('Originally written October-November 2000. This is the piece which unlocked the "Thinking" series for my pea brain. This site was last Revised 3/2004, hastily.)
JOHN'S THEME in 1Jn is a how-to primer on post-Cross SPIRITUAL MECHANICS. Theology used to call this "experiential sanctification". Bible calls it GROWTH, which is why John uses child-adult metaphors to depict spiritual growth thresholds, just like the other NT writers (and the Lord) do. So, you use these mechanics to GROW UP in Him, which GOD uses also to BEAT SATAN IN THIS, the LAST STAGE ("hour") of THE ANGELIC APPEAL TRIAL. 1 John greatly affected my pastor. He started teaching us EVEN MORE comprehensively as a result of what he learned from it in 1980, retooling everything he had taught us, prior. Obviously, I myself was completely changed by it as well (my entry under his ministry was 1971).
John's encouragement in this epistle: Being "born of God" means we are in BOTH a temporal-and-eternal unimpeachable STATUS from the moment of salvation, which IS what makes us sons of God, via the Baptism of the Spirit (1Jn3, 1Jn5:13, 1Jn5:18, 1Jn5:20 -- the hundred-plus Baptism of the Spirit verses are too many to list here). So, let's learn to grow up and enjoy that status by "abiding" in Him: spiritual growth in our born-again (spiritual birth, unterminable) life is the theme of the epistle (1Jn1:3-4). Upshot: since we have the STATUS, let's get the FUNCTION of spiritual intimacy with GOD. (Paul discusses this same "upshot" in Romans 5-8.) Via that function, spiritual fellowship with believers will occur: John repeats this last phrase often to show that GOD FIRST; and as a RESULT, life with people evidences love.
These mechanics really work. Let me provide a banal illustration, which happened just now as I was re-editing this webpage. I have two cars, one of which I don't want to part with, but it's not worth fixing. The apartment complex apparently didn't want to tell me to get it fixed, or thought their months-prior inquiry about the car WAS a warning, who knows. (If someone ASKS you a question, you don't hear it as a warning, but maybe the one ASKING is trying to be diplomatic, lol.) So, they just put a sticker on the car warning it would be towed. So, I didn't know of this problem. So, I JUST HAPPENED to see the car (which I don't drive) with the sticker on it, yesterday, while driving to mail something. It WOULD HAVE BEEN TOWED TODAY but I didn't know that, yesterday, nor could anyone at the office TELL me what the problem was, or when it would be towed, when I called them yesterday.
Running physically above the encouragement purpose, John unrolls a DIVINE DRAMA in each of his writings, as here in 1Jn. That's his larger rhetorical style, blended with age-old OT metaphors, to explain God's TRIAL purpose "from the beginning": to prove WHY Satan&Co.'s alternative to the Divine Plan was hellish. Bible is first a set of LEGAL documents; one use of which, is as a deposition in a Trial -- the Trial of Satan and the Fallen Angels. See Gen3, Matt25:41, Isa14:12-14, Eze28, beginnings of each Job1 and 2, Gen 6, etc.
Being a sinner like anyone else, my first instinct was to be angry over not being told it was a problem. But, before knowing all the facts last night, I realized that I DIDN'T WANT TO SIN. No matter why: Everything plays for Father, and that's how the Son WANTS IT, 24/7, so EVERYTHING IS FREE FROM all lesser purpose. So, I'm finding myself VEHEMENTLY thinking, I don't NEED to sin, I don't WANT to sin, I don't CARE what the problem is! This realization under this circumstance, was a real surprise! The happiness despite this upset was incredible: I only had to use 1Jn1:9 INFREQUENTLY, though one of my biggest failings is annoyance over petty things. Today, of course, I just made arrangements to donate the car, and God the Son (obviously long beforehand) made arrangements so this reconciliation between the complex and me, could be met. They are happy, I am happy. See? Evidence of Love, because GOD IS FIRST. Bought by MILLIONS of Bible Doctrine deposits, lovingly deposited by The Spirit, even into our pea brains. GOD IS FABULOUS!
Key to reading the Epistle: John uses PARALLELISM as a rhetorical device, so you can match clauses and thus see the interrelationships among variables like sin, WORD, love, etc. It's kinda like math, where the formula is slightly different in one part, so you can see how that part either RESULTS from the part that is the same, or CHANGES the part that is the same. He does this by precisely matching keywords: for example, NASB's "practice truth" in 1Jn1:6 tells you WHAT HE MEANS by all other "practice" references in the epistle, so that all other "practice" must be a practice of TRUTH. So, when you see "practice righteousness" in NASB's 1Jn3:7, you know it means that you practice righteousness by practicing truth. (NASB translates poiew as "practices"; other versions might translate it as "do" or "live by".)
Another BIG KEY, Isagogics: the reader of a translation of 1Jn is severely handicapped, even though the words seem extremely simple. ISAGOGICS MATTER ALTOGETHER HERE. John uses SPECIAL KEYWORDS with SPECIAL DEFINITIONS known to his audience. The purpose of a special word with a special definition is to INCORPORATE BY REFERENCE all previous verses and clauses which USE that word. You have to know Greek culture and Jewish culture to understand the definitions. Because, a letter is written to an AUDIENCE, using terms the AUDIENCE would understand. Bible pays strict attention to the frame of reference of its audience, so you should as well, in order to GET what God means to say.
You'll need to know something of the original languages to see the technical TRIAL words, for the English doesn't translate them properly. "Satan", for example, means "opposing attorney", "legal adversary", but English either transliterates his title, or truncates it with the vague "adversary". So you've NO CLUE what is being said, lol.
The promise that God (the Son) would take on Humanity and pay for sins was a big sticking point with Satan, and probably was the cause de guerre for him. Satan knew of this promise, as (I suppose) did all the angels, when ONLY angels existed, and BEFORE Satan rebelled. Since 1967, My pastor has spent lots of time explaining this, and the "Thinking" series extrapolates to account for that origin, testing for doctrinal fit in my understanding, etc. So I'll not go into details here. Suffice it to say that because this promise was long known, man ended up being additionally created for the TRIAL purpose, and of course Satan&Co. chose to mock it all. Pretty much every culture in history has some story about this beginning, each one a mutation on the same theme. So, in Bible, the promise of such intimacy was thus derided by Satan&Co. by means of phallicism. Genesis 6, "the gods" (Satan&Co.) had sex with the women, and phallicism has been some version of that ever since. Greek culture from Mycanea forward is thoroughly born of and saturated with, this root idea. So in the Gen6 COURT CASE pronouncement, ("riv", in Hebrew), God rules to allow the 4-generation-curse to finish out; during which time, Noah is to build that boat and alert all those laughing at him that God is really gonna tsunami everyone who DOESN'T believe in Him.
So the audience of the Bible was VERY familiar with Greek-god type concepts. So Bible frequently makes reference to those concepts: and of course any student of history knows that the Greek pantheon is but one flavor of many world-wide versions. Same 'gods', you see. Same game played on all mankind, to MOCK the Redeemer to Come. To MOCK the Promise of His Thinking being in our hearts, as a consequence (i.e., in Jer31:31-34, the easiest translated reference to see). That's why the Jews even to this day CHERISH TORAH, for it's the WORD being IN them, which was the promise from Gen3 forward (illustrated by clothing them with skins, and by Abel sacrificing the Lamb of God).
So you CAN'T READ BIBLE with modern-day eyes. Bible has modern USES, and 1Jn constantly tells you it's supposed to be circulating in your head 24/7 -- but according to the BIBLE's definitions, which are VERY precise, and rooted in BIBLE, not in accordance with modern-day definitions. Example: "Light" is not only a Gnostic term (for on one level he writes to refute gnosticism), but is more importantly a Hebraism, a favorite OT term referencing "the beginning", "Let there be Light". The Lord used it a lot in the Gospels, since He is the Light of the World. Then the Holy Spirit, who RESTORED the world in Gen1:2ff, is to RESTORE us who were in darkness (unsaved), by infusing us with the Light WHO ROSE: hence, the WORD, His Thinking 'enlightens' us. Not gnostic junk.
So against this TRIAL backdrop, the Incarnation had a Chief Witness function (i.e., "Faithful and True Witness" title in Rev1:5, 3:14, Heb1:2, 2:3ff). So too, for us, since we get the same spiritual life (1Jn4:17), we face the same question: since "now" (Church Age Bible keyword) God dwells in YOU, how do YOU 'dwell in' HIM? Answer: via Filling, the mechanics of which are explained in 1Jn1:9 (in context), and via the WORD, the mechanics of which everyone already long knew: STUDY YOUR BRAINS OUT under your teacher. OT version is Deut 6, which is likewise a think-Law-all-day lifestyle. NT parallel passages are legion, for it's the MAIN THEME of the NT, as a FULFILLMENT of Gen3's promise of salvation.
See? You have to know the FULL PAST INFUSED DEFINITION of the words John uses, to GET what he means. John makes heavy use of his previously-written Gospel as the database for definitions. Of course the modern reader needs the SAME isagogics to even get the Gospel of John. See, there are TEMPLE KEYWORDS (i.e., katharizw, menw, phobos, aoinios) which were important both in the OT and in Greek pantheism, and John is BONDING both ideas here to show NON-JEWS how the OT ties in; how under the "new commandment" they are to 'live in the Temple' of their bodies (made so by the Holy Spirit).
See, you'd also have to know the many 'layers' of the meaning of sozo and soteria, translated (usu. badly) "to save" and "salvation", respectively. The terms mean FIRST, rescue, delivery. Just as in English there are MANY TYPES of rescue, delivery, saving, so also in any language. So the floor is saved-to-Heaven, but also, rescued from this world; delivered (devoted) to God. So many wordplays! So the entire POST-salvation life is ATOP the 'floor' (see 1Cor3 in this connection), and you are being saved all the time! Like my pal Dashius said in #scripture, some years back: "I am saved, I am being saved, I will be saved." Perfect description, fabulous way to state what the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 10:1-17. That's a Catholic saying, by the way. (Too bad the Catholics barnacle it with a bunch of nonsense. Too bad we ALL do, in variant ways.) SALVATION IS PERMANENT, BUT STARTS LIKE A BABY. As in, born-again. You GROW UP WITH REFERENCE TO YOUR SALVATION, and 1Jn explains how. Every NT epistle is foundationally on this topic, expressing the concept in more ways than there are websites on the internet.
Now that you are permanently saved, you face a different issue, AFTER salvation: your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, now; but are YOU in your own temple WITH HIM, or are you lollygagging around in your MIND, OUT somewhere else? Without the Spirit, without the Word, you're OUT (1Jn2:5 is tied to 1Jn4:12-19, and of course to 1Jn1:5-10). So the 'evidence' of being out is that you will sin, you will be in the dark, you won't love your fellow man, and you won't know God, so of course you CAN'T love God, since you can't even love God until you know Him.
In 1Jn, you'd have to know the Greek culture for 'dwelling' with a god: "abide" is FIRST a technical word for what a Greek disciple of a god did; he made a PERMANENT HOME AS A SLAVE to dwell in, live in the god's temple, so to be CLOSE to the god; taking care of it, thinking about the god all day -- see Euripedes' play, "Ion". So John can write in Scriptural shorthand because the readers were so FAMILIAR. Their familiarity, he REPEATS OFTEN in Chapter 2, with Greek drama flourish.
"Abide" is Greek verb "MENW" (men-OH), which has MANY LAYERS of meaning, and ALL of them are in view: abiding in the testimony (in WORD), abiding at your (military) post (staying on the job), abiding in the WITNESS BOX (your FAITH in the TESTIMONY, the latter term having heavy OT significance), abiding AT HOME (root meaning of the verb). You are RESTING in the WORD, like Christ RESTED on the Cross. See also Heb4. So if abiding, REMAINING. In the Testimony of Christ. In the Word. At your soldier's post. In the Witness Box of the Angelic Trial. At Home about It, the Word, The Thinking of Christ, for it keeps on circulating in you. So you "keep" it (1Jn2:5), cherish it, hold it close, guard it (root meaning of "keep", Greek verb tereo). See also Jude 9.
The verb "menw" becomes "mone" (mon-A) as a noun SUFFIX. It's a common suffix, and always has the same connotation of the verb. So Peter's love of 'hupo' PREFIXES means the same as "mone". Connotation of dwelling in, staying under ("Hupo" means under), obedience due to LOVE. Hence the VERY common Bible verb, "hupomenw", lit., to dwell-under, but has all the connotations of the underlying menw. So too its cognate noun, "hupomone", usu. drily translated "endurance" or "obedience" or (ugh) "patience", in English Bibles. My pastor likes to call it, "staying power", which is much closer to the meaning: a GOOD THING, not a dry one. So, as you can see, this "menw" concept is a very frequent one in the NT. For, in the OT, it references GOD DWELLING WITH US, "Immanuel". In that Tabernacle. FILLING IT. Get it?
Also, the translations of the temporal nature of the verbs, are pitiful. Clauses should always be understood as "during the time that [verb]". It's PUNCTILIAR. English translation sounds like you must constantly do in order to be saved, but Greek depicts fellowship, in-or-out. That's why John interjects with verses like 1Jn5:18, that you are saved so are RESCUED from a state of sin.
Dramatic EVIDENCE of Trial Success is that you LEARN AND STAY IN WORD. Then you know God, then you love God, then you love your fellow man. You can't SIN if you are in the Word, but only if OUT -- so if you're NOT GETTING the WORD IN YOU, you're OUT. But, then use 1Jn1:9 to GET BACK in (1Jn1:5-2:2), because you KNOW you are supposed to be WALKING IN THE WORD (1Jn2:3-6). See? it's PUNCTILIAR and 'where' you are TEMPORALLY, not what you do, etc.
John also uses the SOCRATIC style of rhetoric, which was then current among his readers (Greek culture was very saturated in everyone, so this was FAMILIAR). Plus, John combines loads of Greek drama flair. Hence PARALLELISMS abound in every verse. You read them vertically (comparing clauses in prior verses to the same ones in the verse you read) to get the MATCHING ANALOGY. For example, 1Jn2:5 uses "word" as a parallel to "commandment", to "truth". 1Jn4:17 plays BACK to 1Jn2:5, so you can see that LOVE ONLY GETS COMPLETED VIA THE WORD IN US. Not works.
As he later does in Revelation, in 1Jn he paints the spiritual life as a play in which God beats Satan. Greek plays were always done as a SERIES of 'fours' (set of four distinct plays), and we are in play #3 of this set. [You might say play#2, if the Lord's 1st Advent is play #1 of the New Testament, depending on how you classify what Bible calls the "Age", aka "Dispensation" in theology. Play #3 is thus the Trib, and #4 is the Millenium. I prefer to call this play#3, with #4 being the Trib, because the 2nd Advent is a new beginning. #1 is thus the OT, and #2 is the 1st Advent.]
OUTCOME: because YOU DWELL in the Temple Word where God is, you "overcome" the devil. See, in 1Jn, Greek word "menw" has ALL its meanings. So we are the actors, constituting EVIDENCE in the Trial, and so if we are menw'd-OUT-of-WORD, that's our testimony; if IN, that's our testimony. John keeps on playing in-and-out parallelisms so the reader can see the dynamics of the witness IN THE TRIAL; so he can know for himself 'where' he himself is, in or out. See, we are not so much witnesses to mankind; that's a necessary but WAY LOWER role, and is NOT in view in 1Jn. JOHN FOCUSES INSTEAD on our TRIAL witness to the superior power of ABIDING IN THE WORD, vs. abiding in the world's word, which Satan wrote; our abiding in the Word produces the Love, which proves Satan wrong.
It's NOT about people-to-people, at all. Every clause in 1Jn is EXPLAINING EVIDENCE pro or con God in the Trial. For, people are the EVIDENCE IN THE TRIAL, and this is the culminatory phase, which "from the beginning" God has been demonstrating. Along the way, John reinforces Paul wholly, alluding to Ephesians Temple metaphor, since John's letter is likewise dramatic; John also alludes to every major OT prophecy in this letter, and like Paul stresses that this is the culminatory phase of history.
See, because the entire Trial and history and Bible are to REVEAL CHRIST, you are to understand that THERE'S NO SEPARATION BETWEEN WORD AND PERSON. So all NT epistles use "Christ" to ALSO mean BIBLE, for it is His Thinking. Hence, "Christ"= WORD= TRUTH= LOVE= RIGHTEOUSNESS= ETERNAL LIFE. So if you see one of the capped words, it's ALWAYS talking about God's Nature, which INCLUDES Bible, His Thinking. Any human meanings of the word arrange hierarchically WELL BELOW that first tier. So, each metaphor tells you the mechanics of transference: You get filled up with Righteousness (Rom8) by the Righteous One's THINKING, for example. So, you can DO righteousness because you DID truth (1Jn1:6 parallelling 1Jn3:7). So if LOVE-WORD is in you, you will thus love your fellow man.
Along the way, John reinforces James wholly, i.e., be a DOER OF THE WORD, not just a hearer, in 1Jn3:18. Just like James stresses in Jas1:1-2:26, you can't DO a WORD you don't KNOW; you can't DO a WORD you don't LIVE ON like the Lord did in Matt4:4. The WORK is to live on the Word, not do things for mere people, for crying out loud. YOU ARE A TEMPLE SLAVE, and your 'duty' is to live for GOD, not people. As a RESULT of living for GOD on His Word, love will naturally flow out from THAT love.. to people. Every NT epistle stresses this formula in many ways. Greek uses FOUNDATIONAL ELEMENTS of the language to show it's a FOUNDATION for your life: participles, genitive and dative case endings, aorist and present tenses, putting foundational characteristics at the end of verses, or dramatically OUT OF PLACE at the beginning of verses. (See: you gotta know the original languages of Scripture, so get under a pastor who teaches them. Such pastors DO exist. Mine isn't the only one.)
Being a temple slave was always a privilege, in NT or OT. Remember how the Levites got paid with every Levitical sacrifice? Remember how a portion of the national income tax every third year went to them for the secular portion of their duties? [People forget that the Mosaic Law was in THREE PARTS: two civil, one spiritual. LXX Greek OT calls these entole (Decalogue, civil), dikaiomata (spiritual, the sacrifices and feasts), and krimata (jurisprudence). You'll need those keywords to navigate the NT and 1Jn. In the OT, the Levites handled all three, so their jobs were somewhat like civil servants, not solely priestly. God always separated church and state.] Same idea pervades pagan temple cultures, too: it was a REAL NICE JOB, k? So, John makes allusions to the Book of Hebrews, because he's using the SESSION and CHANGE IN COVENANT as a database (i.e., in 1Jn2). Maybe he also alludes to stuff in Peter, but I've not yet examined the epistle for those allusions. There are TONS of allusions to what the Lord said, which John recorded in the Gospel. John is BUILDING ON his Gospel, since they already had that "old commandment" given to them to cherish ("keep", in most English translations, Greek verb tereo, means to GUARD, hold close, cherish, KEEP THINKING).
One day I hope to have time to retranslate 1Jn and put in all the cross-referenced verses he alludes to, just so I can have a good working copy of the book. If you are interested, get my pastor's EXEGESIS of 1Jn from the 1980's. (All his stuff is FREE. No love-gift gimmicks or mailing lists, or other folderol.) In any event, YOU HAVE TO STUDY in the original languages YOURSELF, or you'll miss the ANGELIC TRIAL EVIDENTIARY FOCUS which John uses. Greek drama always starts at the TOP, never the bottom. Reading the translation, it looks like body stuff; that's the OPPOSITE of what the Inspired Word says. So you NEED the exegesis. Holy Spirit will enable understanding: man's IQ is utterly irrelevant at all times.
Hints on this fact are obvious. In 1Jn4:16, for example, "have come to know and believe" tells you that "Love" is LEARNING AND LIVING ON SCRIPTURE, not an emotion, for crying out loud; for, that's what Our Love Himself did (Matt4:4). So, we get completed in "Love", and thus are EVIDENCE of SUCCESS just like He is, for we are evidence even as He was Evidence down here (1Jn4:17). "Love" is a common BIBLE moniker for BIBLE, and Paul spent all of 1Cor13 using that moniker for the completion of Canon; which John also uses as a moniker and to talk about Canon's completion, in 1:4 (Scripture is 'joy'), 4:17, and in other ways, like in the "you have no need of anyone to teach you", which alludes to the MOST BELOVED OT promise, of the WORD BEING IN OUR HEARTS in Jer31:31-34, Heb8:8-10:17. Below this meaning, all the other ones RESULT (i.e., we love because He first loved us, because we got His Love built in us, 1Jn2:5 tying to Rom5:5): which is the main thrust of his letter -- showing how the results play out.
BEYOND the above basic orientation, some surprising principles are in 1Jn: here's a brief on them. The Holy Spirit will alert you to study this book, I'm certain. NO ONE MAKES IT IN THE SPIRITUAL LIFE WITHOUT THESE MECHANICS. "Thinking" series outlines them in the section, "1 John's Outline of God's Script". You can go there quickly if you click on the "Spiritual Royalty Brief" box and then click on the second embedded link you see. Sorry I can't do a better job right now.
Also, meaning is MUCH clearer, when you are careful in TRACKING how John uses these titles for the Lord. For example, the NASB translation of zoe as "the eternal life" in Jn1:2, is a moniker for Christ in the Greek, since He is "The Way, the Truth, and the Life". "Life" is meant, but absolutely, so "The Eternal Life" is fine. But DON'T MIX IT UP with the acquisition of Eternal Life, due to salvation. See what a difference proper tracking makes? LOL 1Jn3:15's statement that a murderer doesn't have The Eternal Life abiding in him, means a TEMPORAL out-of-fellowship problem due to the sin of murder; NOT a salvation problem. Clearly the translations of 1Jn aren't good, despite John's simplicity. My pastor commented once that the simpler the Greek, the more meaningful it is, and the easier it is to screw up the translation. Maybe that's why 1Jn is not well translated, especially with regard to the temporal nature of the verbs, contrasted with the unimpeachable permanence of other verbs (i.e., 1Jn5:18 compared to 1Jn5:13, compared to 1Jn3:15).
Kinda like the snafu in communication between my apartment complex and me: in translation, well.. a vehicle of peace nearly got towed away without warning.
Whatever comes from a spiritual motive produces a spiritual gain.
Whatever comes from a non-spiritual motive produces a non-spiritual gain.
Spiritual motives are impossible apart from being first born-again (believer
in Christ), AND being in fellowship with the Holy Spirit (1Jn1:9 used,
Spiritual motives cannot be sustained apart from consistent learning of
Bible Doctrine while in fellowship with the Holy Spirit. [Greek verb "menw" is a MAJOR keyword in Scripture (including the Hebrew equivalent). Its root meaning: to dwell in the comfort of one's own home. It is translated, variously, in English: "abide", "dwell", "remain", "rest", "be in fellowship with", "be at home with", etc. As far as I can tell, Scripture writers mean ALL of these layers of English meanings at once, whenever they use the verb.]
Non-spiritual motives harm.
Whatever comes from a counterfeit spiritual motive (thinking-oneself-in-the-Light)
produces a counterfeit spiritual gain.
Counterfeit spiritual gains are the most harmful of all: deceiving
self, and "having a form of godliness, but denying its power", which deceives
others, particularly unbelievers and young believers.
Satan's #1 goal is to maximize counterfeit spiritual gains. Thus
he not only stunts the growth of the Body of Christ, but he dishonors Christ
in the eyes of all. This goal, to the extent achieved, buys Satan
time in his ongoing attempt to prove he can rule and benefit man better
(i.e., gain man's "love" better) than Christ (cf Job Chaps 1, 2, beginning
of Chapters, as well as 1Jn).
Satan aims to prove, via Trial Arguments (e.g., Job, but the principles
there apply in varying degree to us all) that God the Son made rational
creatures (i.e., Satan & Co.) DEFECTIVE, hence too handicapped to avoid
failure (sin), so no one deserves to go to the Lake of Fire. The
fact that (presumably angels and) man may opt to receive the Salvation
Gift doesn't ipse prove anything, since the Gift has strings: Accept
salvation or burn. If strings, then God does not love, and Satan
& Co.'s rebellion was justly a filing for divorce (as it were), which
God should grant, without punishment; not only to Satan & Co.,
but to all unbelievers. (Satan thus claims to be the "savior" of all nonbelievers.)
The True spiritual life, true spiritual gains, buy time for mankind as
a whole to receive salvation and to learn Christ, thus receiving the freedom
God intended "from the beginning". (Tie-in principle: salt
of the earth, remnant)
- Freedom means freedom to choose Christ (choose to receive salvation) as a FLOOR..the ceiling is true independence, wrought by Bible Doctrine (Mind of Christ) circulating in the soul, which produces in the believer an inviolate Integrity, and thus an inviolate Love (i.e., maximum enjoyment of all circumstances and persons, be they pleasant or not). This result can only occur due to free use of volition, since Love requires choice. Such a result is superior to equality, the heart of Satan's plan. To have made rational creatures with full Integrity absent their choice to learn it (via learning God) would be tyranny, and such beings would be equal, alright: as automatons. Love does not tyrannize.
So, in God's Plan, spiritual gains are internal and rarely visible, because spiritual gains progressively produce love and peace, which are fundamentally quiet by nature. (cf 1Cor13, and "fruit of the Spirit" verse..Gal5:16?)
These true spiritual gains are produced solely through learning Bible Doctrine
(1Jn4:4-17), because to grow spiritually, one must learn Christ;
that learning produces Love for Him, and the Love for Him produces love
for one's fellow man. (Tie-in verses: 2Pet3:18, "grow in grace
and in the knowledge of Our Lord and Savior.." and Eph 3:15-19, Eph1:15-23.)
Absent learning Christ, all works count for nothing, because the person
doing the works is out of fellowship, or has not yet learned love.
(1Jn, whole epistle, plus 1Cor13, Jas2:18-24 compared to James 1.)
Thus, the FIRST work is to learn Christ, without which the believer is
a counterfeit. This gives the believer a progressive spiritual competency
in any activity he is given BY GOD to do; he is able to decipher,
with progressive competence, the difference between false spirituality,
false righteousness, and the true "deeds" God Himself orders for the believer.
Thus, God the Father's first priority for the believer, and the most
important one, is to produce in the believer a thinking pattern progressively-more
like His Son's Humanity's ("Mind of Christ", 1Cor2:16, and whole chapter). To God the Father, the PERSON, not the person's works, are the most important, since it is the PERSON who will be living with His Son. To Satan, by contrast, the person's works matter, and the person is expendable, for the person is only worth to Satan what he can "get" from the person.
Satan & Co. cannot defeat this thinking pattern, so those exposed to
it or those learning it are prime targets in the Angelic Conflict.
('Major subtheme in 1Jn.)
Seduction, more than crass attack, is the preferred tactical approach Satan
& Co. take to neutralize such "targets". (Matt 4's extremely-varied
and subtle temptation patterns tie in here.)
If the tactical objective, seduction, loses effectiveness or is insufficient,
crass attacks are added (cf Job), to create a Kyle und Kessel (double-envelopment)
barrage against the growing believer.
The greater the prolongation of this double-envelopment deployment, the
more spiritual gain the growing believer receives per "inch" (as it were)
of offensive movement (staying in the Spirit, learning Bible Doctrine).
Externally, one is in circumstances such that one feels "on the edge",
seemingly near-collapse (cf 1Cor10:13, 2Cor12:7-9, 2Cor4:6-10).
Such externals are designed to exploit our weaknesses but curb our strengths.
('Not having own righteousness; so, if we "can", God "can't", and we have
cut Him out in favor of our own righteousness/competence).
Spritual gains under such externals produce a massive Kyle-und-Kessel counterattack
"reply" of increasing (but always invisible) strength.
Such spiritual gains produce balance such that one is a Joe Palooka Doll*.
Satan can't knock one down and keep him down. (2Cor4:6-10 ties in).
Alternatively, if the believer collapses under the weight of these externals,
or otherwise becomes negative to further spiritual growth, he lapses into
self-deception (thinking self in the Light), and his spiritual life arrests.
At that point, he becomes progressively-hardened, frozen in that spiritual
growth state (i.e., "young children", "young men"), and is only going through
the motions of the spiritual life, like the Ephesians ended up doing in
Rev 2. The believer becomes a spiritual casualty, and doesn't even
realize it, because he's observing the "form of godliness"; instead,
he is really loving the world (really, his own ego). Such a believer
is most-favored by Satan & Co., for the discrediting they can make
of him in the world.
Works done by spiritual casualties are "wood, hay, stubble" and do not
count before the Judgement Seat of Christ, but the believers themselves
are still saved. NO works done outside the Spirit, or with insufficient
competency due to lack of doctrine learned, count. (Major theme of 1Jn
Conversely, the believer who uses the learn-My-Son mandates to hide in(pride himself on) doctrinal knowledge, and/or to excuse himself
(like the Corban gimmick) from helping his fellow man is also in self-deception,
and is a spiritual casualty, fancying himself to be-in-the-Light. Idea remains: "neither to the right,
nor to the left". (1Jn3, 2nd half, and James 2:18-24)
Above all, the 1st Commandment, upgraded to the HIGHEST LEVEL in all human history, due to the Session: 'can't be happy if you don't get to the "completion" of
God's Love (KJV "perfect" is "teleiow": "to finish, complete, fulfill"
and is a MAJOR keyword in all NT); 'can't avoid shame at Judgement Seat
of Christ if you don't get to that "completion"; 'can't love your
fellow man if you don't love God; 'can't love God until you KNOW God;
'can't know God unless you learn God; 'can't learn God if not in the
Spirit (1Jn1:9 used habitually); 'can't learn God if not first a believer
in Christ. (1Jn4:12-17, esp v.17, is shouted and climactic, the thrust
- The Prosecution's (God's) Trial Evidence of the believer's (freely-received-from-Doctrine) Integrity, LOVE and Happiness level proves God the Father's Plan superior to Satan's, in the Angelic Conflict -- NOT -- repeat, NOT -- the believer's works.
- Works, contrary to Satan's longstanding claims, are tangential, byproducts, and of themselves do not prove the motive behind them. It's the thought that counts. So Satan's claim that God the Son made rational creatures solely as pets He could train for His amusement reflects Satan's motive, not God's.
- Satan's claim that rational beings were created defectively by God the Son is proven not merely wrong, but also his alleged-correction, equality, is proven both inferior and maximally-miserable.
- Hence, the Divorce (as it were) is granted with prejudice, and the sentence of the Lake of Fire for all who have never once believed IN the Son for salvation, is the new, separate 'universe' in which the divorcees shall live forever, as befits their rejecting, miserable, self-made natures.
- However, Love has never rejected them, and instead provided all of this time and teaching so to avoid the Lake-of-Fire outcome, despite knowing they would forever reject Love. So, God being Omniscient, always knew and will always know the suffering; always saw and will always see the suffering; always "suffers" with them, forever. ('As it were -- knowing suffering is greater than feeling suffering, and God has no emotions) So Love, the motive of God's Integrity, still! never rejects them.
- Believers, likewise, have in varying degrees rejected the Love for God, to the extent such believers did not grow in the knowledge of Him. To the extent of their spiritual arrest during their lives on earth, and in accordance with the Covenant (or Dispensation) applicable to them, such believers shall be forever arrested at that level; however, within that level they will be able to continue to learn forever, and will be maximally happy within such level forever. (1Jn4:17, in light of whole epistle, plus Ephesians and Revelation 2-3,19,20)
- In short, the eternal state (and the Millenium) is a hierarchical society, just as in the Garden Adam was the Head, and the woman was the wife. Everyone will be ideally suited to his niche in that society, yet will have uncompromised free will, and will never choose to sin, even as God never chooses to sin. Such a range of inequality provides maximum enjoyment, synergy via differences, in which Love rules them all.
- Believers who have grown to Pleroma (Eph3:19's "fullness" is "pleroma", in Greek, and is a MAJOR keyword in the NT, which John uses in 1Jn1:4) will be co-rulers with Christ. Purpose of the higher status is to LOVE, just as He loves. Thus, those lower are benefitted, and gain more than were they absent rulers. (Analogous provisions apply to those of other Covenants/Dispensations, e.g., the Jeshurun class of the OT.)
- Because, it is not about Power, it is about Love, "from the beginning" (biggest theme in 1Jn). Power is worthless, without love. Works are worthless, without love. Goodies are worthless, without love. Everything is worthless, without love: "for God is Love." (cf 1Jn4:12,16.)
*In the 1950's, America made a sand-weighted, air-filled vinyl doll as tall as an 8-year-old child, painted as the famous boxer, Joe Palooka. When the child punched the doll, it would rock back and forth, but could not REMAIN struck down, due to the sand-weighting at the bottom. So also, the believer can be struck down, but not KEPT down, due to his maturity in Christ, learned via Bible Doctrine (2Cor4:6-10, compared to 1Jn1:4-2:6,and all of Chap4, plus Eph1 and Eph3).