Thursday, December 24

1 John summarized

Scripture: 1 John 1-5

Observation

There are three main themes that John returns to repeatedly in this letter: belief in Jesus, love for others, obedience to God. Many scholars think that John was writing to counter an early form of gnosticism (from the Greek word gnosis, to know).  Among other things, gnostics taught:

      • Jesus could not be God in the flesh.  Spirit was good, matter was evil. Therefore it was impossible for a good God to take on human flesh.  They denied the incarnation, the full deity and humanity of Jesus.
      • Spiritual elitism.  God was reached through a series of steps (levels of knowledge).  This created haves and have nots and resulted in the haves looking down on the have nots.  Snobbery instead of love; exclusion instead of inclusion. 
      • It didn’t really matter how you lived.  Since spirit was good and matter evil, it didn’t matter what you did in your body as long as your spirit was good.  This led to disobedience of God’s commands and disregard for practical righteousness.

John countered each of these false teachings repeatedly in this letter.  He insisted:

      • Jesus is God in the flesh.  Anyone who denies that Jesus has come in the flesh is an antichrist.  Anyone who refuses to acknowledge the Son is refusing the Father as well.  Proper Christology (belief in Jesus) is the center of our faith.
      • Love one another.  You can’t love God if you don’t love His children.  If you love others, you’re living in the light; if not, you’re still in darkness.  God is love—if you know Him, you’ll love.  We love because He first loved us. 
      • Obey God’s commands.  This is how we love God: we do what He says.  Those who are God’s children do what is right.  What we do matters!

Application

Here are three important things to hold on this Christmas Eve.

First, believe in Jesus.  He is God’s Son, come in the flesh to save us.  Be a Jesus person!

Second, love others.  One of the best ways to love God is to love His children!  Love others!

Third, obey God.  Do the right thing.  Do the will of God.  “Whatever You want, Lord.”  Obey God!

Prayer: Lord, let all three of these be true of me!