1 John 5

* Brotherly love is the effect of the new birth, which makes

obedience to all God's commandments pleasant. (1-5) Reference to

witnesses agreeing to prove that Jesus, the Son of God, is the

true Messiah. (6-8) The satisfaction the believer has about

Christ, and eternal life through him. (9-12) The assurance of

God's hearing and answering prayer. (13-17) The happy condition

of true believers, and a charge to renounce all idolatry.


1-5 True love for the people of God, may be distinguished from

natural kindness or party attachments, by its being united with

the love of God, and obedience to his commands. The same Holy

Spirit that taught the love, will have taught obedience also;

and that man cannot truly love the children of God, who, by

habit, commits sin or neglects known duty. As God's commands are

holy, just, and good rules of liberty and happiness, so those

who are born of God and love him, do not count them grievous,

but lament that they cannot serve him more perfectly.

Self-denial is required, but true Christians have a principle

which carries them above all hinderances. Though the conflict

often is sharp, and the regenerate may be cast down, yet he will

rise up and renew his combat with resolution. But all, except

believers in Christ, are enslaved in some respect or other, to

the customs, opinions, or interests of the world. Faith is the

cause of victory, the means, the instrument, the spiritual

armour by which we overcome. In and by faith we cleave to

Christ, in contempt of, and in opposition to the world. Faith

sanctifies the heart, and purifies it from those sensual lusts

by which the world obtains sway and dominion over souls. It has

the indwelling Spirit of grace, which is greater than he who

dwells in the world. The real Christian overcomes the world by

faith; he sees, in and by the life and conduct of the Lord Jesus

on earth, that this world is to be renounced and overcome. He

cannot be satisfied with this world, but looks beyond it, and is

still tending, striving, and pressing toward heaven. We must

all, after Christ's example, overcome the world, or it will

overcome us to our ruin.
6-8 We are inwardly and outwardly defiled; inwardly, by the

power and pollution of sin in our nature. For our cleansing

there is in and by Christ Jesus, the washing of regeneration and

the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Some think that the two

sacraments are here meant: baptism with water, as the outward

sign of regeneration, and purifying from the pollution of sin by

the Holy Spirit; and the Lord's supper, as the outward sign of

the shedding Christ's blood, and the receiving him by faith for

pardon and justification. Both these ways of cleansing were

represented in the old ceremonial sacrifices and cleansings.

This water and blood include all that is necessary to our

salvation. By the water, our souls are washed and purified for

heaven and the habitation of saints in light. By the blood, we

are justified, reconciled, and presented righteous to God. By

the blood, the curse of the law being satisfied, the purifying

Spirit is obtained for the internal cleansing of our natures.

The water, as well as the blood, came out of the side of the

sacrificed Redeemer. He loved the church, and gave himself for

it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of

water by the word; that he might present it to himself a

glorious church, #Eph 5:25-27|. This was done in and by the

Spirit of God, according to the Saviour's declaration. He is the

Spirit of God, and cannot lie. Three had borne witness to these

doctrines concerning the person and the salvation of Christ. The

Father, repeatedly, by a voice from heaven declared that Jesus

was his beloved Son. The Word declared that He and the Father

were One, and that whoever had seen him had seen the Father. And

the Holy Ghost, who descended from heaven and rested on Christ

at his baptism; who had borne witness to Him by all the

prophets; and gave testimony to his resurrection and mediatorial

office, by the gift of miraculous powers to the apostles. But

whether this passage be cited or not, the doctrine of the

Trinity in Unity stands equally firm and certain. To the

doctrine taught by the apostles, respecting the person and

salvation of Christ, there were three testimonies. 1. The Holy

Spirit. We come into the world with a corrupt, carnal

disposition, which is enmity to God. This being done away by the

regeneration and new-creating of souls by the Holy Spirit, is a

testimony to the Saviour. 2. The water: this sets forth the

Saviour's purity and purifying power. The actual and active

purity and holiness of his disciples are represented by baptism.

3. The blood which he shed: and this was our ransom, this

testifies for Jesus Christ; it sealed up and finished the

sacrifices of the Old Testament. The benefits procured by his

blood, prove that he is the Saviour of the world. No wonder if

he that rejects this evidence is judged a blasphemer of the

Spirit of God. These three witnesses are for one and the same

purpose; they agree in one and the same thing.
9-12 Nothing can be more absurd than the conduct of those who

doubt as to the truth of Christianity, while in the common

affairs of life they do not hesitate to proceed on human

testimony, and would deem any one out of his senses who declined

to do so. The real Christian has seen his guilt and misery, and

his need of such a Saviour. He has seen the suitableness of such

a Saviour to all his spiritual wants and circumstances. He has

found and felt the power of the word and doctrine of Christ,

humbling, healing, quickening, and comforting his soul. He has a

new disposition, and new delights, and is not the man that he

formerly was. Yet he finds still a conflict with himself, with

sin, with the flesh, the world, and wicked powers. But he finds

such strength from faith in Christ, that he can overcome the

world, and travel on towards a better. Such assurance has the

gospel believer: he has a witness in himself, which puts the

matter out of doubt with him, except in hours of darkness or

conflict; but he cannot be argued out of his belief in the

leading truths of the gospel. Here is what makes the

unbeliever's sin so awful; the sin of unbelief. He gives God the

lie; because he believes not the record that God gave of his

Son. It is in vain for a man to plead that he believes the

testimony of God in other things, while he rejects it in this.

He that refuses to trust and honour Christ as the Son of God,

who disdains to submit to his teaching as Prophet, to rely on

his atonement and intercession as High Priest, or to obey him as

King, is dead in sin, under condemnation; nor will any outward

morality, learning, forms, notions, or confidences avail him.
13-17 Upon all this evidence, it is but right that we believe

on the name of the Son of God. Believers have eternal life in

the covenant of the gospel. Then let us thankfully receive the

record of Scripture. Always abounding in the work of the Lord,

knowing that our labour is not in vain in the Lord. The Lord

Christ invites us to come to him in all circumstances, with our

supplications and requests, notwithstanding the sin that besets

us. Our prayers must always be offered in submission to the will

of God. In some things they are speedily answered; in others

they are granted in the best manner, though not as requested. We

ought to pray for others, as well as for ourselves. There are

sins that war against spiritual life in the soul, and the life

above. We cannot pray that the sins of the impenitent and

unbelieving should, while they are such, be forgiven them; or

that mercy, which supposes the forgiveness of sins, should be

granted to them, while they wilfully continue such. But we may

pray for their repentance, for their being enriched with faith

in Christ, and thereupon for all other saving mercies. We should

pray for others, as well as for ourselves, beseeching the Lord

to pardon and recover the fallen, as well as to relieve the

tempted and afflicted. And let us be truly thankful that no sin,

of which any one truly repents, is unto death.
18-21 All mankind are divided into two parties or dominions;

that which belongs to God, and that which belongs to the wicked

one. True believers belong to God: they are of God, and from

him, and to him, and for him; while the rest, by far the greater

number, are in the power of the wicked one; they do his works,

and support his cause. This general declaration includes all

unbelievers, whatever their profession, station, or situation,

or by whatever name they may be called. The Son leads believers

to the Father, and they are in the love and favour of both; in

union with both, by the indwelling and working of the Holy

Spirit. Happy are those to whom it is given to know that the Son

of God is come, and to have a heart to trust in and rely on him

that is true! May this be our privilege; we shall thus be kept

from all idols and false doctrines, and from the idolatrous love

of worldly objects, and be kept by the power of God, through

faith, unto eternal salvation. To this living and true God, be

glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

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