“We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but He who has been born of God keeps him, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, 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. (1 John 5:18–20—NKJV)

I fear that the word “absolutely” has been mistreated in our culture. As is typical of our day, imprecise English usage has taken its toll on understanding. People are prone to use “absolutely” as an expression of assurance in matters that are often inexact. (“Are you going to be there tonight?” “Absolutely, if I get off work in time.”)

Absolute is defined as positive, certain, definite, real and actual, complete, and not dependent upon anything else. It is used to describe superlatives known to man: i.e., absolute monarchy, absolute ceiling, absolute pitch, and absolute zero. Because it describes precision, completeness, and the best, the word is acceptable to describe God in all His perfections and excellencies. Nothing can be added to, or subtracted from God. He is fully self-sufficient and perfectly absolute in all His qualities.

The quality of absolute certainty in matters of personal salvation is of supreme interest for every awakened believer. Believing in the fundamental doctrine of the inerrancy of all Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16–17)—without any exceptions—allows for precision and great comfort in the study of any Bible text. To the extent any English translation is faithful in its translation to the original text, to that same extent inerrancy extends to the translation.

John is concerned with certainty in his first epistle. The apostle states in 5:12–13, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the Name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the Name of the Son of God.” The word “know” is a particular Greek word that means to know absolutely. The same word is in our text above in the first three occurrences of “know.” The fourth use (verse 20b) is a different word for “know” that means to experientially know. Victory over sin and Satan is an absolute certainty for those who have been divinely born again.

John says that we absolutely know that whoever is born “out of” God does not continue habitually in sin. This is a direct work of Christ in the believer’s life. Victory over sin is found in Christ who died so that the believer may live. The One who is born of God in verse 18b is actually referring to Christ. He is the Begotten of the Father in the sense of John 3:16, the “only begotten Son.” The text would better read, “but He (Jesus) who has been begotten of God keeps (guard, take care of, watch over) him (the believer).” This shepherding care is such a certainty for every genuine believer that John says “the evil one (Satan) does not touch (grasp, lay hold of, to fasten himself to) any believer. “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world.” Release from Satan’s grip and victory over habitual sin is bonafide evidence of sanctifying grace.

This shepherding care of Christ grants absolute certainty that each believer is of (out of) God and “the whole world (kosmos) in the evil one is lying”—exposed, in his grasp, in the palm of his hand. Believers have the presence of Christ and are given understanding in order to experience the knowledge of the genuine (true) God leading to absolute certainty of the genuineness of faith in the genuine God. Your faith is not a matter of intellectual theory and wishful thinking; it is augmented through growing personal acquaintance with God.

Are you absolutely certain of your salvation, seeing Christ’s victory over habitual sin in your life? Are you growing in your appreciation for the shepherding work of Jesus Christ in you? Trust and obey.