“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.
“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.
“27 Make me understand the way of Your precepts; so shall I meditate on Your wonderful works. 28 My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word. 29 Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me Your law graciously.” Psalm 119:27-29
The Lord has been teaching me a lot about shame the past few years. Having grown up with shame-based lies in America and having served as a missionary in a shame-based country for several years, this issue of shame has weighed heavily on my soul. In this devotion I will address shame in a Christian’s life.
It is important to understand that shame is not from God. When God made the first man and woman, they were naked and unashamed before the Lord and one another (Gen. 2:25). Even after Adam and Eve sinned, God did not come to condemn them with shame, He came to cover their sin and shame (Gen. 3:9-21). For example, when Adam told God, “I was afraid because I was naked” (3:10). God replied, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat” (3:11)? God never told Adam and Eve they were naked. This was the natural consequence of their sin. Satan also reveals our shame to us when we sin (true shame) or don’t sin (false shame). His accusations against believers produce shame in their lives. The Devil uses shame to isolate Christians from God and one another. Like a roaring lion who focuses on those who are isolated and weak, Satan focuses on believers who are alone and weak (cf. I Peter 5:8).
Guilt says, “You did something wrong.”Shame says, “You are wrong.” Satan uses shame to condemn us and keep us from drawing near to God and one another.
In my devotions this morning, the Lord led me to revisit some verses I wrote about 3.5 years ago to help me overcome my battle with shame. The Psalmist writes, “Make me understand the way of Your precepts; so shall I meditate on Your wonderful works” (119:27). We need God to help us “understand” or discern the pattern (“way”) of His commands (“precepts”). Take time to invite God to help you understand how to apply His Word to your deep struggle with shame. The Lord wants us to focus (“meditate”) on the “wonderful works” He is doing deep inside of us rather than on our sin and shame. Shame tends to focus on behavior and external reformation. God’s grace and truth focus on the heart and inward transformation. Before God can change our behavior, He must change our hearts (cf. Mark 7:14-23).
As God leads me to deal more deeply with my shame, I discover that my “soul melts from heaviness” (119:28a). The word “melts” (dalaph) means “to drip or leak because cracks are not mended.” The idea is that our soul is broken and unable to retain what God gives us. Shame keeps us from believing the truth about God’s love and acceptance of us. As a result, our soul is broken and weighed down with the “heaviness” of sadness and shame. And a cycle of shame develops whereby we mess up, confess our sins, and then try harder, only to repeat the same sin because we continue to believe the shame-based lies that fuel our shame. And we stay bound to this cycle of shame. We cannot break this shame cycle until we deal with the wounds that the shame-based lies are attached to. It takes God’s Spirit to heal these wounds to our souls.
Few things are more unbearable than the heaviness of shame. It is a burden that God never intended for people to bear. Yet Satan will use shame to keep us from becoming the people God intended us to be. What is God’s remedy for this weight of shame in a Christian’s life?
“Strengthen me according to Your word” (119:28b). We do not have the strength to overcome this weight of shame on our own. Only God has the power necessary to win this battle. The word “strengthen” (qum) means “to arise or stand up.” In the context, this refers to God giving us the ability to arise from the depths of our sadness and shame by means of His “word.” The strength we need to overcome shame comes from the truth of God’s Word. If we do not make our home in God’s Word (cf. John 8:31-32), we will not win this battle with shame. No amount of determination, willpower, or “trying harder” will overcome the weight of shame. We must invite God’s Word to do that for us. How?
“Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me Your law graciously” (119:29). Shame is based on lies the enemy has attached to past wounds in our lives. Lies that say:
• “I am bad or unworthy.”
• “No one could love me as I am.”
• “I cannot depend on others to help me.”
• “I am defined by my sin and shame.”
We must ask the Lord to expose and remove the pattern (“way”) of lies that keep us enslaved to the weight of shame. And then ask Him to “grant me Your law graciously,” not harshly. The only verse of the Bible where Jesus specifically describes His heart reads, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:29). Jesus says His heart is “gentle and lowly” (humble), not harsh and proud. Our pride can lead us to deal harshly with ourselves and others. But Christ invites us to “learn from”Him how to deal gently and humbly with ourselves and others so we “will find rest for” our “souls” in our discipleship relationship with Him. So, ask the Lord Jesus to gently replace the shame-based lies in your soul with His liberating truth. Truths that say:
• “I am loved and cherished by God.” Psalm 27:10
• “I am totally loved by Jesus just as I am.” Romans 5:6, 8
• “I can depend on others to help me through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
• “I am defined by the Light and Love of Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:2, 8
I want to share a “Lies versus Truth” exercise that is adapted from Michael’s Dye, The Genesis Process: For Change Groups Books 1 and 2 Individual Workbook (Michael Dye/Double Eagle Industries, 2012), pp. 222 -228.
With your mentor or with a group of accountability partners, review some of the most common false beliefs or lies listed below and their corresponding truths. There are blank spaces at the end where you can write in the lies you believe and their corresponding truths that are not on the list. Say each lie to yourself and only focus on the ones that FEEL true. You will know if your heart believes it is true because it will feel true. Even if it doesn’t make sense, go with the feeling. Replacing the lies with the truth is how real healing takes place. The truth is a Person, Jesus Christ (John 1:14; 14:6), not a concept or a Book. Jesus can supernaturally speak truth into our limbic system (right brain where lies are inserted) in a way that no one else can because He is full of truth and is the truth (John 1:14; 14:6; Heb. 4:12-13). Faith in Jesus’ truth produces healing, and faith comes from hearing a personal word from God (Rom. 10:17).
For each lie your heart believes, say the lie to Jesus. Ask Jesus to tell you what is true. He may bring to your mind a Scripture with which to replace the lie. Meditate on that truth until the lie does not feel true anymore. Ask Jesus if there is anything else He wants to share with you. Say the lie again and see how true it feels. If it still feels true, you may need to meditate on the truth some more or even ask for help. Pray and ask the Lord to heal and seal off any wounds, demonic influences, and behaviors that the lie created. God may show you that you need to forgive the person who caused this lie to be attached to the wound he or she gave you.
1. God cannot be trusted
God cannot lie and is always faithful (2 Tim. 2:13; Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18)
2. God is out of control with His anger
God is slow to anger and gracious (Ps. 145:8)
3. I am alone and unloved
I am cherished and loved by God the Father (Ps. 27:10)
4. God could never love me
God has always loved me (Jer. 31:3)
5. Nobody would love me as I am
God loves me just as I am (Rom. 5:6, 8)
6. I am bad because of what was done to me
I am precious to Jesus because of what was done to Him (Matt. 13:44-45; I Cor. 6:19-20)
7. I am unwanted
I am chosen by God (Ephes. 1:4)
8. God is against me
God is for me, not against me (Rom. 8:31-32)
9. Someone has or will condemn me
In Christ I am free from condemnation (Rom. 8:1, 34)
10. I am going to be separated from the love of Christ because I’m so unworthy
No one and nothing can separate me from God’s love in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:35, 37-39)
11. I do not have what it takes
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
12. I am defined by my sin and brokenness
I am defined by the light of Jesus Christ (Ephes. 5:8)
13. My past is a hitching post
My past is a guidepost (Ezek. 18:14, 17)
14. I am what I do or what others say about me
I am what God says about me (I John 3:1-2; 5:1)
15. I am a sinner because I sin
I am a saint (one declared righteous by God) who sins (Ephes. 1:1; I John 1:8, 10)
16. My behavior tells me what to believe about myself
My belief about myself determines my behavior (Prov. 23:7)
17. Whatever I do, it will never be good enough
In Christ, I am good enough (2 Cor. 5:21; Ephes. 1:6)
18. I must be perfect to be safe
I am hidden with Christ in God, forever safe and secure (Col. 3:3)
19. I am a disappointment
I am a delight to God (Ps. 17:8; Zeph. 3:17)
20. God won’t be there when I need Him
God is always available to help me (Ps. 121:1-4; Isa. 41:10, 13)
21. I should never be angry, anxious, depressed, or lonely
Anger, anxiety, depression, and loneliness are signals to draw close to God. (Ps. 4:4-5; 42:5; 72:21- 26; 2 Tim. 4:16-17)
22. Failure is the end of the world
Failure is an opportunity to learn (Ps. 37:23-24; Luke 22:31-34; Heb. 12:11)
23. No one understands me
Jesus understands me because He made me (Ps. 139) and walked in my shoes (Heb. 4:15)
24. I could never be forgiven
I am totally forgiven in Christ (Ephes. 1:7; Col. 2:13-14)
25. I am a loser
I am a winner seated next to Christ (Ephes. 1:20-21; 2:5-6)
26. I am a mistake
I am God’s masterpiece (Ephes. 2:10)
26. I cannot change
All things are possible with God (Matt. 19:26)
27. If I am not in control, something bad will happen
When I yield to Christ’s control, I can have peace (John 16:33; Phil. 4:6-7; cf. Isa. 26:3)
28. I cannot cope without alcohol/anxiety/chemicals/food/sex/ shopping
I can cope through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
29. I need people’s affection and approval to be complete
I am complete in Christ, lacking nothing (Col. 2:10)
30. Christians cannot be trusted
I can learn to trust Christians who are safe (John 13:34-35; Gal 6:1-2)
31. I must be liked and loved by everyone
I am likeable and loveable, but not to everyone (Isa. 53:3; John 15:18-19)
32. Sex with a beautiful woman is the greatest sign I am loved
Christ’s dying in my place for all my sin is the greatest sign I am loved (Rom. 5:8; I John 4:9-10)
33. I am worthless
I am worth fighting for (Exod. 14:13-14; 2 Chron. 20:15, 17)
Prayer: Precious Father God, please give me the understanding and discernment to permit Your Word to speak to my deep struggle with shame. Help me focus on the wonderful work You are doing inside of me rather than on my failings and shortcomings. I confess that my soul melts from the heaviness of my sadness and shame. Please strengthen me as only You can with Your Word so I may arise out of this pit of shame. I pray Your Holy Spirit will expose and remove the shame-based lies that keep me bound to this cycle of shame and replace them graciously with Your liberating truths from Your Word so I may become the person You created me to be. Replace my false identity that is based upon shame-based lies with my new identity in Christ that is based upon Your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“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.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” John 1:12
Without light, we would be in a mess. We couldn’t see. If the sun were to suddenly burn out, we would have eight minutes of light and heat left, and then Planet Earth would slip into a permanent deep-freeze. In the Pacific Northwest, where it’s overcast most days, many people suffer from light deprivation, which results in mood swings and depression. There is even a scientific name for this problem: “Seasonal Affective Disorder,“ or S.A.D. People suffering from S.A.D. must set up special light panels in their homes and get heavy doses of illumination to be happy campers. We need light. We cannot survive without it.
We need another kind of light, too. Our souls depend on the light of God. In this spiritually darkened world God uses Christians to reflect His light. The Light has always been here. The Light has never gone away. But people who are in sin or despair sit in darkness and cannot see the Light.
In John 1:1-5, we discovered who Jesus Christ is. We saw that He is the eternal God. There has never been a time when Jesus Christ was not God. He is our Creator. He brought all things into existence. He is light and life, that is, He is the only source of eternal life and hope. Beginning in verse 6, John expands upon the idea of Jesus as the Light. In verses 6-13, we will look at three ways people can respond to Christ as the Light. First, we can do what John the Baptist did…
REFLECT JESUS WITH OUR LIFE AND LIPS (1:6-8).1:6: Verse 6 refers to “John” the Baptist. John’s mission originated from heaven, not earth. He was not democratically elected; he was called by God to complete a mission. My friends, if God calls you to do something, you better do it, or you will be miserable running from the Lord. The name, “John” means “God is gracious” or “gift of God.” This ties in with God’s mission for John. What did God send John the Baptist (and us) to do?
1:7a: God called John to be a witness to the Light – Jesus Christ. What does it mean to be a witness? Is witnessing something one is or something one does? Sometimes we think that to be a witness for Christ means “I must live a godly life and that is enough. I don’t ever have to tell anyone how to be saved. They’ll eventually come to Christ on their own.” The Greek word for “witness” as a noun  and a verb  is used in a courtroom setting.  And it refers to speaking the truth. What would happen if you took the witness stand in a court of law and never said anything? The judge would hold you in contempt of the court.
Living the holiest life does not tell people how they can obtain eternal life. No amount of watching your godly life tells me how I can know Christ personally. If you live a holy life, it tells me something has happened to you, but it doesn’t tell me how I can have the same experience or what causes you to live that way. Maybe you are a person of high morals. Perhaps your parents disciplined you as a child. Words are more than just helpful for me to know Christ: they are essential. Sooner or later, someone must talk to me about Jesus for me to know Him personally.
If we live a holy life but never tell people about Jesus, then the world will give us all the credit instead of glorifying the Lord. Silent believers are like beautiful road signs with no words or directions printed on them. They are nice to look at, but they don’t tell you how to get where you need to go. We need a balance. Yes, we need to live the life, but we also need to use our lips to tell people how to have eternal life.
1:7b: The reason John spoke the truth about the Light is “that all through him might believe.” This is the first time John uses the word “believe.” He uses it ninety-eight more times in the gospel of John (see comments on 1:5). Notice it does not say “that all through him might repent” as the Synoptic gospels emphasize about John the Baptist’s preaching (cf. Matt. 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-14). The words “repent” and “repentance” appear nowhere in John’s gospel. This is most significant. One would think that if Christians are to emphasize repentance in evangelism (as many do today), that God would have used these two words often in the only book of the Bible whose primary purpose is to tell non-Christians how to obtain eternal life (John 20:31). But these two words are absent in the gospel of John. Why?
One reason is because when one changes from unbelief to belief, he has changed his mind or repented to possess eternal life. The Greek word for “repent” is metanoeō and it is a compound verb made up of two Greek words. The first is meta, “after,” and the second is noeō, “to perceive, understand or think.” The two together mean “after perceiving, understanding, thinking” or “to change one’s mind.” The Greek word translated “repentance” is metanoia and it is a compound noun made up of meta, “after,” and noēma, “thought.” Together the two mean an “afterthought” or “a change of mind.” 
When metanoeō and metanoia are used in evangelistic contexts, they refer to a lost person changing his mind about whatever is keeping him or her from believing in Christ, and then believing in Him for eternal life. The non-Christian may need to change his mind about the Person of Christ (Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38), God (Acts 20:21), idols (Rev. 9:20), sin (Rev. 9:21), or his works (Rev. 16:11; Heb. 6:1) before he can believe in Christ for the gift of salvation. 
For example, in Mark 1:15, Jesus said, “Repent, and believe in the gospel.”Jesus was speaking to Jews who believed that entering God’s promised Messianic kingdom on earth could be earned through good works and that Christ was merely a human teacher. Christ commands them to change their minds or “repent” about whatever is keeping them from believing in the gospel or good news of entering His coming Kingdom on earth. In other words, Christ commands them to stop believing or trusting in their own efforts, and to come to God on His terms by having childlike belief or faith in Jesus alone as their promised Messiah-God Who can freely give them entrance into His coming kingdom on earth (cf. Mark 10:15; Matt. 18:3; Luke 18:17; John 3:5-18). 
Another reason why John never included the words “repent” or “repentance” in the gospel of John is because they are easily misunderstood to mean something like “turning from sins” or “penance” which involve works. If a non-Christian is told to turn from his sins, he is going to ask, “How often must I do this and from what sins must I turn?” The word “believe,” however, communicates such simplicity that it is less likely to be misconstrued to include a works-oriented response.  The word translated “believe” (pisteuō) in the New Testament simply means “to consider or be persuaded something is true and therefore worthy of one’s trust.”
Many people today are greatly confused by the frequent use of the words “repent” or “repentance” in evangelistic invitations. They are perplexed about how God wants them to respond to the good news concerning His Son’s death and resurrection (I Cor. 15:1-8).
An example of this confusion is seen in a new couple that came to a church where we were serving in southern Kansas during the 1990’s. As I was preaching verse-by-verse through chapter 3 of the gospel of John about Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, I stated, “How is one born again so he can see the kingdom of God?The answer is given in verses 14-16: ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 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.’ To be born again you must simply believe in Jesus for everlasting life.”
Afterward, this couple came up to me with tears in their eyes saying they had never heard this put so simply before. They said, “We have been told that to be born again we must do all these other things such as turn from your sins, repent, give your life to God, and obey His commandments, etc. We have been so confused about how to get to heaven. No one has ever told us that to be born again we must simply believe in Jesus for His gift of everlasting life until today.This is so simple, and it is right there in the John chapter 3. Why has no one ever told us this before?”
I am more and more convinced that Christians today need to repent or change their minds about using the words “repent” and “repentance” so often in evangelism and begin to use the words God uses the most – “believe” and “faith” – in evangelism instead. When comparing the number of times “repent” (metanoeō) and “repentance” (metanoia) are used in evangelistic contexts in the New Testament  to the number of times “believe” (pisteuō )  and “faith” (pistis)  are used in evangelistic contexts, the words “believe” and “faith” are used almost seven times more frequently. Yet what we see happening today is Christians using the words “repent” and “repentance” far more than the words God uses most! This is one of the greatest failures of the church today. It not only dishonors our Lord Jesus Christ, but it also makes it more difficult for non-Christians to get right with God because it confuses and distorts the only condition for receiving eternal life from Jesus – believe or have faith in Him alone!!!
Believing in Christ alone is how the apostle John says a lost person obtains eternal life – a never-ending personal relationship with God (John 17:3). John says nothing in his gospel about commitment, confession, obedience, repentance, surrender, turning from sins or being sorry for sins as conditions for eternal life.  Repeatedly the apostle tells us that the sole condition for eternal life is believing in Jesus Christ alone.  So, when we tell others about Jesus, and His death for our sins and His resurrection, we do it with the intent of inviting them to believe in Christ. Until they believe in Christ alone to get them to heaven, they remain in the darkness.
1:8: John was not the Light. Jesus Christ is the Light. John simply pointed people to the Light.
“While John amassed a large, loyal following, he never allowed hisadmirers to mistake the messenger for the message… This means if you lead a discipleship group, it’s not to revolve around you; the members must never doubt it points to our Savior. If you have a pulpit, the pulpit doesn’t revolve around you; it’s a lamp from which the Word shines. And the congregation is not comprised of ‘your people’; they are the flock of God.”
You and I are not the Light! Jesus is the Light. Only Jesus can give people eternal life and change their lives. That is His responsibility. Our responsibility is to “bear witness” to the Light and let Jesus change people.
If you turn the lights off in a room, and you hold a mirror in one hand and another person holds a flashlight, your mirror can reflect the light when you are facing the flashlight. The flashlight represents Jesus Christ Who is the Light. The mirror represents your life. When the flashlight is pointed toward the mirror, the mirror reflects the light to other places and people around you. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are the light of the world only when we reflect Christ (Matthew 5:14-16).
HOW CAN WE REFLECT JESUS TO OTHERS? One way is to KEEP YOUR MIRROR FACING TOWARD THE LIGHT. If a mirror faces the light, it can reflect the light in any direction. But what happens when you turn the mirror away from the light? You can no longer reflect the light. When I turn away from Jesus, I can no longer reflect Him to others. Some people are not facing Jesus. Therefore, they cannot reflect Him to others because they aren’t facing Him. They aren’t walking with Him.
A second way to reflect Jesus to others is to MAKE SURE THAT NOTHING COME BETWEEN YOU AND THE LIGHT. When another person or object comes between you and the person holding the mirror, you can no longer reflect the light of the flashlight. Some people have allowed other people and things to get in between them and the light of Jesus Christ. Some people don’t even know that something is between them and Jesus. We must not let other people or things block the path of our light source. We must stay connected to Christ through His Word and prayer and fellowship with other Christians.
A third way to reflect Jesus to others is to KEEP YOUR MIRROR CLEAN FROM DEBRIS. If you spray Silly String on your mirror, your mirror can no longer reflect the light like it is supposed to. Some people are not cleaning their mirror daily. A dirty mirror is almost as ineffective as letting something come between it and the light.
Some people have allowed so much dirt build up that it is too difficult for them to clean. Jesus can wash anything as white as snow! If you are a Christian and you have sin built up in your life, God instructs you to confess your sin to Him according to I John 1:9. The Greek word translated “confess” means “to say the same thing, to agree.” But with whom do we agree? With God, and rightly so. Anderson notes that confessing our sin means we agree with God’s view of sin – He hates it (Ps. 45:7) and it grieves Him (Ephes. 4:30), so we admit our wrong with the intent of not doing it again.  When we do this, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of the dirt that keeps us from reflecting His light. If you have believed in Christ to get you to heaven, then God wants you to reflect Him with your life and lips. You can learn to do this through the discipleship process (Matt. 28:19-20).
A second way people may respond to the Light of Christ (not recommended) is to REJECT JESUS AS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE (1:9-11). 1:9: Christ, the true Light, shines on every person, making him or her aware of sin and judgment. What are some ways that Christ reveals Himself?
1. THROUGH CREATION. The Bible says, “But ask the animals,and they will teach you… that the hand of the LORD has done this” (Job 12:7, 9 – NIV; cf. Rom. 1:18-20; 2:12-16). For example, the giraffe has the highest blood pressure of all animals given its long neck which necessitates a powerful heart to pump blood all the way to the brain. By rights, the blood flow should blow its brains out when it bends to drink water and it should pass out when it raises its head, making it easy prey for lions. But the lofty animal has special features, including artery walls, bypass valves, as well as pressure-sensing signals that all work together to maintain the proper blood pressure.  Former evolutionist Jobe Martin says, “How could that evolve? He needs all these parts there all the time, or he is dead.” Animals like the giraffe defy Evolution!
At a recent men’s retreat, I was reminded in a video by Pastor Louie Giglio entitled “How great is our God,” of another example of how God has revealed Himself through creation. Pastor Giglio had met a molecular biologist in Texas who shared some amazing findings regarding the creation of our human bodies. He learned that the protein laminin functions as a “glue” or binding agent between each other and other proteins. Some scientists describe it as a kind of glue that holds biological material together. Louie referenced Colossians 1:16-17 which reads, “For by Him [Jesus Christ] all things are created, both in the heavens and on the earth, visible and invisible… all things have been created through Him and for Him, and in Him all things hold together.” Laminin are shaped with several short arms and one long arm. When this protein is flattened out and observed under a microscope, it is in the shape of a cross (see above picture). Pastor Giglio concluded that we are held together by countless little crosses in our bodies.
2. THROUGH THE BIBLE. Countless lives have been changed by the light of God’s Word. So, Christ has revealed Himself indirectly in the things He has made (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-23) and directly through the Bible (Psalm 19:7-14).
1:10:The Creator of the world came into the world and the world did not even know He was here. The world He made ignored Him. When Joe Montana, the hall of fame quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, was on the disabled list with a hand injury, he was having lunch with his wife and children at a hotel on Maui. “You poor thing!” the waitress gushed. “How did it happen?” “I broke it playing football,” Montana replied. “Really?” replied the waitress. “Aren’t you a little old to be playing football?”
I am sure it was rather disappointing for Joe Montana not to be recognized, especially when he was in the prime of his football career. How much more so for Jesus! But it gets worse.
1:11: Not only was the Creator ignored by the world in general, but He was also rejected by His own Jewish people. Unlike the world, the nation of Israel knew He was here, but like the world they didn’t care. They turned away from the Light. My friends, don’t make the same mistake. If you reject Christ in this life, you will regret it for all of eternity.
A few years ago, I got a speeding ticket going to discipleship appointments in Des Moines, Iowa. It was embarrassing. But to make matters worse, I didn’t have any proof of auto insurance in the car. It was back at the house. And so, I had to go down to the Polk County Courthouse to appear before the Judge and present proof that I had insurance, or I would have to pay a whopping fine. And so here I am standing in line outside the courtroom waiting to appear before the Judge. Finally, the clerk called us into the courtroom and one by one each of us had to stand before the bench. When my name was called, I went before the judge. She asked me how I pled to the charge that I was speeding. I said, “Guilty.” I knew it. The policewoman knew it that wrote the ticket. So, there was no use denying it. The law required me to pay the penalty. Then she asked if I had proof of insurance. Hence, I presented it before the Judge, and she waived the second fine.
Just as there is a fine for every traffic violation, there is also a penalty for every sin and that is death – eternal separation from God (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:15). The fact that God is holy and perfect demands that He must punish sin.
The day is coming when all of us must stand before the Judge of the universe. And if we don’t have the proper spiritual insurance, we are going to pay the price for our own sin in a place called hell or the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). Please understand that the lake of fire is a real place. It is worse than you or I have ever heard it described. And believe me, you don’t want to go there, nor do you want those you care about to go there. No one in hell would wish hell on anyone. The account in Luke 16:23-28 proves that. The rich man in that passage begs Abraham to let Lazarus, who is in such comfort, return to earth and warn his brothers about the place of torment. But he could not.
So here is the problem. We have sinned and deserve to spend eternity separated from God (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). To deal with our problem, God provided a Substitute. That Substitute was Jesus Christ who was 100% perfect (Rom. 5:8; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; I Pet. 3:18) because He was and is God (John 1:1; Rom. 9:5; Tit. 2:13; I John 5:20). He had to take our punishment because one sinner cannot die for another. God allowed His Son to die in our place.
Years ago, residents of Saratoga, Texas, gathered at the community hall for a preschool graduation. Less than an hour into the program, the father of one of the children glanced out the door, and through grayish green skies spotted a funnel approaching with speed and fury. “Tornado!” he shouted. At 8:15 p.m. that force of nature struck the town hall. Later, workers searching through the rubble of the collapsed hall found the man’s body huddled over his daughter. She was alive and unharmed because when the structure fell, it fell on her dad. He died in her place. 
God’s judgment fell on Christ. He became our Substitute. He took our punishment when He died on the cross for our sins. Because He died, we can live forever with the Lord.
Christ paid our sin debt in full (John 19:30). There is nothing left for you to pay. God can now offer eternal life to you as a free gift. That’s why we are told “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”(Rom. 6:23b). Gifts, though, must be received and there is only one way to receive this gift.
1:12: Although the world and the nation of Israel rejected Christ when He came, individuals can still receive Him. How? Look at the last part of the verse. By believing “in His name.” In New Testament times, a name represented a person. Jesus Christ is the One Who died for our sins and rose again. The moment you believe or trust in Jesus alone to make you God’s child, you are born into God’s family.
Sometimes when I am sharing the gospel with someone they will say, “I’ve always been a Christian.” What they are really saying is, “I’ve never become a Christian.” We are not born Christians; we are born sinners. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Sin originates from the first man God created, Adam, so the whole human race stands guilty before God and needs a Savior.
Please understand that when the Bible says you must receive and believe in Christ, that does not mean you must simply accept Him as a Person like you would accept me as a person. Accepting me as a person will not get you to heaven. Accepting as history that Jesus existed, died, and rose again will not get you to heaven. Some people accept Christ’s death and resurrection as an historical fact but are still trusting in their own works to get them to heaven.
Picture a large boat filled with refugees from Cambodia coming across the Pacific Ocean. It begins taking on water and lifeboats become a necessity. Three passengers find themselves in different situations. The first passenger has no knowledge that lifeboats save and, therefore, never steps into one. The second passenger understands that lifeboats save, but for some reason refuses to step into one. The third passenger not only understands the ability of a lifeboat to save, but steps into the lifeboat and in so doing relies upon it to keep him from drowning.
Which of the three is saved? Yes, the last passenger. He not only had the knowledge, but he uses it. A person is saved when he or she understands the ability Jesus Christ has to save us and acts on that knowledge by trusting Christ alone. You are not saved simply by understanding Christ died and rose from the dead or even accepting His death and resurrection as a fact of history while relying on your own good life to get you to heaven. You become a member of God’s family when as a sinner deserving of hell, you believe or trust Christ alone to get you to heaven.
Verses 10-12 remind me of the incredible love and grace of Jesus Christ. Even though the world did not know Jesus as its Creator (1:10) and His own Jewish people rejected Him (1:11), Christ did not stop loving them. He still offered salvation to individual Gentiles and Jews who would receive Him by believing in His name (1:12). Likewise, when non-Christians initially reject the message of the gospel from us, we must not stop loving them or exposing them to the gospel. Christ never stopped loving me the first time I heard and rejected the gospel, and I am eternally grateful to Him for that! The least I can do is show the same kind of patient love toward unbelievers who need to hear the gospel more than once before they believe it.
Verse 13 explains the source of our birth into God’s family. First it tells us what spiritual birth is not. 1:13a: It is not from our heritage (“not of blood”). Being born and raised in a Christian family does not get you into God’s family any more than being born and raised in a McDonald’s restaurant would make you a hamburger. It is not by blood. 1:13b: Nor does one get into God’s family through determinations (“the will of the flesh”). It is not by determining to live a good life. You cannot make yourself a Christian. You cannot study Christians, act like them, go to their church, sing their songs, and go through all the Christian motions and become a Christian. It is not by positive thinking or clean living that you become a Christian. It is not by will of the flesh. 1:13c: It is not the achievements or willpower of others that makes you a Christian (“the will of man”). No pastor, priest, bishop, pope, relative, or imam can make you a Christian. You do not become a Christian through a ceremony, by reading a creed, by standing up, sitting down, coming to an altar, or getting baptized, or praying toward the east five times a day. Praying for others who are dead or alive does not get them to heaven. None of these things make you a Christian. It is not by the will of others.
So, if getting into God’s family is not the result of human relationships, determinations, or achievements of others, then what is it? It is a work of God (“who were born… of God”) whereby He convinces you that you cannot save yourself, but you must trust totally in Jesus Christ alone to place you into God’s family.
The most important question you could answer is, “What will you do with Jesus Christ?” If you are not a Christian, will you reject Him and face eternity without Him or will you believe in Him alone to place you into God’s family forever, so you can enjoy an eternal relationship with the Lord? And if you are already a Christian, will you choose to reflect Jesus with your life and lips? The choice is yours.
For those of us who already have Jesus in our lives, it is important to talk about being fathered by our heavenly Father. When we received Christ by believing in His name, God became our Father in heaven, and we became His beloved “child” forever (John 1:12; 10:28-29; Matt. 6:9; I John 3:1)!
For some of us, seeing God as our heavenly Father may stir up painful memories, thoughts, or feelings because we did not have a healthy relationship with our earthly father. We may have father wounds that can keep us from seeing God the Father for Who He truly is in the Bible.
We think that God will resemble our fathers or father figures from our childhood (cf. Ps. 50:21). When we were wounded by father figures in our childhood, there may have been shame-based lies or distortions of our view of God attached to those wounds.
Check the following shame-based concepts of God that apply to you: 
____ “The cruel and unpredictable God” is the most extreme distortion of God’s nature and is found among those who received brutal and unpredictable abuse in childhood most often at the hands of their fathers, stepfathers, or father figures. If you are one of the bruised believers who experienced severe physical or sexual abuse as a child, this might be the way you see God and you understandably struggle to trust your Father in heaven.
____ “The demanding and unforgiving God” is often the view that Christian adults have whose parents were rigid and perfectionistic. No matter how hard you try, you can never measure up to the demands of this distorted deity who does not forgive nor forget your sins. When you fail, watch out! His cruel side is manifested. He seems to delight in sending financial disaster or physical disease to emphasize His intolerance of your spiritual failures. Understandably, it is difficult for you to approach Him and experience His forgiveness and love.
____ “The selective and unfair God” is a distorted view of God found among Christian adults who experienced spiritual abuse by parental authorities in childhood. This might be the God you worship if you feel Jesus has revealed Himself more fully to other Christians who, in turn have a deeper relationship with Him than you do. You probably struggle with being a different and less-than Christian.
____ “The distant and unavailable God” may care about His worshipers, but He is off somewhere running the universe and cannot get too involved in their lives. If your parents were physically or emotionally unavailable through prolonged absences, perhaps because of death, divorce, illness, military duty, working overseas, or neglect, you may experience God as eternally distant and unavailable.
____ “The kind but confused God” is a clumsy and powerless deity who is confused by all the chaos in the world. If you had parents who were overwhelmed by uncontrollable chaos in their lives and your family, you may have this view of God.
The key to the healing of our father wounds is to walk through that pain with Jesus in the context of a loving community of Christians with whom you feel safe. God the Holy Spirit along with these loving believers, will help you replace the lies you believe about your heavenly Father with the truth of Who He is.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for calling us to bear witness to the Light – Your perfect Son Jesus Christ – so others can believe in Him alone for His gift of eternal life. Living the holiest life before non-Christians without telling them about Jesus does help them obtain eternal life. We must share the gospel with them and invite them to believe in Christ alone for salvation. Please enable us to use the words You used the most in evangelism – “believe” and “faith” – so more unsaved people can clearly know how You want them to respond to the good news of Your Son’s death and resurrection. Thank You for revealing Yourself to humanity through creation and through the Bible so no one is without excuse. Even though the world did not know Jesus as its Creator and His own Jewish people rejected Him, Christ did not stop loving them. He still offered salvation to individual Gentiles and Jews who would receive Him by believing in His name. Please give us the same love for lost people so we do not stop loving them even if they initially reject the gospel. Please empower us to continue to expose them to Your gospel message. Like some of us, they may need to hear the gospel several times before they believe it. Please heal us of our father wounds so we can see You for Who You truly are – a good and gracious heavenly Father Who delights in His children. In the matchless name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
 Constable, Dr. Constable’sNotes on John, 20123 Edition, pg 28; Archibald Thomas Robertson, A. T. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament [with Bible and Strong’s Numbers Added!], 6 Volumes (E4 Group, 2014 Kindle Edition), Kindle Location 49546 to 49566.
 Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pp. 640-641;
 R. Larry Moyer, Free And Clear: Understanding & Communicating God’s Offer of Eternal Life (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1997), pp. 85-97. See also Joseph Dillow’s thorough treatment on repentance in Joseph Dillow, Final Destiny: The Future Reign of The Servant Kings: Fourth Revised Edition (Grace Theology Press, 2018 Kindle Edition), pp. 35-56.
 G. Michael Cocoris, Evangelism: A Biblical Approach (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1984), pp. 69-70.
 Jeff Ropp, The Greatest Need in Evangelism Today is One Word: BELIEVE (Jeff Ropp, 2014), pg. 37.
 These ideas were shared with me by Dr. Earl Radmacher during a phone conversation on June 11, 2011.
 Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pp. 818-819.
 Ropp, The Greatest Need in Evangelism Today, pp. 94-95.
“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.
“We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.” I John 5:18
As the apostle John concludes his letter, he reviews and reinforces truths he has shared throughout his epistle. John just focused on praying for Christian brothers and sisters who had wandered far away from God and His people on the path of sin (5:16-17). Some of these sinning believers may be close to departing from this world through a premature death (cf. Acts 5:5-10; I Cor. 3:16-17; 5:5; 11:30). 1
John’s readers (including you and me) may have wondered, “Is there any hope that these sinning believers can be restored to fellowship with God and us? Is it still possible for them to resume walking in the light of fellowship with the Lord and His people after wandering so far into darkness?”
Or maybe some of his readers were asking, “Is there any hope that I can be restored to fellowship with God after wandering aimlessly for so long in the depths of darkness? Does God still love me and want to be close to me?”
I believe the apostle John would say, “Yes, a thousand times, Yes!!!” In the next three verses John will focus on three certainties. Each of the verses in 5:18-20 begins with “We know that …” (oidamen hoti). In the New Testament the Greek word oida almost always refers to “direct insight into spiritual or divine truth” although it may not be truth that has been experienced yet. 2 “This truth is the result of the teaching and convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit.”3 It is also important to observe that this Greek verb is in the perfect tense (oidamen) which means John and his readers knew these truths in the past and they continue to know them to the present. These are not guesses or mere human opinions, they are absolute unchanging truths from God that the apostle and his readers can be sure of no matter what they or other believers are facing or feeling.
“We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.” (I John 5:18). We have already learned that the phrase “whoever is born of God” refers to the divine or born-again nature we receive from God when we believe in Jesus as the Christ for everlasting life (cf. 3:9; 5:1, 13). The Greek participle translated “is born” (ho gegennēmenos) is in the perfect tense which means the new birth took place in the past and continues to the present. Since God cannot sin, the divine nature He places inside His child “does not sin” either (5:18b). A sinless Parent cannot beget a sinful child. So, sin is never an act of the born-again nature inside the believer because it is incapable of sinning (cf. 3:9).
“This divine nature is portrayed as a person (a figure of speech known as personification, that is, to treat something which is not a person as though it were, like calling a ship ‘she’). That’s why this nature is called ‘whoever,’ ‘he,’ ‘himself,’ and ‘him.’”4
The apostle Paul spoke of this new nature as the “new man” when he writes, “And that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephes. 4:24; cf. Col. 3:10). This new nature or “inner man” is strengthened by the Spirit of God (Ephes. 3:16) and has the capacity to resist the corruption and sinful lusts of this passing world which is under the control of Satan (I John 2:16-17; 5:18-19; cf. John 12:31; 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; Col. 1:13a). 5
Hence, John says, “he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.” The word “keeps” (tēreō) means to “watch over, guard, protect, or keep unharmed.” 6 The recipient of this protection is the born-again person (“himself”).
“In saying that the regenerate inward person (cf. Rom 7:22) ‘keeps himself,’ John is not saying that one’s inner self can somehow prevent all sin in the Christian life (cf. 1:5-10). What John means is that God’s ‘seed remains in’ the regenerate inner self (cf. 3:9) as the controlling element of his born-again nature and is impervious to even the slightest contamination from the wicked one. Believers’ failures are due to the sinful ‘programming’ of their earthly bodies, as Paul himself taught in Rom 7:7-25.” 7
Even though Satan uses the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life to sway believers away from God (2:16; 5:19), John assures us “the wicked one does not touch him,” that is, the born-again self (5:18c). The word “touch” (haptetai) means “to touch with the purpose of harming, to injure.” 8 Satan and the world he controls, cannot harm the born-again self.
This is important for all of us to remember about ourselves or other believers when humbled by sinful failures. The evil one would like to trick us into thinking that a Christian who continually walks in the darkness or repeatedly struggles with the same sin is not really God’s child which can lead them to more sinful failures. The Bible tells us we act in the way we perceive ourselves to be. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Prov. 23:7). If I am convinced I am not really saved because of my repeated failures, then I will be more inclined to live like a nonbeliever.
But if we know and embrace the truth found in I John 5:18, we can avoid the devil’s deception, and rise from our confession of sin to the Lord (I John 1:9), knowing we are the same inwardly holy children of God we were before we sinned. So, whatever we or another Christian have succumbed to in the world, John wants us to know that who we are at the core of our being has not changed. We are still a holy child of God because God’s sinless seed remains in us (3:9).
Zane Hodges says it like this: “At the very moment we are most humbled by our sinful failures, and when we confess them, it is helpful to be confident that those failures have not really changed what we are as children of God. The enemy, try as he might, cannot really touch us. He can only attempt to persuade us that he can or has. But if we know the truth stated in this verse, he will not be able to deceive us. For if we let him, Satan will use our failures to lead us to further failure. So, after every sin, deeply though we may and should regret it, we ought to rise from our confession to God knowing that we are the same inwardly holy persons we were before we failed!” 9
Some of you reading this may have a Christian spouse or child who has pursued the lusts of this passing world (2:16-17). They have been so twisted by the godless values of this world system that they are doing things that violate their Christian beliefs and values. Perhaps they have succumbed to the allurement of alcohol, drugs, gambling, materialism, pornography, or sex. Or maybe they have developed an acute mental condition such as severe depression or a phobia. They are in bondage to such things. Please do not give up or lose hope.
If your spouse or child is a believer in Jesus Christ, he or she is still a child of God at the core of his or her being and cannot be touched or harmed by evil or the evil one (I John 5:18; cf. 3:6-9). The “seed” or divine nature of God within him or her remains unchanged. It cannot be altered or even tempted. It remains a base from which the Holy Spirit can work within this loved one to bring healing to him or her, and to bring them back to fellowship with God and His people. 10 As long as that seed remains (and it will), “it can be watered by your prayers. As long as that seed remains, it can still grow. As long as that seed remains, it can blossom, and eternal fruit can be born. Do not give up.” 11
The restoration of fellowship for wayward Christians is based on walking in the Spirit, relying on Him to express God’s sinless born-again nature in them (I John 3:6-9; 5:18; cf. Gal. 5:16-25). It is not based on willful determination, on keeping New Year’s resolutions, or the power of positive thinking. 12
But it doesn’t stop there. Not only does a child of God have God’s sinless seed that remains in him or her, but he or she is also on God’s side and God is on their side. 13 He has not given up on them. “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” (I John 5:19). Again, John begins with “we know that…” (oidamen hoti) to convey the absolute certainty of what he is about to say. This is not mere speculation; it is absolute truth.
The phrase “of God” (ek tou Theou) refers to being on God’s side in I John. 14
“To be ‘of’ something in 1 John is to be on the side of the something. We saw this in 1 John 3:10b, 19 and 4:4. In reference to believers it means to have a dynamic, spiritual link to God, Who is obviously capable of giving us victory over the world. To be ‘of God’ means we are on His side, and He is on our side. The world lies like a limp puppet in the lap of the evil one, ready to be filled with his power. On the other side, we lie in the lap of the Lord, ready to be filled with His power.” 15
The phrase “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (ho kosmos holosen tō ponerō keitai) “suggests that the world passively rests within Satan’s operative sphere. By contrast, the phrase ek Theou (‘of God’) means being ‘from’ God. The Christian should be aware of his own sinless inward man (5:18), and he should also be aware of his utter separateness from the whole world that lives under Satan’s sway. Believers, whom the enemy cannot ‘touch’ (5:18), are not a part of the world, which lies passively in the wicked one. Thus, believers must not ‘love the world or the things in the world’ (2:15-17) and they must resist the ideas that the world promotes (cf. 2:18-19).”16
John wants to “reinforce the readers’ consciousness that they are distinct from the satanically controlled world system and basically free from its power. They need not listen to the worldly ideas advanced by the antichrists (3:7-8). Nor need they succumb to worldly desires (cf. 2:15-17).”17
Since a believer’s regenerate self (3:9; 5:18) and conduct is sourced in God and is free from the power of Satan and his world system (5:19), there is still hope for a Christian who has been in bondage to sin for a prolonged time. Hence, if your Christian spouse or child has been living like the devil, please know that they do not belong to the evil one nor his world system.
What this means is your sinning Christian spouse or child does not belong to Satan’s world, and he or she will always to some degree feel like a foreigner in this world system. Your loved one will never feel completely comfortable in this sin-sick world. This world is not a Christian’s home, we are just passing through; our home is way out there, somewhere beyond the blue. The child of God who wanders about aimlessly in darkness will always have a degree of discomfort. They will always know something is wrong, something just isn’t right. This is not who I am in Christ.
The good news is God can turn discomfort into disgust. When your loved one’s discomfort turns to disgust, he or she will turn towards home (God). Regardless of what this person tells you, if he or she gets sucked into the sewer of this world system, they are acting out of character, and they will never be completely comfortable. Don’t listen to their lies. Keep praying that their discomfort will turn to disgust, and God will restore them back to fellowship with Him. When they finally realize that they are wasting their life eating slop with the pigs in the pig sty, they will turn their eyes toward home (cf. Luke 15:13-17).
Because of God’s seed within your believing spouse or child, he or she is on God’s side whether they consciously sense that or not, and they will feel like a foreigner in this world. God can turn this discomfort into disgust so that they will want to come home to fellowship with Him and His family. Next time, Lord willing, we will discover how to get there. 18
Prayer: Gracious Father in heaven, oh how we needed to hear these encouraging words about Christians who are living in the depths of darkness and appear to have no hope of returning to fellowship with You and Your people. Thank You for reminding us that no matter how much we or our loved ones have embraced the lusts of this passing world, if we or they are a believer in Jesus, Your sinless nature remains inside us and is not touched by evil or the evil one. We are still children of God at the core of our being, and to some degree there will be discomfort with our sinful lifestyle and choices. Please oh Lord, turn this discomfort to disgust so all of us living in the darkness will return home to fellowship with You and Your people. Help us to rely on Your Holy Spirit for the power to live out these unchanging truths in our daily Christian lives. In the mighty name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
1. David R. Anderson, Maximum Joy: I John – Relationship or Fellowship? (Grace Theology Press, 2013 Kindle Edition), pp. 261-262.
2. Ibid., pg. 124.
4. Ibid., pg. 263.
6. 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. 1002.
7. 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.
8. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon, pg. 126.
9. Anderson, Maximum Joy, pp. 263-264 cites Zane C. Hodges, The Epistles of John: Walking in the Light of God’s Love (Irving, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 1999), pp. 242-243.
10. Anderson, Maximum Joy, pg. 264.
12. Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 2953.
13. Anderson, Maximum Joy, pg. 264.
14. Hodges, The Grace New Testament Commentary, pg. 604.
15. Anderson, Maximum Joy, pp. 264-265.
16. Hodges, The Grace New Testament Commentary, pg. 604.
17. 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 4126.
18. The last three paragraphs are adapted from Anderson, Maximum Joy, pg. 265.
“No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” I John 4:12
When people go through severe trials, they may ask themselves, “How can a God of love permit me to go through such a horrible experience? I feel abandoned by God, not loved by Him.” Even Christians who have spent their lives loving and serving the Lord have felt this way when they are blindsided by a debilitating disease, a financial collapse, children who have rebelled against God and have no contact with them… you name it. 1
Several years ago, my wife and I felt called by God to start a new church on the south side of Des Moines, Iowa. We resigned from our current church outside of Des Moines to live in an apartment with our three daughters in a nearby town for fifteen months while we received training from the mother church of the church start. Near the end of the training, we bought a new home on the south side of Des Moines with the intent of living there the remainder of our lives if God permitted. At our grand opening in an elementary school, we had over 160 people attend, and several people professed faith in Christ. We were off and running! It was a dream come true.
Fast forward three years. The church had shrunk to about thirty people. We announced to our church family that we were going to resign from the ministry. My wife and I were burned out emotionally and spiritually. For the past year I had been crying out to God for additional Christian leaders to help us in the work of the ministry. When nothing happened, I felt abandoned by God. “Lord,“ I cried out to Him, “We left everything to serve You, and now we are having to step away from the ministry. Where are You in all of this? Don’t You love us anymore?” I knew intellectually that God loved us, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t experience it.
I share this with you because the apostle John is going to share some important truths that relate to that situation and any situation for that matter where Christians are prone to doubt God’s love for them. John emphasizes seeing God’s love through our relationships with His people (4:12-16). You may recall that in 4:7-11 John exhorted his readers to love one another the way Christ had sacrificially and selflessly loved them. Now he is going to talk about perfecting that love in our relationships with one another.
John writes, “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” (I John 4:12). You may wonder, “How can John say no one has seen God when the Bible speaks of people seeing God?”(e.g., Exod. 33:21-23; Isaiah 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).
This invisible God, Whom no one has seen, “abides” (menei) in believers who “love oneanother” (4:12b). 2 Loving one another is a condition for fellowship or closeness with God, not salvation. Jesus never said, “Whoever loves one another should not perish but have everlasting life.” He said, “Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16b). Belief in Christ alone results in eternal life. Loving one another results in God abiding in fellowship with Christians and being Christ’s disciple (cf. John 13:34-35). The Lord is at home in the believer who shares God’s love with other brothers and sisters in Christ.
Furthermore, when we “love one another,” God’s “love has been perfected in us” (4:12c). The Greek words translated “has been perfected” (teteleiōmenē estin)“are in a form (perfect tense) that suggests His love resulting in Christian love. God’s love achieves its goal and reaches its full measure in believers when that love is reproduced in them and reflected through them by loving one another.” 3
God’s (agapē) love is produced by God the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). It is not something we can create on our own. It is a fruit of God’s Spirit (Gal. 5:21). The moment a person believes in Christ for His gift of eternal life, He receives the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39; Gal. 3:2; Ephes. 1:13-14) and can begin to enjoy and share this agapē love.
John reminds us, however, that God’s agapē love is not static. It can be “perfected” or reach completeness 4 in a believer which suggests a deeper and fuller experience of that love (4:12; cf. 4:17). 5 God’s love can mature or grow up. For this to happen, we must be in community with other Christians. 6
“We might parallel this to what James tells us about sin in James 1:14-15. He says sin begins as a temptation in the mind. Then when our own lust of our heart merges with the temptation in our mind, Sin is conceived in the womb of our soul. After a gestation period, baby Sin is born into the world of our actions. With exercise and food, baby Sin grows up. When Sin becomes a full-grown adult (mature), she produces death. The point is that for Sin to mature, it must be born into the world of action. With repetition it grows up to maturity.
“Divine love is the same way. It may begin with a good intention in the womb of our spirit, but at this point it is only an embryo of love. For this love to be fully developed, it must be born into the world of our deeds, our actions. Properly nurtured and exercised, love becomes a full-grown, mature, and attractive young woman. And the world takes a look.
“So, this kind of love needs external expression to become mature. That’s why Jesus said He gives His disciples a new commandment to ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ That commandment is like a golden parrot hopping from branch to branch in this book, repeating itself over and over. Jesus says when we learn to love each other this way, then the whole world will know that we are His disciples (His fully-devoted followers). This is mature, perfect love.” 7
Even though a devastating trial can overwhelm a Christian and cause them to doubt God’s love for them, it is in the context of a community of believers who sacrificially and selflessly love one another that their confidence in God’s love for them can be restored (4:13-16). John writes, “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” (I John 4:13). The words “By this” refer to the previous verse and means we can “know that we abide in Him, and He in us” when we love one another in Christian community. That is, we can know we are having close, intimate fellowship with God when we are loving one another.
When John states “because He has given us of His Spirit” (4:13b), this reminds us of his words in 3:24, “And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” The Greek construction translated “of His Spirit” (ek tou Pneumatos) in 4:13 is the same for the words translated “by the Spirit” (ek tou Pneumatos) in 3:24. This “suggests participation in the Spirit of God, literally, ‘He has given us out of His Spirit…’ When a believer loves, he is drawing that love from God’s Spirit (cf. Rom. 5:5), Who is also the Source of his confession of Christ (1 John 4:2). Thus, both the faith and the love enjoined in the dual ‘command’ of 3:23 are products of the Spirit’s operation in a believer. A believer’s Spirit-led obedience becomes the evidence that he is enjoying the mutual abiding relationship with God that John wrote about.” 8
John has just told us “if we love one another,” then the God Whom “no one has seen… abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us” through “His Spirit” (4:12-13). As a result of this experience, John writes, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.” (I John 4:14). This is considered by some to be the most important verse in all of I John to understand. 9
The “we” in 4:14 does not refer only to the apostles as it did earlier in the epistle (1:1-5; 2:19; 3:14; 4:6). In all those places there was a contrasting “you” (1:2-4; 2:20; 3:13; 4:4; et al.). But in 4:7-14, there is no contrasting “you,” so the first-person plural (“we” or “us”) includes the apostles and the readers. 10
This is significant because in the first verses of the epistle, John said that he and the other apostles (“we”) have “seen” (heōrakamen), “looked upon” (etheasametha), and “handled” the “Word of Life” physically (1:1). They have “seen” (heōrakamen) and “bear witness” (martyroumen) to his readers about that “eternal life,” Jesus Christ (5:20), Who “was with the Father and was manifested to” them physically (1:2). John wrote of what they have “seen” (heōrakamen) so his readers “also may have fellowship with” the apostles and “with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1:3).
While John’s readers could not see and touch the physical Jesus as the apostles had, when they love one another, John could say have they “seen” (tetheametha)and “testify” (martyroumen) “that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world” (4:14). When we observe sacrificial and selfless love in the community of Christians, John seems to be saying that we can see the Father’s love which was a perfect love, a love that sent His only begotten Son into the world to save the world through His own sacrificial and selfless love on the cross. 11
“The Church has no more effective way to testify to the world about the Saviorhood of Jesus than by the re-display of the Savior’s love in the fellowship of His disciples.”12
Let’s summarize what John is saying: Although no one “has seen” (tetheatai) God (4:12), Christians who “abide” in Him (4:13) “have seen”(tetheametha)the Son spiritually as His life is manifested among loving Christians.Believers who observe this manifestation have in fact “seen” and can “testify” to the Saviorhood of Jesus (4:14). 13
By loving one another, John’s readers could enjoy fellowship with the apostles in what the apostles “have seen” (heōrakamen) which is exactly why John wrote his epistle (1:1-3a). This is equivalent to having fellowship “with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1:3b). 14
But John also desired that his readers not only have fellowship with him and the other apostles in what the apostles had “seen,” but also in what they had “heard” (akēkoamen) about Jesus Christ (1:1-3a). 15 John writes, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” (I John 4:15). Once again John uses the word “confesses” (homologēsē) which means to “to speak the same,” “to agree, confess, acknowledge… in public.” 16 Confessing “that Jesus is the Son of God,” is also another condition for fellowship or intimacy with God (“God abides in him, and he in God”). When Jesus is confessed as “the Son of God,” He is also confessed as “Christ come in the flesh” (4:2) and as the One Who guarantees a future resurrection and never-ending life to all who believe in Him (cf. John 11:25-27). 17
The wording of 4:14 (“we have seen and testify”) reflects the words of John the Baptist when he said of Jesus, “I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34). So, in the context of the Christian community, John is speaking of the visible manifestation of Christian love accompanied by the verbal confession of Jesus as the Son of God (4:12-15). Both these fundamental expressions among God’s people reproduce what the apostles themselves had “seen” in Jesus and what they had “heard” about Him from His forerunner, John the Baptist (cf. John 1:32-34). 18
Regarding John the Baptist’s testimony in John 1:32-34, Yarbrough states: “God’s Spirit descended and ‘remained’ on Jesus, according to John the Baptist (1:32, 33). The Spirit was Jesus’s constant companion. To ‘remain’ or ‘abide’ in Jesus’s teaching is to be His true disciple (8:31). A disciple will be informed and steered by all that Jesus commanded and taught. God the Father ‘remained’ or ‘abode’ with Jesus during His earthly days (14:10). The Father was the source of the very words He spoke, and Jesus ‘remained’ continually in the Father’s love (15:10b. ‘Abiding’ describes a reality involving Father, Son, and Spirit.”19
When believers live in an atmosphere of mutual Christian love (4:12-15), they can say along with the apostle John, “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (I John 4:16). The Greek words translated “have known” (egnōkamen) and “believed” (pepisteukamen) are in the perfect tense. Since these are stative verbs in the perfect tense, they refer to a state of intimate knowledge and total trust that God loves us (see comments on 2:3). 20 Since “God is love,” the Christian “who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”
When Christians face painful circumstances, it can be easy for us to doubt God’s love for us. The apostle John says the best way to restore our confidence in God’s love for us is to see and hear His love expressed in a Christian community.
Let me return to my opening testimony. After the closure of the new church in south Des Moines, I was devastated. I doubted that God truly loved me. I felt like a total failure and that God would never use me again to advance His gospel. I had given up on God’s love for me and I assumed He had given up on me as well.
A few months after the church closed, God led my family and I to a church where we encountered His amazing love. The people welcomed us with open arms and came alongside us to help us see ourselves as God’s beloved children. The pastor there had been through a similar church planting experience, and he understood how we felt. He knew how to minister God’s love to us in practical ways that were meaningful to us. Instead of exhorting us with Scriptures, he listened to us and spent time with us. We also got plugged into a small group of believers who loved on us and accepted us as we were.
As we saw and heard the amazing love of Jesus Christ in this Christian community, gradually our confidence in God’s love for us was not only restored, but it was deepened and intensified. We were able to experience the kind of intimate fellowship with God that the apostles experienced.
I don’t know what you are facing right now, but I would guess that some of you are where I was at a few years ago. Perhaps you doubt God’s love for you because you or someone close to you has a debilitating disease or the loss of a job. Maybe after serving God sacrificially and selflessly for years, you were deeply hurt by an unloving Christian. As a result, God’s love seems very distant and invisible to you.
Whatever pain you are carrying, please know that God wants to reveal His love to you through His people. Just as we cannot see the wind, we can see its effects. We cannot see God, but we can see His love operating through Christians when they love one another. 21 His children are not perfect. But if they are enjoying intimate fellowship with the God of love, they will be able to share that love with you. And if you will let them do that, your knowledge and faith in God’s love for you will be restored and deepened.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for making Your sacrificial and selfless love visible to us through Your only begotten Son Whom You sent to die on a cross for all our sins. Such love may be difficult for us to believe when we encounter severe trials and disappointments in life. We may doubt Your love for us when we experience suffering and pain. But You never intended for us to face that pain and suffering alone. Thank You for providing an atmosphere of mutual Christian love in churches that abide in You and Your Holy Spirit. Use us to be a channel of Your love to those who doubt Your love for them. May each of our churches reflect the love of the Savior as we love one another. In the mighty name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
1. Adapted from David R. Anderson, Maximum Joy: I John – Relationship or Fellowship? (Grace Theology Press, 2013 Kindle Edition), pg. 212.
2. The phrase, “If we love one another” (ean agapōmen allēlous) is a third-class condition and refers to a general truth at the present time. SeeArchibald Thomas Robertson, A. T. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament [with Bible and Strong’s Numbers Added!], 6 Volumes (E4 Group, 2014 Kindle Edition), Kindle Location 207051.
3. 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. 600.
4. 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. 996.
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 3973.
6. Anderson, Maximum Joy, pg. 212.
8. Hodges, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Kindle Location 3974 to 3979.
9. Tom Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on 1 John, 2022 Edition, pg. 99 cites Zane C. Hodges, The Epistles of John: Walking in the Light of God’s Love (Irving, Tex.: Grace Evangelical Society, 1999), pg. 192; Hodges, The Grace New Testament Commentary, pg. 600.
10. Hodges, The Grace New Testament Commentary, pg. 600.
11.Anderson, Maximum Joy, pg. 214.
12. Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on 1 John, pg. 99 cites Hodges, The Epistles of John, pg. 192.
13. Hodges, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Kindle Location 3985 to 3990.
14. Hodges, The Grace New Testament Commentary, pg. 600.
16. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pg. 708.
17. Hodges, The Grace New Testament Commentary, pg. 600.
19. Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on 1 John, pg. 100 cites Robert W. Yarbrough, 1—3 John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series(Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), pg. 252.
20. Anderson, Maximum Joy, pg. 216.
21. Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 2948.
“’Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’” Matthew 1:23
I never grow tired of hearing the Bible’s perspective about the birth of Jesus Christ. It truly is good news! In the gospel of Matthew, we learn of the humanity of Jesus as proven by the fact that He is a legal Descendant of King David (Matt. 1:1-17; 2 Sam. 7:16). But Jesus is also God as proven by His names and manner of conception (Matt. 1:16, 18, 20-21, 23, 25). 1
When Joseph discovered Mary became pregnant while engaged to him, he assumed the worst and sought to put her away to avoid public disgrace for them both (Matt. 1:18-19). Before Joseph could act, God showed up to him and addressed him as a descendant of David (“son of David”) through whom the Messianic King would come, telling him not to be afraid because Mary’s pregnancy was supernaturally produced by God the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20). This Son Whom Mary would bear was to be named “Jesus” (Yahweh is Savior) “for He will save His people,” Israel, “from” the physical (Zech. 9:9-10) and spiritual (Acts 10:43; 16:31) consequences of “their sins” (Matt. 1:21). 2
Jesus’ virgin birth fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 7:14) that a virgin shall be with child – a supernatural sign that would indicate an unusual “Child” was to be born because of His divine nature and presence (Matt. 1:22-23a). A virgin birth through the Holy Spirit explains Jesus’ sinless nature (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15). The sin nature is passed on through the human father. Romans 5:12 states, “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.
“Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes: one member of each pair inherited from the mother and the other from the father. This suggests that when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary (Luke 1:35), and Jesus was conceived in His mother, God miraculously supplied the other 23 chromosomes to make the matched pair with Mary’s. These would normally have come from a human father.”3
“And the angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’” (Luke 1:35). Since God the Holy Spirit took the place of the human father and brought about the conception of Jesus, His 23 chromosomes “overshadowed”Mary’s, causing Christ to be the only human being ever to be conceived since the fall of Adam and Eve without a sin nature. The Greek word translated “overshadowed” (episkiazo) occurs in all three accounts of the Transfiguration where the cloud overshadowed those present (Matt. 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:34). 4 The Holy Spirit “overshadowed” Mary with His presence to bring about this supernatural conception.
“This delicate expression rules out crude ideas of a ‘mating’ of the Holy Spirit with Mary.”5
“The deity and preexistence of the Son of God required a miraculous conception. His virgin birth resulted in His assuming a human nature, without giving up His divine nature.”6
The virgin birth qualifies this infinite Person (Jesus) to bear an infinite number of sins for all humanity on the cross 7 (cf. John 1:29; I John 2:1-2). Only a perfect sacrifice could remove the sins of all humanity forever. In the Old Testament, emphasis is given to “perfect” animal sacrifices “without blemish” (Exod. 12:5; 29:1; Lev. 1:3, 10; 3:1, 6; 4:3, 23, 28, 32; 5:15, 18; 6:6; 9:2-3; 14:10; 22:19, 21; et al.) as foreshadows of the perfect Lamb of God Whose shed blood on the cross would perfect forever those who believe in Him (John 1:29; 3:14-18; Rom. 4:5; 8:31-39; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 9:1-10:18; I Pet. 3:18)!
Since Jesus is fully human (John 1:14; I Tim. 2:5), He can empathize with our human struggles (Heb. 4:15). And since He is fully God (John 1:1, 18; Titus 2:13; I John 5:20), He can heal our brokenness (Exod. 15:26b; Psalm 147:3). Jesus is “Immanuel” which means “God with us” (Matt. 1:23b). We often focus on this verse to emphasize that Jesus is “God,” but in so doing we can easily skip over the word “with.” The Greek word translated “with” (meta) refers to God being “among” or “inthe company of” someone in a supportive way. 8
Jesus Christ is not “God against us,” “God condemning us,” “God judging us,” “God punishing us,” “God pushing us,” “God shaming us,” or “God shoulding us.” The God of the universe is saying, “I am God WITH you.” The Lord is with us in our pain and struggles. He moves toward us with compassion and love so we can feel safe from being criticized, judged, or shamed. This can help us relax and let Jesus heal the deep wounds that we have buried deep within our souls to protect us from rejection and ridicule.
Jesus is “God WITH us.” He is“God HELPS us.”9 He moves toward broken humanity with compassion, not against them with condemnation (Matt. 11:28-30; 12:20; John 3:17).
Unfortunately, Christians may not experience Christ in this way when it comes to their “church” experience. When they struggle with anxiety, depression, loneliness, rejection, sadness, or suicidal thoughts, well-meaning Christians may move against them by saying, “You shouldn’t feel that way. Just trust God.” Then they quote a Bible verse to support their should’s. What this communicates to the struggling believer is that it is not okay to feel that way. It also reinforces the lie that says, “Good Christians don’t have negative emotions.”
I believe when a hurting believer gets exhorted by other Christians with should’s, it is often because the exhorting believer is uncomfortable with their own feelings that are activated when they hear someone else talk about negative emotions. But instead of facing their own feelings, the exhorting believer focuses on the feelings of the hurting person in a critical or judgmental way to get them to stop talking.
The result is the struggling Christian learns that it is not safe to talk about their negative emotions in a church setting. So, they work extra hard to know the Bible and have all the right answers. They faithfully attend prayer meetings, volunteer to teach Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, and go on mission trips so they don’t upset God and other believers. It is not wrong to do these things per se. But when we do these things out of fear instead of love, it causes more isolation and pain. We can do all these right things without any close connection with God and others.
You probably realize that I am speaking from my own experience. I have been on both sides of this equation. I have been the exhorting Christian who moves against the hurting believer with should’s and lots of Bible verses. And I have also been the hurting believer who has been the recipient of many Bible verses and should’s from well meaning believers who unknowingly moved against me.
This serves as a reminder that all people, including Christians, need Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can move toward us with perfect love and compassion regardless of our condition. Perhaps you are struggling with anxiety, depression, loneliness, rejection, sadness, self-doubts, stress, or suicidal thoughts. You can draw near to Jesus this Christmas season with confidence that He will help you and heal you. He wants all people to experience “God with us” both now (Matt. 28:20) and forever (Rev. 21:3)!!!
How can you experience God’s loving presence in your life if you are not a Christian? Jesus wants you to understand your need for Him. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). All people (except Jesus) are born with a sin nature that desires to live our own way instead of God’s way. All of us are like sheep who “have gone astray; we have turned, everyone, to his own way.” (Isaiah 53:6a). All people have rebelled against God and disobeyed His laws.
Since God is absolutely holy and righteous, He cannot be around our sin. Therefore, the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23b). The word “death” means separation. Our sins separate us from God. Jesus tells us that the final punishment for our sins is death in hell or the lake of fire forever (Mark 9:43-48; cf. Rev. 20:15). I think you will agree this is bad news.
But Isaiah’s prophecy also has good news! “And the Lord has laid on Him theiniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6b). Hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth, the prophet Isaiah tells us that Christ would be punished for all the sins of the world through crucifixion (“pierced through for our transgressions” – Isaiah 53:5).
God loved you and me so much He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place on the cross and rise from the dead over two thousand years ago (John 3:16a; I Cor. 15:1-6). Jesus is alive today and He invites you to come to Him on His terms when He says, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16b). What are Jesus’ terms? He says, “whoever believes in Him.” He does not say, “whoever lives a good life… prays… has religion… turns from sin… meditates… loves God… surrenders… gives his or her life to God… is baptized with water, etc.” Christ says simply to “believe in Him.”
To “believe in” (pisteuōn eis) Jesus means to be persuaded that He is speaking the truth and is therefore worthy of your trust. 10 Are you convinced Jesus was speaking the truth when He said, “Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”? If you are, then believe or trust in Him alone to give you His gift of everlasting life so you will not perish in hell.
If you believed Christ’s promise, He wants you to know with absolute certainty that you now have eternal life (I John 5:13)! Jesus now lives inside you forever through His Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39; Gal. 2:20) and He promises never to leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5). You can now experience “God with us” every day of your life as you learn to talk to Him in prayer (John 15:7) and obey His Word (John 15:4-5; I John 3:24).
The best part is we will experience God dwelling with us in perfect harmony on the new earth in the eternal state where there will be no more barriers to fellowship with Him (Rev. 21:3-4). Anything associated with the fallen world will “have passed away,” never to return (Rev. 21:4). The sin that caused tears, pain, and death will be forever removed! We can enjoy uninterrupted fellowship with God and with His people for all eternity.
Prayer: Hallelujah Lord God Almighty! Thank You for giving us Immanuel that first Christmas season so we can experience God with us both now and forever the moment we believe in Jesus for everlasting life. Thank You Jesus for moving toward us with compassion and love so we can feel safe from criticism, judgment, rejection, and shame. Use us to move toward other broken sinners with the same love and compassion You have moved toward us so they can discover You alone are the Giver of eternal life. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
1. Hal Haller, Jr., Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Zane Hodges; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach; The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pp. 14-15.
2. Ibid., pg. 15.
3. Randy Alcorn’s and Julia (Stager) Mayo’s August 26, 2013, article entitled, “Did Jesus Have a Sin Nature?” at eternal perspective ministries (https://www.epm.org).
4. Tom Constable, Dr. Constable’sNotes on Luke, 2022 Edition, pg. 46.
5. Ibid., cites Leon Morris, The Gospel According to St. Luke, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries series (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1974), pg. 73.
6. Ibid., pp. 46-47 cites Erwin W. Lutzer, Christ among Other gods (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), pp. 64-74.
7. Haller, pg. 15.
8. When meta (“with”) occurs with the genitive (hēmōn – “us”), it expresses supportiveness as in “God with us,”“God stands by us,” or “God helps us.” See 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. 636.
9. Archibald Thomas Robertson, A. T. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament (with Bible and Strong’s Numbers Added!), 6 Volumes (E4 Group, 2017 Kindle Edition), Kindle Location 567.