Mo 5/20Tu 5/21We 5/22Th 5/23Fr 5/24Sa 5/25Su 5/26
Isa. 21
2 Pet. 2
Isa. 22
2 Pet. 3
Isa. 23
1 John 1
Isa. 24
1 John 2
Isa. 25
1 John 3
Isa. 26
1 John 4
Isa. 27
1 John 5

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

One of the main reasons the Apostle John wrote the letter we call “1 John” was to combat the spread of false teaching known as Gnosticism. Gnostic teaching took many forms, but one of its most prevalent characteristics was that physical matter is inherently evil. It was thought there was a spark of good in our spirits that could be cultivated and brought to enlightenment, but the physical body was considered corrupt. Practically, this could lead to two very different ways of living, one which said: “The physical body is bad, so we must live a harsh and ascetic life.” (The Apostle Paul writes against this in Col. 2:20-23.) The other way said, “It’s really only the inward spirit that matters. The body is evil and bad anyways, so eat, drink, and be merry!”

This physical vs. spiritual dichotomy also had implications for what people believed about Jesus. Some Gnostic teachers taught that the Son of God never really took on human flesh; He just appeared to have the body of a man, but His physicality was ultimately just an illusion. They figured, if the body was evil, there’s no way the Son of God could have taken on flesh.

The Apostle John fights against this kind of teaching from the very opening of his letter. He emphasizes the fact that the apostles heard with their ears, saw with their eyes, and even touched with their hands the Word of Life (1 John 1:1). All of these experiences of the senses confirmed the physical reality of Jesus the Son of God dwelling among them.

This truth is still important for us today.

God made man a physical and spiritual being (Gen. 2:7) and considered him the pinnacle of His “very good” creation (Gen. 1:31). It’s true that our bodies have been corrupted by sin, but so have our souls. And Jesus came to redeem our souls and our bodies (Rom. 8:23). In order to fully redeem mankind, He had to become fully man, which included taking on human flesh. John insists that He did so in 1 John 4:2: “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.”

Some confusion may come from the way the Bible often uses the word “flesh” to describe our fallen sinful nature. John himself speaks of the “lust of the flesh” in 1 John 2:16. But it would be wrong to assume from this that physical bodies are evil in and of themselves. How could they be when John also asserts that Jesus Christ in whom “there is no sin” (1 John 3:5) came “in the flesh”? We understand from this that context is very important. When John speaks of the “lust of the flesh,” I think he has in mind those sins which are especially tied to our strong physical desires: lust, immorality, drunkenness, gluttony, greed…

Practically speaking, the fact that Jesus has redeemed our bodies means two things:

  1. We must indeed say no to our sinful fleshly desires. “You have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20).
  2. We get to enjoy the physical world God has made as we give thanks to Him for it (1 Tim. 4:4) and generously share it with others (1 John 3:17).

Holding on to both of these things helps keep us from falling into either of the Gnostic errors of misguided asceticism or unbridled sensuality.

VERSE TO MEDITATE ON

By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
—1 John 3:10

HOW TO PRAY

  • Adoration – “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
  • Confession – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:9–10)
  • Thanksgiving – Thank God for the “world’s goods” you possess (1 John 3:17).
  • Supplication – Ask God whom you might be able to share the “world’s goods” with this week.

Click HERE to ask the pastors a question about anything in your Bible reading.

This post by Alex McNeilly

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.

Recent Ask the Pastors answers . . .

Old Testament Prosperity vs. New Testament Suffering

QUESTION In the Old Testament, obeying God seems so clearly tied to physical prosperity. God even promises no miscarriages and long life in Exodus 23:26. But in the New Testament, we are actually promised suffering if we follow Christ. Why the switch in expectations...

What’s up with Ecclesiastes?

QUESTION There seem to be some pretty troubling statements in Ecclesiastes about how we are supposed to think and live. For example, Ecclesiastes 8:15, which was read in church this past Sunday, says, "There is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to...

What does it mean that love “believes all things”?

QUESTION In 1 Corinthians 13:7, what does it mean that love "believes all things, hopes all things"? It kinda sounds like that means we're supposed to just believe everything, but that doesn't seem right… ANSWER Whenever we interpret Scripture, we must use Scripture...