The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 352


“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).We are to rest in the assurance of God’s great love.


False prophets deny Jesus Christ is God and man (4:1–6). Love is the external mark of spiritual birth (vv. 7–21). The believer loves and obeys God, overcoming the world (5:1–5). The person who trusts Jesus has God’s life within him (vv. 6–12). God wants us to know we have eternal life; to pray with confidence (vv. 13–15), to pray for those who sin (vv. 16–17), and to abandon sin (vv. 18–21).

Understanding the Text

“Test the spirits” 1 John 4:1–3.

In the first century, itinerant teachers traveled the Roman world. Second Peter 2 tells us that many false teachers were among them; men who saw teaching the new religion as a way to make money. This fit a well-established pattern, as teachers of philosophy and other religions also traveled, gathered little groups of followers, and charged whatever the market would bear. All these traveling teachers were trained in rhetoric, and were skilled hucksters. So John warned the gullible. Don’t be taken in by smooth-talking teachers. The critical test then and now is, does this teacher present Jesus Christ as God in the flesh? Any who honor Jesus with less than full Deity express the “spirit of the antichrist” rather than the Spirit of God. “The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” 1 John 4:4–6. Every now and then I run across someone who is anxious about possible demon possession. This verse can be a great comfort. The spirit that animates the antichrist, Satan himself, operates freely in this world. But the Christian is not part of the world! We have within us One who is far greater than Satan—the Holy Spirit of God. Let the Spirit fill your life, and you are in no danger of demon possession. Satan can manipulate the circumstances around you. But he cannot touch your heart or spirit as long as God’s Spirit lives within you. “Whoever knows God listens to us” 1 John 4:4–6. Don’t be defensive if others think your faith in Christ is foolish or peculiar. We Christians speak in the language of our land, yet what we say can’t be “heard” by those who do not know God. The viewpoint of the world has always been blind to Scripture’s God. Instead of being defensive, keep on loving and doing good. Every day God calls more men and women out of the world to Him. Some you speak to will suddenly begin to hear—and you’ll know that God is at work in their lives. “Whoever does not love does not know God” 1 John 4:7–12. Non-Christians frequently ask believers to “prove” God. You can’t see Him, or touch Him, they may say. How can you know God exists? On the one hand, you and I might argue from history. Jesus lived. He died. And His resurrection is the most thoroughly attested event in the ancient world! Those events demonstrate God’s existence, and His active love. But there’s an even better way to answer. God revealed Himself in the love Jesus showed in giving Himself for us. And God creates a Jesus kind of love in the hearts of those who know Him. Others can know that God is real by seeing Jesus’ kind of love expressed by Christians. It’s sometimes possible to reason another person into faith. But it is usually easier to love them to a personal trust in Jesus. “God lives in him and he in God” 1 John 4:13–16. The theme of “assurance” is strong in these last two chapters of 1 John. I’ve known folks who actually get angry if a Christian suggests he or she “knows” he is going to heaven. To some that’s presumption. To others it’s an insult—a sign that the believer thinks he or she is better than they. But John makes it clear that God wants us to know, for sure, that we are saved, and that God lives in us, as we live in God. It is not presumption to take God at His word, or to rely on the love God has for us. It would be presumption NOT to trust God’s promises. “Perfect love drives out fear” 1 John 4:17–18. I suspect that most people feel a twinge of anxiety, and glance at their speedometer, if they see a police car while on the road. We appreciate police as guardians of the public good. But most of us are a little nervous around one. It’s similar for most folks with God. The idea that God is over there in the next car, watching us, makes a person feel a bit edgy. John, however, said that we need have no fear or anxiety in our relationship with God. Any more than if the policeman we recognized in the next car was our dad. Then we’d just wave to him and smile. There would be no fear, because his presence near us offered no threat of punishment. Love does just this in our relationship with the Lord. On the one hand, we know He loves us. So He will do nothing to harm us. On the other, as we respond to Him with love, there’s no room left for fear. Terror of someone and love for him or her cannot exist at the same time. Real love drives out fear. So don’t fear God. Remember He loves you. And love Him in return. “He first loved us” 1 John 4:19–21. In God’s relationship with us, He is the initiator. He loves first. And His love makes a difference. It’s as if we were soaking wet kindling. We have no spark of love for God in us; no way to ignite a flame. But God’s love encompasses us. It warms and dries us, and finally kindles love’s fire in our own hearts. In our relationship with God love drives out fear. In our relationship with others, love creates true caring. What John was saying here is very important. If God’s love hasn’t warmed, dried, and kindled our own love for others, then we have not yet learned to love God. The same fire that warms God’s hearts warms our brothers and sisters. “His commands are not burdensome” 1 John 5:1–5. Again John insisted that God stimulates one love in our heart; a love that expresses itself both toward God and toward others. We can’t be warm toward God and cold toward our fellowman at the same time. There’s another exciting thing about love for God. It makes obeying easy. “Want to” is always easier than “have to.” As long as we feel that we are forced against our will to do certain things that God demands, those things will be burdensome to us. But if we eagerly want to do those same things, they seem to us to be a delight. You can easily check the state of your love for the Lord using this principle. If you find you want to do those things that you know please Him, you can be sure that your love for God is alive and well. “There are three that testify” 1 John 5:6–9. The meaning of the “water and blood” here is much debated. Perhaps the best way to understand them is to identify the “water” as Christ’s baptism, which introduced His public ministry here on earth, and the “blood” as His death, which ended it. Everything Jesus said and did in public, as well as His death, witness to His nature as the Son of God. The stories of Jesus’ life and death, confirmed in us today by the Holy Spirit, continue to identify Jesus as God’s Son and our Saviour. Anyone who rejects the record of Jesus’ life and death for us, as that record was inspired by the Spirit and is authenticated by the Spirit today, makes God out to be a liar (v. 10). How clearly this passage draws the issue for all mankind. We either believe God’s Word in and about Jesus, or we call God a liar. There is no middle ground. “God has given us eternal life” 1 John 5:10–11. Once again we have words of assurance. If you believe God’s words about Jesus, you have been given eternal life. That life is yours, now. “He who has the Son has life.” Since you believe, enjoy! Be assured of your acceptance by God, and revel in the love God has for you. That love is far more wonderful than all the riches of the world. “Ask anything according to His will” 1 John 5:14. It’s not that we have to guess at God’s will. This is a promise! As we live close to the Lord, He will guide our prayers, so that what we ask is what He wishes us to have. “Sin that does not lead to death” 1 John 5:16–20. “Death” here is biological, not spiritual. We see a parallel in 1 Corinthians 5, where Paul demanded that a brother who lived in open, persistent sin be expelled from the church, and also be handed over to Satan “so that the sinful nature may be destroyed” and his spirit “saved on the Day of the Lord.” It is persistent, determined continuation in known sin that puts a person beyond the reach of prayer, and exposes him or her to judgment in this life. But John wants us to realize true believers can sin, and should be the object of our prayers. And he wants us to be encouraged when we fall. God’s life in us will call us back to holiness, and we will “not continue in sin.” Don’t treat sin lightly. But don’t be overwhelmed when you fail. Draw on God’s strength, and stand again.


Blessed Assurance(1 John 5:11–15)

There are very few things in this world that we can be sure about. Becky Schmidt, our friend and our pastor’s wife went to the doctor for a regular checkup—and discovered she had cancer. She’s responding well to treatment. But suddenly the whole world of Richard and their three boys was shaken. Karl Klammer left the north to take a job here in Florida. The family sold their home, loaded their possessions in a U-Haul truck, and headed south. The day after he got here, the company he was to work for declared bankruptcy, and shut down operations. Last Saturday night a junior in our local high school was on her way to work. An- other car went through a stop sign, struck her vehicle, and killed her. Assurance—that confident assurance about ourselves and our future—is something that this world simply does not offer. Yet, right now, you and I can be absolutely sure, if we believe in Jesus, that we have eternal life. We can be completely confident that God listens to our prayers, and that as we ask according to His will, the answer is assured. The circumstances of our life on earth will always remain uncertain. We can be assured only of the reality, and the wonder, of our relationship with God.

Personal Application

Claim the blessings of assurance, that are your heritage through faith in Jesus Christ.


“To be assured of our salvation is no arrogant stoutness. It is faith. It is devotion. It is not presumption. It is God’s promise.” —St. Augustine

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 351

TESTS OF FAITH 1 John 2:3–3:24

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence” (1 John 3:18–19). Love and obedience are inner and outer tests of a personal relationship with God.


John identified three tests of knowing God (2:3–11), and expressed confidence in his readers (vv. 12–14). He urged us not to love the world (vv. 15–17), and warned against antichrists (vv. 18–27). We are to live as children of God (v. 28–3:3), doing what is right (vv. 4–10), and loving one another (vv. 11–15) as God in Christ has loved us (vv. 16–20), assured by our lives and by the Spirit that we live in Him (vv. 21–24).

Understanding the Text

“We know that we have come to know Him” 1 John 2:3–11. Somehow the young woman in Canada got my Phoenix phone number. She began to call me, sometimes several times a day. She was anxious and afraid. She didn’t know if she was a Christian, though she believed in Jesus. When the fears came flooding back, she dialed my number. She was an extreme case, but many Christians have moments of uncertainty. How can we know that we’ve come to know Him? John gave three tests. First, we obey His commands (v. 5). A person wearing the uniform of the U.S. Army obeys the orders of officers over him. That’s part of being a soldier. Obeying Jesus is part of being a Christian, and shows that we acknowlege His authority. Second, we “walk as Jesus did” (v. 6). If we belong to Jesus we become more and more like Him. So when we respond to others and to life situations as Jesus did when He was here on earth, we show that we belong to Him. Third, we love our brothers (v. 9). You can’t hate others and belong to Jesus, because Christ loves others. People can say they belong to Christ, and be hateful and hating. But their actions deny their words. So take a look at yourself. Do you find you keep Jesus’ commands? Do you try to act as you think He would? Do you love your fellow Christians, and enjoy being with them? Then relax! You know Him. And others know you know Him as well! “I write to you” 1 John 2:12–14. John’s letter wasn’t intended to convict, or to create anxiety. It was intended to encourage. It was written to those John knew were true believers, who showed the mark of Jesus in their lives. How good it is when others let us know they have confidence in us. It can mean a lot to your family and friends if you give them the same kind of praise. “Do not love the world” 1 John 2:15–17. In this famous paragraph “the world” is the total system of values and perceptions that together are expressed in the culture of sinful human beings. John revealed the nature of this system, saying that the roots of every human society are anchored deeply in the selfish cravings of sinful man, in man’s tendency to greedily desire the materialistic things he sees, and in man’s drive for ostentatious self-importance. Each of these is antagonistic to God, and a culture that weaves society from these values is corrupt. We have to abandon the values of human society and adopt the values of God the Father. Man’s culture is not ours, and we should not be comfortable in it. “Many antichrists have come” 1 John 2:18–25. John did believe that in the future a specific individiual, the Antichrist, would appear. John also believed that false Christians who even then were seeking to lead believers astray were antichrists: enemies of Jesus and the Father. We know two things about antichrists from this passage. We know that they were once members of the church, but “went out from us.” They set up their own splinter movements. And we know that they revealed themselves by denying that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. John said flatly that no one who denies the Son as God has any knowledge of the Father. Not everyone who calls himself a Christian is one. In time, however, such folks reveal themselves, by causing schism in the church, and by denying the deity of Jesus. “His anointing teaches you about all things” 1 John 2:24–27. What protects us from false teachers? Objectively, we make sure that “what you have heard from the beginning remains in you.” The doctrine of the early church and the Apostles is preserved in the inspired Word of God; we study and stand on it. But there is a subjective source of security as well. This is the Holy Spirit, that “anointing you received from Him,” who “teaches you about all things.” The inner voice of the Spirit and the objective Word combine to witness to the truth. We don’t need any human authority to tell us what is true and what is false. If we listen to the Word, and to the Spirit, we will know. “And that is what we are!” 1 John 2:28–3:10 Our dog Mitzi has this fixed idea that she’s a member of the family, and ought to have a place at the dinner table. If we don’t watch out, she jumps up on a chair, rests her chin on a place mat, and waits for the opportunity to grab a bite to eat. We have a hard time convincing her that she’s a dog, and dogs don’t eat people food at the dinner table. John wants us to develop a fixed idea too. He wants us to understand that, even now, we ARE the children of God. We can’t tell what that means ultimately, other than the fact that when Jesus comes we’ll be like Him. But, knowing that we are God’s children and that we will be like Jesus, has a tremendous impact. Mitzi’s wrong when she thinks she’s a person and tries to act like one. But we’re right if we think we are God’s children. If we are totally convinced we’re God’s own, John says we’ll begin to act like God here and now. If you ever wonder how to act in a particular situation, just remember that you’re a child of God. And act as you believe a child of God should. “Do not be surprised . . . if the world hates you” 1 John 3:11–15. In the first and second century of our era the world did hate Christians. The Christians refused to take part in public life because sacrifices offered to gods and goddesses were a traditional element in political and social gatherings. Christians were condemned as atheists and as haters of humanity, for to the pagan those who did not shoulder their civic responsibilities seemed to attack the social order. Otherwise Christians were good citizens: honest, moral, responsible, but still hated. So these words of John were important. Hatred comes from sin, and if Christians were hated and killed, the persecution revealed the sin that infected society. But the obverse must also true. If hatred is the mark of evil, love is the indelible sign of good and godliness. Some, even in America, are hated because their stand strips away the cloak that hides the basic immorality of such things in our society as abortion, exploitation of sex, and media corruption. They feel the hostility John wrote of. But all of us are to show love, the unmistakable evidence that God has touched, and entered, our hearts. “If our hearts do not condemn us” 1 John 3:21–24. Deep down, you and I do know what’s right. And we know when we do wrong. We may try to hide it, but even if we attempt to deceive ourselves, there remains a nagging certainty that we’ve done wrong. What a powerful motive for choosing what is right and good! When our conscience is clear, when we know we’ve done our best, John says we “have confidence before God.” We have confidence to pray, and confidence to claim the answer to our prayers. And most important of all, we have confidence that He does live in us. Only Jesus within can motivate us to gladly choose what is right and good.


Toward the Light(1 John 3:4–10)

I remember when I was in grade school I had to do an experiment growing a lima bean. I guess education hasn’t advanced all that much, because now, 50 years later, the nine-year-old in our house has grown a lima been too. But what’s interesting is that, the sprouting plant will always grow toward the sun. Somehow the life of the bean is drawn toward the light. You can turn the plant around, even lay it on its side. Whatever you do, the sprout will orient toward the sun. That’s what John was saying about us when he wrote, “No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning” (v. 6). The NIV captures the vital tense of the verb. It’s not that a Christian never sins. It’s that believers will not “keep on sinning.” John said the reason is that God’s seed—the principle of divine life —has been planted in our personalities. God’s life within us grows in the direction of godliness. His life is oriented toward purity. And if God’s life really is in us, there will be a definite tilt toward what is right, and away from sin. Anyone may sin at times, and in all likelihood will. But you can still tell the DIRECTION in which a person is growing. And so can everyone else!

Personal Application

The direction of your life is more important than where you are now.


“Glorious God, give me grace to amend my life, and to have an eye to my end without begrudging death, which to those who die in You, good Lord, is the gate of a wealthy life. “And give me, good Lord, a humble, lowly, quiet, peaceable, patient, charitable, kind, tender and pitiful mind, in all my works and in all my words and all my thoughts, to have a taste of Your holy, blessed Spirit. “Give me, good Lord, a full faith, a firm hope, and a fervent charity, a love of You incomparably above the love of myself. “And give me, good Lord, Your love and favour, which my love of You, however great it might be, could not deserve were it not for Your great goodness. “These things, good Lord, I pray for, give me Your grace to labour for.”—Thomas More

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary

1 John


Reading 350

LIVING IN LIGHT 1 John 1:1–2:2

“If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).God cleanses us that we may live Christlike lives.


Traditional religion.

In the first century, religions were generally evaluated by their antiquity. A faith that was ancient was assumed to be true. Those in the upper classes generally thought that there was one great God. They believed that this great God, along with lesser gods, was worshiped by different peoples under different names and by differing rites. As long as the worship practices of a nation or people had roots that could be traced back to antiquity, that religion was considered true. It was not unnatural in such a society for some to view Jesus as a great and wise man, a worshiper of the great God. But Jesus could not be God Himself, for no religion introduced into the world a hundred or so years earlier could possibly be true. It did not pass the test of antiquity. The soul of Jesus might, upon His death, have attained the status of a lesser divinity. But He could not be God, as orthodox Christians claimed. This issue, with others, was addressed by John in this brief but powerful letter to the churches of Asia Minor, where John lived out the last decades of his long life. As the Christian movement spread through the Roman world, false teachers did corrupt Christian teaching in an effort to make the new faith fit in with contemporary ideas on religion. But, as John showed, Christian belief is radical, and calls for a complete change of mind about religion, about one’s condition as a sinner, about salvation, about godliness, and about the person of Jesus Christ.


John based his teaching on personal knowledge of Jesus and continuing fellowship with God (1:1–4). One who claims to be without sin is in darkness (vv. 5–8). Confession of sins brings forgiveness and purification by Christ, our atoning sacrifice (1:9–2:2).

Understanding the Text

“That which was from the beginning” 1 John 1:1. John’s Gospel begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The same thought is expressed here. Having faith in Jesus is not worshiping a newcomer on the scene of religion. Jesus existed from the very beginning, for Jesus is God: the source of earthly and eternal life. “We have seen with our eyes” 1 John 1:1–3. John emphasized his role as an eyewitness to the Incarnation. God isn’t someone far off, distant, unknowable. In the person of Jesus, John had seen God with his own eyes, touched God with his own hands, walked beside God on Palestine’s rugged trails. When false teachers trot out philosophical arguments to prove that God could not become man, and that no human being could share substance with the great God, John had a simple answer. “I’m not talking arguments. I was there. I’m talking what I’ve seen and heard.” You and I need to have this same kind of confidence. Not that we see and touch Jesus as John did, in the flesh. But today you and I can experience Jesus too. We can know the peace He brings when we are overcome with anxiety. We can sense His leading. We can feel conviction and know a joy that only the Holy Spirit brings. When we know Jesus in this deep, personal sense—when we experience Christ—we KNOW. The most logical-sounding arguments of scoffers have no compelling force when we know, by personal experience, that Jesus is God. “So that you also may have fellowship with us” 1 John 1:3–4. The word translated fellowship appears over 60 times in the New Testament. The root concept is that of sharing; of having something in common. English versions have translated the Greek root by fellowship, communion, participation, partnership, and by sharing a common life. Two thoughts are important here. First, “fellowship with us” precedes “fellowship with the Father” in these verses. Perhaps John was saying that we best experience God in and through the community of faith, not on our own. If you want to experience God at work in your life, become part of a church in which God is presently at work. But John was saying more. He was saying that a person must experience Jesus for himself to have the assurance that possessed John. Knowing about God isn’t enough. Believing that God exists isn’t enough. You must commit yourself to Jesus, and in faith’s link with Christ, that common life you will share with Him, you will experience Him for yourself. And then, you too will know. What a wonderful thing to be able to say to scoffers, or those who doubt and hold back: I can tell you what I have seen and heard; I can tell you of my experiences. But why not try Jesus for yourself? Why not touch, and see, and hear the truth, as Jesus works in your life today? “If we walk in the light” 1 John 1:5–7. John frequently contrasted light and dark in his writings. At times the emphasis is moral: darkness represents moral corruption, and light holiness. Here, however, light and darkness are reflections of reality. Those who walk in darkness can’t grasp the true state of affairs. Those who walk in the light see, and are able to deal with, reality. John was saying something that modern counselors have come to realize is basic to all human relationships. Unless you are willing to be honest with yourself and others, no basis for a close personal relationship exists. You can’t say you have fellowship with God if you’re not honest with Him and yourself. And you can’t say you have fellowship with others. You may think that you have things in common. You may assume that your relationship is intimate and close. But if you’re not in touch with reality, you are fooling yourself. God can handle anything in our relationship with Him, except deceit. He can even deal with sins! John said that if we walk in the light as God is in the light—if we’re honest with ourselves and with God about our sins—the blood of Christ will keep on purifying us from all sins. Don’t pretend with God, or yourself. When you do something wrong, face up to it. Admit it, and let God forgive and purify (see DEVOTIONAL). “If we confess our sins” 1 John 1:9. The word “confess” is homologeo. It means to do an about face concerning a sinful act: to recognize it as sin, and to acknowledge it as sin to God. When we acknowledge our sins for what they are, God is able to act in us. He not only forgives us, but He keeps on cleansing us from all iniquity. Augustine wrote, “He who confesses and condemns his sins already acts with God. God condemns thy sins; if thou also dost condemn them, thou art linked to God.” “That you will not sin” 1 John 2:1–2. Lots of people don’t understand how God does business. Tell us ahead of time that if we confess our sins we’ll be forgiven? (1:9) Not even mention punishment, penance, remorse, or repayment? Just, confess and be forgiven? Why, if it’s all that easy, why not just go out and sin all you please? All you’d have to do is drop in on God, say, “I did it,” and go on home scott free! I can understand why they’re puzzled by this. In essence John was saying, I want you to know that Jesus completely satisfied the wrath of God against sinners, and that Jesus is there now, pleading His blood whenever you are accused of any sin. Jesus is saying, “That one’s paid for, Father.” And it is, so you go free. John understands though. “I’m writing this,” John wrote, “so that you will not sin.” The thing that keeps Christians from sinning is not fear of punishment. It’s love for Jesus. The more we realize the depths of our sin, and how much we’ve been forgiven, the more love we have for the Lord. The love that assures us forgiveness awakens our love, and we freely choose not to sin, for our lover’s sake.


“Not Me, Lord”(1 John 1:5–10)

One of the characters that appears regularly in Family Circus cartoons is “Not Me.” He’s a ghostly figure, and every time Mom asks who broke the lamp, or who got into the cookies, the kids quickly blame “Not Me.” He was a familiar figure even in the first century. John pictured him in these verses of his first letter. “Anyone around here sin?” he asked. And everyone pipes up, “Not me.” To John, this is serious and not at all funny. “If we claim to be without sin,” John writes, “we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (v. 8). We’ve stepped out of the light, and lost that intimate contact with God that we maintain only by being honest with ourselves and with Him. There’s even more. If we refuse to acknowledge our sin, our sins will go unconfessed. We’ll miss experiencing the flood of forgiveness that deepens our love for the Lord. And we’ll cut ourselves off from the cleansing work of God’s Holy Spirit: a work that can only take place in those who are honest with themselves and honest with God. So next time you get angry and strike out at a loved one, don’t pass it off as “righteous indignation.” Next time you fudge on your income taxes don’t think, “Everyone’s doing it,” and excuse yourself. Next time your spouse says he or she needs to talk, don’t turn your back in bitterness or indifference. And never, never claim—even in your dreams—to be without sin. Take your place with the rest of us: weak, vulnerable, trying, and at times failing, but walking honestly with God and with others, and by God’s grace growing better than we have been, and better than we are.

Personal Application

If you deceive yourself, you are in darkness indeed.


There may be virtue in the man Who’s always sure he’s right, Who’ll never hear another’s plan And seek no further light; But I like more the chap who sings A somewhat different song; Who says, when he has messed things up, “I’m sorry; I was wrong.” It’s hard for anyone to say That failure’s due to him— That he has lost the fight or way Because his lights burned dim. It takes a man aside to throw The vanity that’s strong, Confessing, “Twas my fault, I know; “I’m sorry; I was wrong.” And so, I figure, those who use This honest, manly phrase, Hate it too much their way to lose On many future days. They’ll keep the path and make the fight, Because they do not long To have to say—when they’re not right— “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” —Herald of Light

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary

1 John


First John was written by the Apostle John, probably about A.D. 85–90. John also wrote two other brief letters, the Gospel of John, and the Book of Revelation. This letter was written to reaffirm core Christian truths then being denied by false teachers. Using the familiar images of light, righteousness, and love, John showed that Jesus is the Son of God, that He did come in the flesh, and that salvation is ours only through Him. John also insisted that Christians do sin and must confess their sins. Cleansed, believers are to live as Christ lived, obedient to God and showing love toward all, and especially toward others in the community of faith.


I.Prologue1 John 1:1–4
II.God Is Light1 John 1:5–2:27
III.God Is Righteousness1 John 2:28–4:6
IV.God Is Love1 John 4:7–5:12
V.Epilogue1 John 5:13–21

The 365 Day Devotional Commentary


Reading 349

THE DAY OF THE Lord 2 Peter 3

“The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10).Seek solid joys and lasting pleasures.


History’s end.

Both Testaments speak of a final judgment when this present heaven and earth will be destroyed. Isaiah said this present universe will wear out like a garment and vanish like smoke (51:6). Paul pictured Christ returning “in blazing fire” (2 Thes. 1:7). And Peter in this chapter gave a powerful description of the universe being reduced to its constituent atoms. The biblical picture of a universe with a distinct beginning, and a distinct ending, was absolutely strange in the first century. The philosophers believed that matter was eternal, shaped by a craftsman god who was himself subject to natural law. A God who could create the universe from nothing, and dissolve it at will, was beyond their comprehension. The world was, always had been, and always would be. And human beings once dead were gone. The spirit of our age is not all that different. Scientists speak of a beginning of our universe, but deny a Creator. All that exists is explained by evolution. And whatever the future holds, no God will intrude in the orderly process of the ages to put an end to matter, and then to raise the dead and judge them. First-century intellectuals scoffed in the name of philosophy. Two thousand years later our intellectuals scoff in the name of science. But both are wrong. For God is. And the material universe is not eternal, but destined for destruction. Soon. This is the message of 2 Peter 3. This, and the kind of life to be lived by believers who know that they, and every other human being, will continue to exist long after our world comes to an end.


Trust the Prophets and Apostles (3:1–2) despite scoffers who ridicule the Second Coming (vv. 3–4) and deliberately ignore past divine judgment (vv. 5–7). God’s timing differs from ours (vv. 8–9), but this present world will surely be destroyed (vv. 10–13). So be godly and grow in grace (vv. 14–18).

Understanding the Text

“Wholesome thinking” 2 Peter 3:1–2.

Peter’s two letters are designed to stimulate the reader to a “pure disposition”—an “uncontaminated understanding” of faith and life. This is particularly important because false teachers attack the faith from within, and scoffers from without. Each, if their doctrines are followed, lead to immorality and undisciplined living. The false teachers appeal to sinful desires, and justify license as freedom. The scoffers, by removing the threat of judgment, drain away that awe of God which promotes godliness. There is really only one antidote that can protect us from error within and outside the faith. That is the words spoken in the past by prophets and by Christ, as faithfully reported by His Apostles. Complete trust in the Word of God, and an intimate familiarity with it, can guard us against every kind of error. “Scoffers will come” 2 Peter 3:3. There is a fascinating parallel between scoffers and false teachers. Each follows “their own evil desires.” Each resists truth, not so much out of intellectual conviction, but to guard against conviction of sin. One of my books is on Creationism. It Couldn’t Just Happen (Word, Inc.) explores fallacies in the popular notion of evolution, and explains some of the ways in which scientific discoveries point toward Creation of the universe, and of animal and human life. When my wife offered to contribute a copy to the library in the high school where she teaches, it was rejected. Creationism isn’t “scientific” and might confuse students. Yet the same library contains books that ridicule Creationism, novels that vividly describe illicit sex, and books that present abortion and homosexuality in a positive light. How fascinating that to complain about such books would raise immediate cries of “Censorship!” But rejecting a book that supports a biblical position—a book which, by the way, won a Gold Medallion at Christian Booksellers as the best book for young people of 1988-is fine, because it would be “confusing” and “unscientific.” Scoffers will continue to scoff. But the underlying reason is not the respectability of our beliefs, but bias against a faith that calls men to take God seriously, and to curb sinful human desires. “Everything goes on as it has from the beginning of Creation” 2 Peter 3:4. In science this concept is called “uniformitarianism.” It assumes that everything that currently exists can be explained by processes now taking place. Given enough time, the shape of continents, the height of mountains, the depths of the sea, can be explained by erosion, volcanism, earthquakes, etc. In essence this view says that God not only isn’t necessary now (though He may have begun the process). It also implies that God can’t become involved: even He is bound by natural law. We Christians believe that Jesus will invade earth and, on His return, will shatter sinful human culture as well as shake the material universe. How ridiculous, the scoffer says. Why, from the beginning nothing has changed. When you think about that argument, it seems more and more ridiculous itself. Nothing’s changed? Oh? Who has been around “from the beginning” to see it? Nothing has changed? Why, purely secular scientists claim that earth has changed radically. At best we can only say little has changed in our lifetime, or that little has changed since history began to be recorded. We live so briefly, history is known so few thousands of years back, that it is utterly foolish to argue that Jesus will not come because “nothing has changed.” It will change. Because Jesus WILL come. “They deliberately forget” 2 Peter 2:5–7. One radical change that has taken place during mankind’s residence on earth is described in Genesis 6–8. God brought a great Flood on the earth as a judgment on sin, and wiped out human civilization. The biblical record of the Genesis Flood is supported by traditions reported by various peoples worldwide. And that Flood demonstrates God’s ability to intervene in this present world—and His commitment to do so. Modern man doubts the historicity of the Flood. But the believer does not. And we find in the record of God’s historic act of judgment proof that God is mankind’s Judge, and that He will judge again. “Not wanting anyone to perish” 2 Peter 3:8–9. Peter gave two insights into the lengthy delay between the promise of Jesus’ return and its fulfillment. First, God doesn’t view time as we do. What we might refer casually to as “a couple of days” He might think of just as casually as “a few thousand years.” So we can’t impose our time sense on God. Second, God has good reason for what we experience as delay. Christ hasn’t returned yet, because the Lord does not want “anyone to perish.” As long as Jesus is absent, the door to salvation remains open. But when Jesus comes, that door will slam shut. And then it will be too late. “As they do the other Scriptures” 2 Peter 3:16–18. Peter’s reference to Paul’s letters, equating them with the “other Scriptures,” indicates how early the writings now in our Bible were recognized as Scripture by the early church. Every once in a while I see an ad urging me to send for the rest of the Bible—for lost gospels, or lost letters, or newly recovered apocalypses. Actually all these writings have been known for untold years. They are early Christian or heretical writings that circulated much as do books from the modern Christian bookstore. Some were propaganda for cults. Some were devotional writings intended to strengthen the believer. But none of them were ever considered Scripture—as the books in our New Testament quickly were. No wonder Peter urges us to recall the words of prophet and apostle. And to ignore false teacher and scoffer alike. As we keep our hearts fixed on the inspired Word of God, we will grow in grace and be ready when Jesus comes.


All Gone(2 Peter 3:10–18)

Someone has said there is only one real difference between a man and a boy. A man’s toys are more expensive. There’s probably more truth in that saying than we’d like to admit. It’s really amazing how much time and money people spend on newer clothes, sportier cars, bigger screen TVs, and faster boats. Especially when one morning we’re going to wake up, and find that everything we have is all gone. That’s the point Peter wanted to make here. He didn’t really care that he’d provided insight into how the world will end. He just wants us to know that, when “the heavens will disappear with a roar; the [very] elements will be destroyed by fire,” those material playthings we love so much will be all gone. Of course, once we understand this, Peter wants us to act appropriately. “What kind of people ought we to be?” he asks. And he answers. “You ought to live holy and godly lives,” as you look “forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.” Why clutch your playthings to you, when tomorrow morning they’ll be gone anyway? And all you’ll have left, is you. Why not invest that time, that enthusiasm, in building the new you? A holy and godly life, marked by growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, will secure eternal rewards. How much better a focus that provides for our life than toys that, very very soon, will be all gone.

Personal Application

When time shall be no more, you will.


Since I am coming to that holy room, Where with thy choir of saints forevermore, I shall be made thy music; as I come I tune the instrument here at the door And what I must do then, think here before. -John Donne

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