V1414This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.. Verse 1414This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. describes a wonderful result of the possession of eternal life that John has spoken about in the previous verse. He who has eternal life also has “confidence”. This confidence or boldness comes to expression in your prayer life, for therein the fellowship with the Father and the Son comes to expression. It is the unreserved talking with the Father and the Son about all issues that affect your life, such as children have, who have an unreserved relationship with their father. Confidence also includes trust, security and safety. You are familiar with God, you are at home with Him. It all results from the possession and the knowing of the eternal life.
If you live like that in His presence, in that sphere of confidence, then you share your desires with Him. Of course He knows all about them already. Therefore it is not about telling Him what He would not know, but it is about the fact that praying means that you very consciously have fellowship with Him. The Lord Jesus has prayed continuously. His life was prayer (Psa 109:4b4In return for my love they act as my accusers;
But I am [in] prayer.
), but He also had specific times for prayer. He always lived in conscious fellowship with God, but He also prayed with a view to specific events. With Him there was no unfamiliarity regarding the answer to His prayers. He did not need to question Himself whether the Father had indeed heard Him, for He knew that the Father always heard Him (Jn 11:4242I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.”).
V1515And if we know that He hears us [in] whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.. With us it is not always like that. Sometimes you do not know how to pray and you also do not know whether you ask for the right thing. Nevertheless you are allowed to pray. You have the confidence to do that. And when you pray for something that is according to His will, He will hear you, meaning that He will answer you, for He always hears you, after all. A nice example of somebody who had the certainty of getting the petition she prayed for, is Hannah, the mother of Samuel. She prayed for a son. After she had gained the certainty of prayer, meaning that she had the certainty that her prayer would be answered, she looked different (1Sam 1:17-1817Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.”18She said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer [sad].).
A practical point for our praying is that we often take too little time for it. That actually indicates that we do not consider it that important. We need to take time for prayer. When you cease to pray, it means that you will also cease to receive the blessing. Prayer needs time, perseverance and encouragement in the form of an answer. The only way to learn the lessons of prayer is by praying. In that way you for example can pray for the sake of the ministry of a brother or sister. When you pray for his or her sake to receive strength and blessing from God, then you know that it is a prayer according to His will. He wants us to pray for that. And He will surely answer.
V1616If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not [leading] to death, he shall ask and [God] will for him give life to those who commit sin not [leading] to death. There is a sin [leading] to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.. A special prayer is the prayer for the sake of a brother who is sinning. When you see a brother sinning, you respond – that’s what the apostle presumes – with Christian love. That love is expressed in praying for the sake of the other person. The fellowship between him and the Father has been disturbed. He has no more confidence and is no more able to enjoy the blessings of that fellowship. Therefore your love will firstly cause you to pray for him.
When sin has entered into somebody’s life, death has also entered into his life, which implies in this case the absence of the joy of life. The effect of the prayer is that the brother is being placed back in the joy of the life in the company of the family of God’s children, where death and sin do not belong.
Now John makes another distinction in the sin which is committed. He speaks about “a sin not [leading] to death” and about “a sin [leading] to death”. For the first sin it is allowed to pray, for the second one it is not allowed. How are you to distinguish the kind of sin you’re dealing with? That will become clear in the relationship with the Lord.
You can be sure that when a believer sins, it is a sin not leading to death. When it is a sin leading to death, it will become clear by for instance certain circumstances (e.g. 1Cor 11:3030For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.). It was clear to Peter that Ananias and Sapphira had committed a sin leading to death (Acts 5:1-101But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,2and kept back [some] of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.3But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back [some] of the price of the land?4While it remained [unsold], did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”5And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it.6The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.7Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.8And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.”9Then Peter [said] to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out [as well].”10And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.). Moses also had committed a sin leading to death, for he was not allowed to enter into the land because of his sin. When he asked God if he could still enter into the land, he received the answer to speak no more of this matter with Him (Deu 3:25-2625Let me, I pray, cross over and see the fair land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.’26But the LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me; and the LORD said to me, ‘Enough! Speak to Me no more of this matter.). And Jeremiah was told to pray no more for the people. They were deviated that far away from God that it became inevitable to make them to be taken into captivity (Jer 11:1414“Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not listen when they call to Me because of their disaster.
; 15:11Then the LORD said to me, “Even though Moses and Samuel were to stand before Me, My heart would not be with this people; send them away from My presence and let them go!).
It seems that a sin leading to death is a sin that violates the testimony of God in a particular way. Due to that sin the Name of God has been seriously and publicly dishonored. The conduct of one of His Own gives the enemies of God an extra motive to blaspheme His Name. Then it can happen that God will no longer maintain such a person as His witness on earth and takes Him away. When that’s the case, then there is mention of sin leading to death.
V1717All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not [leading] to death.. By putting this emphasis on the sin leading to death, it may seem as if other kinds of sin are not that serious. That would be a tragic mistake. John again explicitly declares that “all unrighteousness” is sin, even if it is often a sin not leading to death. We must be very aware that this can only be said in this way because the Lord Jesus went into death for each sin of God’s children. “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:2323For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.). Therefore sin is absolutely not allowed to have any room in the life of a child of God. In case he still sins he has to confess it as soon as possible. Praying for the sake of one another is a great contribution to achieve that.
V1818We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.. John concludes his letter with three verses which all three begin with “we know” (verses 18,19,2018We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.19We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in [the power of] the evil one.20And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.), with thereafter in the last verse (verse 2121Little children, guard yourselves from idols.) a general warning. With this three times “we know”, which implies that you have conscious knowledge, John once more records the clear principles that he has dealt with extensively in his letter.
The first ‘we know’ concerns the knowledge “that no one who is born of God sins”, whatever people may say. You are born of God and in accordance with your new life you have no part in the practice of sin. The new life cannot sin and does not want anything else than doing the will of God. You are born of God and therefore have His nature. Can God sin? Impossible! In Him there is no sin. Therefore you also cannot sin in your new life. Every believer knows that.
John sees you and addresses you in the new life that you have received because you are born of God. That new life “keeps him”. It is completely safe and untouchable for the evil. The evil has no point of connection therein, just like the Lord Jesus says of Himself (Jn 14:3030I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me;). And He is that new life within you. The evil cannot possibly gain his grip on your new nature any more than he could on the Lord Jesus.
V1919We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in [the power of] the evil one.. Apart from the evil, you also have to deal with his instrument, which is the world. In his second ‘we know’ John points at the radical separation between those who are of God and the whole world. Therefore here it is not so much about your being born of God, but about God Himself as the One to Whom you belong and with Whom you are related. You belong to God, while the world belongs to the evil and is totally surrounded by evil. The whole world, without anything being exempt from it, breathes wickedness and is the means through which the evil is trying to gain his grip on you. Because you know to Whom you belong, you have a sharp eye for what the world is and for your place on the other side of the borderline. You do not want to have anything to do with the world.
V2020And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.. The third ‘we know’ focuses your attention on Him Who is the center in God’s world, the Son of God. You know that He has come into the world and “has given us understanding” that you may know “Him who is true”. Formerly you were darkened in your understanding (Eph 4:1818being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;), however intelligent you may be. Now you have the understanding, how little you may be of account in the world. You owe that to the coming of the Son of God. Had He not come, then you would have remained in darkness. But He has come and has opened your understanding (Lk 24:4545Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,). You have gained insight into the plans of God and of how He is going to fulfill them. Everything happens through His Son.
You know Him Who is true, that is God as the One Who is true in Himself. In the world the lie rules, but that does not find any point of connection in the new life. That’s because you know Him Who is true and Who always speaks the truth about all things. You do not only know Him, it is even said that you are in Him. That is not a knowledge on a distance, for you have been brought into the closest connection with Him.
That doesn’t imply that you were brought into the Godhead. After that John directly adds in which way you are in Him Who is true and that is because you are in His Son Jesus Christ. In Him Who has come as Man you are in Him Who is true. You were not able to become God, but God indeed was able to become Man and in that way identify you with Him. At the same time He remains to be the One Who became Man, the true God and the eternal life. That places you before the inconceivable wonder of His Person. In this respect the appeal ‘Come let us adore Him!’ is appropriate.
V2121Little children, guard yourselves from idols.. The last verse is also appropriate in this light. Keep yourselves from idols, those are things or people that demand, ask for or provoke adoration, for all adoration is to be ascribed to the Son alone. John has presented Him as the eternal life to you in this letter. The eternal life that you have received is He. You know the Father and Him Who He has sent. You therefore have been brought into the sphere of the eternal life (Jn 17:33This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.). Spend your time there and be involved with Him Who is the eternal life. Don’t let yourself be tempted to spend your time, your attention and adoration to something or someone else. Only the Father and the Son are worthy of adoration, now and forever. Amen.
Now read 1 John 5:14-21 again.
Reflection: What have you learned in this letter about the eternal life?