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1 John 5:18-21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
18 We know that the one who is born of God does not keep on sinning, but the one who was born of God is keeping him, and the wicked one is not touching him. 19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the wicked one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
KNOWING HIM 5:18–21
It seems that verse 18 is closely related to several of the previous verses since the sin theme continues. However, John shifts to the bright subject of assurance once again.
We are reminded that anyone born of God does not continue to sin (5:18). John strongly made that case in 3:9. When God gives us new life, that life does not tolerate a pattern or lifestyle of sin or lawlessness (3:4).
The next statement, however, seems strange: the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. Of whom does he speak when he mentions the one who was born of God? In every other such reference, he speaks of the one who is (present tense) born of God. Vincent believes that this likely refers to Christ, the only begotten of God, taking us back to where John began: That which was from the beginning … the Word of life (1:1).
Next, John quickly contrasts the condition of the children of God with that of the rest of the world, which is under the control of the evil one (5:19). Our hope and our help is in the Lord. He has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.
The simple phrase, that we may know him, is the magnum opus of John’s final appeal. It is parallel to the apostle Paul’s testimony near his life’s end, “I want to know Christ, and the power of his resurrection” (Phil. 3:10). This phrase, so that we may know him, is the grand challenge that John’s apostolic brother Peter also gave: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).
John writes, He is the true God and eternal life (5:20). Then, with the following concluding statement, he warns them not to ruin such an opportunity and privilege by messing around with lesser gods: Dear children, keep yourselves from idols (5:21).
There it is. We have been given a magnificent set of instructions, warnings, and assurances in just a few pages of sacred Scripture. When people near life’s end, their words often become fewer and to the point. Such an approach describes 1 John. May we also learn to choose our words carefully, and speak the truth in love, with passion, as our John has done for us.
By David A. Case and David W. Holdren
 The Greek literally reads, “not he is sinning” (ἁμαρτάνει, present active indicative). The UASV and ESV correctly render this “does not keep on sinning,” as the present tense often carries with it a durative or progressive sense. The Greek here brings out that there is a difference between committing a sin and willfully living in sin.
 Or insight; mental perception; intellectual capacity