18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him.
19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
(1 John 5:18-21, NASB).
The Exclusive God Club
“We are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” I think that there is a fear with this kind of verse, that we might develop a damaging and false “us and them” mentality. “We’re of GOD, loser devil person! I can’t come to you sinner party!” There is a real division, but you have to remember who we are that makes us “of God”, and what makes others “of the world”. The danger may be, to some degree, that we as believers may actually be tempted to think that we are in some superior and exclusive club. The greater danger is that this may be what non-believers think that we think, even though we don’t. How are we to really take this statement?
The Loser Club
The division between the one who believes the love which God has for us, and the one who does not believe the love which God has for us, is a division of choice. It is a very interesting choice, because the ones who believe in this one-way love, think that it comes not through special merit, but despite strong disqualification. It would be the same as thinking that an Alcoholics Anonymous group is being too exclusive. All you have to do to be a member of AA is be a hopeless drunk who has given up faith in himself, but there are indeed members and non-members. The Church is exactly like this, it is like the anti-elite group. The poor, the mourning, the unrighteous who hunger, the outcasts, the persecuted, the rejected, are given the kingdom (Matthew 5:3-12). The church is made up of and led by needy sinners who are lost but for grace. That is the sense in which we are of God. The world is lost in the lie that they can successfully live so as to qualify for membership in some exclusive society in which they can boast and have pride (1 John 2:16), but we have given up on qualifying for anything on our own. We joined the default group of losers who have given up on ourselves, and now we are vilified for being exclusive!
So, I admit it, I have joined the loser group. I’m a loser. I failed. I’m a sinner. I have no idea how to stop. I can promise no lasting repentance. I’m poor and unrighteous and starving and unsuccessful. If you’re a winner, or hoping to be one, you won’t like it. Does that make me exclusive? You can join if you want, you can give up on getting approval from the boastful group that you want to like you. If you have to perform to get liked, it isn’t a gift of grace any more is it? It isn’t perfect love if you can fail to perform and lose your standing. In Christ you can know, without the question of performance hanging over your head, by His design and decree and gift, that you are of God. Your standing is not precarious, it is certain in Christ. His answer to you is YES! (2 Corinthians 2:18,19,20,21).
Escape From the World
That is most certainly why he says, “He who was born of God keeps Him”. The whole world is wrapped up in the boastful pride of life. They want the approval based on what they do. They want to prove themselves. We are in that exclusive group who have given up on ourselves and we want someone else to keep us. We admit that we have lost, that we will never measure up, that the whole “measure up” idea is a big carrot on a stick that we’ll never reach. We admit that our repentance is a lie. We can only walk in the light and confess – but we cannot keep ourselves from sin. The world believes the lie that they will eventually achieve significance – but even movie stars and extremely wealthy and good-looking people seem to be dissatisfied with their lives. Look how quickly they are judged if someone catches a secret picture where they look slightly overweight or a little older! It is NEWS! This kind of “success” is truly the devil’s playground. Success in this sense is really just preening around pretending to be someone that you are not. In Christ we receive significance as a gift which is underserved. In Christ we can receive every good thing as a gift without worrying about what it proves about us. It is already proven that we are so bad and so unworthy that we were worth dying for. It is already proven that we are so loved and so desired and significant that we were worth dying for. Game over, and in Christ, we win!