1 John 5:18-20
John closes his letter by reminding the believers of several basic things that they know to be true and therefore should play a major role in their thinking.
The first is basic. “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin” (v. 18). The NIV (and others) note that John used the present tense of the verb hamartano, “to sin,” thus calling attention to the fact that it was the continuing in sin that was not acceptable. Obviously we all are guilty of the occasional sin but to continue in sin reveals an intentional decision not to stop sinning in that particular way. The church correctly understood that to deliberately continue doing something that was wrong or to refuse to change an unacceptable attitude was wrong. If a person is “born of God” and kept safe in his care so the “evil one cannot harm him” they simply will not continue in some sin (as was happening with the group that had given up the truth that Jesus had come from The Father). Being born of God redirects the believer away from sin, especially intentional sin.
The second thing they knew was that they were “children of God” (v. 19). They had denounced the way they had been living and turned gladly to Jesus, thus making them brothers and sisters in the family of God. When a family gathers it is time for celebration and the sharing of memories. In contrast to that joyful scene “the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (v. 19). There is nothing quite like the strong ties of family or the bonding that develops in the time of war. As “family” we enjoy a unique relationship of love and affection. How remarkable it is to be members of a family with God as Father and Jesus Christ as an elder brother. While families here on earth come and go, our family in heaven will continue forever.
The third thing we know is that God’s Son came and made it possible for us to understand the one true God. We can read this in two ways: Jesus himself discloses to the believer what God the Father is like. By knowing the Son we understand the Father. The other nuance is that knowing the Son has provided us with what might be called an introductory course in the spiritual world. The world in which we have lived is a created world and is wide open to scientific inquiry that explains that which is material. God’s “world” is of a different source and Jesus has made it possible to enter it and to some degree understand it.