Christian Confidence: Some thoughts on 1 John 5:13-21 (Number 1)

How we can have confidence that we possess eternal life. (v13)

1Jn 5:13  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (ESV)

John wrote his first letter so that his readers could have confidence that they possessed eternal life. This statement comes as a surprise to some readers because John’s letter is so challenging. Indeed throughout the letter he provides a series of tests to distinguish between authentic faith and false faith. Here are the some of the clearest examples:


    False faith Authentic faith
    Darkness and light  
    1Jn 1:6  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 1Jn 1:7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
    Confessing Sin  
    1Jn 1:8  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

    1Jn 1:10  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

    1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
    Keeping his commandments  

    1Jn 2:4  Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, (See also vs 5-6)

    1Jn 2:3  And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.

    Love and hate for brothers  

    1Jn 2:9  Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.
    (See all of vs 8-11)

    1Jn 2:10  Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.

    Love for the world  

    1Jn 2:15  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

    1Jn 2:17  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

    Sin and purity  

    1Jn 3:6  No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

    (See vs 3-10)

    1Jn 3:3  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

    Love for the brothers  

    1Jn 3:15  Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

    1Jn 3:14  We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.

    Listening to us..  
    1Jn 4:6b  …whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1Jn 4:6a  We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us;


If John wants to reassure his readers of the reality of their salvation, why give them so many points on which they might doubt it? For us to be truly confident that we belong to Christ, mere human reassurance is not enough, we need more. Any basis for false confidence must be done away with. If I go to my doctor because I fear that I may be sick, then I do not want him to simply say “Don’t be so neurotic, there’s nothing wrong with you” and send me away without so much as examining me. I want him to see if there is any real reason why I feel as I do, and if there is, then I want him to treat me so that I can get better.

As it is with my physical health, so is it with my spiritual health. It is downright dangerous to feel “just fine” if, in fact, you are dangerously ill. We can have confidence that we posses eternal life when we observe in ourselves the distinguishing marks of authentic faith. If we do not see them then we should not be apathetic, but rather flee to Christ.


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