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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 2:3-6

 

“And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected:  hereby know we that we are in him.  He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (verses 3-6)

 

          “Turn in your Bibles to 1st John.  1st John, we’re going to pick up with verse 3, verses 3 through 6 is what we’re going to look at this morning.  And I think, as we get started, I think of when I was an engineer at G.E. in Lynn, Massachusetts, working in the engineering development program, doing this training.  I remember one group I worked in.  I’d come in on a morning, and I’m somebody that always seems to be running at the last minute.  As I’d come to the building, the vice president of engineering for G.E. would be standing outside by the door, and he wouldn’t be standing there in a gracious way shaking hands or anything like that.  He’d stand there with his arms folded and there’d be a certain look in his eye, and what he did is he’d be looking to see who was late.  And that was just kind of his heart, he had kind of a militaristic approach to management.  And I guess it was somewhat effective, because he got promoted to being the vice president of engineering.  But they even called this man’s board meetings, ah, ‘Circuit Circus’, ‘are you going to the Circus today?’ because he had a habit of really drilling people and belittling people and he managed by fear.  [There’s a major semiconductor manufacturer that does that as well, and this “style” of management is sweeping major manufacturing companies throughout the US, as well as being copied in Japan.  As a matter of fact, it’s causing a rise in suicides in Japan.  American’s handle the pressure differently, they go ‘Postal’ when the crack up, and we have witnessed a rise in that within the United States recently.  One key element of this “style” of management is the removal of all job security for the workers, from top to bottom of the employee structure.  Manager’s have turned into a bunch of little Hitler’s.]  And managing by fear and motivating by fear can work to a degree, it worked with him.  And certainly I begin with that, because for some Christians too, this motivation by fear is maybe a way to summarize their relationship with God also.  That their relationship with God is something that is motivated by fear, meaning the fear of punishment, the fear of retribution.  You know, if I do something wrong God is going to get me, so I better do the right thing.  And some of us, maybe this morning, have the sense in our relationship with God, this sense of being motivated by fear.  But I’d like to contrast that, in this manager’s approach to administrating a business to also that of motivation by love.  And I think of this example, I’ve used it many times, in John Corson.  John Corson speaks about when he was young, his Dad used to make him wash the car, and he could remember washing the car, waxing the car, getting it ready, but doing it as quickly as possible and just doing it enough to get it done in order to please his Dad, so he could get back to playing with his friends, shooting the hoop or whatever it might be.  And it was a real bummer when he had to wash the car, but he tells the story of when he got to the age when he could finally drive and was going to go out on a date with some gal that he really liked, and he asked for the keys to the car, and that particular Saturday he spent a good part of the day getting that car ready, washing it, waxing it, vacuuming it, I mean it looked like it was coming out of a showroom when he was done.  And he uses that as an example to contrast the motivation of love.  When you love someone, when you love a person, when you’re motivated by love, man, it’s very different than when you’re motivated for other reasons, or even motivated by fear.  And I start with this example because that is what the apostle John is showing us, this truth is also what he is sharing with us.  He’s developing this in his Epistle.  In fact, he’ll explicitly say, as he speaks about a relationship of love with the Lord, being motivated by love, he says in chapter 4, verse 18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.  But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”  Referring to just, when there’s love, man, there’s no fear.  When there’s the love of God in my heart, I realize that he loves me, so I don’t fear about tomorrow, I trust that God’s grace is going to be with me, and he’s going to work in my life, he’s going to bless my life.  But especially this love for him, I just want to please him.  I just want to glorify him, and that’s what really motivates me.  We’ll see this truth also this morning being developed here in verses 3 to 6 in chapter 2, this tremendous letter, letter that John writes to the church.  And here again is a simple outline as we get started.  Here’s four points, (1) totally positive, (2) second point, intimately personal, (3) third point, heart’s passion, and our last point (4), fourth point, life possession, or internal possession.  Let’s say a word of prayer and we’ll get started.  ‘Father I thank you that we can look at your Word together, and as we begin this study, Lord, we just ask that you prepare our hearts.  I thank you God that you love us as much as you do, and I pray as we study this that our eyes and hearts would be open to your love for us.  And in that we also would have a greater love for you.  Maybe some of us this morning, our relationship with you is motivated for certain reasons, maybe it’s by fear, we don’t want to get in trouble, or maybe we do things because we want things out of you or from you.  The greatest relationship, the relationship that you desire, the relationship that John writes about, is a relationship really based on love, a love relationship where we just love you, and because we love you, we want to please you, we want to walk with you, and yet a confidence too that you love us.  So as we look at your Word this morning, open our eyes to our relationship with you, give us a greater confidence and assurance.  Draw our hearts closer to you, and all the more, fill us to overflowing with the Holy Spirit.  I ask that your Spirit would be upon all of us, and even upon myself now, as we go through your Word, in Jesus name.  Amen.’ 

          Let’s read now verses 3 to 6, “Now by this we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.  He who says I know him and does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But whoever keeps his word, truly the love of God is perfected in him.  By this we know that we are in him.  He who says he abides in him ought himself also to walk just as he walked.”  Now thus far in 1st John we have seen it is very important, he stresses the importance about the way we live, our lifestyle is important to God.  In fact, as you remember, just a little review, John has told us that we cannot be living in darkness and expect to have an intimate relationship with God, because in God is no darkness at all.  So those who have an intimate fellowship and relationship with God are those who are walking in the light, living according to God’s standard.  But yet, as you remember, at the same time John also made it very clear to us that even now as believers, we are not going to live a perfect life.  We’ve got to be in the light to be near to God, but yet at the same time, he’s made it clear we’re not going to live a perfect life.  God’s standard is one of perfection.  John even told us in our last study that his purpose in writing is that we would not sin.  But yet very clearly he’s shown to us, that the truth is, at times we’re going to stumble as believers.  So to say that we don’t have a sin nature anymore, you remember, he told us that those who say that are deceived.  But also to say that we never sin anymore is to make God a liar.  He’s made it clear that we’re going to at times stumble.  But then he’s also made it clear what happens when we do sin as believers in Jesus Christ, what happens if there’s no darkness in God, and God is Light, what happens now when I sin, what happens to my relationship?  Well, he’s also gone on to talk about the grace of God very wonderfully.  That at those times when I do stumble, God has provided the means for you and I to be forgiven of our sin and to have an intimate communion with God, to have a relationship with him restored.  Specifically he said in our last study, we have an Advocate with the Father, we have Jesus Christ the righteous who goes before the Father, and he represents me before the Father.  But also as he said last week in verse 2, Jesus is our propitiation for our sins.  He is both the High Priest and the Sacrifice, he has provided the means for me to be forgiven of my sin, the means for me to be completely forgiven, to be completely cleansed.  So as John said in 1st John 1:9, if you and I do stumble, we then confess our sin to God, and God is completely faithful to cleanse us and to forgive us of all our unrighteousness, and thus he restores that communion, that intimate relationship we have with him.  So, as we’ve noted in the past weeks, to walk in the light as he is in the light, includes being honest with God, having an honest heart, transparent life before him.  But with all of that, as we get started now into verse 3, we’ve clearly seen in this Epistle, it’s really a theme for this Epistle, it’s just the framework for this Epistle, that is a relationship, a personal relationship with God.  That is so key to this Epistle, you and I walking close with God, in close fellowship.  That’s where John is going.  And as we note that, we’ll see this again in the verses that we’re going to study.  In fact, you maybe noted that as we read these verses.  He uses this phrase, “Know God, know God”, it’s about a personal relationship.  As we’re going to develop a little bit later here as we spend our time this morning together, when John refers to knowing God, he refers to a personal experience, about an intimate communion.  Not just knowing about God, but knowing God experientially just as a husband would know his wife and a wife would know her husband.  There’s an experience here.  There’s an encounter, there’s a dynamic to this.  Myself and six other leaders, we went to a conference this week in Maryland for three days, down to Sandy Cove, great conference center on the Chesapeake Bay.  I love going there every year, just a neat time.  The speakers, I mean it was the East Coast, the Calvary Chapel East Coast Conference, and the speakers were Chuck Smith and Don McClure and Joe Focht, and my pastor, Mike McIntosh.  It was great to speak to him a little bit and see him again too.  But this was a great conference, and what I love about Calvary Chapel, this is a pastors conference.  And it wasn’t this pep rally, you know.  Sometimes churches do that, let’s have a pep rally, let’s talk about how we can win the world, let’s motivate you and get you going again.  It wasn’t a pep rally, nor was it a seminar on how to grow your church, a seminar on how to build a successful ministry.  Man, there’s a ton of those around.  But this entire conference, this is what I love about Calvary Chapel, was focused on the heart.  It was all about you, your heart, your relationship with God.  That was the whole thing.  There really wasn’t a lot about, well, as a pastor here’s how you counsel, or as a pastor, here’s how you should teach through the Word, or this is something you might want to start, here’s a method, here’s a practice…It was all about ‘Where are you in God?’  That’s where it’s all about—you walking with God.  You being consecrated, close to the Lord.  You know, one of the studies was Samson, and his strength was as he was consecrated, his vow, the Nazarite vow represented him being consecrated to God.  And when he had his hair cut, he had no more strength.  So the vow, that consecration was broken.  But being consecrated, being set apart, being near to God.  That’s where it all starts, everything stems from that.  In fact, I like one of the speakers, Don McLure, he put it this way as far as God’s desire for us, he used these words, for God saying this to us: “Do you want to be with me as I want to be with you?  Am I your greatest adventure?”   And that’s what it was all about for three days—you walking with God.  I think this is a great backdrop for these studies in 1st John, this very question for all of us.  Do you want to be with God as he wants to be with you?  Do you want to be with God as he wants to be with you?  Is God, is he your greatest adventure?  Is God our greatest adventure?  Well John focuses here on the subject of knowing and walking with God.

 

Totally Positive

 

And our first point this morning, as John stresses here in verse 3, he stresses that we can know confidently that we know God.  That we can know that we know, so our first point, I use the point, totally positive.  That is, we can have a confident assurance in our hearts that we have a personal relationship with God.  We can be totally positive that we know God.  Now here in verse 3, when John writes “Now by this we know that we know him…” then in verse 5, very similar, he says at the end of verse 5, “by this we know that we are in him…” the Greek word is ginosko, it’s a form of that word, it’s a tense of that word.  And the word ginosko [Strongs # 1097] refers to knowing experientially, as opposed to the Greek word eido [Strongs # 1492] which refers to knowing conceptually or intuitively, knowing about something.  He’s not talking about knowing about, he’s talking knowing experientially.  And when he says that “we know that we know”, he’s saying that we know experientially that we know experientially.  That’s what he’s saying in that verse.  John’s saying that I can experientially know, I can know by experience that I know God.  That, in a way, a relationship with God is like an experiment.  I think of my time in college performing the labs that I had, in an engineering degree, labs in physics, or chemistry, instrumentation and theory labs.  You know, you’d set out and do an experiment looking for certain things.  And when you got those results, they would validate what we were looking for, or not validate what we were looking for.  That’s how an experiment works.  You do it, and there’s the results, and they prove, Yes, your theory was right. And in somewhat of a similar manner, he’s saying that we can know that we know, he’s saying experientially I can know that I know God.  There’s something that is very real that is taking place, there’s an encounter with God, and it has an effect upon my life.  So therefore, because of the effect and what I see, I can know that I know God.  I can look at my life and see the result of a true and living relationship with God.  And with that comes assurance, a confidence, being totally positive.  Yes, I know that I know him, I know that I’m in him.  So, the question, this morning. Do you know that you know him?  Do you know that you know God?  Do you know that you are in Christ?  Are you 100 percent confident that when you die you’re gonna be with God in heaven [or be waiting for the 1st resurrection to immortality at Jesus’ 2nd coming, as 1st Corinthians 15 brings out]?  Is there clear evidence to this in your life?  That’s what he’s saying here in verse 3.  John writes, “we can know that we know God” and this is certainly important to us as believers in Jesus Christ.  Today we begin our new believers class, and it’s five or six weeks.  We have it occasionally, every couple months we’ll have a new believer’s class.  And the first study we have, we show a video, we go through homework with the people in the class.  But the very first class we have is about the doctrine of assurance.  That as a believer in Jesus Christ there is assurance that we are saved, that we know God, there should be.  And it’s very important to go through that with a new believer, especially with the cults that are in our world.  Somebody just gets started in the Lord and gets going and there’s people that might come from a cult and try to just throw them into bondage, and tell them ‘You’re not really saved, and here’s the reasons why you’re not really saved, and will try to send them on a loop and pull them into their cult, and it certainly happens.  And the truth is, as new believers, we often struggle with assurance.  So what we do is we sit down and tell them that you can know that you know.  First of all, God promises, if you believe in Jesus Christ, he promises that you are saved.  But then even going beyond that, this is where John is now.  This really builds a confidence, that total assurance that I know that I know, and that is, that there is something taking place in my life.  And he talks about that, and it’s this attitude, this desire to please God, to keep his commandments.  As we teach in the new believers class, we’ll see this a little bit more as go, to have assurance, a confidence, it’s not based on feelings, it’s not based on emotions, it’s not based on sensations, I can’t find confidence in my relationship with God because maybe I’ve had prayers answered, or that others have told me that “Yes, you are saved”, or  maybe I’ve had some kind of mystical experience, or maybe I’m looking for that—I need some kind of experience in order to know that I know God, I need some kind of vision, I need some kind of burning in my bosom, or something, you know.  Sometimes people get on that trip, they’re looking for an experience to validate that they know God.  But that’s not at all what John is saying here.  He’s going to approach it very differently.  And maybe it will encourage you this morning.  But he says that I can know that I know experientially, and the experience, the data, the result, the fruit, is that I do what God says, that I’m obedient to the Lord.  And we’ll talk about that a little bit more as we go. [King David had the same attitude toward God’s laws and ways.  He said this:]  

 

 “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.  Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes.  With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.  I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.  I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.  I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word…Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law…O how love I thy law!  It is my meditation all the day…Great peace have they that love they law: and nothing shall offend them.”  (Psalm 119:10-16, 18, 97, 165.)  We see echoed here in the Old Testament an assurance—“great peace have they that love thy law”, which John restated this way: “Hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.”  This peace and assurance are one and the same.  This wasn’t a legalistic trip for David, of law-keeping, but following in the Lord’s ways, which are specifically spelled out in God’s law.  Great peace, we know that we know him, one and the same.

 

Our assurance is based on God’s promises, but also on this heart that we now go and live for God, and that we seek to obey the Word.  [Comment: And what is meant here, is to seek to obey God’s law, whether our Christian consciences dictate the Old Testament 10 Commandments, as modified by the New Testament, or the New Testament “Law of Christ”.  That is what John is saying as well in his Epistle, totally coming in line with David’s words in Psalm 119.  Our assurance is our heart to obey, as seen both in John’s Epistle and David’s Psalm.  David wasn’t perfect, but he never stopped trying to obey God’s law, which is obeying God.  This isn’t a works trip either, for the new covenant states that it is God who empowers our obedience, fitting the very words of the new covenant both in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8:6-13.  For a better explanation of the process of God’s enabling power and how he uses it to empower our obedience, log onto the Romans 6-8 section.]  So again, do you know that you know?

          Now let’s consider, we have two words “know” in verse 3.  And it’s the Greek word  ginosko, it’s in one form or another, one tense or another.  “By this we know that we know…”  Let’s look at this second “know” here, the second ginosko, again referring to knowing experientially.  It’s not referring again to knowing about someone or about something, it’s referring to knowing someone or the Person, God, experientially.  So this is our second point.

 

Intimately Personal

 

Intimately personal.  We have the first point, totally positive, and now we have this second point, intimately personal.  This is what John means when he writes “we know him”, he’s talking about an experience.  He is talking about an intimate relationship, again, like a relationship between two people who are married, that type of experience.  He’s not referring to a superficial acquaintance.  But in this word there is a sense of closeness, of intimacy, a very ongoing  personal contact.  As John is declaring, which is certainly consistent with the rest of the New Testament, a Christian is not someone who knows a lot about Jesus, but rather a Christian is someone who knows Jesus intimately, who is growing in a dynamic way, in a closeness with God.  A way to put this in a question is: “Is Jesus real to you?  Is he real to you?”  That’s what he’s talking about when he says “knowing that you know him”.  Is he real to you, do you know that he’s real to you?  He’s real, he’s a friend, he’s your Savior, he’s your Lord.  You love God, he loves you, you walk with God, that’s what he’s saying here in this verse.  [And that kind of relationship can be seen throughout the Psalms, that kind of relationship with God is what David had, and he wrote it all down in words, in the Psalms.]  The form of the verb here for “know” is also in the perfect tense, meaning that at a particular and a definite time in our lives we came to know him, he became real to us, we came to know that we know him.  So, the question to you and I this morning, is [or was there] a definite time in your life where you can look back and say “Yes, there is a time when Jesus became real to me.  There is a time”?  That’s in that tense, when it says you know him, it means there was a time, it’s in the perfect tense.  Some people refer to that time as their ‘spiritual birthday.’  ‘You know, I was born-again, so it’s my birthday.’  I can tell you, I know my time, when I was fifteen years old, in the summertime in Merrit Island, Florida I gave my heart to Christ, Jesus became real to me.  In fact, I had grown up in the church before then, and got to know a lot about the Lord, and began to wonder in my teenage years, do I really know him, is he really real to me?  And so, at Teen Missions, out there under a tent with thousands of kids at Merrit Island Florida at fifteen years of age I made a decision, ‘I want to know you, and I want to know I know you.’  And at that time I looked and Jesus became real to me.  That’s my spiritual birthday.  So, considering that, I guess then, do you have that time in your life?  Maybe it’s not a specific hour you can think of, but maybe there’s even a season, there is a time.  And there needs to be a time when Jesus becomes real to us.  If you don’t have that time, again, wait for the end of the service, because today may be your spiritual birthday, today you’re born-again.  Today, May 25th, year 2003.  Next year you can be 1 years old, in the Lord.  Year after, 2 years old.  But this can be the day that Jesus becomes real to you, if he’s not already real to you.  Now referring to this experiential knowledge, John in verse 6, he uses the phrase “abides in him”.  And of course when you think of ‘an abiding in him’, as you remember our study in John, you think of John 15 where Jesus said “Abide in me and I in you, as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in me and I in him bears much fruit, for without me you can do nothing.”  So, abiding, that means contact, right?  That means a branch in the vine, that means there’s a communion there, an attachment there, there’s life going from one to the other.  So he’s talking about an experiential relationship, a dynamic experience where the branch receives life and nourishment as it abides, remains in contact in close connection to the vine.  And this is what takes place when we are in Christ.  That’s what he means by knowing Christ.  I think again of this past week’s conference, one of the speakers, I think again it was Don McLure who’s had opportunity early in his years in England and other places to hang out with Al Redcalf and other men that would be considered big leaders in the church as far as the last century, and one particular time he also spent time with.  He refers to a time when he was with him, and I think they were driving the car and had some time with him, blessed to have time with him, he asked him a question, and he asked the question “What is the greatest enemy of the church?”  Of course, he expected to hear ‘Satan is the greatest enemy’ or something like that.  But he got this immediate reply, as soon as he said it, he got this reply “The enemy of the church is dead orthodoxy.”  Dead orthodoxy, that is religion without relationship.  That’s when this just becomes a practice to us, when it just becomes a Bible study, when this just becomes a ‘work’ to us that we go to church.  But what John is writing about is “knowing him” in a relationship.  And when orthodoxy, dead orthodoxy works its way into the church, man you’ve got a bunch of just, ah, whitewashed tombs, there’s no life.  There’s no life.  And of course, when you have religion without relationship, you have no means to get to heaven [or into the kingdom of heaven to some], because it’s about a relationship with Jesus Christ.  So, as we’ve noted, this word totally positive, we can have assurance that we know God, we can have assurance, an experiential thing, but also we can have an experience with God, a personal walk with God, that’s what he’s talking about, like Adam in the Garden of Eden.  If you went to Adam, he’d tell you, ‘I hang out with him, I’m close to him, I walk with him.  There’s an experience, I know that I know him.’ 

          Well as John says in verse 3, this confidence of walking with God will especially be increased as we keep his commandments.   And this brings us to our third point—heart’s passion.

 

Hearts Passion

 

What does he mean by “keeping his commandments”?  He refers to the heart.  And so I have this point, heart’s passion.  To come to Christ is to go through a heart-change.  And the result is to now have different desires, the desire especially to please God, and the desire to keep his commandments.  When somebody has truly encountered God their desires will, without a doubt, change, they won’t have to be forced or coerced into doing the right things.  Fear won’t be their motivation, what will begin to happen in the heart is this love for God.  Because I love him, I want to please him.  [You can see this attitude expressed by David throughout the Psalms, love for God, love for God’s ways as expressed through God’s laws, that is the unmistakable theme running throughout the Psalms.]  And that becomes my motivation.  Love.  My extreme desire is to please God, just as Jesus said in John chapter 8, verse 29.  “I do always those things that please him.”  Jesus wanted to please the Father, he loved the Father.  So here when it says “if we keep his commandments” he’s not referring to a perfect life, “I know that I know him because I keep his commandments perfectly”, no because you remember, he’s made it clear that we stumble, we struggle, and his grace—but he’s talking about a heart, ‘Yes, oh, I want to live for God.’  And if you’re here going ‘Oh, man, I want live for God, there was a time in my life when things changed, where I was going down a road and Jesus became real to me, and now I just live for him.  I love him, I want to do what’s right.’  That says you know God.  That’s what he’s referring to, that you really know him.  I remember a friend, my friend Ken, we were having a discussion years ago.  He told me, and in our discussion he came to this point where he says “I don’t want to do anything wrong, and the reason I don’t want to do anything wrong is that I don’t want to break God’s heart.”  [God says about Israel “Oh that they had a heart for me” in the Old Testament, and Jesus repeated the statement when he said “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I would have gathered you like a mother hen with her chicks…”]  I never really thought about it that way before.  In fact, before then, I used to think, ‘I don’t want to do anything wrong, because I don’t want to get spanked.’  That used to be my attitude, you know.  But then he said “I don’t want to break God’s heart.”  I thought, ‘You know, that’s kind of cool.’  That’s really the attitude, isn’t it?  Of course, that attitude, that type of attitude leads to a very different experience.  I think of David, that was David’s heart, as he explained during a time of worship and adoration of God in Psalm 101 “I will behave wisely and in a perfect way, Oh when will you come to me?”  “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart, I will set nothing wicked before my eyes, I hate the work of those who fall away, it shall not cling to me, a perverse heart shall depart from me, I will not know wickedness.”  He talks about ‘Oh, when will you come to me, I want to be close to you.’  And as he says that, he talks about ‘I’m not going to do anything, I’m not going to look at anything wicked, I’m not going to cling to anything [wicked], I’m going to put away that stuff, because, Oh I want to be near to you.’  The same type of thing, it’s that heart of love, loving the Lord, wanting to please him. 

          Now when he says commandments here, what does he mean here by commandments?  Interesting, John uses the word commandment in this Epistle.  I mean, there’s only five chapters, and he uses the word commandment more than any other time in any other book in the New Testament.  It’s found 14 times in this little letter.  It’s also found 4 times in 2nd John, and then in the Gospel of John you see it 10 times.  I mean, you know something about somebody when they use a word a lot.  But what does he mean?  Again, he’s not suggesting a life of perfection.  He’s talking about an attitude.  But when he says “commandment” he’s referring to the Word of God.  And you see that in verse 5 “but whoever keeps his word”.  When he means commandment he means his [God’s] Word.  He means all of his Word.  He means the 10 Commandments.  But when I think of the Word, I think of all that God desires for me, all that he wants for me.  So he who keeps his commandments, he who keeps his word, the person who does that, the person who has that desire, that type of heart’s passion is somebody who knows they know the Lord.  [Comment:  When this pastor says “The Ten Commandments” that means different things to different groups and denominations.  Basically, if you are from the grace oriented New Testament Christian churches, this would be referring to the “law of Christ” which is basically 9 of the 10 Commandments, brought to their lofty spiritual intent throughout the New Testament, but especially in Matthew 5.  If you are a member of a Sabbatarian Church of God, you and your denomination adhere to the actual 10 Commandments, including the 4th, which is the 7th Day Sabbath on Saturday, along with Holy Day observance and the dietary laws, i.e. the Old Testament Law of God, also modified and brought to their spiritual intent by the New Testament and Matthew 5.  Romans 14 shows that the “Torah observant” groups and grace oriented churches on both sides of this doctrinal divide have the right in choice of “days of worship,” which also equates to which set of laws a believer chooses to have God write upon his heart and in his mind (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-13)—whether the Old Testament version or the New Testament “law of Christ”.  The simple Bible definition of the new covenant simply states that God will write his laws in the minds and hearts of his believers, but in no way specifies which “set” of laws, whether Old Testament 10 Commandment, Torah based, or New Testament Law of Christ.  Romans 14 appears to leave the choice up to the individual believer and the denomination he chooses to attend.  It is the individual denominations who like to point fingers at those others that have chosen the other set of laws, and call them names, such as “legalist”, “heretic” and such nasty things.  God makes no such distinctions.  Romans 14 is more fully explained at http://www.unityinchrist.com/romans/romans12-14_2.htm .]

          The Greek word for “keep” there “if we keep his commandments”, is the verb tereo [Strongs # 5083] and is related to the verb teros  which refers to a “watch” a “guard”, so metaphorically, the meaning of the verb is “to observe the commandments diligently.”  That’s what he means.  [Strongs # 5083, tereo: to guard, hold fast, observe, keep, serve, watch.]  “He who observes diligently his commandments.”  So there’s a passion in that word, that word “keep”, there’s a passion there, so that there’s a heart’s passion.  If you can say honestly that you are very concerned about doing God’s will, if you can say you’re striving to do that, and that that is the ambition of your life, you can know you are in Christ.  You can know that you know God, because you have his heart, that’s what he’s saying here in verse 3.  So with that we can also note then, to walk with God as a Christian should not be a burden.  Rather like John Corson waxing the car for his gal, you know that should be the Christian spirit, you know ‘I love to do this, oh man, I want to get it right, I want it to look good, I want to please her, you know.’  So it shouldn’t be a burden walking with Jesus and seeking to please the Lord, it shouldn’t be a burden.  Love always manifests itself by doing what the object of this love desires.  The apostle of love, John here, puts it this way later in 1st John chapter 5, verse 3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments,”  talking about love, “and his commandments are not burdensome.”  It shouldn’t be a burden.  The Christian experience shouldn’t be a burden, it should be a passion within our hearts…If it’s a burden to me, then it would be good for me to get alone with the Lord and renew that relationship with him, because it’s a love relationship.  It doesn’t become a burden anymore, it becomes a pleasure. 

          In verse 4 though, he says as we saw earlier, this style of his where he says “If we say” meaning if you can profess one thing and it could not be true, so he says in verse 4, “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”  If somebody says “I know him experientially, I know him personally”, but then you look at their life, and they’re not living with a passion for God, and there’s not a seeking to live for God and to please God, then, in fact the verb there is in the tense “he who continues to say that”, and you can continue to look and it’s not true by what they do, as he’s noted before, then this time—you know, before he says ‘if you say certain things, you know, you deceive yourself, if you say certain things, then you’re making God out to be a liar’.  But now he says ‘If you’re like this, then your very character, you are a liar’, is what he says.  ‘You are a liar’, that’s the way he terms it there.  If I say I know God, but I’m not keeping his commandments, it’s not a passion of my heart, then he says I’m a liar, and the truth is not in me, the truth is not in me.  Of course, there’s a problem if I say I know God, and the Word of God says that all things are new in Christ, meaning then that you start a new adventure in Jesus Christ, and that’s not evident in my life, then it can’t be true that I know Christ, it can’t be true.  There’s also this side to it too.  The commandments of God, Jesus you know in Matthew chapter 5, we’re told in the New Testament is that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, in John chapter 1, verse 1 he is the Word, I mean, the Law is him, he is the Word.  So, if I say that I know him, I say that he’s in my life, then you should see his commandments, you should see his Law.  He is the Word, you know.  It’ll be seen in my life.  So there’s this practical thing, that to profess Christ and not to possess him, makes the professor a counterfeit.  You say you profess to know him, but you don’t possess him, which is the Word, the Law, then—of course he fulfills the Law [within you, i.e. “I will write my laws upon their hearts and in their minds” (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:6-13)]—then there’s something wrong.  Well, again, noting our points, we can have a confidence, we can be totally positive that we know him.  We can have an intimately personal relationship with him, which we referred to as having a heart’s passion, and this is all due to the fact of our fourth point, and that is the fourth point of internal possession.

 

Internal Possession

 

1st John 2:5-6, “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.  He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”  John again writes about the believer being in Christ in verse 5, about us abiding in Christ, verse 6.  About the love of God being perfected in us, verse 5, and with that these phrases, there’s another important topic to John and we’ll see this as we continue.  And that is that I’m just not to stop at knowing God with an experience, in the sense of a personal experience, an intimacy, but there should be an awareness too.  And this is so tremendous in our lives, that there is a union with him, and that Christ is in me, that Jesus is in me.  There should be a growing awareness of that, this internal possession of the very life of Christ in me.  Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, maybe you memorized this, maybe you’ve heard it, maybe it’s just never—it’s wow!  K-bam!—it’s just a tremendous thing he’s saying here.  “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.  And the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Paul says Christ lives in me.  There’s something inside of me, it is Christ through the Holy Spirit, living in me.  [cf. John 14:15-18, 21-22, 23, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.  And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you…He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him…Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”  Jesus is describing to the apostles how he and the Father would both come and dwell inside believers by means of the indwelling Holy Spirit whom he places within those believers in him.  Jesus, the very Word of God, the Law of God, dwells inside of us, writing himself, the Word, the Law right within our hearts and minds—that is the new covenant fulfilled to its fullest extent.]  And I tell you, there’s been times in my life where there’s been a greater awareness, and every time it’s been liberating, every time it’s been very powerful.  I’ve begun to learn a little bit at a time.  I go up and down, of course, like all of us.  But I don’t have to be Mike, because Jesus is in me.  And I’ve lived long enough with Mike, you know.  I mean, God made me, and maybe there’s things I like about myself, and there’s things I certainly don’t like about myself, but why would I want to be me when Christ lives in me, and I can let Christ live through me?  That is radical.  So all the things I struggle with, all the shortcomings, all the things I said are just part of my personality, that goes away when I say “Christ lives in me, and wants to live through me.”  Jesus himself is in me through the Holy Spirit [cf. John 14], the guy you read about in the Gospels is in me, it’s a reality.  It isn’t just a doctrinal thing, it is an experience.  It is an experience.  So, then in verse 6, when he says “He who says he abides in him ought himself also to walk just as he walked…”  If you say you abide in him, if you say you have an intimate relationship with him, if you say that he is in you, that ‘Christ is in me’, that means that he should be living through you.  And if I have him in me, I’ve got his sandals on, I’ve got his staff, and I’m walking where he walks, thinking the way he thinks, I’m going to the places he goes, Christ is in me, Jesus is in me.  So, in verse 6, walking just as he walked, it’s not by imitation, it’s not reading the Word of God and going ‘Oh, that’s how he did it, so I’m going to try to do it that way.’  No, it’s not by imitation, it’s by incarnation, Jesus Christ is in me, and he just wants to live through me.  [Our job, really, is to learn how to get out of his way.]  That actually makes it a lot simpler.  I mean, trying to imitate God isn’t very easy for a little old person.  But letting God live through you is by faith, by surrender, by yielding to the Holy Spirit.  It’s through incarnation, it’s through the Spirit.  Christ liveth in me, and as he is, now even in heaven, so we are to be now in this world…

          Man I tell you, John has some great points, and in many ways we’re still just getting started.  But do you know that you know him?  Is there this evidence? [Do you feel this way] ‘I know him, it’s wild man, I’ve got a different heart today, I’m here because I want to be here.  I didn’t get forced, I’m not doing it out of obligation, I want to learn about God, I want to glorify God in my life.’  Do you know that you know him?  And that means to know him experientially too.  Do you know that you know him?  Is it your heart’s passion to please him?  And do you have that awareness?–‘Wow, Jesus’ passion in me’.  Man, I tell you, you know I think of this illustration I used it years ago.  My son’s playing baseball,  there’s this instructional league, the coach on my son’s team, seems he got asked at the last minute, neat guy, but it’s clear there was some more organization that needed to happen early on, and they’re coming together and getting it organized, neat guys, loving kids.  But I walked to the game, you know, dressed up like I am now.  And one of the assistants said to me “You’re pitching today.”  I’m pitching today, and I just came strolling in with my kids, ok, I’m pitching today.  Now he doesn’t know I only played one year of baseball, and there’s a reason I only played one year, I gave it a try, and I realized baseball and me, man.  I ran track, that’s what I did.  But I did OK, started to pitch, 1st inning didn’t go too bad, 2nd inning wasn’t very good, I even hit my son with the ball, and I realized, the left-handed guys, and I couldn’t get it right, it was messing with my mind.  I hit every one of them I think.  But if somebody demonstrated to me, and said “You know, Pedro Martinez moved into your life, and you just need to—Mike, get out of the way—let Pedro pitch through.  And if I believed that [and it were true, of course]—‘wizzz!—struck ‘em all out.  But Jesus is in us!  He’s in us!  He wants to live through us.  Wow, that’s great stuff.  [transcript of a sermon  on 1st John 2:3-6 given in New England.]

 

I’ve been in all kinds of churches, Torah observant Sabbatarian Churches of God, Calvary Chapels, Messianic Jewish congregations (non-Torah observant), and I’ve detected a sense in some churches which are more grace oriented, that they feel that God’s Law, especially the Old Testament version, is evil, done away, bondage, you name it, anything but good.  Whereas the Sabbatarian Churches of God and the Jewish believers feel God’s Law is good, and good for you, it defines holiness, without which, as Paul says, no man will see the Lord.  This sermon brought out the perfect balance between what all these groups teach.  There are practically as many versions and definitions of what “Law & Grace” are as there are denominations and churches.  But somehow, a lot of the body of Christ has gotten away from the actual truth and balance, and gone off into one of two doctrinal ditches, one of license to sin, or the other ditch toward the more legalistic interpretations.  This sermon sits right smack in the middle, on the path of light between those two extremes.  It is my sincere hope that the body of Christ will fully utilize this sermon to help redefine what Law & Grace actually is.  And instead of thinking of God’s Law—as written in both Old and New Testaments—as ‘done away, evil, bondage’, you change your perspective to view God’s Law as something to read, and meditate on ‘day and night’, as king David did, trying to fathom the very mind of God.  For the mind of God is expressed through the Law of God, both in the Old and New Testament versions, explaining and expressing God’s multifaceted love.  The proper biblical attitude toward the Law of God, wherever it is written in God’s Word, is defined in the Psalms of David.  So I highly recommend the reader takes on the reading of the Psalms for an attitude adjustment, if needed.  You can read a Psalm a day, along with your normal Bible study.  God said David was a man after his own heart.  editor

 

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