Summary: Our dependence is on the life of the Son of God, moment by moment, his life is in us then, "this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith."
John has brought before us,
o First, the theme of fellowship of Christ, maintaining fellowship; then
o Maintaining truth,
o Maintaining righteousness,
o Maintaining love, and, now, he concludes with the theme of
o Maintaining assurance, or confidence.
The relationship between these five themes is very important. It is instructive to note that the first of these links with the last, i.e., fellowship with Christ ends in assurance or confidence.
You will note that confidence is the kind of life that all men today are looking for. Which of us does not desire to be an adequate person, confident, self-assured, poised; able to cope with life? This is the image of humanity that is idealistically present in every human heart -- we each want to be this kind of person, and this is exactly what Christianity is designed to produce!
To me, the glory of our Christian faith is never that it is religious, but that it is so gloriously secular. It is designed to produce life, to fit us for living, and thus to be the kind of person that God intended man to be when he made him in the beginning -- confident, able, adequate.
This confident life will be manifest in a three-fold way: as truth, as righteousness, and as love. And there you have the exceedingly orderly division of the First Epistle of John.
These three form the test of authentic Christianity: truth, righteousness, and love. John says three specific times in this letter that, if you claim to know God, but yet walk in the darkness of disobedience, you are a liar. He does not hesitate to use this extremely direct term. You are a liar, he says.
1. If you claim to know God and yet you walk in disobedience, you lie and do not tell the truth. There is an absence of righteousness in the life, and this puts the lie to all your claims to be a Christian.
2. In another place, Chapter 2, he says that to claim to possess the Father and yet deny the deity and incarnation of the Son is also to be a liar. There is an absence of truth in the life, and therefore it is not genuinely Christian. There cannot be a genuine Christian life and yet a denial of the deity and incarnation of the Son.
3. Thirdly, to claim to love God while you ignore or mistreat your brethren, is to lie. You are a liar if you say you love God and yet you do not love your brethren, Chapter 4, Verse 20. This is the absence of love. The presence of habitual sin, of a denial of Christ, doctrinally, and of selfish hatred despite a professed Christian experience, will expose all claims to Christianity as phony.
These three must all be present. This is the whole argument of the Epistle of John. They must all be present and in ever-increasing degree. Truth, love, and righteousness; these are the marks of authentic Christianity.
Notice, in Verse 1, that truth and love, John says, belong together. One produces the other. "Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God," or, literally, "Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten of God, and every one who loves the Father loves the child." Thus, he ties together these two great themes, belief in the truth, and love, and one is the result of the other.