WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson XXVII) 11/18/22

5:4 because everyone who is a child of God has the power to win against the world.

As an expert on John’s writings, John Painter (1935) remarks that even with the Anointed One’s victory, worldly society still lies bound in the grip of the Evil One. Even under these circumstances, the capacity for success is evident with the affirmation that we are God’s children, as evil forces dominate the world around us,[1] which implies that the evil one no longer has the power to demand obedience from us. This power comes from the divine ability to conquer worldly influence. Our faith overpowered and continues defeating the world’s endless temptations. As the Apostle Paul forcefully stated, “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through the Anointed One, who loved us.”[2] Our faith has the power to conquer worldliness.[3]

Ministry and Missions Overseer Muncia Walls (1937) notes that the Apostle John again employs a statement in verse four that may not be clear to the reader. Why did he say “whatsoever,” [KJV] instead of “whosoever,” is born of God? We know that John is speaking of those born again but is also talking about their experience. That gives the born-again child of God overcoming triumph through the experience already received and undergoing new creation in the Anointed One. John is not implying a once-for-all-time experience that overcomes the world with this comment; the Greek verb nikaō in this statement suggests “constantly overcoming the world.” We receive the capability to continue conquering the world when the Holy Spirit lives in us. The Holy Spirit within the child of God enables them to continue walking in victory over this world. John says our overwhelming victory is our faith.[4]

An articulate spokesman for the Reformed faith James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000), points out the three tests in verses two to four. For instance, no infant is born into isolation or unique because their mannerisms and attributes do not connect with their ancestors. For one thing, they are born into a family relationship. For another, they possess at least some of the attributes of those who reproduced them. Spiritually speaking, this means that the child of God exhibits the features the Apostle John letter has been teaching.  

The first characteristic is love for the parent and God’s other children. Earlier, John said this feature in God’s children is “loving God.”[5] Now he shows equally that it is a virtue of the child of God to be loved by those who are also members of God’s family. Love divorced from obedience is not love at all. So, John immediately passes from love to the second matter of God’s mandates, saying, “This is love for God, to obey His commands.”[6] Christians frequently attempt to turn love for God into a mushy emotional experience, but John does not allow this in his epistle. Love for the brethren means an active love that expresses itself.

Similarly, love for God means a love that expresses itself in obedience to His commandments. These verses define the third of John’s tests as belief and obedience. The implication is that, just as it is inconceivable to have love without obedience or being obedient without love, it is also impossible to have love or obedience without belief in Jesus as the Anointed Son of God. John wrote his Gospel to lead men and women to this twofold confession.[7] These three statements express three essential principles: That which is victorious over the world has its origins in God. Indeed, no victory would be possible if it were not for the reality of that new life that sprang from God and was planted within the Christian.[8]

After a long look at the Apostle John’s message William Loader (1944) implies that John felt urged to explain this spiritual family connection more directly because only God’s children overcome the world. The children of God are able to fulfill the command to love because they can counter the pressures brought against them by the world and its corrupt value systems. Their base is not selfishness and greed but compassion and caring. Starting from this base and allowing themselves to gain such understanding and comfort, they are free to pass on empathy and thoughtfulness without being crippled by the world’s agenda of proving themselves and bettering themselves at the expense of others.

Great Commission disciple David Jackman (1945) believes that victory is the third and last characteristic evidence of true faith in a Christian’s life and experience. That’s why everyone born of God overcomes the world. The idea is not new. We can see past what the opposition has planned to combat the things of God. The evil one has complete control of the world’s society.[9] But the new birth removes us from that sphere of decay and death[10] and translates us into the kingdom of eternal life.[11] [12]

After studying the context surrounding verse four, John W. (Jack) Carter (1947) remarks that though the faithful have been marginalized, persecuted, and even martyred, they have not been defeated and never will be. The evil nature that permeates this world seeks to consume all who will submit to it, but that evil is powerless against the Holy Spirit and cannot destroy the spirit of a faithful follower of the LORD. By dwelling in the believer’s heart, the Holy Spirit is the seal of salvation, a seal that cannot be “overpowered” by the evil one.  Satan, his minions, or the immoral people of this world cannot take away salvation from any believer. 

Consequently, the believer has eternally overcome this enemy through the power of the Holy Spirit. The ability to “overcome the world” comes from one simple promise of God:  when one places their faith and trust in Him, one is no longer condemned to eternal death by their sin. The very point of salvation is that one is saved from an eternity apart from God. Sin no longer has the power to condemn someone who has placed their faith and trust in God.  God is victorious over evil by gracefully granting forgiveness to those who love Him.[13]

From one who loves sharing Robert W. Yarbrough (1948) tells us that the reason why God’s commands are not a bitter burden[14] is that personal faith enables believers to break free of the world’s downward pull.[15] That is the essence of verse four, where the Apostle John says, “everyone given spiritual rebirth from God overcomes the world.” But the phrase everything born of God) is used in personal terms here. John chooses a construction in verse four that emphasizes the quality and elite status believers possess by receiving supernatural renewal through a regenerating act of God appropriated by faith.[16] [17]

A believer that Christians can fall away, Ben Witherington III (1951) feels that the Apostle John’s declaration that everyone born of God conquers the world’s ungodly behavior and morals. Since this remark is attached to what has come before, it presumably means that born-of-God persons can escape the gravity of this world, which holds us down and hinders us from obeying God’s commands, particularly the command to love. “The children of God are able to fulfill the command to love because they can counter the pressures brought against them by the world and its value systems … they are free … to pass on that compassion and caring without being crippled by the world’s agenda of proving oneself and bettering oneself at the expense of others.”[18]

Witherington points out that the Greek present active verb Nika (“overcomes”) indicates that the struggle is ongoing but winnable. Here we are told what amounts to the key to overcoming the world: “our faith.” Even better, John tells us by what means the world is driven back. The participle here, nikesasa indicates an event in the past: the hour in which a Christian first believed. Interestingly, only here in the Final Covenant do we have the noun Nike (“victory.”)[19]

With her seminarian insight, Judith Lieu (1951) agrees that verse four provides a transition from the previous section, emphasizing love as the defining mark of those in a close relationship with God. However, such an accord is inseparable from belief in the true identity of Jesus. Just as love bound them together with God, and separated them from all that opposes God, so does hostility bind the world together in their ungodly belief. Earlier, the Apostle John assured his readers that victory over the world was already theirs.[20] John may be drawing this conclusion from the final battle at the end of time between forces on God’s side against the evil followers of Satan.[21] It may have been strong enough for John to include it in his compliment to the young men because you have defeated the Evil One.[22] The victory did not lie in their achievements but in the superiority of the one who dwelled in them. So they were encouraged to see their struggles as a scene from the future conflict between good and evil, eternal life, and everlasting punishment.[23]

Contextual interpretation specialist Gary M. Burge (1952) notices that the Apostle John repeats what he said in verse one about people who understand the true identity of the Anointed One as those who love God and all His children who obey His commands as people who have been born of God. If they have such divine power, the mandate to love cannot be a burden. No impediment, no temptation from the world, can rob them of moral victory. Therefore, the triumph of the Christian life is not about us as we are in the world. It is about power – transformation through a rebirth – and how that power defeats the world’s impulses that once controlled us.[24]

Emphasizing the Apostle John’s call to fellowship, Bruce B. Barton (1954) notes that the Greek adjective pan to (“whatsoever” KJV; “whatever” NKJV) designates the collective unit of believers, not just a single believer. In the next verse, the Apostle John referred to the individual. This same pattern – speaking of the collective body of believers and then of each believer – is also found in John’s Gospel.[25] The unified corporate body of regenerated believers – the Christian community – has the power that overcomes (conquers or defeats) the world’s dominant influence.[26] In verse five, Barton points out that the word overcomes implies a “military conquest.” The world looks at God’s commands as limiting and burdensome, but Christians (those born of God) know that obeying God cannot be troublesome because of the power within them and because they desire to please Him, since, by faith, we know we have already overcome.[27]


[1] 1 John 5:19

[2] Romans 8:37

[3] Painter, John. Sacra Pagina: 1, 2, and 3 John: Volume 18, Kindle Edition

[4] Walls, Muncia: Epistles of John and Jude, op. cit., p. 83

[5] 1 John 5:2

[6] Ibid. 5:3

[7] John 20:30-31

[8] Boice, James Montgomery: The Epistles of John, An Expositional Commentary, op. cit., pp. 125-128

[9] 1 John 5:19

[10] Ibid 2:17

[11] Ibid 3:14

[12] Jackman, David: The Message of John’s Letters, op. cit., p. 142

[13] Carter, Dr. John W. (Jack). 1,2,3, John & Jude: (The Disciple’s Bible Commentary Book 48), op. cit., pp. 119-120

[14] 1 John 5:3

[15] See William Loader, The Johannine Epistles, (1992), op. cit., p.61; Daniel Akin, Christ-Centered Exposition, 1,2,3 John, p. 192

[16] Cf. 1 John 5:1

[17] Yarbrough, Robert W.. 1-3 John (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), op. cit., p. 275

[18] See William Loader, The Johannine Epistles, (1992), op. cit., p.61

[19] Witherington, Ben III, Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Titus, 1-2 Timothy and 1-3 John, op. cit., loc. cit., Kindle Edition

[20] 1 John 4:4

[21] Revelation 20:10

[22] 1 John 2:13-14

[23] Lieu, Judith: The New Testament Library, I, II, & III., op. cit., p. 206

[24] Burge, Gary M., The Letters of John (The NIV Application Commentary), op. cit., pp. 192-193

[25] John 6:37. 39; 17:2. 24

[26] See 1 John 5:5; John 16:33

[27] Burton, Bruce B., 1, 2, & 3 John (Life Application Bible Commentary), op. cit. pp. 107-108

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson XXVI) 11/17/22

5:4 because everyone who is a child of God has the power to win against the world.

It is not the mere fact of having received the Divine birth that John insists on, notes Plummer, but the permanent results of that birth.[1] This is the victory that overcomes! Better, the conquest that subdued the world is this victory won once and for all.[2] So faith, which is “the proof of things not seen,”[3] which “are eternal,”[4] has conquered the visible world and, is on its way out.[5] Faith is both the victory and the victor by the faith that has won a decisive victory, the believer conquers.[6]

A prolific writer on the Epistles, George G. Findlay (1849-1919) notes that it was a dismal world the Apostle John surveyed – a world with Roman Domitian for its emperor, Juvenal for its poet, and Tacitus for its historian. People lay crushed beneath the tyrannies and evils of that age in all directions. Nowhere, except in the Christian camp, are John and his comrades standing erect and free, confident and resourceful. So, cries the Apostle, “Who are they that overcome the world?” Then he answers his question, “none except those that believe Jesus is the Son of God!” Victory is the word in which, at this threatening hour, the last of the Apostles sums up his personal experience and records the issue of the first grand campaign of the Anointed One’s kingdom, during which its future course and history had been rehearsed. He sees “the darkness of ignorance passing away, and the true light of the Gospel already shining.” That is why Jesus was bold enough to say, with Gethsemane and Calvary beckoning Him, “Be of good cheer: I have overcome the world!”[7] [8]

In agreement with the Apostle John’s goals, William Macdonald Sinclair (1850-1917) finds that one of the difficulties believers encounter in keeping God’s commands is coping with worldly opposition and influence. Nevertheless, you are a faithful child of God. You fight as a conqueror because God is in you; God overcame the world in the Anointed One and is still conquering evil through His sons and daughters: so that all His mandates are friendly.[9] The Apostle John then injects a new thought suitable to the mood of the passage, which establishes that faith is the measure of love. As human instruments achieve the conquest that is overcoming worldliness, its agent may be regarded as our faith, which appropriates the Anointed One’s work, and carries it out for Him and through Him.[10] [11]

Undoubtingly, says Charles Gore (1853-1932) the victory which overcame the world represents “our faith.” But the context shows that the faith the Apostle John is thinking of is an assurance resting upon facts of experience – the truths of the Anointed One’s human life, which justifies the belief in the divine sonship of those born again. The victory of our faith depends upon the triumph by Him in whom we have believed. It is His victory appropriated by us.[12]

A Church Pulpit Commentary contributor Archdeacon Henry Edward James Bevan (1854-1935) an English Anglican priest explains that “faith” has two meanings in the Final Covenant. The Apostle John uses it in a concrete sense of a definite form of belief embodied in a Christian Creed such as “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.” But more commonly, it is used in an abstract sense, of the moral quality of the soul – a quality which may be, and which is, as frequently employed in the secular life as in the spiritual. Just as the art of painting is related to a particular painter or picture, so is faith as a moral quality related to a specific group or teachings. Our Lord likens the moral quality called faith to the vital force which lives and works in nature: “‘If you have faith the size of a mustard seed … nothing will be impossible to you.[13]

We must also recognize that faith is a quality that ensures a believer’s growth and maturity. It does not operate suddenly or make instant miraculous changes; it takes time like the mustard seed, it is faith that removes mountains of difficulty, that overcomes the multiple dangers, oppositions, weaknesses, and impossibilities, of this mortal life of ours, and casts them into the sea of human triumph. When we examine intellectual effort, it points out the difference between competent and incompetent teachers. The truth is that one believes, and the other does not believe in how practical their training and instruction areee to their students. A good teacher believes that their efforts will never be wasted no matter how unpromising the soil on which the good seed is sown.[14]

Beyond doubt, Alonzo Rice Cocke (1858-1901) agrees that the specific form of life that God filled us with is to defeat worldly temptations, and the one source for victory is faith. The Apostle John does not say by faith we attain success. He says faith is itself the victory that overcomes the world. Faith gains strength in victory by withstanding worldly conflicts. When faith remains steadfast in its quiet, healthy process of development, the whole subsequent Christian life is nothing else than a continuation of the victory over the world. The Anointed One says not that He will, but He has overcome the world,[15] and bids believers rejoice in this assurance; so, faith, by fellowship with the Anointed One, thus sharing in His victory over the world. Therefore, we must be distrustful of all efforts to cure the evils of the world that do not rest upon this foundation; even though they may accomplish single reforms, a radical cure of the disease is not to be affected by such means. The Anointed One gained this victory, and harvesting its fruit is still going on.[16]

In reviewing the Apostle John’s theme here, Archibald T. Robertson (1863-1934) states that God’s commandments are not heavy because of the power that comes with the new birth. Jesus won the victory over the world,[17] and God in us[18] gives us the victory. Even our faith. Our faith in Jesus the Anointed One is shown by our confession and conduct.[19]

In characteristic fashion, Alan England Brooke (1863-1939) sees in verse four the power each Christian has in virtue of the new birth from God. The Apostle John emphasizes the power of the new delivery rather than its possession by each individual. Everyone born of God has within themselves a force strong enough to overcome the resistance of all the world’s evil powers, which hinders them from loving God. Our faith that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Son of God, is accepted not as an intellectual conviction but as a principle of life, overcoming the powers of the world, which contend for a different lifestyle. John must be thinking of the conversion of each community member. The most natural reference is to the definite withdrawal of the false teachers from the fellowship of the Church. There is no apparent reference to the victory of the Anointed One over the world,[20] which His followers share in virtue of their faith in so far as they unite themselves with Him.[21]

With an eye for detail, David Smith (1866-1932) proposes that the reason why “God’s commandments are not heavy” is that our faith conquers the world by clinging to God’s eternal principles and realities. We must believe that, despite our appearance, we are God’s, and God is in us and working His saving will in us. The Apostle John begins with “conquering” because the fight is in progress, then “overcoming” because the victory is assured.[22]

As a spiritual mentor, Ronald A. Ward (1920-1986) feels that the Apostle John’s message in verse four is that everything born of God conquers the world. So that leaves the question do they overcome? One thing John know is that it is not the properties but the persons. John emphasizes the totality and the experience. This means that the key to winning was faith. In addition, John sees the victory as in the past “the victory that overcame the world,[23] and in the continuous present “overcomes the world.”[24] [25]

In a somewhat confrontational way, Peter S. Ruckman (1921-2016) points out that in the KJV the Apostle John says, “whatsoever,” not “whosoever.” The Greek adjective pas means each, every, any, all, everyone, and everything. Collectively, pas implies some of all types. In his Lexicon, Strong tells us that in verse four it is neuter meaning “anything and everything.” From the context, John is not referring to trees, animals, mountains, etc., but to each child of God since they have God’s power against the evil one and his world.[26]

As a capable scripture analyst Ian Howard Marshall (1934-2015) questions that in light of all the Apostle John has said so far, how can the believer keep God’s commandments to perfection? The Apostle answers that God has given believers the power to conquer the forces of temptation that would hinder them corm carrying out His will. Everyone born of God has defeated the world by the power given to them that enables them to vanquish false prophets[27] and also empowers them to subdue the world with all its temptations. And what is this power? Faith fuels our victory. The fact that we hold steadfast faith in our hearts is the means whereby the new world’s power operates in us and allows us to subdue the world’s attractions.

It is striking that John says that we have gained control over the world. Perhaps he is thinking of the completed victory of Jesus, which repeats itself in the life of the Christian.[28] Or maybe we should take John’s meaning to be: “this is the means of victory, namely what we believe about Jesus who has already overcome the world.” To believe that Jesus has been victorious is to have the power that enables us also to win the battle, for we know that our enemy is already defeated and therefore powerless. And it is precisely faith that we need.

Sometimes, the power of evil appears uncontrollable to the natural eye, and to the weak Christian, the force of temptation seems irresistible. It requires a firm belief in Jesus to motivate us to dismiss sin’s enticing, uncontrollable evil as an illusion to escape the conflict. But that is far from the truth; it is right in the middle of evil’s display of power that the believer confronts its challenge and proclaims the superior might of Jesus. Such faith is far from being a wish fulfillment or sheer illusion. On the contrary, it rests squarely on the truth that Jesus the Anointed One has triumphed over death, and anybody who can defeat death can destroy anything.[29]


[1] Cf. John 3:6, 8

[2] Ibid. 16:33

[3] Hebrews 11:1

[4] 2 Corinthians 4:18

[5] 1 John 2:17

[6] Plummer, Alfred: The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, op. cit., First Epistle of St. John, pp. 156-157

[7] John 16:33

[8] Findlay, George G: Fellowship in the Life Eternal: An Exposition of the Epistles of St. John, op. cit., p. 359

[9] Cf. 1 John 3:9; 4:4; John 16:33

[10] Cf. 1 John 2:13-14, 23; 4:4; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

[11] Sinclair, W. M: New Testament Commentary for English Readers, Charles J. Ellicott, (Ed.), op. cit., Vol. III, pp. 490-491

[12] Gore, Charles: The Epistles of St. John, op. cit., p. 195

[13] Matthew 17:20

[14] Bevan, Henry Edward James: The Church Pulpit Commentary, op. cit., Vol. 12, The Victory of Faith, pp. 316-318

[15] John 16:33

[16] Cocke, Alonzo R: Studies in the Epistles of John; or, The Manifested Life, op. cit., p. 123

[17] John 16:13

[18] 1 John 4:4

[19] Robertson, Archibald T., Word Pictures of the New Testament, op. cit., pp. 1966-1967

[20] John 16:33

[21] Brooke, Alan E., Critical and Expository Commentary of the Johannine Epistles, op. cit., pp. 130-131

[22] Smith, David: Expositor’s Greek Testament, op. cit., p. 194

[23] See 1 John 2:13

[24] Ibid. 5:4; 5:5

[25] Ward, Ronald A., The Epistles on John and Jude, op. cit., p. 54

[26] Ruckman, Dr. Peter S., General Epistles Vol. 2 (1-2-3 John, Jude Commentary), op. cit., loc. cit. Kindle Edition

[27] 1 John 4:4

[28] John 16:13

[29] Marshall, Ian Howard: The Epistles of John (The New International Commentary on the New Testament), op. cit., pp. 228-229

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson XXV) 11/16/22

5:4 because everyone who is a child of God has the power to win against the world.

As a monarch in the pulpit, Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910) finds that no Final Covenant writer frequently uses the metaphors of combat and victory as this gentle Apostle, John. Few conceived the Christian life as a daily conflict, and none of their writings makes the clear note of triumph in the word “overcomes” ring out so constantly as it does in those of the Apostle of Love. The prominence John gives to the contemplation of abiding in the Anointed One is equally characteristic of his writings. These two conceptions of the Christian life appear to be conflicting but are harmonious. But as to the words in verse four, they appear in a very remarkable context here.

If you read a verse or two before, you will get the distinctiveness of their introduction. “This is the love of God,” says John, “that we keep His commandments: for His commandments are not burdensome.” They are awkward and challenging in themselves; it is difficult to do right, walk in the ways of God, and please Him all the time. Yes, His mandates are hard to carry out – but let’s read on; – “Does it say they are not grievous for those born of God to keep His commandments?” No! “Whatever is born of God overcomes the world.” For John, that is the same as obeying God’s commandments. First, notice, what is the true notion of conquering the world? Secondly, how that victory may be ours through faith.[1]

For instance, Henry A. Sawtelle (1832-1913) sees the Apostle John introduce why the love-command is not grievous. Because after our new birth, we come into a state of victory, actually begun and ideally completed by our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. We can assume that worldly influence causes any difficulty in obedience –feelings inwardly or outwardly. The desire for worldly pleasures and personal pride imparts a burdensome aspect to our Lord’s commands. Also, we must sometimes deal with worldly temptation and persecution. These are foes of spiritual obedience. But whoever is born of God learns to cope successfully with these distractions. Obedience contains a conquering principle and will help sweep such difficulties out of the way.

The conflict will be great sometimes, and the desire for worldly things is not subdued all at once; nevertheless, our new nature goes on to victory and overcomes it in the end. For it is like God. “Whomever God births” covers all believers, whether man, woman, or anything else.[2] The world’s philosophy and immorality, on the other hand, compete with God’s Spirit. So, the depravity of human nature is a part of the world. Therefore, faith is the victory that overcomes what the world throws at us.[3]

The Abarim Bible Dictionary explains that the Greek verb nikaō is in the aorist present tense (which indicates that the action was started and is ongoing). It also specifies that whoever is born of God performs the action instead of receiving it. In addition, its mood is indicative (which describes a current situation) as opposed to a condition that might be, is wished for, or commanded to be.[4] In other words, the believer’s overcoming is not in the past; it is a daily process. Furthermore, it is not done at the beginning or end of the day but in each instance. That’s why our sanctification at the new birth is continuous throughout life.

Greek word expert Marvin R. Vincent (1834-1921) sees it somewhat differently. For Vincent, the aorist tense of “overcame” started and is an ongoing expression of the victory that overcame.[5] The victory over the world was potential, it was won when we believed in Jesus as the Anointed One, the Son of God. We overcome the world by being brought into union with the Anointed One. On becoming as He is,[6] we become partakers of His victory.[7]Greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world.”[8] [9]

Noting doctrinal implications, John James Lias (1834-1923) clarifies that the neuter Greek adjective pas here is not equivalent to all humanity as some have thought. Instead, it refers to the natural power in them.[10] It is not we who conquer but the power that dwells in us. If we overcome, it is not credited to any human ability apart from God. Instead, His divine gift working in each of us unites us into one body in the Anointed One. It means that whoever has been born from God overcomes, that is, has permanent possession of the power to overcome worldliness. When the Apostle John says, “this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith,” it literally implies that this is the victory that overcame or (has been overcoming) the world. It does not suggest that our faith overcame the world. However, John links faith with the past fact that defeating it draws its power. Without connection with that past fact, our faith could have no such ability.[11]

Here are some homiletical insights for verses three and four: 1) Keeping God’s commandments produces peace of mind. 2) It produces an approving conscience; 3) It promotes unity and peace among mankind, and 4) It grows easier by practicing and forming holy habits. Thus, our new life is sparked into operation by faith that helps in conquering worldliness. Because it is the life of God manifested in Jesus the Anointed One and imparted to us by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, spiritual life must be a victorious life. It cannot be otherwise.[12] By this, the fulfillment of God’s commands is not grievous. By ourselves, says Lias, we are utterly incapable of rising to the level of their requirements.[13] But in His strength, we are always able to conquer.

We need only to believe 1) that God is Lord of all; 2) He wills to make us partakers of His glory; 3) He is ready to impart to us the power we need to have victory over sin, and 4) this power to attain successful obedience is in His Son. Hence, this kind of perfect faith produces ideal obedience. But, on the other hand, if we are not yet victorious over sin, it proves our faith is imperfect. And according to the measure of our faith, so is our approach to Christian perfection. Let us then “reach forward towards the things that are before.[14] [15]

With his lexicon in mind, Augustus Hopkins Strong (1836-1921) illustrates that just as the accomplished organist demonstrates the unexpected capabilities of his instrument, likewise, the Anointed One brings into activity all the hidden powers of the human soul.[16] It goes against those who object to the Doctrine of Perseverance, says Hopkins. Such thinking leads to spiritual laziness. But this is only possible for the unregenerate. The certainty of success is the most substantial incentive to activity in the conflict with sin to regenerate. It is notoriously untrue that confidence in overcoming inspires reluctance or idleness. The only prayers God will answer are those we cannot answer. Therefore, the Apostle Paul urges, “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”[17] [18] British scholar, preacher, and author Thomas Fuller (1608-1661) said, “Your salvation is His business; His service your business.”

To be clear, Robert Cameron (1839-1904) asks how can we know that we love God’s children? Only when we love God and observe His commandments. As the Apostle John tells us, loving God’s children proves the reality of love for God. In verse four, we learn that love for God is the test of love for fellow believers. We show the existence of love for our spiritual brothers and sisters by love and obedience to the commands of a universal heavenly Father. It is only possible because of the new life believers possess. If a person is born of God and provides the incentive to love, then it follows that we should love all who are born again. As a result, we exercise love toward fellow believers not merely because we find them pleasant and friendly companions but because they are part of God’s family. Those called “children” here are not those in whom the divine life may have the least possible development but in whom the life exists.

So, we may say we love the spiritual family members we see, and, therefore, love God whom we have not seen. Or contrariwise, we may say, we love God and keep His commandments and, therefore, we love all Christians. Thus, the existence of love for God is a rational reason for assuming the presence of love for others. And because of this inward experience of love and outward obedience to commandments, we come to know that we love God and love His children also. This is the victory, even our faith. No one has triumphed over the world until becoming united with the Anointed One and achieving success at this crucial point. They are set free by this truth received in their hearts; all others are slaves of an insane and savage world.[19]

Manifestly, Erich Haupt (1841-1910) believes that the reason the law of God became easy is evident here in verse four. Obeying the commandments becomes hard only by worldly opposition, which frustrates and hinders their fulfillment. It depends on the world’s power as the kingdom of darkness to contaminate worldly thinking with the evil influence of Satan.[20] As a result, the tendency to act in opposition to God’s will became part of its culture. Therefore, this inclination makes all obedience towards God a daily wrestle, so to speak, driven by the world’s continuous influence upon believers. But what power will secure enduring success in a war like this, which will permanently provide victory? What is the might that is equal to this?  Without exception, the divine energy, the power of Light, triumphs over the world as the seat of all darkness. Because this victory is necessary, the divine commandments that require and enforce this victory cannot become a burden.[21]

In his calculating mind, Alfred Plummer (1841-1926) is sure God’s commandments are not burdensome for two reasons: 1) He gives us strength to carry them.[22] 2) Because love makes them weightless. They are unlike the heavy legal rules, regulations, and requirements the Pharisees’ piled on people’s shoulders. Here again, we have an echo of the Master’s words; “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”[23] Another reason why even keeping the challenging commandment of loving others rather than oneself is not a dreadful burden. The world and its immoral ways make keeping the Divine commands so tough. But the new birth in faith gives us a unique, otherworldly nature with spiritual strength that conquers those temptations. It is the individual’s birth by God that brings triumph.


[1] Maclaren, Alexander: Sermons and Exposition on 1 John, Faith Conquering the World.

[2] Cf. John 3:6; 6:37, 39; 17:2

[3] Sawtelle, Henry A., Commentary on the Epistles of John, op. cit., pp. 55-56

[4] Abarim Publications Interlinear (Greek/English) New Testament.

[5] See 1 John 4:9

[6] John 3:17

[7] Ibid. 16:33

[8] 1 John 4:4

[9] Vincent, Marvin R., Word Studies in the New Testament, op. cit., p. 363

[10] See John 3:6; 6:37; 17:2

[11] Lias, John James: The First Epistle of St. John with Exposition, op. cit., pp. 359-361

[12] See Luke 11:22

[13] Cf. Romans 3:9, 20, 28

[14] Philippians 3:13, 14; 2 Peter 1:5-7

[15] Lias, John James: The First Epistle of St. John with Homiletical Treatment, op. cit., pp. 358-361

[16] Strong, Augustus H., Systematic Theology, Vol. 3, op. cit., p. 57

[17] Philippians 2:12-13

[18] Strong, Augustus H., Systematic Theology, Vol. 3, op. cit., p. 197

[19] Cameron, Robert: The First Epistle of John, or, God Revealed in Light, Life, and Love, op. cit., pp. 209, 216, 247

[20] 1 John 2:15

[21] Haupt, Erich: The First Epistle of St. John: Clark’s Foreign Theological Library, Vol. LXIV, op. cit., pp. 292-293

[22] Philippians 4:13

[23] Matthew 11:30

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson XXIV) 11/14/22

5:4 because everyone who is a child of God has the power to win against the world.

After checking closely, Richard H. Tuck (1817-1868) agrees with Jelf in that he regards the world as the sphere of the “self-seeking principle.” Those born of God are conceived and birthed in another sphere – the sphere of the “God-seeking principle.” As such, the powers of darkness in the present order of things are opposed to the kingdom of Light. Thus, through faith, they are victorious over the world order because they are in union with the Anointed One, and He makes us participators in His victory.[1]

With an inquiring mind, Johannes H. A. Ebrard (1819-1893) follows what other commentators have said about the Apostle John’s words in the first half of verse four being connected with what he said in verse three. But this does not exclude the introduction of a new central theme of being born of God in verse four. Similarly, John passed along the idea mentioned in 1 John 3:24 to 1 John 5:1 as an introduction to this new theme. John laid down the proposition as supporting his argument (where the neuter verb “born” is used) in the same sense as in his Gospel.[2]

With the proposition thoroughly explained, John proceeds to assert the same thought independently, as his formal theme, of overcoming the world’s evil influence by faith.  We must not understand “faith” in the subjective sense alone, of the acting or spirit of our faith, but it is our faith in substance and object, Jesus the Anointed One. It is also that which, or Him in whom, we believe our faith, in opposition, as our believing mind, the spirit in which we believe. However, faith alone is certainly not the victory but only the cause of overcoming. It gives us the sense that “faith,” through which we become God’s children, has allowed us to triumph. But this faith includes its object – our embracing of the Anointed One in faith – that is, the action which negates the world’s evil influence.[3]

In missionary terms, James Nisbet (1823-1874) states that the Christian life is undoubtedly warfare and the great need to put on “the whole armor of God.”[4] The world is one of the greatest foes Christians encounter, but it is not the world God created – that is good, but the cosmos Satan has generated, which is evil. Nisbet then lists these issues:

I. The opposition of the world. (aIt may arise from earthly possessions. These, when rightly used, have proved a great blessing but, when wrongly used, a great curse.[5] (bIt may arise from physical achievements. The human heart too frequently desires these. But these carnal honors dazzle only for a time and often seem of no value when possessed. Pursuing them, however, sidetracks the soul from life’s great mission. (cIt may arise from sensual pleasures – the heart absorbed with such vanity has neither time nor thought for spiritual realities. (dIt may appear from bitter adversities. Prosperity lifts: adversity lets down: the one soothes and flatters the individual, and the other produces brutal and wicked thoughts in hindsight.

II. The triumph of faith. (aFaith is a spiritual principle. Not a train of ideas floating in the head, but a disposition of the heart.[6] It is cherished there and proves a living, active principle of irresistible power. (bDivine truth controls Faith. In every instance of worldly opposition, the believer asks God, “What do You want me to do?” They don’t have long to wait for the answer. Faith has a foundation to build on and is firm that even hell’s gates[7] cannot prevail against it.[8] (cGod personally sustains our faith. He teaches the hands to war and the fingers to fight.[9] (dFaith is triumphant over the world’s temptations. Indeed, it is not merely a means of conquest but a victory. Therefore, the issues of conflict and overcoming are not a mystery.[10]

Discernably, William Alexander (1824-1911) notes that the Apostle John had just said that if you have been born-again through God’s permission and power through His Spirit, you have been triumphant over the world. But what kind of conquest is John talking about? Whatever success the believer experienced wasn’t through their influence, but the victorious power of Him who said, “I have overcome the world.”[11] Yet it wasn’t a case of the Christian sitting back and watching the Anointed One destroy their opponents; it was their faith in His authority and ability to push back the world’s menacing presence. Th Christian religion is objectively and subjectively received by faith.” We see this illustrated, says Alexander, when the disciples left Jerusalem after the Day of Pentecost, God’s message was proclaimed in ever-widening circles. The number of disciples increased vastly in Jerusalem, and many Jewish priests were converted.[12] That led the Apostle Paul to say that we received grace and apostleship through the Anointed One to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for His name’s sake.[13] Take notice, faith is spoken of as the defeat of the world itself, not merely the instrument for victory. There were no parades waving the Christian flag because, notes Alexander, “There is something very noble in this deep, silent, unexcited triumph – our faith is a victory!”[14] [15]

With holiness doctrine expertise Daniel Steele (1824-1914) points out that some say the neutral term “Whatsoever” emphasizes the victorious power rather than the victorious person. Beware of that explanation of this text, however, which analyzes the Christian into two personalities, the old-self in full strength and the new-self dwelling together until death separates them. The Apostle Paus says that because the old-self was never crucified,[16] the body of sin was never destroyed. The result is a lifelong sinning personality, justified by the doctrine that entire sanctification is impossible in the present life, which encourages believers to continue in depravity, and discrowns the Gospel of the Anointed One by making death the final conqueror of sinful tendencies.

As a result, it leaves the person shackled in Satan’s evil empire whose dominion we cannot escape unless faith in the Anointed One becomes real and infinitely more valuable than earthly pleasures. Faith gives us the proper standard for estimating the value of things. The term “Even our faith” in verse four, the Greek word pistisfaith” occurs only here in John’s epistle. It is not found in his Gospel. It signifies the system of Gospel truth summed up in the confession that Jesus the Anointed One, the Son of God, both Savior, and Lord, is so trusted in and enthroned as to constitute that saving faith which works by love, purifies the heart, and overcomes the world. He who possesses this faith and perseveringly exhibits its effects in their transformed character will share the victory over the world in which the Anointed One triumphed.[17] [18]

Brooke F. Westcott (1825-1901) denotes that when considering the character of divine commandments, it does not prove they are not a burden. In themselves, they are difficult to obey.[19] To love all spiritual believers is not an easy thing. But with the mandate also comes the power of fulfillment. Even though our natural likes, feelings, and criticism may inhibit spiritual sympathy, every faculty and ability that God empowers is more robust than the world’s temptations to secure victory. The Apostle John passes from the abstract to the concrete in developing this thought. He chooses the abstract to convey a universal truth. Triumph is not so much the believer in unity with others or the Church, but of each element included in the individual’s personal and social life.[20]

Under the phrase “the world,” John implies all the secular world’s limited resources opposed to God, making obedience of His commandments difficult. By introducing the spiritual and eternal blessings, John assures us that we can overcome the temptations that spring from a narrow, earthly, and fleeting ungodly economy. So, it holds true of humans as a whole and the authority and ability supplied to them.[21] Thus, we can be sure of the divine victory as illustrated by the nature of the victory itself. The Christian’s triumph is the individual appropriation of a victory gained by the Anointed One once and for all.[22]

Experientially, Edward Blencowe (1826-1896) curate of St. Catherine’s Church, in Teversal, Nottinghamshire, England, and Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, states that a faithful Christian, on their way to heaven, has a conquest to make, a victory to win – to overcome the world’s opposition. Why is this? Because the world is fallen from God. Satan is its prince and ruler, and, therefore, through baptism, we vowed to renounce it. The devil finds in the world temptations suited to each one of us. Riches tempt one to deny God. The world’s smile and hope of its favor make many traitors to God; the fear of its frown, and still more of its sneers, keeps many from openly confessing the Anointed One as Savior.

That means, “whoever is born of God” has within them One who is greater than the world, even the Spirit of God. The grace of God enables them to persevere and get better day after day in overcoming their sinful tendencies. It begins by resisting all the world’s temptations. The victory over the world is accomplished by faith. Not as though we had any strength in ourselves or any merit to count on. But by believing our testimony and daring to act upon it, we obtain knowledge, power, and motives that make us conquerors.

How it is that everyone who has faith in the Anointed One will triumph over the world’s welcoming song. Here are some vital points to consider. 1) It is because the believer is convinced that the world is evil that God’s Son came to redeem them from its power and bring them to heaven and God. 2) Again, the believer knows that the Lord Jesus conquered the world, not for Himself but for His followers, and that they must study and strive to be sharers in His victory. 3) Christians can see by Jesus’ example, His humble life, self-denial, bitter sufferings, and death that they must renounce the world and its pleasures. It is the lesson of the Cross. 4) Faith teaches the Christian that the Savior makes grace available. 5) It is by faith in the resurrection of Jesus the Anointed One and exaltation to Heaven where He constantly intercedes for us that we are born again in a living hope,[23] to an incorruptible, and undefiled inheritance.[24]


[1] Tuck, Richard H. The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary, op. cit., pp. 328-329

[2] John 3:6, 7, 8

[3] Ebrard, Johannes H. A., Biblical Commentary on the Epistles of St. John, op. cit., pp. 314-315

[4] Ephesians 6:11

[5] 2 Timothy 4:10

[6] Romans 10:10

[7] Besides being part of a city’s protection against invaders, city gates were places of central activity in biblical times. It was at the city gates that important business transactions were made, the city court was convened, and public announcements were heralded. Cf. Deuteronomy 21:18-21; Ruth 4:1-11; 1 Samuel 4:18; Esther 2:5-8. 19-23. Thus, the “gates of hell” refers to the meeting of wicked and antichrist forces met to make decisions on how to destroy the Kingdom of God on earth.

[8] Matthew 16:18

[9] Psalm 144:1

[10] Nisbet, James: The Church Pulpit Commentary, op. cit., Vol. 12, pp. 318-319

[11] John 16:33

[12] Acts of the Apostles 6:7; cf. 14:27

[13] Romans 1:5

[14] Alexander may have taken this from William Wordsworth’s “Ode to Duty” – Thou, who art victory and awe.

[15] Alexander, William: The Holy Bible with an Explanatory and Critical Commentary, op. cit., Vol. IV, pp. 340-341

[16] Galatians 2:20; 5:34; Colossians 2:11

[17] John 16:33

[18] Steele, Daniel: Half-Hours with St. John’s Epistles, op. cit., pp. 130, 165

[19] Acts of the Apostles 14:22; 16:33

[20] John 3:6, 8

[21] Ibid. 16:33

[22] Westcott, Brooke F., The Epistles of St. John Greek Text with Notes, op. cit., pp. 179-180

[23] 1 Peter 1:3

[24] Blencowe, Edward: The Biblical Illustrator, Vol. 22, First Epistle of John, p. 399

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FIRST JOHN COMMENTARY UPDATE

Praise the Lord! I’ve finally got all the puzzle pieces back together and will start posting the lessons on the First Epistle of John on Monday, November 14, 2022.

It took more time than I anticipated, but with the Lord’s help and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, they helped me figure it out. Now I feel normal again and have that blessed feeling of serving my Lord and Savior Jesus the Anointed One.

So, thank you for your patience, I’ll see you on Monday!

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THOUGHT FOR CONSIDERATION

The other day I had an interesting conversation with a family friend. We talked about lawlessness and selfishness in parts of today’s society.

I mentioned constant calls for gun reform and mental health crises during the mass shootings. I said to him, in my mind, it’s not a mental health crisis but a Moral Health crisis.

Children are not taught morals, ethics, and civility now that God, Christianity, and the Bible are banned from public school curricula. So many families of these shooters are not known as dedicated churchgoers. If a law said, “All schools receiving federal money must have classes on these subjects before a person can graduate,” it would give them some moral compass to use.

I told my good friend that, from my perspective, there are two types of people who express interest in any involvement with God. Those who depend on RELIGION and others on RELATIONSHIP. religion is founded on CEREMONIES, and relationship is anchored in COMMITMENT. Finally, loyalty to ceremonies provides a sense SATISFACTION, whereas commitment promises security in SALVATION.

Will this provide all the answers? No! But it must start somewhere. Not with others, but with ourselves.

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UPDATE

I just got my computer out of the repair shop. I won’t be able to make up for lost time but hopefully can get things in gear right away.

Thank you for your patience!

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson XXIV) 10/31/22

5:4 because everyone who is a child of God has the power to win against the world.

German Reformed theologian Richard Rothe (1799-1867) hears the Apostle John explain why faithful Christians do not find God’s love-commandment complex or burdensome. For him, the last part of verse three should be joined to verse four, making it a single verse. What makes the keeping of God’s love commandment so confusing and taxing for many is the world’s evil spirit’s opposition to their reborn spirit. This war goes on around us physically and inside us spiritually. The main component of this conflict is those things contrary to God and His will. These must be the object of resistance and repulse for every believer. But this worldly antagonism has been overcome by the devoted Christian, in so far as being a Christian; they are a person born of God. It allows them to possess an abiding principle of the Anointed One, which is mightier than the world and its changing opinions.[1] In order to encourage his readers, John reminds them of the fact that they are born of God.[2]

Consistent with his research style, Heinrich A. W. Meyer (1800-1882) agrees with Dr. Rothe that the punctuation mark at the end of verse three cannot determine the promise of keeping God’s love commandment. Therefore, it is better to read in conjunction with verse four. We immediately see that the first clause of verse four is connected with the last words of verse three and presents why the command is not grievous or burdensome – namely because the one born of God overcomes the world. The Apostle John’s point here is that love for God motivates keeping His commandment, making them easy to carry. Overcoming the force that stands in opposition to God places the believer in a new position. The hostility which belongs to the world has faded, and love has taken its place. The spirit of love conquers all opposition; the command is complied with in love which is not a burden.[3]

According to Robert Jamieson (1802-1880), Andrew R. Fausset (1821-1910, and David Brown (1803-1897), they explain the reason why God’s commandments are not severe or painful is that God’s children obey Him and defeat sin and sinful pleasure by trusting the Anointed One to help them. Therefore, although there is conflict in keeping them, the goal for the regenerated congregation[4] is victory over every opposing sinful influence. Meanwhile, there is a present joy in each believer who supports them, making them “no burden.” As it were, the heavenly Father approved His Son’s prayer that everyone He gave Him join with Him in executing the divine plan: overcoming the world. The world consists of all that is opposed to keeping the commandments of God or draws us off from God, including our corrupt flesh, on which the world’s flatteries or threats act, and Satan, the prince of this world.[5] This is the victory that “overcomes” (Greek verb nikaō, aorist tense) has already overcome the world. Therefore, success (where faith is) implies “already obtained.”[6] [7] Our victory over the world’s attempts to draw us away from God and Faith is ours. Therefore, it is not our’s to win but to lose.

Without overlooking what’s crucial, Johann E. Huther (1807-1880) understands that the information in verse four confirms the initial thought in verse three. He also notes that John uses the Greek neuter verb gennaō (“born”) here as well as in his Gospel.[8]  It serves “to designate a general category.”[9] Accordingly, it is not to describe the character but the person.[10]

Using his poetic eyes and mind, songwriter and theologian Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885) – nephew of the great lake-poet, William Wordsworth,  concludes that the Apostle John no doubt wrote this challenge in opposition to the Cerinthians. They separated the man Jesus from the divine Anointed One. Regardless, our regeneration derives from the generation of the Son of God through His incarnation. Since Jesus is the midwife, so to speak, we cannot be born and delivered to God as one of His children unless we believe Jesus is the only One who gives spiritual life. This way, we are fully united with God through His divinely human Son. How else could we have communion with God? And the benefit of being in union with the Anointed One and the grace of His anointing is maintained by feeding on Him because He is the only one who can sustain our eternal life.[11] That’s why John could confidently say that obeying God through the Anointed One’s teaching is not burdensome.[12] As such, those whom God births continue to be energized by the principles of their new life imparted to them in regeneration.

Therefore, by faith, we professed the Anointed One to be our Savior, and through that faith, we can overcome the world’s constant temptations. The writer of Hebrews tells us that all the past saints had great faith. And with that faith, they defeated kingdoms. They did what was right, and God helped them in the ways He promised. With their dedication, some people closed the mouths of lions.[13] These “lions” are understood figuratively. For instance, King Richard of England was called the “lionhearted,” and King William I of Scotland the “Lion.” Just like the Lion is the king of the jungle, we have the Lion of the Tribe of Judah,[14] and for this reason, Christian champions of faith became Kings of the world of kings. So, John is saying that the belief we profess in the Anointed One not only has conquered but will conquer. That’s why we often call faith “victory” because He who gave us confidence was a Victor.[15] And it is this same faith that unites believers to the Anointed One, the Universal Conqueror and Giver of Victory.[16] [17]

There are lines in one of America’s patriotic songs that read: “He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat. . . So be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet! Our God is marching on.”[18]It is what the Apostle John is trying to convey to his readers, many of whom were still struggling to live a Christian life in a sinful and dying world. And the same call goes for us today because retreat is never an option.

Professor of Ancient Languages at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, Daniel D. Whedon (1808-1885), studied law, then had years of pastoral experience, artfully mentions that overcoming the world is key to John’s revelation.[19] It implies that the hostile world seeks, both by temptations and persecutions, to seduce or destroy God’s children. Remember, faith in the Anointed One constitutes the victory of the faithful over all the distractions of the world. Commencing this verse indicates that it gives a reason why our Lord’s love commandment is not grievous but joyous. Faith and victory render exultant obedience to His commandments a delight. Confidence in their leader and assurance and enjoyment of success motivates Christian soldiers to be joyously obedient to their Commander in Chief’s orders.[20]

In line with the Apostle John’s thinking, English churchman, theologian, textual critic, scholar, poet, hymnodist, and writer Henry Alford (1810-1871) explores why God’s love commandment is not a burden we must carry against our will. First, he makes note that in the phrase, “all that is born of God,” The Apostel John used the neuter verb for “born” as a collection of all believers together under the category “spiritually birthed by God.” So, John uses a comprehensive class to show that there are no believers who are not born by God’s Spirit. Just as the angel said to the Virgin Mary, the “Holy Spirit will come upon you,” so in our new birth; it is the Holy Spirit who comes upon us to bring about our spiritual birth.

The argument then is this: God’s love-commandment is not grievous, says Alford: for, although in keeping them there is ever a conflict, yet that fight results in universal victory: the whole mass of the born-of-God class conquer the world: therefore, none of us need to contemplate failure or faint individually because the struggle is a hard one. Moreover, Jesus already triumpht over the world’s sinful temptations; all we have to do is exercise the same authority in His Name. But, says John, we keep our sinful tendencies from falling prey to Satan’s trap by “faith.” By “faith,” John means confidence in our belief system based on the work of Jesus the Anointed One. Knowing what He did for us should be a sufficient reason for rejecting what the world is offering. But, unfortunately, although our minds may be agreeable, our bodies and passions are not. God will not take control of our overcoming; we must accomplish that through the power and authority of the Holy Spirit abiding in us. The Apostle Paul lists it as one of Love’s fruit produced in our reborn spirit. It is called “Self-Control.”[21]

I can tell you from personal experience that I have always loved anything connected with cheese. But when I discovered I had several clogged arteries that restricted blood flow, I could have prayed day and night for God to take away my love of cheese, but it would have done me no good. That had to be my decision. Was I going to keep my habit of overeating cheese and shorten my life, or say goodbye to cheese and live longer to serve God? With the help of my persistent and faithful wife, I was able to overcome the constant and use it moderately temptation of cheese. It’s the same way with the “sinful cheese,” so to speak. God will not implement that choice for you, but you can make it with God’s help and others who love you. Alford adds that John’s crediting victory to the faith, which won, is a concise and emphatic way of linking the two inseparably virtues so that wherever there is faith, there is victory.[22] [23]

Irish Presbyterian minister William Graham (1810-1883) focuses on the substance of verses three, four, and five. The fourth verse shows the connection this way: “The love of God and the keeping of His commands are possible, but this cannot be done without faith; and His commands are not burdensome, because whoever is born of God overcomes the world.” This world-conquering faith in God and His Word makes God’s commands easy to obey. But, on the other hand, God’s commands are burdensome for those not born of God and even impossible for those who remain fascinated by what the world offers. But for the sincere and humble Christian, born from above in whom the spirit of love dwells, the commands of God are not overbearing.[24] [25]

English churchman and academic, known as a classical scholar William Edward Jelf (1811-1875) states that the Apostle John now gives a reason why God’s commands, including the most difficult of all, love for others instead of love of self, are not heavy and problematic; even though most people would think and say so. The reason is that Christians, born again of Divine seed into the Divine nature, have power from above so that believers can live and move in the natural world and sphere of self and have their existence as children in God’s family.[26] [27]


[1] 1 John 4:4

[2] Rothe, Richard: Exposition of the First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., The Expository Times, 1895, p. 177

[3] Meyer, Heinrich A. W., Critical Exegetical Handbook New Testament, op. cit., pp. 811-812

[4] John 3:6; 6:37, 39

[5] John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11

[6] 1 John 2:13; 4:4

[7] Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, One Volume, op. cit., p. 1509

[8] John 3:6

[9] See Meyer, Heinrich A. W., Critical Exegetical Handbook New Testament, John 3:6, p. 125

[10] Huther, Johann E., Critical and Exegetical Handbook on the General Epistles, op. cit., p. 502

[11] See John 6:53

[12] See Matthew 11:30; Philippians 4:13; 1 Corinthians 15:10

[13] Daniel 6:22; 2 Timothy 4:17; Hebrews 11:33

[14] Revelation 5:5

[15] Cf. John 11:25

[16] 1 Corinthians 15:57; Revelation 6:2

[17] Wordsworth, Christopher: New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Vol. II, p. 122

[18] The Battle Hymn of the Republic, written by Julia Ward Howe, 1861

[19] Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26

[20] Whedon, Daniel D., Commentary on the New Testament, op. cit., p. 275

[21] Galatians 5:23; cf. 2 Peter 1:6

[22] See 1 John 2:13; 4:4

[23] Alford, Henry: The Greek Testament, op. cit., Vol. IV, pp. 497- 498

[24] See Romans 14:23; John 6:37, 39; 17:2

[25] Graham, William: The Spirit of Love, op. cit., p. 311

[26] Acts of the Apostles 17:28

[27] Jelf, William E., Commentary on the First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., p. 70

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POINTS TO PONDER

No doubt you’ve heard of someone who has detached themselves from something or someone and become a “leaner” or “loner.” They find that their attachment is holding them back or results in unnecessary anxiety. They want no friends, no help, no advice, and no ridicule. They, and they alone, are the captain of their ship. However, there are two sides to detachment, negative and positive.

Licensed Psychotherapist Barton Goldsmith, who works in the media and entertainment industries, shows us how to best use detachment. Detachment can best be described as a process of letting go. It allows you to release difficult situations and, sometimes, difficult people. By detaching from past experiences and future expectations, you can look at your personal and professional relationships more objectively, giving you greater clarity. Holding on to an idea because you have become attached to it creates anxiety.

Once you detach from the desired outcome, you can stop worrying about it. The truth is that most attachment is about control, and control is an illusion. So, it’s better to get on with your life, even when you don’t get exactly what you want. When you release your desire for control over the lives of others, it sets everyone free. Those endless hours of frustration can be turned into fruitful days of creativity.

On the other hand, clinical psychologist Randi Gunter who practices her craft in Southern California, states that committed intimate partners know how important it is not to detach from each other. Their strength as a team is the most critical tool; they must keep that bond when challenges arise. Many partners, unfortunately, have different response strategies for coping with duress. If they don’t interpret each other correctly, they can detach when they need most to connect.

Couples who know one another deeply understand why and when their partners use their coping mechanisms and don’t let those differences keep them from emotionally detaching themselves when their relationship is threatened. Most committed relationship partners find it easier to stay emotionally attached when challenges come from the outside but more complicated when they arise from within the relationship.

Author and Psychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist Kendra Cherry tells us that Emotional detachment refers to being disconnected or disengaged from other people’s feelings. This can involve an inability or an unwillingness to get involved in other people’s emotional lives. While this detachment may protect people from stress, hurt, and anxiety, it can also interfere with a person’s psychological, social, and emotional well-being. Emotional detachment can sometimes occur as a coping mechanism when people are faced with stressful or demanding situations. In other cases, it can be a symptom of a mental health condition.

Also, Danielle Dresden, freelance writer, arts educator, and award-winning playwright, also believes that emotional detachment refers to the inability of a person to fully engage with their feelings or those of others. It may interfere with physical, psychological, emotional, and social development. It can be ongoing, as it is in people with attachment disorders, or a temporary response to an extreme situation. Potential symptoms of a detachment disorder in adults include difficulty opening up, challenging intimate relationships, poor listening skills, a lack of physical, verbal, or sexual contact, poor self-esteem, substance abuse, and indecision.

Whether or not being emotionally detached can be beneficial depends on the cause and scenario. If it is due to a mental health condition or if it is affecting a person’s ability to maintain relationships or other aspects of their daily life, a person should seek treatment. However, it can be beneficial for people to distance themselves emotionally in some professions. For example, those who work in the healthcare profession or church ministries must learn to regulate their emotions. It can be a beneficial, trusted source to prevent burnout and help maintain their mental well-being. Some people may also become emotionally detached to survive traumatic situations. However, a person should seek treatment to prevent this from becoming permanent.

So, does the Bible say anything about detachment?

A young psalmist knew the joy of not detaching from God, especially in times of trouble. He writes, “Great blessings belong to those who live pure lives! They follow the Lord’s teachings. Great blessings belong to those who follow His rules! They seek Him with all their heart. They don’t do wrong. They follow His ways. Lord, you gave us your instructions and told us to always obey them. How I wish I could be more faithful in obeying Your laws! Then I would never feel ashamed when I look closely at Your commands.”[1]

The prophet Jeremiah found out how to keep peace of mind. God told him, “Cursed is anyone who puts their trust in mortal man and detaches their heart from God.”[2]

Then Jesus tells those who want to follow Him, “If anyone came to Him but will not detach themselves from their parents and siblings, they cannot be His follower.[3]

The Apostle Paul follows the same thinking when he proclaims, “So now, anyone who is in union with the Anointed One, Jesus, is not under sin’s death penalty. That is because, in the Anointed One, Jesus detached you from that curse through the law of the Spirit that brings life. He also detached you from the law that brings sin and death.”[4]

In another letter, Paul inquires of the Corinthians, “Surely you know that people who do not detach themselves from wrongdoing will not get to enjoy God’s kingdom.”[5] And later tells the same readers the importance of remaining attached: “You know that there is only one God, the Father, who created all things and made us become His; and one Lord Jesus the Anointed One, who made everything and gave us eternal life.”[6]

And to the Galatian believers, Paul wrote of the importance of being a fruit-bearing believer so that the fruit of a reborn spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Therefore, there is no reason to detach yourselves from these virtues. [7]

Paul sent his greeting to the Colossian faithful: “In our prayers, we always thank God for you. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. We thank Him because we heard about your attachment to the Anointed One Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. Your faith and love continue because you know what is waiting for you in heaven – the hope you have since you first heard the true message, the Good News.”[8]

Finally, to the chosen in Thessalonica, Paul tells them to “Never detach yourself from praying. Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus.”[9] And his protegee Timothy, received this message from his spiritual father, Paul, “Those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their household, have detached themselves from the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.”[10]


[1] Psalm 119:1-6

[2] Jeremiah 17:5

[3] Luke 14:26

[4] Romans 8:1-2

[5] 1 Corinthians 6:9

[6] Ibid. 8:6

[7] Galatians 5:22-23

[8] Colossians 1:1-5

[9] 1 Thessalonians

[10] 1 Timothy 5:8

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

Today we hear so much about overdoses due to drug addiction, and curiosity coupled with lack of training is causing teenagers to die from the lethal opioid Fentanyl. We tend to shake our heads when we hear how foolish some people are with their addiction. In reading the following article, don’t concentrate on the source of addiction but on what a person went through because of it.

So, this is a young man’s story of how his life was transformed. He struggled with addiction since he was fourteen years old. In fact, he remembers his fourteenth birthday and someone offering him a cigarette for the first time. From that moment on, he never stopped; instead, he just added drugs and alcohol. His life was a mess through high school, and it’s a miracle that he graduated.

During his 20s, he managed to get a decent job and stay out of trouble. he met a girl, and she got pregnant, so he thought getting married would be the right thing to do. He slowed his addiction for a couple of years after his son was born, but the son’s mother had her addictions, and soon they were destroying their lives together.

They divorced, and he would get his son every weekend because his “ex” was a nurse working. Within a short time, they both lost their jobs due to drug addiction, and for the sake of his son, he tried to get some help. He went to some Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and even some church services, but he would purposely find something wrong with them, so he had an excuse to quit.

It didn’t take long before he was drunk every day, all day, and couldn’t pay any of his bills. If not for having his son, he knows his parents would not have let me stay with them.

Finally, his father told him he had to get a job and not come home drunk. So, he was driving to interviews and feeling at a very low point in his life. Driving to this job interview, he noticed a sign about addiction in front of a church. On the way home, he was looking for a bar but noticed the same church and that arrows were pointing to another sign that said, “Addiction Program tonight.” he pulled into the parking lot and first looked online to see what it was about. After he read about it, he decided to just go ahead and walk in.

That Friday, he was welcomed by wonderful people, and although he didn’t understand what was said in the Bible, he decided to accept their invitation to come back for the Sunday service. But, again, he could feel Jesus pulling on him. That week he even went to the Wednesday night service, desperately trying to fight his urges to drink.

The following Friday night, it became so obvious that he needed Jesus, and by the end of the third talk, he was ready to speak to the Pastor about salvation. He knew deliverance doesn’t come to everyone, but since that day, he has had no urges to drink again! All praise to the Lord Jesus Christ!

Following his conversion, God opened his mind to His Word, and he was able to understand, study, and apply God’s message. He learned that praying many times daily (meditating on the right things) helps him when his mind wanders somewhere it should not. The devil knows he can’t beat him with booze, so Satan continues to try other evil things. He knew that as he grew stronger in his relationship with Jesus, the less he is vulnerable to Satan…and that is the strongest desire of his life. His life was transformed.

Your addiction may not be alcohol or drugs, but other things such as snacking, texting, TV, social media, gossiping, worldly entertainment, ungodly music, Restricted rated movies, etc. But the same principles apply. As a singer-songwriter, Israel Houghton sings, “Jesus be the center of it all.”

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