SOME PUZZLING VERSES
“…Every one that doeth righteousness is born of him” (2:29). Do not misunderstand and think that doing righteousness is a condition, or term, of being born of God. The meaning here is that if you are born of God, you will surely do righteousness. This doing is an expression of your being born of God.
Why, then, I used to wonder, did I sometimes act unrighteously? Surely I was born of God, yet on one occasion after another I could be found doing what is not righteous.
If we go on to 3:9, we shall be bothered even more! “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” How can the Bible say that the one who is born of God cannot sin? Surely all of us can testify that our experience contradicts this!
Now look at 4:7: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” Again, the meaning here is not that if we love others, we shall be born of God; rather, the evidence of our being born of God is that we love. Is this true of us? Honestly speaking, sometimes it is, and other times it is not. Since we are not always loving, can we say that we are born of God?
Then we come to 5:1: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.” I surely like the first part of this verse. From my youth it has been an encouragement to me to know that because I did believe that Jesus is the Christ I was born of God. However, the second part of the verse troubled me. Yes, I did love some of God’s children, but there were others that were not to my liking. Those I simply could not love.
Verse 4 goes on to say, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.” Notice here that we have “whatsoever,” not whosoever. Whatever is born of God overcomes the world. Is it true of you that you have overcome the world?
Verse 18 reads, “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”
Let us now sum up what this Epistle tells us about the one who is born of God.
(1) He does righteousness.
(2) He does not and cannot sin.
(3) He loves the brothers.
(4) He overcomes the world.
(5) He keeps himself.
(6) He is not touched by the evil one.
How are we to reconcile these facts with our experience?
(Seven Mysteries in the First Epistle of John, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)