Some years ago, I was corresponding with another preacher over the “evidences” of 1 John. In our back-and-forth bantering, he argued that the saved will inevitably evidence the “love of the brethren” and so forth as mentioned in the epistle. Strangely, his letter greatly lacked in love and came across rather mean-spirited and condescending. I was tempted to respond, saying he had convinced me, but since love for the brethren is an evidence of salvation, I was now concerned for his salvation since his letter lacked this evidence!

If you are saved, with the provision of God’s nature implanted in you (1 John 3:9) and God’s Spirit indwelling you (Gal. 2:20), you should evidence your salvation. You will as you walk in the Spirit, but you won’t when you walk after the flesh. When you walk in the Spirit, you evidence the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 22-23). When you yield to the flesh, you evidence the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). The difficulty lies in the fact that unsaved flesh and saved flesh look exactly alike! Thus, we have the admonition to walk in the Spirit.

This brings us to our question: What do the evidences in 1 John evidence? The key is understanding that in chapters 2, 3 and 4 (the chapters that deal with evidences), the term menō (μνω, abide) occurs over twenty times, and that abide is used as an illustrative word for dependence. Without Christ (unbelief/flesh-dependence), you cannot do anything of spiritual value, but with Christ (faith), you can do everything God desires for you to do (John 15:4-5). God-dependence accesses Spirit-enabling (Rom. 5:2).

The evidences are the fruit (evidence) of the Spirit, made manifest only as you walk by faith, and thus, walk in the Spirit—i.e., when you abide. When you abide in Christ, He abides in you, and when Christ abides in you, you evidence Him—the Christ life (John 15:5). The fruit or evidence of the Spirit then is not the fruit of you but of the Spirit. This evidencing is not an inevitability, but it is a responsibility—a matter that is not a work but is, instead, a dependence on the Worker (Rom. 4:5).

The evidences of 1 John evidence abiding in Christ. They evidence the Spirit-filled life. Obviously, you cannot abide in Christ if you are not in Christ. But lack of evidence reveals one of two things, not one of one. While it could mean someone is not saved (you cannot abide in Christ if you are not first in Christ), it could also mean that one is saved, but not abiding.

1 John 3:6 sums it up well saying that the one who abides in Christ does not sin—evidence! But notice, the evidence is neither automatic nor inevitable. It is by faith—abiding. Therefore, the evidences in 1 John are evidences of abiding in Christ. May we ever abide so that the evidence of the indwelling Christ is unquestionably manifest!

John Van Gelderen

John Van Gelderen

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About This Blog

Hello, I’m John Van Gelderen. I am an evangelist and the president of Revival Focus Ministries, an organization for the cause of revival in hearts, homes, churches, and beyond, and for evangelizing. This blog is focused on experiencing Jesus. I believe in order to really live, you must access and experience the very life of Jesus Christ.