Before we begin looking at the seven “by this we know” statements John made to assure us of our salvation I need to make it abundantly clear that he is not stating these as a means to salvation, rather, these are results of our salvation. We cannot be saved from our sin by living in obedience to God, keeping His commandments, loving our brethren, or by loving Him. We do these things because of our salvation. By this, we know we are saved. In fact, the lost person who needs to be saved is incapable of fully living out these requirements of God. When we are saved, God empowers us to live them out, thus, by this we know.
As already stated, salvation comes only by placing your faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. For this reason, John’s heart is to introduce Jesus, the one in whom he has heard, seen, looked at, and touched. John said in verse two of I John, “And the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” Jesus is the eternal life. In the Gospel of John he wrote “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) He then said in John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In I John 1:1, he declared Jesus as “The Word of Life.” In I John 1:5 he said, “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” In the Gospel of John he declared that Jesus is the true light; the true light that the world has rejected. He stated that “the life was the Light of men” and “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:4-13). Clearly, Jesus is eternal life; He is the Word of Life.
John continued to make bold and profound statements about the person of Jesus. He said in I John 2:1, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” He told us that Jesus is our Advocate. An advocate is one who stands up for and speaks on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. John said if we have sinned, Jesus would be an advocate for us to the Father. Clearly, we have all sinned. John himself stated in I John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Since we have all sinned, we cannot come to the Father on our own. We need an advocate. Apart from Jesus, we have no hope. Praise God He has given us an advocate-His only begotten Son. I Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
What qualifies Jesus as our advocate? John continued in I John 2:2 saying, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” The bible tells us that the wages of sin is death and that we are dead in our transgressions and sins. While in our sins, we are totally separated from God. If we die physically in our sins, we will be eternally separated from God in Hell. This is not the will of God. God’s will is that we are all saved. For this reason, Jesus became the “propitiation” for our sins. Propitiation means “atoning sacrifice.” In other words, one the cross, through the shedding of His blood, Jesus paid the wages of our sins for the purpose of atoning for our sins and redeeming us from our sins. Because of this truth, John boldly stated in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When we confess our sins, we receive the propitiation of Christ’s work on the cross, which then allows Jesus to be our advocate. Once our sins are forgiven, Jesus carries our case to the Father.
How do we receive this gift of propitiation and obtain Christ as our Advocate? John is very clear; it is by faith. In I John 5:1-12, John makes it abundantly clear that we are saved by faith in Christ and only faith in Christ. I John 5:1 says, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.” Then he says in I John 5:4, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
John clearly stated the purpose of I John when he said, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” If his intent were to give us assurance of salvation, he certainly would have given to us every means of salvation. He never mentioned baptism, church attendance, keeping sacraments, or any other religious means to salvation, only faith in Christ. If anything else was necessary, surly he would have mentioned it; but, he didn’t, nor does any other scripture. For this reason, we know when John gives us the seven cases of “by this we know” he is not presenting the means to salvation, he is declaring the result of salvation. The Bible is abundantly and redundantly clear that the only means to salvation is faith in Christ.