13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.
18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
John is writing to Christians, verse 13 makes that very clear. He is writing, however, so that the believers instead of doubting their faith in Christ might know that they have eternal life. That means it is possible to have eternal life but live a life of doubt where you are lacking assurance. That need not be the case. The Lord wants believers to live lives in full assurance of faith, enjoying and appreciating their faith in the Lord Jesus. When John wrote his gospel he ended it by saying 'these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life through his name'.
Here is a disciple who is confident that if he asks God for anything that is in keeping with His will that it will be granted, v14,15. The question and challenge then is to seek out and find out what the will of God is! Searching the scriptures is the only realistic way to do this. The first and biggest aspect of God's will for any person to discover is that he 'will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth,' 1 Timothy 5:4.
In verses 16-18 we are confronted with the fact that there are some sins which can be forgiven and some that cannot. You might have thought that all sins could be forgiven. This is basically right but there are a couple of exceptions! The only sin that I can think of that cannot be forgiven is the sin of unbelief. That is if you refuse to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and you reject God's offer of forgiveness then you are excluding yourself from forgiveness. All the other examples are closely linked to this. There might be a sense in which this verse has a very special meaning that was unique to Bible times. For instance the sin of attributing the power behind the miracles of Jesus to the devil would be relevant in the days of Christ and similar to refusing to believe the gospel. Again turning your back on Jesus as the Messiah, Lord and Saviour and going back to Jewish beliefs and sacrifices was described as the sin of apostasy; this again is a form of unbelief.
Verse 17 confirms a fact that is often spoken about in the Bible - 'all unrighteousness is sin'. That is a definition of sin. Sin is everything that does not come up to God's impeccable standard. Romans 3:23 states 'for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God'.
The next three verses (18-20) show that there is a marked difference between a believer in Jesus Christ and an unbeliever. This is seen in their behaviour. A Christian is not expected to constantly sin. It is also seen in the fact that a believer is careful about how they live and what they allow into their lives. The Christian is also preserved from the wicked one (the devil) getting a firm grip in their life. The world is under the devil's control but the believer's source of life comes from God.
In summary - 'We know that the Son of God is come and has given us an understanding'. The reason is that 'we might know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life'.
A warning - Little children, keep yourselves from idols, Amen.
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