1 John: Christianity in Black and White, Part 14 :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

1 John 5:14-21: “Confidence in Prayer and Truth”

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And, if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death. We know that whoever is born of God does not sin, but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.

“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true, and we are in Him, who is true in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (1 John 5:14-21).

My original audience for this series of messages on 1 John was to be my congregation here in Muskogee, and I was getting ready to present it to them when I resigned from my pastorate last year due to a leading of the LORD as well as my inevitable diagnosis of kidney failure, the details of which I have presented in past articles. After over thirty years of service to the LORD, I decided that it was time to retire from active public ministry and devote the rest of my days to teaching the principles and lessons from the Scriptures to an online audience, both on this website and my own, and to write workbooks and study guides for another website dedicated to prophecy.

It’s kind of nice to be out of the public eye and its scrutiny in order to give my full and complete attention to studies that I pray have been of benefit to you these past few months. With that said, let’s turn to the final verses of Chapter 5 as we bring this series to a conclusion.

John tells his readers to gain confidence in the LORD by having set times of communing with Him through prayer, specifically for those needs and requests that are in accordance with His will for you as a believer, as well as solidifying the assurance that you now have the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

In verses 14-17, we are to have confidence and compassion when we do approach Him in prayer. Compare this with the contemporary attitude of the flashy, articulate, so-called “anointed” television evangelist who, unfortunately, seems to dominate the airwaves of what is defined as “Christian” television today. Many, but not all of them, have twisted the concept of prayer to God as a means of getting from Him what you desire because the preacher emphasizes that you need to be “prosperous,” misinterpreting selected Scriptures such as 3 John 2, which states: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”

This is a greeting of affection and blessing upon the recipient of John’s letter, not a “sure-fire” method of what one “prosperity” advocate once described as “writing your own ticket with God,” as if the Sovereign God of all Creation somehow is obligated to bargain with His people and be subject to whims that benefit the individual financially and materially. The blatant arrogance of some of these religious hucksters in terms of their attitude that God Almighty is subject to their demands is a blasphemous attitude, and neglects the welfare of their soul’s destiny after death and the fact that they can’t take their riches with them.

The world sees this and mocks the name and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, believing that all we do is ask for money, and that the charge of greed and hypocrisy continues to stain the true body of Christ, making true, Bible-based evangelism and authenticity that much more difficult as a result.

Now, we need to return to what is real, effective prayer to God. It’s not about you or centered on you. Prayer, according to John, must be centered on the will and direction of God. The Lord Jesus said as much when He taught the Model Prayer to His listeners on the Mount (Matthew 6:10). If you read the Gospels, Jesus never prayed for anything for His comfort or pleasure, but was always centered on the Father’s direction and that of His followers. Let that sink in. Our attitude as true believers is to approach the LORD and ask Him how we may serve Him. He is to be our main priority and the focus of our spiritual attention. This is why the Lord Jesus teaches us to pray by first approaching God with a reverent attitude of praise and honor.

We are to be humble and submissive to His direction and will, and to give Him all glory for what He will do to see that all things come into place and are set according to His Sovereign plans.

A sure way of making us humble and grateful is to realize that God really owes us nothing in terms of our rebellion and animosity towards Him ever since Eden and beyond. His offer of redemption is given out of sheer mercy on His part that we do not deserve. The gift of salvation He has purchased for us by the work of atonement for our sins upon the cross is something precious that He gave to us out of love that we did not earn or have within our possession except by the sovereign, foreordained act of the Holy Spirit to awaken our dead souls and restore us to life that we may have a relationship with the living God, who has established this decree on His terms, and not from anything we might attempt in our own power.

The Sovereign, Almighty God is Holy (Exodus 15:11; Psalm 99:9; Isaiah 6:1-8; Revelation 4:8, 15:4), and we are not. He will not allow sin in His presence and has a zero tolerance for it. There’s absolutely no way that we can come to God on our own terms in our own strength. We’re covered in the filth of sin and debauchery, and are only acceptable in His sight when we bow the knee before the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, ask for forgiveness, and surrender to His Lordship and direction (2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 2:5-11).

At the end of history as we know it, everyone will bow to Him, redeemed and lost, whether as Lord or as Judge. No one will be exempt or forgotten, and there will be no place to hide or be acquitted. This is why we need to approach the LORD in prayer and devotion always (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and as John presents further, we need to be in a state of prayer for each other as brethren in Christ.

John now writes of something that is of serious concern to him, and that is what is referred to as the “sin unto death.” As we read about this type of sin, it refers to any believer who lives in a state of unrepentant sin(s), even though he has claimed to have made a true and sincere profession of faith in Christ for salvation. The church around him knows of his spiritual standing, yet have attempted to have the member confess his or her sin and be forgiven so as to be a witness to the area and relations as well, and to have a restored, close relationship with the LORD (Matthew 13:29, 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:5, 12-13; 2 Corinthians 2:6, 7:11; 1 Timothy 1:20).

Good Christian men and women can and have fallen into such a state of spiritual despair and have wrecked their testimony to the point where the LORD brings them home in order not to be a source of stumbling to others. Someone who has had an affair is an all too common example, especially if that individual is a church leader or influential member, and in falling into sin, has ruined not just his or her reputation, but has also brought damages upon the body of Christ as well. Families and friendships that seemed solid end up shattering and carrying feelings of betrayal, anger, and confusion as to why and how such a thing could have happened.

Promiscuity, however, is not the only sin of notoriety. A pastor or elder can bring a strange or unorthodox teaching or belief that, if not confronted and rebuked by the other elders and spiritually mature church members, will produce confusion, error, the probability of heresy, and the ruination of a church’s reputation and witness in the community. There are churches now that are merely gathering places for reprobates who play religion, and have become outright apostate in these last days. The professing believer in Jesus Christ needs to be more in tune with the accuracy of the Word and the leading of the LORD more than ever.

The words that Jesus spoke in Luke 18:8 are coming to pass quickly as the world turns more towards an attitude of hostility to those of us who profess Christ as Lord, Savior, and coming King.

We need to be alert as to how we walk as well as talk concerning our faith. I am becoming more convinced that fewer people are going to respond to the Gospel, which impresses upon me that the time of departure for the church may be well at hand. The Scriptures tell us that many will come to faith in Christ during the Tribulation period, but it will be at the cost of their lives. These future believers will have to establish a system to find out who is genuine and who is a plant for the One-World Government of the Beast (Revelation 13). It could be that when this last article is posted, the last person this side of the Rapture event may come to faith, and then, the real drama begins.

As these troubled times come to a head, we who are the remnant body of Christ must stop our attitude of sitting back, singing hymns, and waiting for the LORD. We must develop self-discipline by staying away from the influences of the world and the flesh, which will stop at nothing to ruin you spiritually and render you ineffective. We must adhere to the truth of the Word of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives. We are to be wary of any teaching that tends to stray from what is accepted by the church as genuine doctrine and teachings of the LORD and His apostles.

We are to stick close to authentic teachers and preachers as they give us the pure food of the Scriptures. We need to obtain maturity in our walk with the LORD by committing ourselves to continual prayer, support of each other, study of the Word, and be bold in our defense and presentation of the faith.

John ends his letter by warning his readers to stay away from idols, anything that might compromise their walk with God. He lived through trying times, and the history we are experiencing is no different. Do not settle for anything in your spiritual life except the absolute truth of what is presented in Scripture and by your times with God. There are no “grey” areas when it comes to the health and growth of your spiritual life, as John so frequently expressed throughout this letter.

In the end, it’s either Jesus or nothing. Now is the time to decide where you stand.