Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. – 1 John 5:1 ESV
1 John 5:1-5
How does one really know they have a right relationship with God? Or to put it another way, how do you know that you’re really saved? For John, there was only one answer to both questions: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. It is our faith in the message that Jesus is the Christ that determines our right relationship with God. To believe that Jesus us the Christ is accept His claim to be the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, sent by God as a substitute sacrifice for the sins of the world. John does not say that we have to fully understand every aspect of how God did what He did. We do not have to fully comprehend how Jesus was fully God and fully man. But we have to believe that Jesus was who He claimed to be, who the apostles taught Him to be, and who the Holy Spirit confirms Him to be. That word “believe” means “to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in.” When one places his or her confidence in Jesus as their Savior, they become a child of God. It is their belief in Jesus as the Christ that determines their right standing with God, not their obedience, social status, or right moral behavior.
John brings this matter up because there had been those who had left the local fellowship in Ephesus who did not believe that Jesus was the Christ. They refused to accept the divinity of Jesus. They believed in Jesus, as a man, but could not be persuaded that He was the Son of God, the Savior of the world. So John was making it perfectly clear for those who remained behind how to know who was truly born of God. For John, it all boiled down to a right relationship with God. And as far as he was concerned, there was only one way for anyone to be made right with God. It was through belief in the one whom God had sent to pay for the sins of the world: His Son Jesus Christ.
But John gives yet another way of knowing that one is saved – when we love God and other believers in Christ. Our love for one another is an additional proof of our right standing with God. Our ability to love them comes from God because love is of God. Our capacity to keep God’s commandment to love one another is provided for us from God. Without Him, it would be impossible. The very fact that we love one another is evidence of God’s work in us. No, we do not do it perfectly or constantly, but that we do it at all is proof of our relationship with Him. John goes on to tell us that loving God and keeping His commandments is “not burdensome” to us. I am reminded of the words of Jesus. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT). Following Jesus is not easy, but He promises that walking alongside Him will be restful and not wearisome. Our life with Him will be bearable and even enjoyable. We will still have to walk through this life, dealing with pain and sorrow, temptations and trials, but we will have a power source available to us that will allow us to “overcome the world.” And it is all based on our faith or belief in Jesus Christ. “And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (1 John 5:4 ESV). Our faith in Christ. Our belief in Him as our Savior. You see, our faith must have an object. It must have a source. John sums it all up with these words: “Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 4:5 ESV). The key to our overcoming, to being victorious, is our continued faith in Christ, which takes us back to John’s admonition to abide in Him. What makes our burden light and the yoke easy to bear is that we remain side-by-side in the yoke with Christ. We maintain our faith and belief in Him. As soon as we place our faith in us or in someone or something else, we find ourselves overwhelmed instead of living as overcomers. Belief in Jesus Christ is the proof of our salvation, but also the power behind our victory over the trials and troubles of this life. As the chorus of an old hymn so aptly puts it:
Faith is the victory!
Faith is the victory!
Oh, glorious victory,
That overcomes the world.