3rd — We know that Jesus is God, that Christ has come, and that he is God the Son (v. 20).
(1 John 5:20) 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.
We know that the Son of God has come. We know that he came with a mission to accomplish — Redemption (Hebrews 10:10-14). We know that he accomplished that mission. We know that he has given to us understanding, — an understanding that we are in him! — He is our Light our Life!
We know that Jesus Christ is true (v. 20).
We know that we are in him that is true. — Christ is in us now, in the experience of his great grace. But we were in him long before he came to be in us!
And we know that our God is the one true and living God — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! — “This is the true God, and eternal life.” Without question, that means that this sure knowledge of God in Christ is eternal life (John 17:3). But I am sure the Holy Spirit means for us to understand by this that Jesus Christ is himself the true God and that he (our Divine Surety) is eternal life.
4th — John closes his epistle by giving us a very solemn warning (v. 21).
(1 John 5:21) Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.