Posts filed under Devotions

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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The Ready Children of God

1 John 2:28-29: And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. [1]

 John uses verse 28 to summarize chapter 2 and verse 29 to prepare us for chapter 3. [2] Verse 28 reminds believers that they long to see Jesus Christ’s physical return, and have assurance of salvation when He returns, because He has redeemed them from their sins. [3] True Christians respond to Jesus’ eminent return by obeying God’s Word and proclaiming the resurrected and returning Christ. [4] Verse 29 teaches that if people have been born of God they will “practice righteousness” because their heavenly Father is righteous. [5]

 These verses help us see two truths. As Dr. Lane Tipton teaches, “Saving faith rests [on Christ] and is restless [to serve Christ].” [6] Salvation is exclusively through Christ’s gracious redemptive work and the Holy Spirit producing faith in us. [7] The truth that Christ has earned our salvation is the motivation for biblical living. [8] While our actions do not earn salvation, faith in Christ leads to serving Him. [9] May the Holy Spirit give us grace to rest and be restless for our Lord.


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 287.

[3] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 287-288.

[4] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 288.

[5] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 288-289.

[6] Lane Tipton. “Christ as life giving Spirit, the law gospel distinction, distinction between archetypal and ectypal communion bonds.” (Lecture: Westminster Theological Seminary. Glenside, PA, March 18, 2017).

[7] Ephesians 2:1-10.

[8] Philippians 2:1-11; Colossians 3:1-17; etc.

[9] James 2:14-26.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Remain in Christ by the Holy Spirit [1]

1 John 2:26-27: I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. [2]

 Regrettably, some Christian can act as if they do not need instruction or guidance. 1 John 2:26-27 states the opposite. Contextually, John tells true believers to ignore heresy because the Holy Spirit grows true believers (not new and unbiblical teaching). [3] John’s instruction helps us see that the Christ—given gift of the Holy Spirit makes all Christians, congregants and pastors alike, stand on equal footing because they all learn with the Holy Spirit’s aid. [4] The central message is “in the last three words,” calling us to “abide in [Christ].” [5] When we “remain” in Christ’s teaching, found in Scripture, by the Holy Spirit’s power we persevere in the Trinity’s providence, growing in knowledge and godliness. [6]

 Saying one prayer is not enough. Occasional church attendance is insufficient. Rarely reading the Bible is inadequate. Christians need to hear Christ-centered, biblically faithful preaching and teaching. [7] Certainly, life circumstances affect church participation and devotional life. But believers miss opportunities to mature in Christ-likeness and make themselves easy prey for deception when devoutness is absent. [8] Yes, salvation is by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone. [9] But how healthy can faith be when we minimize growth? May the Holy Spirit empower His elect to grow in the Triune God’s ways, as He has promised. [10]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 286. Kistemaker uses “remain,” rather than the ESV’s “abide,” hence my citing of him here.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[3] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 285.

[4] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 285-286.

[5] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 286.

[6] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 286.

[7] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 285.-286.

[8] 1 Peter 5:8-9.

[9] Galatians 2:11-21.

[10] Philippians 1:6.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 John 2:25-25: Abide in Truth and Happiness

1 John 2:24-25: Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. [1]

 Based on the title, you might be cringing in fear that this is about to be a health and wealth devotional. But John’s message does not allow us to go that route. In fact, John’s message is much better than self-confidence, self-approval, and self-sufficiency. These verses remind Christians of the joys they will have from remaining faithful to the Gospel John taught them by the power of the Holy Spirit. [2] By continuing in a biblical understanding of the Gospel, believers have fellowship with the Triune God and enjoy “real happiness.” [3] This “real happiness” is not infatuation with whimsical desires, but rests on the tested, true, and tried Word of God that can weather any storm. [4]

 This is why good doctrine is so important. [5] When we are careless in understanding Scripture and get quickly attached to truths that seem biblical without examining them we rob ourselves of real happiness. [6] Are you struggling to understand the difficulties in your life? Are you itching for doctrines that promote yourself rather than the Gospel? Examine what you believe against the Bible so that lasting happiness can be yours. This happiness may not make you feel the way you think you should feel, but will free you from deception. Will you abide in truth and happiness that comes from God’s Word, pointing to Christ’s redemptive work on every page, or will lies consume you?


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2018), Logos Bible Software, 198-199.

[3] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 199.

[4] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 198-199. See also Timothy Keller’s “Our Identity: The Christian Alternative to Late Modernity's Story” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehw87PqTwKw.

[5] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 198.

[6] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 198.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 John 2:22-23: “Truly God and Truly Man” [1]

1 John 2:22-23: Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. [2]

 Throughout church history many people have denied Christ’s deity and/or humanity. [3] Even today, Mormonism claims that Jesus was once a man who became a god and we can become gods ourselves. [4] Other modern examples abound. What happens if we waver on the incarnate Christ’s being truly God and truly man? We worship a god who cannot save because he is powerless and cannot represent us. [5] John also teaches that we cannot know God the Father if we do not understand His revelation to us in His Son. [6] Loose/misguided Christology leads to eternal damnation, misunderstanding God, and creates lies. [7]

 Do you grasp how serious this is? These are not arbitrary opinions founded on subjective desires. This is eternal life or death. [8] This is the Gospel: how the eternal Son of God became man so His elect could be saved, sanctified, restored. [9] If you are a Christian, are you careful in articulating Christ so that you are presenting Him faithfully as much as possible? [10] If you are a non-Christian: do not be deceived by the many antichrists and lies about Jesus. [11] The LORD Jesus is the risen, incarnate, exalted Son of God Who saves sinners. Put your faith in Him, and you will be saved. [12]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] Stephen Nichols. “The Humanity of Jesus: The Ligoner Statement on Christology.” www.Ligoner.org. Accessed 1 August 2019. https://www.ligonier.org/blog/the-humanity-of-jesus-the-ligonier-statement-on-christology/.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[3] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles. Trans. and ed.: John Owen. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 195.

[4] Jeff Durbin. “The Gospel for Mormons.” Youtube.com. Accessed 1 August 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQNObk2qAwo.

[5] Carl Trueman. “Tertullian.” (Lecture: Westminster Theological Seminary, Glenside, PA, October 8, 2015).

[6] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 197.

[7] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 198.

[8] John 14:6; Acts 4:14.

[9] John 1:1, 3:16; Ephesians 1:3-14; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:1-4, 1 John 3:1-10; etc.

[10] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 195.

[11] Matthew 7:15-20; Romans 16:17-18; Ephesians 5:6-13; Galatians 6:1-10; 1 John 4:1-6.

[12] Ephesians 2:1-10.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 John 2:20-21: Christ’s Anointing

1 John 2: 20-21: But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. [1]

 After mentioning the antichrists who have left Christianity by denying Christ’s identity as God and Savior, John reminds believers of their God-given ability to detect deception. [2] Christians are able to tell truth from lies about the Gospel because God the Father through God the Son has anointed His elect. [3] This anointing is God the Holy Spirit abiding with God’s children because of “the Holy One[’s],” Jesus’, perfect work. [4] Because of the Holy Spirit’s presence with believers, John reminds Christians of the Gospel as they battle heresy. [5]

 As we apply this text to ourselves, believers must remember that the Holy Spirit’s presence does not mean they know everything about the Gospel. Christians should spend their lives learning and living the Gospel. [6] John means that the Holy Spirit directs us when someone lies about the Gospel, and helps us properly proclaim Christ’s death and resurrection as we are sanctified. [7] For those who deny Christ and His Word: you do not have His Holy Spirit to guide you in the truth and are lost in your sin. [8] If you confess your sin and need that only Jesus satisfies, you will receive God’s forgiveness, and have the Holy Spirit’s help for life. [9]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 280.

[3] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 278.

[4] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 279.

[5] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 279-280.

[6] Philippians 3:12-15; Hebrews 12:1-2.

[7] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 278.

[8] Romans 8:7-8; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Timothy 3:10-17.

[9] John 14:6; Acts 2:14; Romans 5:1-12; 8; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, Galatians 5:16-26; etc.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 John 2:18-19: God’s Good Purging

1 John 2:18-19: Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. [1]

 Some words can only be described as “theological grenades”: words that spark a series of often conflicting opinions. One of those words is “antichrist” and it is in verse 18. Why does John mention one antichrist then several in the same verse? John is helping us see that the antichrist is someone who denies Jesus Christ’s deity and work. [2] Verse 19 reveals these antichrists have come from the church. [3] This does not mean that the church is erroneous, but that there are people who are not saved in church. [4] The reality that unbelievers are in church, and they will leave and spread their sin should not alarm true Christians. [5] Rather, God’s purging His church calls real believers to thank God for His work in giving them salvation and perseverance, and to guard the church. [6]

 If John called his readers to rejoice in Christ’s salvation and to vigilance over doctrine years ago, how much more so should we? [7] We fail to love when we let someone live in improper doctrine. [8] While this is not ground for theological bullying, we cannot be cowards either. [9] One of the most loving things we can do is joyfully tell others about their need for Christ, as someone else lovingly told us.


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] 1 John 2:22. See also John Calvin. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles. Trans. and ed.: John Owen. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 190-191.

[3] Calvin. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 191.

[4] Calvin. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 191-192.

[5] Calvin. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 192.

[6] Calvin. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 192.

[7] Calvin. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 191.

[8] Bruce K. Waltke. The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 440-441.

[9] Charles Bridges. A Commentary on Proverbs. (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2008). 87.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 John 2:16-17: Murderous and Momentary Desires

1 John 2:16-17: For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. [1]

 In verse 15 John forbade loving what God hates. [2] John uses verses 16-17 to explain why loving worldly things is lethal to the soul. [3] (For clarity’s sake: when John says, “the world” he is not condemning God’s good creation, but desires, tendencies, and behaviors that come from Satan.) [4] Verse 16 shows us that inward desires that delight in sinful nature and adulterous lust lead to lives obsessed with status. [5] Verse 17a teaches the murderous and momentary nature of giving into ungodly desires. One scholar explains, “If [someone] places his interest in that which is here today and gone tomorrow, he reaps a harvest of instability, stumbles in the darkness of sin and, because he has cast his lot with the world, faces a similar end.” [6] In contrast, verse 17b shows the everlasting security Christians have when they keep Christ’s commandments of believing Jesus is the eternal Son of God Who Redeems sinners and to love other believers. [7] This security is for all who believe exclusively in Christ, and is their hope in all seasons. [8]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles. Trans. and ed.: John Owen. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 187.

[3] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 271.

[4] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 272.

[5] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 271-272. For the adulterous nature of lust, Kistemaker (on page 272), reminds us of Matthew 5:28.

[6] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 272-273.

[7] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 273.

[8] Romans 8.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 John 2:14-15: Undivided Love

1     John 2:14-15: I write to you, fathers,

because you know him who is from the beginning.

       I write to you, young men,

because you are strong,

and the word of God abides in you,

and you have overcome the evil one.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [1]

 If a husband told his wife, “I love you and this person I met online” would you believe him? No! Similarly, you would not believe a Christian who said they loved the Trinity but lived like the world. That is John’s message in verses 14-15. [2] John’s repetition in verse 14 reinforces the importance for spiritual fathers to continuing growing in Christ, and that young Christians only conquer through devotion to God and His Word. [3] Verse 15 clarifies that if we live in the things the LORD hates we cannot please Him. [4]

 Do you view Jesus as so holy and worthy that you want to be more like Him? Everyone could grow in this area, but if it is not a concern to you then you should be worried about your soul. Claiming to love God while walking in darkness is a dangerous lie for your soul. [5] If you are a Christian struggling to love God, pray that He would renew your love and He will gladly send His Holy Spirit to help you. Speaking to your pastor can also help, especially if there are worldly loves pulling you from Christ. If you are not a Christian, know that your love for what God hates results in death. [6] You can have life by confessing your sinful loves and need for Christ’s perfect work. When you embrace Christ, your affections for the things that are killing you will decrease, and your love for the Triune God will increase.


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles. Trans. and ed.: John Owen. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 187.

[3] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 268.

[4] Calvin, Catholic Epistles, 187.

[5] 1 John 1:5-10.

[6] Romans 6:23.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 John 2:12-13: Poetic Reminder

1 John 2: 12-13: I am writing to you, little children,

because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.

       I am writing to you, fathers,

because you know him who is from the beginning.

       I am writing to you, young men,

because you have overcome the evil one.

       I write to you, children,

because you know the Father. [1]

 In verses 12-14 John uses poetry to condense his thoughts, encouraging all Christians—including spiritual fathers and young men. [2] “Little children” is John’s way of addressing his readers as their pastor. [3] John reminds believers that their “[s]ins have been, are, and remain forever forgiven” because of Christ. [4] (We know John references Christ when he writes “name’s sake” because of how John uses “name” in 1 John 1:9; 2:1-2; 4:10.) [5] Next, John focuses on those who “have gained spiritual knowledge of and about Jesus Christ” (fathers), and those who have defeated Satan “and rejoice in their salvation” (young men). [6]

 Why does this matter? Have you considered the joy and calling you have if you have embraced salvation in Christ? Have you thought about the liberating news of knowing that your sins are removed as far as the east is from the west, enabling you to receive salvation and right standing before the Holy Triune God? [7] If you are a “father” in the faith, are you training the next generation for service to Christ? [8] If you are young in your faith, when was the last time you rejoiced in Jesus’ perfect work and shared it? These truths should change our lives. [9]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 265.

[3] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 265-266.

[4] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 266.

[5] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 266.

[6] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 267.

[7] Psalm 103:12; John 14:6; Romans 8; Ephesians 1-2; etc.

[8] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 267.

[9] Philippians 3:1-10.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 John 2:9-11: Christians Loving Christians

1 John 2:9-11: Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. [1]

 Keeping up the discussion on darkness in verse 8, John teaches that when Christians fail to love each other they are in sin’s darkness. [2] One scholar explains, “Whoever hates a Christian brother breaks God’s commands, is devoid of truth, and lives in spiritual darkness.” [3] When Christians love one another in action, they are walking as Christ did (hence the analogy of light in verse 10). [4]

 Loving Christians can be trying. Many believers have been hurt by other Christians—perhaps you have been hurt. If this is true, please know that others’ sin against you breaks Jesus’ heart. Also, Christ has promised to be near you and comfort you in this season. [5] Further, in God’s providence, even in these trials the LORD is not defeated nor surprised. [6] He is so powerful and wise He can turn these sins into opportunities to grow in Him. [7] May the Triune God also guide you to a church with wise elders who can help you as much as possible. [8]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 263.

[3] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 263.

[4] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 263.

[5] Psalm 34:18.

[6] Herman Bavinck. Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 2 & 3, ed. John Bolt. Trans. John Vriend. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2011), Vol. 2 God & Creation: 173, 191, & 253. Vol. 3: Sin & Salvation in Christ: 29.

[7] Romans 8:28; James 1:2-4; 1:12-15; and The Westminster Standards: The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, & the Shorter Catechism. (Philadelphia, PA: Great Commission Publications, 2011), The Confession of Faith, chapter V.

[8] Romans 12:18.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 John 2:7-8: Living Gospel

1 John 2:7-8: Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. [1]

 These verses may look like contradictions: how can John give an old and new commandment? Before we give up on the Bible, let’s consider what John was thinking when he wrote. When John mentions “the beginning” he is referencing the first time the readers “heard the gospel.” [2] John is reminding the people he loves of the Gospel that saved them from their sins. [3] But how is this commandment also new? Because the author understands that believing the Gospel means following Christ’s commandments, including the “ ‘new commandment’ ” to “ ‘Love one another’ ” from John 13:34. [4] Because John’s audience was living according to Christ’s commands, John is able to affirm that they are living less like the world (the darkness), and more like Christ (the true light). [5]

 This is the life transformation that comes with solely accepting Christ as your Savior. [6] This does not mean that you will be perfect, but that God will mature you and help you live less like the darkness and more like Christ. [7] Believers need to continue clinging to the Gospel to have the strength and hope needed to live this old and new commandment. If you do not believe in Christ, then you do not have the ability to love others. [8] Once you embrace Christ by confessing your sins and acknowledging your need for Christ’s blood bought forgiveness to God in prayer, you will be able to truly love, and will eternally by truly loved. [9]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Colin G. Kruse The Letters of John. General Editor: D.A. Carson. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000), 82.

[3] Kruse, The Letters of John, 82.

[4] Kruse, The Letters of John, 82-83.

[5] Kruse, The Letters of John, 82-84.

[6] Philippians 1:6.

[7] 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.

[8] Galatians 6:22; 1 John 3:16, 4:7-11.

[9] John 10:27-30, 17; Romans 5:6-11; 1 John 4:9-11.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 John 2:5-6: A True Relationship

1 John 2:5-6: But whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. [1]

 Verse five reminds us that Christianity is not a list of rules to white knuckle through: to truly keep God’s Word requires loving God. [2] If we want to know we have a relationship with the Trinity we must have love, otherwise we do not have true fellowship with the Triune LORD. [3] Verse six also helps prepare us for a discussion on how loving Christian siblings is a necessary evidence of real faith. [4] True believers love God and other Christians.

 But Scripture and experience tell us that no one can live these two loves flawlessly. Pastor John Calvin reminds us that when we strive to keep these laws “according to the measure of grace given unto [us]” we are living faithfully. [5] If perfection were left for us to reach, we would not need Christ’s perfect work. Christians: our calling is to keep loving God and other believers with the Holy Spirit’s help.

 If you are reading this blog and are convicted that you are trying to obey God’s laws without loving Him you need to pray for love. Certainly, past trials and present circumstances may make loving God hard. But if you are just obeying Christ’s laws because you have to and not because you love Him, please confess your need for love. Love for the Triune God is needed for true obedience, whereas loveless obedience is self-focused self-righteousness. Prayerfully, you will grow in a relationship with the Trinity that results in life-long love rather than relation-less servitude.


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles. Trans. & ed.: John Owen. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 175.

[3] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 176.

[4] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 176.

[5] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 176.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 John 2:3-4: Calling to Character and Christ

1 John 2:3-4: And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. [1]

 In 1 John 1:1-2 we discussed how 1 John is written to prevent people from being deceived into leaving the church. [2] 1 John 2:3-11 proves that the deceivers do not know God because they lack the character to obey Him. [3] Character in accordance with God’s Word, though it cannot earn salvation, [4] is evidence of salvation—particularly when it leads to believing in Jesus and loving other Christians. [5] Although Christians do not live perfectly, if someone is “characterized by disobedience to [Christ’s] commands” she/he cannot claim to have “an authentic relationship with God.” [6]

 A calling to character this big should drive us to the Christ described in 1 John 2:1-2. Failure to know God in Christ and love His people results in death. [7] The way to avoid death is to confess your lack of character, and your need for Christ as your only righteousness before a holy God. If you have not received Christ, cling to Him today. You will be saved and given the Holy Spirit to start developing Christian character. [8] If you have received Christ, what ways can you believe in His goodness more, and love your siblings in Christ better? Again, such actions do not save, but they should be things you desire as a result of God’s work in your life. [9] Pray that God continues developing your Christian character so you may continue rejoicing in His work in your life. [10]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Seth Dunn, “For Real.” Proclamationpca.com. Accessed 27 June 2019. http://proclamationpca.com/blog/category/Devotions.

[3] Colin G. Kruse The Letters of John. General Editor: D.A. Carson. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000), 77.

[4] Ephesians 2:8-10.

[5] Kruse, The Letters of John, 78-79.

[6] Kruse, The Letters of John, 79.

[7] Romans 6:23.

[8] 1 John 1:9; Romans 8:13.

[9] Psalm 37:4; The Reformation Study Bible. General Editor R.C. Sproul. (Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 1832.

[10] Philippians 1:3-6.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 John 2:1-2: Am I a Christian?

1 John 2:1-2: My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. [1]

 Sin affects believer and unbeliever alike. [2] But when sin manifests itself in the believer’s life, it can be distressing. Thoughts like, “If I were truly saved, would I be dealing with this right now?” creep in and torment us in doubt. [3]

 What assurance is there for those tortured by doubt and scrupulosity? John helps us understand that Jesus Christ, the only perfect person on earth, defends us as the perfect lawyer before a just God. [4] 1 John 4:10 reminds us that the Father, in love, sent the Son to redeem His people. [5] Because Jesus has perfectly appeased God’s wrath, removed the “guilt of our sin” and “suppl[ied] satisfaction for sin” we need not doubt our standing as children before God. [6]

 This good news is not license to sin, [7] but freedom for obedience. The Triune God’s grace is so good we should all be motivated to flee sin and live biblical principles through the power of the Holy Spirt. [8] And when we find ourselves wrestling with sin again, we look to Him Who represents us and faithfully forgives. May the Trinity be pleased to help you trust, confess, and rest in Christ today.


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. Al Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Romans 3:10-23; 6; 7.

[3] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James & the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 241. For identity, see also John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion. Trans. Henry Beveridge. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2008), 253-254.

[4] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James & the Epistles of John, 254.

[5] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James & the Epistles of John, 253.

[6] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James & the Epistles of John, 252-253.

[7] Romans 6:1; James 2.

[8] Ephesians 2:8-100

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Psalm 27:13-14: God Is Always Enough

Psalm 27:13-14: I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living!

Wait for the Lord;

be strong, and let your heart take courage;

wait for the Lord! [1]

 When we watch movies, we might want clear, complete, and comforting conclusions. Just as every film does not have a happy finish, neither does every Psalm. [2] Psalm 27 ends on “naked faith,” trust when suffering seems to have no certain culmination insight —something that believers “may have to” exercise. [3] But Psalm 27 does not end with blind fatalism. David wraps up his Holy Spirit inspired poem resting on “the assurance that God is worth waiting for.” [4] David’s faith, like the Old Testament saint’s faith, led to rest on Christ even in uncertainty, [5] and Christians should do the same.

 Is God always enough for us even when the future is questionable? Is the life, death, and resurrection of the incarnate Christ all we need when anxieties are aggravated and fear infests fickle hearts? When there are bills to pay, difficulties in the office, or bullying at school do we have a theology that believes the Triune God can resolve our trials when we do not know how? If you are like me, then the honest answer is no. We might confess our faith, but when the explosion erupts we can react faithlessly. At the root of this sin, and all others, is unbelief. [6] We need to cry out to the Holy Spirit, asking that He would help us put to death unbelief, so that in every season we can believe God is always enough.

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Derek Kidner. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 1-72, An Introduction and Commentary on Books I and II of the Psalms. General Ed: D.J. Wiseman. (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), 122.

[3] Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 122.

[4] Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 122.

[5] Hebrews 11.

[6] John Colquhoun. Repentance. (London, England: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), 118.

Treasuring God's Truth In Your Hearts

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Psalm 27:10-11: God’s Shield

Psalm 27:11-12: Teach me your way, O Lord,

and lead me on a level path

because of my enemies.

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;

for false witnesses have risen against me,

and they breathe out violence. [1]

 

Often in life we do not always understand why the LORD tests us. Job was not explicitly told why He suffered. [2] On occasion, Scripture gives us some explanations for trials. James 1:2-4; Romans 8:18-39; 2 Corinthians 1:3-10; etc. help us see some ways the Triune God is greater than suffering and can use it in believers’ lives. Arguably, Psalm 27:11-12 is one of those passages. [3] David does not get an outright answer, [4] but John Calvin explains this passage is a comfort for modern Christians. [5] Calvin teaches, “. . . this prayer was dictated for our comfort, to intimate that God can maintain our innocence, and oppose the shield of his protection to the cruelty of our enemies.” David’s suffering and prayer are recorded so Christians can see and believe that the Trinity is able to save His children.

 

Calvin also reminds us that Jesus Christ faced the ultimate suffering from lying and violent people. [6] Because of Immanuel’s murder, we are able to walk in the LORD’s ways, even when we suffer. [7] When our faith is founded on Christ’s redemptive work alone, we will face suffering, [8] and see the ways God uses suffering to refine us, and show us His power. [9] Believer in Jesus Christ, no matter what you are suffering, the Trinity’s shield is sufficient to guard you. Pray that you would believe it more.

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Job 38-42.

[3] John Calvin. Commentary on the Book of Psalms, Vol. I. Trans. James Anderson. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 461-462.

[4] Derek Kidner. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 1-72, An Introduction and Commentary on Books I and II of the Psalms. General Ed: D.J. Wiseman. (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), 122.

[5] Calvin, Psalms, Vol. I, 462.

[6] Calvin, Psalm, Vol. I, 461-462. See also Acts 2:14-42 (esp. v. 23), 3:11-26 (esp. vv. 13-16).

[7] 1 Peter 2:21-25, 4:12-19; 5:9-10.

[8] 2 Timothy 3:12.

[9] Calvin, Psalms, Vol. I, 461.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Psalm 27:9-10: In Case of Emergency: Pray

Psalm 27:9-10: Hide not your face from me.

                        Turn not your servant away in anger,

O you who have been my help.

                        Cast me not off; forsake me not,

O God of my salvation!

            For my father and my mother have forsaken me,

but the Lord will take me in.  [1]

 

In these verses, David gives those of us facing difficulty two principles for praying during trials. First, David teaches us to pray urgently: he knows that if God is not with him there is no hope. [2] Second, in his urgent prayer, David leans on God’s promises, trusting that the Trinity will keep His Word. [3]

 

No one lived these principles better than Christ Jesus. The Lord Jesus prayed earnestly before going to the cross, to the point He sweat as if He were bleeding. [4] But before entering the garden He also prayed resting on what He knew to be true. [5] Though Christ was abandoned far worse than David, His trails in life and on the cross made real hope possible for those of us facing trials. [6]

 

Prayer may not remove our trials, but when we pray to Christ we communicate with someone Who has suffered as we have, and Whose death gives us hope. [7] A hope that our present sufferings are not worth thinking about with Christ’s coming restoration. [8] A hope that the Holy Spirit meets us in our struggles and helps us in them. [9] A hope that there is a good God orchestrating His children’s suffering for their benefit because nothing is greater than Christ’s finished work. [10] This hope is for all who embrace Christ. If you desire this hope, confess the false hopes you have held to and cling to Christ as your exclusive hope for forgiveness before a just God. If you believe but wrestle, you are not alone. I encourage you to memorize Romans 8 and to urgently pray and believe it in your trials.

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] William S. Plumer. Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary with Doctrinal and Practical Remarks. (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2016), 361.

[3] Plumer, Psalms, 361, Joshua 1:5; Psalm 27:10;

[4] Luke 22:44.

[5] John 17.

[6] Plumer, Psalms, 361.

[7] Hebrews 4:14-16.

[8] Romans 8:17-25.

[9] Romans 8:26-27.

[10] Romans 8:28-39.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Psalm 27:7-8: True Prayer

Psalm 27:7-8: Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;

be gracious to me and answer me!

            You have said, “Seek my face.”

                        My heart says to you,

“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”  [1]

 

After seeing the confidence in verses 1-6 you might read this passage and think: “David, what happened?” David prays so passionately because he knows prayer communicates with the Triune God Who hears. [2] Verse 8 teaches us to listen to God’s call to seek Him, and shows David’s heart in his quick response to seek the LORD. [3]

 

When we pray we can have the same assurance that we will be heard, and should expect to be heard. [4] Do we pray that way? When pain strikes, and the way we understand the world is rocked, do we pray expecting God to answer? If this is an area where you struggle, or if you are in a hard season where you need wisdom, please pray this whole Psalm regularly. Lord willing, Psalm 27 will teach you David’s confidence, earnestness, and seeking the Trinity as you pray to the God Who hears because of His Son Jesus Christ. [5] Notice: David does not appeal to His righteousness but looks to what God has said. Pray confidently because Jesus has reconciled us who were God’s enemies. [6] Your life does not need to be in order. You do not need to be perfect. Come to Christ, and you have everything you need to pray.

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] C.H. Spurgeon. The Treasury of David, Containing An Original Exposition Of The Book Of Psalms; A Collection Of Illustrative Extracts From the Whole Ranger Of Literature; A Series Of Homiletical Hints Upon Almost every Verse; And Lists Of Writers Upon Each Psalm In Three Volumes, Vol., 1 Part 2: Psalm XXVII to LVII. (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Pub, 1876), 4.

[3] Spurgeon, Treasury, 4.

[4] Spurgeon, Treasury, 4. See also 2 Kings 19:14-37; 2 Chronicles 20.

[5] Hebrews 4:14-16.

[6] Romans 5:10-11.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Psalm 27:5-6: More Than Human Victory

Psalm 27:5-6: For he will hide me in his shelter

in the day of trouble;

       he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;

he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up

above my enemies all around me,

       and I will offer in his tent

sacrifices with shouts of joy;

       I will sing and make melody to the Lord. [1]

 Those who do not believe in the Triune God of the Bible may look at these verses and think that David is deceiving himself—that the King of Israel was grasping at straws to endure suffering. Are these the words of someone pretending away pain, or looking to a greater strength than his own? The world cannot understand David’s joy because it is lost in darkness. [2] David’s hope comes from being in Christ, which allows him to “fearlessly disregard the darts of his enemies, which might have otherwise pierced him.” [3]

  Christian hope, like David’s, is insanity to unbelievers. [4] Those who are dead in their sins [5] cannot be expected to have the perseverance believers have in trials. [6] But disbelief is never a reason to lose delight in God. [7] When believers treasure their union with Christ, they have hope in suffering that goes beyond the grave. [8] Truly, when Jesus Christ is the exclusive rock of our salvation we have a more than human victory. [9]

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016). All Scripture References will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Romans 3:9-23. See also John Calvin. Commentary on the Book of Psalms, Vol. I. Trans. James Anderson. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 456.

[3] Calvin, Psalms, Vol. 1, 455-456.

[4] 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

[5] Ephesians 2:1-10.

[6] Romans 8; Hebrews 12:1-3; 1 Peter 1:3-5.

[7] Psalm 14.

[8] Calvin, Psalms, Vol. 1, 455. See also John 3:16, 36;

[9] Deuteronomy 32:4; 1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 22:2, 32; Psalm 18; 28:1; 62:7, 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Acts 4:10-12; Romans 9:33; Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Peter 2:4-8; Revelation 19-22.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Psalm 27:3-4: God’s Presence

Psalm 27:3-4: Though an army encamp against me,

my heart shall not fear;

       though war arise against me,

yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,

that will I seek after:

       that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,

       to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord

and to inquire in his temple. [1]

 How should God’s presence affect us? David shows us that the Lord’s presence affects fortitude, enjoyment, and desire. [2] David’s fortitude was affected because his assurance is founded on the Triune God’s steadfast love, which enables him to face his enemies fearlessly. [3] David’s “enjoyment of God’s presence assures the evident goodness and love of God.” [4] Lastly, David’s desire, in the face of danger, is to be in God’s house and know Him. [5] In his fortitude, enjoyment, and desire, David is not just imagining away his struggles. [6] The Trinity’s presence enables David and Christians to face dark adversity with hope.

 How has God’s presence affected your dark adversity? What is your source of fortitude, joy, and desire? Do you take solace in your capabilities? Is your joy found in materials and people? Is your desire for the struggle to just end? We can only have David’s confidence through faith in Jesus Christ. [7]

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016). All Scripture References will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Willem A. VanGemeren. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version of the Holy Bible in Twelve Volumes: Vol. 5 (Psalms-Song of Songs). General Ed. Frank E. Gaebelein. (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corporation, 1991), 243-245.

[3] VanGemeren, Psalms, 244.

[4] VanGemeren, Psalms, 244.

[5] VanGemeren, Psalms, 245.

[6] VanGemeren, Psalms, 244, 245.

[7] 1 Peter 1:3.