Summary: It is out of our personal relationship with God that we come to know with assurance certain things in the Christian life. These closing assurances are intended to be great encouragements to us.
1 JOHN 5: 18-21 [LIFE, LIGHT & LOVE SERIES]
THE KEEPING POWER OF GOD
John here reaches the end of what he wants to write. He has clearly shown the differences between the true believer and the false, and now he concludes by reiterating his purpose, which is to assure his readers who believe in Jesus as the Son of God that they have -possess eternal life (5:13). [Marshall, Howard. The Epistles of John. The New International Commentary on the N. T. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1978, p. 242]
Such people can reassure themselves that they are God’s as they become aware of Him answering their prayers. Prayer is the natural breath of a genuine relationship with God. It is out of our personal relationship with God that we come to know with assurance certain things in the Christian life (CIT). These closing assurances are intended to be great encouragements to us. These realities are God’s keeping power, the Divine Son, and our personal relationship with God. If we grasp not these realities we will be deceived into false worship.
I. THE KEEPING POWER OF GOD, 18-19.
II. THE DIVINE SON, 20a.
III. OUR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, 20b.
The principle assurance in verse 18 is that Christians will not keep on practicing sin. “We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He [Jesus] who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him.
An evidence that we are born again is that we do not practice sin. You ask how can you keep from sinning in this world? The answer is Jesus Christ. He keeps-guards the believer so that the enemy cannot get his hands on him. Here is another blessed assurance that the Christian has victory over sin.
God has freed believers from their slavery to Satan, and He keeps them safe from Satan's continued attacks. The rest of the world does not have the Christian's freedom to obey God. Unless they come to Christ in faith, they have no choice but to obey Satan. There is no middle ground; people either belong to God and obey Him, or they live under Satan's control.
John does not say that one born of God does not sin at all. He would have used the past tense--has sinned--Christians commit sins. The verb is in the present tense and indicates linear or repeated action. The believer does not keep on sinning or fall into the habit of sinning.
Here we encounter the word we know (oida) again (3:2,5,14,15, 2:20,21, 3:5, 5:13, etc.) John will conclude the epistle using this word. Again it indicates that we know with perception or with conviction of soul (have been convinced). It is an implanted knowledge of God that allows no room for doubt.
How do you know you are born of God? You know not because you keep yourself from the evil one. You know because as you abide in Christ, He keeps you from evil. God keeps those born of Him from the evil one. God stands guard over the Christian life a sentry walking his post to protect us against the wilds of the enemy.
Whenever Satan attacks us, we can be sure that God gave him permission. And if God gave him permission He will also give us power to overcome, because God will never permit us to be tested above our strength (1 Cor. 10:13).