SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Several times in this chapter it's stated that people who know and live in Jesus do not keep on sinning. This doesn't mean that real Christians never sin. (In fact, remember that in this same book of 1 John, in chapter one, verses eight and ten, John wrote that if we claim to not have sin, we are deceived.) The idea is that those who follow Jesus will not deliberately keep on sinning. There may still be uncharacteristic stumbles as they seek to walk in the way of Jesus, but they will confess their sin, repent of it, and try (with God's help) to put it behind them.
- To follow Jesus is to live a life of loving others.
- In the last paragraph, John deals with the issue of feeling condemned in our hearts. When we feel this way we need to remember that God and his truth is greater than our hearts and feelings (verse 20). We can also gain assurance by obeying God's commands, which have, as their foundation, believing in Jesus and loving others (verses 23-24).
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Verse 5 says that Jesus came to take away our sins. He is the solution to our sin problem. First, and foremost, Jesus takes our sin off our records - past, present, and future - by his death on the cross, if we choose to allow him to do that. But Jesus also is the way for us to stop sinning. We don't overcome temptation by gritting our teeth and trying harder. We overcome temptation by getting really close to Jesus on a daily basis, which gives us God's strength to live right.
- Jesus set the example of what loving others looks like when he sacrificed his life for us. We need to make sacrifices when necessary to take care of the needs of others. When we're not willing to help those in need it forces us to ask a question, "Do I love my stuff more than I love God?" Because if we love God more, we'll be willing to sacrifice some of our stuff to help people who God loves, and who we're supposed to love.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- When you sin, do you accept it and keep sinning? Or does your sin break your heart because you know it breaks the heart of God, and that Jesus died for it? Is it your desire not to sin anymore? If so, what is your strategy to stop sinning? Is it based on your will power and determination? Or is it based on God's Spirit and strength working in you?
- Do you view your money and possessions as a means to love others, or as stuff that is for you? Do you need to ask God to change your perspective? Is there a particular opportunity God has given you to bless someone with some of your stuff? Do it!