1 John 5:19-21. 19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Ben Franklin once said that the only things that are certain in this life are death and taxes. John would beg to differ. There are much bigger certainties in life than death and taxes. Bigger than taxes? Obviously. Bigger than death? Yes, even bigger than death.
Here’s what the Christian can know for certain today and every day:
1. We can be certain that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. If it feels like the world is going down in flames, like its only goal is to chew you up and spit you out, like every promise it’s ever made to you has been broken, that’s because it is and it has. The Evil One’s doom is sure, and with it the doom of the world and it’s anti-Christ system. Of this you can be certain.
2. We can be certain that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding of him who is true (real). Because of the incarnation of Christ, his humble taking on flesh to save us, his life of compassion doing good, his sinless perfection, his dying in our place on the cross, because of all we have seen in the man, Jesus of Nazareth, we can experientially know and understand God the Father. We can be certain of what God is like because Jesus has come to us! We can be certain of God’s great love for us. We can be certain of God’s sacrificial kindness and mercy. We can be certain of God’s plan and purpose for our future. We can be certain of God’s motivation behind everything he does. And we can be certain of his uncompromising justice that will make all things right in the end.
3. We can be certain that we are IN HIM who is true (God) by being in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Not only do we certainly know and understand God, his plan, his works, his ways, his character, his nature, his very essence through Jesus. We are also IN God and IN Jesus Christ. Knowing will never be enough. We need BEING beyond knowing. Our hope is not in knowing God through Jesus. Our hope is in being IN Jesus. And thus IN God. No longer in the world or in the clutches of the evil one. In Christ our life is kept securely forever in God. Receiving from God all that Christ is and all that Christ has. Just as Jesus, we are experiencing all the love, and grace, and honor of Christ Jesus himself.
4. We can be certain that we have eternal life. The good life (God’s zoe life). The good life forever. The world WILL most certainly continue to spiral into oblivion. But the promise of eternal life in Christ will meet our hearts each day with hope, peace, and even joy. Of this you can be certain – you will not go down with this sinking ship. You will go on. Because Christ has gone on before you and paved the way to eternal joy in the presence of God.
5. We can certainly now keep ourselves from idols. An abrupt ending to this majestic letter to be sure, but also an appropriate one. If everything that John has just said in summary is true. If we know God, if we are in God in Christ, if we have and are experiencing his eternal good life, if all of this is true, then why would we want to settle for second best to fill our hearts and souls? If the true God and eternal life is ours, doesn’t the world around us become so much less overwhelming? Don’t the joys and pains of this life become mere shadows, blips on the radar? Can’t we now hold everything with an open hand, rather than clutching it so tightly that it squeezes the very life from our souls?
Of this we can be certain – the Son of God will keep us. So now we must keep ourselves. We must guard our hearts. Not as self-salvation, for that would BE idolatry. But as those who are from God, who know God, who are in God, who possess his eternal life. As those who “to live is Christ.”
What are you certain of today?
You in Christ
From God. Know God. In God. Eternal life. Are you certain of these things in your life? How? Is your answer connected to Jesus?
Christ in you
How does Christ in us allow us to keep ourselves from idols?