Wednesday, August 12, 2009

8-12; I John 5:19-21 Knowledge resists Temptation

(Mirror image of mountain)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also 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 by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
Calvin abridged: No one is considered faithful unless they are acknowledged as God’s children. Here the Apostle is trying to stimulate them to beware of sin and the attacks of Satan. He is also saying that our faith not only makes salvation probable but we can know of our salvation. If we have been born of God, we ought to strive to prove by our separation from the ways of the world and by the holiness of our life, that we have not been called in vain to so great an honor. This admonition is necessary for wherever the godly turn their eyes Satan has prepared allurements by which he seeks to draw them away from God. Two things need to be borne in mind to hold our course: 1) that the world is wicked, and 2) our calling is from God.
“The world”- by this term the whole human race is included and is said to be under the dominion of Satan. There is no reason why we should hesitate to shun the world. Since corruption invades all of nature, the faithful ought to study self-denial. Our call of God should be considered as a protection from the machinations of the world and Satan.
5:20- God has been so made known to us that now there is no reason for doubting. The Apostle importantly dwells on this point for unless our faith is founded on God, we shall never stand firm in the contest we face. We have obtained a sure knowledge of the true God, so that we may not fluctuate in uncertainty. “true” does not mean one who tells the truth, but him who is really God (cf. John 17:3- “this is eternal life, to know you, the only true God and him whom you have sent, Jesus Christ). Christ is given the position of illuminating our minds so we may know God. For he is the only true image of the invisible God, the only interpreter of the Father, the only true guide to life. When we depart from Christ, we become meaningless in our own devices.
It is not that there was no knowledge of God before Christ, but now he reveals himself more fully and clearly (II Cor. 4:6). It should be noted that this gift is peculiar to the elect. Christ, kindles for all indiscriminately the torch of the gospel; but all have not the eyes of their minds opened to see it. Satan spreads the veil of blindness over many. “We are in him who is true”- The efficacious knowledge of God unites us to Christ, and we become one with God; for it has a living root, fixed in the heart, by which God lives in us and we in him. We are in God through Christ. “This is the true God” Here we have a remarkable testimony to the divinity of Christ. This is not (as some Arians say) speaking about the Father for he has already said the Father is the true God twice. It most suitably applies to Christ; for he has taught us Christ is our guide, now he affirms Christ as God, lest we should think we should seek further; and he confirms this view by adding “and eternal life.” Also the relative pronoun “this” (outos) usually refers to the last person. The meaning of this passage is that when we enjoy Christ we enjoy the true and eternal God, and he is not to be sought anywhere else. Secondly, we become partakers of eternal life in Christ. The origin of life is the Father, but the fountain from which we are to draw it, is Christ. 5:21- “Keep yourselves from idols”- The Apostle not only condemns idolatry, but commands us to beware of all images and idols; the worship of God cannot continue to be uncorrupted and pure whenever people begin to be in love with idols and images. For superstition is so innate in us, and easily infects us. Idolatry is a spark that sets the world on fire as dry wood is consumed by fire. Let us remember that we ought to carefully continue in the spiritual worship of God, in order to banish far from us everything that may turn us aside to gross and carnal superstitions.

Thought: Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation from God- God in the flesh- the image of the invisible God. Faith in him (by the Spirit) renders this revelation certain in our hearts, unites us to Christ, and calls us away from all evil powers and temptations. Calvin said temptations were all around us. I wonder what he would think looking at what we are able to pull up on TV and the internet today? If we focus on Christ, we can avoid (delete, not turn on) those temptations. Corruption lobbies us away from Christ, but if we keep our eyes on Him, we not only see the true God, but we lose the power of the temptations of idols and the world. The book of first John ends with this summary of hope and strength- we can know, therefore we can resist.

Prayer: Thank you for the gift, God of revealing yourself to us in Christ. Give us grace to focus our lives and our day on you.

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