In 1John 5:18 John affirms three truths about believers, whom he refers to as ‘born of God’:
The person who is ‘born of God’ does not continue to sin
Whether we understand ‘sin’ here as the sin of deliberate unbelief (the rejection of the real Jesus, described as ‘sin that leads to death’ in verses 16 and 17) or as a moral sin, this statement is true:
Those who are born of God, that is, those who believe that Jesus is the Christ (5:1), may have observable glitches in their faith, as Peter did under pressure of fear, but those glitches are temporary hiccups that do not reflect their real faith that God sees in their hearts. They do not continue to sin, they do not continue to reject Jesus. Their real rejection of Jesus ceased when they acknowledged him as the Christ, and God knows that.
And those who are born of God, also, as John taught previously, do not continue a life of habitual moral sinfulness. Yes. They still sin, they still do wrong things; John makes clear in 1:8 and 10. But their life is not characterized by sin.
‘the one who was born of God keeps him safe’
John gives the reason, and it is a strong reason, why a person of real faith in the real Jesus will never reject Jesus in a final way. John’s ‘does not continue to sin’ is followed in the Greek text by ‘alla’ which is a strong ‘but’, setting up a contrast between what is said before and after. Rather than the person who is born of God continuing in sin, particularly in the sin of denying or rejecting Christ, there is someone keeping him safe from such a possibility.
John says that ‘the one who was born of God keeps him safe’. This is a reference to Jesus Christ, who is ‘the only begotten’ (KJV in John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18) Son of God.
The salvation of the person who truly believes Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is secure. It is secure because Jesus Christ keeps those who believe in him safe. This is obvious in these verses:
‘I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand’ – John 10:28.
‘...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ – Philippians 1:6.
‘I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day’ – 2Timothy 1:12.
‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power’ – 1Peter 1:4, 5.
Jesus Christ himself keeps safe those who have acknowledged him. He did not save us only to then abandon us. He himself saved us by his blood, and he himself keeps us saved.
‘the evil one cannot harm him’
The evil one can do all sorts of things to the believer, including physical, financial, relational, emotional and mental harm. But, in the ultimate sense, although these things are unpleasant, and although these things hurt terribly, the bottom line is that the evil one cannot harm us in the ultimate sense. He cannot undo our salvation. He cannot separate us from the love of God – Romans 8:35 - 39. He cannot take us away from Christ – John 10:28. He cannot rob us of eternal life.
We are no longer under his authority; we are no longer in his kingdom. We are in the kingdom of Christ – Colossians 1:13.
We are no longer deceived by his lies. We know the truth by knowing Jesus Christ – John 8:31, 32.
We are no longer cowed by his accusations. God has fully acquitted us because Christ bore all of our guilt – Romans 8:31 – 34.
In addition, what the evil one intends for our spiritual destruction, God, in sovereign power and love, turns into something good – Genesis 45: 3 – 8; 50:15 – 20; Romans 8:28
© Rosemary Bardsley 2022