1 JOHN 5
1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
"The love of Christ constraineth me."
There is not a more powerful motive among men -- nay, I will say, that as regards enduring effort and inconquerable perseverance, there is no motive among men at all equal to the love of Christ. Nothing binds men so firmly together as a mutual and concurring love of Christ; and nothing divides them so effectually as difference in sentiment with regard to Christ.
The saint has every reason to love Christ. He is in all respects beautiful in himself to such as have learnt the first and the great commandment to "love (and fear) the Lord with all the soul, and mind and strength." By any other class his beauty is not appreciated.
His beauty is not such as would answer to the world's ideal -- moral, artistic, or religious. It is not the beauty of a statue or of a "gentleman born."
Christ is more than kind; he is holy. He is more than forgiving; he is just, and with wickedness angry. He is more than gentle; he is exacting of supreme affection. He is more than good; he is zealous of the Father. He is more than courteous, refined, and cultivated; he is the impartial judge according to each man's work, regarding not the persons of men, and speaking flattery to none.
He is more than man; he is God manifest. The Lamb of God, he is yet the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The healing Sun of Righteousness, he is yet the treader of the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. A right acquaintance with him will embrace all the features of his beauty, and will lead to the imitation of each of them in our own characters: for he is the example set us to copy.
The omission of any causes defect. Some try to imitate his kindness while forgetting his zeal. Others copy his severity while failing to remember his gentleness. Others extol his placability and charity while overlooking his righteousness and jealousy of the Father's honour.
Let us remember all the elements of his perfect character. They are altogether lovely. They constitute the Lord Jesus one by himself in the history of the world. No such personage ever appeared before or since. No name comes near his in its glorious renown. Even now, in the present evil world, God hath given him a name which is above every name. It is the highest name in the world's mouth, in the world's hero roll.
True, it is regarded superstitiously. Still, it is the most exalted and honourable in all their assemblies, in all their traditions and associations. Before him, the glory of other names pales like the yellow light of a candle before the sun. He is the object of universal homage, though it be the homage of ignorance and insincerity.
He stands alone in the past in his towering dignity, his superhuman earnestness, his unapproachable beneficence, his unwearying patience, his immaculate righteousness, his spotless purity, his unostentatious condescension, his untainted disinterestedness, his perfect submission to the will of God.
Unity of doctrine in the absence of moral and sympathetic unity, is a very poor thing. It is beautiful in its way,-good and excellent in these days when so difficult to get at, but a mockery if unaccompanied by that higher unity which comes as the fruit thereof when the soul is not barren. Alone, its beauty is the beauty of a cold day; the sun may shine brightly, but we are chilled to the heart by the cold.
We have other faculties besides the intellect, and into these must the truth penetrate with warming ray. It must permeate and purify the whole man, and fire the heart as well as enlighten the head. The head and the heart are united, and
"what God hath joined, let no man put asunder."
It is an ugly rupture of partnership when the head goes one way and the heart another. All must be laid at the feet of Christ, and in such case, there will be true love of the true brethren, for
"he that loveth him that begat, loveth also him that is begotten."-(1 John 5: 1 .)
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
Love is the first and greatest. It is the power and spirit of them all. It must radiate like light from us toward everyone and everything. In defining what love is, and how it acts, John lays the very clearly-defined foundation which we must constantly keep in mind-
"This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments." (1 Jn. 5:3).
If we get away from the commandments, we are not loving in the scriptural and acceptable sense, however affectionate our feelings or good our intentions. There must be a careful adherence to divine commandments to keep love in a sound and healthy path.
But there is far more to love-infinitely more-than a cold, technical compliance to command. In our necessary opposition to the wishy-washy sentimentalism of the world's religion, we may tend to lose sight of some of the immeasurable depths and beauties of love.
Love is far more than any technical definition can encompass. Love is a transformation of the mind from the cramped self-centeredness of the natural man to the universal beneficent goodwill of the man of God. Love is complete and glorious newness of life.
In our defense of sound doctrine, in our condemnation of evil, in our opposition to looseness and laziness and compromise and declension, let us never-never-belittle or betray love.
Let us never crush love, or cast it aside, even momentarily, on the pretext of any other virtue or necessity. What cannot be done in love and kindness should not be done at all. It is so easy to let self-righteousness and natural antagonism and contentiousness trample love underfoot on the pretext of duty.
Bro Growcott - Mortify the Deeds of the Body
4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Jesus made everything hinge on faith-
"All things are possible to him that believeth" (Mk. 9:23).
In view of the magnitude and immensity of the divine relationship to which we have been called, we exclaim with the disciples-
"Lord, increase our faith!" (Lk. 17:5).
But there is a vital part in the process that we must do-
"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17).
Our duty is to increasingly build the power of our faith by constant study of the Word.
How clear is the majestic picture faith portrays, compared with the pitiful confusion and speculation of the world-
"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God" (Heb. 11:3).
Bro Growcott - Mortify the Deeds of the Body
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
Adam's life is flesh sustained in action by blood, air, and electricity, or by digestion and respiration; and transmitted by natural laws.
The fabulous existence elaborated by the unenlightened thinking of Sin's flesh, is that theory upon which all superstition is based -- the conceit of an inborn ghost, deathless and having independent existence, apart from all corporeality.
This incorporeal abstraction the Devil, that is, Sin's Flesh, has denominated "THE IMMORTAL SOUL." This serpentine philosopher, whose pious lucubrations "deceive the whole world" (Apoc. xii. 9; xx. 2,3) teaches, that it is "the vital principle," the real man, and the true image and likeness of his Maker!
Religion, he says, is for the preventing of all immortal ghosts who sincerely repent of their sins, from falling into eternal torments, to which they are all liable by an eternal decree; and for their emigration from earth on angels' wings to kingdoms beyond the skies! This is the gospel of the Archdeceiver of the world; and preached substantially by all the "Holy Orders" of his establishment; and all mankind, in their Names and Denominations of Blasphemy, go "wondering after" the abomination.
So long as the serpent in the flesh can charm them with such vanity they will remain unregistered in the book of the Lamb's life, and be obnoxious to the plagues of the Little Book in which it is written, that "for the fearful, and UNBELIEVING, and the abominable, and murderers, and harlotists, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and for all the liars (the "clergy") their part is in the lake burning with fire and brimstone,"being there" tormented in the presence of the holy messengers, and in the presence of the Lamb" (Apoc. xxi. 8; xiv.10: xix. 20: xx. 14,15).
The life purchased by Jesus for his brethren has no affinity with such a fiction. He purchased life for dead bodies; not happiness for immortal ghosts. "This is the testimony, that God gives aionian life to us, and this life is in his Son; he who hath the Son, hath the life; he who hath not the Son of God, hath not the life" (1 John v. 11,12), and "shall not see life but the wrath of God abides upon him" (John iii. 36).
16 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.
John here merely notes that there is a sin which God will not forgive. He does not say what it is. We must therefore learn its character from other testimonies. In this there is no difficulty, as it is clearly defined in more places than one, and in a manner accordant with judgment.
Peter refers to it thus: "If, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning."
He further speaks of it as a "turning from the holy commandment delivered unto them," and as a washed sow returning to its wallow (2 Pet. ii. 20-22). Paul speaks of it as a falling away, crucifying the Son of God afresh and putting him to an open shame on the part of those who "were made partakers of the Holy Spirit and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come" (Heb. vi. 6). Jesus says that all manner of sin shall be forgiven unto men, except this same sin against the Holy Spirit-of which he accused the Scribes and Pharisees in their attributing the works performed by the Spirit of God through him, to the machinations of an unclean spirit (Matt. xii. 31; Mark iii. 30).
From all this it follows that sin unto death consists of turning against Christ after having had evidence that the work of Christ is the work of God by the Spirit through him. It is reasonable that a crime so flagrant and so inexcusable should be unforgivable. "Sin not unto death" is easily distinguishable from this: sins of infirmity and not of design, such as Peter's momentary denial of the Lord, repented of in grief immediately, as contrasted with Judas's deliberate mercenary betrayal. The one was forgiven: the other not.
The Christadelphian, Oct 1894
18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
...the serpent began to intellectualize; and in so doing, "abode not in the truth; because there was no truth in him. When he may be speaking the falsehood (otan lalh to yeudoV) he speaks out of his own" (John 8:44) reasoning (ek twn idiwn lalei). He could not comprehend the moral obligation necessitating obedience to the divine law; for there was nothing in him that responded to it. Hence, says Jesus, "there was no truth in him."
This, however, was not the case with Eve. There was no truth in her; but she also began to intellectualize at the suggestion of the serpent; and from his reasonings to doubt, and finally to conclude, that the Lord God did not mean exactly what He said.
This was an error of which all the world is guilty to this day. It admits that God has spoken; that He has promulgated laws; that He has made promises; and that He has said,
"he that believeth the gospel, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned."
All this professors admit in theory; while, as in the case of Eve, in practice they deny it. They say He is too kind, too loving, too merciful, to act according to a rigid construction of the word; for if He did, multitudes of the good and pious, and excellent of the earth, would be condemned. This is doubtless true.
Sceptics, however, of this class should remember, that they only are "the salt of the earth," who delight in the law of the God, and do it. Every sect has its "good and pious" ones, who are thought little or nothing of by adverse denominations.
The law of God is the only true standard of goodness and piety; and men may depend upon it, attested by the examples in Scripture, that they who treat Him as not meaning exactly what He says in His word, "make God a liar" (1 John 5:10), and are anything but good or pious in His esteem.
Elpis Israel 1.3.
19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
The first principle of acceptable righteousness is the giving to God of that which we owe to Him. The first principle of natural-man morality is the giving of that which we owe to ourselves. Herein is the difference.
...The difference between the children of God and the children of the devil is, that the children of God recognize that they are not their own, but the property of God, through Christ; and therefore live not for themselves, but for the honour of God and for the comfort of all His suffering friends around; while the children of the devil regard themselves as their own, and live for no higher end than the comfort of their own souls in all the honours and luxuries which their efforts can command; for the acquisition of which no labour is considered too great, no expense too lavish, and no occupation of time too excessive.
Seasons 1: 42
Wickedness, according to this rule, is the forgetting of God, the omission to constantly do the highest honour to Him, the ignoring of His will in expression of our thoughts and the formation of our purposes; and the doing contrary to His commandments in the many matters that go to constitute "life."
Judge the world by this rule and you see at once that John's testimony is true that "the world lieth in wickedness." God is absolutely ignored and His law cast aside with contempt. The sole rule of action is self-interest in one form or the other. In some cases it takes a very refined form: but in its essence it is the same -- the rejection of God, the service of natural inclination.
The love of money -- the love of honour, the love of ease, or the love of appetite will be found to comprehend the motives that rule the world: for the obedience of the powers that be springs from these. There would be no respect for authority if it were not for the power in the hands of authority to interfere with the things that are dear to the world's heart. But for restraints imposed by this power, society would soon be a chaos.
Seasons 1: 43
21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
Nothing, perhaps, can more strikingly illustrate the difference between the Christians we read of in the New Testament, and those who professed to be "orthodox christians" of the flock of the one Shepherd, styled the Universal Bishop, than the fierce disputes of the eighth and ninth centuries, concerning the worship of images. For these symbols of dead men and women, whose factitious immortalities are supposed to be in a heaven "beyond the realms of time and space," Apostolic Christians had no respect.
...The use of pictures in churches preceded that of images, the first notice of which is in the censure of the council of Illiberis, three hundred years after the birth of Jesus.
The first introduction of a worship of stocks and bones was in the veneration of the cross, and of relics. The "immortal souls" of saints and martyrs, whose intercession was implored, were supposed to be seated at the right hand of God; and their worshippers imagined that they showered gracious, and often super-natural favours around their tombs, whose disgusting contents they touched and kissed as memorials of their merits and sufferings.
... he who began by worshipping three gods devoutly prayed before the image of a dead person; and the pagan rites of genuflexion, luminaries and incense, became part of the ritual of the Greek and Roman superstition in which was firmly established the use and worship of images before the end of the sixth century.
...Leo the Third, who, from the mountains of Isauria, ascended the throne of the East. He is styled the Iconoclast, or Image-breaker. Though inspired with hatred of images, in the outset of an unsettled reign, during ten years of toil and danger, he submitted to the meanness of hypocrisy, bowed before the idols he despised, and satisfied the Universal Bishop, the special patron of the idols, with the annual profession of his orthodoxy and zeal.
In the reformation he attempted, his first steps were moderate and cautious; but resistance and invective, and the urgency of his friends, provoked him to more active measures. The existence and use of religious pictures were proscribed; the churches of Constantinople and the provinces were cleansed from idolatry; the images of Christ, the Virgin, and the saints were demolished; the sect of the Iconoclasts was supported by the zeal and despotism of six emperors; and the East and West were involved in a noisy conflict of one hundred and twenty years.
It was, however, with reluctance that the patient east was brought to abjure its sacred images; they were fondly cherished, and vigorously defended by the more violent zeal of the Italians, stimulated to sanguinary resistance by the pretended Vicar of Christ. "It is agreed," says Gibbon,
"that in the eighth century, the dominion of the popes was founded on rebellion, and that the rebellion was produced and justified by the heresy of the Iconoclasts."
This is equivalent to saying, that the dominion of the popes and their clergy was founded on idolatry and their zeal for its support. This is true, and upon this basis the pope stands before the world as the "Pontifex Maximus" of Roman Idolatry, in which character he is the striking counterpart or "Image" of the pagan imperial pontiffs of the Sixth Head of the Beast.