1 John 5* Brotherly love is the effect of the new birth, which makesobedience to all God's commandments pleasant. (1-5) Reference towitnesses agreeing to prove that Jesus, the Son of God, is thetrue Messiah. (6-8) The satisfaction the believer has aboutChrist, and eternal life through him. (9-12) The assurance ofGod's hearing and answering prayer. (13-17) The happy conditionof true believers, and a charge to renounce all idolatry.(18-21)1-5 True love for the people of God, may be distinguished fromnatural kindness or party attachments, by its being united withthe love of God, and obedience to his commands. The same HolySpirit that taught the love, will have taught obedience also;and that man cannot truly love the children of God, who, byhabit, commits sin or neglects known duty. As God's commands areholy, just, and good rules of liberty and happiness, so thosewho 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 principlewhich carries them above all hinderances. Though the conflictoften is sharp, and the regenerate may be cast down, yet he willrise up and renew his combat with resolution. But all, exceptbelievers in Christ, are enslaved in some respect or other, tothe customs, opinions, or interests of the world. Faith is thecause of victory, the means, the instrument, the spiritualarmour by which we overcome. In and by faith we cleave toChrist, in contempt of, and in opposition to the world. Faithsanctifies the heart, and purifies it from those sensual lustsby which the world obtains sway and dominion over souls. It hasthe indwelling Spirit of grace, which is greater than he whodwells in the world. The real Christian overcomes the world byfaith; he sees, in and by the life and conduct of the Lord Jesuson earth, that this world is to be renounced and overcome. Hecannot be satisfied with this world, but looks beyond it, and isstill tending, striving, and pressing toward heaven. We mustall, after Christ's example, overcome the world, or it willovercome us to our ruin. 6-8 We are inwardly and outwardly defiled; inwardly, by thepower and pollution of sin in our nature. For our cleansingthere is in and by Christ Jesus, the washing of regeneration andthe renewing of the Holy Ghost. Some think that the twosacraments are here meant: baptism with water, as the outwardsign of regeneration, and purifying from the pollution of sin bythe Holy Spirit; and the Lord's supper, as the outward sign ofthe shedding Christ's blood, and the receiving him by faith forpardon and justification. Both these ways of cleansing wererepresented in the old ceremonial sacrifices and cleansings.This water and blood include all that is necessary to oursalvation. By the water, our souls are washed and purified forheaven and the habitation of saints in light. By the blood, weare justified, reconciled, and presented righteous to God. Bythe blood, the curse of the law being satisfied, the purifyingSpirit is obtained for the internal cleansing of our natures.The water, as well as the blood, came out of the side of thesacrificed Redeemer. He loved the church, and gave himself forit, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing ofwater by the word; that he might present it to himself aglorious church, #Eph 5:25-27|. This was done in and by theSpirit of God, according to the Saviour's declaration. He is theSpirit of God, and cannot lie. Three had borne witness to thesedoctrines concerning the person and the salvation of Christ. TheFather, repeatedly, by a voice from heaven declared that Jesuswas his beloved Son. The Word declared that He and the Fatherwere One, and that whoever had seen him had seen the Father. Andthe Holy Ghost, who descended from heaven and rested on Christat his baptism; who had borne witness to Him by all theprophets; and gave testimony to his resurrection and mediatorialoffice, by the gift of miraculous powers to the apostles. Butwhether this passage be cited or not, the doctrine of theTrinity in Unity stands equally firm and certain. To thedoctrine taught by the apostles, respecting the person andsalvation of Christ, there were three testimonies. 1. The HolySpirit. We come into the world with a corrupt, carnaldisposition, which is enmity to God. This being done away by theregeneration and new-creating of souls by the Holy Spirit, is atestimony to the Saviour. 2. The water: this sets forth theSaviour's purity and purifying power. The actual and activepurity and holiness of his disciples are represented by baptism.3. The blood which he shed: and this was our ransom, thistestifies for Jesus Christ; it sealed up and finished thesacrifices of the Old Testament. The benefits procured by hisblood, prove that he is the Saviour of the world. No wonder ifhe that rejects this evidence is judged a blasphemer of theSpirit of God. These three witnesses are for one and the samepurpose; they agree in one and the same thing. 9-12 Nothing can be more absurd than the conduct of those whodoubt as to the truth of Christianity, while in the commonaffairs of life they do not hesitate to proceed on humantestimony, and would deem any one out of his senses who declinedto do so. The real Christian has seen his guilt and misery, andhis need of such a Saviour. He has seen the suitableness of sucha Saviour to all his spiritual wants and circumstances. He hasfound and felt the power of the word and doctrine of Christ,humbling, healing, quickening, and comforting his soul. He has anew disposition, and new delights, and is not the man that heformerly was. Yet he finds still a conflict with himself, withsin, with the flesh, the world, and wicked powers. But he findssuch strength from faith in Christ, that he can overcome theworld, and travel on towards a better. Such assurance has thegospel believer: he has a witness in himself, which puts thematter out of doubt with him, except in hours of darkness orconflict; but he cannot be argued out of his belief in theleading truths of the gospel. Here is what makes theunbeliever's sin so awful; the sin of unbelief. He gives God thelie; because he believes not the record that God gave of hisSon. It is in vain for a man to plead that he believes thetestimony 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 onhis atonement and intercession as High Priest, or to obey him asKing, is dead in sin, under condemnation; nor will any outwardmorality, learning, forms, notions, or confidences avail him. 13-17 Upon all this evidence, it is but right that we believeon the name of the Son of God. Believers have eternal life inthe covenant of the gospel. Then let us thankfully receive therecord of Scripture. Always abounding in the work of the Lord,knowing that our labour is not in vain in the Lord. The LordChrist invites us to come to him in all circumstances, with oursupplications and requests, notwithstanding the sin that besetsus. Our prayers must always be offered in submission to the willof God. In some things they are speedily answered; in othersthey are granted in the best manner, though not as requested. Weought to pray for others, as well as for ourselves. There aresins that war against spiritual life in the soul, and the lifeabove. We cannot pray that the sins of the impenitent andunbelieving should, while they are such, be forgiven them; orthat mercy, which supposes the forgiveness of sins, should begranted to them, while they wilfully continue such. But we maypray for their repentance, for their being enriched with faithin Christ, and thereupon for all other saving mercies. We shouldpray for others, as well as for ourselves, beseeching the Lordto pardon and recover the fallen, as well as to relieve thetempted 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 wickedone. True believers belong to God: they are of God, and fromhim, and to him, and for him; while the rest, by far the greaternumber, are in the power of the wicked one; they do his works,and support his cause. This general declaration includes allunbelievers, whatever their profession, station, or situation,or by whatever name they may be called. The Son leads believersto the Father, and they are in the love and favour of both; inunion with both, by the indwelling and working of the HolySpirit. Happy are those to whom it is given to know that the Sonof God is come, and to have a heart to trust in and rely on himthat is true! May this be our privilege; we shall thus be keptfrom all idols and false doctrines, and from the idolatrous loveof worldly objects, and be kept by the power of God, throughfaith, unto eternal salvation. To this living and true God, beglory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
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