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Signs of Genuine Faith in 1 John

November 15, 2011

2:5 – …whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.

2:6 -…whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
2:10 – Whoever loves his brother abides in the light and in him there is no cause for stumbling.

3:6 – No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

3:9 – No one who is born of God makes a practice of sinning.

3:10 – …whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

3:15 – Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life…

3:17 – …if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

4:2 – …every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.

4:6 – Whoever knows God listens to him.

4:12 – …if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

4:15 – Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

4:16 – …whoever loves God must also love his brother.

5:2 – By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.

5:18 – We know that everyone who has been born on God does not keep on sinning…

Something tells me that John was concerned about distinguishing between true and lukewarm faith. What implications does this have for us? I think we can pull at least three things. (1) God is serious about sin. Will we keep sinning when we become Christians? Of course! However, God wants the desire of our heart to be to kill sin. John speaks in hyperbole here when he says things like “everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning.” What he means is that the Christian should not seek to intentionally sin and that we should constantly be putting to death the sin in our lives. (2) A life lived “in Christ” is a call to something new and different. This may seem like an elementary notion. However, too many people feel the call of the Christian is to alter a few behaviors and then go on with their life. However, God is after a complete heart change that involves love, listening, and generosity. (3) The signs of genuine faith are always attached to an inward reality. Showing generosity and loving other people are good things, but ultimately empty without God abiding in us and motivating the action.

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