Living a Balanced Life
(An In-Depth Study of First John)
1 John 5:18-21
As John’s letter to the church comes to a close the question of how to live a more balanced life comes into clear focus. John never addresses the clock or the calendar. He never offers self-help type advice toward dividing your time between family and career. As we have discovered through our journey of First John, true meaningful change in our lives together can never be achieved without addressing the Son of God; the Gospel.
John taught us that balance begins with the truth. Without the truth we never deal with reality. Those who had left the church did so because they strayed from what they heard from the very beginning; the apostolic doctrine regarding Christ. Without the truth, these individuals found themselves in the wrong place at all the wrong times. If we live without the truth we too will be out of balance with no hope, no matter how much we tinker with our calendars and attitudes.
Establishing that foundation, John utilizes the rest of the letter laying the track on which a balanced life, like a train, moves forward. Like parallel rails fit for a locomotive, two rails run all the way though this letter; assurance and vigilance. John offers absolute assurance to everyone who is found walking in the light. The main idea of First John can be summed up like this: Assurance of eternal life—based on obedience—empowered by love for God. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life” (5:13). “We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brethren” (3:14). “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe his commandments; for this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (5:2, 3). John’s threefold thrust is assurance of eternal life, conditioned upon obedience, empowered by love for God.
Love for God, allegiance to God, trust in God is the heartbeat of this great letter, and balance for life is found only in these things. God’s commandments are not burdensome to obey if you love him. If you delight in his promises to do you good and trust that he is real and genuine toward you, then doing what he commands will be the very thing you want to do. Being sure of this, we trust that he will never command us to do anything that will be for our ruin. He only commands us to do what is best for us. A recurring theme that weaves its way throughout Scripture from Genesis to Revelation goes like this, “You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it maybe well with you” (Deuteronomy 5:33). If you love God, if you trust that it will be well with you, obeying God’s commandments will not be burdensome, but the very thing you want to do.
So it is no surprise after all this, John would leave these words ringing in his readers ears: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” There are mighty strokes of assurance as we close this letter. There are also stern warnings to remain vigilant in a world under the control of the evil one.
God Our Rescue (vs 18)
- Eden (Genesis 3:16)
- Noah and the Ark (Genesis 7:1)
- Exodus (Exodus 2:23-25)
- God’s Name (Proverbs 18:10)
- Job (Job 19:25)
The Child of God:
- Protected by Jesus
- Does not continue in sin
- Satan cannot touch
Two Kingdoms (vs 19)
The Kingdom of God
- God is greater (1 John 4:4)
- Victory is already won (John 12:31)
The Kingdom of Satan
- Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:3-4)
- Satan snatches the Word away from hearers (Matthew 13:4-19)
- Satan does deceptive signs and wonders (Matthew 24:24)
Assurance Grounded in Christ (vs 20)
Given us understanding
We know the truth
Reject Falsehood (vs 21)
Idolatry – Valuing any thing or person more than God.
Balance is achieved by changing values
Values change only when the heart changes
Only the touch of God changes a heart