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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN



1 John 5:18-19 is one of many, many places in the Bible where the Holy Spirit gives us a lot to chew on in just a few short words. Those two verses challenge casual thinking about sin and the devil.  "We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one." Striking spiritual truth is spoken in these few words. With confidence and clarity, John states emphatically that "whoever is born of God does not sin." The reference here, of course, is to those who have become God's children by means of the new birth or as Jesus expressed to Nicodemus in John 3:3-7 those "born again of the water and the Spirit.” John earlier declared that if we say we do not sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. In effect, if we deny we sin we call God a liar, because He says we do (1:8-10).

Then what of the statement in 1 John 5:18 that “we know that whoever is born of God does not sin"? A careful study of this statement, along with 1 John 3:4-10, makes it clear that the continuing practice of sin is what is under consideration. The habitual, willful, conscious, unopposed practice of sin simply cannot characterize one who truly belongs to God. As preacher Mike Tanaro expresses it, "Sin may be in our hearts but always as an intruder, never as a guest."  John goes on to say that the one born of God "keeps himself" with the result being that "the wicked one does not touch him."

The phrase "wicked one" is used 8 times in 8 verses in the New Testament twice by Jesus (Matthew 13:19, 38); once by the apostle Paul (Ephesians 6:16); and 5 times by John in 1st John (2:13,14; 3:12; 5:18-19). "The wicked one" is "THE" wicked one that is, the devil himself, that great adversary of God who is out to devour our souls and send us to hell (1 Peter 5:8). From this wicked one, under whose sway the whole world lies, John insists Christians ought to keep or guard themselves. Some things are so nasty we just ought to stay away from them, not touching them and not wanting them to touch us. Little Gregory, a cute four-year-old, ran out of the bathroom and yelled to his mother that he had dropped his toothbrush in the toilet. Mom managed to get it out and insisted they throw it in the garbage. Gregory sprinted to his mother's bedroom and came back in a moment with her toothbrush. With a cute little smile, he held it up and said, "We better throw this one away, too, `cause it fell in the toilet a few days ago." The devil is wicked. Don't touch him and don't let him touch you.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ