Elementary My Dear
After a tough case, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson decide to take some time off, get away from the city, and go camping in the remote wilderness. They set up their tent and camp. After a relaxing evening sitting by the fire, they hit the hay. In the middle of the night, Holmes wakes Watson up and asks, “Watson, look up at the stars and tell me what you deduce.” Dr. Watson thinks for a moment and says, “I see millions of stars. And it’s likely that many of those stars have planets. And it’s likely that one of those planets are like Earth. I deduce then, there may be life out there, somewhere” Holmes said, “No Watson, you idiot. Someone has stolen our tent!”
Sometimes, we just miss the point. We are looking for deeper meaning and significance and looking past the obvious to get there. We contemplate the mysterious and bypass the plain, in-your-face truth that benefits us more. First John is a book where so many people miss the point. I heard a famous, nationally known preacher give an introduction to First John. Rightly, he noted 1 John 1:4 as a purpose statement, “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” He also pointed out 5: 13, where John says, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” Very good. But oddly, he spent the next hour telling everyone in earshot that they probably weren’t saved and that he was deceived for a long time. Why? Because John tells us how to know if we really know Jesus. I’m definitely more Watson than Sherlock, but even I could note a slight change in tone from the sermon’s appetizers of joy to the meat and potatoes of “you are probably lost.” What happened?
It’s evident from the text that false teachers were spreading their terrible doctrine, and Christians were in danger of imbibing the rot. These antichrists, as John calls them, are telling people a different way to be saved and a different way to live. John sets the record straight and speaks to God’s people about how to know that you know, not how to doubt what you are. The letter is addressed to Christians, not apostates. But we can get so focused on the “tests” that we forget John’s stated point. He wrote First John, not to scare the pants off you, or make you be afraid that Jesus doesn’t love you (1 John 4:17-18), but that you might be assured of what you have in Christ and that your joy might be full! There are many commands in the book, and many are troubled when they read it (maybe because they need to be). But John’s point is to settle the saints in Christ. Don’t let someone rob your tent.