Our second real Enemy: the Devil
The focus of our attention throughout this series of devotionals has been our intimacy with God. We have covered the three barriers that stand on our way: sin (1:5–2:2), hatred against our brothers and sisters (2:3–11), and our enemies—the world (2:15–17) and the Devil (2:18–27).
As we have seen through Jesus’ temptation, the Devil’s primary work is to attack God’s Word. Therefore, false teaching is the tool he uses to lead people into error and spiritual destruction. In order to do this, the Devil uses false teachers, people who deny the Son and the Father, who say that Jesus is not the Christ, the Messiah. This is the lie detector test given by John. False doctrine can lead a Christian away from fellowship.
For this reason, John tells us to abide in that which we have heard from the beginning: Christ is the Son of God who came from heaven to save the world from sin. Let us go back to our roots, the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel promises do not change. God does not change. Jesus is the Messiah. He is the Son of God. He came from the Father. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). What did Jesus promise us? What do we have thanks to the price He paid at the cross for us? Eternal life (2:25). Remember that the Devil is a liar and a thief. Do not let him lie nor steal from you, do not believe his lies, do not allow him to steal the assurance of salvation you have in Jesus.
Right learning is fundamental. False teaching about the Father and the Son is one of the great enemies of Christian fellowship we face in this world. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit has given us an anointing to protect us from these false teachings. This anointing is certainly given to the church leaders, if not all believers, to enable them to recognize the sign of false teachers. That sign is a denial of the equality of the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and the messianic mission of the Son.
The gospel gives us the guarantee that one day, when Jesus comes back, we will stand before Him confidently and unashamed. Why? Because we abide in Him. Jesus’ righteous nature is actually being manifested through us, and in us. Everyone can see the fruit of our abiding; we are born of Him. For this reason, we are called children of God! And, as His children, this new nature is the only nature that we will manifest.
One day, the final stage of the sanctification of the believer—glorification—will come to pass. We shall be like Him. But, we do not have to wait until He comes to be transformed. As we anticipate His future coming and manifestation, we have a purifying hope (3:3) that helps us to desire to be like Him now.
Let us be aligned with the truth of the gospel. We are children of God, we have been saved from eternal damnation, and we have the promise of eternal life because of Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross. As children of God, we speak His love language—we keep His commandments. We love our brothers and sisters and we understand that we have two enemies, the world and the Devil. We know that we have victory over them by loving God first, by abiding in God’s Word, and by doing God’s will. This is how we can experience maximum joy!
To receive a sample of the book Maximum Joy: First John—Relationship or Fellowship? and for more resources on spiritual growth, please visit gsot.edu/center.