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1 John 1:1-4 New England Series
1 John 1:5-7 New England series
1 John 1:8-10 New England series
1 John 2:1-2 1 John 2:3-6
1 John 2:7-11
1 John 2:12-17
1 John 2:18-27
1 John 3:1-9 1John 3: 10-23
1 John 3:24 to 4:6
1 John 4:7-16
1st John 4:17-21
1st John 5:4-13 1st John 5:14-15
  1 John 5:16-17   1 John 5:18-21  
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1st John 2:28-29; 3:1-9

 

“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.  If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him” (1 John 2:28-29).  “Behold, what manner love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.  And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.  Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.  And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.  Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.  Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.  He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.  For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.  Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:1-9). 

 

“Let’s again say a word of prayer and we’ll get started.  I’d like to just welcome quickly the folks that are new.  It’s a pleasure to have you with us.  And if you’re new today, you’re welcome to fill out a little card.  There’s cards in the back of the seats, in many of the instances, there’s cards you can fill out and place them in the Agape boxes which are those wooden boxes at the back of the sanctuary.  Just a way to let us know you’re here and if there’s any way we can serve you.  Well, let’s say a word of prayer.  ‘Lord I thank you that we can look at these Scriptures this morning, that we can consider your truth and love.  Of course, Lord, as we’ve been in 1st John and the apostle John, this apostle of love has been speaking to our hearts, the Holy Spirit ultimately speaking to our hearts as he writes this letter, there’s so many things that he says so matter of factly.  He gets right to the point, and doesn’t mess around at all.  But I pray Lord God for all of us that gather here on Sunday mornings, for those of us listening in, that our time going through 1st John wouldn’t be in vain, it wouldn’t be futile.  But truly we would have hearts that want to consider these things and want to really know what you think, Lord, about our own personal lives, that we would have hearts that truly want to change.  There’s so many reasons, so many reasons that John gives us for living for Christ, for living holy lives, for pleasing you and obeying you and glorifying you in our lives.  There’s so many reasons to live otherwise, it’s such a great concern.  So I ask you Holy Spirit just very simply right now we just open our hearts to you and ask that you’d be upon all of us as we go through your Scriptures, and that you’d be upon myself as I just share your Word.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.’  Let’s begin with verse 28 of chapter 2 in 1st John.  That is where we left off last week, as we’ve just been going through the Epistle of 1st John verse by verse.

 

Having confidence, the holy life

 

 So we pick up with verse 28 of 1st John.  “And now little children, abide in him that when he appears we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”  If I was bold I’d try to sing you a song, but I’m not bold, I don’t want to ruin the service.  But this Scripture, when I was in high school, senior year, I went with a youth group out of Kennebunk Maine, I went with a youth group to Belize, and we stayed in the jungle for about a month or so outside of the capital city that they were then building in Belize, the city of Belmopan.  We spent some time with the Y-whammer’s, Youth With A Mission, at their discipleship training school.  And during the day we would work on building bathrooms or clearing jungle or just different preparations for this discipleship training school.  Maybe going sight-seeing at times to a very beautiful area we were in.  But then at night, just about every night I think we would have a service, and there’d be forty or fifty people in the jungle there in Belize, Christians, gathered together.  We’d go in the canteen and we would spent time in Bible study and spend time worshipping the Lord.  And for most of us from Maine that went down there, the songs that we learned during that time that the Y-whammers led us in were songs we had never heard.  And one of the songs was exactly the words that you have here, they were the King James rendering of this verse, verse 28.  But we were just taught a little tune where we sung these very words to the Lord.  And I think this would be great to teach you this song, again, if I was bold enough, because this is, you know, when you have a song you remember the words, if you sing it often enough.  You know, like the people of Israel, God encouraged the people of Israel, in fact, there in Deuteronomy he gave them a song to sing, he says ‘I’m giving you this song, so that in the future when you’re singing these words it would start to sink in.  You know, you’re in a certain position, and you are, because listen to the words I’ve taught you, years ago.  You’re singing them, and it’s going to sink in.’  And this truth that John shares here is so important, it is so vital for you and I.  You know, he says, he uses the word here “when”, he doesn’t use the word “if”, he uses the word “when” referring to the appearing of Jesus Christ, when Jesus comes back for his bride, it’s something that’s assuredly going to happen, it isn’t an “if”, it’s a “when”.  It’s a day on God’s calendar.  It’d be great if we had the ability to put that day on our own calendar, if we all could say “Yes, March 3rd, 2005, that’s the day, man.”  And just imagine as we got closer to that day, the way we’d be living. 

But Jesus hasn’t told us the day, and the reason why is that we would just walk out the whole calendar and say “any of those days, any of those days.”  It’s not a matter of “if” it’s a matter of “when”.  Now John, as he’s been writing to us, he uses certain patterns, and he continues to do that.  He has, as we see here, some strong exhortations, and then as we’ll see before we get done with this study, he follows with words of encouragement and words of comfort.  He doesn’t want to discourage anybody, he just wants to encourage us.  And he begins here in verse 28 with that word technia, that word he used in chapter 2, verse 1, and in chapter 2, verse 12, that word there “little children”, he uses it again, just a very endearing term like a Grandpa to his grandkids.  And he uses this term here to just denote in his encouragement to us, but also, he’s saying here when he uses that term, because he uses another word for children earlier, a different term.  But the word here means essentially, “belonging to a family by virtue of birth.”  So you’re a child because you’ve been born into a certain family and you’re related now to mom and dad because you’re a part of a certain family through birth.  And I say that, because in verses 28 and 29, especially verse 29, John now begins to make a change, a transition in his emphasis.  Before this, he’s been emphasizing this element of fellowship, the need for you and I to be in fellowship with God.  He’s told us a lot about what fellowship means, and how God is light, and if I’m in darkness how can I be in true fellowship with God.  He’s told us about the result of fellowship in our lives, and the great need to be close to the Lord.  Of course, as Christians that’s the desire of our hearts.  Now he begins to change, he talks about fellowship here a little bit more later, but he starts to change in focus now on what it means to be “born-again.”  It’s a real experience.  And there’s real fruit to being born-again, there’s a real result in our lives.  There’s things that should be very clearly evident in our lives if we are born again.  There’s a life that goes with being born-again, and he’s going to talk to us about that.  And of course, as he goes on, man, he can maybe rattle some cages, maybe makes us squirm a little bit.  He throws words of comfort in there, but man he just says ‘This is like it is.’  And I pray that we have hearts to hear what God would indeed have to say to us.  We will see, as he talks about this element of being born-again, being born into the family of God, being a child of God, that one of the greatest results, and this he’ll just repeatedly say, is that when I became a child of God there’s now something that’s happened to me, and I should begin to change.  It’s a changed life, man.  It’s a different life.  That’s what he begins to really focus on, it’s a life that grows in holiness, it’s a life that becomes more and more like the life of Jesus Christ.  Just as children as they grow they become more like their parents.  People tell me my son, they say “Your son, he’s a little like you, man, he’s got those gestures.”  People have told me “When I look at him, it’s like a little you, you know.”  And it’s true, you can pick out peoples kids and parents.  And that’s what he’s saying, if you’re a child of God, that it’s a changed life.  You should be becoming more and more like Jesus, people should see more and more of Jesus in you.  Well, as he focuses on this, really you could summarize it with that word “holy life”.  And as we started this year, you know, I gave a study, I said “One of the things that really is on my heart for this year is ‘holiness in my own life, holiness in the church.’  And I’ll be honest with you, I continued to be burdened for that, in my own life, but also in the church, in the church, holiness.  [I highly recommend Dr. Michael L. Brown’s book Go and Sin No More, A Call To Holiness, available at http://www.amazon.com .  But get them while you can, as I think the book is out of print.]  Holiness, holiness, man, it’s what it’s about, becoming more like Jesus.  It’s about living and walking with him, and people being able to look at me and say ‘Man, that guy knows the Lord.  And so, he focuses on this subject, you could say of holiness.  And here in verse 28 he already makes a significant point, notes a significant difference between someone whose living a holy life and somebody who isn’t, somebody whose living a carnal life.  And the difference he says, is going to be seen especially not too long in the future, this day he refers to, when Jesus comes back for his bride, when Jesus comes back for the church.  John says that when those who are presently abiding in Christ, on that day they will have confidence when they stand before Jesus, when that moment happens.  But those who are not abiding in Christ, he says they will ashamed on that day, they will be ashamed.  Later we’ll see in chapter 3, verse 6 when he talks about “abiding”, again that communion, that fellowship, he says that abiding in Christ will also result in a person not sinning, not practicing sin.  It will result in a person not sinning, not practicing sin, it will result in a holy life.  So, abiding in Christ here, goes hand in hand with the holy life, so here he says a holy life, living a holy life when Jesus returns it will result in a confidence, an excitement---“yes, Jesus, you’re here, I can’t believe it!  This is what I have been living for.”  But then on the other hand, if I’m not living a holy life, when Jesus returns.  He says this, he indicates there’s the potential of being ashamed on that day, at that moment.  Just imagine hearing those trumpets, you know it’s been told, there’s an hour where those trumpets are going to blast, hearing those trumpets.  There’s something about those trumpets, there’s something in me, a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, that it’s going to start something, and I’m going to know that moment has happened, it’s here.  I’m about to stand before Jesus Christ.  There will be this realization coming over me at that very instant, that very moment, that Jesus is returning to call me to be home with him.  But just imagine, that moment has hit you, and you got your TV clicker in your hand, and in the VCR is this video that you rented, that you wish you hadn’t rented it at that moment, you know what I mean.  And in fact you’re going to be wishing that you had enough time, but you won’t because it happens in the twinkling of an eye, but you’re going to be wishing you could jump up and go “Eject!”, get that outa there.  But it’s going to go ‘Boom’ and it’s going to continue to play, last memorial to your life, this video playing, just imagine.  [cf. 1 Corinthians 15, http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16.htm.]  Just imagine what your thoughts might be for that moment when you stand before Jesus Christ.  Or maybe you were seated at your computer, just imagine there might be some Christian seated at the computer, logged in, and they’re at some website they wished they weren’t, and their account stays logged in, as a last statement.  Boy, just think of what will be going through your head.  Or you’re in your bed, you know what happens at night, and as it’s happening, you know at that moment there is somebody lying next to you that isn’t your spouse.  Just imagine.  He says these kinds of things, you know, that there would be a sense of “Oh man, Oh man”, a sense of shame.  Or that whiskey bottle you had bought the day before, smashes to the ground.  You had it in your hand, you know, and it crashes on the ground.  Again, a statement about where you were at that moment.  Or there is in the Filenes parking lot, a large deposit of expensive clothes sitting there in the parking lot, or partly crammed into your closet, and you knew it wouldn’t fit into your closet anyway, but you’re in there trying to cram all this stuff.  You bring it home, and boom, you’re gone.  And there’s the memorial, that’s what you were doing as you left this world and went to be with the Lord.  Just image.  Would you stand confident before Jesus?  I would say at that moment you would stand in a sense of shame before the Lord.  Or think of what it would be like standing before Jesus, and maybe you weren’t in the middle of anything, but in overall you have very little to show for your Christian life.  Been a Christian for 17 years, and you have very little to show for it.  The Bible teaches that when Christ returns we will then stand before the judgment seat of Christ to be rewarded based upon our faithfulness, upon our works.  [i.e. we’re not saved by works, but we are rewarded for them.]  Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, 2nd Corinthians chapter 5, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well-pleasing to him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive the things done in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”  There is a reward ceremony when we get there.  And you have very little to show of your Christian life, you didn’t live for Jesus, and so now in the reward ceremony, you don’t make out very well.  That could be a shameful experience.  Just imagine, I mean, he indicates the potential for shame.  I was a Christian for a long time, I didn’t live for Jesus, and now I’m in heaven [or the kingdom of heaven], is it possible that you can strike up conversations about your previous life?  Oh, that would be a bummer, man, if you didn’t live for Jesus.  I mean, years later, somebody asks, and you’re at the New Jerusalem, leaning against one of the gates, and somebody says “You know, tell me a little bit about your previous life, man.  And what did you do for the Lord?”  And you have to answer that question again.  “Oh, man, you know.”  And the other will say “Well, I guess you weren’t a believer very long.”  And you say “No, I was a believer for 20 years, man.  And I know, look at where we are.  I wish I’d have clued in.”  That’s why he says this here.  That’s why it’s a great song to sing, you know, you want to put your own beat to it, make up your own little tune and sing it.  It’s a great song, “There is a time, not long from now, and it’s not an if, it’s a when, we’ll be standing before Jesus Christ.  And are we going to be ashamed, or are we going to be confident?”  So, he gives us good reason, man, good reason to live right, to life a holy life.  That’s for sure, this is a good reason. 

          Verse 29, “If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of God.”  [King James, “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.”]  So now he says, living a holy life, not only is it going to give me greater confidence later when I stand before Jesus Christ, but here in this verse, he also alludes to it giving me a greater confidence and assurance now, presently, that I am indeed a child of God.  He says that if you know that he is righteous, then you know, I mean Jesus lives a certain way, Jesus is a certain way, his life.  And when I see Jesus in other people, I know that they’re children of God.  And when I see Jesus in me I know that I’m a child of God, meaning righteousness, his life, his ways.  So, as I noted earlier in verse 29 here, he refers to being born of him.  He’s now focusing on what it means, he’s making that transition to what it means to be a child of God, what it means to be born-again, born of God [by God placing his Holy Spirit within a person].  And it means that just as I understand that Jesus is holy, that he is righteous, I also know that those who are living like Jesus Christ, living holy lives, practicing righteousness, that they are indeed children of God, that includes myself.  Now when he says “know” here, the first time, he says it twice, “If you know that he is righteous…”  That word is that intuitive “know”, that intuitive sense of knowing, the Greek word oeda.  So intuitively.  I mean, I’ve never seen Jesus physically, but as I study his Word, there’s a sense, the Spirit bears witness with my spirit [cf. Romans 8:15-16] that God is holy, that God is perfect, there’s this understanding that I have.  It’s an intuitive thing.  So, we intuitively know.  But then John refers to a person practicing righteousness, when he says that “we know that everyone who practices righteousness…” he uses the word ginosko.  I mean, I know intuitively that God is righteous, but then through experience, through looking at your life, examining your fruit, I now know that you’re a born-again believer.  There’s evidence, is what he says, through experience.  Somebody practicing righteousness, clearly they’re born of God.  So John is letting us know very clearly, and he’ll make this point repeatedly, you can tell when a person is a Christian, I mean, it’s that simple.  You can tell that they are a Christian.  If you cannot tell that they’re a Christian, if you cannot see changes in their life, then the question is, are they really a Christian?  When I see someone who professes to be a believer in Jesus Christ, and they do not practice righteousness, they do not live his way, then I reason “They must not be born-again.  For if they were, they’d be living differently.  Man, that would be, you know, if I had more boldness, I was studying this, thinking, ‘I should just have more boldness.’  When people come into my office, or I see people in the church, and they’re clearly living contrary to the lifestyle of the Lord, just to say to them “Maybe you’re not born-again, because you are living in a lifestyle contrary to the way of God, and if you can honestly do that, there’s a real problem here.”  John says if you’re doing that, and we’ll go on, he says ‘You must not be born-again.  You must not really be born of God.  There isn’t change in your life.’  I guess that would be pretty bold to say.  I’m sure that would get some people upset, make ‘em think.  But I probably should try it more.  You come in and say ‘I’ve been living like this for a long time, I can’t change.’  And I’ll say ‘Maybe you’re not a Christian.’  That’s what the Bible says.  Maybe you’re not.  There’s a story of a lady who was a Sunday school teacher, I read it in the commentary yesterday, and she was teaching this Sunday school class in a Christian church and it just wasn’t going well, there was strife, there were issues, the staff of the church met with her, pastor met with her, didn’t resolve the issues, it continued.  Then one Sunday morning the pastor gave an altar call and don’t you know, here comes this Sunday school teacher.  And after that, it settled the issues, the lady wasn’t born-again.  She wasn’t really a child of God.  But when she became a Christian things changed in the class, because it’s a changed life.  That’s what John is saying to you and I.  When I see Jesus in a person, then I can start to understand and say ‘Yeah, man, that person knows the Lord, I see Jesus in him, clearly born-again.’  Maybe you’ve had the experience, you’re at work, maybe interacting with somebody, maybe in your community, the neighborhood, maybe it’s a classroom setting, you interact with somebody.  You don’t really know them that well, don’t know anything about their life, but for whatever reason, maybe you’ve been putting a meeting together for awhile, and you’re getting to know each other a little bit, and you start to pick up on things.  The way they’re treating people, and the way they’re controlling themselves, and really choosing their words.  And there’s just a way to them.  And you start to think, ‘I think they’re a Christian.’  I think that person’s a Christian.  So, when the moment comes, you say, “Hey, are you a Christian?”  He says “Yeah, I’m a Christian.”  “Oh you too?  Oh wow, praise the Lord.”  And you talk about the churches you go to, the ministry you’re involved in.  But there’s something you saw in them.  You say, ‘They’re a Christian, I could tell by the way they’re acting.  I could tell by the things they were saying, the way they were treating people.’  But then, sadly, many of you have had the experience too where you’ve known somebody, interacted with them a little bit, and based on that interaction, and the way you’ve seen them, later you learn they profess to be a believer, and you’re shocked, like ‘They’re a believer?’  ‘Oh my, the way they treated me.  The way they treat their neighbor, the way they act in our neighborhood, the places they go---they’re a believer in Jesus Christ?  Really?’  You’ve had those experiences, I’m sure.  But maybe there’s somebody you’ve worked with and you’ve worked with them forever, decades, and then one day you learn that he’s a believer, and you’re like “Why didn’t I know before?  Nice guy, but just didn’t pick up on it before.”  I would say that says something about that person’s walk with Christ,  based upon what John is saying here.  John says, holiness, man, it’s important.  And one thing about it is, it gives me a confidence later.  It will give me a confidence when I stand before Jesus Christ.  A lack of it will mean I’ll be ashamed.  But holiness today in my life, growing in holiness, becoming more like Jesus, gives me an assurance in my own life today that I am a born-again believer.  If it lacks, it’s not there, then maybe I don’t know Jesus. 

 

1st John 3

 children of God

 

Chapter 3, verses 1-3, “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God: therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know him.  Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who has this hope  in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”  Now, John is great.  Right?  Boom!  Gives us a good, Uh!  Made us think, made us squirm a little.  But now he comes right back with just tender words of comfort, and words of encouragement.  He doesn’t want to discourage us, he wants to encourage us.  Now this encouragement his gives involves a reminder to us of the incredible, the marvelous, the infinite love of God, the infinite love that the Father has, our heavenly Father has towards his children, towards his kids.  But also his encouragement includes this mind-boggling, impossible to fully comprehend gift and privilege that I have as a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, that I’ve actually become a child of God.  I’m actually God’s child.  Now when somebody is a child of somebody else, they occupy a unique and a special place in that person’s life.  I’ve heard it before, and I’ve experienced it now through three of my kids.  You know you hear people say, “My kids, man, my kids, man if something were to happen to my kids.  You know, my kids, they just occupy a place in my heart.”  You know, as a father now of three children, I know what that means.  It’s my kids, man.  My kids, you know, and they just mean so much to me.  I mean, when one of my kids are sad, it really effects me.  When they struggle it really effects me.  When one of them is physically hurt, I can hear them crying, it has a certain effect upon me,  because they’re my kids.  I think of my son, you know, he’s a boy, he’s got lots of energy, likes to play sports and things, he’s only six, and the kids in the neighborhood are all older than he is by a few years.  So we, my wife and I, we have to kind of keep an eye out for him, because he’s a little guy compared to them.  He likes to play with bigger kids, but sometimes as it is, bigger kids like to pick on little kids.  So they’ll start to pick on my son, or they’ll be unfair with my son, he’s only six.  And every time, you know I have to pray for the self-control of the Holy Spirit.  I realize this kid is only 9, [laughter] but I’m about to send that kid into outer-space, you know.  [laugher]  I can see he’s hurting and mistreating my son.  And that’s really bothersome.  In fact, my father-in-law’s been with us, he’s been in Pennsylvania for the weekend and coming back tomorrow, and they’ll be with us a little longer, but he was outside the other day, and I was outside, and heard the kids going at it again with my son.  Then I heard my father-in-law, whose a granddad now, I heard him, you know, he’s not a pastor, so he could do this [laughter], but he just let those kids have it, man, he just had a few things to say.  So he says, he says you are, as a born-again believer, a child of God.  You are his son or his daughter.  You are God’s kid.  And God has a tremendous amount of love.  His heart is full of love, he’s the God of infinite love.  And if I love my kids the way I do, just imagine how he loves his kids, man, he loves his kids in a way that’s amazing.  Now he uses the word child here, children, on purpose I believe.  Many commentators would say this, he doesn’t use the word son, but child, children.  And there is potentially a difference in those two words, they can convey a slightly different meaning.  The word son emphasizes the legal external relationship, while the word child emphasizes that there’s a common nature.  That the child is derived from the parent, and shares the nature of the parent.  So when he says child, he’s also saying that here as he goes on here to that, I become a child of God, there’s this nature that I have, just as you can look at my kids and tell who their parents are to a degree, I have this nature now of God, this nature of Jesus Christ in me.  So he is reminding us as Christians, incredibly, we share the very life of God, the very life of God.  And this is what Peter said in his 2nd Epistle, chapter 1, verse 4, “By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promise, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”  It’s happened when I became born-again.  I became a child of God, and now I partake in his divine nature.  There’s something that’s happened to me.  So then with that, in taking this point a little bit further, as one writer has put it, when an unbeliever sins he or she as a creature sins against their Creator.  But when a Christian sins he or she as a child is sinning against their Father.  So it is different as a Christian when I sin, I sin against my Dad. I sin against my Father.  The unbeliever sins against the Law, but the believer sins against Love.  He loves me, and I’ve done this against him?   I’ve not respected him, I’ve not listened to him?  Of course a child, it’s natural for a child to want to please their parents, to want to please mom and dad, to have their approval.  That’s very natural.  I believe that God has designed it that way, and therefore when a child knows that they are displeasing to their parent, there’s a grief that goes on in their life.  It’s difficult for them.  And if that pattern continues, if there’s a child for a long time that knows they’re displeasing to their parent, that really can effect that individual, even into their adult years.  I think of one of the relatives of my family, they have the worst relationship with their dad, their dad had very little good to say about them.  And today if you were to meet that relative of mine, you would probably pretty quickly notice that they are always trying to get attention, because it effected them.  Dad wasn’t happy with them, was displeased with them, verbally said it a lot.  Today they struggle with that.  And even as an adult.  It’s important, it’s something about a child that we want to please our parents, we want to have their approval.  I know of stories of people who are adults, today I think of one husband and wife, came in for counseling and the marriage is struggling.  And the wife says, ‘You know, the reason why we’re struggling here is this guy doesn’t spend any time with me, he’s always busy about his work, work, work, work.  He doesn’t sleep, he just works.  So as the counselor tried to discern, why did this guy work so much.  As they spent time together, he began to learn that this man, he knew it was in the back of his conscience, he knew he was struggling with it, but his dad said years earlier when he was with him ‘You’re not going to amount to anything.’  And because of that, he was so overdriven to achieve, even as an adult, to get his dad’s approval.  It dominated his life, it effected his life, it hurt other people’s lives, it hurt his wife’s life.  So there is this thing about a real child, a real child wants to please dad.  A real child doesn’t want to disappoint a loving father, and now even more, as a Christian I have a loving heavenly Father, it is only natural, it is only reasonable that I would want to please my Father.  If I don’t, if that’s not a concern to me, if that’s not a passion to me, if that’s not the thing that moves me, then I’ve got to sit here this morning and go “I’m I really a child of God?”  Because a child of God wants to please their Dad, wants to please their Father.  And if it’s not in me, then there’s something wrong, there’s something vitally wrong.  You could potentially be here and not be born-again, nothing against you, just trying to say you need to be born-again, you need Christ in your life.  But to have him, to have him means ‘I want to please my Dad, and I don’t disappoint him, he’s so loving to me, I don’t want to disappoint him.  Now he says this word “bestowed” [verse 1].  There’s a lot to that verb, bestowed on us his love, he bestowed on us.  Ah man, there’s a lot to that word.  In fact, some commentators see in it more than just a sense that he loves me, but in that word he has, there’s the sense that he has “put his love in me”, “he has infused me, he has injected me with his love”, he has “bestowed his love in my heart.”  Paul said in Romans “It is love now he has shed abroad in my heart.”  What are you doing when the love of God is shed abroad in your heart?  Where are you going, what are you visiting, what are you watching when the love of God is shed abroad in your heart?  Well, he has “bestowed” his love upon me.  He goes a little bit further.  You know, we as a children of God, we have this new nature.  Of course we want to please him.  But then he says in the end of verse 1, “therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know him.”  Sometimes when you’re a non-Christian you may hear these things, maybe you’ve been in church forever, but you just don’t see it.  And that’s what he’s saying here, the world didn’t know Jesus, didn’t recognize him, he was there but they didn’t recognize him.  So as a non-believer, this doesn’t connect with them.  If they look at me as a born-again believer, they’ll hear me say these things, and they’ll say ‘Yeah, OK, but I don’t know, just really?  Jesus is in you?’  They don’t know it.  They can’t connect, that’s consistent with the Scriptures because Paul said in 1st Corinthians chapter 2, verse 14, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  So, they did not know Jesus, and therefore the world does not realize and know this about me either. 

 

We will be like Christ when we see him

 

          Now verse 2, “Beloved, we are now children of God,”  so he’s not pounding on his audience, he’s letting them know ‘OK, I’m writing to the Church, by and large you are born-again, so now we are children of God, he loves us, he’s bestowed his love upon us, and then he refers to this future time.  He says, “it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  So he says that word know there again, meaning intuitively, I understand, I discern, that some day, I don’t know exactly what it’s going to be like, what exactly it’s going to look like, what it all means, but someday I understand, I discern that when Jesus comes I’m going to stand before him, and I’m going to be like him.  I’m going to be perfected like him, I’m going to become the whole deal.  You know Paul says that God has begun a good work in me, and he’s going to continue it until it’s complete, and it will be completed that day, meaning, I don’t know exactly what it all means, but I know what he’s like, I have a discernment, and understanding about what he’s like, don’t know it fully, but I have a sense, and I know that when he is revealed I shall be like him, for I will see him as he is.  David had that understanding.  David had said in Psalm 17, verse 15, “As for me, I will see your face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awake in your likeness.”  Man, he looked forward to that.  He wanted that time, where he would be with God, see him for what he is, and then become like that himself, in the sense of perfected, no longer struggling with the carnal things of life.  [Also, remember, when John wrote this, he had not seen the glorified Jesus Christ.  But in vision on the Isle of Patmos, he did see the glorified Jesus Christ, his face glowing bright as the sun.  That is quite similar to the glorified bodies we shall receive in the 1st resurrection to immortality.  That is also what this verse means.  To see what we shall be like in our glorified state, read Revelation 1:13-18.  In Daniel 12:1-3 it says we shall shine as the stars of the heavens.]

          So then, one step further, verse 3, “And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”  He says, as a child of God there’s hope, there’s a hope that yes, you’re changing, but that when you’re completely changed you’re going to be like Jesus one day.  And if you really have that hope, if that really is in your heart, then obviously today, you’re going to seek to live more and more like Christ.  It’s a purifying hope.  There’s going to be a passion in you, a motivation in you that drives you to become more and more like Jesus.  You know, if that doesn’t exist in somebody’s life, then that’s a statement, there’s something not right.  I think if I hear a believer, and this is just an example, it may not apply to you, if I hear a believer who’s been reading the book Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray or the book Practicing the Presence of God or something like that, it says to me, if they weren’t assigned to do it, but they’re doing it because they want to do it, it says to me that they want to learn about the holy life.  They want to learn about the life of God, they want to become more like Jesus.  And that says to me, that there’s something in their heart.  Right?  There’s something very real, that they want to become more like him, they want to learn more about him.  So they have this hope, and there is a desire, and one day when they stand before Christ, they will become completely perfected.  That says something.  But if that desire is not in their heart, if there’s no desire, there’s no passion---“Oh I want to live more like Jesus, I want to learn more about it.”  I’m reading the book right now by F.D. Meyer, The Blessed Life.  And I’ve read books like that before, and I want that life, I want that life, I want that consecrated life.  And why would I want it?  It would be strange [to the world] to want a life like that.  I want it because Jesus is in my life.  And there’s a desire to become more like him, to please him.  I want to be set apart, I want to be used.  I want to do whatever he says.  I want to please him.  I want to live a holy life.  It grieves me if I’m not living a holy life.  So there’s this thing, as I read, as I study the Bible, I read books, and they attract me.  The consecrated life, that life, being set apart, being crucified, being persecuted, being squished and pulled through the vine-press, I want to read that book [laughter], I want to read that book, I want to become more like Jesus, it’s in me.  I see it in many of you, it’s in you too, you’re reading the same books, ‘Got this great tape, check out this tape.’  And you read about ‘dying to self, dying to self’, got to read this, got to get this tape, watching this video, you know.  That says something.  You’re born-again.  And you know that one day “I’m going to be like Christ.  And I can’t wait to be like him.”  So even now, there is in my heart, this passion to become more and more like him. Well, if that hasn’t got us thinking, he goes even further.

 

John’s and the Bible’s definition for sin,

who’s your daddy?

 

          Verses 4 to 10, we’ll make a couple points.  He goes Boom!  Boom, boom, boom!,  here’s good reasons to live a holy life, boom, boom, boom, boom, one after another.  “Who ever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”  [King James version: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (verse 4).  To me, that is both John’s and the Bible’s definition for what sin is—clearly stated, it’s the transgression of God’s law, whichever version your Christian conscience dictates that you follow, whether OT 10 Commandment based Law of God, or NT based law of Christ (which is basically 9 of the 10 Commandments).]  “And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins, and in him there is no sin.  Whoever abides in him does not sin.  Whoever sins has neither seen him or known him.  Little children let no one deceive you, he who practices righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous.  He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning.  For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.  Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for his seed remains in him and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.  In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest, whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:5-10).  Wow, wow, try that in the counseling session, you know.  Woe.  But he says “here are plenty of good reasons.  Think through this.  Think through this.  He says ‘think through this, if you are a child of God.’  Here’s the reasoning.  Don’t let anyone deceive you, don’t be confused.  Verse 4, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”   Right there he’s dealing with this understanding that existed then, you know, “Hey, grace, man, I’m in grace, there’s liberty, I can do whatever I want”, that understanding which is kind of casual about the Christian experience which says, “I’m saved, there’s grace, you know, big deal.”  But then he says in verse 4, ‘Whoever sins commits lawlessness, lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.’  [And if you have any question about which law, read this verse in the King James.]  That’s a strong statement, isn’t it?  It is true, as a child of God, I am not in bondage anymore to the law, to the Old Testament [to trying to obey it on my own], I’ve been set free in Christ, there’s liberty, but it is also true that as a Christian I should be living a life that fulfills the Law.  I should not be living a life that is lawless, that is lawless, that is practicing sin, breaking the Law of God.  I mean, Jesus said you cannot serve two masters.  So, if I’m governed by God, I fulfill his Law.  He’s my King, I obey him, I do what he says.  But to sin on the other hand is to break the Law of God, it’s lawlessness.  Strong statement.  The Bible tells us that Jesus came to fulfill the Law.  If he is my Lord, then you can know, you can be assured that I am going to be seeking to live a life too that fulfills the Law.  Including the law of the land, except when the law of the land goes against God’s Law [cf. Romans 13:1-7].  The law of the land, but especially God’s Law, the 10 Commandments, the laws he writes upon my heart and upon my conscience.  The things he declares so clearly in the New Testament.  There’s one reason he says for holiness, and here’s some more,  Verse 5, “And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins, and in him is no sin.”  So he talks about his appearing in the future, now he talks about when he came, his manifestation, he came to this earth, when he came to this earth he died on a cross and he was risen to life---he did this to take away my sins.  So as a Christian my sins have been taken away.  He doesn’t just say they were forgiven, there’s something that’s happened, they’ve been taken away.  Not only are my sins taken away, but he says “in him there is no sin” (verse 5b).  So, Jesus came, he took away my sins, Jesus, his very person, in him there is no sin, therefore he is my God, is my Father, I’m a child of God.  There’s plenty of reasons.  If he came to take away my sins, and his nature is a holy life, then I also should be living a holy life.  It only is reasonable.  It only makes sense.  It’s bizarre to be a Christian and to be living the lifestyle of sin when he came and took away your sin.  There’s no sin in him, there’s never been any sin in him. It’s certainly, as we’ve seen already, sin drastically effects our relationship with God.  But he goes even further, all these reasons to live a holy life.  He says in verse 6, “Whoever abides in him does not sin…”  If you’re walking with God you do not sin.  If I’m living a sinful lifestyle, if you’re living a sinful lifestyle, you cannot say that you’re walking with God.  John says, he makes it clear, “Whoever abides in him does not sin.”  Now, when he says “sin” there, as many of you I know from other Bible studies, the word there is in the perfect tense in the Greek, so he means “continuing the practice of sin.”  Of course we look at the saints of the Old Testament, these tremendous men and women of God, we can find sins in their lives.  He’s not referring to stumbling now and then, but if you’re practicing sin, he makes it absolutely clear, you are not abiding in God.  Done deal, that’s the Word of God, you’re not in fellowship with the Lord.  And that’s a dangerous place to be is out of fellowship with God.  You make yourself vulnerable if you’re a believer, or it says that you’re not a believer, that’s what he says.  Whoever abides in him does not sin, does not sin.  Then he goes further, “Whoever sins [continuously as a lifestyle] has neither seen him or known him.”  Wow!  If you are practicing a sinful lifestyle and just living in it, and there’s no real work to change, desire to get out of that, just living in it, he says if that is the case to an individual, he says you’ve never seen him, you’ve never had that born-again experience, and you do not know him.  Jesus, you remember, said, he basically said in Matthew chapter 5, verse 8 there on the Sermon on the Mount, if you live a sinful lifestyle, you’ve never seen God, because the pure in heart see God.  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”   The pure in heart.  If that is not true of my life, there is a problem.  Now, there’s a good reason, but he goes further.  Verse 7, He says “Don’t let anybody deceive you”, man that’s so often the problem when we get deceived by somebody else.  Somebody else says ‘Well, no, no, no there’s other things, there’s other issues, come on.’  And we get deceived, because we’re not listening to God and his Word.  He says, “Little children, let no one deceive you, he who practices righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous” (verse 7).  Meaning, the person that lives like Christ is indeed a born-again believer.  The righteousness of Christ is in him, and I see it.  But if there isn’t that, then the question, are they a born-again believer?  John is also refuting the Gnostic teaching, as we mentioned before, the Christians were being taught at that time by some of these guys like Cerinthis ‘not to worry about sin because the body, in Gnostic teaching, the spirit was good, the body was evil, the physical was evil, so in your body, hey it’s evil, you can’t do anything about it, but it doesn’t effect the spirit, so hey you don’t have to worry about sin.’  Some of them were even teaching ‘that it is natural to sin, because it’s the body, it’s natural, go ahead, just fill that.’  And today it’s amazing that in parts of the Church they’re actually teaching that.  I had a quote not too many Sundays ago, about Church leaders declaring, you know, ‘Hey, these natural drives, sexual perversion and all that, hey man, it’s natural, it’s natural, go and do it.  It’s healthy.’  Wow.  He says, “don’t let anybody deceive you.”  [When he says Church leaders, some of these “leaders” and the denominations they come from are more than likely from dead or dying past genuine Christian revivals that then grew into denominations.  Today a good number of these denominations are either spiritually dead or dying.  There can be a real danger remaining in one of these churches or denominations.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/IntroChurchHistory.htm .]  If you’re living the life of Christ and you’re living for Jesus, Jesus said “Come and follow me.”  So if you’re following him, then it’s a testimony that you love Jesus Christ, that Christ is in your heart.  Verse 8, “But he who sins is of the devil.”  Oh man, try telling that to another person, you know, who’s just saying ‘Hey, I can do this, I can do that.’  Just read this Scripture to them.  “He who sins is of the devil…”  He now goes on, you know.  He said earlier, you’re a child of God, your heavenly Father, he’s your Father.  Now he says, here’s a test to know who your dad is---is it the devil or is it God?  “But he who sins is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning…”  We know that, he was kicked out of heaven, that’s the beginning when Satan was up there and he exalted himself and he sinned and he fell, God kicked him out of heaven, that’s the beginning he’s referring to.  [cf. Revelation 12:1-9; Isaiah 14:12-21; Ezekiel 28:12-17.]  But he who sins then has got his (the devil’s) nature, is doing what he does, he’s done it from the start.  That’s him, the devil, that’s how sin came into the world, he originated that whole deal. [Satan and the demons, one whole third of the created angels, as Revelation 12:3-4 shows, fell away with Satan.  They were on earth when Adam and Eve were created.  They were thrown back to earth in what might be called the first intergalactic war fought in heaven (although the war was very one-sided, no one can win against God).  The major event in earth’s pre-human existence was the great dying of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago.  Jesus in Luke 10:18 said he saw Satan fall as lightning from heaven.  This would have been before the creation of man.  So poor little old mankind was created on a planet infested with demons and Satan.  God is all-knowing, so he must have had a purpose for doing it that way.  To learn more about this pre-historic time, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/dinosaurs/dinosaurs.htm.]  So if it’s in you, you’re acting like him.   You’re living like the devil.  And that’s not a compliment.  Sometimes in our society that’s a compliment, to live like the devil.   But that’s not a compliment, according to the Word of God.  He’s making it clear, our way of life will indicate who our real dad is.

 

Purpose of Christ’s coming, to destroy the works of the devil

 

“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (verse 8b).  So, one of the reasons to live a holy life is it proves who your Dad is.  But also, another reason is there’s no excuse because Jesus Christ came, and when he died on the cross and was buried and rose to life, he destroyed the works of the devil.  He destroyed the works of the devil, meaning that there’s no temptation that I can’t handle anymore.  That there’s no temptation too great for me that I can’t handle it, as the Scripture promises.  That word destroy there doesn’t mean completely annihilated, meaning that it doesn’t exist anymore [although after Revelation 21:1-17 this will have been accomplished by Jesus as well].  Clearly Satan is working in the world, but what it means as far as destroying the works of the devil, means that it is essentially inoperative, robbed it of it’s power in my life as a Christian [or Messianic believer}.  So the works of Satan don’t any longer have a power over my life.  And I should be able to then, there’s no excuse to not live a godly life.  You can’t come up with a list of excuses.  There’s no excuse.  Verse 9, “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for his seed remains in him, and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”  If you are born-again, he says you cannot live a sinful life.  Meaning the Holy Spirit is in you.  When he refers to “seed”, meaning the life of God is come into you, meaning essentially the Holy Spirit.  And if the Holy Spirit is in me, when I go into a sinful practice, any sin, the Holy Spirit is grieved, and I’m grieved, and I cannot stay there.  I just, I’m not comfortable there.  I can’t live like that, ‘I stumbled, God forgive me, I don’t want to go down there.’  I just can’t live there.  So, whoever has been born of God, he says, doesn’t sin, because God’s seed, his Spirit, his life has entered you, and you cannot sin, you cannot sin, you can’t live in a lifestyle of sin.  It just can’t happen because God is in you.  The Holy Spirit [cf. John 14, read it].  You’ve been born of God.  Paul said in 2nd Corinthians chapter 5, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.”  That’s what that Scripture means.

 

Who’s your Daddy?

 

          Finally, in verse 10, he says “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest,”---how is it proved, are you a child of God or a child of Satan?  The proof is this---“whoever practices righteousness is of God, whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God.  Whoever loves his brother is of God, whoever does not love his brother is not of God.”  King James version, verse 10, “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”

 

Summary

 

          There’s the test, the life, the life.  He makes it so clear.  To know God is to become more and more like Christ.  Man, he doesn’t let us just get casual, does he?  Man, this is a great book, I love this book.  Good reasons for you and I to live a holy life.  He’s given us many of them.  One is, to be confident before Jesus at his coming, which is not far from now.  Secondly, to have assurance, assurance that I’m indeed a believer in Jesus Christ.  Another reason to live a holy life is so that we will please our Father who loves us so much.  But in addition, that passion, desire to live a holy life is evidence that I have a hope, that I want to be like Christ.  Further, as he says, it fulfills the Law, it means I’m being governed by God [and in reality, God through the indwelling Holy Spirit is writing his laws in our minds and upon our hearts, the very definition of the new covenant (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-13).], because he has taken away my sin and has destroyed all the works of the devil.  There is absolutely no excuse.  [to see the mechanics of how the devil’s power in us has been made inoperative, log onto the Romans 6-8 studies at http://www.unityinchrist.com/romans/Romans6-1-5page1.htm and read through those expository studies.]  In Christ there is no sin.  And so to abide in him goes hand in hand with a holy life.  Well, a holy life, living and practicing righteousness proves that the Father is my Father, that he is my heavenly Father.  And it also proves that his life and love is in me, his seed, his Holy Spirit.  Man, there’s a lot right there.  ‘Father we thank you for your Word.  I thank you that we could look at these Scriptures together this morning.  We’ve simply just gone through them.  But yet Lord, so vital, so important, so critical for us to hear, for us to understand, for us to perceive.  Lord I pray all of us that have ears to hear [and eyes to perceive] this morning, and Lord if there’s anyone here now, because of a hardness in their heart, because of rebellion against God, or because simply that they’re not born-again, I ask even God now that you’d just work in their hearts and in your loving way, that you’d bring the conviction, you’d bring the light, you’d show them Lord, you’d show them what it means, all this, to them individually.  At the beginning of the year we went through the Word and you reminded us, as you do over and over in the Word, the great need for us to live holy lives.  So important.  And I pray as we’ve been reminded this morning, that in my own life, all our lives, that there would be greater consecration to you, a greater holiness Lord.  Oh Lord, stamp it on our minds, stamp it on our hearts.  Very soon from now we’ll be standing before you.  Are we going to be confident?  Is it worth it for just a temporary time to live in such a way that we would stand ashamed before you?  Oh Lord work in our hearts that we could all stand confident and not be ashamed before you at your coming, Father.  Lord you love us so much, you love us so much.  All the more this morning, just fill our hearts with that love to overflowing.  As we leave this morning, may people in our families, people in our neighborhoods and our workplaces and in our classrooms see, yes, the love of God in us shed abroad in our hearts Lord.  Thank you, incredible, we’re children of God, we’re in such a unique and special place with you, we are your children.  Oh Lord, to be your children is to have your nature, it’s to be like you Lord.  Oh I pray in my own life people would see Jesus, Lord, they’d see you in me.  Lord work in our hearts.  Move our hearts.  I pray we’d abide in you and glorify you Father.  I thank you…’ “  [transcript of a sermon given in New England.]

 

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