Knowing That You Have Eternal Life
Published July 10, 2023
We live in a world that is marked by lies. The world is under the influence of the devil, and as such, it is under the darkness of massive deception. This deception can be seen all around us. People in every corner of society believe lies about any and every subject. People believe lies about the origin of the universe, religion, sex, love, happiness, money, government, relationships, philosophy, and more. Sinners are easily deceived and constantly fall prey to the devil’s lies.
Deception is not just a problem in the world, but it’s a problem within Christianity as well. Satan is out to deceive people about Christ, and he does this in two ways. One way is to deceive people who are in church but not in Christ. The devil wants them to believe that they are children of God, when the reality is they have never been born again. This deception keeps them trapped as false believers in their sin. The other way is to deceive those in the church who are saved – by dislodging their assurance of salvation through false teaching. If you can shake a person’s confidence in Christ and His Word, then you can shake his confidence in his salvation and make him an unstable and weak Christian, sidelining him from kingdom work.
The solution to both of the devil’s tactics is the same, and that’s how John closes the body of his letter in 1 John. He wants us to know that we have eternal life; or, if we are deceived, to see the truth before it’s too late, so that we might repent and trust in Christ and truly have eternal life.
One of the steps that enable us to know the truth about our spiritual condition is to recognize the traits of God’s children, which are the defining characteristics of those who are born of God.
The first trait that John notes is faith.
Every single person who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. We should not reduce John’s simple statement to a minimalistic christology; rather, we must embrace a full, whole, complete Christ, recognizing that all of God’s promises to His people come to us through one person only: Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and Messiah. John also makes clear that everyone who believes – no matter where they are in their spiritual maturity or how long they have believed – has been born of God.
When we read this statement, we might think that John’s primary intention is to tell us that if we believe as individuals, then we are children of God and have been born of God. However, John’s emphasis is not on the person in the mirror, but on our fellow Christians in the church. As we look around our churches and see people who believe God’s Word and have put their faith in Christ for salvation, here’s what we should see in every single one of them: they are children of God.
This emphasis leads to the second trait of love.
Faith in Christ and love for God’s children are so vitally important that we cannot have faith without love for God’s people – and we manifest this love for our brothers and sisters by loving God! The kind of love that God produces in the hearts of His children is a love that is never one dimensional or one-directional. The love that marks the family of God extends to God and His children, and both must always be present in the life of a believer.
Often in a church, we will see people who just naturally love being around and helping other people. These people might look at themselves and say that they must be part of God’s family because they love being around the people of God and even serving the people of God. But in some of these individuals, there may be no heart for worship, no devotion to God, little time in the Word or fellowship with the living God. Someone who is constantly serving or fellowshipping with God’s people but never worshipping God with God’s people gives reason for the church to wonder if they are serving for the right reasons. Serving and loving others never can happen properly if they are devoid of love for God and dedicated time to worship.
The third trait of the children of God is obedience.
There is no love for God or God’s children where there is no submission to Scripture. Love for God’s children manifests itself in love for God, and love for God manifests itself in submission to the Word of God, which is obedience to His commandments. This is so vital because it takes love out of the realm of what is subjective and what is based on our emotions.
We could go through so many examples of these commands in Scripture.
- Wives, you say you love God, but do you obey God’s command to be subject to your husbands in everything?
- Husbands, you say you love God, but do you love your wives as Christ loved the church?
- Children, you say you love God, but do you obey your parents in everything?
- Church, we say that we love God, but do we let everything be done for edification?
- Church, we say that we love God, but are we diligent to preserve unity?
- Believer, you say you love God, but do you put away all evil things and put on the kindness and compassion and forgiveness and love of Christ?
When we think about love to God or love to other believers, the question is not, “What do I think or feel or believe I should do based on my wisdom or evaluation of the situation?” But, “What does God’s Word instruct me to do?” If we think we are being loving to God or man, but we’re in disobedience to God’s Word, we are not manifesting the traits of God’s children – and ultimately the only person we are loving is ourselves.
As John states, these commandments are not burdensome because we have been born of God. Since we are new creatures of God, we overcome the world with its lusts, false teachings, and deceptions – by the faith that God has given us. Verse five tells us that the only person that overcomes the world is the true believer. Our victory must come from another world, from God Himself, which He gives to us when we are born of Him and believe in Jesus His Son.
The fascinating part about all of this is how intertwined it is. Faith must be accompanied by love. Love for God must be accompanied by love for God’s children, and love for God’s children must be accompanied by love for God. And love for God expresses itself in obedience to His commandments. But that obedience is only possible through faith in Jesus, the Son of God.
John writes this in such a way that if you pull out any one of these traits, the whole structure collapses. This is an all-or-nothing proposition so that God’s children manifest all or none of these traits. Those who have faith that Jesus is the Messiah, who love God and His children, and who obey God’s Word by faith can have certain knowledge that they have eternal life.