John wraps up a little different that Paul does. He hits the high points of his letter as his conclusion. He adds a couple extra points for us too.
John starts his conclusion with his purpose in writing in the first place. He wants us to KNOW that we are God’s children and that we have eternal life as a result of that. He has told us all along what the proof was; that we love God, love and accept Jesus as God’s Son and our Savior, and love one another. These pieces HAVE to be present in the believer’s life for the person to truly belong to God.
I went through MANY years of wondering, when I was younger, if I was REALLY a child of God. I “prayed the sinner’s prayer” more times than I can count. But one day while wondering, the Spirit spoke to me that I WAS His and that I could stop being afraid. That was the most WONDERFUL piece of knowledge I have ever received. I GUARANTEE I am NOT perfect or without sin, but I AM HIS! I pray for each of you to receive that knowledge too!
The next thing John touches on is very important for me. It is faith. The “faith movement” was all about telling God how things were going to go and expecting Him to follow OUR roadmap. Yes, the requests were supposed to be based on scripture but that is not where it ended. There were people even “claiming by faith” that they would regrow teeth after all theirs had been removed. Not something impossible for God but also not something that was found in scripture as a “right” of the believer. ANYTHING they wanted, including financial wealth, could be “claimed in Jesus’ name” and expected to be provided by God.
John tells us that there is ANOTHER part to that faith request requirement. “And this is the confidence that we have towards Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him” (verses 14-15). The caveat here is “according to His will.” Yes, we know it is not “God’s will” for us to be sick but His GREATEST will for us is to trust in Him no matter what. We know “it is appointed unto men once to die” (Hebrews 9:27), but that how and when is not specified. Even His closest disciples suffered many things before finally facing their earthly final appointment. He DIDN’T remove suffering from the earth! And sometimes the greatest glory comes to Him through how we face the suffering. God’s will doesn’t exempt us from suffering; often it is essential to our perfection in the spirit. Jesus walked in God’s perfect will and He certainly suffered. Can we honestly expect God to exempt us if He didn’t even exempt His only begotten Son?
But what about where John says that “He who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him” (verse 18b)? The evil one CANNOT touch our spirit. Our body still belongs to this world. Paul called it a “war in the flesh” when we fight against the desires of sin. But Satan can’t touch our spirit. THAT BELONGS TO GOD! No matter what he does to this physical body, it has no eternal impact on our spirit. The child of God has eternal life with Him, no matter how or when he/she dies.
John goes on with another point here that we need to take heed of. We know from John’s earlier writing that the person who continues in sin without repentance is not a child of God. But we also know that, even though we are God’s children, we will still sin. It is a matter of living always in sin and slipping into sin for a moment. Sometimes that moment can be a season too. John tells us to pray for the brother or sister whom we see slipping into sin. He also tells us he is not telling us to pray for the one we see who is committing sin that leads to death. ALL the other sins can be returned from and forgiven.
John doesn’t specify what the “sin that leads to death” is but Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-29). Exactly what this looks like in practice I don’t know but I would expect it is linked to calling the work of the Holy Spirit a work of Satan instead. That is what the Pharisees did in order to get this rebuke from Jesus. I believe it would also include refusing to accept the work of Jesus and His deity as God’s Son. We are told several times that if we refuse the Son we have no standing with the Father. That sin leads to death.
So can I pray for my children who have turned away from God? Did they truly have a personal relationship with Him in the beginning then decide He wasn’t real? Have they committed “the sin that leads to death?” I DON’T KNOW. Only God does, so I’m going to pray for them anyway. This goes for ANYONE we know that needs Jesus in their lives. We don’t know their heart; only God does. I trust Him to make that call, not me. And I put it ALL in HIS hands.
Father God, thank You that I don’t have to make those calls. Thank You that You don’t forbid prayer for my children, no matter where they are on Your spectrum. I KNOW that You know their hearts and how far they have strayed, or not truly approached You in the first place. I PRAY they have not stepped outside of Your firm boundaries. Please bring them back to You, or to You for the first REAL time. I don’t want to turn loose of them, but I will (again) place them in Your hands and let You hold them. It’s not Your will that any should perish but all come to know You. I pray their “will” finally lines up with Yours.
Thank You Holy Spirit for giving me confidence as I searched for it so long ago. Thank You Lord Jesus that Your blood covers ALL my sins from now to when we meet face to face. Thank You that we WILL meet face to face, because of Your suffering. Let me embrace whatever God has in store for my life with the same determination You did in Yours. I’m CERTAIN that NOTHING I have to go through will ever come close to what You endured. Your GREATEST pain didn’t come from the nails but from Your own Father having to turn His face from You. You promised me that You would NEVER leave me or forsake me. I will NEVER face that pain, no matter what else this world brings to my life. Satan CANNOT touch the REAL me because I’m in Your hands.
Just in case it’s not clear, I’m not asking for suffering here. I’m simply thanking You for being with me in whatever I walk through; joy or pain. I always prefer joy! But I will praise You for the lessons that come through both.