Section 2: Examining this section more closely
In our text, John is addressing a very specific problem, lack of assurance of one’s position in Christ. It is his firm conviction that it is possible to be sure of one’s position in Christ. In 1 John 3:19 he writes: “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.” In verse 21 he writes: “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” And in 1 John 5:11-13 he writes: “And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life…” Since he has this conviction, and wants his listeners to also have this conviction, he addresses two major problems that are undermining their confidence. In light of the big picture that we just addressed in our last section, John believes that antinomianism (a casual attitude toward sin) and mysticism (an overly emotional rather than rational approach to the Christian life) are at the root of their lack of confidence. We could summarize John’s basic concern with the following statements.
- He wants his beloved to be confident and joyful in their Christian experience.
- He wants to warn those who are backsliding to recognize that their doubts are the direct result of their spiritual laziness:
- He wants to encourage the immature who are prone to irrational thinking to find their confidence in the work or Christ:
- He wants to encourage those who are growing in the Lord to continue to be confident, because their lives are showing the marks of Christian growth.
What I would like to do in our next sections is discuss how a casual attitude toward sin and an overly emotional, rather than rational approach to the Christian life will muddy the waters of our confidence in Christ.