Scripture: 1 John 5:18, ‘We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.’
Observations: John is summarizing his message in these final verses. He has already said, ‘No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. (3:6)’ and ‘No one who is born of God will continue to sin. (3:9)’ But he has also said that ‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1:8)’ John is describing the same battle between our old sinful nature and our new nature in Christ that Paul describes in Romans 7:14-25. But John makes the point that the deciding factor in this battle is that Jesus keeps us safe so that Satan cannot harm us. The phrase ‘the one who was born of God,’ is difficult. In the first half of this verse John uses it to refer to Christians, we are those who have been ‘born of God.’ The only difference between these two phrases is that the first is in the perfect tense (which refers to something that happens in the past but that continues into the present) and the second is in the aorist tense (which simply asserts an action). The difference here seems to make a distinction between Christians who where and are born of God, and Christ who has always been born of God. We don’t keep ourselves safe from the evil one, it is Jesus who does that. In the Greek the word ‘harm’ actually refers to being grasped or seized. Jesus said ‘I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. (Jn 10:28)’ Because Jesus has hold of us, Satan never will get hold of us.
Application: Rather than get caught up with the issue of whether we can live a sinless life (I believe we can if we always relied on the power of the Holy Spirit like Jesus did – the problem is we don’t), rather I want to focus on the fact that Jesus keeps us safe from Satan. Do you believe that Jesus holds you in his hand? And do you believe that because Jesus holds you in his hand that he won’t let you go, that you are safe from Satan? Do you believe that you have been saved form the consequences of your sin, not ‘you might be saved,’ or ‘you will be saved,’ but ‘you have been saved (there’s that perfect tense again)?’ I want to encourage you to live today in light of the fact that Jesus keeps you safe.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I confess that I am weak, that I don’t rely on the Spirit’s power, that I don’t trust Jesus to give me the strength to resist temptation, and that I often fall into sin. But I do trust Jesus to keep me safe from Satan. I do believe that nothing and no one, not even Satan, can ever snatch me from Jesus’ hand. Lord, give me confidence to step out and live for You today, knowing that You are faithful. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.