1 John 5:1-5 Feb. 12, 2017
Sermon Series on I John Sermon # 19
Today’s Sermon: “God’s Gifts to Those Born of God”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
1 “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
The parents of a college student asked me a question after their son had attended a weekend Bible conference. “Could you tell us what it means to be born again? Our son keeps using that phrase, and we don’t understand what ‘born again’ means.” Wow! What an opening to tell them about the good news of Jesus Christ!
But do we really understand and appreciate what it means to be born of God, to be born again, to be spiritually regenerated? 1 John 5:1-5 should help us to see some of the amazing blessings which flow from being born of God. Let’s see what they are.
We see this phrase “born of God” twice in the passage before us, in v. 1 and v. 4:
1 “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” 4 “for everyone born of God overcomes the world.”
So right off the bat, John tells us that two of the blessings of being born of God are that (1) God gives us the grace and power to believe that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the promised Messiah, who came into the world to save sinners, and (2) that God gives us the grace and power to overcome everything the world tries to throw in our way, to keep us from loving God, loving others, from trusting God, and from obeying God’s commands.
In other words, when God takes the initiative with you, and draws you to Himself, He gives you a new heart; He transforms you into a new creature – the person you were always meant to be as His child, so that you respond in repentance and faith, and therefore you are able to have victory in Christ, which translates into overcoming your sin addictions, triumphing over the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, and ultimately conquering death, in the resurrection of Jesus Christ! Hallelujah! Let me outline the process so you can follow it clearly:
You are born of God [Regeneration],
Being born of God or born again means that God takes the initiative with you, and effectually calls you to Himself, giving you a new heart and a new nature, so that you can answer the call of the gospel and embrace Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Without this step, we are left dead in our sins and are left under God’s holy wrath. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
So let me ask each of you: Have you been born again?
If by God’s grace you are born of God, then God will give you the following three gifts:
First, God will give to those who are born of Him the faith to trust in Jesus as the Christ (1a); and that Jesus is the Son of God (5b).
Our faith in Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah and as the incarnate Son of God, who came into the world to save sinners, is the fruit of God’s regenerating work in us. Without such faith in Jesus it is impossible to be saved or to please God, but such faith in Christ is a gift from God that only He can give us. In faith we receive and rest upon Christ alone for salvation. And let’s be clear about this faith in Jesus: it is not mere mental assent. It is not just an acknowledgment of who Christ is. No. If such faith is to be a saving faith, it must be a trusting faith, a living and active faith, a faith which puts your whole life into His hands, and relies only on Him.
Second, God will give to those who are born of Him a new heart with the desire and power to love God and God’s children (v. 1b)
This new birth will also result in a loving relationship with God and His children. If you love the children of God (other believers in Christ) then you will also love the Father of those children (God Himself). And as we saw, in 4:20-21, the reverse is also true: you can’t love God without also loving His children.
We should (super)naturally love the One who gave us life, who gave us birth, for what is true in a human family is also true of the Divine Society. Being born of God creates in us an affinity and an affection both for our Heavenly Father, as well as the rest of His children.
So if you are a true child of God, your life with God and others will be more than just attending church worship services and putting some money in the offering plate. For God has saved you and has given you a heart transplant SO THAT you will grow in loving God with your heart, your mind, and your soul, and so that you will grow in sacrificial love for others!
Is that happening in your life?
John Stott comments: “Love for God is not an emotional experience so much as a moral commitment. Indeed, whether shown to God or to human beings, agape love is always practical and active. Love for our brothers and sisters expresses itself with actions and in truth, and especially in sacrificial service (3:17-18); love for God (expresses itself) in carrying out His commands. Jesus said the same thing about the meaning of love for Himself (John 14:15, 21)”
Consider an analogy to a marriage or any deep human love: the feelings may go up and down, but the covenant commitment is the anchor and the core of the relationship.
Third, God will give to those who are born of Him a new heart with the desire and power to obey God’s commands (vv. 2b-3)
“And his commands are not burdensome.” One reason why God’s commands are not burdensome for us is because we have been born of God, and as such, we have been given a new nature, a nature that has God’s laws written on our hearts. We can keep and delight in God’s commands because of at least two other reasons:
(A) First, because of the nature of God’s commandments [they are not burdensome]. God’s commands are not like the man-made regulations of the Pharisees, or like those of traditional Catholicism, or like the rules of Islam. No. Jesus’ commands are easy and light (Matt. 11:28-30). Why is that? Because God’s will for us is “good, pleasing and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). His commands are given for our highest good, to enable us to be fully human (See Union with Christ ideas) In fact, God’s commands are delightful! Listen to the psalmist. Psalm 40:8: “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” Psalm 119:24: “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.” Psalm 119:35: “Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.” Psalm 119:92: “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” Therefore, loving God means admiring and treasuring and desiring Him so that His will is your delight and His commands are not burdensome.
(B) Second, because God has given us power to overcome the world, which wages war against God’s commands/ His will. His new birth in us takes us out of our old fallen desires and slavery to sin, and places us into God’s family, where we have new desires and new power. Our new birth in Christ cuts the root of those cravings for the world. Overcoming the world means that the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride in possessions don’t rule us anymore. Their power is broken.
Therefore, what appears to the world to be burdensome commandments and a restrictive lifestyle is to us, as His children, a life of freedom and deep joy! For example: Heb. 10:24-25 (Don’t forsake the gathering of believers), to the world it means going to church instead of sleeping in or shopping on Sunday morning; to the believer it means worship and fellowship and spiritual feeding. Or giving money away to the work of the Lord/ to help the needy – it’s a delight, not a mere duty. Or sexual purity, as given in Scripture: sexual union only within marriage between one man and one woman is a joy, a safeguard; it is sexual pleasure as God designed it to be, not some prudish view of sex! God’s commands should be our delights!
And because of all these transformations within you, because of God’s gifts of faith love and obedience…
You can overcome the world! You have the victory over sin, you have the victory over the devil, and in Christ, you have conquered death! Three times in three sentences, John repeats this phrase, “overcomes the world.” Verses 4-5 tell us two things about this overcoming victory: first, it is for those who have been born of God, who have been given his supernatural nature and power, through our union with Christ. (4a). Second, this victory is attributable to our faith in Jesus as the Son of God. (4b-5). Therefore we owe our victory to Jesus Christ, through His being born in us, and through the faith he gives us to trust in Him.
But what specifically does this victory or this overcoming of the world refer to? It refers to all the powers of the world which are opposed to God, which make our obedience difficult:
- Moral pressures and temptations (1 John 2:16, the desires and lusts of the world)
- Intellectual pressures (appealing heresies)
- Physical pressures (persecution/ intimidation)
But whatever the world throws at us, the victory, in Christ, is ours. “The unshakable conviction that Jesus is the Christ, the incarnate Son of God who came to bring us salvation and life, enables us to triumph over the world.”
As the song goes “In the Name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, we have the victory; in the Name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, Satan will have to flee.”
“Confidence in the divine-human person of Jesus is the one weapon against which neither the error, nor the evil, nor the force of the world can prevail.” – John Stott.
The victory does not belong to America or Islam or Russia, just as it did not belong to Imperial Rome… it belongs to Christ and to the humble believer in Christ. In the name of Jesus, we have the victory!