New Moon Meeting: November 2004, 4:00 EST
1 John: A Detailed Study
Zahakiel: All right, would someone please open our meeting with a prayer?
Pastor “Chick”: Dear Father,
Thank you for this special time that you have given to us... May you inspire Brother David with the message that our hearts so need... Thank you that we will receive our needs. In YAHshua’s name, Amen.
Zahakiel: Amen :)
Zahakiel: All right. This meeting will be somewhat similar to our last one. In our last meeting we looked at the book of Romans, and we went from chapter 1 all the way through chapter 8, seeing how Paul’s thoughts developed to point out the power of the Gospel, and the true Victory message.
This week we are going to be looking at another book, 1 John, which some have considered to contain “difficult” verses in regard to the meaning of the Gospel. If we ever do a CSDA Bible commentary, I think this study might be useful as covering that Epistle :) By the way, after this meeting I intend to change my format slightly.
New Moons, as we know, are a time for cleansing and self-examination, so it is my hope that from this point forward, members or visitors might approach me sometime during the month between meetings and let me know of a subject or a topic that they believe will be relevant to their growth. Of course, there may be many topics that we find interesting, and I am always willing to talk about those – but for our meetings here specifically, I believe it will be best if we deal with matters of concern to the members and those studying with us. How does that sound to you?
Crystle: I like the thought of that. Thank you.
Qinael: It seems like a good concept.
Pastor “Chick”: Fine.
Zahakiel: All right. Now, last month we went through eight rather long chapters, and so we had to move rather quickly, and even then it took us a while. It is my hope that since 1 John has only 5 chapters, and those a little shorter, we can move a little more carefully, cover ground in some more detail, and handle any relevant questions that may come to mind. Let me begin, then, with John’s first words of the epistle. I’ll paste it, and let me know when you’ve finished reading it:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life, (for the life was manifested, and we have seen It, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us). That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Yahshua the Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” (1 John 1:1 – 4)
Pastor “Chick”: OK.
Zahakiel: All right :) Here the apostle writes down his intention for the letter. John’s epistle, like several others in the New Testament, is called a “general” epistle, because it is not written to a specific congregation like, for example, Paul’s letter to the Galatians. This is a document that deals with eternal truths, that deals with the nature of the Godhead, the Father and Son, and that deals with their working in our lives.
John writes, he says, that the joy of his readers may be full, and we will see from the errors that he attempts to correct in this book that there was reason, perhaps, for the uncertain and fearful to be concerned about their joy. We will talk about the errors he is rebutting as we go along.
But notice John’s claim to authority – this is an important idea. He writes, “that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.” That is a powerful statement. It lets us know that John does not consider his thoughts mere opinions of a man, or a guess, or a doctrinal position – it is something he has seen and experienced for himself.
It is often the case in evangelism for the Church that people will tell us, “But you can’t really be teaching that you live without sin... don’t you know, everyone sins?” Such things we cannot help but seeing as foolishness, because the things we declare unto them, the Gospel of Christ and freedom from the death and pain of sin, these are things we have “seen and heard” for ourselves.
We have an example we sometimes use of someone who shares with you a recipe for a cake, and then you ask them the reasonable question, “So is this cake any good?” If they reply, “I don’t know, I have never tried it,” that’s not quite a response that inspires confidence. But we can be confident in John’s words here if we put faith in his testimony, that he has seen and heard the things he is describing.
Next John goes into his initial topic: “This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that Yahweh is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:4) Now what does this mean? I will ask you, who may be familiar with this passage, what are some of the applications of this teaching that “Yahweh is light, and in Him is no darkness at all?” Let’s talk about that general idea for a while.
Qinael: That when He lives in us we likewise have no darkness, but light, in His image.
Zahakiel: That is one of the applications that can be drawn from those words, yes :) I see at least two, and they should both be obvious for those who attended the last Camp Meeting, where we saw from The Two Temples that the statement “ye are the temple of the living God” has both an individual and a corporate application. Similarly, the fact that the “temple of God” has nothing to do with idols (as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 6) has two meanings for us; and that teaching is based on the same concept.
Crystle: Can you explain what you are meaning by both an individual and a corporate application?
Zahakiel: I will.
Barbara: That we, as individuals have no idols, and that the Body of Christ allows no idols within it. So, there is no darkness in either.
Zahakiel: Right :) Paul deals with one meaning, when he says, “‘Wherefore come out from among them [false teachers], and be ye separate,’ saith Yahweh, ‘and touch not the unclean; and I will receive you,’” (2 Cor 6:17) and John deals with another in this letter we are studying. Again, the principle is the same in both.
Zahakiel: Paul’s meaning was that believers should not fellowship with unbelievers, at least not on a regular basis and in a position where they can be fed leaven. This is the “corporate” sense. John’s meaning of the same principle deals with the “temple of God” on an individual level, and the next two verses point this out.
Here is that previous verse, and then the ones following it, put together to flow smoothly: “This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that Yahweh is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth; but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Yahshua the Messiah, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5 – 7)
Let me know when you have read it.
Pastor “Chick”: OK.
Zahakiel: So both Paul and John acknowledge that Yah is light, and in Him is no darkness at all, and that we, as His temple, must have no intimate union with darkness, for the two (darkness and light) are opposites. Paul applies this to Church fellowship and membership, and John applies it mostly – on an individual level – to sin.
If we claim to be Christ’s yet walk in darkness, and continue in sin, “we lie and do not the truth.” Are there any questions in this? This teaching is vitally important to the very next verse, and so we must be sure we understand exactly what John is getting at before we move another step forward.
Qinael: I do not have any questions.
Tiffany: None here.
Israfel: Not from me.
Crystle: Yes, I have a question.
Zahakiel: Go ahead.
Crystle: So... does that mean that those that we are helping we should not have much association with them if they walk in darkness?
Zahakiel: Paul talks about this a bit more, saying he isn’t telling us to avoid all sinners, because we would have to leave the world to do that. But if one calls himself a “brother” or a convert/Christian, and yet commits sin, then with such a one do not even eat. [1 Cor 5:9 – 11]
Pastor “Chick”: It means to avoid being “pals” with them.
Zahakiel: <nods.> Is that helpful?
Crystle: Okay... that does help some.
Zahakiel: All right.
Qinael: I have a question now...
Zahakiel: All right.
Qinael: It stems from your last answer; does the same distinction apply today, regarding not eating with people who call themselves Christians while sinning? Or has the responsive action been lessened with the gospel being less known among ‘Christians’?
Zahakiel: Well, at our feasts we have certainly “eaten” with people who called themselves Christian while sinning. In an evangelistic sense, that is – when trying to reach them, the only way to do that is to associate with them. But I think Paul there is talking about open, unrepentant sinners who have shown from their conduct that they are not trying to “learn” anything. I can’t imagine that meal would be anything but unpleasant anyway.
Zahakiel: Again, speaking of our feasts, we have seen people who have been unwilling to learn packing up and leaving. They didn’t want to eat with us :)
Qinael: What about those whose conduct shows they are not trying to learn anything, but they are not quite open unrepentant sinners?
Zahakiel: If they are not trying to learn, they are “unrepentant.” Maybe not forever, but certainly for the time being.
Okay, does everyone understand the general idea? :) We can go over the details at a less constrained time if you’d like.
Qinael: Yes, thanks.
Zahakiel: All right.
Pastor “Chick”: OK, continue then. :)
Crystle: Yes, I have a general idea... thanks.
Zahakiel: All right... this topic could be a New Moon study all its own. Maybe someone write that down for later :)
But here we see, at least on a general level, that there is to be a difference between those who walk in darkness and those who walk in light. And internally, one who is “in Christ” cannot be “in darkness” at the same time. This is a theme John repeats many times throughout the course of this letter. So here is that next verse, and it is often a great stumbling block for many who do not do as we have done with Romans and now with 1 John, read for principle and read in context. In fact, let’s look at it with the two that follow it to close out chapter 1. We will then be 20% through our study.
John writes, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8 – 10) Say when you’ve read :)
Pastor “Chick”: OK.
Zahakiel: Some will take verse 8 by itself: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” They will then say, “See, you cannot claim to be free from sin, because if you do the truth is not in you.” Further they will argue, “Verse 9 says ‘If we confess our sins,’ meaning that a converted Christian must still have sins to confess!” And then they dismiss us, being assured that they are right.
You see, they have not read deeply, nor are they aware of John’s intention or his style of writing. Anyone reading John’s writings will take note of the fact that he repeats himself almost compulsively. His very first words to readers of the Bible are these: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1 – 3)
Zahakiel: And so you see, John is consistent with this style of teaching. He will say something, say it again, then say it in different way, just to make sure we do not miss his point. The same holds true not only for this, his Gospel, but also his epistles, and the Revelation. In fact of that last book, there have been many mistakes made by those who attempt to read Revelation linearly... they do not understand that John is giving portions of the same vision several times, in several different ways, just as Daniel did.
Now, that is relevant to 1 John in this way: When John says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” he is not introducing a new thought. Rather he is repeating his point from the verses before: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth.” I will give additional evidence of this shortly, but for now I just want to point out that understanding John’s style makes this abundantly clear, as will reading the first two chapters of 1 John without taking a break. And then of course there is the history of his audience. This is also important for understanding verse 8.
Zahakiel: John is writing, as all good commentaries point out, to Christian communities that are under attack by a heretical teaching known as Gnosticism. I covered this in a previous study, but a brief recap here might be good.
Gnostics believed, among other things, that Christ had not actually come “in the flesh,” but that He was an illusion of God designed to teach us “good” principles. They did not believe that He actually died on the Cross, or that He truly suffered, but gave us a “show” of what sin does. The reason for this is that Gnostics taught that all flesh was evil by its very nature.
This is similar, but not the same, as Paul’s teaching that sin dwells in the flesh. (Romans 7:18) Christians believe that the body was created pure and holy, but that through sin it became degraded and now there dwells within it a tendency to evil. This does not change at conversion, but at conversion we receive the Holy Spirit, and as we order our lives after the Spirit we “shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16) “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Rom 8:13)
Zahakiel: Now, Gnostics believed that the flesh, in fact the entire physical world, was created evil. In fact, it was created by a secondary, evil deity known as the “Demiurge,” and that it, and all its creations, are at war against the true, unknown, god of love. The consequence of this is that those Christians who were being misled by these beliefs were coming to the conclusion that whatsoever they did in the body was not important. As long as their spirits were “saved” the things they did in the body did not matter.
If that sounds familiar, it should be – it was reincarnated in the Catholic Church by Augustine. It was actually rejected by Catholics as being untrue, but it was picked up again by some of the Reformation groups, and we see it today in such teachings as “Once Saved Always Saved” type of salvation.
What it did back in John’s day, however, was to get Christians to be less aware of the extreme “sinfulness of sin,” and so they were walking in darkness, in error, sometimes in open sin, yet claiming to have fellowship with God, because: “I’m only human/physical, and my flesh forces me to sin.”
Everyone understanding the nature of the false teaching?
Qinael: I do, yes.
Pastor “Chick”: OK.
Zahakiel: All right. Now John says here: if we claim to be a child of God, yet we commit sin, we are deceiving ourselves. More important than that, perhaps, John says we make God a “liar.” For one thing, inspiration tells us that, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) so obviously, if we claim to have never sinned, we make God a liar.
But what about those who commit known sins while calling themselves Christians? They may acknowledge that they once sinned, but they continue to claim sinful actions and habits after they have been saved. You notice I added the word “known” in there. This corresponds to “walking” in darkness. John does make a distinction between known and unknown sins, but not until a later chapter – you see again the importance of not building a doctrine based on single verses, but on complete, inspired thoughts.
Dumah: It was common knowledge that only what a man knows is wrong is sin.
Now, to clarify this matter about calling Yah a liar... Paul tells us, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Rom 6:1 – 3) And again, the truth of the Gospel is stated plainly in the words of Christ, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:34, 36)
If we claim to be of the Son, yet we testify that we are NOT “free indeed,” we make Him a liar. If we say, “I’m free in my spirit, but my flesh still causes my body to actually sin,” we separate the spirit from the flesh – and you know what happens with the spirit is separated from the flesh?
Zahakiel: Right. Death follows. Now, the flesh and the Spirit may be at war, but they are not two persons dwelling in one flesh. I wrote an article called “The Two Pauls” that I refer to every now and then, but both Pauls were not alive at the same time :) One had to die for the other to come in.
Zahakiel: So then, if we say, “I am saved in my spirit, but I continue to do known wrongs,” we can be sure we have been influenced by this very old error.
Dumah: I have heard people claim to be “free” while admitting to committing known sins from time to time... when you confront them they call you a liar...and plead that they truly are free and that they are not the ones who are deceived... at least that has been my experience. It condemns Heaven’s testimony against them... very dangerous to judge Yah.
Zahakiel: Yes... this is “Babylon,” confusion, where death does not really mean death (for the dead, they say, are alive in Heaven or Hell), freedom from sin does not really mean freedom, and victory does not truly mean victory.
That is “another tongue,” and one not acceptable in Heaven. But the truth is not confusing. In fact, if John truly meant “no human can ever claim to be without sin” of even a known kind, we have a problem. The Bible records the words of men who have said just such a thing, and have been confirmed in their faith by Heaven.
Daniel said to the king of Persia, “My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before Him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.” (Daniel 6:22)
Daniel claimed to be innocent in the eyes of a most holy Father. “And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, ‘Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.’” (Acts 23:1) David also said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee,” (Psalm 119:11) remembering that the word “might” there is actually stronger than it sounds in the English version here. We thus see from both the Bible as a whole, and John’s immediate setting and intention, that 1 John 1:8 cannot possibly be used as a refutation of the Victory message, and in fact John is one of the strongest advocates OF the Victory two chapters later. A Christian confesses his sins when he finds them, when he becomes aware that something is sin; this is true sanctification. If John’s readers became convinced he was right, and turned away from the Gnostic errors, they would have to confess their sin.
Zahakiel: Let’s move on to chapter 2, because we will have a chance to discuss 1 John 1:8 again in chapter 3. Here is the first part of Chapter 2, and let me know when you have read it:
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, ‘I know him,’ and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” (1 John 2:1 – 6)
Pastor “Chick”: OK.
Zahakiel: 1 John 2:1 presents another apparent “problem” if it is taken without regard for John’s consistent theme. He says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
Many, many translations, and all traditions of human origin, change the meaning, if not the actual wording, of this passage and say, “ John writes to say we are not supposed to sin, BUT if any man sins, we have Christ to take us back.”
The mercy of Christ is well known to His people, and it is undoubtedly true that Yahweh is a forgiving God – but is that John’s meaning here? The word “And,” is a Greek word kai, and it is never, in my accounting, translated as “but.” The meaning given in Strong’s is, “apparently, a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force.” In other words, it not only joins two arguments, but can strengthen the first with the second.
It cannot have the meaning “but.” The word for “but” in Greek is de and again, this word is never in my readings translated “and.” Some words in Greek DO overlap somewhat in meaning, but kai and de do not. Kai is never used to make an exception to what comes before, or to weaken an argument already made – its use is the opposite, to make stronger those things that came before it, or to add similar items to a list. If anyone, while studying this, ever comes across an exception to this, please let me know, I would be quite interested in seeing it.
But now, what does John mean? It may help to realize that the phrase “that ye sin not” is in a tense of Greek that is either translated as a simple past tense, or a past perfect tense. To simplify, it is the same word and tense used by Paul when he writes, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Zahakiel: We see there what it means by looking at the way the word is used in other verses. John is actually saying, and without contradiction, “I write to you so that you do not sin (now), and (not but) if any man has sinned, we have an Advocate with the Father,” one who restores us to our relationship with Him, and sets us on the path of righteousness.
Is everyone seeing this?
Zahakiel: The rest of that first part of 1 John 2 gives further evidence for our reading of 1 John 1:8; John repeats his theme again and yet again – those who claim to be without sin, if they are breaking the commandments, deceive themselves, and the truth is not in them. This is, by definition of the commandments and “sin,” true.
Verses 12 to 14 let us know that John is speaking to both young and old, to “children” and to “fathers,” that they may know their sins have been forgiven, though they may have accepted the leaven of the Gnostics, erring from the faith. He appeals to them on the basis that “ye have known the Father,” (verse 13) and “ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” (verse 14) He says, “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.” (1 John 2:15) In this and the next two verses, he argues for the superiority of faith over worldliness and worldly ideas, and we see from his previous verses that, like Paul, he is persuaded better things of his readers. (Hebrews 6:9) Though they may have been in error, he is confident they will hear his words and repent.
John then gets more specific in the last part of the second chapter. He writes of those who are attempting to mislead the congregations, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” (verse 18) A couple verses later he lets us know exactly who he is talking about: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Yahshua is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.” (1 John 2:22, 23) Let me know when you’ve finished reading.
Zahakiel: In these verses John speaks about those who have been misrepresenting the Godhead: the Father and the Son. To deny one is to deny the other, and there were those who were saying that Yahshua was not the Christ, was not the Son and, as we will see in chapter 4, that He had not truly come in the flesh.
Of course, many were saying that Yahshua was not the Messiah at all. Some who accepted Him as the Messiah did not see Him as the divine, uncreated Son of the Most High. And some, while they accepted Him as both Messiah and Son, denied that He came in the flesh. Here are three errors, progressively more subtle, each one a little closer to the truth – but as we read with some satisfaction, the apostles could not let errors go unrebuked.
It didn’t matter how slight the mistake, if it was a mistake it could not be comfortably overlooked. Paul wrote that the Church was to be “holy and without blemish,” (Ephesians 5:27) and that its members “be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Cor 1:10) Yes, there is room for individual freedom and differences of opinion in matters of conscience and preference, but as far as the pillars of our faith go, and the foundations of the truth, the slightest deviation could lead to a loss of souls – and while the apostles would never take a sword (literal or judicial) to punish heretics, they would use the “sword of the Spirit” to appeal to the hearts and souls of their members setting their feet once again upon the Rock.
Zahakiel: The rest of Chapter 2 is John’s solemn appeal to his listeners to stand fast in the message they have heard from the beginning – one of victory over sin, of the sufferings of Christ on Calvary, of the infinite sacrifice paid on our behalf. He concludes, “And now, little children, abide in Him that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him.” (1 John 2:28, 29)
Are there any questions about that chapter?
Qinael: None here.
Zahakiel: All right.
1 John 3 opens with a wonderful thought: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.” (1 John 3:1) Then he tells us what this means to us, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” (verses 2, 3)
This is an amazing teaching... we may not know the full measure of Christ with our minds’ eyes... we may not grasp the fullness of His purity, but because of our faith, we have confidence that when He appears, we will be just like Him – our characters will match “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13) And because we have this confidence and hope, we are motivated to purify ourselves. Knowledge of Yah’s character is the same as a perfect hatred of sin, and it is our natural process in the Christian walk to put away all know wrong. Christ in us, by His Spirit, is both the power and the desire to be pure.
John brings this home forcefully with his next few verses: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that 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.” (verses 4 – 6)
This in no way contradicts 1 John 1:8 or 2:1. Indeed, it completes their thoughts, if they are rightly understood. John does not in one place say, “We can never claim to be without sin,” or, “A Christian will sometimes sin,” and then say, “Christ came to take away our sin, and those who abide in Him do not sin.”
Zahakiel: We cannot make Christ a liar by claiming to be His while sinning, but just as bad as that is this: claiming that He did not really take away our sin. If we are His, He has taken away our sin, and if we do sin, John says, it means we have not yet truly known Him.
Again John reminds his audience of the Gnostic error facing the Church in his day with these words, “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of Yah was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:7, 8)
Zahakiel: Let no man deceive you. A Gnostic would claim to be “saved” although his works are unrighteous; in these last days, so do the nominal Christians. But let no man deceive you.
And here is a big verse for Christ’s people: “Whosoever is born of Yah doth not commit sin; for His Seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9)
Zahakiel: Let’s spend a little time here, though we will not spend as much on some of the other verses we read. Who is “His Seed?”
Zahakiel: Right. And how does He abide in us?
Qinael: By His Spirit.
Zahakiel: <nods.> Do you have any verses come to mind when considering this?
Qinael: Peter, when he says we are not born of corruptible seed but incorruptible. [1 Peter 1:23]
Zahakiel: That is a good one, yes. And the one I thought of was Galatians 2:20 – “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
Even those who do not believe in the victory over sin acknowledge that 1 John 3:9 is “troublesome” to those who wish to say we can both sin and be in Christ. I did some reading in my library at school, various commentators on 1 John. They say some interesting things.
One writer states, “in 3:6, 9 John describes Christians as ‘not able to sin.’ Both the verb (‘to be able’) and the infinitive (‘to sin’) appear in the present tense. It is useful to outline these verses carefully since they can be difficult in most English translations. Using this interpretation John may well be emphasizing that ongoing, habitual sin should find no place in the believer’s life.” That is Gary M. Burge in his NIV Application Commentary: Letters of John. Let me know when you have read it.
Dumah: Romans 8:10.
Qinael [Quoting Romans 8:10]: “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”
Zahakiel: That is true, but here this commentator is outlining the “common” view, that the verse means that a Christian will not “continue” in sin. Now look at what he adds after saying that: “But a number of interpreters have outlined problems with this view.” He describes some of these, saying that there are some irregularities in the way John uses tenses, and that “even IF John does indeed affirm that Christians will indeed sin, still, he is making a strong case for the holiness of the believer.”
Zahakiel: A little later on, the author confesses that he has had trouble with the verse, saying it might be a “paradox” of the Christian experience. I found several inconsistencies in the commentaries as they attempted to make this verse “fit” their salvation-in-sin theology – unfortunately we haven’t the time to go into that too much. But take note of this: the reason he gives for his trouble is the same reason all the other commentators I found give. They have not had the experience, therefore it “cannot be true” just as it reads.
This writer I quoted above says, “we will have to ask ourselves how closely this teaching squares with the practical realities of Christian life.” [Emphasis mine] That quote raised my eyebrows... but sadly it is the rule, and not the exception, that men will judge the Bible by their experiences, and not their experiences by the Bible.
Pastor “Chick”: “Let no man deceive you...”
Zahakiel: Right. Exactly.
The interpreters know exactly what this verse teaches, and only because of their traditions do they try to find ways around the realization: “I still sin – I am not a Christian!” Hearing they would hear, and seeing they would perceive, and they would be converted, and seek out the people of Christ.
Are there any questions on this key verse?
Qinael: None here.
Zahakiel: All right.
In the remaining portions of the Chapter, John points out that you can use this knowledge, that “whosoever is born of Yah doth not commit sin” to determine who our teachers should be, and with whom we should have fellowship:
“In this the children of Yah are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of Yah, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” (verses 10, 11) One cannot claim to “love” in a godly sense, and still “sin.” There can be no communion of light and darkness, and those who are of the darkness are not of the light – not even a little bit.
Dumah: Sin at it’s finest is the murder of our brother, so it is impossible to love and sin. Yahshua showed us what the smallest sin equals...the murder of our Elder Brother.
Zahakiel: Right. Certainly hidden, “small,” sin is as dangerous as open sins like murder. For example... some say, “But they teach a lot of good things at that Church.” That may well be true. Every church organization I can think of is “right” to a very large degree, some more than others. But the Bible says, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20)
We see here that, according to this test, it doesn’t say there is a “little” light in them, or “some” light in them... it says NO light. They may have some of the teachings right, some of the words correct, but of light, if they are not of Yah completely, they have none at all.
Going along somewhat with what Kimberly was saying, the world will hate us, as Cain hated Abel, because we do the will of our Father. And though they may not kill us literally, as Cain did, John assures us that we are equally justified with Abel who WAS actually slain, for “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” (verse 15)
John closes out the chapter with a strong set of principles about the power of love. It is not “in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (verse 18) This is how we love, and James confirms it, saying, “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, ‘Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled,’ notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:15, 16)
As chapter 3 closes, we see a couple important points being raised. Sometimes, even when we are doing the right thing, our heart may condemn us... John may have been writing verses 21 – 24 to tell those he is correcting that righteousness does not always seem pleasant for the time being. This is a direct rebuke to the Gnostics, who thought it was okay to do whatever “felt” good, since they were bound for paradise anyway.
Zahakiel: Abraham did not enjoy climbing the mountain to sacrifice his son. Christ did not like the thought of being nailed to the Cross. But Yah is stronger than our hearts, and if our hearts do not condemn us, meaning that our feelings are in accord with the principles of truth, then we are encouraged, and may have confidence in what we do.
Of course, we must act from principle whether our feelings are in accord or not, yet Yah’s desire for His people is not to have them be in emotional hardship all the day long – He gives us His “Comforter” that we may be drawn to Him with bands of love.
Chapter 4 gets more specific as to the nature of the deceptions facing the Church back then. John writes, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of Yah: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of Yah: Every spirit that confesseth that Yahshua the Messiah is come in the flesh is of Yah: And every spirit that confesseth not that Yahshua the Messiah is come in the flesh is not of Yah: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4:1 – 3) Say when you have read this.
Zahakiel: Some people have done interesting things with this passage. Just like 1 John 1:8, they take it out of context, they use it in a universal sense and say, “Now I have a way to test every prophet and teacher.” But we well know, many false teachers and false prophets freely say, “Jesus is come in the flesh.” That is not a test of every heresy, but of the error John was specifically addressing. If we think everyone who can say the words, “Jesus is come in the flesh” is of Yah just because his or her tongue works... we are heading for a world of trouble. Sadly, some people have told me they believe this...
Now, we can tell false teachers and false prophets of Gnosticism with this test, and this is the only application John has in mind. No doubt, the principle to “try the spirits” is useful against every error and in every age, but the test will not always be the same. If someone comes up to me and says, “Purgatory is a Biblical doctrine... and Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” He has passed the test of 1 John 4, yes... but he is still a false teacher. I can test his spirit by other means, and I can certainly test his doctrine by the “Law and the testimony.”
Dumah: I have heard people say they believe that Messiah came in the flesh...but then they will talk from the other side of their mouth and speak theology that undermines that principle.
Zahakiel: That’s very true.
Zahakiel: Chapter 4 is really a wonderful chapter, full of encouragement and faith. We won’t spend a lot of time here, but I encourage all of you to read it. In this chapter we find, for example, John saying, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (verse 4) And, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” (verse 7)
Verse 12 is another that has caused questions in some minds. It is written, “No man hath seen Yah at any time. If we love one another, Yah dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12)
That is a useful one against Mormon theology, and it is a wonderful promise, but some ask about Moses and Abraham and the prophets, all of whom claim to have seen Yah. The answer to this one is found in the words of the prophets themselves.
Though it is written that Moses spoke with Yah “face to face,” (Exo 33:11) we find that this was an indication that he spoke with a representation of Yah as Abraham did on the plane of Mamre, (Genesis 18:1, 2) for when Moses asked to see Yah in His full and true glory, the Almighty responded, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” (Exo 33:20)
Further evidence of this may be found from the other prophets, who wrote as Ezekiel, “And above the firmament that was over [the Cherubim’s] heads was the likeness of a Throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the Throne was the likeness as the appearance of a Man above upon It.” (Ezek 1:26)
When the prophets saw Yah, they saw a likeness, an appearance. They saw a representation of Him, even as Christ is called “the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His Person,” (Heb 1:3) who declared, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9) Are there any questions on that?
Dumah: So they saw Michael the Archangel?
Zahakiel: Or some other manifestation, yes.
Qinael: I have one...
Zahakiel: Go ahead, Luke.
Qinael: Daniel seemed to go into detail about the “Ancient of Days;” was that a representation, or Michael, or… what was he seeing, if not the Father?
Zahakiel: What verse is that?
Qinael: Looking for it.
Dumah: Rev. also talks about His appearance.
Zahakiel: Okay. The “Ancient of Days” is the Father... for it is written, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him.” In 7:9 Daniel has a vision of Yah on His throne, much as John did in Revelation.
Right; 9-10 describes the Ancient of Days.
Zahakiel: Right. It is like Stephen seeing the Son sitting on the right hand of the Father :) Like Ezekiel, they saw a likeness of Him when in vision. In fact, there are several parallels between the visions of Daniel and Ezekiel: the wheels, the fiery throne, etc.
Does that answer your question?
Qinael: Yes, thanks.
Zahakiel: All right. Near the end of the chapter we have this precious teaching, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
There is no fear in love – no fear of pain, or torture, or failure, or deception, or even sin. We may hate sin, and claim freedom from it, but we need not “fear” it. When one is delivered from bondage, truly delivered, he does not fear bondage. When one is delivered from death, he does not fear death. We who have been delivered from sin do not fear sin, but we avoid it because it is death, and because it causes pain to both ourselves, and to those around us. It is an intelligent avoidance, not a fear response. That is important for us to realize, I believe; many who would be useful to the cause of Yah hold back, because they fear being deceived, or they fear that Yah will not keep them from tripping over some stumblingblock.
John closes chapter 4 with a return to a steady theme: “If a man say, ‘I love Yah,’ and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love Yah whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, ‘That he who loveth Yah love his brother also.’” (verses 20, 21)
Any questions on Chapter 4? We are almost finished :)
Qinael: I do not have any.
Zahakiel: All right. Now chapter 5 begins with another way to test the spirits: “Whosoever believeth that Yahshua is the Christ is born of Yah: and every one that loveth Him that begat loveth Him also that is begotten of Him.” (1 John 5:1) This one certainly has a wide application. If one truly loves Yahshua, and truly believes He is the Messiah, he cannot likely be of the darkness.
We understand that to some extent Judas, who betrayed the Master, loved Him to some degree, and believed well enough that He was the Messiah – but he had a greater love for his own desires, his own finances and power and ideas, and this overcame him ultimately. For this reason we are not told merely to love Yah, but “Thou shalt love Yahweh thy Almighty One with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Mat 32:27) That is the degree of love that keeps us from putting “self” first, and that is the kind of love that makes 1 John 5:1 an essentially universal test of the believer.
Zahakiel: John also applies this to true belief, not just true love. He writes, “By this we know that we love the children of Yah, when we love Yah, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of Yah, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Yahshua is the Son of Yah?” (verses 2 – 5) Let me know when you have read this.
Zahakiel: This is the passage that taught us to call the “Righteousness by Faith” message the “Victory” over self and sin :) True love of Yah leads to obedience to His commands. True faith in Yahshua leads to obedience to His commands. This obedience that is based on faith, and not on a keeping of the law to become righteous... this is a victory that overcomes all the world, all sin, all unrighteousness.
Zahakiel: “Who is it that overcomes the world?” John asks. The answer is this: “He that believeth that Yahshua is the Son of Yah.” We must believe, not as the devils that know and tremble, but “Even as Abraham believed Yah, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Galatians 3:6) This is righteousness, and righteousness by faith.
Dumah: Submission of the will = a saving faith.
Zahakiel: Yes :)
Now here follows a passage, even as the book draws to a close, that is used by Trinitarians in a defense of their doctrine: “This is He that came by water and blood, even Yahshua the Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” (1 John 5:6, 7)
Many consider this THE definitive Trinity verse. It is THE Scripture that proves (for them) three “co-equal, co-eternal Persons of the Godhead.” But herein we see another example of the folly of taking a verse without regard for its theme and setting. Just as they have done with 1 John 1:8 and 1 John 2:1, so they have done with this passage.
Dumah: This verse isn’t even talking about personhood.
Zahakiel: Right. Truly, Christ was sent by the Father, and just as truly the Spirit testified to His appearing. There are three indeed that bear record in Heaven: The Father, the Word (or Son) and the Holy Ghost. These three are thus one. Yet must the Spirit be considered a co-equal, co-eternal Person because it is listed with the Father and Son, who are in fact co-equal and co-eternal? This is known as “guilt by association.”
Dumah: You sound like an English teacher.
Zahakiel: <smiles.> Well, now I may sound like a logician :) Here... It can easily be shown to be a false conclusion in this verse by the most simple of Bible-study techniques: by reading the next verse.
The next verse tells us, “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” (1 John 5:8) Now, the Spirit is listed with two other things that most will agree are not co-equal, co-eternal Persons of the Godhead.
“But,” some will object, “it says the Father, Word and Spirit ARE one, and then it says the Spirit, water and blood AGREE in one. There’s a difference.” The truth is, there isn’t. The word “agree” is translated from the same word for “is” in verse 7 above. The word eisi simply means “is” or “to be.” Those two verses mean the same thing. Now, if we MUST conclude that the Spirit is a Person because it is listed with two Persons, what do we do with verse 8? Either the blood and water are persons also, or the Spirit is not a Person in the same sense the Father and Son are Persons – at least based on this verse and the logic applied to verse 7.
We need not undertake a study of the Trinity doctrine here... I have one already available online; but suffice it to say that this passage cannot be used as a “prooftext” to support it; the context and indeed the plain reading of the verses forbid that conclusion entirely.
Is everyone clear on these things?
Qinael: I am.
Zahakiel: All right, just a couple more things to go. Just before he ends, John explains something necessary to getting the most out of his epistle. Throughout the letter, John has been using the word “sin” on a constant basis, and now he tells us, “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. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.” (1 John 5:16, 17)
What does it mean, “a sin not unto death?” We are told plainly that “the wages of sin is death,” (Rom 6:23) and no exceptions are made regarding the type or degree of sin.
The only way to understand this is to realize that John has been speaking of Christ all along, and rebuking an error claiming that Christ was not truly given for us as a sin-offering, that He did not truly die on the Cross to release us from the guilt of the Law. This matter of a sin unto death, and a sin not unto death, is spoken of only in one other setting... the Old Testament passages that deal WITH the offerings for sin.
We read passages such as this: “If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of Yahweh; then he shall bring for his trespass unto Yah a ram without blemish out of the flocks...” (Leviticus 5:15) And this, “And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering.” (Numbers 15:27)
But we read further in Numbers 15: “And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before Yahweh, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him. Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them. But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth Yahweh; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of Yah, and hath broken His commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.” (verses 28 – 31)
Let me know when you’re done :)
Zahakiel: We see a difference, and it is certainly clear. The word “presumptuous” means to be “lifted up,” and do not think that this is an old idea that was changed under the New Covenant. You see, one who is converted, one who knows sin and has turned away in his heart, he is “enlightened.” (Hebrews 6:4 – 6) The only way such a one can sin in a thing known to him – that is, not in ignorance – is for him to “lift himself up” above Yah, as Lucifer did, and this is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit or, as Numbers puts it a “reproach” to Yahweh.
A known sin, a wrong act about which you are already convicted, this does not change Yah’s desire to take the sinner back... not at all, but it changes the sinner, and hardens the heart so that they cannot repent, even if they would. They become a “profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” (Hebrews 12:16, 17)
In a way, this is a fearsome teaching. But remember John’s words... perfect love casts out all fear. We move forward in confidence, aware of the danger, but never saying “what if,” and allowing Satan to plant a seed of doubt in the mind. Yah will have a people who endure to the end... by faith, we know we are that people. We move forward, finding and forsaking sin, but never committing a “sin unto death,” which we now see is a sin that is done “presumptuously,” or in open rebellion against the commandments of Yah with which we are already familiar.
In the immediate context of this letter, John is pointing out the extreme danger of those who were once of the flock of Yah and yet “went out from among us” because of their various errors and the Gnostic beliefs they had come to accept. Because they did these things with a “high mind,” not submitting to the elders, (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 5:5) some of whom had BEEN with Christ, many of them had placed themselves outside the grace of Yah. They called light darkness, (Isaiah 5:20) just as those Pharisees who accused Christ of having an evil spirit.
Zahakiel: They blasphemed the very Spirit of holiness, and what can save a man when he, having once known the truth, no longer even recognizes the truth that he might obey it? David wrote, “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” (Psalm 19:13) May it even be so with all of us.
Dumah: If they go out from us they were never one of us... so they can’t be “brothers.” If they come to Yah’s people with confessions and manifest a repentant spirit by their works, is it possible that they are finally “brothers?”
Zahakiel: If their reason for leaving was an ignorant deception, that is possible. But if they have “tasted the powers of Heaven” that is a much harder thing from which to recover. To taste and see that Yah is good is to “know” the truth.
Pastor “Chick”: I have never known of any who “went out from us” that came back.
Dumah: I suppose only Yah would know that, then...and those to whom He reveals it.
Zahakiel: When Paul describes this he talks about those who have been “enlightened.” But pastor has said it right... when they hear this message, it is enough light to “Seal” them if they continue in it. If they reject what they have received, they cannot obtain new knowledge elsewhere to set them back on the path, unless perhaps a beam of light directly from Heaven.
Dumah: I’ve heard you both say at times that perhaps some of those who hesitated will join during the persecution... is that genuine?
Zahakiel: We have cherished hope that when the actual persecutions begin, some will have their consciences awakened and may limp back into the Kingdom. But... it is a slim hope at best. It is a “hoping against hope.”
Dumah: :) like the angel that had not drawn the sword returned. Zephon, I think.
Zahakiel: Right. If someone who has left us has attacked us in words, or writing... I don’t see how they can be restored.
Okay, we are just about finished... John closes his book with something that is a familiar theme to his readers by now, along with a promise and an instruction. He writes, “We know that whosoever is born of Yah sinneth not; but he that is begotten of Yah keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. And we know that we are of Yah, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of Yah 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 Yahshua the Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (1 John 5:18 – 21) Let me know when you have read this last passage from 1 John.
Pastor “Chick”: OK.
Zahakiel: Lest we forget, John reminds us one last time: whosoever is born of Yah sinneth not :) This is worded differently than 3:9 which says, “doth not commit sin,” and therefore if anyone wishes to question John’s intention, he rewords it here to make it even more clear. This verse cannot be interpreted “does not habitually, constantly sin.”
Even the Greek Diaglott, which rather liberally translates 1 John 3:9 as, “No one who has been begotten by God practices sin,” is forced by the clear language of 5:18 to render it into English this way, “We know that everyone who has been begotten by God does not sin; but the one begotten by God guards himself and the evil one does not lay hold of him.”
Pastor “Chick”: Amen!
Zahakiel: Even the NASB, which can be used by some to weaken the force of 3:9 reads here, “We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.”
The nominally Christian commentaries on this verse, as one might expect, are useless; but there are too many witnesses, and this one is most clear, declaring that the Victory over sin is a true, and unquestionable teaching of Christ and His apostles.
Pastor “Chick”: And, we who have “seen and heard and tasted”, are living testimonies to “the Truth.”
Zahakiel: Yes :) We know our witness is true, says John, and say those who follow after his example. We know because Yah has given us wisdom and understanding. We “know” that whosoever is born of Yah does not commit sin.
And finally, the last words are, “Keep yourselves from idols.” This final instruction is not out of place. There are many false teachers out there, there are many with a psalm, a doctrine, a prophecy. There are many who would mislead, or use sophistry to quiet the voice of conscience.
Dumah: Sin is idolatry.
Zahakiel: There are many who, on hearing this message, delight in going to their former teachers (as Ellen White told us would be the case in The Great Controversy) and seek to see what the “smart ones” will do when they hear this message.
But beware, the apostle tells us, keep yourself from idols. Idols may be traditions, comfort zones, maybe even people we trust. But, “let no man deceive you;” if ANYONE, even an angel from Heaven, should teach contrary to this Gospel which Christ delivered to us by the Messenger of His own blood, let him be anathema.
Keep yourself from idolatry, and you will “know” that the witness of these words is true, and that the message taught by Christ, taught by John, and taught by every true believer down through the ages has been accepted and is being heralded by the Remnant Church of Yah’s people, and no other people in all the world have, as a body, been so very, very blessed.
Pastor “Chick”: Amen!
Zahakiel: Does anyone have any questions about any of these things before we dismiss? :)
Barbara: None here.
Qinael: I have none.
Dumah: :) This meeting was a blessing.
Pastor “Chick”: Praise YAH for His witness in the earth! for His living Word!
Zahakiel: Amen :)
Let’s close with a prayer, then... and I will begin to work on the transcript so I can post it to anyone who wants the link. Have we a volunteer?
Dumah: I will.
Dumah: Loving Father in heaven,
Your word holds the answers to all of the doubts and lies that Satan would hurl at us. Thank you for entrusting us with the precious light in Your word. Thank you for confirming this light with your blood, and with the witness of Your Spirit in we who walk in Your Testimonies. We love you, and we will show you how much we love You by how we treat our brother; and we will give You all the glory.
Thank you for this meeting and bless your humble servants whom you have called to lead this movement to the end. Let us all unite in Spirit and in love that not one of us be lacking when the books are closed and Your holy Son lays off His garments of judgment. In Yahshua, the manifestation of Your character, in His name we ask these things and claim by faith that we have them. Amen.
Zahakiel: Amen :)
Pastor “Chick”: Sabbath Greetings to all.
Zahakiel: You too :)
Qinael: You as well <smiles.>
Pastor “Chick”: We have a song service in one hour 20 min....
Crystle: Thank you, and Happy Sabbath to all as well.
Zahakiel: Okay. I will close this window to save the transcript, but I will be online. Yah bless, and remember to think of topics for next month :)