My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.
I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.
And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
Understanding And Applying the Text
One of the early heresies in the church was Gnosticism. There were many variations of this heresy. In a nutshell, Gnostics believed that salvation was through special or secret knowledge. They thought they received a special revelation besides the teaching of the apostles. This was a secret teaching available only to a selected few. This special revelation came through dreams or believed unique private revelations. They often spoke in poems, in songs, in stories that came out of their creative imagination. But as they saw it, as a sense of an original voice, an original insight.
This should sound familiar to us today. Many if not most Pentecostals claim to receive special revelation from God. They have a message to share that God has given them. They create excitement in song and storytelling which they pass off as preaching. This sought more than the scriptures.
This was the very thing the reformer railed against in the 16th century. Rome had and still does present their own understanding over the word of God. The Gnostics are alive and well in today’s church.
As John stated in verse 7. “Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard.” John is saying there is no secret knowledge. There is no private revelation. The only truth is the truth they were taught. That is, salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, in Christ alone.
Paul made it clear in Galatians 1:8-9 there is not other Gospel.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
Gal 1:9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
John goes on to say that the result of a redeemed life is love. But this is not a warm fuzzy teddy bear love. That is what is so often portrayed by our culture. It is not something that is accepting of everything. This is the true love of a brother and sister. When someone is in danger. True love demands a confrontation. True love would demand opposition to the false teachers.
Out of context tackling someone and breaking their arm could seem hateful. But if the context is I am tackling them and dragging them out of the path of an oncoming automobile. That is love. That is not an expression of hatred. It is an expression of true love. Vigorously opposing false teachers is not hatred. It is love. True love requires a hatred of all that is not from God. John opposed the false teachers and Gnostics. He opposed them vigorously. He even went so far as to call them antichrists.
John says here there is no need to gain secret knowledge. The recipients of John’s letter already knew the truth. “I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.” verse 21.
Satan used Gnostics in the early church in an attempt to derail God’s plan to redeem His elect. John and the early church fathers fought against them vigorously. Satan’s playbook is pretty limited. That is because it does not need to big or complicated. The two major heresies in the church today. They are heresies from the early church, Gnosticism, and Pelagianism. While no one refers to themselves as gnostic, they preach and teach the gnostic heresy.
Examples range from the blatant such as the idea of “The Bible Code” in the 1990s. Proponents of the bible code taught there are hidden messages encoded in the Hebrew text. But more common is the claim to have received a special private revelation from God. This ranges from popular names in the evangelical church such as, Pat Robertson. He claims to hear directly from God every year in January. And many of his prophecies do not come true. Thus proving they are not from God. But evangelicals continue to support him. In spite of the clear teaching of scripture that he is a false prophet. It is not limited to well-known names. It is not uncommon to hear evangelical preachers say from the pulpit on any given Sunday, “God told me…” They are claiming to have received a special private revelation. This is a revelation that only they have. We cannot test it because they alone received it. It is a revelation that is separate from the scripture. Unless what God told them is found directly in the scripture, it is not from God. It came from their imagination wishes or desires or maybe even worse from Satan himself. And if they claim God has said something He did not say, they are taking the name of the Lord in vain. John says they are the antichrist.