All that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not from the Father but is of the world.
1 John 2:16
Actor Jim Carrey said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of, so that they can see that it’s not the answer.”
The apostle John warned us against falling in love with anything that is in the world, and he highlighted three dangerous areas for every believer:
Our appetites—the lust of the flesh. God made us with certain needs, such as food, water, and comfort. But the devil exploits these against us. We eat too much, drink too much, and engage in addictive behavior. How we need the Spirit’s control!
Our acquisitions—the lust of the eyes. Living in a materialistic age with the power of making purchases instantly, we must remember our possessions are temporary.
Our approval ratings—the pride of life. The applause of men is short-lived; but the joy of pleasing God is an eternal pursuit.
The world will take priority in our lives if we do not make a purposeful choice to deny its attractions and focus on growing in our assurance of our faith.
Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.
The Appalachian Trail is approximately 2,200 miles long, winding up and down and through rugged mountains from Georgia to Maine. It takes thru-hikers an average of 165 rigorous days to make the trip, and it requires about 5,500 calories a day to sustain their strength. That’s equivalent to nearly 10 Big Macs daily. Hiking the entire Appalachian Trail in one summer is grueling, but it simply requires putting one foot in front of the other—about five million times.
The Bible often compares our Christian life to a walk—but it’s no easy stroll. It’s an arduous hike requiring perseverance. When we begin our walk with God, we’re like infants taking their first steps—we are filled with glee—but we don’t know quite what we are doing. But as we mature, this should change and our footsteps should become more stable, firm, and determined.
If you’re tired on the trail, don’t give up. Psalm 85:13 says He has gone before us, and we’re simply walking in His footsteps. And Psalm 86:11 offers us a prayer: “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.”
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
1 John 2:3
Every parent experiences the disconnect between a child’s words when being put to bed at night—“I love you, Mommy”—and a willful act of disobedience the next morning. That disconnect between profession and practice illustrates the intimate connection between love and devotion (or obedience).
To be sure, a child is immature and not to be held to adult standards of understanding and practice. But the illustration serves its purpose in a way that is instructive for us as adults. When we say we love God but do not obey His commands and desires, we make ourselves out to be liars (1 John 2:4). “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him” (1 John 2:5). So obedience to God is a kind of barometer, a measure, of our love for God. Just as small children learn to combine love and obedience in their relationship with their parents, so we grow in the same understanding in our relationship with God. The relationship between love (faith) and obedience (good works) is a key theme in the letter written by James (James 2:14-26).
Give thought today as to how your obedience to God reflects your profession of love for God.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
“Christian perfection” refers to living without sin in this life. Only a very small number of Christians have ever taught this doctrine. There is no biblical support for it and no practical evidence that it is achievable. When one preacher suggested that he had attained Christian perfection, a woman in the congregation turned to her friend and whispered, “I’d like to ask his wife to verify that!”
The apostle John would have agreed with that lady: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). In other words, professing to be sinless is a lie, and lying itself is a sin. And toleration of sin in our life is what provides Satan with a foothold (Ephesians 4:26-27). The apostle John would have had no reason to pen the words of 1 John 1:9 if there was the possibility of us not needing ever to confess our sin. Instead, the testimony of Scripture is that by confession and repentance we can be forgiven and restored to fellowship.
Instead of boasting in our perfection, let us boast in the grace of God that leads to forgiveness when we sin.
And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
1 John 5:11
For nearly a century, Martha Mossberg celebrated her birthday on August 11. Then she needed her birth certificate for a cruise, and imagine her surprise when she saw the real date of her birth—August 4, 1917. She was a week older than she thought. When she turned 100 earlier this year, she celebrated on the right day. Her birth certificate left no doubt.
As Christians, we have a birth certificate. The moment we trust Christ as Savior, our names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and the whole Word of God becomes a personal birth certificate—our document assuring us of salvation.
The Lord doesn’t want His children worrying about whether they are truly His children—whether they have really been born again. When we believe on the Lord Jesus, we are saved. The Lord Jesus rose again so we needn’t toss and turn at night worried about our eternal destination. If you have doubts about your salvation, don’t depend on your own understanding. Open your birth certificate and read: “This is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.”