Evidences of the New Birth in 1 John

When profession is so easy we welcome a message which will test reality.

This “Epistle” is the complement of the “Gospel” by the same writer. The latter was written “that ye (believers) might have life”; the former, “that ye may know that ye have life.” In the Gospel we are taught the way of life through God’s Son, and in the Epistle we learn the nature of that life as possessed by His children. The three great words prominent in the Gospel recur here and show that life to be a Life dwelling in Love and walking in the Light.

John, the apostle of love, writes to the little children who have been born into the family of God and seeks to make them at home there. He tells them what kind of a life is expected of them, towards both their Father and their brethren, and before the world.

The words” born of God” occur nine times in the epistle; and, as it was written to teach how the new life manifests itself, we- shall naturally expect to find stated in it some of the marks that distinguish and characterize those who have really been brought into this wonderful filial relationship with God.

Selecting five passages containing the phrase “born of God,” which indicate what some of the evidences of the new life are, let us, as we consider them one by one, apply them to our own hearts and lives and see if they prove whether we are the children of God.

1. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (5. 1). If one has been born again, his life will be a life of faith; for faith in Christ and in God is an evidence of spiritual life. Note the continuous tense - “believeth.” There is not only the initial act of believing by which a person becomes a child of God, but the continued habit of believing by which the spiritual life, received at the new birth, is maintained and developed. As it was by faith in the Son of God that we were saved from the guilt and penalty of sin at the commencement of the Christian life, so it is by faith in Him all along the Christian course that we are being saved from the power of sin and enabled to live lives that are pleasing to Him. “Kept by the power of God through faith. Real faith is far more than the intellectual acceptance of a creed; it is a force which expresses itself in life, growth and fruitfulness. How do we stand this test? Are we all alive, and “living by faith in the Son of God”?

2. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin …” (3. 9). If one has been born of God, his will be a life of freedom from sin. Here note carefully the following Scriptures. “All unrighteousness is sin ” (5. 17); “and sin is lawlessness.” “Everyone that committeth (practiseth) sin is the bondslave of sin” (John 8. 34, R.V.). “He that committeth sin is of the devil. … For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy (undo) the works of the devil” (3. 8). “He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not; whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him” (3. 5, 6). Verse 9 does not teach that it is impossible for a born-again person to fall into sin. John is writing of the general marks which characterize the people of God and distinguish them from the unconverted. It is the characteristic of the latter that they live in sin; it is their habit to work iniquity; it is the characteristic of the former that they flee from sin; holiness is their habit and their element. The born-again one “doth not practise sin, for His seed remaineth in him …” Sin is repugnant to his spiritual nature and sanctified affections. The following rendering of 5. 18 is worth considering: “We know that whosoever is begotten by God does not commit sin; but He (Jesus Christ) who was begotten by God keeps him, and the wicked one does not lay hold of him.” (See Mercer Wilson and Weymouth’s translations.)

Here is what an old theologian says on this subject: “There is that light in his mind that shows him the evil and malignity of sin. There is that bias upon his heart that disposes him to loathe and hate sin. There is that spiritual seminal principle (or disposition) which breaks the force and power of sin. There is that love to God which makes him delight to do His will, so that it is contrary to the nature of his new-born soul to commit sin; and when temptation is presented, instead of yielding to the suggestions of the enemy as the ungodly habitually do, he repels the tempter, exclaiming, ‘How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God”

But whilst the new nature implanted at the new birth is impeccable, and power to overcome temptation can be realized by the one who abides in Christ (3. 6), we need to recall the teaching contained in the first 12 verses of the epistle, viz.: (a) that believers are not sinless; and (ft) that the Father has provided a way of forgiveness and cleansing, and restoration to communion for His erring children, who do not “practise” sin. The difference between the unbeliever and the believer regarding sins may be illustrated by the reactions of a pig and a sheep to falling into a muddy pond. The former would enjoy it as being agreeable to its nature; but the latter would not be happy until it was out of it and clean again.

3. “Every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him (God)” (2. 29). A righteous life is another result and evidence of the new birth. The true and healthy Christian life is not merely passive and negative;’ it does not consist of not sinning only - not doing this and that, which the world does; it is active and positive. The born-again one “doeth righteousness.” “He that doeth good is of God” (3 John 11), and “every one that doeth righteousness is born of God.” He no longer practises sin, but righteousness.

Look at ch. 3. 7, 8, R.V.: “My little children, let no man lead you astray; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous: he that doeth sin is of the devil.” Then, v. 10: “In this the children of God are known, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God.” “All unrighteousness is sin” (5. 17). “Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle…? He that … worketh righteousness …” (Psa. 15. 1, 2). “The grace of God teaches us that, denying ungodly lusts, we should live … righteously” (Tit. 2. 11, 12).

4. “Every one that loveth is born of God” (4. 7). The new life is a life of love.’

(a) There will be love for God the Father. There was a time when what the Lord Jesus said to the Jews (John 5. 42) could be said of us: “Ye have not the love of God in you.” But now, having been born into the family of God, we have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts.

The most natural thing in the world is for. a child to love its parents; and our heavenly Father expects His children to love Him supremely. ‘Love for God’ means ‘obedience to His commands’ (5. 3). “0 love the Lord, ye His saints.”

(b) There will be love for. the Son of God. How can we help loving Him when He first loved us and laid down His life for us?

Our love for Him will be proved by obedience to His Word, by “keeping His commandments and doing those things that are pleasing in His sight.” “If ye love Me, ye will” - what “keep My commandments” (John 14. 15, R.V.) - “Be baptized” - ” Do this in remembrance of Me.” “If God were your Father, ye would love Me” (John 8. 42). “If any one love not the Lord, let him be anathema. Maranatha” (1 Cor. 16. 22).

(c) There will be love for the brethren - our Father’s other children. “Every one that loveth Him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of Him” (5. 1). “This is the message … that we should love one another” (3. 11; John 15. 12). “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another… If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and His love is perfected in us” (4. 11, 12). True love is practical; it does not consist of words, but deeds (3. 17, 18). Did not our Lord say that our love for one another would be a proof of our love for Him, and a proof to the world that we are His disciples? (3. 13-15; John 13. 35).

(d) There will be love for the lost, and for our enemies. Having been “found of Him,” we are to be actuated by the same purpose and motive that brought Him into the world, i.e., “to seek and to save the lost.” May our prayer be: -

“Lord crucified, give me a heart like Thine! Teach me to love the dying souls of men, And keep my heart in closest touch with Thee; And give me love, pure Calvary love, to bring the lost to Thee.”

(e) There should be no love for the world. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him …” (2. 15-17). “Know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore is minded to be the friend of the world is constituted enemy of God” (Jas. 4. 4, J.N.D.). “Demas has forsaken me (and Me), having loved this present world” (2 Tim. 4. 10).

“O cold ungrateful heart that can from Jesus turn, When living fires of love should on His altar burn.”

5. “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world” (5. 4). If one has been born from above, his will be a LIFE OF VICTORY.

(a) Victory over the power of indwelling sin. “Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not” (3. 6).“Sin shall not have dominion over you” (see Rom. 6).

(b) Victory over the world. “All that has been begotten of God gets the victory over the world; and this is the victory which has gotten the victory over the world, our faith. Who is he that gets the victory over the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (5. 4, 5). Resolve on “no compromise with the world.”

(c) Victory over the flesh. “Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” - the cravings of your lower nature (1 John 2. 16). The Spirit and the flesh are antagonistic to each other, that ye may not do the things that ye would” (R.V.). The works of the flesh are.only evil continually,, and until the flesh is crucified there can be no fruit of the Spirit.” But they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and lusts thereof” (Gal. 5. 16-24, R.V.).

(d) Victory over the Devil (2. 13, 14). As the Lord Jesus overcame the Devil’s temptations by the Word of God, so can every one of us. We are strong to overcome only as we “abide in Him” (our impregnable Fortress), and His Word (“the Sword of the Spirit”) abides richly in us. We need to put on the panoply of God that we may be able to stand firm against all the artifices of the Devil. By His. death on the Cross the Lord Jesus “rendered powerless him that had the power of death.” “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Eph. 6. 10-18; Heb. 2. 14; Rom. 16. 20).

(e) Victory over False Teachers (4. 4). These tools of Satan deny that Jesus Christ is God incarnate. But the children of God, indwelt and taught by the Holy Spirit, overcome them. Many solemn warnings regarding the destructive heresies, the ungodly lives, and the fearful doom, of these apostate teachers are given in the New Testament. (See Matt. 7. 15-19; Acts 20. 29, 30; 2 Tim. 3; 2 Pet. 2; Jude 3-19; 1 John 2. 18-28.) “Little children, let no man lead you astray” (3. 7, R.V.).

‘“A life of Victory” is God’s intention (plan) for His people, and an evidence of the new birth. “Victory is of the Lord” (Prov. 21. 31, R.V.). “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Rom. 8. 37). “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15. 57).

“The victory is ours! For us in might came forth the Mighty One; For us He fought the fight, the-triumph won; The victory is ours.”

Happy are we if these five traits of a Spirit-born and Spirit-controlled life are seen in us. The walk and witness of such a life cannot but be a blessing to others, and glorifying to God.


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