1 John: A 15-Day Devotional


John lifts his readers’ eyes beyond the current distress to their blessed hope in order to bolster them for day-to day faithfulness. Calvin aptly said, 

Our present condition is very short of the glow of God’s children; . . . death is always before our eyes; we are also subject to [a] thousand miseries, and the soul is exposed to innumerable evils. . . . The more necessary it is that all our thoughts should be withdrawn from the present view of things, lest the miseries by which we are on every side surrounded and almost overwhelmed, should shake our faith in that felicity which as yet lies hid. For the Apostle’s meaning is this, that we act very foolishly when we estimate what God has bestowed on us according to the present state of things, but that we ought with undoubting faith to hold to that which does not yet appear.*

Scripture makes clear that we do not attain sinless perfection in this life. We anticipate such perfection at Christ’s coming (1 John 3:2). However, conversion produces a real change in our lives. On the one hand, we must not allow this to be brushed off so that people who claim faith can continue floating along despite their lack of concern for holiness. On the other hand, we must help sensitive souls who never find assurance because they never see enough holiness in their own lives. We must indeed heed the call to examine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5), but we must recognize that this is not merely an individualistic effort. We need the community of faith to help us in this examination lest we be either too lax or too harsh in our assessment.


*Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 204.