Three Important Results of Eternal Life – December 16, 2022

You can have confidence that you will have eternal life. Often individuals hope for the best. They live the best life they can. They serve other people. And they hope that God will accept them when they get to heaven. But God desires something better. God desires that we have confidence in our eternal future. John informs us that the purpose of his first epistle is to help instill this confidence into believers’ hearts. When we have this confidence, some fantastic things result. In the final paragraph of the first epistle, John informs us of these tremendous benefits of eternal security.

First, because we have confidence in our eternal home, we have access to God. For thousands of years, priests would go into the holy place in the temple once a year to sacrifice for the people’s sins. This day was known as the Day of Atonement. Only a specific priest was allowed to go behind the massive curtain, the veil, that separated the holiest of holies from the rest of the temple. If an unauthorized person entered, God would kill him immediately. When Christ died, one of the miracles was that the temple’s veil tore from top to bottom. The book of Hebrews tells us that this was done because God granted direct access to his presence to every believer at any time through the sacrifice of Christ. One of the results of eternal life is that we have direct access to God as believers.

This direct access means two things. First, it means that God hears us. Think about this for a moment; God listens to you. You have direct access to the one who places and removes kings from their thrones. You have direct access to the one who spoke the world into existence. Further, John states that he hears us. This word “hear” gives the picture that he listens. Sometimes when people talk, we only half listen. We tune them out. God doesn’t do that to believers. He listens to you. He hears you. We can hold to this confidently.

Second, if we ask according to God’s will and have confidence that he hears us, we can have confidence that he will act for us. When we ask for something according to God’s will, we can be confident that he will work on our behalf. What an amazing promise that the God of the universe will act on our behalf.

The second result of eternal security is that we pursue righteousness. This pursuit of righteousness takes on two forms. First, we take sin seriously. If we have access to God, know that God hears us, and take sin seriously, then we should be praying for others in their struggle with sin. The second form is that we recognize God’s power. Sin is a big deal, but we have the ability and the power to overcome and conquer sin. We do not have to be bound to it. Believers are no longer under the control of the evil one because Jesus Christ keeps them safe so that the evil one cannot harm them!

John has already stated that a believer cannot persist in sin because God’s seed remains in him (3:9). Now, he says that a believer cannot continue in sin because God keeps him safe. He will not allow Satan to harm him. John is confident the true believer will remain. John reminds his readers that no one born of God continues in sin since Jesus protects him from Satan’s influence. Sin and its consequences are to be taken seriously, but in Christ, the child of God is given supernatural power to overcome sin and obey God’s will.

The final result is that we will keep ourselves from idols. At first glance, this verse (v. 21) seems to be terribly out of place. It seems almost to be a passing statement tacked onto the end. “Here is how you know if you are genuine believers, and oh yeah, don’t follow idols.” But this verse is not a mistake or an afterthought. It is the very foundation of all that has been said. This verse summarizes the book as a whole. In 2:15-17, John addressed our love (our desires) for the things of the world more than our love for God. In 3:7-10, John addressed our behavior (our actions, what we do) as our love more than our love for God. Ones who love God don’t worship sin. 4:1-6 speaks to the demonic nature of idolatry. And just a couple of verses earlier in 5:19, John divides the world into two parts, “of God” and “of Satan.” To be anything other than a genuine believer, to place anything over God is idolatry. We will discuss this more as we enter the new year.

This final text reminds us that eternal life is more than fire insurance. Eternal life brings with it many implications and responsibilities. John addressed them as he closed out his epistle. We have access to God. We must use it. We must take advantage of it. It is our source of power. Second, we must pursue righteousness. We have been given the ability to overcome sin. We cannot continue to be its slave. We must take sin seriously. We must address it when we see it. Finally, we must put away the idols of our hearts. May God bless us as we follow him.