We are writing to you as eyewitnesses and those who have fellowship with God concerning the eternal life God has provided. Those who are called Christians, but say that they don't sin or reject the concept of sin simply don't have eternal life. Real Christians acknowledge that they are sinners, but that they rely on the atoning work of Christ as payment for their sins.
We know that we have eternal life if we obey his commands; particularly to love other Christians. In which case, our sins are forgiven, we know God, and experience victory over evil because the Word of God lives in us. In contrast, real Christians do not make it a way of life to set their desires on material things or worldly ambitions which are being phased out, because God's love dwells in them.
As there isn't much time left, many who are against Christianity are rising up. In fact some false teachers have arisen from the ranks of the Christians. But they were never real Christians because those who had been saved would have never left the flock. But you know this stuff. I'm just helping you to think it through. Those who deny that Jesus is the Christ, don't belong to God.
If you accept the truth of the gospel, you can be assured that you will have eternal life, which is contrary to what those false teachers are teaching you. Listen to the Holy Spirit who dwells in you. He will convince you of this. And since you are saved, you don't have to fear Christ's coming.
Also consider your behavior. Would you not expect those who are children of God to behave as their Father? And because of God's love that's what you are. But not in the eyes of the world, since they simply don't know God as was demonstrated when Christ came. We may not know what exactly heaven will be like, but we can know this, that when we see Christ, we shall become like him. Since that is our destiny, we might as well start now.
Christians don't live a lifestyle of sin. If they do, then they're not really Christians. Those who belong to God act accordingly as do those who belong to the devil. We have been delivered from the power of sin and from the domain of the devil by the Son of God. Now we couldn't live a lifestyle of sin if we wanted to because God lives in us. So by these things we can recognize those who are of the devil by observing who doesn't do right and who doesn't love Christians.
We should be loving other Christians. If you're not, perhaps it's because you're jealous of their righteousness and good works as compared to your own. Actually it's not surprising that those who belong to the world hate Christians. Such hatred is equivalent to murder and is evidence that they do not have eternal life.
But then, how do we know what love is? Just look at Jesus' example. He met our real need. So to love other Christians, we should attempt to meet their real needs, although not necessarily their desires. And in doing so, we should not lie or compromise the truth. By doing so we know that we belong to the truth and experience the peace of God in our hearts.
This peace gives us the confidence of conviction, which assures that our prayers will be answered as we're obeying God's commands since we're pleasing him. And what is his command: Simply to believe in Jesus as Christ and love one another. How do we know that we've accomplished this? The Holy Spirit who lives in us, tell us.
Don't believe everyone you hear but check it out, since there are a bunch of people out there trying to deceive you. You can tell whether they're a cult by finding out who they think Jesus Christ is. If, for example, they say the Christ only came "in spirit", you know they're not from God. We don't have to listen to them because God lives in us and we listen to him. The world without God looks to them as an alternate source of truth and listens to them. So notice what one considers as a source of truth.
Beloved, one reason why Christians love one another is because they can identify with God who is the source of love, having been born of God and knowing him personally. Those who don't love obviously don't know God. God's love was best revealed when he sent his son to save us from our sins and give us eternal life. And if this is the way that God loved us, shouldn't we also love one another in a similar manner? Although we can't physically see God, we can know that he dwells in us when we draw upon God's perfect love to love one another.
We know that we're saved because His Spirit lives in us and tells us so. And furthermore, we are convinced that God sent his Son Jesus to save us, in whom we believe. We believe that through his love, God saved us completely. And those who trust in God's complete love are also saved. And since we trust in God's complete love in saving us we will have confidence in the judgment day. Because we know that God will treat us like Jesus. We will not fear condemnation because we know that we will not be condemned having been completely forgiven through God's love. However, those who don't believe that God loves them enough to forgive all their sins, haven't been saved and so are right to fear God's judgment.
Our love for God is a reflection of his love for us. If we say that we love God but hate other Christians, then we must be lying to ourselves and have a rather warped perception of God's love for us. In fact we are commanded to love other Christians. Not to make it sound like salvation is difficult, for anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. But doesn't it make sense that anyone who loves God would also love those whom God loves?
Furthermore, to show real love for God we must obey him. Which is not a big deal for those of us who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, since according to our faith we are given victory over the sinful temptations which are in the world.
God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ who was physically born and physically died as was also affirmed by the Holy Spirit. The initiation of his ministry was confirmed by the Holy Spirit who descended upon him at his baptism and the Father spoke to him from the sky. The Spirit also affirmed who he was by performing miracles throughout his ministry. The purpose of his coming, which was to shed his blood for the remission of sins, was also confirmed by the miracles which occurred at his death and his fulfillment of scripture.
If we tend to accept what other people say, then we are being hypocritical if we are not willing to accept what God has said and affirmed. And we who put our faith in the Son of God are also witnesses for him. He who heard yet doesn't believe the gospel considers God to be a liar since God has given sufficient evidence of its truth.
The fact is that God made eternal life available to us through his Son. If we possess the Son, then we have this life. Otherwise we don't. The reason I wrote this letter to you is to help you identify whether you have eternal life or not.
Be confident in prayer as you pray according to God's will as He has revealed it in the Bible. If you now realize that a friend of yours is a Christian in name only as evidence by his lifestyle of sin, but he is not rejecting the Holy Spirit's work in bringing him to salvation, pray for him. God will eventually give him eternal life so long as he doesn't reject the work of the Spirit in leading them to salvation.
On the other hand, you might recognize real Christians in that they do not live a lifestyle of sin, but preserve themselves and it seems that sin can't get a strangle hold in their lives. From such evidences we recognize the class distinction between Christians and the rest of the world which lies in evil.
We recognize also that the Son of God has come and given us this understanding so that we might get to know him personally, which is the essence of eternal life. So let's stay away from substitutions.
Edition: Jul 29,2015