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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
1 John 2

 

 

Verses 1-29

“My children, these things I write to you in order that ye may not sin; and if anyone sin, we have a patron with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (JND). If we have seen some absolute, positive facts of truth in Chapter 1, now this verse calls for practical results in the believer. Notice that here for the first time “children” are addressed. And how vital is their need of the Word of God as a preservative from sin! Here is a provision to keep the child of God from sinning. Certainly God makes no provision for one to sin. If it has required the agonies of the cross to atone for our sins, how abhorrent must sin be! Let us utterly repudiate it, and never excuse it, no matter how often it raises its ugly head in our own lives. If we neglect the Word of God we may proportionately expect to give way to sin. “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalms 119:11). For the Word is not only instruction in righteousness: it is the power for it. On the other hand, however, there is blessed provision for the believer’s full restoration if he should allow sin to take advantage of him. Wonderful indeed is the sufficiency of divine grace for every occasion, — sufficient to keep us from sinning, and yet also sufficient to restore us if we do sin. “Jesus Christ the righteous” is “an Advocate with the Father,” one who maintains our cause and intercedes for us in true righteousness even when we have sinned. Did He not pray for Peter before Peter’s fall? Precious, tender compassion! The Father remains our Father: the relationship is not affected by the sin, though communion in a practical way has been rudely interrupted, and is only restored by the active mercy of the Lord Jesus, which produces in the individual a true self ­judgment, where He is submitted to. In this His work as an Advocate differs from that of His High Priesthood. The former is for restoration after failure: the latter is the ministry of help, encouragement, strength given to sustain the soul through trials and to enable one to resist temptation. Indeed, if we made full use of His High Priestly ministry, we should never require that of His advocacy, for we should be preserved from sinning. But if it becomes necessary for us, thank God that it is readily available.

“And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Shall we dare to assume that the advocacy of Christ is merely akin to the work of a persuasive tongued attorney, as though He intercedes that God should overlook sin? Any such thoughts are immediately rebuked by the truth of this verse. Indeed, Christ Himself is the propitiation for our sins, the One by Whose sacrifice God’s righteousness is perfectly vindicated in His forgiving sins. Here is the holy basis laid, satisfactory to the very throne of God, upon which He may rightly dispense mercy. It is fully applicable to “our sins,” that is, those of believers, but it is also a resource available “for the whole world,” and any who will receive Him will find Him sufficient in the expiation of their sins too. Thus, He is no mere attorney at law contending for a favored clientele, but an available Resource for the guilt of all mankind, if they will but receive Him.

“And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” If there is no real spirit of obedience, there is no true knowledge of God. An actual knowledge of God brings with it both the desire and the. power to obey His commandments; and when this is present it provides proof that we know Him. How necessary a guard against self deception!

But His commandments are not mere legal commandments, as was the law of Moses. Indeed, “His commandments are not grievous,” (ch.5:3) therefore a contrast to the law, which was a yoke heavier than Israel could bear. Compare Acts 15:10.

Can we then define His commandments? Is there a specific list similar to the ten commandments to which we may refer? It is evident we have no such thing. Such things would be simple enough for the flesh to apprehend, though keeping them is a different matter. But “His commandments” are only actually apprehended and followed by the renewed nature. Chapter 3:23 gives us their basic character: “This is His commandment, That we should believe on the Name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” This verse claims our utmost attention. His commandment is absolute: it must be obeyed, or there is no life, no connection with God at all. Two vital fundamentals are involved in His commandment; first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and secondly, love to one another. If these are not present, the soul has no knowledge of God at all. Some may inquire, Is this all there is to His commandments? And the answer is that anything inconsistent with this is not His commandment at all. There must be first of all the proper underlying motives in the soul. Therefore, all that is the product of true faith in the Lord Jesus and of honest love for others — in other words, the fruit of divine life in the soul — is the actual keeping of His commandments. This furnishes the heart with an actual delight in learning the Word of God and obeying its precious truth, not with that attitude that turns the Word into mere legal exactions and forcing of mere minor points upon others, but rather with that desire of making it a living power in our souls personally, with readiness of heart to obey, whatever others may do. Let us carefully observe however that this is the way in which John’s epistles speak of “His commandments”: elsewhere we may find a somewhat different viewpoint, as in 1 Corinthians 14:37; 1 Timothy 6:14. In the former, the Lord’s commandment is to be obeyed in the church publicly, whether that obedience springs from faith or not. But these distinctions should give little difficulty to the child of God.

“He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Such false professors are multiplied today. One who claims to know God, yet evidences no subjection to His authority, in honest faith toward God and love for God’s people, is designated “a liar.” Solemn, dreadful denunciation! Though John is the apostle of love, he does not hesitate to speak in the sternest language of condemnation when he exposes hypocrisy. No believer has the character of a liar: this term applies to one who would dare to turn the truth of God into a lie. Thus, religious men, preachers too, who would pride themselves on their great light in reference to spiritual things, and at the same time have no faith whatever in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, no submission to His holy authority, are accorded this terrible epithet, “liar.” God has perfect right to use such terms, though of course we ourselves are not thereby given title to use such language in reference to individuals. Though Satan is a liar, Michael the archangel did not dare to bring against him a railing accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke thee” (Judges 1:9).

“But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily the love of God is perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.” His commandments are imperative, as we have seen: there is no salvation without them, and only the new birth answers to His commandments, for only in divine life are found the true elements of faith and love. But there is a change in this verse, to keeping “His word.” This does not involve the same imperative, absolute requirement, and therefore one may be truly born again, and yet at the same time not making a habit of keeping “His word.” Certainly one in this state is most inconsistent with his very nature, as born of God; and he will not experience in his own soul the perfecting of the love of God. Only in a practical, honest keeping of His word will the fruits of God’s love become mature and precious in the soul. In a spirit of habitual obedience the love of God is know in its sweetness, its fulness and perfection. Precious experience indeed! It is simply that God Himself is known more fully, with a mature, substantial knowledge. This too becomes a vital, unquestioned proof to the soul that we “are in Him.” Certainly every believer is “in Him,” but if not walking obediently, the sense of assurance of this in his own soul may be so weakened as to cause doubt and uncertainty. Let us wholeheartedly, unceasingly “keep His word,” and by this means go on to know Him better, and find our souls filled with the knowledge and joy of His love.

“He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” This surely is only proper and normal Christianity. If we profess to have a relationship with Him, then we willingly assume the responsibility of walking in the same manner as He walked. The personal pronoun “Him” will be seen to be used continually, and at times interchangeably for God and for Christ, sometimes also in a manner that would imply either one, or both. Does this not press upon us the fact that it is the living God with Whom we are dealing, whether as the Father, or whether manifested in the Person of the Son? If we say we abide in God, then God has been revealed in Christ, and we ought therefore to walk as Christ walked. Or if we say we abide in Christ, the responsibility is the same.

“Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.” How perfectly, absolutely consistent with the revelation of Christ on earth and all His pathway here, is that which John declares. He made no new additions to what had been revealed: the commandment was as old as was the Son of God come in flesh. Every blessing, every responsibility took its character from this marvelous beginning. The commandment was “the word” given by the Son of God on earth. Let us remark that this cannot be transposed to say that the word was the commandment, for “the word” is a more broad term than “the commandment.”

However, in another sense, the apostle does write a new commandment. “Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you: because the darkness is passing, and the true light now shineth” (JND). Does this new commandment differ substantially from the old commandment? The context will show it does not, but rather that it is really the same commandment applied in new circumstances. It is “true in Him and in you.” If the commandment of the divine life and nature has been seen in public manifestation in Christ as He was here on earth, then “as He is” now this commandment is true, and the believer is vitally linked with Him in the same life, “true in Him and in you.” It is old in the sense of being fundamental and established: it is new in the sense of being perpetually fresh and applicable to present circumstances. The explanation in fact follows, “because the darkness is passing, and the true light now shineth.” Is it not true that, though Christ has bodily returned to Glory, the light of His glory so shines that its brightness more and more dispels the lingering shadows of obscurity in the believer’s path? What a commandment indeed is this, the light shining out of darkness! How welcome to the child of God! Thus we observe the power of His commandment in banishing darkness by the blessed entrance of His light.

“He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” The first mention of love in the epistle is in verse 5, “the love of God.” We have observed that light is first stressed. But love is the invariable companion of light in divine things. There is a precious interweaving of the three grand themes of John’s epistle, life, light and love, just as there is in the unity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If one is not present, neither is another. Just so, a man’s claim to be in the light is proven false if he hates his brother: he never at any time was in the light, but “is in darkness even until now.” How strong averse to prove that there is no such thing as the possibility of one who has been truly born of God being afterwards turned back into darkness. If one is in darkness, he never was actually in the light, but is in darkness, not simply now, but until now.

In contrast to this, “he that loveth his brother abideth in the light.” This love is an abiding, permanent thing, and he who actually loves abides permanently in the light: it is his proper, normal dwelling place: he is not exposed to the dangers of unseen stumbling-blocks, as is One who walks in darkness.

“But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness has blinded his eyes.” There is no middle ground here John is emphatic: one is either in the light or in darkness; and as love goes with light, so hatred is attached to darkness. No true believer actually hates another: this is absolutely contrary to the new nature. But darkness is the very habitation of the unbeliever: moreover he walks there, making progress no doubt, but in evil; and having no definite end in view, he is an aimless wanderer, eyes blinded by the darkness he has chosen. These first eleven verses have shown that there is abundant provision of mercy for a believer if he should sin; but at the same time is a plain declaration that such mercy is not applicable to one who walks in darkness. The clearest distinction is drawn between an erring believer and a smooth tongued professor who would fain pass as a believer, but not born again. We have seen such mere profession seriously tested and rejected. Now the apostle is free to dwell upon the various stages of development in the new life, which is the subject in view from verse 12 to 27.

“I write unto you, children, because your sins are forgiven you for His Name’s sake.” All the children of God are addressed in this verse, so that the word “little” ought not to be inserted as it is in the Authorized Version, though this is properly the translation of verse 18. In verse 12 it is an all embracing statement, basic as regards all saints, and necessary to be first declared before the distinctions are drawn between the three classes who are subsequently addressed in turn. Wonderful, definite, clear statement! Here is eternal forgiveness an established fact for every child of God, not because of any favorable work or virtue on the child’s part, but “for His Name’s sake,” the Name of the blessed Son of God, Name of infinite value and perfection! Is there a possibility of this forgiveness losing its power? Never! for it depends on that Name that can never be even slightly dimmed in the eyes of God the Father.

“I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you children, because ye have known the Father.” just three stages of development are mentioned, though without doubt the divine life in the believer develops as gradually as does natural life.

But there are particular milestones to be marked, and if we begin with little children,” at least there is the sweet, vital fact, “ye have known the Father.” A precious filial relationship is lovingly established: God is known in His tender love and goodness, His truth and grace. One thoroughly approachable and indispensable to the need of the soul. The freshness of this newborn faith in the little child has about it a peculiar joy and sweetness. But the young men “have overcome the wicked one,” and here we have implied an energetic knowledge that has learned to discern and refuse the subtle efforts of Satan to falsify the blessed doctrine of Christ, intended to so undermine faith as to plunge souls into confusion. Here is progress in active energy, the life showing itself in effectual power over the power of the enemy. And the fathers are said to have “known Him that is from the beginning.” If the enemy is overcome, is this not in view of further progress, in the sphere of quiet peace where the soul feeding upon Christ Himself is nurtured to a godly, seasoned maturity? For it is the full knowledge of Christ in all the blessed manifestation of His glory “from the beginning” that matures the soul with calm dignity and sound wisdom. It has been well remarked that there is no mention of “old men,” for eternal life knows nothing of the decline of old age. For the interested reader these three stages of growth are beautifully illustrated in Genesis 1:11, “grass,” the freshness of new life; “the herb yielding seed,” energy that produces seed; and “the fruit tree yielding fruit,” maturity that bears the complete fruit.

From verse 14 to 27 we have now presented the necessary truth for the preservation and proper development of each of these in its place. May we give this our most thorough attention.

“I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning.” Is it strange that he adds nothing more to what he had said in regard to this one class? At least, this does hold most precious instruction for us. Were they not “fathers” because mature in the knowledge of the Person of Christ? They needed only to be reminded of this very thing, and to be consistent with that which had so matured them. Blessed the settled constancy of such character!

“I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the Word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof. but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” If the fathers have needed only reminding, the young men require serious exhortation, and we shall see later that the little children must have urgent warning. And first added to what has been previously said to young men is, “Ye are strong.” Blessed is that strength that is “in the Lord,” and necessary too for any true witness for Him. Yet our very strength may become a snare to us, for the treachery of the flesh is such that we may too easily depend upon the strength of a former experience, and where pride is active we shall not discern this subtle influence at work: indeed pride will feed it. However, there is a sufficient guard, if we but make use of it: “the Word of God abideth in you.” Precious commendation! It is of course from that Word that strength has come: it has become a living, real power in the soul of the young man, such a power as to overcome the wicked one, in refusing utterly the sinuous, fundamentally false doctrines by which Satan seeks to weaken the testimony of God. This of course involves a diligent, energetic application of the soul to the knowledge of the Word of God.

Yet let us closely observe that even when the young man has learned to withstand, and to gain such decisive victory over the enemy, he still requires the solemn admonition of verses 15 to 17. One strong enough to overcome Satan may — alas! — find himself overcome by the attractions of the world. Indeed, he may feel that his own strength is such that he may indulge in measure in worldly practice without being badly influenced by it. Sad delusion! For the very indulgence only shows the painful decay of his strength: he is already influenced. The world is a system not to be loved, for it is set up in both independence of God and in opposition to His authority. In any absolute sense, only an unbeliever loves the world: the love of the Father is not in such an one. The new nature loves what is of God: how can there be at the same time a love for what rejects God’s authority? Let us learn to judge rightly the world in its basic principles, and it will not be so difficult to turn from “the things that are in the world.” These are no doubt pleasant things, advantages, comforts, material gain, harmless (?) diversions, etc., constantly pressing for recognition by the Christian; but always quietly, politely, persistently displacing God in the heart, allowing Him less and less place in daily life. Such is the world’s subtilty.

It appeals to the flesh, the feelings of a corrupted nature: this is the sensual attraction. But more, there is the lust of the eyes,” the artistic attraction, — form, color, perspective, all engaged to appeal to that in us which seems noble and dignified, but which calmly excludes the Father. May our eyes not wander from our holy blessed Lord, in Whom all true, pure beauty is comprehended. And thirdly, “the pride of life” is the intellectual attraction, the appeal of increasing knowledge, by which the world boasts of its ability to do without God. If by scientific investigation men have learned amazingly even in recent years, can they not remember that God is the Author of all true science? Yet the world arrogates to itself all credit for its advance in knowledge, and would fain pretend they have gone beyond the God of the Bible in their understanding of the universe! Ought the believer to be deceived by any of this? Let the energetic, strong child of God take warning: “the world passeth away and the lust thereof.” It is only a temporary, shining bubble, ready to burst. How empty the delusion of seeking satisfaction in any measure from that which is of the world. “But he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” The will of God is the one principle of eternal permanence and value. Every newborn soul is in principle a doer of God’s will: let him then be such in constant practice. Since he abides forever, let his conduct be in view of eternal values.

But much more is said now to the little children” from verse 18 to 27. (Verse 28 is properly “children,” not “little children.”) “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know it is the last time.” The way in which the apostle begins here may appear abrupt and startling, and it is doubtless intended to strike home sharply into the soul of the youngest believer. He must be early prepared to meet the most serious attacks of the enemy, and must be allowed no illusions in reference to what he must face. Will the enemy not attack at the weakest point he can find? The little child may feel he has plenty of time in the future, but he is told “it is the last time.” Antichrists are on the alert to influence him: he must be on the alert to withstand their seductions. The more dreadful the danger to which a little child is exposed, the more urgently he should be warned. Paul had warned the young assembly at Thessalonica of the future coming of the antichrist, “the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-17), and faithfulness on the part of saints will do no less today.

“Even now are there many antichrists.” Though the word of course means “against Christ,” yet the apostle speaks here of those who had ostensibly received Him, and would fain pass as Christians in the eyes of men, making a pretense of friendship, with hearts actually cold with enmity toward the Lord Jesus Christ. Many such today wear the garb of the clergy, and many others who pride themselves on rejecting such garb, are no better, but often worse. The coming antichrist will of course assume the place of Israel’s true Christ, “with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-10), the words of his mouth smoother than butter, but war in his heart (Psalms 55:21). We cannot then be surprised to find similar deceit and treachery widespread even today.

These are capable men, intellectual, refined, courteous often, and pleasing in their ways with men. But their true nature is soon exposed when tested as to their attitude toward the Lord Jesus Christ. Is He Himself God manifest in flesh, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary? Is His sacrifice on Calvary the one and only means of redemption from the guilt of our sins? Is He literally raised from the dead and returned to sit on the throne of God in Heaven? Is He coming again, personally to be seen by every eye? If one takes the place of being a Christian leader, and yet denies such fundamental, vital doctrines of Christianity, he is antichrist. And their number today multiplies at a rate solemnly alarming, “whereby we know it is the last time.” Let the people of God be warned, and utterly refuse such dread deceptions of the enemy.

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us they would have remained with us; but (they went out) that they might be made manifest that they all are not of us” (Numerical Bible). Such men have left the fellowship of the apostles: “they went out from us,” as Judas before “went immediately out, and it was night” (John 13:30). Having no part in the eternal life that is in Christ Jesus, they could not long endure the reality of simple affection for the Lord Jesus and devotion to His Person: their true state must eventually expose itself. The clear, bright light of the truth the apostles proclaimed as to the Person of Christ could not but become intolerable to their eyes, which so preferred the darkness.

John’s ministry particularly exposed them, and their rejection of it manifested the fact that all of them were “not of us.” The Authorized Version somewhat obscures the force of this, for it may imply that some of them may have been believers; but not one of them was so. The case in 2 Timothy 1:15 is far removed from this. There Paul writes, “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me.” This does not infer the rejection of such ministry as John’s concerning the eternal Deity and perfect Manhood of the Lord Jesus, but rather the unwillingness to be identified with Paul in suffering for the truth of the Church of God in separation from unrighteousness, which was a predominant feature in Paul’s ministry. Even true believers had apparently turned away from Paul in this way, as Demas similarly had forsaken him when the pressure of persecution threatened. This is pathetic weakness, but not the spirit of antichrist, of which John speaks. “They went out from us” refers to a cold, deliberate refusal of what they had previously outwardly acknowledged: there remained with them only a callous contempt for the blessed Personal glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” The word here translated “unction” is the same word translated “anointing” in verse 27. In the Old Testament, priests and kings were anointed with oil, and in one case at least a prophet. Each of these involves a place of dignity as representing God in some way. The anointing is typical of the bestowal of the Spirit of God as necessary to equip the individual for his holy and responsible position. There are other lovely aspects and characteristics of the Spirit’s activity as dwelling in every believer today, such as the seal of the Spirit, the earnest of the Spirit; but the anointing involves the wonderful capacity given by the Spirit of God to every renewed soul, for the reception and understanding of the truth of the Word of God. The natural man is ignorant of this, and mere intellect will not enlighten his darkness (1 Corinthians 2:14). But the least experienced believer, being indwelt by the Spirit of God, has a capacity now by which he may know even the deep things of God. “Ye know all things” does not mean that knowledge in detail is given apart from exercise of soul in learning, for this is not so; but that the real, vital knowledge of God is possessed in the soul, and that the power of discernment of all things is present in the believer, so that, in submission to the working of the Spirit of God, he is able to discern in all that is presented to him what is truly of God. It is not a mere automatic guarantee, but a living, vital power which, when submitted to, gives unfailing guidance and wisdom. Wonderful, blessed provision of grace!

To make proper use of this knowledge, and to direct it in proper channels is of course a matter of personal responsibility. For this reason the Word of God is a great necessity to the believer, as is also the ministry of the Word, the exercise of proper gifts of teaching, etc. John himself wrote because they knew the truth, and that no lie is of the truth. It is true that no believer can be utterly swamped by the poisonous doctrines of Satan: he has a knowledge of the truth that guards him from this; but on the other hand no believer must be without the Word of God by which discernment is rightly developed, and knowledge is directed in ways of proper application for use in all proper experience.

“Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.” The apostle will allow no slightest compromise of truth with error. To deny the Person of Christ, whether in regard to His essential eternal equality with the Father, or in reference to the reality of His perfect Manhood, is gross falsehood, and the man who does this, though feigning respect for Christianity, is unhesitatingly branded “a liar.” Dreadful denunciation, but true: “he is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” This eternal relationship of infinite truth and pure unity and equality, must be held absolutely inviolate. He who denies it may talk glibly about the fine moral character of ‘Jesus,” but is in reality against Him, and against the Father. Unitarians may avow their belief in the Fatherhood of God, but deny the eternal Sonship of Christ: therefore their professed belief in the Father is false: they have not the Father. The Son has been on earth to reveal the Father, and only in Him is He faithfully revealed. Refusal of His claims and Person is positive rejection of the Father also. Acceptance of the Son is acceptance of the Father.

“Let that abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning abide in you, ye also shall abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He hath promised us, the life eternal” (Numerical Bible). Nothing but the abiding of the truth of God in the soul can preserve and bless in the face of tests so real and solemn. And this is the truth revealed in the Person of Christ in His coming into the world, a revelation so infinitely great that it is really “the beginning,” as putting utterly in the shade all that preceded it. And certainly nothing can ever take its place, nor can anything be added to it, though the scope of the truth within this revelation is so great that it may well occupy all the labors of every child of God incessantly in the learning of its fulness. But any “going forward” or pretended progress beyond this revelation is in reality apostasy, and the opposite of the truth abiding in the soul. This revelation is itself life, for where it abides, the individual himself abides in the Son and in the Father. This is a vital connection as the branch with the vine, and any boasted progression outside of it only gives evidence that the true life is not there. Such are the proud pretensions of antichrist. He therefore can have no part in the promise of God, life eternal.

For while eternal life is declared by John to be a present possession of the believer (ch.5:12,13), yet here it is also spoken of as a promise. Both are true. For in our present condition, eternal life exists in the child of God alongside a life that is both corrupt and temporary, and is surrounded by circumstances of this dismal character. Everything about us bears the stamp, not of eternal life, but of corruption and death. How blessed then the promise of eternal life in reference to our very circumstances and our entire condition of existence: “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (ch.3:2). The certainty of the future is a powerful influence for good in the child of God.

“These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.” The warning of verse 26 is certainly a negative, but an absolute necessity for young souls in order for their protection from the seductions of Satan’s cunning agents. Verse 27 pre­sents the positive side, so precious and vital. Let no one dare to suppose that either positive or negative is unessential, for there cannot be one without the other, neither can one take the place of the other. Men may speak glowingly of the power of positive thinking, but in doing so, if the negative side is ignored, give Satan an advantage he will use to the full. We must have both, and be diligent that neither is put in the place of the other. But the positive here is unspeakably precious. The anointing of the Spirit of God is in character abiding, permanent and unchanging. He is the great Teacher, the Preserver from the wiles of the devil. Mere human teaching is therefore unnecessary. The believer is indwelt by a Power sufficient to enable him to discern what is truth and what is error, so long as he is subject to the authority of the Spirit of God. On the other hand, this does not do away with the. work of God ordained teachers of the Word of God, for these are sent “for the perfecting of the saints” (Ephesians 4:11-12). They, within the limits of the revealed Word of God, are gifted to present the Word for the understanding and assimilation of the saints of God, not with any personal authority, but as subject to the same authority of the Spirit of God as operates in even the little children.” All are responsible to receive that to which the Spirit of God bears witness as the truth of God. I am not to assume that, because the Spirit of God dwells in me, therefore my thoughts are the thoughts of the Spirit; for the Spirit of God rather gives me that attitude whereby I am willing to have all things laid bare and tested by the truth, no spirit of haughty independence, but of godly consideration, self judgment and faith. It is a contrast to the applied learning of men to absorb a humanly devised religion, which must be drilled into a person by human means, the recipient himself having no power of the Spirit to judge as to what he learns, and allowed no personal exercise to be led of the Spirit: he must take what is given him on the authority of man. Thank God that even the little children” have so holy and perfect a Protector from this kind of thing! The anointing, being truth itself, and no lie, abides in the believer, and the believer, being taught of the Spirit of God, is assured, “ye shall abide in Him.” Precious, living certainty! Here is a grand example of the positive being given its proper place, and the negative also maintaining its proper place.

Verse 28 begins a distinct division in the book, which deals with the manner in which the divine nature is manifested in the children of God. It is to be seen in its fruits. No longer is he considering the gradations in development, but the fundamental fruits that characterize all who are born of God.

“And now, children, abide in Him, that if He be manifested we may have boldness and not be put to shame from before Him at His coming” (Numerical Bible). If the previous verse has insisted that every true child of God has the permanent blessing of the anointing of the Spirit, and therefore abides in Christ, this verse, in its exhortation to “abide in Him” presses the responsibility on our side. just as believers are told to “believe” in John 14:11; so those who abide are exhorted to abide in this case. Life is no mere mechanical thing, but a vital, active power in the soul, which produces exercise and activity. Where are the proofs of life save in its manifestations? If the life is not present of course there is no abiding, and one who has merely assumed that he has life will be exposed when the Lord is manifested, and “put to shame from before Him at His coming.” This cannot refer to a true believer, for the believer “abides in Him,” and certainly will not be treated as an unbeliever at the Lord’s coming. “Put to shame from before Him” involves the humiliation of banishment from His presence, as in the case of the man without a wedding garment in Matthew 22:11-13. It should be transparently evident too that the “we” in this verse could not possibly apply strictly to the apostles, as some have strangely considered. But the apostle includes himself in the test of the reality of new life, similarly to his use of the word “we” in ch.1:6 10. Anyone (whether called an apostle or not) who does not abide in Him will be put to shame from before Him at His coming. But such could not be a true believer at all.

If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him.” This is the test. Doing is the proof of abiding, the proof of new birth. We know that Christ is righteous absolutely: only those therefore whose deeds partake of this righteous character are born of Him. This is no theory of perfectionism in the flesh (for sin is still in the flesh), but new birth is evidenced by a hatred of what is evil, though that evil is within our own hearts; and cleaving in practice to what is good. If such character is absent, there is no real life. Mere lip profession is not enough.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 John 2:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/1-john-2.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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