“2 Keep my commands and live, and my law as the apple of your eye… 5 That they may keep you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words.” Proverbs 7:2, 5
The man who “keeps” or obeys God’s “commands” will “live” and experience God’s protection in his life. The phrase “the apple of your eye” refers to the pupil which is the most sensitive and carefully guarded part of the human body (7:2a). When God’s “law” becomes our most important focus, when it is what we pay the closest attention to (7:2b), it will “keep” or guard us from the many allurements of “the immoral woman” and “seductress who flatters with her words” (7:5). God’s Word instructs us to…
1. Avoid where and when the sexual temptation is waiting – “the path to her house in the twilight… in the black of the night” (7:7-9). Establish guardrails that keep you from being tempted such as no searching online when you are alone at night, lock up your digital devices using internet filters to give you accountability when accessing the internet, avoid massage parlors, strip clubs, bars, etc.
2. Avoid women online or in person …
Who dress seductively – “attire of a harlot” (7:10a)
Whose hearts are “crafty” or secretive/deceptive (7:10b)
Who are defiant (“loud and rebellious”) against God’s Word and the sanctity of marriage (7:11a)
Who are promiscuous – “her feet would not stay home…” (7:11b-12)
Who are overly aggressive, sensual, and shameless – “she caught him and kissed him; with an impudent face she said to him…” (7:13)
Who minimize wrongdoing by referring to their religious activity (“I have peace offerings with me; today I have paid my vows”) and entice men with a meal in her home (the animal sacrifice usually included leftover meat which must be consumed the same day in her home – 7:14; cf. Lev. 7:15)
Who seek to build your ego up with flattery – “So I came out to meet you, diligently to seek your face, and I have found you” (7:15)
Who seek to entice with you with a sensuous description of their bedroom – “I have spread my bed with tapestry, colored coverings of Egyptian linen. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon” (7:16-17)
Who proposition you – “Come, let us take our fill of love until morning; let us delight ourselves with love” (7:18)
Who reassure you of your safety from their husband – “For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he has taken a bag of money with him, and will come home on the appointed day” (7:19-20)
Who disarm you with their “flattering lips” (7:21)
3. Avoid seductive women online or in person because…
They will lead you to far-reaching consequences including bondage and death – “Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, he did not know it would cost his life.” (7:22-23)
We are living in a very sexualized society today whereby pornography is very accessible, affordable, aggressive, anonymous, and appealing. Solomon’s description of the seductress is much like the digitalized pornographic women online. Satan uses the beauty of women (in person and online) to entice Christian men away from God and His design for purity in marriage and family, so he can “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10a) their lives today (1 Pet. 5:8).
Solomon concludes these warnings by inviting us to listen to his advice (7:24):
Guard your heart. “Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways” in your imagination or fantasies (7:25a; cf. Matt. 5:28). We are already in danger if we are fantasizing about having sex with a woman outside of marriage. When we are tempted to fantasize about her, turn to the Lord and pray for her salvation (if she is not a believer in Jesus), or for her purity (if she is a believer). Reach out to a brother in Christ to confess your struggle and pray with each other (Jas. 5:16).
Guard your body. “Do not stray into her paths” (7:25b). Avoid where the seductress is waiting for you whether it be online or in person. Do not go or stay near to someone (online or in person) who resembles the immoral or seductive women that Proverbs 7 describes. Ask God what your first step must be to do this. Locking up your digital devices? Getting a flip phone? Changing jobs or locations? Joining a men’s recovery group that deals specifically with porn and sex addiction?
Guard your future. “For she has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men. Her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death” (7:26-27). No matter how “strong” we think we are, we must take seriously the consequences of yielding to her seductive ways. To be in “her house” and in her bed in our thoughts or in person will place us on a fast speedway to “hell” (Sheol) or the grave. If we pursue sin long enough and hard enough it will lead to physical “death.” Possible causes of death could be punishment from an angry husband, from poverty, from STDs, or from spiritual and emotional anguish.
While King Solomon wrote Proverbs 7 warning of the allurements of seductive immoral women, he did not follow his own advice later in life. The Bible tells us, “When Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David” (I Kgs. 11:4). Even though God had warned Solomon not to marry foreign wives because they would turn away his heart after their gods (11:2), Solomon disobeyed the Lord and “had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart” (11:3). Solomon did not just worship their false gods, he also built worship centers for the people of Israel to worship the false gods of his foreign wives (11:7-8). As a result, God “became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the Lord had commanded” (I Kgs. 11:9-11).
Solomon’s sexual immorality led to widespread idolatry. In many ways, viewing pornography is idolatrous. What is an idol? An idol is turning to something or someone other than God when we are anxious, bored, depressed, exhausted, lonely, self-doubting, stressed, or even wanting to celebrate. More and more Christians are turning to pornography  instead of the Lord to medicate or celebrate their feelings. Pornography is an idol that is destroying the sons and daughters of God around the world.
As long as we are living in these fallen physical bodies, there will always be the danger of being seduced by immoral women in person or online which can cause us to fall away from the Lord our God. Solomon ignored God’s design for marriage (one wife for life or until the death of one’s spouse – Gen. 2:24; cf. Mark 10:6-12; Rom. 7:2-3; I Cor. 7:10-11), and married hundreds of wives and had hundreds of mistresses.
May none of us think we are beyond the reaches of sexual immorality and the idolatry that often accompanies it.
In Solomon’s case, it is better to do what he says, not what he did. We must guard our hearts, our bodies, and our futures from the dangers of sexual immorality (Prov. 7:24-27). God the Holy Spirit can empower us to do this as we yield to Him in the context of a recovery community of believing brothers in Christ (Rom. 8:10-11; 2 Tim. 2:22).
No matter where we may find ourselves in our dealings with sexual temptation, there is always hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is not uncomfortable with our sin or shame. He already knows about it, and He wants us to approach His throne of grace with confidence or boldness because He understands and is sympathetic towards our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15-16). Satan wants to convince us that God is against us and condemns us (Rev. 12:10).
Jesus tells us that His heart is “gentle and lowly” (Matt. 11:29), not condemning (cf. John 3:17). When in the temple, Jesus read Isaiah 42:3 which described the coming Messiah: “A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench.” (Matt. 12:20). Jesus, the Messiah, will not treat those of us who are “bruised” with sin and shame harshly (“break” them). He comes along side of us to strengthen and heal us with His presence rather than step on us to advance His own plans. He will not “quench” what little hope (“smoking flax”) we have left inside of us. He wants to rekindle our love and passion for Him and for life itself. He does this with His gentle and gracious presence in our lives which heals our wounds and replaces our shame with dignity.
God says He is for us and demonstrated this by giving us His best – His only perfect Son – when we were at our worst (Rom. 5:8, 10) – to take our condemnation when He died in our place for all our sins and rose from the dead (Rom. 8:31-32, 34). If God gave us His best when we were at our worst, how much more will He do for us now that we are His beloved children!?!
Prayer: Father God, thank You for addressing sexual temptation and sin in these verses. Christian men are being sexually assaulted by the enemy in our society today. Most if a not all of us have mobile devices where we can easily access the allurements of seductive women via online pornography without anyone knowing about it but You. Before it is too late, please Father God, rescue us, redeem us, and restore us to close fellowship with You through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Heal the pain that often drives us to turn to sexual sin. We all have wounds that need Your healing touch. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for being gentle and gracious with our brokenness and shame so we can let down our guard and permit You to heal our wounds and replace our shame with dignity. Please break the chains that keep us bound to our shame. Help us set our minds on the things of the Holy Spirit Who reminds us that You are for us and not against us. The proof? You gave us Your best (Jesus) when we were at our worst (Your enemies), so that now as Your beloved children we can expect Your best for us daily. Please transform our ashes into beauty so we may proclaim the praises of Him Who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. In the mighty name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
 Statistics indicate that 60-70 percent of men, 50-58 percent of pastors, and 20-30 percent of women in evangelical churches are sexually addicted – see Jeremy & Tiana Wiles, Conquer Series Study Guide Volume 1 (Stuart, FL: KindgomWorks Studios, 2017), pg. 21.
This exercise is adapted from Michael Dye’s The Genesis Process. 
All of us have been hurt and wounded by others, especially those we trusted. From beginning to end, the Bible emphasizes the importance of forgiveness. God even commands us to forgive (Ephes. 4:32). Therefore, Jesus taught us to pray, “12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors… 14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:12, 14-15). Forgiveness is so important because it is connected to God’s forgiveness of us. I cannot enjoy fellowship or closeness with God the Father if I am not willing to forgive those who have hurt me. Being unforgiving connects us to our past hurts and makes it difficult to fully enjoy the blessings of our relationship with God and with other people.
One of the ways we can know we have not forgiven someone is we keep rehearsing bitter and defensive thoughts toward those who have hurt us. We keep going “back to court” in our minds with all the things we wish we had said or want to say to them.  God invites us to release the hurt others have caused to us. Forgiveness requires the cancelling of a debt (cf. Matt. 18:21-35). Perhaps the person who has hurt us owes us an apology, justice, money, repentance, restoration, suffering, understanding, etc. God wants us to cancel the debt they owe us.
There are three things that can hinder us from forgiving others: judgments, vows, and false beliefs. When someone hurts us, we can hold on to judgments about them out of fear. We don’t realize it, but our judgments are an attempt to protect ourselves from painful memories associated with our abusers. We may judge their motives and try to read their minds. We tell ourselves, “He or she is evil, selfish, and does not care about me or love me.” Christ warns us about making such judgments (Matt. 7:1-2). These judgments can cause heart wounds that keep us from healing and growing. When we refuse to forgive that person, we can bind ourselves to the person we are judging and become more like that person.It is important to repent or change our minds about our judgments and ask God to release the person and ourselves from the consequences. 
Not only do judgments about our offenders hinder us from forgiving them, but so do the vows we make. Jesus opposed the practice of distorting vows so they could convey or conceal a lie (Matt. 5:33-35). We can make inner vows to survive the hurts we have suffered. For example, when a person I trusted hurts me, I may make an inner vow that says, “I will never trust anyone again!” Or “If I need others, they will take advantage of me!” These types of vows can become self-curses that result in isolation and loneliness, which cause us even more pain. These inner vows can often become subconscious and do not disappear with time. They are like a contract that must be renounced or broken. It is important to ask God to forgive us and break these vows we have made. 
False beliefs or lies can also prevent us from forgiving others. We may tell ourselves, “If I forgive them, they will get off the hook and there will never be any justice.” But the truth is, only God knows what is just (Rom. 12:19). Or “If I forgive, I will become vulnerable to them again.” The truth is that just because you forgive them does not mean that they are safe, and you must trust them again. They must earn your trust. For reconciliation on a horizontal level to take place, the perpetrator must apologize, repent or change his mind and behavior, and ask for forgiveness (Matt. 18:15-18; Luke 17:3-4). 
Forgiveness is so important because it gives us the ability to move on in life. Being unforgiving connects us to our past hurts and makes it difficult to receive the blessings of new relationships. Forgiveness occurs when the one who was wounded cancels the debt owed to him or her. When we forgive, we are free from those who hurt us. 
If you are struggling to forgive your perpetrator(s), take some time today to do this exercise: 
1. Ask God to reveal to you the people who have hurt you. Make a list. Start with those closest to you (e.g., your parents, siblings, spouse, children, or a close friend; etc.). Do the exercise with them one at a time. Think about the people whom you still “go back to court with” in your mind:
2. Wounds: What he or she did to you that hurt you: abandoned, abused, betrayed, criticized, lied, misrepresented, neglected, rejected, etc. What was the wound(s)?
3. Judgments (Matt. 7:1-2): The things you believe about them: e.g., they are evil, lazy, selfish, stupid, weak, didn’t love me, didn’t care for me, etc.). What are your judgments?
Repent of these judgments and ask God to release the person and yourself from the consequences (Matt. 7:1-2).
4. Vows (Matt. 5:33-35): Vows can be like self-cures, promises you told yourself to survive the wound(s), e.g.,“I don’t need or trust anyone,” or “whatever I do, it won’t be enough,” or “all men/women are ______,” etc.
Renounce and repent of these vows, asking God to forgive you and to break them.
5. Effect on You: What effect did the wound have on you (How did you cope)? Addiction, anger, anxiety, codependency, depression, food, isolation, stress, workaholism, etc.?
6. Their Debt: What debt do they owe you? What would they have to do for you to trust them again? Apologize, change their behavior, experience humiliation, justice, make restitution, money, repent, seek your forgiveness, suffer, etc.
Talk to the Lord, asking Him to make you both willing and able to cancel their debt as He has already cancelled yours to Him through Christ (Matt. 18:23-33; Ephes. 4:32).
7. False Beliefs. What false belief or lie is keeping you from forgiving them? Say the following false beliefs below to yourself to see if they feel true. If they do, then meditate on the true beliefs until the false beliefs no longer feel true. There are blank spaces at the end where you can write in the false belief(s) and true belief(s) that are not on the list.
False belief: If I forgive them, they will get off the hook and there will never be any justice.
True belief: Only God knows what is just (Rom. 12:19).
False belief: Forgiveness means I must pretend that nothing ever happened.
True belief: Forgiveness is not denial. You must tell yourself the truth about what they did and how it affected you to really be able to forgive them from the heart (Matt. 18:35; John 8:32).
False belief: If I forgive, I will become vulnerable to them again.
True belief: Just because you forgive them doesn’t mean that they are safe, and you must trust them again (Matt. 18:15-18; Luke 17:3-4).
False belief: My unforgiveness punishes them and is justified because I am right; they will never see their wrong and repent if I let go.
True belief: The truth is, it is God’s mercy and kindness that leads us to repentance. Only He knows what will change them (Rom. 2:4; Ephes. 4:24-32).
8. Forgiveness Prayer (Matt. 6:12, 14-15). If you are ready, insert the name of the person you have chosen to forgive into the following prayer of forgiveness. You may want to say it in your own words but be sure to include all the elements.
Father God, Your Word says that to be forgiven, I must forgive. And so, I come to You in the name of Jesus, in obedience and love, and I bring (name) _____ before You. I cancel _____ debt to me (e.g., apology, change of behavior, humiliation, justice, restitution, money, repent, seek forgiveness, suffer, etc.). I choose to forgive this hurt against me, and I ask that You not hold these sins against _____ on my account. I release _____ from any desire on my part to see _____ punished. In fact, as You have told me to do, I bless _____ in Your Son’s name, Jesus. You know _____ desires, needs, and hurts. You know what would bless _____. And so, I ask that You pour out Your love and healing to _____ and bring _____ Your highest good, because Your name is Good and Love, and You are not willing that any should perish. Now also, Father, please heal my heart and set me free to love _____ as You do. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.
9. The Truth sets you free (John 8:36): Pray and ask God to show you this person as He sees them. Ask Him to show you what is true. One of the great mysteries of God is that He loves the perpetrator as much as the victim. Write down any insights God gives to you as you pray.
10. Is there anything God wants you to do to heal this relationship? Check with your counselor or discipleship group before you take any action.
 Adapted from Michael Dye’s The Genesis Process: For Change Groups Books 1 and 2 Individual Workbook (Michael Dye/Double Eagle Industries, 2012), pp. 123-133.
ARE YOU UNABLE TO RESOLVE YOUR ANGER? THESE EXERCISES CAN PROVIDE HELP.
I. CLEANSING THE TEMPLE
This exercise is based on biblical principles found in Jesus’ cleansing of the temple (John 2:13-22). 
“13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!’ 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.’ ” John 2:13-17
PRINCIPLE 1 – JESUS KNEW THE TEMPLE NEEDED TO BE CLEANSED
Jesus, the Owner of the temple, took full responsibility to cleanse His own temple. He could have made the moneychangers and sellers of doves who were the perpetrators in the account clean up their own mess, but He didn’t. He cleansed the temple.
In most of the accounts of Jesus cleansing the temple, the temple refers to a physical building in Jerusalem (cf. Matt. 21:12; Mark. 11:15; Luke 19:45). But in John’s account the temple refers to Jesus’ body:
“18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, ‘What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?’19 Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ 20 Then the Jews said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.” (John 2:18-22).
This is the first insight into the fact that Jesus was changing the dwelling place of God from the physical temple to the physical body of a human being. The apostle Paul develops this thought a little later when he teaches that believers in Jesus are God’s temple: “16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” (I Cor. 3:16-17; cf. 6:19-20). God’s plan all along was to dwell inside believers in Jesus. We are His holy temple. And our temples can become defiled through many different avenues, including manipulation, abuse, and neglect from others. When we get defiled through life, our temple gets defiled also and needs to be cleansed as well.
Just as Jesus cleansed His holy temple, which was defiled by others, so we are responsible to cleanse our temples when they are defiled by the abuse of others. Even if our perpetrators are sorry, he or she cannot cleanse our temple. They cannot remove the wounds placed inside our souls. By cleansing His own temple, Jesus sends us a clear message: We are responsible to cleanse our own temple as well.
PRINCIPLE 2 – JESUS IDENTIFIED THE SIN THAT CAUSED THE DEFILEMENT
When Jesus cleansed His temple early in His ministry, He identified the sin that defiled it when He said, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” (John 2:16). In Luke 19:46 when Jesus cleansed His temple near the end of His earthly ministry He said, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” (cf. Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17). Jesus makes it very clear why He was cleansing His temple. They were taking something holy and misusing it to profit themselves. Most of the people who have hurt you have no concept of your holiness or preciousness. You have felt used or abused during the incidents in which you were wounded. You will need to identify the sin or wounding that has been done to you by those who have defiled your temple.
PRINCIPLE 3 – JESUS ENGAGED HIS ANGER AT THE INJUSTICE
Christ engaged His anger both physically and verbally at the injustice. He turned over the moneychangers’ tables and drove out the sacrificial animals. This is why the Jewish leaders challenged His authority to create such a ruckus.
Jesus was not having a bad day. This was an act of His will. It was a premeditated act of obedience. This is important to understand because the cleansing of your temple will take an act of your will. As you walk through these exercises, it will become an act of your obedience as well.
How do we know this was a premeditated act on Jesus’ part? The Bible tells us, “14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.” (John 2:14-15). Jesus “found” the misuse of the temple which indicates He was looking around and witnessing the peoples’ mistreatment of His holy temple. Then He gets a bunch of cords and takes the time to make “a whip.” We don’t know how long it took Jesus to make the whip, maybe minutes or hours, but He had already decided to use that whip when He entered His temple to cleanse it.
As you proceed to do this exercise. You will need to make choices to prioritize your time to prepare for cleansing your temple. Those who go about this intentionally and purposefully will receive more benefit for their lives.
PRINCIPLE 4 – THE TEMPLE WAS RESTORED TO ITS ORIGINAL ORDER
The record of Jesus cleansing the temple offers a picture of how to heal wounds inside your temple. After Jesus engaged His righteous anger and rage, His temple was cleansed. Only Jesus had the power to cleanse His own temple. No other prophet or king had done so before Him or after Him. He alone could clean His house. In the same way, we alone can clean our own temples with Jesus’ help.
PRACTICAL APPLICATION – “CLEANSING THE TEMPLE” EXERCISE
1. WRITE AN ANGER LETTER
The first step in the cleansing of your temple is to write an anger letter to the person who has hurt you, but do not send it. Imagine this person in the room with you, but he or she is unable to talk or move. You can say whatever you need to say to him or her in this letter. This is not a letter to suppress your emotions, but rather to vent all the thoughts and feelings of hate, disgust, anguish, and resentment that have been robbing your soul. Nor is this an “I forgive you” letter. That will come later. This letter is the place to remove the anger that has infected your soul.
2. GET WARMED UP
In Jesus’ situation, He made a whip for Himself. It is recommended you do not use a whip, but a padded baseball bat or tennis racket could be helpful. When I first did this exercise, I took a golf club and hit a paper picture of my perpetrator attached to a blanket that was draped over a stuffed ball and other blankets underneath. Begin with small hits. Then use medium, large, and extra-large hits. Do this three times. Warm up your voice as well. Shout “No!” each time you hit the pillow. Use small, medium, large, and extra-large “Nos” with your voice. This may feel awkward but removing this buildup of pain from your soul and spirit provides great relief. That is why it is important to be warmed up physically.
While warming up physically, make sure you are home alone. Disconnect or turn off the phone so that you are not disturbed.
***Note: Before doing this, if you have a heart condition or other medical condition that warrants talking to your medical doctor, please do so. Also, please do not substitute this exercise for professional Christian counseling. In fact, it is recommended that you are in counseling before doing this exercise.
3. READ YOUR LETTER ALOUD.
After your physical warm-up, take the letter you wrote to your offender and read it aloud to your imaginary offender. When I first did this, I taped a paper picture of my offender to a pillow and propped it up in a chair across from me. If your offender’s name is Toby, then you would read as follows: “Toby, how could you have done this to me? I trusted you!…” Of course, Toby is nowhere around. You certainly don’t need to do this with him or her around. You are simply in a room alone just reading the letter aloud.
4. ENGAGE YOUR ANGER PHYSICALLY AND VERBALLY
After reading your letter, pick up your bat. Hit the bed or pillow and symbolically let “Toby” have it. You can yell, scream, and cry, but release the emotional infection that has been robbing you. You can symbolically tell him that his secrets are not controlling you anymore. He was to blame! You have no limits as to what you can say to your offender. For once, let go of all the emotional control that is keeping this wound infected. Let it out!
This may last fifteen minutes to an hour. Your body will let you know when you have completely put this behind you – spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
Someone has given you something toxic, and you have been unhealthy ever since. After you remove it from you, you will feel so much better. You are worth getting it all out!
– When you do this cleansing exercise, only work on one offender at a time. If three different people have offended you, then you will need to complete three different sessions. Do not try to go through this exercise just once for all the different people who have offended you. Each “bullet” (wound) needs to be taken out separately.
– If several people have caused you trauma, make a list of them. Start with the least painful trauma and work your way up to the larger offenses. In this way, you will get better skilled at the exercise and will know what to expect.
– You may have different experiences and gain helpful insight as you work through your list. You may think offender number three was the worst, and yet an offender whom you considered less significant actually is a much larger venting experience for you.
– Remember you are cleansing your temple so that you can experience the best intimacy possible in your relationships. Carrying pain inside us causes us to protect ourselves from being hurt. Releasing the pain can cause us to be more open to trusting others again.
This next stage of healing is to be done after you have completed the cleansing the temple exercise. Wait about five days after you have finished the anger work of cleansing the temple concerning a particular offender. Five days or more after completing the anger work you will be feeling better. It is much like after you get over a cold, you feel that the junk in your lungs is gone, and you can breathe more clearly and easily.
With the forgiveness exercise you will approach the particular offender you did the anger work with in much the same way. Instead of contacting them if they are alive, you will role play with them. This exercise is most effective when you choose to forgive or release the debt your offender owes you. As with the anger work, do only one offender at a time.
Jesus taught, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14-15). Forgiveness is so important because it is connected to God’s forgiveness of us. I cannot enjoy fellowship or closeness with God the Father if I am not willing to forgive those who have hurt me. Being unforgiving connects us to our past hurts and makes it difficult to fully enjoy the blessings of our relationship with God and with other people in the present.
One of the ways we can know we have not forgiven someone is we keep rehearsing bitter and defensive thoughts toward those who have hurt us. We keep going “back to court” in our minds with all the things we wish we had said or want to say to them.  God invites us to release “from the heart” the hurt others have caused to us. Forgiveness requires the cancelling of a debt (cf. Matt. 18:21-35). Perhaps the person who has hurt us owes us an apology, justice, money, repentance, restoration, suffering, understanding, etc.  God wants us to cancel the debt they owe us.
This forgiveness exercise involves three steps.  Select one offender you’ve already done the anger work with and go through this process. Do this exercise while you are home alone. You will need two chairs.
1. ASSUME THE ROLE OF THE OFFENDER
Place the two chairs facing each other. Pick a chair and sit facing the other chair. We will call the chair in which you are sitting, “Chair A.”
While you are sitting in chair A, role-play your offender. You are now this person. As you role-play this individual, have him or her apologize and ask for forgiveness for all that they have done to you. They are hypothetically confessing to you in the other chair (chair B). If I were doing this exercise about my perpetrator, I would sit in chair A as I role-played my perpetrator. I would verbally own his sin, apologize and ask for forgiveness for the things I did and didn’t do to Jeff in chair B.
As I play my perpetrator, I might say, “Jeff, I need you to forgive me of…” Now since I am playing my perpetrator, I can say what he needs to say to me in order to own and apologize for his sin against my life.
2. ROLE-PLAY YOUR RESPONSE AS THE ONE OFFENDED
Now I have played my perpetrator as he asked forgiveness for several offenses against Jeff, who was symbolically sitting in chair B. Yet as the one offended, I heard by offender own his sin and ask forgiveness for it. Now I can start step two.
I begin by physically moving to sit in chair B, now role-playing myself.
After hearing my perpetrator ask for forgiveness, I now decide how I will respond. Above all be honest. If you are not ready to forgive your offender, tell him or her. You could say, “I’m just not ready to do this yet, but I will try again in a few weeks.”
Whatever you do when you play yourself, don’t be a phony or do what you think you should do. Do what is real and authentic.
If you are able to forgive your offender, then tell him or her. In our example, Jeff is now talking to his perpetrator in the opposite chair. In my exercise, I had a paper picture of my perpetrator’s face taped to chair A.
I could say, “___, I forgive you for …” I could really release him from his abuse and neglect of my soul and the impact his actions had on my life.
If you forgave your offender, you might consider praying a prayer of forgiveness with him or her. Your prayer might read like the following:
Father God, Your Word says that to be forgiven, I must forgive. And so I come to You in the name of Jesus, in obedience and love, and I bring ___ (Offender’s name), before You. I cancel his debt to me (apology, change of behavior, confession, repentance, humiliation, suffering, etc.). I choose to forgive the hurt against me, and I ask that You would not hold these sins against ___ on my account. I release ___ from any desire on my part to see him punished. In fact, as You have told me to do, I bless ___ in Your Son’s name, Jesus. You know ___’s desires, needs, and hurts. You know what would bless him. And so, I ask that You pour out Your love and healing to ___ and bring him Your highest good, because Your name is Good and Love, and You are not willing that any should perish. Now also, Father, please heal my heart and set me free to love ___ as You do. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.
If you are not yet ready to forgive your offender, work through the Hindrances to Forgiveness Exercise in Appendix 5 which is adapted from Michael Dye’s book The Genesis Process.  Get out your calendar and set up a date in about three to four weeks when you will try this forgiveness exercise again. Do this every month to measure your progress until you ready to forgive.
3. ROLE-PLAY THE OFFENDER’S RESPONSE TO FORGIVENESS
In our example, Jeff has forgiven his perpetrator. Now I physically get up and sit down in chair A again and play the role of my offender. Now it is his offender’s turn to respond to Jeff’s forgiveness.
Jeff’s perpetrator (role-played by Jeff) might say, “Thanks, Jeff, for forgiving me for…” When Jeff’s offender is done talking to Jeff the exercise is over.
1. Start in chair A as the offender asking for forgiveness.
2. Now sit in chair B as yourself, and honestly respond to your offender’s request for forgiveness.
3. If you have forgiven him or her, go back to chair A and play the offender responding to the forgiveness.
This can be a very emotional exercise for those with extremely abusive backgrounds, so have a box of tissues nearby. In addition, make sure the phone, doorbell, or anything else will not interrupt you. It will be important for you to stay focused.
Do this forgiveness exercise only after you have completed the Cleansing the Temple exercise. Many individuals attempt to forgive before they address their wounds and heal. Jesus cleansed the temple (Luke 19:45-46) before He issued the words, “Father forgive them” (Luke 23:34). Cleansing comes first, then forgiveness.
In both exercises, each offender gets his or her time in the chair with you. You must role-play each one and receive an individual apology from each. Don’t role-play more than one offender in a day.
Releasing debts your offender owes you will free you if you complete your Cleansing the Temple work first. I have personally experienced much freedom through these exercises as God met me where I was at. If my offenders were still alive, I have found much freedom to love them as God loves me.
Let’s pray together:
Lord Jesus, I invite you to help me process my woundedness and to apply these exercises to my life. Comfort me, Lord Jesus, and lead me to still waters where I can drink of the intimacy that You have for me. In Your name Lord Jesus, I pray. Amen. 
 Adapted from Doug Wiess, Intimacy: A 100-Day Guide To Lasting Relationships (Lake Mary, FL: Siloam Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group, 2003), pp. 53-61.
“When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. ” John 2:15
Imagine you pull into the church parking lot on Sunday morning. Your heart is full of anticipation. Your cup is empty, and you are ready to fill it. You are ready to enter the place of worship and join your brothers and sisters in joyous worship. You look forward to singing the hymns of the faith. You feel the need to commune in prayer. You long to feed upon the unchanging Word of God. You are eager to share with the family of God.
But as you pull up, the parking lot is crammed full. You can’t even find a place to park. You won’t be denied. You park down the street and walk a few blocks. But as you try to enter the building there is a long line. There are tables set up at every foyer entrance. People are writing checks and putting down cash on the tables and getting tokens in return to place in the offering plates. You finally make it to the table and are told that you need the new church currency to make an offering. So, you place a $20 bill on the table and get a $10 church coin in return. You finally make it through the entrance, only to find the foyer very congested. Booths are set up all throughout the foyer. People are selling hymn books at one booth. “Get your song books here. You can’t sing without your official church song book. Rent yours for only $19.95.” Another booth has people buying and selling Bibles. The sign reads “Official Church Bible. Get yours for only $29.99.” At other booths, you notice merchants selling offering envelopes, notebooks for sermon notes, and refreshments.
There is so much commotion and commerce going on that you throw your hands up in disgust realizing you’ll never make it into the sanctuary to worship. If you can imagine an experience like this and how frustrating it would be, then you can understand what it was like inside the temple courtyard during the time of Passover when Jesus came to worship. John records this event for us in John 2:12-25. This temple cleansing was near the beginning of Jesus public ministry. The second temple cleansing was near the end of His public ministry and was one of the reasons for His death (cf. Matt. 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-16; Luke 19:45-46). 
You may recall that in John 1:14 we saw that Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” He was the perfect balance of grace and truth. Last week we saw Jesus express His grace by transforming water into wine at a wedding banquet in Cana of Galilee. He replaced something old with something new. New wine replaced old water. Today we will see His truth at work replacing a dirty temple with a clean one. From this we will discover HOW WE CAN EXPERIENCING JESUS’ CLEANSING TRUTH IN OUR LIVES. The first way is seen in 2:12-17.
2:12: Jesus went “down” from Cana because of the decline in land elevation “to Capernaum” on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee,  about eighteen miles northeast of Cana  (see above map). Jesus would adopt “Capernaum” as His ministry based in Galilee (cf. Matt. 4:13; Mark 1:21; 2:1) and move there after His rejection at Nazareth (cf. Matt. 4:12-14). Jesus performed some of His greatest miracles at Capernaum (John 4:46-54; cf. Mark 2:1-12) and taught in its synagogue  (John 6:22-59; cf. Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37).
The purpose of this trip to Capernaum is not stated by the apostle John, but it seems to be for a time of rest with “His mother, His brothers, and His disciples.” The Bible tells us that Jesus had physical “brothers” (John 2:12; 7:1-10; cf. Matt. 12:46-47; 13:55; Mark 3:32; 6:3; Luke 8:19-20) and “sisters” (Matt. 13:56; Mark 6:3) which clearly indicates that Joseph and Mary had other children after Jesus’ birth.  The idea of Mary’s perpetual virginity appeared later in church history  and cannot be substantiated by Scripture.
Evidently this trip was only for a short stay in Capernaum since John wrote that “they did not stay there many days” (2:12b). As important as time with His family and friends was, Jesus did not want to miss going up to Jerusalem to worship God during the Passover.
2:13: The “Passover” was an annual Jewish festival celebrating God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt, when the angel of death passed over every home where the blood of a lamb was applied to the doorposts of the home (Exod. 12-13). It also initiated the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so the entire celebration lasted over a week. Jews from all over the world came to Jerusalem to meet with God and be obedient to His commands.
This is John’s first of three explicit references to the “Passover” in his gospel (2:13; 6:4; 12:1).  This Passover was in the year A.D. 30 on Friday, April 7, at the beginning of Christ’s public ministry.  John is the only gospel writer to mention the cleansing of the temple at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The Synoptic gospel writers refer to Christ’s second cleansing of the temple near the end of His public ministry during the week in which He was crucified (Matt. 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46). 
When the apostle states that “Jesus went up to Jerusalem,” it reflects the ascent in elevation as one travels from the surrounding regions to reach the city at 2,424 feet elevation.  While Jesus tried to make His way into the temple, He discovered that it had become a place of peddling instead of a place of prayer.
2:14: The word translated “temple” (heiron) refers to the outer “court of the Gentiles” surrounding the temple building (naos) where the Holy of Holies was located  (see temple diagram below). In this outer court surrounding the temple, Jesus “found… those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.” Jesus “found” the misuse of the temple which indicates He was looking around and witnessing the peoples’ mistreatment of His holy temple.
Israel’s“priesthood was completely corrupt, and the temple had been polluted by the priests’ greed. The courts of the complex had become a mixture of flea market and stock market. This so-called ‘Annas Bazaar’ was named for Annas, a godfather-like figure who once held the office of high priest but had been deposed by the Roman government more than fifteen years earlier. Since that time, he ruled through a successive series of puppet priests, most of them his sons, and continued to run a well-established con game on a grand scale. Put bluntly, he was corrupt to the core.
“Throughout the year, but especially at Passover, all Jewish males were expected to visit the temple, to pay the tax required by the Law of Moses, and to sacrifice an animal. On Passover, the sacrifice was to be a lamb, and as always, it had to be without blemish or defect. Moreover, the tax had to be paid in shekels, not in foreign currency, which bore images forbidden by the Law.
“Annas and his cronies set up stations in the temple courts for the purpose of exchanging foreign currency for shekels—for an exorbitant fee, of course. Then, he supplied sacrificial animals, for which he charged top price. If someone brought his own animal, an inspector would judge it unfit and offer another in trade… for additional cash. Undoubtedly, the inferior animal would become some other man’s “superior” sacrifice later on. What a racket!”
Let’s say you come to Jerusalem to worship the Lord. You bring an animal to sacrifice to the Lord, because that’s the way you worshiped God then. Your children had cared for this animal for months and he had become a cherished pet – though he was about to become the family’s sacrifice. You go into the temple courtyard and there is a “booth of approval,” manned by one of the strictest of the Pharisees. Before you could offer your family’s lamb for sacrifice it had to be approved. But this inspector finds defects in your lamb. “Hey, we can’t accept this animal as a sacrifice – it has too many things wrong with it. You need to go to the vender’s booth over there. There you can buy a lamb pre-approved for sacrifice.” Think of how your kids feel. “What about our lamb? Doesn’t God care about that? How do we get to God?” So, you go over to the vendor’s booth and pay ten times the real value for a pre-approved lamb. (Just like when you go to the theater and a 50-cent bag of popcorn costs you $4.) So, you get your money out to buy one of his animals.
And the vendor says to you, “Wait a minute. We can’t acceptthat currency. You need to exchange your coins for temple money overhere at the moneychangers’ table and that will be an extra fee.” So, you go up to the moneychangers’ table and give them a silver dollar and they only give you 25 cents of temple money. Just like if you went to a pawn shop with a $1000-dollar ring and the broker would only offer you $100. Wanting to show your love for God you pay all these fees. And by the end of the day, you didn’t know if you were pleasing God or just pleasing the religious leaders. Meeting with God seemed too far beyond your reach.
This scene is what Jesus saw when He entered the temple courts. How does our Lord respond? 2:15: Christ engaged His anger both physically and verbally at the injustice. He was not having a bad day. This was a premeditated act of His will. How do we know this? John tells us Christ gets a bunch of “cords” and takes the time to make “a whip.” We don’t know how long it took Jesus to make the whip, maybe minutes or hours, but He had already decided to use that whip when He entered His temple to cleanse it.
Christ, the Son of the Owner of the temple, took full responsibility to cleanse His Father’s temple. He could have made the moneychangers and sellers of oxen, sheep, and doves clean up their own mess, but He didn’t. Jesus cleansed the temple. He “overturned” the moneychangers’ “tables” and “drove them all out of the temple,” including animals and people. This is not the soft spoken, gentle Savior that so many of us often think Jesus was. Here we find Jesus angry and aggressive as He cleanses the temple of corruption. I mean it must have been like being in one of those villages in Spain when they let the bulls run loose in the streets. Cows and sheep are running loose. People are yelling and screaming, “Help! Out of the way! The Carpenter has gone crazy!”
“The awesome power of Jesus is evident. Surely crooked merchants must have objected to this treatment. Yet there is no hint that any of them tried to stop Him. Jesus either sovereignly hindered opposition, or He manifested such righteous indignation that all were too afraid and amazed to try to stop Him.” 
I want to take a moment to talk about the emotion of anger. So often we can skip over these verses and not address this issue. Anger in and of itself is not wrong. In the Bible, we see that God experienced anger (cf. Exod. 4:14; Num. 11:10; Deut. 7:4; Mark 3:5; John 2:13-16; 3:36; 11:33, 38; Rom. 1:18; 12:19).
I cannot remember hearing a sermon that addressed how to deal with anger in our Christian lives. Thankfully, God has revealed in the Bible how to resolve our anger. The apostle Paul quotes the phrase “Be angry and do not sin” (Ps. 4:4a) in Ephesians 4:26 when he is talking to believers about not grieving the Holy Spirit with their communications toward one another (cf. Ephes. 4:25-32). Psalm 4:4-5 teach us some important principles for dealing with our anger:
1. ADMIT AND FEEL YOUR ANGER (“Be angry and do not sin” – 4:4a). The feeling of anger is not wrong in and of itself. Even God feels anger (cf. Exod. 4:14; Num. 11:10; Deut. 7:4; Mark 3:5; John 2:13-16; 3:36; Rom. 1:18; 12:19; Col. 3:6; Heb. 3:11; 4:3; Rev. 6:16; 19:15; et. al). What we do with our anger can be sinful. When we admit our anger, we begin to take control of it. It is important to use “I feel…” statements which take responsibility for our own anger. For example: “I feel angry when you…” But spiritual perfectionism says, “I’m not angry.” Shame-based statements use the word “You.” For example: “You make me feel so angry!” The last two examples do not honor what God is saying here – “Be angry and do not sin,” because they do not acknowledge or take responsibility for one’s own anger.
2. TALK TO THE LORD UNTIL YOU CAN BE STILL (“Meditate [talk] within your heart on your bed, and be still” – 4:4b; cf. 4:3). As we talk to the Lord (4:3), He can help us identify the source of our anger – Is it selfishness or perfectionism? Or is it because we have been wronged?
3. DO WHAT IS RIGHT WHICH INCLUDES FORGIVING OTHERS AND YOURSELF (“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness” – 4:5a). Sacrifices were offered in the Old Testament as a means of forgiveness (cf. Heb. 9:22). As God shows us the source of our anger, we can seek forgiveness if we were being selfish or perfectionistic (I John 1:9), or we can extend forgiveness to those who have wronged us (Ephes. 4:32).
4. TRUST THE LORD WITH THE SITUATION (“And put your trust in the Lord” – 4:5b). Many believers struggle with the first two steps the most and skip right over them to forgive and trust the Lord without acknowledging or processing their feelings. But if we do not admit our anger or hurt, and turn it over to the Lord, it is very difficult to forgive “from the heart” (cf. Matt. 18:35).
Somehow Christians are not comfortable admitting their deep hurt and anger. Perhaps it is due to the perfectionism that is taught in churches today. But if we are to be more like Jesus Christ, we can learn to admit our anger and release it to God, so He can use it the way He intended – to accomplish His righteousness (cf. Mark 3:5; John 2:13-16; Jas.1:19-20). If we refuse to address our anger God’s way, it will result in more brokenness in the body of Christ because we are giving the devil an opportunity to lead us into greater sin (cf. Ephes. 4:26-27).
For some of us, we may not be able to resolve our anger because it is attached to unresolved trauma or abuse in our past. In such cases, it may be helpful to do the exercise in Appendix 4 – Cleansing the Temple and Forgiveness Exercise based on Jesus’ cleansing of the temple in John 2:13-22. *** Note: Please do not substitute this exercise for professional Christian counseling. In fact, it is recommended that you are in counseling before doing this exercise.
2:16: When Jesus sees “those who sold doves,” He points the finger and identifies the sin that defiled His “Father’s” temple, saying, “Take these things away. Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” The command, “Take… away,” uses the imperative (arate) that is from the same verb (airō) used in John 1:29 when John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God Who takes away [airō] the sin of the world.”
“By telling the sellers to ‘take these things away’ Jesus was figuratively taking away the sin of the world in an experiential sense. In the eternal kingdom Jesus will have taken it away completely. One day the zeal Jesus demonstrated will be a universal zeal that all subjects of the kingdom will have.
“When Jesus removed the sacrificial animals from the temple, Hepictured a coming day when there would be no more need for such sacrifices (1:29; Heb 10:10, 14).” 
The temple was designed by God to be a place where people could meet with God. But it had become a place where people were abused in the name of God! The tragic truth was this had become the least likely place where you could meet with the Lord. Jesus must remove the religious pretenders before He can truly minister to those who need Him.
For many people today, this is still a reality. There are people today who long to meet with God in a place of worship, but when they go, all too often they discover a system that gives them more work to do to be “close” to God. The problem with this is they never know if they are pleasing God or the religious leaders. You say to yourself, “Something feels wrong with having to follow all these rules – but it is God’s House. It says so on the sign.” And they get worn out or they leave and give up on God altogether.
Please understand, that if you came out of a church or religion where you had to pay and pay and pay some more to get close to God, you need to encounter the true God and eternal life, Jesus Christ (I John 5:20). Jesus fights for you just like He did back then. And He wants to heal your hurts and lighten your load. He wants to make it so easy for you to come (just as you are) and meet with Him. A church with Jesus Christ as the Head will not charge you to meet with God. It is free just like salvation. Christ does not want anything in His church to make it difficult for people to worship the Lord…to draw closer to Him.
Jesus warns all of us who are spiritual leaders: Woe to you if you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men. We need to ask ourselves are we door-openers or door closers? Are we making it difficult for people to come to Christ or simple? Sometimes the Lord must remove religious pretenders before true worship can take place… before Jesus can truly minister His grace to those in need. I truly believe when Jesus is free to minister His grace in a church – look out! It will explode with people who need His healing touch.
Hence, the first way to experience Jesus’ cleansing truth is to RELY ON CHRIST TO CLEANSE YOUR LIFE (2:12-16) from sin and corruption. According to the Bible, where is the temple of God located today? The apostle Paul answers this question when writing to Christians in the city of Corinth, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”(I Cor. 3:16). The temple of God is no longer located in Jerusalem. It is now located in every believer in Jesus Christ. The temple is located in our physical bodies. In the Old Testament, God’s temple was a sacred place. It was a place where God Himself resided and where people came to worship Him. Today, God’s temple is still a sacred place where God dwells.
The truth is all of us are like those religious leaders who were robbing the people of their money. All of us are thieves. But you may say, “Wait a minute pastor. I’m not perfect, but I am no thief.” We probably all agree that we are not perfect, but are we all thieves? Maybe we wouldn’t break into our neighbor’s home to steal his stereo, but we rob him of his reputation when we gossip about him. Maybe you’ve never stolen a woman’s virginity, but you rob her future husband of the gratification that God intended only him to have when you lust after her. You don’t have to steal money to be a thief. If Jesus came today and looked at the temple of God in you, would He have the same reaction as He did in Jerusalem with the corrupt priests and merchants? Would He get angry at what He saw, or would He be pleased with what He sees in your life? Friends, if we have pollution in God’s temple, then it’s time for us to allow Jesus to clean it out and stop trying to hide and cover up our sins.
One day a man purchased a white mouse to use as food for his pet snake. He dropped the mouse into the snake’s glass cage, where the snake was sleeping in a bed of sawdust. What did the terrified mouse do? He quickly set to work covering the snake with sawdust chips until it was completely buried. With that, the mouse apparently thought he had solved his problem. Listen, no matter how hard we try to hide or deny our sins, it is futile. Sin will eventually awake from its sleep and shake off its cover and eat us alive.
So how do we allow Jesus to cleanse our lives from sin and corruption? If you are not a Christian, you must first believe or trust in Christ alone to forgive your sins. The Bible says: “All the prophets say it is true that all who believe in Jesus will be forgiven of their sins through Jesus’ name.” (Acts 10:43 NCV). Before we become Christians, our lives are contaminated by sin. This sin separates us from God. And since God is holy and perfect, He cannot dwell in our contaminated bodies until we believe or trust Christ alone to forgive us and cleanse us of “all” our wrongdoings (Acts 10:43; Col. 2:13-14). So, the moment you put your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, God removes the barriers of sin and comes to live inside you forever.
If we are already Christians, the apostle John instructs us in his epistle to “walk in the light as He is in the light” so we may “have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:7). Notice John says to walk “in” (en) the light, not “according” (kata) to the light. Walking “according” to the light would refer to sinless perfection and would make fellowship with God impossible for sinful people. But the preposition “in” refers to walking in the sphere of God’s light where there is no darkness or dishonesty. In other words, to have fellowship with God we must be open and honest with Him, not sinless, as we walk in the light with Him.
When we are open and honest with God, the Bible says we will “have fellowship with one another” (I John 1:7). The word, “fellowship” (koinōnia) means a “close association involving mutual interests and sharing, … close relationship.”Being open and honest before God enables us to share the light with Him. As we live in this sphere of light, our experience is illumined by the truth of Who God is. The “one another” refers to God and Christians in the context. 
How can sinful believers enjoy fellowship with a sinless God? How can sinful Christians be close to a God Who does not allow sin in His presence? The last part of the verse explains. “And the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1:7b). Right now, you and I are not aware of all the sin that is in our lives. But God knows about it. And being the gracious and merciful God that He is, He does not reveal all our sin at once. If He did, we would be so overwhelmed by all our sin it would probably kill us on the spot.
But the reason we can enjoy closeness with our holy God even though we have all this unknown sin in our lives is because the blood of Christ “cleanses us from all sin.” Notice the present tense of “cleanses.” We do not need to do acts of penance to be forgiven and cleansed of our sins after we become Christians.  We simply keep walking in the light, as God is in the light, and although we remain sinful people, the blood of Jesus Christ keeps cleansing us of all our sins. So, no matter how badly or often Christians have sinned, the blood of Jesus is sufficient to cleanse them of all their sins when they are living openly to God’s revealing truth. Christ’s death on the cross for all our sins (cf. I John 2:1-2; Col. 2:13-14) provides the basis of fellowship between a sinless God and sinful human beings.
While it is true that those who believe in Jesus for eternal life are positionally cleansed and forgiven of all their sins – past, present, and future (Acts 10:43; I Cor. 6:11; Ephes. 1:7; Col. 2:13-14; Tit. 3:4-7), “they still need ongoing cleansing based on Christ’s blood that enables imperfect children to have a genuine experience of sharing with a perfectly holy heavenly Father.” Hence, the blood of Christ makes provision for both our positional forgiveness/cleansing of all our sins which enables us to enter God’s heaven (cf. Acts 10:43; Ephes. 1:7; Col. 2:13-14; Heb. 9:22-10:18) and our practical or fellowship forgiveness/cleansing of sins which enables us to enjoy fellowship with God on earth (cf. I John 1:9; Matt. 6:12, 14-15).
It is important for Christians to understand that it is not their responsibility to uncover their own sin. They may have overly sensitive consciences and are worried that they have unconfessed sin in their lives, so they spend a lot of time examining themselves instead of focusing on the Lord. The Bible makes it clear that it is God’s responsibility to reveal our sin to us through the Holy Spirit and God’s Word (cf. John 16:8-11; 2 Tim. 3:16). But it is our responsibility to be open and honest with God when He does point out the sin that is in our lives so we can confess it to Him.
The Bible promises that when we do confess our sin to the Lord, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). To “confess” means to agree with God that what you did, said, or thought was wrong (see comments on John 1:8). When God reveals unconfessed sin in our lives as we walk in the light, we are to confess or agree with His conclusions. So, when we confess our sins to God, we are agreeing with His view of our sins. He hates our sins (Ps. 45:7). Our sins deeply hurt Him (Ephes. 4:30). 
“We are admitting that what the light exposes is not just a mistake, a bad habit, or a mere product of our upbringing. It’s sin.” 
It is important to note that the word “our” in the phrases “confess our sins” and “forgive us our sins” (I John 1:9), is not in the Greek text. The Greek text reads “confess the sins” (homologōmentas hamartias) and “forgive us the sins” (aphē hēmin tas hamartias). The definite article “the” (tas) in the phrase “forgive us the sins” is what grammarians call “the article of previous reference.” What this means is when we honestly confess “the” specific sin or sins God’s light reveals in our lives, “the” specific sins we confess are forgiven.
This tells us that when we become aware of sin in our Christian lives, it is this awareness that breaks our fellowship or closeness with God. So, if we confess the sins of which we are aware, then God is “faithful and just” to forgive those specific sins. The word “forgive” (aphiēmi) can mean to “cancel” a debt that is owed.  This is judicial or positional forgiveness whereby God cancels our sin debt to Him the moment we believe in Jesus for His complete forgiveness of all our sins so we can become His forever children (cf. Acts 10:43; Col. 2:13-14; John 1:12; 6:37). We are declared totally righteous before God in His courtroom at the moment of faith in Christ (Rom. 3:21-4:5; 8:33). John is not talking about this kind of forgiveness in I John. In I John the apostle is talking about personal or fellowship forgiveness whereby the barrier that sin creates between a Christian and God is removed so his fellowship or closeness with God is restored. 
Our heavenly Father is “faithful” to forgive us when we confess our sins to Him because we have an eternal relationship with Him (John 6:35-40; 10:28-29; 17:3). There may be times when we think that going to God for forgiveness of the same sin with no victory in sight presumes upon His grace and mercy. We may ask ourselves, “How can the Lord forgive me over and over for the same sin?” The simple answer is God is “faithful.” His faithfulness is not based upon ours. He has promised to forgive us when we come to Him on His terms. His forgiveness for our fellowship or closeness with Him is based on His forgiveness for our relationship with Him. 
For example, when parents decide to have children, they already know their children will commit sins. They are aware that their children will be imperfect. But this does not prevent the parents from choosing to have the children. And when the child is conceived, an eternal relationship begins. Nothing, including death, can change the fact that this child will always be the child of his or her parents. So, in a sense, since this relationship will last forever, the child has positional forgiveness for all his or her future sins. And based on this positional forgiveness, the parents are predisposed to fellowship-forgiveness whenever their child sins against them but also chooses to come back to them and seek their forgiveness. God gave us positional or relationship forgiveness when we became His forever children through belief in Jesus Christ (John 1:12; Ephes. 1:7; Col. 2:13-14). Based on that, He will always be “faithful” to grant us fellowship-forgiveness when we confess our sins to Him (I John 1:9; cf. Matt. 6:12, 14-15; to restore our closeness to Him. 
You may be thinking that this does not seem right to keep coming over and over again to God asking for forgiveness for the same sin. Isn’t that taking advantage of God’s grace and mercy? It seems contrary to God’s holiness. Oh, but it is right for God to forgive His children when they confess their sins to Him. This forgiveness is not contrary to God’s holiness – He is “just” (I John 1:9). The word for “just” (dikaios) is the same word used as a title to Jesus Christ in I John 2:1 where it is translated “the Righteous One.” When Jesus finished paying the penalty of all the sins of the world on the cross (John 19:30; I Cor. 15:3-6), He satisfied God’s holy and “just” demand to punish sin (I John 2:1-2). So, God is not compromising His holiness when He forgives the sinning Christian when he or she confesses their sin. This forgiveness is not based on our deservedness or performance. It is based on the atoning sacrifice of Christ.  Christ’s shed blood is sufficient for the sinning Christian (I John 1:7; 2:1-2).
The fact that God’s justice was completely satisfied when Jesus paid the penalty for all our sins can empower us to forgive others when they sin against us. We may be reluctant to forgive someone who deeply hurt us, fearing that they will not get the justice they deserve. But the truth is, none of us in Christ received the justice we deserved. Christ received God’s justice in our place even though He, being sinless, did not deserve it.
I am not suggesting that God takes sin lightly nor should we. God hates sin. He is grieved by our sins. The Lord wants His children to gain victory over that sin. But until a believer is open and honest with God about the sin God reveals to him or her, that believer will not be in fellowship with God. Nor will he or she have access to God’s power while living out of fellowship with the Lord.
There are some Christians who teach that a Christian does not need to confess his sins and ask forgiveness because a believer already has complete forgiveness of all his sins including his future sins (Ephes. 1:7; Col. 2:13-14). But this conclusion confuses the believer’s positional forgiveness (Acts 10:43; Ephes. 1:7) with his fellowship forgiveness (I John 1:9). A Christian who does not see his need to seek his heavenly Father’s forgiveness when he disobeys the Lord will not be very sensitive to the multiple ways he grieves God. In addition, the Lord Jesus taught His believing disciples to seek forgiveness of their sins when He taught them how to pray each day (e.g., the expression “give us this day our daily bread” precedes the request “forgive us our debts” (Matt. 6:11-12). 
We have talked about confessing the specific sins in our lives of which we are aware. But what about all the unknown sin in our lives? The last part of I John 1:9 explains that when we confess the specific sins of which we are aware, God is “faithful and just” to not only forgive those specific sins we confessed, but He will also “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This “all unrighteousness” refers to all the other sins in our lives that we are not aware of. It has been estimated that 90% of the decisions we make are unconscious in nature.  There are many sinful choices we all make of which we have no conscious knowledge. We all have far more sin in our lives that we do not know about. But God sees all our sins – the sins we consciously choose (“our sins”) and the sins we unconsciously choose (“all unrighteousness”). We do not need to agonize about the sins we are not conscious of because the shed blood of Jesus Christ “cleanses us” from all of them when we confess the specific sins God’s light reveals to us (1:7, 9). Nothing in our lives is left uncleansed.
So, how can sinful Christians be close to a God Who does not allow sin in His presence? The apostle John tells us in I John 1 that we simply keep walking in the light, as God is in the light, and although we remain sinful people, the blood of Jesus Christ keeps cleansing us of all our sins. This is good news that is worth sharing with others!!!
The apostle John explains this further in John 2:17-22: 2:17: When Christ’s disciples watched Jesus cleanse the temple, they probably stood back “in stunned silence. With mouths wide open, they stared astonished as Jesus tossed furniture like toothpicks and slung coins like seeds. The lash of His whip sent livestock scurrying behind their unclean owners as the temple Owner’s voice echoed through the courts, ‘Take these things away!’ And the disciples remembered Psalm 69:9,”“Zeal for Your house will eat Me up.” 
In Psalm 69:9, King David meant that zeal for the building of the temple had dominated his thoughts and actions, and he implied that others would criticize him for it. John applies this verse to the future Messianic Davidic King of Israel, implying that Jesus is their promised Messiah. 
“The Old Testament prophesied that the Messiah would have a consuming zeal for the temple and for God the Father. Jesus was consumed with doing what His Father had sent Him to do (4:34). His consuming dedication ultimately consumed Him when He gave up His life on the cross (cf. 2:19-22).”
When Christ cleansed the temple at the beginning (John 2:13- 17) and end of His public ministry (Matt. 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-47), He was declaring war on the hypocritical religious leaders (Matt. 23:1-36), and this would ultimately lead to His death. 
Do we have this kind of zeal for God’s work? Are we willing to risk our lives or reputations for the Lord? This kind of enthusiasm comes from a dynamic relationship with the Lord. We cannot manufacture this kind of zeal on our own. It comes from knowing and loving Jesus!
2:18: The Jews did not question Jesus’ actions nor address Christ’s indictment of them for making His “Father’s house” into “a house of merchandise” (2:16)! Instead, they question Jesus’ authority. Who does He think He is by doing this? They demanded a miraculous “sign” to prove He has the right to take such action. By asking for a sign from Jesus, these religious leaders recognize that by cleansing the temple and speaking of His “Father’s house,” Jesus was presenting Himself as the promised Messiah-God. 
“Concerned with the issue of authority—just as they were with the Baptizer in the Judean wilderness—they said, in effect, ‘If you’re declaring Yourself to be the Messiah by this act, authenticate Yourself with a series of miracles.’”
I love Jesus’ response here. He confuses them even more. “Youwant a sign. I will give you a sign.”2:19: He used this “veiled” response to stimulate the thinking of these Jews. The word translated “temple” (naos) refers to the sanctuary or Holy Place, as distinguished from the temple courtyards (heiron), including the Court of Gentiles Jesus just cleansed.  Jesus intentionally calls His body “this temple” (naos) alluding to the reality that on the New Earth He will be the new “temple” (naos – Rev 21:22). 
“Only a perceptive hearer would comprehend it, and none of themqualified. In fact, His own disciples didn’t understand His true meaning until after His resurrection.”
“John highlights this tendency of Jesus more than the other gospelwriters. Jesus didn’t waste His words on people who didn’t want to hear. In fact, He didn’t speak in order to convince the skeptic or sway the dissenter. His words were intended to divide His audience into two groups: receptive hearts and hard hearts. He understood that hearing Him is not an intellectual process, but a crisis of the will. Several times throughout the story when Jesus says something cryptic, some people think they understand Him and turn away, while others admit their confusion and draw nearer.”
If these “Jews” genuinely want to know if Jesus is their promised Messiah, then they would seek the answer from Him. Christ is referring to the greatest and last “sign” recorded in the gospel of John that points to His identity as the Christ, the Son of God which is His death and resurrection (cf. 19:17-20:31).
The Sanhedrin later used Jesus’ words about destroying the temple as a capital charge against Him at His trial (Matt. 26:61; Mark 14:58; cf. Matt. 27:40; Mark 15:29). This was dishonest and unfair, however, because Jesus had said, ‘Destroy this temple,’ not I will destroy the temple. Furthermore, Jesus was speaking of His body, not the Jerusalem temple.”
2:20: As Christ anticipated, these “Jews” took Him literally and misunderstood Him to refer to the “temple” building which took Herod the Great “forty-six years to build.”  Such a massive and enduring temple structure was not likely to be destroyed and rebuilt “in three days.”
2:21: Thanks to John’s post-resurrection perspective, we know that Jesus is not speaking of destroying Herod’s temple building, but rather He is “speaking of the temple of His” own physical “body” which will be crucified and buried.
2:22: It was not until after Jesus “had risen from the dead” and appeared to “His disciples” that they “remembered that He had said this to them.” It was then that “they believed the Scripture” in the Old Testament concerning Christ’s resurrection (cf. Ps. 16:10; Isa. 53:12) “and the word which Jesus had” spoken to them.
It is not the Jerusalem temple but the human body of Jesus that represents the presence of God. Let me remind you of something. Christianity is not about buildings. It is not about a church building. It is not even about a philosophy of life. Christianity is about a relationship with the One Who died and rose again for our sins so “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
So, the reason a holy God can come into our contaminated lives full of sin is because of Christ’s death and resurrection. God’s holiness demands that sin be punished, but His heart desires that the sinner be pardoned. Hence, God sent His Son Jesus to take the punishment you and I deserved.
The United States was shocked in 1998 by the tragic news of two young boys who opened fire on schoolchildren as they ran from their building in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Four children and a teacher were killed, and five others were injured. The teacher died when she stepped forward to shield one of her sixth graders. She saved the girl but lost her own life. The teacher became her substitute and died in her place. 
Jesus Christ died as our Substitute. Just as the teacher took the bullets for the young girl, Christ took the punishment for our sin and died in our place. Jesus Christ did what our good works could never do. We are saved by Christ’s dying, not by our doing. Three days after His death Jesus came back to life. By rising from the grave on the third day He proved He had conquered sin and death. The second way to experience Christ’s cleansing truth is to REALIZE THAT CHRIST’S DEATH AND RESURRECTION MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR A HOLY GOD TO LIVE INSIDE US (2:17-22).
This leads to the third way to experience Christ’s cleansing truth. 2:23-24: During the week-long feast of Unleavened Bread, Jesus did many miraculous “signs.” As a result, “many believed in His name” for eternal life (2:23). Some argue that these people were not truly saved because their faith was based on miraculous signs and because Jesus did not “commit Himself to them” (2:24). 
However, the reasons for understanding that these people are genuinely saved are substantial:
1. The phrase “believed in His name” is always used of people believing in Jesus to get them to heaven in John’s writings. This phrase “believed in His name” in John 2:23 is used in John 1:12-13 to refer to saving faith. Those verses prepare the reader to understand John 2:23 in the same way.  Grounds for condemnation are because one has not “believed in the name” of the Son of God (John 3:18). In John 20:31, a believer may have life “in His name.” Thus, there is nothing in John’s usage of “believe in the name”to suggest that the faith in John 2:23 is not saving faith. 
2. The “believe in”construction is a common Johannine expression for saving faith (John 1:12; 3:16, 18, 36; 4:39; 6:29, 35, 40, 47; 7:5, 31, 38, 39, 48; 8:30; 9:35, 36; 11:2526, 48; 12:11, 37, 42, 44, 46; cf. I John 5:13). Nothing in John 2:23 suggests a different understanding.
“The phrase pisteuō eis, “believe in,” is John’s standard expression for saving faith (cf. John 6:40; 7:39; 8:30; 10:42; 11:25-26; 12:11). One believes ‘on Him’ or ‘in His name.’” 
“When Calvin says that they did not have true faith but were only borne along by some impulse of zeal which prevented them from carefully examining their hearts, he is therefore flatly contradicting John’s consistent usage in the rest of his writings. This illustrates ‘theologicalexegesis.’” 
“Martin Lloyd-Jones falls into the same error. He feels that those who‘believed in His name’ ‘did not truly believe in Him. They gave a kind of intellectual assent, they seemed to believe in Him; but He knew that they had not believed in Him in reality, and that is why He did not commit Himself to them.” 
“He cites John 6:60-66, where Jesus says there were some disciples ‘that believe not’ and concludes that this explains the people in John 2:25. But isn’t this directly contradicting the very words of John? John tells us that in John 2, contrary to the unbelieving disciples in John 6, these people specifically did believe. On what authority does Lloyd-Jones say they did not? How else could John say it if his intent was to indicate saving faith? Nowhere in the New Testament are adverbs, such as ‘truly’ or ‘really’ ever used to modify ‘believe’ in a soteriological context. These adverbs are frequently inserted in front of the word ‘believe’ in Experimental writings in order to sustain the fiction of the final perseverance of the saints in holiness to the final hour.” 
3. Nothing in the gospel of John suggests that belief based on Christ’s miracles is not genuine. Jesus even taught unbelievers to believe in Him because of the works or miraculous signs He did (John 10:38; 14:11). John finds fault with those who fail to believe in Christ after observing His miracles (John 12:37). The apostle recorded Jesus’ miraculous signs to elicit saving faith in the Person of Christ (John 20:31). The miracles Jesus did in John 2:23 fulfilled the very purpose for which they were recorded. John would have applauded these people for believing in Jesus based on His miraculous signs! However, it is true that a saving faith based on visible miraculous signs is not as noble as a saving faith based on God’s Word (cf. John 20:28-29; cf. 4:1-53). 
2:24: Since these people are saved, then what does it mean when Jesus refused to “commit Himself” or “entrust Himself” to these new believers?
One possible meaning is referenced by Dillow: “Debbie Hunn cites several examples from the first century which suggest that ‘entrusting oneself to another,’ then, in the examples known in the Greek of John’s day, referred not to disclosure of truth, intimacy, or belief in the sayings of another, but to personal security.”  1722
“This idea nicely fits the context of John 2:24. After driving out the traders from the temple, Jesus for the first time announced His coming death (John 2:18-22).”
A view that more consistent with the gospel of John’s subtheme of discipleship is that Christ chose not to become more intimate with these believers. Jesus “wasn’t ready to reveal more of Himself to them because of their spiritual immaturity. They were not yet ready for full commitment to discipleship and public identification with Him.” 
Keep in mind that although the main theme of the gospel of John is how to get to heaven; a subtheme is discipleship or intimacy with Christ.  Jesus entrusts Himself to new believers who are ready to be His friends. For Christ to disclose more of Himself to a believer, the believer must be trustworthy and obey Him. “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him”(John 14:21). Christ “manifests” or discloses more of Himself to the believer who “has… and keeps” His commandments.
Friendship with Christ is conditioned upon obeying Him. “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:14). This friendship refers to Jesus disclosing His thoughts to those who obey Him. Thus, Jesus’ friends are those to whom He entrusts Himself. 
Notice that the word “commit” in verse 24 is in the imperfect tense. This tense speaks only about action in the past, so it leaves open to question what Jesus might do at a later point in time. Hence, Christ could entrust Himself to these believers later should they obey Him. 
When the word “commit”is used in the passive sense (“entrust”)in the New Testament, its objects are: riches (Luke 16:11), Christ (John 2:24), oracles of God (Rom. 3:2), stewardship (I Cor. 9:17), the gospel (I Thess. 2:4; Gal. 2:7; I Tim. 1:11), and the preaching of the Word (Tit. 1:3).  None of these instances suggest a salvation context. These passages suggest that the person receiving the object is regarded as trustworthy. The object is being committed to them in confidence. It follows that Christ refused to commit Himself to those who had believed (John 2:23-24) because He had little confidence in them at this time to be His friends, that is, to obey Him even to the point of publicly confessing Him (John 15:14-17; 12:42-43).
Therefore, the issue is not whether these people are saved or not, the issue for these new believers is whether they are trustworthy. Intimate fellowship with Christ requires obedience to Him. How did Jesus know whether to entrust Himself to these new believers? Look in verse 25.
2:25: Jesus refused to have fellowship with these new believers because He supernaturally “knew” that their hearts were not ready for intimacy with Him; that is, they were not ready to obey Him yet. They were not ready for a close friendship with Christ.
“He could see into their hearts. And He can see into yours too. So don’t miss this truth: Spiritual growth is important because it expands our capacity to experience more of God. Jesus does not relate to all believers the same way.” 
Part of obeying Christ may involve publicly confessing our faith in Him before others like at work or school. It is possible to have a saving faith alongside a reluctance to express that faith publicly. Thus, these verses introduce the theme of “secret believers” who are genuinely saved, but they are afraid to express their faith openly due to the threat of persecution (cf. John 9:22; 12:42; 19:38). 
For example, many of the ruling Pharisees had saving faith but were afraid to express that faith to others: “42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43).
Hodges makes an astute observation when he writes that “later in the gospel of John Jesus ‘commits Himself’ very extensively to the men who had accompanied Him to that point in His ministry. He ‘discloses’ Himself in a very intimate way to them.
“But Nicodemus (whom we shall meet shortly) was not with Hisdisciples in the Upper Room. Why he was not there becomes graduallyobvious as the Fourth gospel unfolds. As a result, on the pages of John’s gospel, Nicodemus stands as the prototype of a believer who is hindered from intimacy with Jesus Christ by competing interests.”
“The verb ‘testify’ in v. 25 (martureō) is an inclusio back to the noun testimony in 1:19 (marturia). John the Baptist is the preeminent example in the Fourth Gospel of one who openly testified for Jesus. The new believers are a sad contrast to him. They were unwilling to tell others openly of their faith in Jesus.
“John skillfully repeats the word ‘man’ in 2:25 and 3:1. Immediately after the words, ‘He knew what was in man’ (2:25), John says, ‘Now there was a man…’ (3:1). The new believers in 2:23 were like the man who came to Jesus under the cloak of darkness (3:2).
“John the Baptist is the paradigm of the open believer (cf. 3:22-36); Nicodemus is the paradigm of the secret believer (3:1-21). Every time John mentions Nicodemus, he writes that he came to Jesus by night (3:2; 7:50; 19:39). Night is a symbol of darkness and of secrecy. There are hints in 7:45-52 and certainly in 19:38-42 that Nicodemus believed in Jesus, though without openly confessing Him.
“Even before the new believers of 2:23 had done anything, Jesus knew that they, unlike John the Baptist, but like Nicodemus, were not ready to confess Him. Because of that, He did not entrust them with the depth of truth He reserved for His friends.” 
Hence, the third way to experience Jesus’ cleansing truth is to RECOGNIZE THAT CHRIST ONLY REVEALS HIMSELF TO BELIEVERS WHO ARE READY TO OBEY HIM(2:23-25). Some of us don’t know Jesus any better today than the day we became a Christian. For some of us that may have been years ago. But Christ will not disclose Himself to us if we are not willing to go on and obey Him. He refuses fellowship with Christians who are not ready to obey Him.
For any relationship to grow deeper, there must be mutual trust. I’m not going to be transparent with you until I develop a certain level of trust with you. Likewise, you are not going to be transparent with me until you have cultivated more trust in our relationship. The same is true of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus knows our hearts. And He knows if we are ready to obey Him and grow deeper in our relationship with Him or not.
If you have been under the weight of religion (man-made rules), and you are weary – you feel like giving up on God – please know that Jesus fights for you to get you out from under that system, and He wants to heal your hurts. He wants to lighten your load.
Jesus also wants His disciples (followers) to take sin seriously in their lives. He wants us to trust Him to cleanse our lives of all sin and corruption. He wants us to rely on His resurrection power to help us say “no” to sin and “yes” to the Savior. Once we begin a relationship with Jesus by believing in Him for eternal life, He wants to reveal more of Himself to us and get closer to us. But for Him to do this, we must be willing to obey Him. We must be willing to surrender control of our lives to Him and let Him start directing our lives. Some of us need to come out of denial and admit that we are addicted to running our own lives. Friends, things are not going to get any better until we give up on ourselves and give in to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I found myself sitting in judgment over the religious leaders of Israel who had turned the temple of God into a place of peddling instead of a place of prayer. But Your Spirit convicted me that I am no better than those religious leaders. I also have stolen from others with my words and my thoughts. Like the religious leaders, I also have made it difficult for others to approach You in worship by being less than Christlike towards them. Despite my sin, it is mind boggling to know that the holy God of the Bible indwells me through His Spirit the moment I believed in You Lord Jesus!!! Thank You, Lord Jesus, by making this possible through Your shed blood on the cross which not only paid the penalty for all my sins (John 19:30; Col. 2:13-14), but also continues to cleanse me of my daily sins so I may enjoy closeness with You (I John 1:7). Thank You for Your resurrection power which is always available to help me to say “No” to sin and “Yes” to holy living. By Your grace, Lord Jesus, please enable me to walk in obedience to You so I may enjoy intimate fellowship with You. Thank You for disclosing more of Yourself to me as I live for You. Thank You for Your cleansing truth and grace. In Your mighty name I pray, Lord Jesus. Amen.
 Blum, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Gospels, pg. 559.
 Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on John, pg. 79 cites Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. 6th ed. Translated by Patrick Lynch. Edited by James Canon Bastible (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1964) pg. 209; J. C. Macaulay, The Bibleand the Roman Church (Chicago: Moody Press, 1946), pp. 71-73.
 This writer also makes an argument for a fourth though implicit reference to the Passover (“feast”) in John 5:1 (cf. William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to John. Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-54), pg. 188.
 Wilkin, The Grace New Testament Commentary, Kindle Edition, pg. 184; Laney, Moody Gospel John Commentary, pg. 70 cites Harold W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970), pp. 55-60, 143; Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on John, pg. 80.
 Wilkin, The Grace New Testament Commentary, Kindle Edition, pg. 184; Blum, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Gospels, pg. 559.
 Wilkin, The Grace New Testament Commentary, Kindle Edition, pg. 184.
 Wilkin, The Grace New Testament Commentary, Kindle Edition, pg. 184.
 Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pg. 552.
 Zane C. Hodges, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (David C Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), Kindle Location 3504 to 3508; Evans, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary, pg. 2934.
 Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pg. 818.
 Evans, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary, pg. 2206.
 Wilkin, The Grace New Testament Commentary, Kindle Edition, pp. 184-185.
 Hodges, Faith in His Name, pg. 51. See also, Keith Vande Vred, “A Contrast Between Nicodemus and John the Baptist in the Gospel of John,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 57:4 (December 2014): 715-726.
 Wilkin, The Grace New Testament Commentary, Kindle Edition, pg. 185.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
What is God like? Let’s see what some fifth graders said when their teacher at a Christian school asked her class to look at TV commercials and see if they could use them in some way to communicate ideas about God. God is like BAYER ASPIRIN. He works miracles. God is like a FORD. He’s got a better idea. God is like COKE. He’s the real thing. God is like HALLMARK CARDS. He cares enough to send His very best. God is like TIDE. He gets the stains out that others leave behind. God is like GENERAL ELECTRIC. He brings good things to life. God is like SEARS. He has everything. God is like ALKA-SELTZER. Try Him, you’ll like Him. God is like SCOTCH TAPE. You can’t see Him, but you know He’s there. God is like DELTA. He’s ready when you are. 
In John 1:14-18 we are going to see that God became a man to show us what He is like. In the first five verses of John, we saw that the Word, Jesus Christ, is our Creator God. Thus, when we look at Jesus, we are looking at our Creator God in human flesh. He made you and me to have a relationship with Him. So, what is God like?
GOD IS APPROACHABLE.1:14a: John returns to the use of the “Word” that he introduced in verse 1 when he writes, “And the Word became flesh.” The most amazing fact of history is that the eternal Logos, God Himself (1:1), voluntarily “becameflesh” or a human being without ceasing to be God (1:14a). The word for “flesh” here does not refer to humanity’s sinful flesh or desires (cf. Rom. 8:4-5; Gal. 5:16-17, 19-21), but to Jesus’ sinless human nature (cf. Rom. 1:3; 9:5; 2 Cor. 5:21; I Tim. 3:16; Heb. 2:14; 4:15; I Pet. 3:18). 
Unlike Adam and all his descendants before and after Christ who were born as sinners (Rom. 5:12; Ps. 51:5), Christ is the only Person to be born with a sinless human nature. The best explanation I have heard for this is that Jesus had a sinless Father in God the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20), whereas all other human beings had a sinful father. The sin nature seems to be passed on through the human father. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (cf. Rom. 5:18).Although Eve sinned first in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-6), Adam is held accountable for sin’s entrance into the world.
The Bible also teaches that God visits “the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations” (Exod. 20:5; cf. Deut. 5:9). Generational sins are passed on through the fathers, not the mothers.This implies that the sin nature is transmitted through the fathers, not the mothers or both parents.
Hence, Christ possesses a sinless human nature because He was conceived by God the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary (Matt. 1:20).
When John says “the Word became flesh (1:14a), he is emphasizing that Christ did not merely “appear” like a man; He became an actual man (cf. Phil. 2:5-9).
In John’s day there were false teachers who taught that God could not become a man because all human flesh is inherently evil, and God is inherently good or perfect. Therefore, Jesus only appeared to be a human being.
Swindoll explains: “In our day, the influence of naturalism has so permeated culture that we have trouble accepting the deity of Christ. In John’s day, most people had no problem accepting Christ’s deity. They were more troubled by His humanity. The influence of Plato permeated every aspect of religion and philosophy so that anything tangible came to be seen as inherently evil. The great hope of Greek philosophers was to escape the foul, obnoxious material realm in order to commune with the divine mind, which existed only in the realm of pure ideas. In life, they tried to deny the body as a means of connecting with what they conceived of as god. They saw death as the liberation of the soul (the good aspect of man) from the prison of the body (the evil aspect of man). So, naturally, they recoiled from the notion that God would become anything genuinely physical.
“To preserve the sinlessness of God, philosophers invented all kinds of myths to explain how Christ could appear human without actually having earthly material be a part of His nature. The most common, Docetism, suggested that He only seemed to be tangible, but was in fact a heavenly apparition. The so-called ‘Gnostic Gospels’ tell stories of how Jesus created the illusion of eating food while never actually digesting it or needing to relieve Himself.” 
When John states “the Word became flesh,” his choice of words were very offensive to the false teachers of his day. “Flesh” meant something inherently evil to them. In essence, John is saying that “The Word became meat.”
When John says the eternal Word “dwelt among us” the word translated “dwelt” means “to tabernacle, take up residence.” Just as God’s presence dwelt among the Israelites in the tabernacle (cf. Exod. 25:8-9; 33:7, 11), so He lived among people in the Person of Jesus Christ. King Solomon thought it incredible that God would dwell on the earth (1 Kings 8:27), but that is precisely what He did in Jesus.
While the docetistic false teachers in John’s day were resistant to the truth of Christ’s tangible human nature, John skillfully refuted their heresies with great skill under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In his epistle he spoke of the Word of Life, Jesus Christ, as being “heard… seen with our eyes… looked upon, and our hands have handled.” (I John 1:1). Christ did not merely “appear “to be human. He became a tangible human being Who was “heard… seen…” and touched. To deny that Christ became tangible human flesh was “antichrist” and to be refuted (cf. I John 4:2-3).
“Conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary (see Matt. 1:20), the divine Son of God became a man. He is thus the God-Man—not half man and half God, but one Person with a fully divine nature and a fully human nature. He is deity poured into humanity. He is fully human, so He cried as an infant, but He is fully divine and gave life to His mother! He is fully human so He had to sleep, but He is fully divine and can raise the dead back to life. Our God fully experienced what it is to be human—yet without sinning (see Heb. 4:15). He faced hunger, pain, temptation, grief, hardship, and rejection. You face no category of human experience that your Savior has not endured.” 
Religions seek to know how we as humans can get to God. Yet the Bible tells us that God came to us. The Word became flesh. Why did God become a man? So, we could approach Him and trust Him.
A construction company was once building a road through some mountainous country, using dynamite to build a roadbed. Steve, who worked for the company, was placing the dynamite charges. One day as he was getting ready to detonate a charge, he noticed that several little chipmunks had come out of the underbrush, playing around the hole where he had installed the explosives. Steve, being a tenderhearted guy, didn’t want to see those little chipmunks blown to bits, so he began trying to shew the chipmunks away. Each time however, they just came right back to the location. His supervisor, Charlie, came out to see what was holding up the blasting. Steve, exasperated, explained that those chipmunks would not get out of the danger area. Charlie chuckled, and then used the incident to talk about Jesus Christ.
He explained to Steve that the only way one of them could communicate with those chipmunks, was if one of them became a chipmunk, and yet at the same time, kept all the characteristics of a man.  Chipmunks are afraid of humans because we are twenty times their size. But if you become a chipmunk, they would be able to trust you and relate to you, because you would be able to communicate the great danger caused by the dynamite. This is exactly what God had to do too – He became a man to communicate with the human race what God is really like and to warn them of the incredible danger facing them if they rejected Christ. If God came to us in the fullness of His glory, we would be too frightened of Him to trust Him like a chipmunk would be too scared to trust us.
Jesus became a human being so that you and I could relate to Him and He to us. Therefore, we are to trust Him at all times because He understands us. “Since we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are yet without sin; Therefore, let us boldly come to the throne of grace.”(Heb. 4:15-16). He voluntarily became one of us so that you and I would believe that our Savior knows how we feel.
Perhaps you have viewed God as some distant impersonal force who does not care about you or your circumstances. You may say to yourself, “How could God let COVID-19 happen? I have lost my income, my health, and my friends! What kind of God is this?” Please understand that the God of the Bible is not some distant dictator who delights in punishing people.
Christian author Max Lucado writes, “From the funeral to the factory to the frustration of a demanding schedule, Jesus Christ understands. When you tell God that you’ve reached your limit, He knows what you mean. When you shake your head at impossible deadlines, He shakes His, too. When your plans are interrupted by people who have other plans, He nods in empathy.He has been there. He knows how you feel… Rejection? He felt it. Temptation? He knew it. Loneliness? He experienced it. Death? He tasted it. And stress? He could write a best-selling book about it. Why did He do it? One reason.So that when you hurt, you will go to Him… and let Him heal you.”
GOD IS FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH. 1:14b: Now we are getting to the heart of this passage. John and the other disciples “beheld” Jesus’ “glory.” They were eyewitnesses to this.
“They saw His glory at the Mount of Transfiguration, in the signs Jesus did, and in His sinless life.” 
Christ’s glory was filled with “grace and truth.” Jesus maintained a perfect balance between these two attributes. Of all the phrases that God could have used to describe Jesus Christ, He chose “grace and truth.” “Grace “ refers to “graciousness, favor, help, or goodwill.” Theologians describe “grace” as God’s unmerited favor or getting what we do not deserve. We do not deserve eternal life, forgiveness, or salvation from hell, but Jesus Christ can freely offer this to us apart from any of our works because of His “grace” (John 4:10-14; Rom. 3:24; 4:4-5; 6:23b; 11:6; Ephes. 2:8-9). In the context, “grace” refers to the graciousness of Christ. 
The word for “truth” means “truthfulness, dependability, uprightness in thought and deed, reality.”“Truth” is the perfect standard of God’s holiness.Truth says there is a right way, a best way. Grace gives us the encouragement to get there.
In life, some things are true which makes other things false. We do reap what we sow. There are consequences to our actions. Truth is true. It is unbendable and unbreakable and unyielding. Jesus came full of truth. Every word that He spoke was truth. Christ never told a lie. Every action and every thought were true. When Satan came against Jesus tempting Him by perverting the Word of God just a little (Matt. 4:1-11), how did Jesus respond? “It is written in God’s Word. Here’s the truth.” He always countered falsehood with truth.
Near the end of His life before Pilate, Jesus said, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). Pilate said to Him, “What is truth” (John 18:37-38)? Then Pilate walked away. That was a big mistake, because the One Who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) was right in front of him. The One Who is and knows all truth is there. So, truth must be included in grace or grace is merely tolerance.
Truth without grace is just as destructive as grace without truth. Truth without grace is unbearable. Only the arrogant, proud hypocrite thinks all he needs is truth, because he thinks he has it all together. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, Jesus outlines the perfect life. In the middle of that sermon Jesus says, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Jesus means what He says here. When I read the expectations of God on my life and I hear His call to be perfect, I say, “Lord I can’t do it. Have mercy on me a sinner, because I fall way too short. The bar is too high.” That’s the demand of truth all by itself and it overwhelms us. God says, “I didn’t just come in truth, I came in grace.”
Why are grace and truth so important? As humans, we tend to err on one side or the other of grace and truth. Grace without truth is wishy washy. It is a farce. It is called tolerance. There are no absolutes… no right or wrong… no consequences for our actions. Anything goes, resulting in lives without direction. There is nothing we can know for sure which is tolerance. For grace to be real, it must be based on truth.
For example, grace without truth is like taking your car to the body shop to get rid of the rust. You get the car back and it looks great. But a year later the rust appears again. The mechanic didn’t remove the rust, he just covered it up to make it look good. Eventually, the rust keeps coming back. That’s how it is when you try to ignore truth. You can ignore truth for a while, but it keeps coming back. I can ignore the law of gravity and step off a cliff – and the law of gravity still applies to me. It doesn’t matter what you believe in that case. If you ignore it, it bites you.
Without grace the shepherd says,“That stupid sheep is the one who wandered away. He is on his own now.” But grace causes him to leave the ninety-nine to find that sheep and bring him home so there is rejoicing (Luke 15:1-7).
Without grace the prodigal son stays in the pig pen and never comes home because he knows there is no forgiveness. He’s gone too far without grace. But grace sets him on the road home (Luke 15:11-32).
Without grace the truth demands that Peter who denied Jesus three times be done being an apostle. But Jesus comes to him in grace and says, “Feed My sheep. I’m not done with you yet Peter” (John 21:15-19).
Without grace the wedding feast is over because the family should have planned better, so they did not run out of wine. But Jesus stepped in with grace and transformed the water into wine (John 2:1-11).
Without grace the Samaritan woman, who had been married five times and divorced and was now living with a man who was not her husband, wouldn’t have even received a look much less a word from Jesus (John 4:1-26). But He spoke to her because of His grace, and her life was transformed.
Without grace, Matthew, the tax collector who was ripping everyone off, never gets called to follow Jesus. But Jesus comes to Him and says, “Follow Me” (Matt. 9:9-13).
Without grace, the thief on the cross dies in his sin and goes to hell. But with grace, Jesus says, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:39-43).
Praise God that Jesus came not just full of truth, but full of grace. The truth is as a Christian, you are not supposed to worry. But I thank God for His grace because I am so prone to worry.
The truth is God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16), but God comes to us in our brokenness and heals us.
The truth is sexual impurity degrades our bodies (I Cor. 6:12-20), but grace comes in and washes us clean.
The truth is that God calls homosexual and lesbian activity an abomination (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:26-27), but God comes in with His grace and changes people.
The truth is God detests gossip and slander (Prov. 6:14, 19; 10:18;). But God comes in with His grace and washes us clean.
The truth is our addictions and yielding to temptations reveal that we don’t have the faith that we should, but God with His grace gives us that strength.
The truth is our attachment to material things is idolatry. But God comes in with His grace and rescues us from the power of things.
The truth is we should never get depressed as Christians – we should choose the joy of the Lord. But many of us struggle with this. But God comes in with His grace and lifts us up. You can take truths and swing them like a sword and do damage. But with grace we see God bring healing.
Do you remember the woman in John 8? The religious leaders were ready to stone her because the law (the truth) said you should (cf. Lev. 20:10). She was caught in the act of adultery, and they came to Jesus saying, “The law says she should die. What do you say, Jesus?” For a few moments, Jesus wrote on the ground, while they pestered Him. Then Jesus stood up and looked them in the eye and said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7).One by one, starting with the oldest, they all walked away. Jesus kept writing on the ground.
After a while there was no one left except Jesus and the woman. Jesus looked up at her and said, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” (John 8:10). She said, “No one, Lord” (John 8:11a). Here’s the thing. On that day, there was somebody there Who could condemn her… Who could have thrown the first stone… there was someone Who was sinless – Jesus (cf. John 18:38b; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; I Peter 3:18). He could have done it. Instead, Christ said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more” (John 8:11b). That is grace and truth.
Grace and truth. Don’t keep living like that. That is a path of destruction. Here is the grace. Here is a new start for you. And here is the truth – there is a better way. I love what Max Lucado says:“God loves you just the way you are [that’s grace], but He refuses to leave you there [that’s truth].“ 
Truth expresses God’s righteous character and demands punishment for all our sins (Rom. 3:9-23). Jesus Christ was a perfect display of God’s truth. He is “the truth” (John 14:6). He was perfect and sinless (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; I Pet. 3:18). Even the political leaders could “find no fault in Him at all”(John 18:38; cf. Luke 23:4, 14-15, 22; John 19:4, 6). God’s judgment of sin fell on Jesus instead of us when He died on the cross in our place (Is. 53:5-6; Matt. 27:45-56; Rom. 5:8; I Cor. 15:3; 2 Cor. 5:21; I Peter 3:18). That is truth.
But grace is seen while Jesus was hanging on the cross. After His enemies physically and verbally abused Him, and nailed Him to a cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). Did they deserve Christ’s forgiveness. No, none of us do. But grace offers forgiveness freely. Jesus also said to the thief hanging next to Him, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Without grace, the thief on that cross dies in his sin and goes to hell.
Christ is full of grace and truth. He has the perfect ability to tell us the awful truth about ourselves, while holding us up by His grace. Because He is full of truth, He was the perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin (2 Cor. 5:21; I Pet. 3:18). Because He is full of grace, you can come to Him just as you are, without having to clean up your life first. And because He is full of truth, you can come in complete confidence knowing that He will keep His promise to forgive you and grant you eternal life the moment you believe in Him. Jesus promised, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47).
That is grace and that’s truth. Jesus was full of both. Therefore, we are to seek to be gracious and truthful with one another (Ephes. 4:15). We are called to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us (Ephes. 4:32; Col. 3:13). Is there someone in your life that needs not just truth, but grace? Something has come between you and your relationship? They need to hear from you that the past is gone. It has been wiped out. That is the power of grace.
We also see that GOD IS ETERNAL.In addition to the apostle John’s and other disciples’ witness of Jesus,John now records the testimony of John the Baptist (1:15-18). 1:15: We are told that John the Baptist “bore witness” of Jesus. The Greek word translated “bore witness” martureō  is used in a courtroom setting (see comments on 1:7). And it means “to testify, give evidence, or speak the truth.”
When John the Baptist testifies about Jesus, he is not speaking softly. The Bible says he “cried out.” The Greek word translated “cried out” is imitative of a raven’s piercing cry or shriek.  It expresses an urgent scream or shout from someone who has deep emotions about their message. John was extremely passionate regarding what he was about to say. Why? Because he understood Who Jesus is and he also understood his purpose. John the Baptist was “sent from God… to bear witness of the Light,” Jesus Christ (John 1:6-7; 8:12). He understood his identity as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’” (John 1:23; cf. Is. 40:3). John’s purpose was to prepare the people of Israel “that all through him might believe” in their coming Messiah-God for His gift of everlasting life (John 1:7b; 3:36; cf. Acts 19:4). John’s voice was temporary, but his message was eternal.
The Baptist’s message centered around an eternal Person. He cried out, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me’” (1:15b). The word translated “preferred” denotes having greater dignity or rank than another (cf. Gen. 48:20; John 1:30). 
In Bible times, chronological priority meant superiority (those who were born first were considered superior). John is saying that Jesus is superior to him because Christ came before him. John the Baptist recognized the preexistence of the Word, Jesus Christ, as God (John 1:1-2). Even though John the Baptist was born six months prior to Jesus (Luke 1:26, 36), John says “He was before me.”How could John the Baptist say this? He could say this because Jesus was always before John in His preexistent state as God.
In the Old Testament, the Lord God of the universe said, “This is what the Lord says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: ‘I am the first and I am the last; apart from Me there is no God’” (Is. 44:6; cf. 41:4; 48:12). The God of the universe has no beginning and no end because He is eternal. This is what makes Him uniquely God.
In the last book of the Bible, the exalted Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8). The apostle John shares Jesus’ testimony, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. Then He placed His right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last’” (Rev. 1:17; cf. 1:13). At the end of the Book of Revelation the exalted Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Rev. 22:13). Make no mistake, the Lord God of the Old Testament is the same as the Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament. This is John the Baptist’s message. He is acknowledging Jesus’ superiority as the eternal God with no beginning and no end when He says, “He was before me” (1:15b).
When the Coronavirus was in the news a lot, all of us are confronted with the frailty of humanity. None of us are promised life on earth tomorrow. God used COVID-19 to persuade people to think about what is eternal.
Since Jesus has no beginning and no end, we are to invest our lives in what lasts. What two things on this planet last for eternity? It is not your bank account… cell phone… video games… house… car… job… or your achievements. I have done a lot of funerals, and I have never seen anyone pull a U-Haul behind a hearse. What lasts forever on earth is people (Matt. 25:46) and the Word of God (I Pet. 1:23-24). We have an incredible opportunity to invest in both by preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the unsaved (Mark 16:15) and then training those who believe in Christ through the discipleship process (Matt. 28:19-20).
With whom are you sharing the gospel and training in discipleship? If we are not evangelizing and then discipling those who believe the gospel, we are failing to invest our lives in what is lasting. But this need not continue. Today, you can decide to invest your life in what lasts forever. Ask God to show you whom He wants you to disciple or be discipled by. He enjoys answering that prayer.
1:16: If John the Baptist is still speaking here, then the “we”refers to all Israelites. The phrase “grace for grace” means “grace after grace.”Like the waves along a beach, one wave of grace after another has been repeatedly manifested in Israel’s history. Everything the nation of Israel had received was based on the grace of Jesus Christ. Israel’s existence today (and ours) is a testimony of God’s grace.
An example of God’s grace in Israel’s history is seen the next verse. 1:17a: When the law was given through Moses, Israel stood in great need of God’s grace. While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Law from God, Israel was down below sinning against the Lord by making a golden calf to worship (Exod. 32:1-6). For such a sin, the Law required only condemnation and judgment. Hence, God’s anger burned against His people (Exod. 32:7-10). But Moses prayed to God and God spared the nation by His grace (Exod. 32:14). A purifying judgment ensued (Exod. 32:15-29).
Moses then sought reassurance that God would forgive and accept the nation as His own. So “the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation’”(Exod. 34:6-7). We see a definite clash between God’s grace and truth here. How can God forgive “iniquity and transgression and sin” and yet “by no means clearing the guilty?” The solution is finally found in Jesus Christ.
1:17b: Through Christ and His sacrifice as the Lamb of God, the dilemma is resolved. Truth expresses God’s righteous character and demands punishment for our sins. Christ was a perfect display of God’s truth. He was perfect and sinless. God’s judgment fell on Jesus instead of us. Grace is seen because of Christ’s death. We can cross over to God by faith in Jesus. God is now free to be gracious to all who receive that grace by faith in Christ.
Out of the “fullness” of His grace, Jesus blesses us with one wave of grace after another (John 1:16). One wave of grace is constantly replaced by a new one each day. “Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits.” (Psalm 68:19). Although we may be feeling bombarded with a multitude of challenges these days, God still has an endless variety of ways to bless us.
He may bless us with a friendly smile from a worker at a drive through window or from someone standing in line at a bus stop. And the truth of the matter is if we would smile more, we will encounter more people who are smiling back at us. Jesus’ grace also enriches our lives with natural beauty all around us. It may be in the form of a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day or blossoms on a flowering tree. In the morning it may be a bird’s beautiful song or in the evening it may be the splendor of the moon and the stars. All of God’s creation is there for us to enjoy.
When I look back on my life, the one word that stands out to me is “grace.” By God’s grace He has brought me through disappointment and pain, some of which was caused by others and much of which I brought on myself. At the age of nineteen, by His grace the Lord Jesus saved me from the penalty of all my sins and gave me everlasting life the moment I believed in Him. By His grace I was enabled to serve Him for over three decades. And by His grace He will lead me forward one day at a time.
1:18: John begins by saying, “No one has seen God at any time” (1:18a). You may wonder, “How can this be true when the Bible speaks of people seeing God?” (e.g., Exod. 33:21-23; Isa. 6:1-5; Rev. 1:10-18). Those encounters with God did not reveal the fullness of His glory or His unveiled divine essence. If people saw God’s unveiled glory or divine essence, they would not live (cf. Exod. 33:20).
The only One Who can and has seen God in the fullness of His glory and divine essence without dying, is His Son, Jesus Christ (John 6:46). The reason Jesus could do this is because He also is God. He has the same divine nature as God the Father. For example, when people say of a man named Clarence Smith, “He is the son of John Smith,” they are acknowledging that he has the same human nature as his father. Likewise, when the Bible says that Jesus is “the Son of God” (John 20:31), it is affirming that Jesus has the same divine nature as His Father in heaven.
Therefore, we can discover what God is like by knowing His “only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father” (1:18b). The phrase “only begotten Son” does not mean Jesus had a beginning like a baby that is birthed by his parents, as many false religions teach today. The compound Greek word translated “only begotten” is monogenḗs, which literally means “one (monos) of a kind (genos).” Jesus Christ is the only One of His kind. He is fully God (John 1:1-3) and fully Man (John 1:14). There has never been anyone like Him before or since. This is the message of the gospel of John.
The writer of this gospel, the apostle John, goes to great lengths to show Jesus’ deity (John 1:1, 34, 49; 5:16-47; 6:69; 8:57-59; 10:30-33; 11:27; 20:28; et. al). Jesus was unlike any other Person who has walked on this earth. In the Old Testament, the phrase “I Am” is how God identified Himself to Moses at the burning bush (Exod. 3:13-14). “I Am” is also how Jesus identified Himself to the people of Israel. He makes several “I AM” statements in the gospel of John: “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), “I am the door” (John 10:9), “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:14), “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25), “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6), “I am the true Vine” (15:1). Each one of these staggering statements attested to the fact that Jesus was and is God.
Jesus also claimed to be equal with God and to be God Himself (John 5:17-18; John 10:10-33). This is why His enemies wanted to kill Jesus for blasphemy (Lev. 20:10; cf. John 5:18; 8:59; 10:31-33; 11:8). For example, when Jesus said, “He and the Father are one” (John 10:30), the Jews understood Him to claim to be God. They said, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God” (John 10:33).
Did Muhammed, the founder of Islam, Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, or Charles Taze Russell, the founder of Jehovah Witnesses, claim to be equal with God? Jesus Christ not only claimed to be God, He proved He was God through His works (John 1-12), the greatest of which was His resurrection from the dead (John 20:1-18; cf. Romans 1:3-4)! Hallelujah, brothers and sisters in Christ! What a precious Lord and Savior we have in Jesus!
John also goes to great lengths to show Jesus’ humanity (John 1:14; 4:6; 11:35; 12:27; 19:28; et. al). Jesus had brothers and sisters like you and me (John 2:12; 7:3, 5; cf: Mark 6:3). Christ ate food and got thirsty just like you and me (John 19:28; 21:12, 15; cf. Matt. 9:11; 11:19; Mark 2:16; Luke 7:34). He experienced physical fatigue and even slept (John 4:6; cf. Matt. 8:24; Mark 4:38; Luke 8:23). Why? He became a man without ceasing to be God so He could understand what it is like for you and me to have family, food, and fatigue. The God of the Bible is not some distant uncaring deity like the religions of the world. He understands our needs and He came to earth to meet our most fundamental needs to be seen, safe, soothed, and secure.
When John says that Jesus was “in the bosom of the Father” (1:18b), he is referring to Christ’s very close and intimate relationship with God the Father. The word “bosom” refers to the upper part of the chest where a garment naturally folded to form a pocket.  The picture here is that of a son resting his head on the chest of his father, experiencing a very close and intimate relationship with him. Jesus had the closest and most intimate relationship with God the Father. He knows the heart of God the Father better than anyone because His head often rested upon His Father’s chest in eternity past.
Who better to tell others what a Person is like than the One who is closest to that Person and has known Him the longest in an intimate relationship!?! There is no one more qualified to tell us what God is like than the only begotten Son of God who has known God the Father forever in the closest of relationships with Him.
This is why John then says, “He has declared Him” (1:18c). The word “declared” is where we get our English words, “exegete” and “exegesis” from. It means to “set forth in great detail, to expound” or “to lead out, to draw out in narrative, to recount.” In seminary, we learned to “exegete” or explain God’s Word, the Bible. We were taught to “read out” of the Bible God’s intended meaning through a grammatical, historical, and literal interpretation instead of “reading into” the Bible our own biases and assumptions.
God the Son, Jesus Christ, has “exegeted” or “set forth in great deal” what God the Father is like. Jesus is more qualified than anyone else to explain what God the Father is like because He, being God, knows God the Father longer and more intimately than anyone else.
For some of you reading this, it may be very difficult for you to perceive God as your Father because you have been deeply wounded by your own earthly father through his absence or even his abuse towards you. You may detest the thought of God being a Father because your own earthly father caused you a lot of pain. Hence, you want nothing to do with fathers.
Please understand that God the Father is nothing like your absent or abusive father on earth. God wants you to know Him for Who He truly is. And there is no one more qualified to reveal God the Father to you than Jesus Christ.
Therefore, Jesus said, “He who sees Me sees Him [the Father] who sent Me” (John 12:45). He also said, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him” (John 14:7). Christ said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9b) because Jesus is the perfect reflection of the Father.
If you want to know God the Father, get to know His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, because He is God in human flesh (John 1:1, 14; Tit. 2:13; I Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:8; I John 5:20). You can begin a relationship with God the Son and God the Father through faith. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).
To believe in the Father Who sent Jesus is the same as believing in Jesus because Christ is the perfect reflection of the Father, being God Himself. Therefore, Jesus could say, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me” (John 12:44).
Jesus said, “he who hears My word and believes…” (John 5:24a). Have you heard Jesus’ promise of everlasting life and believed it? If so, Jesus guarantees the person who has heard and believed that he now “has [present tense] everlasting life” (John 5:24b). You do not have to wait until you die to experience everlasting life. If you have heard Jesus’ promise of everlasting life (John 3:16) and believed it, you can now experience His forever life every day of your life on earth and beyond!!!
Christ also guarantees to the one who has heard and believed His promise of eternal life that he “shall not [future tense] comeinto judgment” for his sins in the future (John 5:24c). Why?
Because Jesus was judged on the cross for all our sins when He died, and God the Father was satisfied with Jesus’ full payment for our sins (John 19:30; I John 2:2). Therefore, we will never be eternally punished for our sins if we have heard and believed Jesus’ promise of everlasting life.
Lastly, Jesus promises that the one who has heard and believed His promise of everlasting life “has passed [past tense] from death into life” (John 5:24d). This means that eternal death is behind you, not ahead of you. It is past, not present or future. You are now in the sphere of “life” or relationship with God. When God looks at our life after we believe in Christ, what does He see? He sees only the blood of His Son and His goodness in our lives (Ephes. 1:7; Rev. 1:5; 12:11). In the sphere of “life,” God has no charge against the believer (Rom. 8:33). The believer is “justified” (“declared totally righteous”) of all things based on his or her faith in Christ (Rom. 4:5). All our sin has been covered by the goodness of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). We are seen by God as completely holy and perfect because of His grace (Ephes. 1:4). That is why God can let us into His heaven when we die if we have believed in Christ as our Savior.
We can know what God is like by looking at Jesus. He came to make the Father known. Christ is full of grace and truth. He has the perfect ability to tell us the awful truth about ourselves, while holding us up by His grace. Because He is full of truth, He was the perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin. Because He is full of grace, you can come to Him just as you are, without having to clean up your life first. And because He is full of truth, you can come in complete confidence knowing that He will keep His promise to forgive you and grant you eternal life the moment you believe in Him. Jesus promised, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). Do you believe this?
If someone asks you, “What is God like?” Encourage them to get to know Jesus Christ because to know Him is to know God since Jesus is fully God.
Prayer: Precious Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to earth to explain what God the Father is like so we may have a close and intimate relationship with Him and You. Please help us to see the Father as full of grace and truth like You, Lord. Renew our minds so we may see You both as You truly are – abounding in goodness, grace, love, mercy, and truth. Use us to point the unsaved to You by reflecting Your grace by being gracious to them and Your truth by being truthful with them. May those without eternal life be convinced that Your grace and truth guarantees them everlasting life the moment they believe in You alone, Lord Jesus. Please bring healing to those who have been deeply wounded by their earthly fathers or father figures so they may approach our Father in heaven as a good good Father who infinitely and unconditionally loves them. In Your mighty name we pray, Lord Jesus. Amen.
 Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pp. 914-16; cf. Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on John, pp. 36-37 cites Lewis S. Chafer, Systematic Theology, 1:382-96, 3:33-34, for discussions of Christ’s hypostatic union (the union of His divine and human natures in the Incarnation).
 Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on John, pg. 42 cites those who hold to this view: F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John: Introduction, Exposition and Notes (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1983), pg. 42; Morris, The Gospel According to John, pg. 98; Hodges, “Grace after Grace” Bibliotheca Sacra, pp. 34-45; see also Robertson, A. T. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament, Kindle Location 50210 to 50228.
 Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pg. 658.
“When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’” John 5:6
In this chapter, we are going to address a deadly, dreaded disease. It is important that you listen closely because you could have this disease and not even know it. This disease can spread rapidly and render an entire church body spiritually bedridden. It is called spiritual paralysis or the loss of the ability to walk with God. Those stricken with this disease find themselves spiritually paralyzed…unable to do what God wants them to do. They are unable to make disciples – to lead others to Christ and train them to do the same. They may be unable to overcome a past hurt, habit, or hang up.
As Christians, it is essential that we know Jesus Christ is our greatest Advocate when it comes to recovery from past hurts, habits, or hang ups. When Jesus arrived in Nazareth, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and read from the prophet Isaiah a description of the Messiah’s ministry, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” (Luke 4:18). The verses Jesus read (4:18-19) were taken from Isaiah 61:1-2 which describe the promised Messiah’s ministry on earth.
There is a progression in Isaiah’s description of the Messiah’s gospel preaching ministry that is relevant to those of us struggling with things outside of God that are controlling us. We have learned to medicate our pain and shame with unhealthy coping behaviors. But Jesus came to “heal the brokenhearted,” resulting in “liberty” from that which we could not break free. Shame imprisons us, but the Savior liberates us. His gospel grants spiritual “sight” to us so we can begin to see ourselves through His eyes and no longer be “oppressed” by shame-based lies.
The biblical text does not tell us if Jesus read verse 3 of Isaiah 61, but this verse is a continuation of the Messiah’s ministry on earth. His healing grace will “console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Our brokenness brought great sadness (“ashes… mourning”)to us, but Christ’s grace will “console” us, changing our sadness and “heaviness” of shame into “joy” and “praise.” This inward transformation will make us a blessing to others, like oak “trees” flourishing in “righteousness” because of the outrageous grace of God.
Jesus was and still is, all about setting people free from brokenness, chains, blindness, and oppression. He is committed to liberating people from the things in their lives outside of God that are controlling them.
And we all have something in our lives outside of God that is controlling us. It may be alcohol, busyness, a cell phone, drugs, fear, gambling, intellectualism, jealousy, materialism, peoples’ approval, pornography, sex, social media, sports, tobacco, unforgiveness, work, or worry to name a few. I believe the third miracle of Jesus recorded in John’s gospel teaches us important truths for overcoming spiritual paralysis which is often manifested in the form of addictions.
If you feel helpless to overcome things outside of God that are controlling your life, then you are invited to go with the Doctor on a poolside call to see how this dreaded disease of spiritual paralysis can be cured. Just how can we overcome spiritual paralysis?
RESOLVE to Get Well (5:1-6). You must want to get well. 5:1-2a: At the start of His second year of ministry, Jesus went to the Passover “feast” (cf. 6:4) in “Jerusalem,” where He would heal a certain invalid. This miracle took place to the north of the temple area at the “pool” of “Bethesda” near the “Sheep Gate” on the northeastern wall of the city of Jerusalem (diagram 1), which was built by the high priest, Eliashib, with his brethren (cf. Neh. 3:1, 32; 12:39).
Bethesda” means “house of outpouring” or “house of mercy.”  This pool was near the “Sheep Gate” so that sheep coming to be sacrificed in the temple could be brought through this gate after being washed in this pool.
Today, Jesus Christ is our High Priest, and because of His all-sufficient sacrifice on the cross as the Lamb of God (John 1:29), we can be washed clean of all our sins by His blood which enables us to approach God with confidence in His heavenly throne room to worship Him (cf. Heb. 10:1-25; 13:10-16).
Excavations of this part of the temple area have shown there were two pools with a covered colonnade or porch on all four sides of the complex and a fifth colonnade that separated the two pools, confirming the description John gives concerning the “five porches” (John 5:2b) which would shelter the disabled and sick.  Five is the number of grace. Why were all these needy people gathered here?
5:3b-4: Some scholars reject these verses stating that they are not found in older Greek manuscripts and are not consistent with John’s writings.  But there are convincing arguments to include these verses in the original text of the gospel of John. 
All known Greek manuscripts of John’s gospel include these verses except for less than a dozen.
Christian apologist Tertullian confirms the authenticity of the passage in the third century.
The reading was widely distributed in both the East and West as evidenced in the versions and writings of the church Fathers.
The stylistic pattern of this passage is consistent with the unique content and probable connection with the traditions of Bethesda.
The absence of these verses in older manuscripts can be explained by a falsely perceived “pagan tinge.”
The statement about the multitude of sick assembled under the five porches in verse 3 and the response of the lame man in verse 7 demand the presence of verses 3b-4.
We must not forget that the Bible records many miraculous interventions of angels in the lives of ordinary people (cf. Gen. 19:1-11, 21-24; 2 Kings 6:16-18; Dan. 6:22; 10:8-13; Matt. 28:2-4; Acts 5:17-21; 12:5-10; et al.). God in the outpouring of His mercy granted miraculous healings at the Pool of Bethesda to heal some of the sick (diagram 2).
5:5:But there was“a certain man” at this pool who had not received this mercy or grace for “thirty-eight years” (John 5:5). This lame man lay forlornly in a place where God’s mercy and grace seemed to always touch others but never himself. There had been no mercy at the house of mercy for this needy man. Imagine how he must have felt to witness so many people being miraculously healed, but not once did he experience such healing. It would have been easy for him to conclude that God must not love him because if He did, he would be healed by now. For thirty-eight years he had been confined by paralysis to a bed, leaving him weak and hopeless.
Like the lame man who had lost hope, addicts can become so lost in their addiction for so long of a time that they give up on any type of recovery. They hear the testimonies of other addicts which speak of finding freedom from what once held them in bondage. But that freedom of which others testify had escaped them. The hopeless addict can easily conclude that their addiction or the pain that drives it must be too great to overcome. Hence, such an addict has no hope of lasting change because their chains have not been broken.
5:6: Of all the sick and disabled people at the pool that day, Christ chooses the one (diagram 3) who had probably been seeking healing the longest.  All the previous healings at the pool went to the least needy among the invalids (5:4-5, 7).  Now it was time for healing to come to the one who needed it the most. Christ chose this man because He knew “he already had been in that condition a long time” and had lost any hope of being healed.
We may think it strange that Jesus asked this man, “Do you want to be made well?” Surely anyone who has been chronically ill wants to be healed, right? Not necessarily.
“The reality is, most of us – especially addicts – are more comfortable with a familiar sickness than an unfamiliar solution. Jesus was really asking the man, ‘Are you desperate? Are you willing to do whatever I’m about to ask? Are you willing to do whatever it takes? If you are the only one to get well today, are you still all in? Do you really want it?’”
“Do you want to be made well?” That’s a question we may need to answer, as well. The first step to overcoming spiritual paralysis or an addiction is to resolve to get well. Do you want Jesus to heal the parts of your life where you have been deeply wounded or is it easier to hold on to the hurt? Do you want Christ to overcome your fears or are you more comfortable playing it safe and not taking any risks because you are ruled by the fear of what could happen? All too often we hold on tightly to the things that keep us stuck.
To the one crippled by past hurts, Jesus asks, “Do you want to be healed?” To the one chained by secret sin Jesus asks, “Do you want to be set free?” To the one battling addiction Jesus asks, “Do you want to overcome?” To the one who is paralyzed by fear, Jesus asks, “Do you want to admit you are not in control and learn to trust Me?” To the one who has not yet believed in Christ alone to get them to heaven Jesus asks, “Do you want to be saved?” To all of us who need His healing touch in any part of our lives, He asks, “Do you want to be made well?”
The lame man responded to Jesus’ question. 5:7: He seems to be complaining, “Every time the water bubbles up, no one is here to help me into the pool. It’s always the stronger ones who reach the water first. It’s a shame those of us who need it the most get the least amount of help. It’s been that way for thirty-eight years.”
We do the same thing today. How often do we hear people say things like, “I’d stop drinking if my wife would quit nagging me!”“I’d work harder, but no one appreciates my effort.” “I’d stop doing drugs if my friends would stop pressuring me.” “I’d make better grades, but my teacher doesn’t like me.” “I’d come to church, but there are too many hypocrites there.” “I’d give up porn and sex if it wasn’t so accessible and appealing.” “I would forgive him if he would change.” We have such a difficult time saying, “I am responsible for my choices.” We blame heredity, environment, circumstances, the past – everything except ourselves.
Hence, the second way to overcome spiritual paralysis (our addictions) is to REFUSE TO BLAME OTHERS AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR OWN CHOICES (5:7). When Jesus asks, “do you want to be made well?” what is our response? When Jesus asks, “do you want to be healed from your past hurts?” Do we reply, “you don’t know how badly they hurt me”? When Jesus asks, “Do you want to be freed from the chains of your secret sin?” do we counter, “I just can’t control myself”? When Christ says, “Do you want to be saved?” will you excuse yourself, “I’m not nearly as bad as other people I know.” When Jesus asks, “Do you want to become more effective in reaching the lost?” do we say, “I’m happy with the way things are?” When Jesus asks, “Will you try new ways to minister to the lost?” do we say, “I’m afraid of what could happen?” Jesus said to the cripple “Do you want to be made well?” And he replied, “I don’t have anyone to put me in.”
To receive the healing Jesus has for our lives, we must refuse to blame others and take responsibility for ourselves. Christ is eager to help us, but we must be willing to let Him. Living in denial only makes our addictions worse. We must break out of denial and stop blaming someone else for the choices we have made. It is time to face the pain in our lives so we will recognize our need for Jesus. Denial can stop today! Healing can begin today!
Jesus ignored the excuse of the lame man and out of love He gave him some strong medicine. 5:8: Christ does not preach to this man. He did not correct his theology. He did not expound upon God’s love and grace. He didn’t tell him to be more thankful. Nor did He recite the promises of God to him. People who have lost hope do not need knowledge. They need compassion and direction. 
First, Christ asks an impossible thing; secondly, He removes all possibility of a relapse; and thirdly, He expects continued success. All these are involved in the words: “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”
From these words, we discover the third way to overcome spiritual paralysis (our addictions): RELY ON CHRIST ALONE FOR HEALING (5:8). Notice that the first thing Jesus says to do is what the man could not do for thirty-eight years – “Rise.” On what basis does Jesus say these words to him? It is important to see this. Perhaps the lame man was thinking, “If this Man tells me to rise (and I cannot rise), it must mean that He intends to do something to make it possible.” Thus, his faith is transferred from his own efforts to Jesus: “He must do it. I can’t.” The man must also have reasoned somewhat along these lines, “If this Man is going to help me then I have got to decide to do what He tells me to do.”
Jesus does not say, “Try to build up faith in your mind. Pray for months first. Form a committee. Go to rehab and then you will be able to walk.” Overcoming addictions is not based on a Twelve-Step program or trying harder. Instead, Christ tells him (and us) to do something: “Rise! Stand up!” Obviously, it was Jesus’ will that this man should do what He told him to do, and the moment the man’s will agreed with the Lord’s will, the power was there. I don’t know whether he felt anything or not. All I know is that strength came into his bones and into his muscles and he could stand. He knew he could stand, and he did. By faith in Jesus this man stood up.
Twelve Step recovery programs begin with admitting one’s powerlessness to overcome their addictions. Every addict promises never to go back to their addictive behaviors after a relapse. But that does not happen until they come to grips with the fact that they are powerless to stop their unwanted behaviors. Jesus is asking this lame man to do something he has been unable to do the last 38 years. To do this, he must admit he is powerless, and Jesus is powerful. He must shift his focus from himself or other people around him to the only One Who has the power to do what is humanly impossible.
The apostle Paul said something similar when he writes, “10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Rom. 8:10-11). Do we realize that every Christian inhabits a spiritually dead body? We often forget this because we are physically alive. We are not naturally inclined to regard our physical body as dead. But from God’s point of view that is exactly what it is.
We might have expected Paul to say, “If Christ is not in you the body is dead because of sin.” But he does not. He says, “If Christ is in you…” (Rom. 8:10). When we are born again by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ for His gift of eternal life (John 3:15-16, 36; 6:40, 47), our inward nature changes (I John 3:9), but our physical body remains the same (Rom. 7:13-28; I John 1:8, 10; 3:2-3). It is still infected by the deadly virus of sin, and as a result is completely unresponsive to the new life the Christian now possesses. The Christian is inwardly alive, but his physical “house” is dead, that is, totally unresponsive to the new life within.
The good news is “the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in” every Christian though their physical body is dead or unresponsive to the eternal life within them (Rom. 8:11a). The same Spirit “who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies” (Rom. 8:11b). It is God’s Spirit, not our own determination or willpower, which can grant the power to “resurrect” our spiritually dead physical bodies on earth. Thus, the key to overcoming addictions is not through our own determination and strength, but through the power of God’s Spirit indwelling us. 
Perhaps this is why the average secular recovery program only has a 3-10 percent success rate for addicts whereas a Christian-based approach to overcoming addictions has a 70 percent success rate.  Secular approaches tend to focus on the addiction or symptoms rather than the root cause or pain that drives the addictions and the power of God’s indwelling Spirit to heal that pain. Our dependency must be on God’s Spirit within us, not our own determinations, strength, or willpower.
Jesus may ask us to do things as a Christian that we have never attempted before. It may not make sense to us. It may seem impossible to us. But instead of trying to figure everything out, we just need to do it! Overanalysis leads to paralysis.
What does the Lord say next? The Lord did not merely say, “Rise,” He said, “take up your bed.” Why did He say that? I like the way G. Campbell Morgan has put it, “In order to make no provision for a relapse.” The man might have said to himself, “I’m healed, but I had better leave my bed here; I may need it tomorrow.” If he had said that he would have been back in it the next day. But he did not. Jesus said, “Take up your bed. Get rid of it; don’t leave it there. Don’t stay stuck.”
“Wherever your bed is, that’s where your home is. Thus, this man would no longer be sleeping in a place of despair. His home was changing.”
Christ is saying something very important to people and churches who need to be healed: do not make any provision to go back on what you have done. If you do go back, the consequences will be worse than the first time. That’s why Jesus says to the man, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” (John 5:14). This man’s paralysis was due to personal sin. This is not always the case with physical ailments, but sometimes it is. And when Jesus enables us to overcome that sin, He says not to make provision for a relapse. Many people fail right here.
If Christ has enabled you to stop drinking, go home and pour out the alcohol! If you are off drugs, go home and get rid of the drugs! If you have stopped looking at porn, stay offline or at the very least, get an internet filter such as covenant eyes or canopy. Burn your bridges behind you. Say “No” to the friends you used to drink with or do drugs with or had sex with. You will probably find that some of them will come with you. Burn your bridges. Cut off any possibility of going back.
Let somebody know the new stand you have taken so that he or she will help hold you to it. Join an accountability group. Get involved with discipleship. You were wounded in the context of relationships and now you can heal in the context of healthy relationships. You cannot overcome your addictions in isolation. Satan will try to isolate you from Christians who can help you in this recovery process. He uses fear and shame to do this. Ask God to help you push through the fear and shame so you can ask safe believers for the help you need. Remember, “9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” (Eccles. 4:9-10).
Burn your bridges, is what Jesus is saying. If you have forgiven someone, don’t rehearse the hurtful things they did to you. Let go and move on – burn your bridges. If you have been paralyzed by fear, cling to the promises of God and don’t rehearse those fearful “what ifs.” This is so important. Our Lord knows what He is talking about – “take up your bed.” Remove all possibility of a relapse.
The third thing Jesus said to the lame man is, “walk.” Don’t expect to be carried – walk. Many people want to be carried after they are healed. They expect everybody to gather around them and keep them going – a common area of failure. But if Jesus gives you the power to rise, Jesus is the One who can give you the power to walk every day, to keep going. That is an important thing to see – you and the Lord. Your eyes are not on your friends, your pastor, your recovery group, your counselor, or on yourself; your eyes are to be on Christ now. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2). That is how this man kept going. It is how you as a believer can keep going in your Christian life.
It is important to see God’s part and our part in the healing process. Who healed the man at the pool? Jesus. Who had to walk? The man. Who saves us from our sins? Jesus. Who must believe in Him? We must. Who makes us more like Christ and gives us the power to to overcome our sinful addictions? Jesus. Who must decide day by day to follow Him and live life on His terms? We must.
The fourth way to overcome our addictions is to REDIRECT OUR FOCUS AWAY FROM LEGALISM TO CHRIST’S HEALING AND EMPOWERING GRACE (5:9-13). 5:9: The Bible tells usthat “immediately” this invalid’s body responded to the power of Jesus Christ, and he was “made well, took up his bed, and walked.” John’s description of the man’s healing is probably a deliberate understatement. After being unable to walk nearly forty years, no doubt his limbs had atrophied, and his hope had withered. When Christ’s power made him well, this man must have jumped up off the ground, skipping and dancing, and doing cartwheels all around that pool of despair.  The outpouring of God’s mercy and grace had finally come to him.
But the apostle John reminds us in his reference to that day of healing being on “the Sabbath” (5:9b), that there were killjoys at this pool of mercy. 5:10: “The Jews” or religious leaders scolded this ecstatic man who had just been healed (Diagram 4), saying, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
“According to the prevailing Jewish interpretation of the law, it was not legitimate to carry anything from one place to another on the Sabbath (cf. Neh. 13:15; Jer. 17:21-27). Doing so constituted a capital offense that could result in stoning. The rabbis allowed for exceptional cases, such as moving a lame person, for compassionate reasons.” 
“The Lord instituted the Sabbath as a gift. He ordered a day of rest to rejuvenate the bodies and minds of His people. More importantly, it was given in order to break the day-in, day-out cycle of routine so that people would not forget that God is the ultimate source of their sustenance; their labors are but a means of His provision. The Sabbath gave people permission to stop work so they would not neglect a vital need: worship. We are created for worship; therefore, worship is good for us. But the Pharisees turned this wonderful gift of God into a burden, an occasion for severe criticism, an excuse to exercise power, and yet another opportunity to remind themselves and everyone else of their superior moral worth.” 
Tragically, the religious leaders were more concerned about the infringement on their Sabbath rules than about Christ’s healing grace in this man’s life. Sadly, this is true of many churches today or Christian recovery groups. They are more concerned about their man-made rules than they are about sinners encountering the healing grace of Jesus Christ. Their focus is more on the behavior of an addict rather than the addict’s heart and way of thinking. That is the spirit of legalism. Legalism will render an addict spiritually paralyzed and defeated. The constant emphasis on behavior will reinforce the addict’s cycle of shame. The lame man did not know Christ. Jesus healed him regardless because of His GRACE. Grace is not restricted by rules and regulations or how much one knows. Grace expands in the context of loving relationships.
Jesus was more concerned about this man’s need to be healed than He was about breaking the Sabbath rules of the religious leaders. Grace puts relationships ahead of rules. Legalism puts rules ahead of relationships. God’s grace teaches us that an addict cannot change his behavior until He looks to Jesus to change his heart (cf. Mark 7:14-23).
5:11-13: The former lame man’s response to the religious leaders shows that he preferred to listen to this unknown Man with supernatural power, not these leaders who were practicing religion. These men had known he laid there as an invalid for thirty-eight years, but they never offered him any assistance. So, when an unknown Healer restores his legs and commands him to carry his mat, there was no question in his mind about whom he would listen to.
If you have been in a recovery program or church that lack the healing grace of Jesus Christ from within because of their focus on external appearances, will you stay there or take up your mat and go home to a place off healing and hope? It is not an easy choice to make if legalism is all you have ever known.
Here is the dilemma. When Jesus wanted to do something new, the religious leaders were still caught up in the old. They were in a rut. Someone once said the difference between a rut and a grave is depth and length. And that is the dilemma for many of us today. We try to fit God into our safe set of rules. And like the legalists, we think that everyone else should also conform to our safe and comfortable box. But God is not contained in a box. The moment you think He is, He will do something new to burst that box you tried to contain Him in. God is looking to do something new in our lives and churches (cf. Isaiah 43:19).
I wonder what may be in our lives and church that simply cannot co-exist with the new thing that God wants to do? God is looking for someone who will step out in faith and say, “I don’t know what’s going to happen – but I want to join God in the new thing He is doing.”
We then discover the fifth way to overcome our spiritual paralysis (our addictions) which is to REMEMBER THERE ARE STILL CONSEQUENCES FOR OUR CHOICES (5:14). 5:14: The word “found” suggests that Jesus was looking for the former lame man (Diagram 5), He did not just happen to see him. Christ continues to pursue us after He heals us. Jesus came back to reveal Himself to this man. He wanted him to have more than just a healthy body. He wanted the former lame man to be healthy spiritually as well. He not only healed him of his physical affliction, but He also now wants to save this man from a “worse thing” which is possibly a reference to eternal suffering in the lake of fire. 
For this lame man to avoid returning to his sin, he needed Jesus in His life. John tells us in his gospel, “37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:37-39). Believing in Christ for eternal life not only saves us from eternal suffering in the lake of fire, but it also results in God’s Spirit living inside us to give us the power to resist temptation and progressively experience victory over our sinful addictions. Christ shares His identity with this man now so he can know the Giver of eternal life and ask Him for it (cf. John 4:10).
It is also possible that Jesus is thinking of the consequences of going back to the sin that led to this man’s physical disability. I am not suggesting that all disabilities are because of personal sin. But in this man’s case it was.
How does this relate to overcoming addictions? It is possible to become sober for a long time and still be spiritually and emotionally unhealthy. Especially if you do not replace the addiction with Christ and His Word. When speaking of the spiritual condition of the wicked generation of Israelites in His day, Jesus said, “43 When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” (Matthew 12:43-45). We can sweep our house clean by becoming sober. Like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, we can look good on the outside talking about the length of our sobriety. But inwardly we can lack love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. If we do not fill the void in our lives with Christ and His Spirit, we are opening ourselves up to something far “worse than the first” addictions we had. We will experience greater demonic influences in our lives.
The final way to overcome our spiritual paralysis or addictions is to RENDER ALL THE GLORY TO CHRIST (5:15). 5:15: This man gave all the credit to Jesus for his healing (Diagram 6). Some interpreters think the man was giving his allegiance to the religious leaders instead of to Christ. But I understand this verse to confirm that the former lame man was giving Jesus the glory for his miraculous healing.
I am reminded of a story about a woodpecker that was pecking away at a huge tree. Suddenly a bolt of lightning struck the tree and split it from top to bottom. The woodpecker flew off in a flash. Minutes later he returned with several other woodpeckers. Pointing to the tree, he said, “There it is. Look at what I did!”
Are we quick to take credit for what God is doing in our lives and in our church? Or when God works in another believer’s life, are we quick to give the glory to that Christian instead of giving all the glory to God? When we humbly submit to Christ’s authority and give Him all the glory for the work He is doing in our lives, He gives us special power to continue to walk with Him.
Do you as an individual want to be made well today? Perhaps you are a Christian and you have been unable to live the way God wants you to live. You may be crippled by past hurts or a present habit or hang up or something else. Do you want to be made well and walk with the Lord Who has the power to set you free from your addictions? If so, you can say this prayer to God…
Prayer: “Lord God, I want to get well. I am tired of living in fear and shame all my life. I admit I do not have what it takes to overcome my addictions without You. Please make me willing to do whatever You ask of me. Please forgive me for blaming others, including You. Right now, I take responsibility for my own actions, and I trust You alone to heal me. Please give me the power to overcome the sin in my life that has crippled me. Help me burn the bridges that lead back to that sin so I can keep my eyes on You, walking with You the rest of my life. Please provide a group of loving Christians who can help me on this journey of healing and recovery for I cannot do this alone. Replace my fear with a radical faith that trusts You to do the impossible. In Jesus’s name. Amen.”
 Tom Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on John, 2023 Edition, pg. 149 cites John Wilkinson, Jerusalem as Jesus knew it: Archaeology as Evidence (London: Thames and Hudson, 1978), pp. 95-104; Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: Third Edition (BDAG) revised and edited by Frederick William Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000 Kindle Edition), pg. 174.
 Edwin A. Blum, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Gospels, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (David C. Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), pg. 582.
 Gordon D. Fee, “On the Authenticity of John 5:3b-4,” Evangelical Quarterly 54 (October-December 1982): 207-218; Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London: United Bible Societies), pg. 209; Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), pg. 203.
 Zane C. Hodges, “The Angel of Bethesda – John 5:4,” Bibliotheca Sacra 136 (January-March 1979): 39.
 Robert Wilkin, “The Gospel According to John,” The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society. 2019 Kindle Edition), pg. 190.
 Charles R. Swindoll, Insights on John, Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary Book 4 (Tyndale House Publishers, 2014 Kindle Edition), pg. 112.
 Mark Denison’s July 29, 2021, article entitled “Jesus on Recovery: 3 Keys to Overcome Addiction” at covenanteyes.com.
“If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.” I John 5:16
As the apostle John approached the end of his letter, he resumed talking about prayer that expresses faith in the name of God’s Son (I John 5:13b -15). John spoke of praying for our own needs especially as it relates to God’s will which is revealed in His commandments. God has commanded us to love one another (I John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11-12; cf. John 13:34-35). When we ask God to help us do this, we can be confident He hears this request favorably because we know this is according to His revealed will (5:14-15).
But John does not want us to stop with praying for our own needs (5:14-15), he also wants us to pray for the needs of others (5:16-17). When other Christians love us, we may not see our need to ask God for help to love them back. But when a Christian sins against us we may recognize our need for God’s help. Jesus taught that praying for someone who has sinned against us is an act of love (cf. Matt. 5:44). 1
Hence, John writes, “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.” (I John 5:16). We can pray with confidence for a “brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death” that God will answer our prayer favorably. God will give us “life” to give to our brothers “who commit sin not leading to death” (5:16a). 2
Hence, “the name of the Son of God” (5:13b) becomes “life”“for the sinning believer who gets a longer life plus joy when he repents and for the praying brother when he receives a positive answer for his prayer. We get joy from answered prayer, and the sinning brother gets restored joy when he returns to fellowship (and potentially a longer life).” 3
“John offers a specific example of confident prayer that is according to God’s will and that involves a horizontal expression of love. If you see a brother committing a sin, he needs a believer who is intimate with God to intercede for him (5:16). As a result of his own intimacy intimacy with God, Moses intervened on behalf of Israel (Exod. 32:7-14). When the four men who carried the paralytic took him to Jesus, He forgave and healed when He saw their faith (Mark 2:5). When we reach out in love to a brother or sister who is being defeated, God can allow that believer to piggyback on our faith to receive deliverance. That’s what the family of God is about.”4
However, this promise does not apply to Christians who commit sin leading directly or immediately to a premature physical death. 5 John writes, “There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.” (5:16b). A Christian brother is not encouraged to pray for another believer who is committing a sin that leads immediately to a swift physical death. Nor is he instructed not to pray for him.
“In other words, if a Christian suspects that a sin leading directly to death is being committed, he is free to pray for the sinning believer, but without any certainty about the outcome of his prayer. Although there is no guarantee, it is always possible that God may ‘relent’ from His judgment.”6
“All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.” (I John 5:17). All “unrighteousness” (adikia) or wrongdoing in God’s eyes “is sin” but out of this broad spectrum “there is sin not leading to death.” This last phrase sin “not leading to death” (mē pros thanaton/ou pros thanaton) occurs three times in 5:16-17 and should be understood to mean “not punished by death.” 7
The distinction in I John 5:16-17 is between sins for which death is a rapid consequence and sins for which it is not. Obviously, all Christians still sin (I John 1:8, 10). But God makes a distinction between sins that result in premature death and those that do not such as envy, lying, slander, gossip, pride, manipulation, anger, deception, lust, or hypocrisy. 8
This is also not a reference to eternal “death” as some teach. 9 John is speaking here of a believer’s Christian “brother” who has eternal life which can never be lost (5:1, 13; cf. John 6:35-30; 10:28-29).
Examples of sin leading to a premature or swift physical death among Christians is seen in Acts 5:1-11 and I Corinthians 3:16-17; 5:5; 11:30. 10 Ananias and Sapphira “lied … to God” the Holy Spirit about the amount of money they obtained when they sold their property and gave only “part” of the proceeds to the apostles to distribute to other believers (Acts 4:34-5:4). They wanted God and other believers to think they were more generous than they actually were. As a result of not allowing the Holy Spirit to control them, both Ananias and Sapphira “immediately” died (Acts 5:5-10).
The Christians at Corinth also committed sins which could lead to premature death. These included:
Exalting God’s servants instead of God will “destroy” (phtheiro) or “defile” the local church (“you” = plural) which is “the temple of God” in whom “the Spirit of God dwells”(I Cor. 3:16-17). Bringing harm to the local church through illegitimate divisions or false doctrine could result in a premature physical death. 11
Continuing in sexual immorality as a Corinthian believer did with “his father’s wife” (I Cor. 5:1) or the sinning believer’s stepmother. Paul instructed the church to “deliver such a one to Satan” by excommunicating him from the church so God’s protective covering is removed from his life. 12 Then Satan can use the world which he controls (John 12:31; 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:12; Col. 1:13; 1 John 5:19) 13 “for the destruction of the flesh” of this wayward believer so “that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (I Cor. 5:5). The word “flesh” is not likely to refer to the man’s sinful desires because Satan is not likely to destroy them. It is better to understand the “flesh” to be his physical life which when destroyed would “save” this Christian from the additional loss of eternal rewards before he faces Jesus at the Judgment Seat (cf. I Cor. 3:8-15). A similar view is that the word “save” (sōzō) is often used in the New Testament to mean being healed or being healthy (cf. Matt. 9:21-22; Mark 5:23, 28, 34; 6:56; 10:52; Luke 7:50; 8:36, 48, 50; 17:19; 18:42; Acts 4:9; 14:9; Jas. 5:15). According to this view, Paul’s desire is that this man’s spirit will be healthy in the day of the Lord Jesus through his repentant response to church discipline. 14 “The day of the Lord Jesus” is a reference to the Judgment Seat of Christ (cf. I Cor. 1:8; 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:10; Phil. 2:16; 2 Thess. 2:2). 15
The misuse of the Lord’s Supper to fulfill fleshly desires left “many” Corinthian believers “weak and sick among you, and many sleep.” (I Cor. 11:30). The word “sleep” refers to physical death (cf. John 11:11-13).
God wants His children to take sin seriously. The Bible tells us that believers who take sin lightly are flirting with death:
Proverbs 10:27: “The fear of the Lord prolongs days, but the years of the wicked will be shortened.”
Proverbs 11:19: “As righteousness leads to life, so he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death.”
Proverbs 13:14: “The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.”
Proverbs 19:16: “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die.”
All sin if practiced long and hard enough will lead to physical death (James 1:14-15). Believers who understand this will pray for their fellow Christians who are sinning (I John 5:16). James writes, “19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20). When Christians (“Brethren”) are aware of another believer (“anyone among you”) who “wanders from the truth” and “turns him back” primarily through prayer (cf. James 5:13-18), the one who prays saves the sinning believer’s “soul from death” (premature physical death) “and covers a multitude of sins.” This last phrase alludes to Proverbs 10:12 which says, “But love covers all sins.” There may have been a vast number of decisions and choices that led a particular believer away from the Lord. But with the sacrificial love of Christ, James says praying Christians can be used of God to provide a covering for past sins and lead an astray brother or sister to restoration. 16
James 5:19-20 is speaking as much to the Christian who prays as he is to the Christian who strays. Evans writes, “Some believers aid the spiritual regression of fellow Christians by assuming it’s none of their business. But if your child darted into the street in front of a car, would you say it’s none of your business? Of course not! Though many believers fail to comprehend their responsibility to the family of faith, your Christianity is real when you see a brother in Christ backsliding and act in love. You cannot be a passive Christian.” 17
I believe the apostle John would agree with this. While God gives us eternal life as a free gift the moment we believe in the name of the Son of God (cf. 5:1, 13), we who are believers can give extended physical “life” to sinning believers, in some cases, when we pray in the name of the Son of God to be merciful to them (5:16-17). 18
However, it is important to remember that if a believer hardens his or her heart and refuses to confess and forsake their sins, he or she cannot expect mercy from God. Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” It never benefits a Christian to harden his heart and cover up or hide his sins. God’s promises that if a sinning believer “confesses and forsakes” his sins, he “will have mercy.”
One of the greatest ways we can show God’s love to a sinning believer is to pray for him or her that God would bring them to repentance so the joy of fellowship with God and other Christians can be restored. We might not know if God will judge the sinning believer with premature physical death. In such cases we can pray that God will bring His will to pass for them. 19
Prayer: O Father, forgive us for failing to take sin seriously in our own lives and in the lives of fellow believers in Jesus. It can be easy for us to justify our apathy or lack of love for a sinning Christian by telling ourselves it is none of our business. Thank You for reminding us that if we love You, we are also to love a sinning brother or sister in Christ by praying for them in the name of the Son of God so they can be given a longer life and greater joy when they repent and return to fellowship with You and other Christians. Even though we do not know if You will judge a sinning believer with a premature physical death, we can still pray that You will bring Your will to pass in their lives. Right now, we pray for so and so, that You would turn him from the error of his way and restore him to close fellowship with You and Your children. Have mercy on us all heavenly Father. Thank You for hearing our prayers. In the matchless name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
1. David R. Anderson, Maximum Joy: I John – Relationship or Fellowship? (Grace Theology Press, 2013 Kindle Edition), pg. 253.
2. In the phrase “he will ask [aitēsei], and He will give [dōsei] him [auton] life” —the first “he” (singular)in the text is the antecedent to the “him” (singular)because the second “He” refers to God who answers the prayer, and “life” is given to “him” (singular) to pass on “to those” [toise – plural] who are committing sin that does not lead to death (Anderson, Maximum Joy, pg. 253).
4. Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 2952.
5. Zane C. Hodges; Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach; The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 604; Tom Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on I John, 2022 Edition, pg. 116;
6. Hodges, The Grace New Testament Commentary, pg. 604.
7. Zane C. Hodges, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (David C. Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), Kindle Location 4095.
8. Anderson, Maximum Joy, pg. 253.
9. Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on I John, pp. 116-117, 119 cites Randall K. J. Tan, “Should We Pray for Straying Brethren? John’s Confidence in 1 John 5:16-17,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 45:4 (December 2002), pp. 599-609; Robert W. Yarbrough, 1—3 John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), pp. 306-313; Rudolf Schnachenburg, The Johannine Epistles, translated from the 7th ed. of Die Johannesbriefe (1984) by Reginald and Ilse Fuller (New York: Crossroad Publishing Co., 1992), pg. 249; and John R. W. Stott, The Epistles of John, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries series (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1964), pp. 186-191.
10. Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on I John, pg. 116; Evans, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary, pp. 2952-2953; Hodges, The Grace New Testament Commentary, pg. 604; Hodges, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Kindle Location 4092 to 4097; Anderson, Maximum Joy, pg. 253.
11. Evans, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary, pg. 2490.
12. Dwight Hunt, Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Zane Hodges; Shawn Leach; The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 357.
13. Ibid. pp. 355, 357.
14. Ibid., pg. 357.
15. Robert Wilkin, The Grace New Testament Commentary, pg. 469.
16. Evans, Evans, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary, pg. 2890.
17. Ibid., pp. 2889-2890.
18. Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on I John, pg. 121.
19. Ibid., pg. 118 cites Robert W. Cook, “Hamartiological Problems in First John,” Bibliotheca Sacra 123; 491 (July-September 1966), pp. 257-59; and Samuel C. Storms, Reaching God’s Ear (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 1988), pp. 241-53.
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” I John 5:14
As John approaches the end of his letter, he wants to focus on a topic he introduced at the beginning of this epistle: “3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (I John 1:3-4). John wrote about intimacy or fellowship with God and one another so his readers’ “joy may be full” (1:4). When believers in Jesus walk in the light (1:7), confess their sins (1:9), keep God’s commandments (2:3-5; 3:24), abide in Christ (2:6, 24, 27-28), love one another (2:9-11; 3:11-23; 4:7-5:3), hate the world (2:15-17), acknowledge Jesus is God’s Son (2:23; 4:2-3, 4:15), practice righteousness (2:29-3:10), listen to and obey apostolic teaching (2:18-19; 4:6), and avoid idolatry (5:21), they can experience this fullness of joy.
In his epistle, John introduced the truth that answered prayer is based on a twofold commandment: “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” (I John 3:23). John connects faith and love in this single commandment.Hence, this commandment is one that only Christians can keep because it includes believing “on the name of His Son Jesus Christ” which gives eternal life to all who believe in Jesus (5:1,13) and views other believers as their Christian brothers and sisters so they can know whom to love.
Since prayer is also an expression of faith in “the name of His Son Jesus Christ” (5:13b), John resumes his focus on prayer in 5:14-17. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (I John 5:14). In the context, John began to focus on the truth that God’s commands are not a burden because faith in God’s Son is the secret of spiritual victory over the world (5:3-5). It is natural then to suppose that John was thinking especially, though not exclusively, of a Christian’s right to ask God for help in keeping His commands when John speaks of asking “anything according to His will” (5:14). 1
Anderson writes, “The entire prayer discussion comes out of the ‘life’ discussion in 1 John 5:11-13. There he indicates that our initial experience of faith (‘who believe’ = believers; the Greek construction here does not refer to present, on-going faith, but rather the initial, one-time faith that gave us eternal life) can be followed by subsequent experiences of faith ‘in the name of the Son of God’ (it is this phrase that reminds him of Christ’s prayer promises in the Upper Room).
“Another way of saying it would be this. After our initial faith in the name of Jesus, which gave us our first experience of eternal life, our subsequent expressions of faith in His name (when we pray) will bring new experiences of eternal life (joy). We need to keep before us the understanding that the primary emphasis in ‘eternal life’ is quality, not quantity. Remember, unbelievers exist forever. It’s their quality of existence which differs so from the believer who dwells in the presence of the Lord.” 2
John’s wording in 5:14-15 is reminiscent of the joy Jesus spoke of the night before His crucifixion: “22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. 23 And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:22-24). Jesus is speaking of a full joy that is based on prayer in His name. Praying in Jesus’ name is not a magical formula that we add at the end of our prayers. To pray in Jesus’ name means we pray what Jesus would pray to accomplish God’s will and bring Him maximum glory.
This brings us back to I John 5:14 which speaks of praying “anything according to His will” (5:14). “To do something in someone’s name means to act on his authority (cf. John 5:43; 10:25). It has nothing to do with simply tacking onto our prayers a phrase like ‘in Jesus’ name’. Praying in Jesus’ name means to ask… according to His (God’s or Christ’s) will. If this is done, believers can have confidence that…He hears” 3 them favorably “because we are His children asking for help to do His will. He will always grant that kind of request.”4
Contextually, John is thinking of God’s revealed “will” as it pertains to His commandments (5:3-13; cf. 3:23). God’s commandments reveal His will. For example, God commands us to love one another (I John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11-12; cf. John 13:34-35). When a believer asks God to help him love another Christian, he can have “confidence” God favorably “hears” this request because this is “His will” (5:14). “And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (I Joh. 5:15). Furthermore, John says we can also “know that we have the petitions” or requests “that we have asked of Him” for assistance to do His will by loving other Christian brothers or sisters. These requests will be granted because they are according to His revealed will. 5
When we pray according to God’s revealed will in the Bible, we can have the confidence that He hears us favorably. This would include praying…
For abstinence from fleshly lusts that war against the soul (I Pet. 2:11)
For abstinence from sexual immorality of any kind (I Thess. 4:3)
For deliverance from this present evil age (Gal. 1:4)
For the giving of thanks in everything (I Thess. 4:8)
That we silence the ignorance of foolish men by doing good (I Pet. 2:15)
That if we suffer it is for doing good and not for doing evil (I Pet. 3:17)
For the power to share the gospel of Christ starting at your current location and moving out to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8; Mark 16:15)
For clarity, courage, opportunities, and protection to share the gospel of Christ (Acts 4:29, 31; Col. 4:3-4; 2 Thess. 3:2-3)
For the making of disciples of Christ (Matt. 28:19-20)
For personal holiness that progressively reflects God’s holiness (I Pet. 1:15-16)
For living in an understanding way with one’s spouse (I Pet. 3:1-6)
“God wants his Word to be done, so pray for it to be done in your life and in the lives of others. Prayer is a toll-free number; the tab is picked up at the other end.” 6
Anderson gives us an illustrationof praying in Jesus’ name:“During the Civil War two friends found themselves under heavy fire. One of them was wounded. When his friend came to his aid, the wounded soldier pulled a small card out of his pocket and painstakingly wrote a note on the back of it. Then he looked at this friend and said, ‘If I don’t make it out alive, and you ever have a need, please go to my father. He’s a wealthy man, and I’m sure he would be willing to help you.’
“Unfortunately, the wounded soldier did die. His friend survived, and years later lost everything he had. In desperate straits, he remembered the card his friend had given him. He pulled it out of wallet and saw that it was the business card of his dead friend’s father. He looked him up and gave his name to the secretary. She went into the busy man’s office and came out with bad news, ‘I’m afraid Mr. Billings will be tied up in meetings most of the day.’ ‘That’s OK,’ said the desperate man, ‘I’ll just wait here.’ The day wore on. This former soldier was desperate, so he gave the secretary his card again and asked to see her boss for only five minutes. She took the request into her employer but came out with the same bad news. ‘Mr. Billings will be tied up all day. He simply doesn’t have time to see you.’
“Completely defeated and discouraged, the young man got up to leave, and then he remembered the card in his wallet from his friend. He pulled it out and read the back of the card to see what his friend had written. There in faded script was a note to Mr. Billings: ‘Dad, if this card every gets to you, please help the bearer. He’s my best friend and stayed with me until I died. Signed, Your son, Charlie.’ With new hope, he handed the card to the secretary and asked her if she would give this to her boss. Within seconds, Mr. Billings bounced out of his office and said, ‘Why didn’t you send this card in hours ago. I would do anything, for Charlie’s sake.’
“The Father’s infinite love for His Son has been transferred over to us. He is especially touched by those who are His Son’s best friends because they keep His commandments. And He wants to manifest His love for them for the sake of His Son. That’s the spirit of the promise to answer prayer requests in Jesus’ name. Our heavenly Father is willing to do most anything for Jesus’ sake.” 7
Our heavenly Father is eager to answer His children’s prayers when they align with what Jesus would pray. It is a top priority for the Godhead that God’s children love one another as Jesus has loved them. When we pray for God’s help to enable us to love our Christian brothers and sisters, we can be confident that He hears us and will grant us the assistance we need to obey His commandment.
Some Christians are easier to love than others. If a brother or sister in Christ has deeply hurt us, we will probably be more inclined to ask God to help us love that person. We might pray in this way:
Prayer: Father God, I know it is Your revealed will that I love so and so. But the pain they have caused me is too great for me to overcome on my own. I know You live in me, Lord Jesus. And I know it is Your will for me to love this person as You have loved me. Therefore, I pray that You would love them through me. I know You hear this prayer favorably, and I am confident that You will answer. Thank You for how You will work in and through me to show this person Your love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.
1. Zane C. Hodges, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (David C. Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), Kindle Location 4078 to 4083.
2. David R. Anderson, Maximum Joy: I John – Relationship or Fellowship? (Grace Theology Press, 2013 Kindle Edition), pg. 249.
3. See Zane C. Hodges; Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach; The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 603.
4. Tom Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on I John, 2022 Edition, pg. 114 cites Thomas L. Constable, “What Prayer Will and Will Not Change,” in Essays in Honor of J. Dwight Pentecost, Edited by Stanley D. Toussaint and Charles H. Dyer (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), pp. 99-113; and idem, Talking to God: What the Bible Teaches about Prayer (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995; reprint ed., Eugene, Oreg.: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2005), pg. 170.
5. Hodges, The Grace New Testament Commentary, pg. 604.
6. Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 2952.
“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” I John 4:17
It is important to understand that the New Testament speaks of two different judgments separated by the Millennium or one-thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ on earth. The first judgment is for believers in Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ which takes place in heaven after the Rapture of the Church (Rev. 4:1-4; cf. Rev. 22:12; John 14:1-3; I Cor. 3:8-15; 15:51-52; 2 Cor. 5:10-11; I Thess.1:10; 4:13-5:11). The second judgment is for nonbelievers after the Millennium (Rev. 20:1-10), and it is called the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).
Those who appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ (I Cor. 3:8-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 22:12) and the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15) are judged “according to their works,” not according to their faith or the lack thereof. Since every person is judged “according to their works” at both these judgments, there will be differing degrees of punishment for nonbelievers in the lake of fire as determined by the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15; cf. Matt. 11:20-24; 23:14; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47), just as there will be varying degrees of rewards for believers as determined at the Judgment Seat of Christ (I Cor. 3:8-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 2:25-27; 4:1-4; 22:12).
The apostle John began the body of his epistle in I John 2:28. It was there that he introduced a new theme of having “confidence” instead of shame before the Lord Jesus “at His coming” to motivate his readers to continue to cultivate fellowship or intimacy with Christ despite the increase in false teachers or “antichrists” (2:18-27). 1 The Greek word translated “confidence” (parrēsia) there refers “to a state of boldness and confidence, courage, confidence, boldness, fearlessness, especially in the presence of persons of high rank.” 2 Throughout the body of his epistle, John has focused on how to have more “boldness” or “confidence” both when the Lord Jesus returns (2:28) and when we pray (3:21-22).
Some Christians assume that they could not possibly experience shame at the Judgment Seat of Christ because all their sins were forgiven the moment they believed in Christ for His gift of salvation (Acts 10:43; Col. 2:13-14). But the apostle John reminds us it will be possible for transformed Christians (I John 3:2-3) to experience shame before the Lord Jesus (I John 2:28) when He evaluates both the “good or bad” things they have done in their Christian lives (2 Cor. 5:10). Keep in mind that Revelation 21:3-6, which speaks of there being no more death, nor sorrow, nor pain, takes place after the Judgment Seat of Christ (Rev. 4:1-4) and the Millennium (Rev. 20:1-10). In our transformed bodies (Phil. 3:20-21; I John 3:2), we will probably be more sensitive to sin because our sin nature will be gone along with its excuses and rationalizations for sin (I John 3:2-3). We will have a greater capacity to feel holy shame over sins that we committed on earth.
“It is true, of course, that the Lord Jesus by His death on the cross took away all of our sins, past, present, and future (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2). Sin is no longer a barrier to anyone having eternal salvation. The moment we believe in Jesus for eternal life, He gives it to us. Eternal life, however, does not exclude accountability. Believers still need fellowship forgiveness (1 John 1:9). And if a believer is out of fellowship with God when his life is over, he will experience shame at the Bema.”3
John now concludes the body of his epistle (I John 4:17-19). “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” (I John 4:17). John uses the same Greek word translated “boldness” (parrēsia) that he used in 2:28 and 3:21 where it was translated as “confidence” in the New King James Version.
In I John 4:12, John spoke of perfecting God’s love “in us” (en hēmin) when we love one another with the same sacrificial and selfless love that Christ extended to us (4:12-16; cf. 4:9-10). When God’s love reaches completion “in us,” there is no hate in our relationships with other believers. In 4:17 when John speaks of perfecting God’s love “among us” (meth’ hēmōn), there is no fear in our relationship with God, especially as it relates to “the day of judgment” (4:17-19). 4
When John refers to “the day of judgment” (4:17), he does not mean the final judgment of the unsaved which determines the degree of their punishment in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15). He is speaking here of Christians appearing before the Judgment Seat of Christ which will take place in heaven after the sudden removal of the church from the earth (cf. Rom. 14:10-12; I Cor. 3:8-15; 2 Cor. 5:10-11; I John 4:17-19; Rev. 4:1-4).
A believer may have “boldness” that Christ will approve of his or her Christian life if he or she has entered a mature experience of God’s love (“love has been perfected among us”) by loving other brothers and sisters in Christ. Our “boldness” arises from doing what we know Christ wants us to do – namely love one another (cf. John 13:34-35).
The reason a loving Christian will have no fear before Christ at this time is “because as He is” loving, “so” we can be loving “in this world” as well (4:17b). The more loving we become in our relationships with God’s people, the more we will become like our Judge, Who “is love” (4:8, 16). An unloving believer is not like his Judge so he may be afraid of rebuke or loss of reward as he anticipates standing before Christ at the Judgment Seat (cf. Matt. 24:48-51; 25:24-30; Luke 19:20-26). But a loving believer is one in whom the work of God’s love has been “perfected” or made complete, and the benefit of that is boldness before the One Who will judge him. 5 Mature love expels fear when moral likeness exists between the Judge and the one being judged.
“God’s love is not perfected in a Christian whose heart is simply a reservoir in which to receiveit, but only in a Christian whose heart furnishes an aqueduct to convey it to others.”6
“Every believer will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Don’t think of it as a trial to determine your salvation but as the Judge’s opportunity to evaluate the Christian life you lived (see 2 Cor. 5:10). In spite of your sins and failures, if you actively sought to minister in love to members of God’s family, you will be able to stand with confidence on that day because ‘love covers a multitude of’ offenses (1 Pet 4:8).” 7
“The idea of having boldness in the day of judgment is stunning. Reasonable Christians, even though fully assured of their salvation, will realize ‘the terror of the Lord’ (2 Cor. 5:11). The possibility of triumphing over that ‘terror’ is challenging indeed. Yet this is possible if believers ‘abide in love’ (1 John 4:16).”8
I realize that some believers are opposed to the possibility of experiencing fear in heaven at the Judgment Seat of Christ. But we must remember that fear is sometimes appropriate in relationships.
“A child raised in a good home need not fear rebuke if he is doing what his parents ask. A student in school who is obeying the teacher’s rules need not fear detention. A hardworking employee who is abiding by the office regulations has no reason to fear being put on probation.
“The knowledge that actions have consequences motivates us to do right. Many Christians don’t stop to think that the same is true in our relationship with God. If we are busy doing what He wants us to do, manifesting His love to others, we need not fear discipline now or rebuke at the Judgment Seat of Christ.” 9
Like obedient children of good parents, we have nothing to fear at the Judgement Seat of Christ. We can and should be confident, for our Lord is a Judge Who is loving, gracious, and fair. He will reward believers in whom His love has matured. 10
The apostle John continues by saying, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (I John 4:18). LovingChristians can anticipate standing with “no fear” before Christ at His Judgment Seat because fear cannot exist with God’s agapē“love.” As believers grow in their love for God and other Christians, God’s “perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.” The more loving we become on earth now the less fear we will have as we anticipate the Judgment Seat of Christ in the future.
When John says, “fear involves torment,” the word for “torment” (kolasis) occurs only two times in the New Testament. The first time is in Matthew 25:46 where Jesus speaks of the eternal punishment of nonbelievers. Clearly the meaning of the word is “punishment” in that verse.11 In I John 4:18, it seems to speak of a temporal form of punishment.
Hodges explains, “Fear carries with it a kind of torment that is its own punishment. Ironically,an unloving believer experiences punishment precisely because he feels guilty and is afraid to meet his Judge. Such fear prohibits a completed love (one who fears is not made perfect in love). But a Christian who loves has nothing to fear and thus escapes the inner torment which a failure to love can bring.” 12
Hodges also says, “John likely has in mind the truth that ‘whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives’ (Heb 12:6). In fact, this NT truth is found on the lips of the Lord Jesus in Rev 3:19, ‘As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.’
“If a Christian experiences fear as he anticipates being evaluated at the Judgment Seat, then this fear can be regarded as a punishment intended to awaken him to his need to correct his behavior. Unpleasant as it is, like all divine discipline (Heb 12:11), it is nevertheless a signal of God’s love and of His desire to see believers made perfect in love. If the Christian responds to this kind of discipline, the discipline is effective and ‘yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness’ (Heb. 12:11), which for John are inseparable from love.”13
Anderson suggests that the Greek word translated “torment” (kolasin) means restraint. It “is also used of pruning a fruit tree to stunt its growth. So, fear keeps our love from growing up. Fear of what? That which we all fear in relationships, whether it’s with God or men— rejection. Most of us are afraid of rejection from other people. Those who aren’t have felt the sting of rejection so much they have lost their ability to consciously feel at all. This fear of rejection stunts the growth of perfect love…
“… So I agree with three of my favorite dictionaries of NT Greek, which suggest ‘restraint’ as the best English translation of kolasin. In other words, fear holds us back; it restrains us. It keeps or prevents us from reaching out in sacrificial, selfless, unconditional love. But when we release the Spirit, He can and will produce the fruit of agapē love in our lives. He will cast out the fear which retrains us.” 14
The key to preparing for the Judgment Seat of Christ is underscored in verse 19. “We love Him because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19). The majority of Greek manuscripts contain the word “Him” (Auton) in this verse. It should be mentioned that the standard critical editions of the Greek New Testament omit “Him” and so do the translations based on them [e.g., JB, NASB, NIV, etc.]. This omission is unfortunate because verse 19 is critical to what follows in 4:20-21. 15
Up to this point in John’s epistle, he has been focusing on directing our love toward other Christians (“one another” – 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11-12). Now the apostle speaks directly for the first time in his letter about loving God. A Christian’s love for God originates from His love for us. If we are maturing in our love for one another and for God, there can only be one reason for this. It is “because He first loved us.” 16
As Anderson suggests, the primary reason Christians fail to love one another or God, is because of the fear of rejection. But Christ’s perfect love for us contains no such fear.
Anderson writes, “We get a real clue from the statement that we love God because He first loved us. He was the initiator. We were His sinful enemies. Time and time again He had felt the sting of rejection from us. Even after He came to earth and began to display His wonderful acts of mercy, compassion, and healing, Jesus was rejected by men. We built a high wall of rejection between us and Him. But because ‘God is love,’ perfect love, He is not afraid of rejection. It hurts. It grieves Him deeply. But He is not afraid. So, He set His cross down next to that wall of rejection built by our sins … and He climbed that wall, for you and me. We love Him because He first loved us. Fear of rejection is what keeps us from making the first move, especially if we have already been hurt a number of times by someone who means a lot to us.
“What we are saying here is that only God’s love (mature agapē) can bust through the sinful layers of self-protection which keep us from experiencing oneness with Him and other believers (intimacy/fellowship). We all enjoy the feelings of philē love in marriage, friendships, families, even church. But without growing agapē we will lose those feelings and never get them back. The mistakes we make in relationships because of our sinfulness can create enough pain to destroy all positive feelings of one toward another. But growing agapē can cast out fear. We can reach out again.” 17
No matter how much rejection we have received in the past, God’s perfect love for us can cast out our fear so we can risk loving others again. We love God because He first loved us. We cannot give what we do not have, but once we have received God’s love through faith in Jesus Christ, if we stay close to Him in fellowship, we just get better and better at loving people so we become more like our Judge Who will evaluate our Christian lives at His Judgment Seat. This is God’s climatic message to us in the body of I John (2:28-4:19).
Years ago, Princess Diana made a very interesting observation: “The biggest disease this world suffers from is people feeling unloved.” 18
If you find yourself suffering from the absence of love, there is only one lasting remedy. It is not found in a bottle, a hotel room, money, a pill, or in a syringe. It is found in the Person of Jesus Christ Who loved us without measure.
If you do not know for sure you have eternal life and a future home in Christ’s heaven, please understand that Jesus offers eternal life freely to all who believe in Him. Christ said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). Jesus did not say, “God knows how to love.” It is saying something five hundred times greater. “For God so loved the world.” To help us understand the love of God, take the word “so” and let the “S” stand for “something” and the “O” for “other.” God’s love is SOMETHING OTHER than we have ever known.
God does not love us with the love of a two-year old who says, “I’ll love you as long as you do things my way.” God does not love us with the love of a twelve-year old who says, “I’ll love you for what I can get out of you.” Nor does God love us with the love of a twenty-two-year-old who says, “I’ll love you as long as you love me in return.” Instead, He loves us with the kind of love that says, “I love you. Period.”
God’s love is a deep and unselfish love. It is not based on who you are or what you do. It does not matter if you are a great athlete, the President of the United States, or a person who pushes a broom in an office where everybody else pushes a pen. God knows where you live, He knows everything about you, and He says, “I love you!”
You have lied, and God still loves you. You have been unfaithful to your spouse, yet He loves you. You have entertained a lot of thoughts you should not have, yet He loves you. You take His name and use it as a curse word, and yet He loves you. You have tried to medicate unwanted feelings and memories in immoral ways, yet He loves you. You have harbored hatred in your heart toward those who have offended you, yet God still loves you.
Think about your friends for a minute. Some of them will love you if you are on your best behavior, but God will love you even when you are at your worst. Some of them will love you if you speak well of them, but God will love you even when you curse His name. Some of them will love you as long as you take what you have and give it to them, but God will love you even if you take everything He has given you, and never give Him a thank You. There is nothing you can do to cause God to love you any less.
When Jesus said, “For God so loves the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”, we learn that God’s love gives, it does not take. God gave His best (His Son) when we were at our worst (ungodly sinners). Our hope is based on the fact that “God gave His only begotten Son,” so that instead of you and me dying on the cross for our sins, Jesus Christ died in our place. Instead of us paying for what we have done by our own death, Christ paid for what we have done by His death.
Could you kill your only child to save others? No. Our love is pale compared to God’s love for us. When God says, “I love you. Here’s My perfect and only Son,” that is love. The greatest proof of His love is that He would allow His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins and rise from the dead (I John 4:9-10; cf. Rom. 5:8).
Why did Jesus do this? “…That whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” What does it mean to believe? The phrase “believes in Him” (pisteuōn eis Auton) means to be persuaded that Christ is speaking the truth here and is therefore worthy of your trust. 19
Will you take Jesus at His Word and believe He is speaking the truth when He says, “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”? Christ says you “believe” and “have.” Contrary to many evangelistic invitations today, Jesus does not say you “follow” or “obey” and “have.” He never says you “pray” or “surrender” and “have.” Nor does He say you “give” or “confess” and “have.” Christ invites you to take by faith the eternal life that He is freely offering to you. If you just did that, you can tell Him through prayer.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I need Your love in my life. I understand now that You loved me by taking my place and punishment when You died on the cross for all my past, present, and future sins and rose from the dead. I am now believing or trusting in You, Jesus (not my good life, religion, or prayers) to give me Your free gift of eternal life. Thank You for the everlasting life I just received. In Your holy name, I pray Lord Jesus. Amen.
When you believed in Jesus alone for everlasting life, He gave you eternal life which can never be lost (John 6:35-40; 10:28-29). Christ has come to live inside you through His Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39; Ephes. 1:13-14). As you learn to abide in Him and His Word with other believers, His love will be poured out into your heart so you can share it with others (I John 2:3-6, 28; 3:14-4:16; cf. John 15:4-17; Rom. 5:5). The more loving you become in your relationships with God and other Christians, the less fear you will have as you anticipate the Judgement Seat of Christ because you are becoming more like the Judge (I John 4:8, 16) Who will evaluate your Christian life.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, if we are honest, there are times in our lives when we are afraid to love others because of the rejection we have experienced from people in the past. Our fears keep us from initiating contact with others. Thank You, Jesus, for showing us that Your perfect love is not afraid of rejection. It hurts You deeply when we reject You, but out of love for each of us You still endured the cross so we may be in a loving relationship with You. Please help us grow in Your perfect love so we can break out of the many layers of self-protection and experience deeper fellowship with You and other Christians. We invite You to love others through us so we may have more confidence and less shame when we stand before You at the Judgment Seat of Christ. In the mighty name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
1. Tom Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on I John, 2022 Edition, pg. 65.
2. Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: Third Edition (BDAG) revised and edited by Frederick William Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000 Kindle Edition), pp. 781-782.
3. Robert N. Wilkin, The Road to Reward: A Biblical Theology of Eternal RewardsSecond Edition (Corinth, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2014 Kindle Edition), pg. 21.
4. Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on I John, pp. 101-102.
5. Zane C. Hodges, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (David C. Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), Kindle Location 4000 to 4006.
6. Wilkin, The Road to Reward, pg. 22 cites Zane C. Hodges, The Epistles of John: Walking inthe Light of God’s Love (Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 1999), pp. 198-199.
7. Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 2949.
8. Zane C. Hodges; Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach; The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 601.
9. Wilkin, The Road to Reward, pg. 21.
10. Ibid., pg. 22.
11. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pg. 555.
12. Hodges, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Kindle Location 4013 to 4018.
13. Hodges, The Grace New Testament Commentary, pg. 601.
14. David R. Anderson, Maximum Joy: I John – Relationship or Fellowship? (Grace Theology Press, 2013 Kindle Edition), pp. 218-219.
15. Hodges, The Grace New Testament Commentary, pg. 601.
17. Anderson, Maximum Joy, pp. 218-219.
18. R. Larry Moyer, Show Me How To Illustrate Evangelistic Sermons (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2012), pg. 209 cites Princess Diana in Time, September 8, 1997.
19. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pp. 816-817.
“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” I John 4:9
In 1966 Dionne Warwick made an album that included a song that would become very famous – “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love, it’s the only thing there is just too little of.” Fifty-seven years later I don’t think anything has changed. In this war-torn world of terrorism and fear, a little love would go a long way. And its not just the world and nations that need love. I believe more than ever that Christians also need love – lots of love.
But what is love? Listen to the answers of some four- to eight-year-olds: 1
1. “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore… So, my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.” Rebecca (Age 8)
2. “Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” Karl (Age 5)
3. “Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” Terri (Age 4)
4. “Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.” Noelle (Age 7)
5. “Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.” Chris (Age 7)
6. “When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.” Karen (Age 7)
7. “Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.” Mary Ann (Age 4)
8. “Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.” Tommy (Age 6)
After talking about how God’s Spirit can enable believers to discern the spirit of truth from the spirit of error in the world today (3:24-4:6), the apostle John will now focus on how God’s Spirit can manifest His love in our relationships with one another (4:7-11).
We cannot give what we do not have. Many people today have grown up in homes where they talked about love, but they did not experience unconditional love. As they have grown up, they find it very difficult to love unconditionally if they have never received this kind of love.
We must receive love before we can give it. How do we do this? Where do we find this kind of love? You don’t find it in humans or angels or animals. It comes from God, and He wants to share it with us, so we can share it with others.
Let’s remember that the apostle John was the youngest and closest of Jesus’ twelve disciples. He discovered that Jesus, the Messiah was magnetic (1:1-2). Christ draws us closer and closer to Himself. This is the experience John had with Jesus. And he wants his readers to enjoy an increasing intimacy with Jesus by practicing righteousness as God is righteous (2:29-3:10a) and by loving one another as God is love (3:10b-3:23; 4:7-21).
Towards the end of his life, love is practically all that John can talk and think about. By the time John writes this letter, he has learned that relationships are really all that matters. The toys, the titles, and trophies we collect don’t really matter; but relationships do.
John writes, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (I John 4:7). John includes himself when he says, “let us love one another.” Just as confessing that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh demonstrates that one is “of God” (4:2), so does loving one another, “for love is of God” (4:7a). 2 Something has happened to John. He has become obsessed with love because he has experienced God’s love in such a life-changing way.
What does this have to do with you and me? Everything. Most of us long to be loved, but we don’t know how to get it. Many of us long to give love, but we keep sabotaging our own efforts and making things worse. Like the husband who sought marriage counseling with his wife as a last resort to save their marriage. When they arrived at the counselor’s office, the counselor jumped right in and said, “What seems to be the problem?”
For the next fifteen minutes the wife talks 90 MPH about all the problems in their marriage while the husband just sits there with nothing to say. The counselor then goes over to the wife, picks her up by her shoulders, kisses her passionately and sets her back down. The wife sits there speechless. The marriage counselor looks over at the husband, who is staring in disbelief, and says to him, “Your wife needs that at least twice a week!” The husband scratches his head and replies, “I can have her here on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”We cannot give what we do not have.
The apostle John wants his readers to become more Christlike by loving one another as Jesus loves them. How does this happen? If we are to share God’s love with others, we must first receive God’s love for ourselves. The more we know God, the better we will love people.
John writes, “7bAnd everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (4:7b-8). John says, “God is love.” We cannot give what we do not have. God is love. If we have Him, we have love. If we do not have Him, we only think we have love because God not only cornered the market on love, He IS the market on love.
The person who has this kind of love is “born of God and knows God” (4:7b). The phrase “born of God” refers to new birth. The reason he or she must be “born of God” is because this kind of love is sourced in God (“for love is of God” – 4:7a). The non-Christian cannot produce this kind of love. 3 Before we can ever produce this kind of love in our lives, we must first be born of God. How? The Bible says you must simply believe in Jesus Christ: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” (I John 5:1). To believe “Jesus is the Christ” is to believe that He is the promised Messiah-God (“Christ”) Who guarantees a future resurrection and never-ending life to all who believe in Him (cf. John 11:25-27).
In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus makes it very clear that there is only one way to God and that is through Him. Our sin, the wrong things we have done, separate us from God (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). This separation from God causes problems in every area of our lives – including our relationships. But Jesus has provided the only way back to God by dying on the cross for our sins and rising from the dead (I Cor. 15:3-6). The Lord Jesus now invites you to believe or trust in Him alone for eternal life. Christ said, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). It doesn’t matter how badly you have messed things up, you can come to Christ just as you are.
How many of you drive to work? Just as you trusted your vehicle to bring you to your workplace, so you must place your trust in Jesus Christ alone to give you eternal life. The good things you have done will not save you. Only Jesus can save you from your sins. The moment you place your trust in Jesus for eternal life, you become God’s child and God comes to live inside of you and love you always (John 1:12; 14:16-17; Romans 5:5). As you get to know Him and trust Him, He pours His love into your life so you can begin to love others.
Some of you are reading this today and you are ready to receive God’s love, aren’t you? Simply believe Jesus’ promise in John 6:47, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life.” Are you convinced Jesus was speaking the truth here and is therefore worthy of your trust? If so, you now have eternal life and Christ now lives inside you through His Holy Spirit.
If we are going to develop loving relationships, we must also refill ourselves. John said everyone who loves God’s way is “born of God and knows God” (4:7b). Once we have begun a relationship with God through faith in Jesus, it is important to stay close to Him and get to “know” Him. This is more than salvation; it is fellowship or closeness with God (cf. 2:3-5).
“Love stems from a regenerate nature and also from fellowship with God which issues in knowing Him (see 2:3-5).” 4
Notice that John says, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love”(4:8). He does not say the absence of love means a person is not born of God. It would have been easy for him to say this if that was true. But he does not because the absence of love is evidence he “does not know God, for God is love.” Since “God is love,” those who abide in Him or know Him intimately (2:3-5) will manifest His loving character (4:7-8). Since “God is light” (1:5), those who abide in Him will walk in His light and manifest His holy character (1:7). Since God “is righteous” (2:29a), those who abide in Him practice righteousness (2:29b). 5
In I John 2:3-11, “John used the word ‘know’ in the sense of intimacy with God. Here he comes back to the same thought. A person can be born of God but quenching the Spirit. He could be walking in darkness. If so, he is quenching the Spirit, not walking with the Spirit, and therefore not enjoying the fruit of the Spirit like love and joy. If this is true of him, we can certainly say he is not close/intimate with God. He does not know God in this intimate sense, as we have discussed previously. So, the person who exercises agapē love has a relationship with and fellowship with God. The person who does not exercise agapē love might be a person who has a relationship with God but no fellowship with Him. It’s true that a person who lacks this kind of love might be an unbeliever, since unbelievers cannot produce this kind of love, but just to observe that a person is not exercising this kind of love does not prove he is an unbeliever. He could be a believer out of fellowship.”6
“Fellowship with God is demonstrated and attained when Christians love each other. If love is from God, then there is no option. We must love one another (4:7). This is not rocket science. Since God is love, an absence of love in your life reveals an absence of fellowship with God. It indicates that you don’t know Him like you claim you do (4:8). As sure as the magnetic pull of the earth causes a compass to point north, the magnetic pull of God’s love at work in your heart will always point you to other brothers and sisters who need love.” 7
Staying close to God is not complicated. Picture your life as a bucket. You must have your bucket filled. And God’s love is like a fountain. The more you refill that bucket, the more love you will have to share with others. If you have been a Christian for a while, you can probably tell when your bucket is empty. You are easily irritated or angered. It’s hard to let go of past hurts, to trust him or her again, to expect the best of him or her. Perhaps you can’t stand being in the same room with the person. All of these are indications that you need to be refilled.
You ask, “How do I do it?”Spend time with Jesus. Hang out with Him. Read what He has written in the Bible. Talk to Him about what you are reading and feeling. Treat Him like a close friend, and you’ll become a close friend. And when you get closer to Jesus, you will discover that you are more able to love those who matter to you. Come to church every week so you can hang out with the people who hang out with God. Join a small group where you can hang out more intimately with a few of God’s friends.
Can you see this? Is this making sense? Can you see why you need God’s love to love others? Some of you may be saying to yourselves, “Okay, so God commands us to love oneanother, but what does God’s love look like?” John gives us a beautiful picture of God’s love in the following verses.
“9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (I John 4:9-10). John tells us several things about God’s love:
1. God’s love is visible. “The love of God was manifested toward us” (4:9a). The Greek word translated “manifested” (phaneroō) means to “become visible, reveal, make known.” 8 God’s love is not invisible. It can be known and seen. Love that is invisible is no love at all. 9
2. God’s love is volitional. “God sent” (4:9b). God the Father chose to send His Son to earth.His love involves an act of the will. It is not a feeling. If the Father waited to feel like sending His Son to suffer and die on our behalf, He would still be waiting. To love like God loves involves a decision to act on another’s behalf; 10 to do what is best for another person.
3. God’s love is selfless. “God has sent His only begotten Son” (4:9c). His love gives without expecting anything in return. Often, we give to get. That is not God’s love. If Jesus had been selfish, He would never have left heaven or if He had come to earth, He would have packed His bags and left at the first sign of rejection. But He didn’t. He endured incredible suffering because He came to give, not to get. If God’s love is controlling our lives, we will be givers, not getters.
4. God’s love is sacrificial. “God has sent His only begotten Son into the world” (4:9c). He not only gives, but He gives sacrificially. God’s love cost Him “His only begotten Son.” The Father did not give us His leftovers; He provided His very best. 11 Why? “That we might live through Him” (4:9d). Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross for our sins so we might “live” eternally with Him in heaven in the future (John 10:10b; 3:16; 14:2-3) and abundantly with Him on earth now (John 10:10c).
Anderson writes, “I remember the story of the little girl who had just memorized John 3:16. She asked her father, ‘If God loved the world so much, why didn’t He offer Himself? Why did He send His Son?’ For a moment the father was stumped. Then it dawned on him. ‘Well, honey, think how much more love it took for God to send His Son than to offer Himself. It would be much easier for me to sacrifice my own life for a good cause than to sacrifice you, my only daughter.’” 12
Jesus “saw our deepest need and gave of Himself. If you profess love without also embracing inconvenience and being willing to give up your rights, you don’t understand God’s love.”13
5. God’s love serves the unlovable. 14 “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us” (4:10a). God’s love was not a response to our love. Before we came to Christ, we were His enemies (Rom. 5:10a). We rebelled against Him (Isaiah 53:6). We chose our own way instead of His. Yet Jesus set His love on us and pursued us to save us (Luke 19:10). He loved us even if we never loved Him back. God loves us when our walk of faith is weak or when it is strong. He sticks with us in the good times and the bad. Nothing about us makes Christ love us. He loves us because it is His nature to love. If God waited for us to love Him first, He would still be waiting. Thank God that He loved you and me first. His love does not require that you love Him back.
God calls us to love people who won’t respond in kind. But they need our love, nonetheless. The Lord wants to love our spouses or children even if they do not love us back. He calls us to love the person at work or the neighbor living next to us who never responds in kind to our love for them. Is this easy? Definitely not! But it is possible through Christ.
6. God’s love addresses sin. “He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (4:10b). The word “propitiation” (hilasmos) means “appeasement” or “expiation.”15 Propitiation refers to the satisfaction God the Father felt when Jesus paid the penalty for all our sins (John 19:30). What should Christ’s death on the cross shout loud and clear? “God is satisfied with His Son’s payment for our sins!”
The story is told of two boys who were swimming in the lake. One of the boys went out too far, got in trouble, and began to sink. The second boy, seeing his friend in trouble, swam out to save him. He was able to keep the first boy afloat until help arrived, but in the process became exhausted and sank beneath the water. He drowned saving his friend.
Later that day, the parents of the boy who was saved came to the parents of the boy who died saving their son and said, “All we have on us right now is a dollar and eighty-three cents. We know it isn’t much, but we hope you’ll accept this as our payment to you for the life of our son.”
Now if you were the parents who had lost their son, how would you feel? I think you would feel terribly offended and insulted. But this is the way we appear to God when we try to offer Him our acts of human goodness as payment for our sins. Nothing we can offer God will ever begin to make up for what it cost Him to save us. Let’s not insult God by offering Him our $1.83 when He has given us His precious Son. The cost of our redemption is infinitely high. 16
We must be satisfied with what satisfied God the Father – His Son’s payment for all our sins. We must believe or trust in Christ alone to give us eternal life.
Earlier in I John we looked at expressing God’s love by meeting the physical needs of a Christian brother or sister (3:17-18). But here John reminds us that God’s love also addresses the spiritual needs of others. Only Christ can save people from the penalty of their sins forever, but that does not mean we are to ignore sin in the body of Christ 17 or in the lives of non-Christians. With humility and love, God’s love calls us to help those caught in sin. If they are nonbelievers, we are to share the gospel with them so they may believe in Christ and be forever saved from the penalty of their sins (Acts 16:31) and then learn to overcome sin by abiding in Christ (I John 2:3-6). If they are believers in Jesus, we are to come alongside of them to help them be restored to fellowship with Christ (Gal. 6:1).
Thirdly, in addition to receiving God’s love and being refilled with His love, we are to reflect His love to others.“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (I John 4:11). In other words, if God loved us with this visible, volitional, selfless, sacrificial, serving, and satisfying love when we were least deserving, then we ought to love each other in the same way. Maybe our love cannot be as perfect as Jesus’ love, but it can grow in that direction. This is to be our goal.
When we experience God’s amazing love, we will naturally want to share that love with the people we love. Forty-fours years ago this month, God’s love changed my life and I have been sharing my story ever since.
We love because He first loved us (I John 4:19). We cannot give what we do not have, but once we have received God’s love, if we stay close to Him, we just get better and better at loving people.
If you are reading this article and you conclude that it is impossible for you to love the way God has loved us, please do not stop reading. Perhaps you have wounded your spouse or friend, and they have closed their heart off toward you. Do you realize that if you receive God’s love today by believing or trusting in Christ alone for His gift of eternal life, you will be able to be a better spouse or friend because God comes to live inside of you to love others through you? You have never been able to be a better spouse or friend than you are today if you receive Christ.
Receiving God’s love requires faith and humility on your part. Faith to believe that God will really love you and give you eternal life, and humility to admit that He is God, and you are not. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16b). Are you depending on Jesus alone for everlasting life? If yes, then congratulations, because you now have everlasting life and can experience God’s love everyday. You can now tell God through prayer what you have done. Remember that saying a prayer does not take us to heaven. Only believing or trusting in Christ alone does.
Prayer: Dear God, I need Your love in my life. I understand now that You loved me by sending Your Son to take my place and punishment when He died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead. I am now believing or trusting in Jesus alone (not my good life, prayers, or religion) to give me the gift of everlasting life. Thank You for the everlasting life I just received. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
When you believed in Christ for His gift of eternal life, He came to live inside you through His Holy Spirit so that Christ now lives in and through you (John 1:12; Rom. 5:5; Gal. 2:20). With Christ living in you, you can ask Him to love others through you. Think of the person you have the hardest time loving. It may be your spouse, your child, or someone you work with. It could be someone who has hurt you deeply, but who needs the Lord. After you think of this person, you can offer this prayer in faith to the Lord.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You know I feel no love for this person. You know that in my flesh, I have already rejected this person. Lord, You know the truth. You know that without Your help, I can’t forgive or love this person. But I know You love my enemy, so right now I give You permission to express Your love and forgiveness for this person through me. I can’t do this myself, but I’m going to trust You to love this person through me. In Your mighty name, I pray Lord Jesus. Amen.
Once you start really living like this, putting faith ahead of feelings, things are going to start happening. You are going to see God do things in your life you didn’t think possible. But let me caution you, it may feel awkward at first if you are not used to living by faith. But that’s okay, because we can get comfortable doing things we felt awkward doing at first (e.g., riding a bicycle, etc.).
1. Adapted from Matt Hogan’s blog entitled, “20 Love Quotes From 4–8-Year-Old Kids (That Will Shock You)” at movemequotes.com.
2. Zane C. Hodges, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (David C. Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), Kindle Location 3956.
3. David R. Anderson, Maximum Joy: I John – Relationship or Fellowship? (Grace Theology Press, 2013 Kindle Edition), pg. 200.
4. Hodges, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Kindle Location 3961.
5. Tom Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on 1 John, 2022 Edition, pg. 96.
6. Anderson, Maximum Joy, pp. 200-201.
7. Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 2947.
8. Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: Third Edition (BDAG) revised and edited by Frederick William Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000 Kindle Edition), pg. 1048.
9. Evans, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary, pg. 2947.
11. Ibid., pp. 2947-2948.
12. Anderson, Maximum Joy, pg. 203.
13. Evans, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary, pg. 2948.
15. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pg. 474.
16. R. Larry Moyer, Show Me How To Illustrate Evangelistic Sermons (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2012), pp. 211-212 cites Dr. Tony Evans, Totally Saved.
17. Evans, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary, pg. 2948.