Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)

When our kids were little, I used a coin to demonstrate a crucial biblical truth, praying that the visual and tactile illustration would help plant the truth deep in their hearts.  I was teaching on John 10:27-30 (NASB) which records the words of Jesus:

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.  I and the Father are one."

First, I would take that coin and put it in the palm of my right hand and close my fingers tightly around it.  Then I would invite the kids to try and pry my fingers apart.  Of course, since they were only five or six years old, they couldn't do it, hard as they'd try.  Since they already had trusted Christ, I told them that they were in Christ and that no one, including the devil could take them out of Christ.

Then, I would wrap my other hand around the first, symbolizing the Father's hand around Jesus' hand and again their efforts to pry the coin loose would be futile.  " one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."

Finally, I would intertwine my fingers as a picture of Jesus and the Father being one.  A third time they would endeavor to pull my fingers apart and get at the coin, and a third time they would fail.

By that time they were a bit tired and a bit frustrated, but they got the picture.  We are safe and secure in the Lord.  Even the devil himself cannot take us out of Christ.

That is what today's Scripture also teaches, and it is interesting to note that it is by the same author, John.  He wrote in 1 John 5:18-20:

"We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who has been born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.  We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.  And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so 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."

In John's letter, one of the essential marks of a true follower of Christ is that he doesn't sin as a lifestyle (that's what the first part of the verse above means; not that we never sin but that we don't practice it as a lifestyle).  Instead...John continued...Jesus, who has been born of God, keeps us and the evil one does not touch us.

What does that mean exactly?

Well, first of all, we know that it doesn't mean that the devil cannot touch us physically.  In Revelation 2:10 (also written by John), believers were warned that the devil was going to cast some of them into prison.  In the end times, many saints will even be martyred (put to death) for their refusal to worship the "image of the beast" (see Revelation 13:15), a human puppet of Satan.  So certainly the promise of Scripture that "the evil one does not touch him" cannot mean automatic protection from all physical attack and harm.

Secondly, we also know that the devil is the tempter, accuser and deceiver and that we need to put on the full armor of God in order to stand firm against the schemes (thoughts, mind games) of the devil (see Ephesians 6:10-17).  Every day we see sincere followers of Christ trapped in bondage, fighting a losing battle for their minds.  So certainly the promise of Scripture that "the evil one does not touch him" cannot mean automatic protection from all psychological attack or harm either.

So what does the Scripture mean when it says, "He who has been born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him"?  Basically, the Lord Jesus (He who has been born of God) keeps us from practicing a lifestyle of sin (because we are now in Christ and we no longer are under the power of the evil one like the world without Christ is) and the evil one (the devil) cannot touch us in the place of our new spiritual union with Christ.  In other words, he can't pry God's fingers open and yank you and me out of Christ and force us back into a lifestyle of sin!  We are "in Him who is true" and that is the place of complete spiritual Christ!

The apostle Paul was basically saying the same thing when he wrote (Romans 8:37-39 MSG):

"None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us.  I'm absolutely convinced that nothing -- nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable -- absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us."

You're safe and secure in Jesus.  Sleep well tonight, my brother or sister!

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