These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!
1 John 2 ~
It says “it’s the last hour” (v. 18)… that actually threw me off a bit. It makes it sound like Christ’s return is imminent (which it is, in a sense, but here we are 2,000 years after 1 John 2 was written). I guess I’m thinking it means 1 of 2 things:
- We are in the final “dispensation” of God’s dealing with humanity now that Jesus came, died, and is glorified. So this entire time period is considered the last days (see Heb. 1:1, for instance). or
- It’s the “last hour” before another major event would take place that is different than Jesus’ return.
I probably lean toward #1, but can be persuaded. I am reminded of 2 Peter 3:8 “with the Lord a day is like a thousand years…”
“you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.” (1 John 2:29) – that also hit me bigtime.
Said another way, you can’t do true righteousness unless you’re a Christian (indwelt by God’s Spirit).
Wow! I have lots of thoughts on that, but don’t have much time to flesh them out here. The only thing I’ll share to consider here is 1 Cor. 13. There, we are told that someone can give all their possessions and sacrificially die, and yet not do it in love. So we can’t judge true righteousness merely by outward action. Where does such love come from? Only from God’s Spirit indwelling (“the fruit of the Spirit is love…”). And where are we made absolutely righteous? By being covered in Jesus’ perfect righteousness via his death on our behalf. So Christians alone have the Spirit indwelling and are covered in Christ’s perfect righteousness. You can’t do God’s righteousness outside of these things.
I agree that true righteousness can only come from The Holy Spirit living in us. We can do “righteous” things, but if they are not motivated by the power of The Holy Spirit living in us then it will not ultimately reflect Him, which I think is the whole point. I am reminded again of Matthew 7, which has been a chapter on the forefront of my mind lately.
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
The source and motivation of our good deeds must be born out of a deep relationship with Jesus.
I love how this book just makes the mark of the true believer so clear… we must love deeply and he hits this point home over and over (ie 3:11). We can’t have any HATE in our heart or we are still in darkness (2:9). We must abide in the Father and His truth because it brings eternal life (2:25). And we must aim to walk like he walked and keep His commandments (2: 3, 6). Sometimes we make following God seem like rocket science and this book spells it out so clearly and concisely, and beautifully really.
I think the challenge is the application really. To actually follow His commands when we don’t feel like it. To not HATE our brothers and sisters when they have been terrible to us. To not just stay busy and “productive” but to actually abide in the Lord each day and throughout the day. This is the good and sometimes hard work of following the narrow way of Christ and not the world’s way. After all, “this is for the love of God that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.” (1 John 5: 3-4)
I find the simple binary of 1 John refreshing:
- you are a son of God or son of Satan
- you do righteous (sons of God) or you don’t do righteous (sons of Satan)
- you love (sons of God) or you hate (sons of Satan)