In the course of this life, we must check our own spiritual pulses to be certain that we are remaining pure in Christ and seek to remain unstained by the world. In 1 John 5:14ff, John wants his readers to understand that God knows about the needs and problems in the daily lives of His children…and that He is concerned. Jesus helped many, many people when He was here on earth…and God still provides help for those who are in need. And He often uses us…you and me…His servants in order to accomplish his purposes. It reminds me of the Casting Crowns song…”If We Are the Body.” We are his arms, His hands, His feet…and we need to continue to provide help if we are able to do so.
This is especially important when our concern is a brother or sister who is spiritually ill. John is not speaking concerning the unintentional or unwitting sins that believers commit on occasion, but he is talking about habitual sins…the practice of sin. Some of the Christians at the time that John is writing are leaving the fellowship. Those who are faithful are not to hate their wayward brothers and sisters, but continue to love them. Hating a brother or sister would be a habitual sin…which would lead to (spiritual) death. This would be to have a heart focused habitually on sin, rather than seeking to be pleasing to the Lord. All of these matters require prayer...and these Christians need to pray for their own hearts as well as others' concerns. Genuine Christians ask that those who have fallen away be restored. If one repents, then this person has been rescued…they are safe. We can thank the Lord for second opportunities!
A Minnesota radio station reported a story about a stolen car in California. Police were staging an intense search for the vehicle and the driver, even to the point of placing announcements on local radio stations to contact the thief. On the front seat of the stolen car sat a box of crackers that, unknown to the thief, were laced with poison. The car owner had intended to use the crackers as rat bait. Now the police and the owner of the VW Bug were more interested in apprehending the thief to save his life rather than to recover the car. So often when we run from God, we feel it is to escape his punishment. But what we are actually doing is eluding his rescue. What a tangled web that we humans can weave for ourselves by being self-willed and not seeking God’s will. It is so easy for us to even appear to be doing God’s will, when in reality, we are really doing our own will in God’s name. This doesn’t work for very long.
God gives His people the power to overcome. This, in and of itself, indicates that we will be tested…the circumstances of life, our own selfishness and sin, and the Lord himself may test us…for our own good, yet not above what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). To the worldly man, the Christian life is unreal, because this person lives according to what he/she feels and not according to God’s will through His Spirit and in His Word. We must not lean on our own strength…it will fail us. We must lean on the Lord for our strength to overcome. John has shared in his letter over and over that we can have real life, but only in Jesus Christ. And we do! We have met the One True God in His Son…and the only reason that we may be able to offer assistance in rescuing others is because we have ourselves have been rescued by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
John concludes his letter with a simple imperative…“don’t give in to idols.” Surrounded by idolatry, early believers were under tremendous pressure to conform. An “idol” is literally “that which is seen.” It is lifeless…a useless substitute for the real thing. What Satan would use to cause early Christians to stumble, He uses today, as well. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If we safeguard our hearts and minds and dwell on things that encourage our hearts and minds, then we can and will not only overcome, but we will also thrive and grow! We share a lot of spirit in fellowship this time of year, and it is a great blessing. The reason we are able to do so is because God sent His Son into the world with one mission…to rescue us from ourselves…from sin, Satan and destruction. I thank the Lord God that He cared enough to rescue us because He wanted us to be with Him!