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First John

You Cannot Cheat An Honest Man

1 John 5:6-10

Radiation was discovered because Becquerel left some uranium next to some unexposed film. Before that time, it was unknown - because no one had an instrument to detect it. It could not be seen by the eyes; hence, to us , it did not exist. But when the instrument was discovered, so was the phenomenon.

The truth of God also requires the correct instrument. The Apostle has already taught us:

(1 John 1:10 NIV) If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

We cannot be dishonest and discover the truth of God. The honest man is the only instrument which can detect the truth of God, for as Solomon taught us:

(Prov 3:32 NIV) for the LORD detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence.

There it is: If you are an upright man or woman, God will take you into his confidence - and tell you the truth. We shall see that here:

(1 John 5:6-10 NIV) This is the one who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. {7} For there are three that testify: {8} the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. {9} We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. {10} Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.

Testimony: Water

John had a problem in his day: Gnosticism was growing. It is against the background of this heresy we must examine this passage, for John is defending the truth against these people:

Gnostics, in general, held that the truth was not generally available to all - rather, it was for those "in the know" - hence Gnostic, meaning "one who knows." Only by studying with the particular guru could you know the truth which was hidden from other Christians.

The particular form of Gnosticism that John was fighting seems to have originated with one Cerinthus. He held that "Jesus" and "Christ" were two separate persons. "Christ" supposedly entered "Jesus" at his baptism by John - and left just before the Crucifixion. He thus denies the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. (He had a lot of other strange ideas as well - he seems to have taken contemporary faiths, put them through a blender and poured the results out to his students).

While Cerinthus no longer has any impact on us - it is the way of all heresies that they drop off from the church eventually - his spiritual descendants are still with us, in the form of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Symbolic meanings

Water has a number of spiritual meanings. We shall examine those meanings and then see their effect in our lives - and so see their testimony.

The first is cleansing. A sacrifice had to be pure, and Christ was to purify the church by "water through the word." This clearly references baptism.

We cannot mean by this only the physical act of baptism, but rather its use as an acceptance of the resurrection power of Christ.

Baptism is also symbolic of our rebirth.

But water does not stop at baptism. We are to be the ones who are to be springs of Living Water for the world.

So then, what is the meaning of this in our physical lives? And what testimony does it bear?

In our lives

First, we can look at the testimony of John the Baptist. This is most likely the testimony which would have come first to the Apostle John. He would see here the Son of Man being baptized as symbolic of our need for baptism.

But we should also look within our own lives:

At baptism, did we experience spiritual cleansing - and act like it?

If we did not, it is because we went through the ritual, but did not really claim the resurrection power of the Christ.

How do we know the difference? By our rebirth! Did your life change at baptism - did you die to the world?

And since then, are you the source of living water to those around you - or just a dry hole in the ground?

Testimony: Blood

We are deeply into the symbolism of the Bible here. Blood is a thread woven through the Scriptures from the death of Abel on through the saints in Revelation. We can see it used in many ways, but these three will suffice:

Atonement. We know that blood sacrifices were used in the Old Testament for atonement. We also know that the Old Testament prophesied that these sacrifices were just the forerunner of the Messiah to come. (There's one that's not commonly quoted). But it is interesting that Jesus specifically tells us that his blood is "poured out" as a sacrifice - just as the atonement sacrificial blood was poured out at the base of the altar. So we see the prophetic witness that this blood represents.

Blood is also for cleansing (which would seem strange to the modern housewife!) It is for purification. We see this most clearly in Revelation 12:7-12, where the saints wash their robes in the blood of the lamb.

It also is the means of access to God.

(Heb 9:7 NIV) But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.

It is interesting to note the change, symbolically, from Old Testament to New Testament. In the Old Testament, the people were forbidden to drink blood. In the New Testament, it is required. You may not partake of what is only a forerunner of things to come - but you must partake of the real thing.

In our lives

It is difficult to see "atonement" in our lives, for Jesus accomplished that once and for all on the Cross. This is something we must take on faith. But the other two aspects can give us visible testimony in our lives:

Do you have the cleansing of the blood of Christ in your life? When you take communion, do you examine yourself, repent and accept his forgiveness on the basis of the blood you take?

Do you have direct access to God - or are your prayers unheard?

It seems to me that these two tests might be profitable for anyone who wants to know if the testimony of Christ is real in him.

Testimony: Spirit

Again, we may see the internal and the external:

Internal

It seems difficult for us to discern the testimony of the Holy Spirit in anyone but ourselves, for as the Scripture tells us:

The Spirit is sent as our counselor, and counselors counsel in private.

The Spirit is to guide us into truth - and truth is not marked on any map, but in the heart.

The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are children of God - and thus reassures us of our salvation. But again, this is internal.

The Spirit is our "deposit" - our guarantee of salvation.

All these things are internal; how can anyone see a testimony in this?

External

First, if these things are true of us, then we know that the testimony inside must - it is commanded - flow over into the testimony outside.

We also know that all these testimonies are "in agreement." God is one, therefore truth is one.

Will you call God a liar?

Ah, but some will say, "I'm not so sure. I see your point, but…" John puts the question to such people: "Will you call God a liar?"

The testimony of men

We have a great deal of testimony of men and women who have lived the faith, and testify - in word and action - to the reality of the faith. We would accept such testimony in court; why do we have such difficulty in accepting it in life?

More than that, if you would accept the testimony of men in such a matter, how much more should you accept what God has testified to?

The ark of the testimony

Perhaps we can see this another way. In the Old Testament we are familiar with the "Ark of the Covenant." It is also called the "Ark of the Testimony." It is a mysterious thing, Indiana Jones notwithstanding.

It was covered by a gold plated lid of two cherubim - which was called the "atonement cover." Only by the atonement can we understand the testimony of God - for Christ's work makes no sense without it.

In Old Testament times, it was hidden behind curtains, not to be seen by anyone but the one appointed by God. The veil is torn; now we can see the testimony of God clearly.

Indeed, the voice of God was said to speak from the atonement cover.

And what would that testimony be? We can see it from the contents of the Ark:

First, there was manna. This is figurative of the bread of life, of Christ himself, and the word He gives us.

Next, there was Aaron's rod. Remember that God selected it from among the twelve staffs of Israel? That means it is symbolic of being selected - or of being holy, in other words, set apart. It was set apart because it was the one that budded and bore fruit: so it is that God's holy ones must be set apart and bear much fruit in their lives.

Last, there was the Law - the commands of God, given to his children for their obedience.

These are the things which are the testimony of God. You must choose to believe them - or not.

If not

You cannot sit on the fence and "decide not to decide." Either it is true, or God is a liar. But beware of his warnings on the subject. Do not make such a decision in a fit of absence of mind! For He warns us:

(Heb 10:26-31 NIV) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, {27} but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. {28} Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. {29} How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? {30} For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." {31} It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Is this not sufficient? Then consider the case when there is no hope:

(Heb 6:4-6 NIV) It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, {5} who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, {6} if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

You have heard the testimony of God, borne through water, blood and Spirit. The choice is yours: live the life to which he has called you, or call him a liar - and bear the eternal consequences.

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