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Let us

pate in this

sins, and in Him there is no sin; so that he who commits sin, acts against the object of the manifestation of Christ, and in opposition to the nature of which, if Christ is our life, we are partakers. Therefore, he who abides in Christ, does not practise sin. He who sins, has neither seen Him nor known Him. All depends, we see, on participation in the life and nature of Christ. not, then, deceive ourselves. He who practises righteousness is righteous as He is righteous: for, by partaking in the life of Christ, one is before God according to the perfection of Him who is there

the Head and Source of that life: but we are thus as Christ before God, because He Himself is really our life. Our actual life is not the measure of our acceptance; it is Christ who is so. But Christ is our life, if we are accepted according to His excellence; for it is as living of His life that we partici

But the judgment is more than negative: he who practises sin is of the devil, has, morally, the same nature as the devil; for he sinneth from the beginning; it is his original character as the devil. Now, Christ was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil; how, then, can one who shares the character of this enemy of souls be with Christ?

On the other hand, he who is born of God, does not practise sin; the reason is evident: he is made a partaker of the nature of God; he derives his life from Him. This principle of divine life is in him. The seed of God remains in him; he cannot sin, because he is born of God. This new nature has not in it the principles of sin, so as to commit it. How could it be that the divine nature should sin?

Having thus designated the two families, the family of God and that of the devil, the apostle adds the second mark, the absence of which is a proof that one is not of God. He had already spoken of righteousness,—he adds, the love of the brethren. For this is the message that they had received from Christ Himself, that they should love one another. In ver. 12, he shows the connection between the two things: that hatred of a brother is fed by the sense one has that his works are good, and one's

own evil. Moreover, we are not to wonder that the world hates us; for we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. If this love is an essential proof of being renewed, it is quite natural that it should not be found in the men of the world. But, this being the case, he who does not love his brother (solemn thought!) abides in death. In addition to this, he who does not love his brother is a murderer, and a murderer has not eternal life.

Further, as in the case of righteousness and of purity, we have Christ as the measure of this love. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us. We ought to do the same. Now, if our brother has need, and we possess this world's good, but do not provide for his necessity, is that the divine love which made Christ lay down His life for us? It is by this real and practical love that we know we are in the truth, and that our heart is confirmed and assured before God. For, if there is nothing on the conscience, we have confidence in His presence; but if our own heart condemn us, God knows yet more.

It is not here the means of being assured of our salvation, but of having confidence alone in the presence of God. We cannot have it with a bad conscience in the practical sense of the word, for God is always Light and always holy.

We also receive all that we ask for, when we walk thus in love before Him, doing that which is pleasing in His sight; for, thus walking in His presence with confidence, the heart and its desires respond to this blessed influence, being formed by the enjoyment of communion with Him in the light of His countenance. It is God who animates the heart; this life and this divine nature, of which the epistle speaks, being in full activity, and enlightened and moved by the divine presence in which it delights. Thus our requests are only for the accomplishment of desires that arise when this life, when our thoughts, are filled with the presence of God, and with the communications of His nature. And He lends His power to the fulfilment of these desires, of which He is the source,

and which are formed in the heart by the revelation of Himself.

This is, indeed, the position of Christ Himself when here below: only that He was perfect in it (compare John viii, 29; and xi., 42).

And here it is the commandment of God which He desires us to obey: namely, to believe on the name of His Son Jesus, and to love one another, as He gave us commandment.

Now, he who keeps His commandments, dwells in Him; and He dwells also in this obedient man. It will be asked whether God or Christ is here meant. The apostle, as we have seen, con founds them together in his thought. That is to say, the Holy Ghost unites them in our minds. We are in Him who is true, i.e., in His Son Jesus Christ

. It is Christ who, in life, is the presentation of God to men; and, to the believer, He is the communication of that life, so that God dwells in him, by the revelation, in its divine excellence and perfection, of the nature which the believer shares. And the Holy Ghost

But what marvellous grace to have received a life, a nature

, by which we are enabled to enjoy God Himself, as dwelling in us, and by which, since it is in Christ, we are in fact, in the enjoyment of this communion, this infinite privilege, and have the consciousness of this relationship with God. He who has the Son, has life: but God then dwells in him as the portion, as well as the source of this life; and he who has the Son has the

What marvellous links of vital and living enjoyment, through the communication of the divine nature of Him who is its source; and that, according to its perfection in Christ! Such is the Christian according to grace. Therefore

, also, he is obedient, because this life in the man Christ (and it is thus that it becomes ours) was obedience itself: the true relationship of man to God.

Practical righteousness, then, is a proof that we are born of Him who, in His nature, is its source. sence, also, of the world's hatred, we know that we have

likewise dwells in him.


In pre

passed from death unto life because we love the brethren Thus, having a good conscience, we have confidence in God, and we receive from Him whatsoever we ask walking in obedience and in a way that is pleasing to Him. Thus walking, we dwell in Him and He in us.

A third proof of our Christian privileges arises here The Spirit whom He has given us is the proof that He Himself dwells in us; the manifestation of the presence of God in us. He does not add that we abide in Him, because the subject here is the manifestation of the presence of God. The presence of the Spirit demonstrates it, but in abiding in Him there is the enjoyment of that which He is, and, consequently, moral communion with His nature. He who obeys enjoys this also, as we have seen; but the presence of the Holy Ghost in us is the demonstration of only the half of this truth. But when this manifestation of the divine nature is seen in us, according to grace and according to the powers of the Spirit, then we know that we are in communion with that nature, that we dwell also in Him from whom we derive these graces and all the spiritual forms of that nature in practical life. It is in verses 12 and 13, chap. iv, that our apostle speaks of this.

Practical righteousness, the love of the brethren, the manifestation of the Spirit of God-these are the proofs of our relationship to God. Practical righteousness, that we dwell in Him; the Spirit, that He dwells in us.

Now to make use of this last proof caution was required, for many false prophets would assume, and even in the time of the apostle had already assumed, the semblance of having received communications from the Spirit of God, and insinuated themselves

the Christians. It was necessary, therefore, to put them on their guard, by giving them the sure marks of the real Spirit of God. The first of these was the confession of Jesus come in the flesh. It is not merely to confess that He is come, but to confess Him thus come. The second was, that he who really knew God hearkened to the apostles. In this way, the writings of the apostles became a touchstone for those who pretend to teach the church. All the Word is so, doubtless; but I confine


dwelt in them.

with a God of love.

myself here to that which is said in this place. The teaching of the Apostles is formally a touchstone for all other teaching. I mean that which they themselves taught immediately. If any one tells me that others must explain or develop it, I reply “You are not of God, for he who is of God hearkens to them, and you would have me not to hearken to them, and whatever may be your pretext, you prevent my doing so.” The denial of Jesus come in the flesh is the spirit of Antichrist. Not to hear the apostles is the provisional and preparatory form of the evil. True, Christians had overcome the spirit of error by the Spirit of God, who

The three tests of true Christianity are now distinctly laid down, and the apostle pursues his exhortations, developing the fulness and intimacy of our relationships

Love is of God, and he who loves is born of God, -partakes therefore of His nature and knows him (for it is by faith that he received it). He who loves not does not know God. We must possess the nature that loves in order to know what love is. He, then, who does not love does not know God, for God is love. Such a person has not one sentiment in connection with the nature of God, how then can he know him? No more than an animal can know what a man's mind and understanding is when he has not got it. Give especial heed, reader, to this immense prerogative, which flows from the whole

The eternal Life, which was with the Father, has been manifested and has been imparted to

thus, we are partakers of the divine nature. The affections of that nature, acting in us by the powers of the Holy Ghost

, in communion with God, who is its source

, place us in such a relationship with Him that we dwell in Him and He in us. The actings of this nature prove that He dwells in us. We know at the same time that we dwell in Him, because He has given us of His Spirit

. But this passage, so rich in blessing, demands that we should follow it with order.

He begins with the fact that love is of God. It is Fis nature ; He is its source. Therefore he who loves is

doctrine of the epistle.

us ;

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