The Magical Worldview & Modern Man

Text — Ex. 22:18; Lev. 19:26, 31; 20:6, 27; Deut. 18:10-11; Isa. 8:19; Micah 5:12; Mal. 3:5; Acts 8:18f; Acts 13:4-12; II Tim. 3:8, Gal. 5:20

Heidelberg Catechism — Q. 94-95

Q. 94. What does the Lord require in the first commandment?

A. That I must avoid and flee all idolatry, Magic, enchantments, invocation of saints or other creatures because of the risk of losing my salvation. Indeed, I ought properly to acknowledge the only true God, trust in him alone, in humility and patience expect all good from him only, and love, fear and honor him with my whole heart. In short, I should rather turn my back on all creatures than do the least thing against his will.

Subject — Magic
Theme — God’s forbidding of Magic
Proposition — God’s forbidding of magic should cause us to look to see if a magical worldview impinges on our thinking today as modern men so that we might forswear it.


We are not talking this morning about Magic as entertainment. Not talking about Card tricks, pulling rabbits out of hats, or illusions.

Magic — Definition

“Any action of man whereby he attempts total control over the powers of nature and other men so has to manipulate nature and men to a unnatural end.”

Magic is the attempt by man to gain control over the world of man, nature, and the supernatural. In magic, man attempts to become god over all things and to assert his power and control over all reality. According to Kurt Koch:
At the threshold of human history stands the command of God: Replenish the earth and subdue it (Gen. 1:28). The task and right of man was the peaceful conquest of the earth’s powers in agreement with the will of God. In opposition to this command, Satan, the great master of confusion, made the arch-temptation: Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:5). The antithesis of the command of God is magic, hunger of knowledge and desire for power in opposition to the will of God. With this, young mankind found itself at the crossroads.
Kurt Koch — “Between God & Satan”

Its purpose, according to Scripture, is to divert people from God to man (Isa. 8:19).

Magic thus becomes a religion in as much as it is attached to controlling reality through the control of Idols.

Religion — “Submission to that which is ultimate” — Dr. Paul Tillich

Biblical Religion — Man submitting to the triune God moving in terms of God’s law Word and handling all things in light of God’s Word.

Magic — Man submitting only to himself through his Idols and seeking through manipulation total control over all reality.

Pagan man sought that control via incantation and what we moderns consider strange rituals.

Modern man seeks that control via social manipulation by any and all means. What is important though is that in both cases what is being sought are the instruments to control via one’s own fiat word other men and all reality in a way that is not in harmony with God and His Word. In both the animistic or ancient world and the modern world magic is a means of deception whereby man seeks, by power of his fiat word, to alter real reality.

Modern man laughs and scoffs at the Shaman, Witch Doctor, or Druid in the third world with their slain chickens, and feathers and bones and yet modern man seeks every bit as much to leverage Magic in order to manipulate his reality to move in terms of his fiat word as the Shaman, Witch Doctor and Druid.

And yet Modern man engages in his own type of magic in order to manipulate & control his world & the world around him.

Modern man still looks to Shamans, Witch Doctors, and Druids to leverage magic in order to manipulate reality to move in terms of his fiat word.

Different Modern Expressions of Magic

I.) Much of Psychology is nothing but a form of Magic

Remembering that we have defined magic as the attempt to use raw power (consider Simon the magician’s desire for power in Acts 8) to gain total control over men and / or situations with the purpose of manipulating them to move not in terms of God’s authority but in terms of man’s fiat (self-legislating) word.

And this is what much of Psychology / Psychiatry / Counseling does. It does not look to God’s word for authority and insight but rather seeks to control men through theories that come from a worldview that is distinctly non-Christian. The humanist psychologist seeks through his fiat theories and therapeutic word to magically create alternate realities whereby his patient is magically cured.

The Shaman … can be viewed as a early psychotherapist.

Herbert Benson M. D.
Harvard Professor

There is abundant evidence in many forms of modern thought, especially the so called “prosperity” psychology “will power building,” and systems of “high pressure,” salesmanship black magic has merely passed through a metamorphosis, and although its named be changed, its nature remains the same.”

Manly P. Hall
Masonic, Hermitic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy — pg. C1, C11
Cited from Dave Hunt’s Occult Invasion, pg. 432

We too often forget that psychology as a discipline originated in the attempt to understand man without taking into consideration the God of the Bible. Previously man had been understood in terms of God, but with Psychology man would now be understood without God and the elite would be able to control man through this understanding of man. Psychology thus became a kind of magic that accepted almost unquestioningly in all of our institutions, including our Churches.

And so this discipline that began with feeling the bumps on people’s heads as become a form of magic consulted in how to manipulate people to act in ways that are uninformed by God’s revealed word. The psychologist, like the Shaman of old, uses incantations and rituals in order to alter someone’s perception and to gain control.

We remember that we are talking about magic, and in order to reinforce our understanding of what magic is we offer another definition from M. Stanton Evans,

“In it’s most fundamental terms pagan magical mentality is an effort to obtain the secret knowledge which will give one mastery over nature and other people. As such it has long been a component of the modern outlook. Much of what passes these days as science, (Scientism is the more accurate term) is in fact magic in modern dress. Scientism and magic appear together at the age of the Renaissance … and have been ingredients in secular thought ever since.”

II.) This definition of magic thus brings us to another modern expression of Magic in the modern world and that is Scientism.

Alduous Huxley’s book Brave New World” opens in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. The year is a.f. 632 (632 years “after Ford”). The Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning is giving a group of students a tour of a factory that produces human beings and conditions them for their predestined roles in the World State. He explains to the boys that human beings no longer produce living offspring. Instead, surgically removed ovaries produce ova that are fertilized in artificial receptacles and incubated in specially designed bottles. The Hatchery destines each fetus for a particular caste in the World State.

Science is being used, in Huxley’s novel, as magic in order to give sovereign man the ability to have totalitarian control over his world. Man is the idol and science is used as magic in order to control the idol.

But, Huxley’s BNW w/ it’s use of science as a means of magic is not that far fetched from our own world. We don’t quite control birth by caste yet but we do do things like abort 90% of babies diagnosed in utero with downs syndrome thus taking into our own hands the prerogative of God. The push for abortifacients by our Federal gov’t. in our name is nothing but magic seeking totalitarian control. Interestingly enough “pharmakiea” (poisoner) is the word used for “sorcery” (a aspect of magic) in Gal. 5:20

According to Luther (Luthers Works, Vol 27)

“According to Jerome sorcery is called the poisonous art; for the Greek word ‘pharmakon’ means poison or medicament. Hence a sorceress is called poisonous. Therefore the apostle is referring to magicians, wizards, enchanters, and any others who, by means of compacts with devils, deceive their neighbors, harm them, and steal from them.”

Further we use science to control people through drugs and there is work going on in developing designer medicines in order to bring forth a particular personality profile for certain occasions.

I would submit that there are times when there is more sorcery about science than there is science about science.

Of course Science is good and pleasing to God as it is consistent with a Biblical worldview but when Science seeks to overthrow Biblical theology and seeks instead to absolutize itself it becomes a form of magic as it seeks a control that is inconsistent with God’s Word.

Remember, Science is only as good as the Theology it descends from. So, when Science goes outside the bonds of Biblical theology it is serving some other god or gods and when it becomes absolutized so that by its power it seeks total control of man it becomes a form of magic and is thus to be supped with, with a long spoon by Christians.

III.) Another Modern Expression of Magic is our Political Structures

Rose L Martin in her book High Road to Socialism in the U.S.A, 1884-1966, quoted G. D. H. Cole as stating that an objective of socialism is the “abolition of God.”[2]

Remember we said that the purpose of magic is to divert people’s attention away from God and His word and as the State seeks to be the all encompassing arbiter of good and evil legislating for against it the politicians and bureaucrats who comprise the state become a league of magicians.

On this point R. J. Rushdoony could say,

“(The State) plan(s) to abolish sin and guilt, poverty, disease, and hunger, even death itself, and create a new paradise on earth. The new politics is a politics of total control, and it therefore hates God, because God represents a roadblock to power. God is the enemy who must be destroyed so that man can become his own god.”

Non-Christians like Orwell and Huxley in their novels “1984” and “BNW” both understood this totalitarian and magical aspect of the State in defiance of orthodox Christianity, and the reality that the State seeks to use fiat legislative magic to overthrow God explains the hostility of the State towards those who are epistemologically self conscious Christians.

When the Bureaucrats and legislators create and enforce fiat humanist legislation that is unrelated into God’s law they are preforming a kind of magic whereby they are seeking, by means of deception, to use their power to control men. Their words in their legislation thus becomes a kind of “magic spell,” which is cast in order to get people to do their bidding.

IV.) Another important area where magic prevails today is in art.

Here I am borrowing from RJR’s chapter 12 in Law & Liberty

T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, in his study, Mona Lisa’s Mustache: A Dissection of Modern Art, observed that “modern art is not modern at all. It is a revival of one of the oldest systems for getting power. It is a revival of magic.”

The modern artists are totalitarians who despise man and liberty. As Robsjohn-Gibbings noted,

According to the futurists, “Man has no more significance than a stone.” We find Kandinsky, the leader of expressionism, writing haughtily of “the vulgar herd,” and “the mob,” we find the surrealists insisting on the “greatest possible obliteration of individuality,” and Picasso, the leader of cubism, calling for “a dictatorship of one painter.”

To men such as these, art could be only a medium through which they would gain power over the fellow beings they consider so insignificant. So art becomes like a Kewpie doll used by a Voodoo Witch Doctor in order to inflict disorder into people’s reality.

The modern magical artist hates above all to be moral, law-abiding, and meaningful; he belongs in his imagination to an elite group whose purpose is to smash the present order and remake it totally in terms of their own elitist plans. According to one artist’s manifesto, “The artist ‘should be understood as a contemporary magician … How are we to wield power; how are we to influence:’ and not ‘Are we scientists or poets?’ is the question to be posed … Seers, we are for the magic of life.”

Modern art seeks to destroy God’s meaning, to obliterate it from man’s mind, so that man will no longer see God’s order in things but will relearn all things as taught by magical art. Its purpose thus is total brainwashing.

Modern art thus becomes a kind of visible sorcerer’s spell by which the viewer is hexed into accepting the meaning of non-meaning as cast by the Artist.

The magic of the Artist is found in his ability to thrust a hexed people into chaos where integration into the void is the goal by the means of a artistic spell that leads people into concluding that meaning, at best, is person variable. The hope of the magician Artist is that out of chaos order will arise. Those who are deceived by the Sorcerer artists’s hex will increasingly discard meaning and order as declared by God’s interpretation of reality but will instead re-interpret reality according to the spell of the Sorcerer Artist.

It is a form of magic … sorcery.


We fail to see how we are given to magic in our culture because we tend to think that the magical worldview belongs only to animistic cultures. We don’t take seriously God’s word or the Heidelberg Catechism’s injunction against magic because having become so used to the magic around us we fail to see it for magic.

I John 5: 18-21 Sermon

Subject — Affirmations
Theme — The final affirmations of John

Proposition – The final affirmations of John reminds of three basic fundamentals to the Christian faith he has been laboring to teach in his Epistle

Purpose — Therefore having considered these final affirmations let us take to heart these matters so that we might find ourselves ever more exulting in our Christian faith

Re-cap of Chapter 5

The subject of this Chapter has been that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. This theme is teased out in Chapter 5 when he begins by stressing the unity that exists between God and the believer as engendered by faith in Christ. Believers in Jesus Christ overcome the world and they reveal their love for God — a love engendered by faith in Christ — by their love for the Brethren, by their obedience to God’s commands.

John has told us that Jesus Christ came with the authority of Baptism (water) and shedding of blood (Cross). These were both events given the imprimatur of God’s voice. Not only do we have the testimony of Spirit, water and blood but we have the testimony of heaven. All this testimony confirms that Jesus is the Christ and has need to be received by men. Some men reject this testimony, thus making God out to be a liar, and some accept the testimony and are filled personally with the content of that testimony which is eternal life, so that the testimony of God is in them.

We have the assurance that God hears our prayers as we ask according to his will. Part of our prayer life includes asking for the Brother who has fallen into sin, though John tells us that there are those who are beyond the effectiveness of our prayers for them. John closes the chapter with a series of Affirmations and one vital admonition.

In his closing remarks John summarizes three facts that he has covered. He begins each of these summary statements with the phrase, “We know,”

It is interesting that he thus casts the Christian faith in terms of the understanding. By recapitulating what he has said he brings them back to a kind of Catechism. The Christian life is the life of the mind, of knowing. If we have no interest in knowing God, knowing the great truths of our Christian faith then we would be better served by calling ourselves something besides “Christian.”

I.) Affirmation #1 — The Christian Life Is Not Characterized By Habitual Determined Sinfulness (18, cmp. 3:6, 9)

As we have learned this affirmation may have need to be repeated by John because of the immorality of the Gnostics who, because of their belief system, were not concerned with the sins characterized by satiating lust and fleshly desires.

That John does not mean that the Christian never sins is seen by his reminder that if we sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sin. John is not dealing with the Christian who realizes he sins every day in word, thought, or deed, but he is warning against the kind of Christianity that is unconcerned about sin.

What John says here, is parallel w/ what Paul says when in Romans 6 he talks about being raised to newness of life.

A.) Hallmark of the Christian Community is that having been saved from Sin by Christ it distinguishes itself by its increasing, though never arrived at, Christ-likeness

It is interesting that more and more I see Churches selling themselves by advertising that their gathering is safe because it is a haven for sinners. And it is true that the Church should be a safe haven for sinners. However, the sense I often get from some who go by the name of “New Calvinists” that sinning is not something we should sweat about since we are righteous in Christ.

These folks take offense at Christians that articulate that the Christian life looks like something that resembles the ever increasing obedience of and respect for God’s commands. These new Calvinists have so redefined sanctification that if it exists it becomes largely immeasurable, unknowable, and unseen. I can not help but think that they would be put off with John’s call to not sin and to keep God’s commands.

This New Calvinism focuses hard on Christ’s work for us emphasizing that all our obedience will arise from that and there is truth in that idea but obedience can’t flow from Christ’s work if the believer isn’t told from God’s word what obedience looks like. And this is where new Calvinism falls down rather definitively. New Calvinism doesn’t want to explain to people what the Christian life looks like so that John’s affirmation “the believer does not habitually sin” looks like something concrete.

The Church ought to be a safe haven — a hospital — for sinners. A safe haven and hospital for recovering sinners where the elixir of eternal life is given in word and sacrament. But, as we’ve seen in 1st John it is a place where God’s people are instructed that they are to love the Brethren and they are to keep God’s commands and where they are told that Christians do not involve themselves in habitual . It is a place where God’s people are to be encouraged to put off the old man and put on the new man. It is a place where the foundation of doctrine (indicative) is laid and the path of duty (imperative is pointed towards).

So, when we sell the Church as a “safe haven for sinners,” without also mentioning that we look for sinners to become progressively incrementally more healthy we are involved in false advertising for the Church.

Why do Churches do this?

No one can say for sure but it should be observed that such advertising and soft pedaling on sin makes it comparatively easier to build big churches and take in large offerings. If God’s law, as a guide to life for the Redeemed sinner, isn’t articulated, and if sin isn’t closely defined then people will have no reason to quit attending or quit giving.

B.) This Christian life is not one of habitual determined sin because Christ keeps His people (John 17:12, 15)

That Christ keeps His people doesn’t mean that His people don’t sin. That Christ keeps His people doesn’t mean that His people don’t struggle with besetting sins. That Christ keeps His people means that He gives them a regard for sanctification.

Text — “He who is born of God” (Does this refer to Christ who keeps us, or does this refer to the believer who keeps himself.

The word touch means to harm or injure a person

This text also reminds of the preserving power of God for His people. Being born of God we are sealed unto the day of redemption. We can be confident, not because of our holiness, or our ability (those would be very foolish things to place confidence in) but we can be confident because that God, of whom we are born, is the God who keeps us until the very end. (Perseverance of the saints).

II.) Affirmation #2 — We Know That There Is A Difference Between “Us,” & “Them” (19)

Mankind is divided into two great parties or special interest groups, those which belong to God and those which belong to the world (those in Adam).

Scripture teaches that God’s people are His portion and that he has made Jacob His inheritance (Dt. 32:9), while the rest seek to throw off his chains. Those opposed to God are not all equal in their depravity and so not all as epistemologically self-conscious in their hatred towards God (I John 5:10) and God’s people but there is this divide, this antithesis of which we must be constantly aware.

“whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”

This is another way of saying that those who are outside of Christ are under the dominion of Satan. It is not saying that the world belongs to Satan. Satan can not lay claim to creating and owning the Cosmos, though he can lay claim to holding sway over all those in Adam.

Yet, though the world lies in the sway of the wicked one we know that this same wicked one has been bound and despoiled of his goods (Matthew 12:29f) by virtue of the Lord Christ’s bringing of the Kingdom through His death on the Cross. Jesus has come to drive out the wicked one and Jesus claims the world now which rightfully belongs to God. We, who have been born of God, are the first fruits of those who have been delivered from this present evil age but we anticipate that the Kingdoms of this world becoming the Kingdoms of our Lord precisely because they are already His Kingdoms.

However, we must keep in mind that there is a antithesis between believer and unbeliever.

Further it would be wise to understand that with the passage of time the antithesis becomes more and more pronounced. Those in Christ go on in Christ-likeness and those outside of Christ become increasingly consistent in being under the sway of the wicked one.

III.) Affirmation #3 — The Son Has Come And Has Given Us Understanding

The idea of “Him who is true.” (True in opposition to what is fictitious)

Given us understanding — Christian doctrine of illumination
Given us understanding — Christianity as the life of the mind
Given us understanding — Eternal life is wrapped up, not in experience, not in emotion, but in knowing God

Dispute regarding text — How are the pronouns to be read

Application — Lack of emphasis on knowing God in the contemporary Church as seen in the despising of Catechisms and Confessions.

“In Him who is true” — Spiritual Union of Christ with the Body (Head & Members) Pneumatology / Christology

IV.) Exhortation — Idols

It may be that John’s reminding them of being given the understanding of the true God leads Him to the final Imperative.

False gods
False conceptions of God

Remember what he is fighting are those who are selling false conceptions of Jesus Christ (Gnostics) and so false conceptions of God.

Of course the temptation to idolatry has always been the bane of God’s people. Calvin could say that the human heart was an idol factory. We are forever prone to make God out of just about anything — even the best of things which are ruined because we turn them into idols, esteeming the gift more than the giver.


What are our Idols?



The encouraging matter of all this is that while we may be convicted of our idolatry tendencies that God promises His people that they will continue to look to Christ for forgiveness and will continue to be renewed so that we are more and more God centered and less and less self and idol centered.

Purpose statement.

I John 5:9-10 … God’s Testimony & Man’s Response

Subject — God
Theme — God’s Testimony of Christ
Proposition — God’s Testimony of Christ reveals that men have no reason not to believe upon Christ.
Purpose — Therefore having seen God’s testimony of Christ let us challenge all men everywhere to believe Christ.


Re-cap from previous weeks.


In 5:9-13 John Comes to some concluding thoughts on what he has been saying regarding the “Son of God.”

In 5:1-4 the emphasis was on Faith in God’s Son
In 5:5-12 the discussion has been on the necessity to accept God’s testimony regarding the Son

In his concluding thoughts in this section regarding the Son of God John specifically states the content of God’s testimony concerning His Son, thus eliminating any misunderstanding concerning the Son.

I.) God Has Given Testimony Concerning His Son (9)

Note the continued emphasis on objective evidence. The greek word for “Testify” is used 10 times in verses 6-11 teaching us that John is concerned with the validity of the divine testimony to Christ.

This necessity for Testimony was essential in God’s economy. Jesus himself lays claim to it.

17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”

In vs. 9 the testimony of man that is being referred to is likely John the Baptist’ testimony.

John 5:31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.

But John, noting that Jesus has Man’s testimony, insists that God’s testimony is greater. And this line of thought is consistent with the words of Jesus in John’s Gospel.

37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen,

This greater Testimony was given, as John says, with “The Spirit, water, and the blood.”

But this Testimony of God would also include

God’s voice speaking from heaven sanctioning the Work of His Son.


“and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Entry into Jerusalem

John 12:18 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

Mt. Transfiguration

5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

So, John seeks to establish the validity of Jesus and His ministry by appealing to the very requirement that God’s word gives us for seeking to establish truth. All of this reminds us that our faith appeals to objective evidence and not merely subjective inclination. We do not have faith in faith (existentialism), rather the faith we have rests in the Testimony of God.

Illustration — The Faith that will walk off a 50 story bldg. vs. the Faith the Scripture advocates. Not faith in faith.

Now, this evidence is true, but the evidence itself does not convert. Remember the story of the Rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16

He said, ‘I ask you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house; for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, so they won’t also come into this place of torment.’

“But Abraham said to him,
‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’

“He said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded if one rises from the dead.’

The Rich man want’s Lazarus to go back and Testify to his brothers, but Father Abraham says not even that testimony or the testimony of line rising from the dead would by itself lead to persuasion.

The point here is that Divine testimony to the truth of Christ does not guarantee that people will believe in Christ. The proof of something does not always lead to persuasion. God’s testimony is valid but that testimony and that evidence does not by itself convert because before the testimony and evidence can be seen for what it is men must be given eyes to see and ears to hear.

So, when we are dealing with those who know not Christ, our role is to do what John has done and to lay out the testimony… the evidence … the proof, but the persuasion belongs to the Holy Spirit.

And as John says in the next verse, some will not receive the wittness of either man or God.

II.) The God Given Testimony Has Been Accepted By Some And Rejected By Others (10)

A.) Accepted by Some

What John writes in 5:10 harmonizes nicely with what Paul writes in

Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

Once we look to Christ, once we are born of God, the witness — the testimony is not merely external to us but we have the Testimony of God in us. Sooner could we deny our own Mothers than we could deny Christ or the Christian faith.

By way of application we might say that in having this testimony in us becomes the great animating engine for our whole lives and all that we do. This testimony is a restless passion that desires all to bow the knee to the glorious Lord Christ. This testimony fills us with the longing to Know him ever more that we might make Him known. This testimony in us works in us to love God’s law and to desire to set forth the beauty of God’s grace in reconciling Himself to sinners. The Testimony of God in us, makes we ourselves the Testimony of God to others regarding the person and work of Christ.

Note also in vs. 10 that for John that Faith is the constant bond between the believer and Christ.

Here we have the doctrine of faith alone emphasized. This idea of faith alone is central to Biblical Christianity.

B.) Not Accepted by Others

John says of those who refuse to believe God have made God out to be a Liar.

Liar is another one of those words that John likes

I John 1:10, 2:4, 2:22, 4:20, 5:10

Sometimes he applies the “Liar” label to men (i.e. — men are liars), and other times he says that men who act a certain way are calling God a “Liar.”

1:10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

5:10 Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.

Now to make God a “Liar,” is to attribute to Him a cornerstone attribute of Satan.

John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

So, those who make God out to be a “liar” have inverted reality. They have become those who call evil, “good,” and “good,” evil.

We see hear a foundation premise on the part of the unbeliever that colors their view of all the rest of their reality. If they have made God out to be a liar then all of reality for them, in principle, is a tissue of lies. One cannot make God out to be a Liar and discern the true truth about anything else.

Note that when they make God out to be a liar they have attributed to God the foundational characteristic of Satan who our Lord said was “a liar from the beginning.” With this characterization of John of unbelievers in Christ “making God out to be a liar,” we see both the tendency for the unbeliever to call “evil,” “good,” and “good,” “evil” and we see the antithesis in action. Either a person accepts God’s testimony of Christ and so is epistemologically whole in their ascertaining of the rest of reality or they don’t accept that testimony of Christ and so have taken up league against God. In making God out to be a liar, they have made themselves walking incarnations of lying and liars. They are indeed, children of their Father the Devil, who was a murderer from the beginning.

Such a sin as “Making God out to be a liar,” is the sin of the Garden and is the sin that all those outside Christ are chiefly guilty of. For man to “make God out to be a Liar,” means that such men have claimed for themselves the position of Deity because in making God a Liar they are accepting their Word over God’s word on who God is.

This is the Reformed Anti-thesis once again. Those outside of Christ who do not believe the God of the Bible have made God out to be what Satan is… a Liar. The contrast between belief and unbelief could not be made more stark.

Calvin offers here,

“John makes the ungodly to be guilty of extreme blasphemy, because they charge God w/ Falsehood. Doubtless nothing is more valued by God than His own truth, therefore no more atrocious wrong can be done to Him, that to rob Him of this honor.”

The truthfulness of God is not a take it or leave it proposition. If God’s testimony is rejected man will become twisted and distorted much like old Gollum living in the roots of the Misty Mountains. If God’s Testimony is accepted then man will become increasingly human.

We conclude then this section by noting with John Stott that

“Unbelief is not a misfortune to be pitied; it is a sin to be deplored.”



I John 5:6-12 — A Sermon


John gives a bit of an apologetic here for the humanity of Jesus Christ. Remember His letter is concerned, at least in part, with dismissing the gnostic heresy that Christ was not very man of very man (I John 4:1-3, II John 7). And so in light of that, following God’s proscription in Dt. for witnesses to confirm truth, John brings forth his witnesses.

Either as a verb, a participle, or a noun, the word “testify” appears ten times in verses 6-11

The word in Greek is “martureo” {mar-too-reh’-o}, from whence we get the word “Martyr,” and it means:
1) “to bear witness, i.e. testify”
2) “to give evidence for, to bear record:

John takes seriously the Deuteronomic legal requirement for the testimony of two or three witnesses to establish truth and so John, playing somewhat the role of an Attorney making his case brings forth His witnesses.

Keep in mind that I John has in the background the Gnostic denial of the humanity of Jesus Christ. By appealing to these tactile human realities of water and blood as witnesses John may be seeking to undercut the denial of the Gnostic heresy.

I.) # 1 Witness Testifying For The Credibility of the Humanity of Christ

Water and Blood

A.) Baptism and Lord’s Table — Sacraments
B.) Water and Blood from the Lord’s Side (John 19:34)

This water and blood that is mentioned flows from Christ side and is mentioned here in order that the faithful may know the cleansing is found in Christ and that they might know that what all the sprinklings of blood formerly presignified was fulfilled.

If this is what John is alluding to then this likewise serves as a good apologetic against the Gnostics. The blood and water that flowed from Jesus side after His death attested to the reality of His death and the wound left testified to the reality of Jesus bodily resurrection. This would have been especially powerful against the gnostics since they denied both the death and resurrection of He who was very man of very man.

C.) Water and Blood typifying OT Sacrificial system — Thus teaching that Christ is fulfillment of OT Sacrifice

Water for Cleansing from pollution of sin
Blood for expiating (taking away) the presence of sin and securing reconcilliation

D.) Baptism and Crucifixion

This would have been especially effective against the Gnostic / Docetic heresy if that is what John has in mind here for there were people of this cult who taught that the Logos descended on Christ at Baptism but left before the Crucifixion.

Thus the beginning of Jesus ministry is book-ended along with the end of his ministry.

Now some may ask how inanimate object like water and blood can be called as witnesses in order to give testimony but here we must seek to think in a more Hebrew fashion. In a Hebrew mindset impersonal objects can testify. In Genesis 31:48 we find a “heap of stones” serving as a witness. In Isaiah 55:12 that which is impersonal ( fields and trees) sing and clap their hands. In the Scriptures stones are said to cry out.

Illustration — Tolkien & Glamdring

Notice that this witness of “water and blood” is an appeal to the Historicity of Jesus and the events surrounding His life. This reminds us why we can never accept theological paradigms that would create a distinction between what we might call historical history and heavenly history — the former of which is history concerned w/ the real events that happen on earth and heavenly history that suggest that while something may not be literally true on earth it could be spiritually true because it is true in a heavenly history that is inaccessible.

John begins with a Historical fact (vs 6) with noting that Jesus came and builds on historicity by appealing to the historical reality of water and blood.

II.) #2 Witness Testifying For the Credibility of the Humanity of Christ

The Spirit — who is truth (vs. 6)

It is interesting that throughout the life of our Lord Christ it is the Spirit of Christ …. the Spirit who is the truth who is testifying to Christ

A.) The Spirit is testifying as a witness to Christ’s birth (conception — Matt. 1:20 // Luke 1:35, 2:25-32)
B.) The Spirit is testifying as a witness to Christ’s Baptism (Mt. 3:16, Lk. 3:22).
C.) The Spirit is testifying as a witness to Christ’s teaching (John 6:63)
D.) The Spirit is testifying as a witness to Christ’s Ministry (Luke 4:18)

It is not a wonder then Jesus can later comfort the believers with the promise that the Spirit will lead them into all truth. (John 16:13).

We should also note again that the Spirit is spoken of as the Spirit of truth.

At this point there is disagreement about the nature of the text. Some versions add vs. 7 and much of vs. 8. I do not believe that the point of what John is teaching is altered by the addition of the text neither do I think that if those verses are deleted that we lose anything that we can not gain elsewhere in the Scriptures.

If we are to add vs. 7-8 then we could easily say that John is marshaling heaven and earth to give witness to the humanity of Christ, because 7-8 give us the testimony of the trinity.

III.) #3 Witness Testifying for the Credibility of the Humanity of Jesus Christ

Vs. 9 begins as a less to greater argument. If we receive the witness of men, then we should receive the witness of God for that witness if a greater witness.

A.) The Spirit of Christ (The Witness of God) in us (Romans 8:16)

John, like Jesus in John 5:31-39 dismisses all contradiction by appealing to Christ in us.

Many are the evidences that we can appeal to in order to verify the truths of Scripture. Indeed, we live in world that is saturated with divine evidences but if men do not begin with God they will never see the evidences that scream at them in a 1000 different languages.

So, John brings forth the witness of God. He who believes God has the witness of God.

This should remind us that the burden of proof for the reality of God does not lie on the believer. Belief in God is properly basic and the burden of proof is on the liar to prove that God does not exist.

Vs. 10 refers to the opposition as “Liars.” They are of their Father the Devil, who Jesus said was a liar from the beginning and when they lie they speak their native tongue.


What is the end of all this?

John says the end of all this is Eternal life.
John connects this eternal life to the Human / Divine Son
Apart from Christ all is death