1 John 5:3 his commandments are not grievous
"Sometimes it seems grievous to try to live the commandments. But if we really trust that God would not ask us to live any commandment that would not ultimately bring complete joy, would we not then find joy even in the difficult struggle to obey? Thus his commandments, though not easy, would not be grievous. However, it seems that many times we lose sight of the fact that the commandments are guides to lead us to joy. If it grieves me to keep one of God's commandments, then I am not trusting him.
"Thus John emphasizes our literal relationship to Christ, the importance and necessity of the atonement, the importance of showing that we love God and our fellow beings by keeping his commandments, and that our attitude about keeping the commandments must not be grudging or bitter." (Sheryl Condie Kempton, "To Be Loved by Perfect Love: John's Special Message of the Savior," Ensign, July 1976, 57)
Elder Elray L. Christiansen
Now, his commandments are not grievous. They are not oppressive. We sing in one of our hymns: "How gentle God's commands! How kind his precepts are!" The laws of God are not given to us to burden us nor to handicap us. They are not impositions! They are the statutes which must be observed if the purpose of life and existence is to be realized. Even those who are called to go through trial, sorrow, tribulation, and adversity are promised that, if they are faithful, the reward to them for such obedience may be even greater. (Conference Report, October 1956, Afternoon Meeting 29.)
Robert D. Hales
The commandments are not a burden or a restriction. Every commandment of the Lord is given for our development, progress, and growth. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: "God has designed our happiness. ... He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 256).
How I love the commandments of the Lord! They guide and protect us and allow us to return back into the presence of our Heavenly Father. If we faithfully obey the commandments, we are promised the blessings of eternal life. Eternal life, "the greatest of all the gifts of God" (D&C 14:7), is to be exalted and to live with Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ in all the eternities to come. He dearly wants us to return to Him. ("If Thou Wilt Enter into Life, Keep the Commandments," Ensign, May 1996, 36)
1 John 5:4 whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world
In this day and age, many are cavalier about being born again. They describe an instantaneous transformation, reciting the exact day and hour when they were saved. Many who believe they are thus born again may not actually be "born of God" according to John's definition. John helps us see that those born again behave differently. John defines those "born of God" as follows, "whosever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself [from evil], and that wicked one toucheth him not." (v. 18) By this strict definition, it is easy to understand how those born of God overcome the world. They overcome Satan's power by keeping the commandments. If they sin, they repent quickly, and "continueth not in sin." (JST 1 Jn. 5:18)
Bruce R. McConkie
Those who are born of the Spirit thereby-that is, by virtue of their spiritual rebirth-overcome the world. They die as to carnality and evil; they live as to spirituality and godliness. And it all comes to pass because they have faith in Christ. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God," John says. Those who are born anew love the Lord and keep his commandments. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. . . . For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." There is no way to overcome the world except by turning to Christ and his gospel. It is by living the gospel that men forsake the world and are born again. "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 289.)
1 John 5:6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ
Bruce R. McConkie
Christ our prototype was born as we are. He came into the world as a mortal by water and blood and spirit. In his birth, as in the birth of each of us, the requisite elements were present. But in his life, these elements were again present in his death. He sweat great drops of blood in Gethsemane as he took upon himself the sins of all men on conditions of repentance. This same agony and suffering recurred on the cross. It was then that he permitted his spirit to leave his body, and it was then that blood and water gushed from his riven side.
Thus it was that his mortal life ended; thus it was that his atoning death fulfilled the Father's plan; and thus it was that the elements of water, blood, and spirit came not only to signify the spiritual rebirth into the kingdom of God, but also were made symbols of the atonement itself. And, be it remembered, it is because of the atonement that an entrance into the kingdom of heaven is possible. "It is the Spirit that beareth witness" of all these things, "because the Spirit is truth."
Then John says: "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." The three members of the one Godhead bear everlasting witness of eternal truth. "And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." Every birth of water, blood, and spirit is a witness that the infant mortal must in due course be born of water, blood, and Spirit into the kingdom of heaven. And every baptism-in water, of the Spirit, and binding because of Christ's shed blood-is a witness that our Lord's atonement, wherein also the water and blood and spirit were present, is the rock foundation upon which all blessings rest. (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 289.)
1 John 5:7 these three are one
James E. Talmage
This unity is a type of completeness; the mind of any one member of the Trinity is the mind of the others: seeing as each of them does with the eye of perfection, they see and understand alike. Under any given conditions each would act in the same way, guided by the same principles of unerring justice and equity. The one-ness of the Godhead, to which the scriptures so abundantly testify, implies no mystical union of substance, nor any unnatural and therefore impossible blending of personality. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are as distinct in their persons and individualities as are any three personages in mortality. Yet their unity of purpose and operation is such as to make their edicts one, and their will the will of God. (The Articles of Faith, p. 41.)
1 John 5:8 there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood
Parley P. Pratt
The things of this visible creation, are the patterns of things in the invisible world; and are so arranged as to exactly correspond-the one answering to the other, as face to face in a mirror.
The immersion in water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for remission of sins; and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which follows according to promise, by the laying on of hands of the holy Priesthood; were instituted from before the foundation of the world, as a pattern of the birth, death, resurrection and new life of man. (Key to the Science of Theology/A Voice of Warning [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1965], 98.)
Joseph Fielding Smith
The Lord explained this teaching more clearly to Enoch and it was revealed to Joseph Smith, in these words which fully agree with the teaching of John:
That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;
For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified.-Moses 6:59.
Now let us see if we can find the real significance of this doctrine so beautifully expressed by John and by the Lord to Enoch. Every child born into this mortal world, comes into it by water, blood and spirit, and John declared that these three agree. The unborn child is immersed in water, it is born into the world quickened by blood and with the union of spirit and body becomes a living soul. Baptism thus explained by John is also a reality-a birth. The baptized person is immersed in water, is by the spirit justified and by the blood sanctified, or made alive in the kingdom of God. These three on earth in the birth of an infant bear witness, the water, the blood and the spirit. These three bear witness on earth in baptism, by immersion in water, the blood of Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of God, and they agree. Then we have the three witnesses in heaven, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and these three also agree and approve of the baptism when it is properly done and sanctioned. In each case there are three witnesses and in each case these witnesses agree and are one. This is a beautiful doctrine, perfectly consistent and full of virtue and meaning. Can't you see, my good Christian friends, how impotent and unsatisfactory your "baptism" so-called, has been if you were sprinkled with a little water, or had water poured on your heads? If such is the case then the symbolism to birth is lost. Likewise the symbolism to death, burial and the resurrection, is lost. Baptism is a beautiful doctrine. (The Restoration of All Things [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1945], 213.)
1 John 5:10 he that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself
The Lord has revealed to us the principles of eternal life. It is not a matter of mere thought, of mere opinion; our principles are not ideal, but they are facts, not notions; they are truths, not opinions; they are certainties-things that we know and comprehend for ourselves. Nothing can be more forcible, nothing can be a stronger evidence, if we want any evidence, than the testimony or evidence which the Lord has communicated unto us individually.
Paul said when he was speaking to the people, "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." Again, "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself; he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son." Every person who embraced the gospel in that day enjoyed an evident testimony of which the world were ignorant. They received an inspiring intelligent assurance which was imparted by the Holy Ghost unto all those who receive the gospel both in former and in latter times, and hence they that believe have the witness in themselves. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 11: 22.)
1 John 5:14 this is the confidence that we have in him
Gene R. Cook
I believe that many people are confident that the Lord's will will be done and that the Lord can do anything, but they're not confident that he will do it for them or that he wants to do it now.
This lack of confidence in our ability to gain access to the powers of heaven is a major reason why more of our prayers aren't answered. In fact, as I travel around the Church I often meet people who say, "My prayer wasn't answered because it just wasn't the will of the Lord." They want to place the responsibility for their unanswered prayer on the Lord. But often the truth is that they just didn't exercise enough faith; they didn't have enough confidence in their ability to receive an answer.
It is true that we must ask according to the will of God. As John wrote:
This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. (1 John 5:14-15.)
But too often we use this as an excuse. Instead of trying to place the responsibility on the Lord when we don't get the answers we want ("obviously it wasn't the will of God"), we should learn to have confidence before him so that we can "come boldly unto the throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16) and receive the desires of our hearts. (Receiving Answers to Our Prayers [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1996], 60.)
1 John 5:14 if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us
Neal A. Maxwell
The task is to draw close enough to the Lord that we progress to the point where we petition Him according to His will, not ours. "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us." (1 John 5:14.) In modern revelations the Lord has declared His willingness to grant us the requests contained in our petitions if what we ask for is expedient for us. (D&C 88:64-65.)
When we become sufficiently purified and cleansed from sin, we can ask what we will in the name of Jesus "and it shall be done." (D&C 50:29.) The Lord even promises us that when one reaches a certain spiritual condition, "it shall be given you what you shall ask." (D&C 50:30.)
Thus we clearly need to have the Spirit with us as we petition, because "in the Spirit" we will ask "according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh." (D&C 46:30.)
If, meanwhile, in the face of such sublime ultimate promises, our prayers sometimes seem so very proximate, we should not be discouraged. So much can be done "in process of time" to improve our petitioning. Neither the pure City of Enoch nor pure prayers are arrived at in a day!
To grow to that point when we can utter inspired prayers... is part of being proven. (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979], 95.)
Neal A. Maxwell
We cannot expect the blessings of prayer unless we submit sincerely, meekly, and fully to the process of prayer.
Granted, finite minds do not fully understand the infinite mind of God. We are not fully comprehending when our agency brushes against His divinity. Yet we should trust Him as our provincial petitions meet His universal omniscience. (That Ye May Believe [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1992], 179.)
1 John 5:16 If any man see his brother sin a sin... he shall ask, and [God] shall give him life
Most individuals pray first for themselves. Many pray for family members. But the merciful pray for those who need mercy; they pray for those who have sinned. Rather than gossip about their neighbor or judge themselves more righteous, they mourn that a brother has offended God. When praying for sinners, we are always asking "according to his will," (v. 14) as long as we are not praying for those who have sinned unto death.
All the religious world is boasting of its righteousness-it is the doctrine of the devil to retard the human mind and retard our progress by filling us with self righteousness-The nearer we get to our heavenly Father the more are we disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls to take them upon our shoulders and cast their sins behind our back. I am going to talk to all this Society-if you would have God have mercy on you, have mercy on one another. (The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980], 123.)
When you see a neighbor begin to slip, pray for him that he may have the Spirit of the Gospel as he once had. And if you feel this Spirit within yourselves, pray for an increase of that light you received when you first received the Gospel, and you will save yourself and house. (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 272.)
1 John 5:16 there is a sin unto death
The "sin unto death" brings a spiritual death, or the second death, which happens to those who are unworthy to inherit one of the three degrees of glory. Spiritual death is defined as separation from God, and the sons of perdition are punished by being separated from the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Sterling W. Sill
The most feared experience of life is death. We instinctively cling to life with every ounce of our strength. In the days of Job it was said, ". . . all that a man hath will he give for his life." (Job 2:4.) There isn't anything that we wouldn't do, there is no expense that we would not involve ourselves in to prolong life for a week or a month, even though we knew that that period would be filled with pain and unhappiness. But when John said, "There is a sin unto death: . . ." (1 John 5:16) he was speaking of a more dreadful death than that of the body. And Paul describes this sin by saying,
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
...If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (Heb. 6:4-6.)
(Conference Report, April 1965, General Priesthood Meeting 88.)
Spencer W. Kimball
In discussing the subject of sin and declaring that the Lord and his Church will forgive transgressions, it must be made clear that there are "sins unto death." John tells us:
"There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death." (1 John 5:16-17.)
In other words, sins are of different degrees of seriousness. There are those which can be forgiven and those for which one may not promise forgiveness. The sin unto death is of such a serious nature that of those who commit it we are told:
". . . their end no man knoweth on earth, nor ever shall know, until they come before me in judgment." (D&C 43:33.)
The oft-mentioned unpardonable sin is of monumental import. Of this, the Prophet Joseph Smith has said:
"All sins shall be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; for Jesus will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against him. After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy. This is the case with many apostates of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"When a man begins to be an enemy to this work, he hunts me, he seeks to kill me, and never ceases to thirst for my blood. He gets the spirit of the devil-the same spirit that they had who crucified the Lord of Life-the same spirit that sins against the Holy Ghost. You cannot save such persons; you cannot bring them to repentance; they make open war, like the devil, and awful is the consequence."
(The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], chap. 9.)
1 John 5:17 all unrighteousness is sin
Orson F. Whitney
What is sin?-Sin is the transgression of divine law, as made known through the conscience or by revelation. A man sins when he violates his conscience, going contrary to light and knowledge-not the light and knowledge that has come to his neighbor, but that which has come to himself. He sins when he does the opposite of what he knows to be right. Up to that point he only blunders. One may suffer painful consequences for only blundering, but he cannot commit sin unless he knows better than to do the thing in which the sin consists. One must have a conscience before he can violate it. (Saturday Night Thoughts [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1921], 239 - 240.)