1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ* has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child.2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.3For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,4for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.5Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.
Summary—If you believe that Jesus is the Christ, you have been born of God (v.1). Of course, the kind of “belief” which evidences that you are born of God is not just any kind of belief: the kind of belief which evidences that you are born of God never exists apart from love toward God (v.1), love toward God’s other children (v.1-2), obedience to God’s commandments (v.3), and world-conquering faith (v.4-5). Any kind of “belief” which exists apart from these things does not evidence that you are born of God.
Insight—There’s a progression packed into these words—let’s unravel it to see how spiritual life plays out: First, you are born of God (v.1). This spiritual birth creates faith in your heart (v.4). This faith in God—which involves the conviction that God is better than anything else—conquers the world (v.4); in other words, since you, seeing God by faith for all that He is, now consider Him better than anything else, your desires for the world (the world’s loves, priorities, lies, etc.) are conquered (eclipsed, overpowered, pushed aside) by your desire for Him. This world-conquering faith results in obedience to God; and, not just any kind of obedience, but the kind of obedience which does not find God’s commandments burdensome (v.3). So, if you obey God joyfully—not finding His commandments burdensome—because you, by faith, consider God better than the world, it’s because you’ve been born of God.
Child Catechism—How do you conquer the world’s offers? By faith that God is better.
Discussion—Can you love God apart from faith? Can you conquer your desire for the world’s lies apart from faith? How would you describe the role of faith in loving God and conquering the world?
Prayer—O God, we cannot love whom we cannot see, and we cannot see You with eyes of flesh; so, open our eyes of faith wider every day to You in Your perfections, that we may love You. And may we, loving You by faith, conquer the world, seeing its lies for what they are, convinced that You are better, and will be better. Thank You for assuring us that we are born of You if You answer this prayer, which we pray through Jesus Christ Your Son, our Lord, who always reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God forever. Amen.
Contributed by Scott Cline