“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19 ESV)
Next Sunday, we will conclude our time in the First Epistle of John. In the end of chapter 5 (verses 16-21), John reemphasizes themes that he highlighted elsewhere in his letter, including sin and righteousness, God and the evil one, and eternal life. In all these things, the context of the epistle aids our grasp of these elemental truths and their dire importance: John is writing to a church ransacked by apostasy; the people are questioning the faith and whether they belong to God. Once again, we must keep in mind that First John was written to grant assurance to Christians who are straddling the edge of doubt and despair.
Toward this end, John conveys three “we know” statements for encouragement: “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning” (v18a), “we know that we are from God” (v19a), and “we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding” (v20a). In a world full of lies, it is vital for the believer to be reminded of these absolute truths.
It is true that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (v19b). John, of course, does not deny God’s sovereignty by making this statement. Rather, he is making a sharp distinction: we are from God whereas the world places itself under Satan’s dominion. This truth remind us of many things when all seems hopeless: 1. The world (that is, unbelievers) believes lies, sins, and hates truth because it is the world, 2. Sinners do what they do because they are under satanic power and need to be rescued, 3. We are citizens of an entirely different kingdom, with a different King, and therefore we behave differently, and 4. God is greater than the wicked one and will be vindicated.
When the actions and proclamations of the world discourage you, remember two basic truths: 1. Consider who the world is and 2. Consider who we are – we belong to God!