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1st John 2:1-17

 

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.  And if any man sin,, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.  And hereby we do 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.  Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning.  The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.

          Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.  He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.  He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.  But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.  I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. 

          I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.  I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one.  I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.  I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.  I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”  (KJV)

 

Keeping the Commandments

 

“We kind of finished with these last verses in chapter 1.  “If we say that we have no sin”—that’s singular, as a nature, is we say that we don’t have that trait or that dwells within.  You know, any one of us in the proper circumstances could do anything that we think someone else looks horrible doing.  Ah, we’re human.  We get pushed into a circumstance, we might do something in anger, we may do something out of hurt feelings, may do something…that tendency is there in each of us.  John’s a 90 year-old apostle, the last living witness to the ministry of Christ alive, the last eye-witness.  And he’s saying “If we” including himself “say we have not sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins,”—plural, our failings—“he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10)—the One who died on the cross, we make him a liar.  Why, if good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell, then Jesus died for nothing.  “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”  Now, the mistake then that some were going to make is, ‘Well, if all of us have that sinful nature still there, and if dealing with sin is easy as confessing and we’re forgiven, there’s really no pressure.  I can live fast and loose and, you know, I’m in God’s grace and that’s the only way we get to heaven anyhow, so I can do whatever I want.’  Well, John gives the second reason he wrote the letter.  He told us in the first chapter he wrote these thing to us that our joy might be full, and he says that joy is experienced by walking with Christ in the light, the fellowship we have with the Lord should produce joy in our hearts, that we don’t have some empty religious form.  We don’t know a religion, we know a person.  And he says, we have joy.  Now the problem is, our course, “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, then the blood of Christ continually cleanses us”—in our failings—“If we say we don’t have sin, we deceive ourselves.”  “If we confess our sins, he’s faithful and just to forgive us…If we say we haven’t sinned, we make him a liar and the truth is not in us.”   Now, just so then the church doesn’t go to the….then we can do whatever we want…  You know, it’s a fast and easy conclusion here, we’re all sinners then, and we just live however we want and ask Christ to forgive us and everything’s taken care of.’  [For those who fall into that misunderstanding] He says now, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.”  In other words, ‘I’m not writing unto you so you can live fast and loose, the reason I’m writing you is so that you don’t sin, we don’t have to live in sin.’  Paul says this in Romans chapter 6, “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may about?”  He’s making the same point.  [He had said just before that] “Where sin abounds, grace more abounds.”  [His answer to that is] Then he says, ‘Well then what shall we do, shall we live in sin so that God’s grace shall abound?’  He says, “God forbid, how shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?”  He says, that’s not my point at all.  And then he tells us not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies, because since we’ve been born again and God’s Spirit has moved into our hearts, the power of sin has been broken in our lives, it doesn’t rule over us anymore.  The tendency is still there, we can still fail, we can still make mistakes, we can still sin.   But the truth is,  if I sin now it isn’t because I have to, it’s because I want to [James 1:13-15 describes this].  It isn’t because I have to act a certain way when someone provokes me, it’s because I just want to blow off my steam, it isn’t because I have to, it’s because that tendency is still there, and because I’m still maturing, I still fail.  [If you’re reading this before you have read Romans chapters 6-8, you may wish to read through that section first to understand this essential spiritual point.  Log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/romans/Romans6-1-5page1.htm .]  I don’t want you all to leave the church now, but I figure you all fail too, so I keep coming. [laughter]  He says “My little children”, now no doubt, he’s thinking back to John, his own gospel, when he at the last supper tells us that Jesus said “Little children, yet a little while I am with you.  You shall seek me, and as I said unto the Jews, wither I go you cannot come, so now I say to you.”  Then he says “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another.  As I have loved you, so also that you love one another and by this shall all men know that you are my disciples by the love you have for one another.”  And he tells us there at that last supper, as we’re there, John was leaning on his breast, Jesus looked at these guys and said “Little children”, it’s technia, techna, born-ones, those who have experienced a new birth is the idea.  That includes all Christians, however mature we are, we’re all born-ones.  And here’s Jesus, you know, Peter, burly, old, tradition says he was huge, had big hands, white hair, white beard.  He was much older than John, and here’s Jesus looking at Peter and saying “Little children…”  And so much was John impressed with it, that’s the only time in the gospel that we find it because he’s recounting what happened at the last supper.  But in this short epistle he uses is at least seven times.  “Little children” now he says “I’m writing these things unto you that you sin not.”   ‘That’s my purpose, I don’t want you to take these ideas that we’ve spoken of and be abusive with them or take them for granted.  I don’t want you to sin.’  “And if any man sin”—when we do fail—“we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (verse 1)  So he says ‘I’m writing unto you that you don’t sin.  So, there can be an error [in how we interpret this] on either side of this.  Coming into it we can take for granted the grace of God…or now if he’s saying I’m writing unto you that you sin not’ there are going to be those who tend to the legalistic side and say ‘we got to be perfect.’  No, he’s saying, he’s writing because he wants maturity in our lives.  He doesn’t want us to live in sin.  There should be a difference in the way we are now and the way we were before we knew Christ, because we’re telling the world out there about God’s love, that Jesus Christ can change their life and set them free from drugs, from hatred, from the things that are in this world.  Not religion, but the living Christ can come and move into their lives and take up residence in their heart and cleanse them from their sin and set them free, give them a new beginning.  So there should be a difference in the way we live.  It says “Let them who name the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”  So he’s saying ‘I’m writing unto you that you don’t just continue in sin as a lifestyle.’  Now he says “if any man does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”  We  have an advocate, it’s taken from parocletos where Jesus said the Holy Spirit would come, the Comforter, one who comes alongside to help.  But the structure of it here is often used of someone who would be your defense attorney in a court in that day.  We have an advocate.  We have someone who takes our side.  We have someone who comes alongside of us when we do make mistakes and appeals to the Judge on our behalf.  Because he knows Satan is going to condemn us.  Satan always accuses.  And when we make a mistake [break one of God’s laws, i.e. “sin is the transgression of the law” 1 John 3:4] we feel terrible about it.  You know, I do certain things now, and you know it’s not the same as before you were saved.  You’re thinking ‘Oh man, Lord.’  You know, I lose my temper, I do something I never do, I do something like that, you know, I’m on my knees saying ‘Father, I am such a jerk, there’s so much in me that’s not like Christ yet, there’s so many un-Christ-like tendencies in me that are still so self-centered and easily provoked Father.  Please produce the fruit of your Spirit in my life.  I’m so thankful you’re going to continue the good work you’ve begun in me.’  And I’m not condemned in those things, I feel bad because I feel like I break my Father’s heart sometimes.  But I’m not condemned, because I know I have an advocate with the Father.  As Paul says in Romans “If God be for us, who can be against us?”  Because at the same time, Satan’s accusing.  Revelation  tells us he accuses us before the throne of God day and night without ceasing.  ‘You call yourself a pastor!?’  And he’s right there lettin’ me have it.  ‘You call yourself a Christian!?—and you don’t live by it, da, da, da’.  And he presents his case.  But the great thing is, my defense attorney, you know, Satan accuses me before the Judge, Almighty God, but then Christ is our Advocate.  And he walks up to the bench, and he looks into the face of the Judge, he says ‘Dad’—I love that—‘and everything the devil says is right, he is a jerk, and he does make mistakes, BUT he’s blood bought, paid in full.’  And the gavel comes down, and the case is thrown out.  Clemency.  It’s a great thing.  We have an advocate.  And you know it tells us we have an advocate here on earth, the Holy Spirit, that wonderfully works in our hearts, because we don’t know how to pray as we ought, so the Spirit of God ‘prays within us with groanings that are too deep to be uttered.’  It’s wonderful that God’s working in our lives here.  And then it says, ‘At the right hand of the Father Christ is there, where he ever makes intercession for the saints.’   So, we have an advocate in heaven, One who comes alongside to help here, that’s what Jesus told us the Holy Spirit would do.  And we have one in heaven who’s our Advocate, in our failings, he’s our Advocate because the price has been paid.  And he says that here, and he makes a greater point about it.  He says “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (verse 2)  Now John uses this word, and he’s the only one who uses it in this form.  He uses it again in chapter 4 where he said “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  It’s interesting, I have a book that’s called “The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross”.  And it kind of goes into what the church has believed from its foundation.  And it covers words like sacrifice, covenant, propitiation, atonement, justification, and the truths that were the seed-bed of the early church.  You read Peter’s sermon in the 2nd chapter of Acts, and the God of the Old Testament was a God who loved his people, but he was a God who gave a Law, a divine Law.  And when that Law was broken, there had to be, in context with breaking the Law of a Holy God, judgment and justice meted out.  If he didn’t do that, he wasn’t who he said he was.  He’s completely Holy.  So the sacrificial system is given wherein an innocent substitute then was offered in our place.  If we sinned, we would bring a sin offering to the priest and the priest would examine the lamb, and then sacrifice it and then burn it on the altar.  You remember when Elijah stood on Mount Carmel, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, and he said “Oh Lord, let your people know I’m doing all of this at your command, and that you are the one who’—and it’s in the present tense—‘who is turning their hearts back to yourself.’  And when he said that the fire of God fell upon the sacrifice and consumed it and the rocks, the water and everything, the wood, the stone.  And Christ is our Advocate, and Christ is faithful and just to forgive us because he is also the propitiation for our sins, not ours only, but the sins of the whole world.  The propitiatory sacrifice, Paul uses I think the term, it’s a longer form of the term, that means Mercy Seat in Romans chapter 3.  It isn’t just the idea of expiating, of paying the price, there’s something else involved in the word, and it’s ‘the satisfying of God’s wrath.’  There is a sentence that has to be paid.  Paul tells us in 1st Thessalonians that Christ has ‘delivered us from the wrath to come.’  He tells us the same thing in Romans chapter 5, he says “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”  In other words, when the sacrifice was offered, he was burned in the fire, it wasn’t just that he was sacrificed and left there to bleed to death, the fire was an integral part of the process.  When Christ died on the cross, he didn’t die of natural death or die of old age, he died eternally somehow, he died in a great mystery, and there on the cross the sin of the world came upon him.  It says that.  God laid upon him the iniquity of us all, and it says ‘It please the Father to bruise him’, the word means ‘to crush him’.  Something happened that’s unimaginable.  And the justice of God was meted out there, not in anger, God takes no please in the death of the wicked, and those that are lost will suffer the wrath of God, and he won’t do that with human selfish vindictive anger, but with pure holy just anger that has to be meted out.  He upholds just weights and balances all through the Scripture.  And the remarkable thing is that is that Christ, the reason he can be the just and the justifier of the ungodly is because our sentence was meted out on Christ on the cross.  And the sin of our life, which includes all of our sins, our sinful lives, there in some great mystery came under the wrath of God so that Christ has saved us from the wrath to come.  Hell is a picture of God’s wrath.  [And the various parts of the body of Christ are not  in agreement on the subject of what hell is.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.]   Those who refuse the forgiveness of God end up there and God in the final analysis is just in doing that.  So he’s just in forgiving us because Christ was not only the sin-bearer, he was the wrath-bearer.  In some way it’s hard for us to understand.  I admit that.  But what it’s saying here is, ‘Little children, I’m writing unto you that you’re not just supposed to live in sin, you have to understand the stakes and what’s been accomplished.  But if anyone sins we do have an advocate with the Father, we have a defense attorney there, and not only that, he’s not only our counsel, our defense, but he is the very satisfaction of the wrath of God.  He can be our advocate because not only is he the High Priest, he’s also the sacrifice.  He did everything.  When you make a mistake and you sin, you see what we tend to think is, ‘Oh, now I gotta behave, if I wanta get another star on the refrigerator I can’t cuss this week and I can’t do this, this week.  And if I’m really good, by the end of the week, God will love me again.’  No, that’s an impossibility.  Because the price that was paid for our sin is unimaginable, and it’s beyond anything we could ever produce on our own.  And when Christ died on the cross, he said “It is finished” (John 19:20) teleo [Strongs 5055] paid in full.  Somehow in those three hours of darkness he died eternally, and took all of the wrath of God for all of our sin—so that now he can be our advocate, he can rebuke the devil, and God the Father is completely faithful and just in forgiving us.  Because all of that sin has come under the just sentence of God in Christ.  And it need not be paid for twice.  So, not only that, he’s the propitiation for our sins, and he’s saying, not our sins only, but the sins of the entire world.  The sufficiency of the payment that he made is sufficient for anyone, anyone.  And it doesn’t matter what they’ve done.  Remember, Paul, Saul murdered Christians, Saul of Tarsus.  He caused Christians to blaspheme the name of Jesus at the point of a sword, he did things that none of us would do.  And God forgave him and turned him into Paul the apostle, the apostle of grace.  And he had that great message, and he talked openly about the wrath of God, and how that it was satisfied in Christ and that Christ saved us from the wrath to come.  So he says, ‘Not only is he our advocate, but he is the propitiation, he himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.  So, rejecting Jesus Christ [Yeshua haMeshiach for our Jewish brothers] is rejecting your opportunity to pass into eternity in heaven.  You have to understand that.  There’s only one sin that sends people to hell.  Because I’m going to heaven, and I got lots of sin [even though we live a life of overcoming sin, and as we grow older we become more and more sinless, as Pastor Joe brings out, my experience and his is this, that we come to see more and more sin within ourselves, as we live in this world and come to understand God more and more, just to put his statement in context with spiritual reality.]  So do you.  Don’t look at me like you don’t understand what I’m talking about.  [laughter]  The only unpardonable sin is rejecting Jesus Christ as your savior.  Every other sin is forgivable as far as God is concerned, every other sin.  The one unpardonable sin…Satan tries to convince people ‘Oh I’ve committed the unpardonable sin.’  No you haven’t.  If you’re worried about it, you haven’t done it.  Because the one sin that is absolutely unforgivable is to pass into eternity not having accepted the forgiveness of Christ.  That’s the unpardonable sin.  Every other sin is pardonable because when Christ died, the sufficiency of that was not only for our sins but for the sins of the whole world.  And therein the Father takes no pleasure in the death of the unrighteous, he’s made it possible for all to come. 

          Verse 3 says, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.”  Now it’s from the word “to know, experientially”.  John says “Hereby do we know”, you say ‘Well, how do I know I know?’  Well he says, “Hereby do we know experientially, that we know him experientially.’  And that’s what we want.  Nobody wants to play phony church games or phony religious games.  This is how we know experientially in our own lives that we know him experientially, if we keep, as in the tense of we’re constantly keeping his commandments.  We keep the things he says to us.  Well he said “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  And John, no doubt harking back to his gospel, where Jesus says, “If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our abode with him.  He says “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.”  [Now I have to interject here that all those on the more Torah observant side of the body of Christ feel John is talking about the 10 Commandments, or at least the Law of Christ, which is 9 of the 10 commandments, which are re-commanded throughout the New Testament in the epistles.  It is a fact that the last five commandments are summed up in the law the lawyer quoted to Jesus “love thy neighbor as thyself.”  A slight modification of that law is Jesus and John’s “new commandment” “Love one another.”  The whole OT law of God, and the whole “law of Christ” in the NT are summed up in “Love God with all of your heart, mind and soul, and the second, which is like unto it, Love thy neighbor as thyself.”  The grace oriented churches and denominations like to dance all around what appear to be clear statements about how we should be keeping God’s law, even where it clearly states so, and end up stating so in the end, albeit in a round-about way.  John even states in 1 John 3:4 that “sin is the transgression of the law”, and the whole NT tells us to come out of sin, which means by John’s definition that we’re supposed to come out of “transgression of God’s law”.  Now this may sound too “legalistic” to some.  It all goes back to “law and grace” again.  Man couldn’t keep the law on his own, as the whole of OT history shows, but we’re commanded to keep the law nonetheless.  So how do we do that?  That’s the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.  But the new covenant says God’s going to write his laws in our hearts and minds.  We find under the new covenant the ability, responsibility and power to obey has been radically shifted from man to God.  We just have to be willing partners with God as he does the writing.]  “And he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him.”  So he says it again here.  ‘This is how we know him experientially, and we know that, if we are in the habit of keeping his commandments.’  And I assume that all of you are.  If you’re here tonight and you’re saved, and somebody provokes you, and an interesting thing happens.  Before you were a Christian, you’d just lash out.  You’d just take somebody’s head off.  But now, it comes sometimes, it gets as far as the tongue—doesn’t it?  And then you’re thinking, ‘Oh, I’d like to do it, but I’m not because I’m a Christian.’  Or even if it gets out [past your tongue], you’re thinking ‘Oh man, I can’t believe I said that, Oh Lord, please don’t ever give up on me, I’m just so slow to learn.’  You know, there’s this whole world of conviction that we live in because we are now constantly in the process of keeping his commandments, that’s how we live, we want to do those things, that are right before him.  He says, “He that saith,” in verse 4, and it’s the person who’s constantly saying ‘Hey, I know him, I know Christ…’ “and keepeth not his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”   It’s just speaking to us about obedience.  [and by obedience, in context with the whole letter, and 1 John 3:4, it’s obedience to God’s law that is being talked about here, plain and simple.  Whether the believer’s Christian conscience leads one to follow the OT Ten Commandment version of God’s law (as the Torah observant side of the body of Christ believes it should) or the NT Law of Christ version—minus the Sabbath Command.  In Matthew 5:17-48, Jesus said the law, in all its forms, would not pass away until heaven and earth pass—that’s in Revelation 21:1 and the New Jerusalem’s coming down—and then he went on to command his followers, Messianic Jewish and Gentile Christians, to adhere to the spirit-level of the Ten Commandments, and gave examples from verses 20-48 of Matthew 5 of what that means.  It is the penalty of God’s law which Paul in Romans 6 said was done away with for believers, not the law itself.  This penalty of God’s law was done away with so believers could enter into the lifelong  process of having God “write his laws upon their heart and in their minds”.  We are supposed to be willing participants in that process, and not thinking the Law of God, in either form, is done away with, or evil, or any such thing.  God’s law is a law of love and outgoing concern for others, and is the embodiment of the mind of Christ.  It is that very law, the embodiment of the wording of the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-13), which the Lord seeks to write upon our very hearts and into our very minds.]  If Christ is our Lord, then our life is characterized by obedience.  We obey him.  Look, there’s three reasons for obedience.  One is, because you have to, one is because you need to, and one is because you want to.  Some people do what they do because they have to (or they know they’ll get locked up if they don’t, or they know they’ll go to jail).  They stop at a red light because they know there’s a police officer sitting there, and they know that if they don’t stop at the red light…they stop at the red light because they have to.  Some people do the things they do because they need to.  Like an employee.  A slave does what he does what he does because he has to, an employee does what he does because he needs to.  If he doesn’t do it, he doesn’t get the check, the whole process.  But someone who’s in your family, someone who loves you, will do the things they do because they want to.  Now, granted, in a family there’s a process.  When you have a little kid, they do what they do because they have to.  And they should.  Because if they don’t they get spanked.  So they do what they do because they have to.  And that’s good for them.  They get a little older, and you start talking about something like allowance, then they do what they do because they need to (because I want to get this new pair of sneakers, and of course these days that’s about fifty years worth of allowance [laughter]).  But you hope, with your own kids, as they become adults, that they really start to do the things they do because they want to.  They really start to look at you and realize all of the years you’ve cared for them, and they really start to realize you’re getting older, they actually take out the trash because they want to.  Then they’ve crossed an invisible indefinable line.  When that trash-can goes out because they want to, and not because they need to, when they clean that room [laughter] not because they need to, you know there’s like these invisible lines that are crossed.  And he’s saying that here, obedience is that way.  He doesn’t want us obeying him because “we have to” or because “we need to”, but to obey Christ because we love Christ, because we walk with Christ—because we believe that if we do the things he tells us, it’s better for us, it’s better for him.  [cf. Psalm 119:19-20, 23-24,30-36,39-40,45-48,59-60.  David was truly living under to terms of the new covenant in Old Testament times (as were all of God’s holy servants, the Prophets).  God was writing his laws within David’s very being (and the OT version at that), and look at what David wrote about God’s laws.  God’s laws are the “family rules”, the “rules of the house for the family of God”.  The Jews revere David, and they revere God’s law, even though under the Old Covenant they were never able to observe God’s laws.  David, by the end of his life, was observing all of God’s laws, they’d been written into his very heart and mind, the core of his being.  He was “taking out the trash and picking up his room” because he wanted to, in and through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.]  The hard part about it is, it’s somebody else’s will.  The reason that people fight in marriages is because you’re dealing with somebody else’s will.  The reason you have to spank a child is because you’re dealing with somebody else’s will.  And that lesson is important in all of our lives, from the time we’re little, because ultimately for Christ to be our Lord, not just our Savior—you know, some people turn to Christ because they have to, ‘I don’t want to go to hell, OK, I’ll turn to Christ.’  ‘All right, Lord, I’ll do it your way, because it’ll get me out of this mess.’  But there is that growth with Christ where we do those things because we love Christ.  [Read those Psalms I listed, read all of Psalm 119.  That was the heart of David, he obeyed because he loved Yahweh, the very one who became Christ.   You sense a deep awe and respect for the things of God, the laws of God, in David because of his deep love for God.]  And he’s the Lord of our life.  And we realize his will is more important than mine.  That’s a hard line to cross, taking the trash out because we want to and not because we have to.  We finally realize, ‘Lord, you’re wiser than me.  I don’t know how this is going to work out, but I see in your Word you’re commanding me to do this, to behave this certain way, and that’s not my will, that’s your will.  And that’s really a struggle for me, Lord.  But I don’t want to be a phony, and I know that you’ve been poking at my heart all day, so alright.  I love you Lord, you went to the cross, you took the wrath for me…’  “But whoso keepeth his word”—down in verse 5—“in him verily is the love of God perfected—“being brought to maturity”, it’s in the tense of, you see someone who’s walking in the Word, seeking God so they can live according to his Word, that the love of God is coming to maturity in the life of that person—“hereby know we that we are in him.”  He says, here’s how we know, verse 6, “He that he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”  Now remember, John was there and told us Jesus said “I am the vine, you’re the branches.  He that abideth in me…”  And he picks up that word, he knows how important it is, to abide in Christ.  He says, “He that abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”  How are we conformed into the image of Christ?  By a “How To” book?  By this many exercises?  The Scripture tells us it’s by “abiding in him”.  If we abide in him, we bring forth fruit.  If we don’t, there’s nothing we can do.  John understood, as a young man, fifteen, sixteen years old when he listened to Christ when he was saying this.  Do you abide in Christ?  And what’s abiding like?  You know, when I moved to the west coast in 1976, it was interesting because it was a whole new group of people out there.  The people I’d grown up with, my friends, were back here.  The guys I had traveled with, we’d played Rock & Roll all over the country, and ah, when you live with somebody like that, you find out who hangs up the washcloth after they take a shower and who just throws it in the corner and doesn’t care if it grows mould.  You find out who wants the toilet paper coming off the front of the roll and who wants the toilet paper coming off the back of the roll, you find out who keeps ketchup in the refrigerator and who thinks it survives fine out on the counter.  You know, there’s just all these idiosyncrasies, you’re in there.  And it was funny, because then when some of the folks I had been involved in this ministry came back and met some of the people I had traveled with, they see a lot of them in you.  Now that we saw them and met them and we see a lot of similarities.  And that’s because who we hang out with you become a lot like.  [Proverbs says that, “hang out with a fool, become a fool; hang out with a wise man, become a wise man.”  Often when you view a couple who’ve been married for a long time, you often see that couple is a lot alike if the marriage has bonded properly.  They often move, speak, think as one.]  And if you abide in Christ, it’s not something you can rush, it’s not something you can huff and puff, and blow the house down.  OK?  If you see an apple or you see a grape hanging on the vine, it’s not straining to get ripe, is it?  A servant of the Lord shouldn’t strive.  That grape’s not going GRRRRR! I’m gonna get ripe!  That’s what Jesus is talking about, the life comes from the vine itself.  I just hope it registers there.  It’s by hanging out in Jesus, it’s abiding in him that we become like him, that we walk as he walked.  Don’t tell me “I was coming home, and the Lord led me to come into the bar.”  I’m sorry, I don’t believe that.  “I was coming home from work in traffic and the Lord led me to do this or…”  You know, if we abide in him, then we ought ourselves to walk even as he walked.  We’re not saved by that, no one’s saved by trying to be like Jesus, we’re saved by grace, through faith.  But there’s Christian growth then.  What does it mean to walk?  Take your Webster’s dictionary and look.  It says “it means to make progress by putting one foot in front of the other.”  It’s a process.  And so is our walk. Or maybe you’re here tonight, again, you don’t know Christ.  That walk begins with the first step.  Maybe some of you tonight will make that first step.  Not in Calvary Chapel, God forbid.  Not in religion, not in church, but in Jesus.  In Jesus, the one who lived and died for us, and rose again.  And he says here, “But whoso keepeth his word”—one who constantly guards it and lives in it—“in him truly is the love of God coming to maturity: and hereby know we that we are in him.  He that sayeth he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”  (verses 5-6)  And it’s not in keeping with my selfish nature, with my will.  One of the first words a baby learns to say is “Mine!”, “Mine!”.  They’re born that way.  I know they’re cute, but it says we’re born that way, sinners from the womb.  [And this all due to the fact that even babies, with the spirit in man that gives them their intelligence and intellect is subject to Satan’s evil wavelength, broadcast of evil attitudes all around the earth.]  It’s a good thing they’re cute, or we wouldn’t keep them around.  Because if they were ugly and acted like that, they’d be in trouble.  [laughter]  They’re cute, babies, but they have that nature.  “Mine!”  Well, we do that as adults too.  We have it.  And it’s hard to relinquish our will to his will, to walk as he walked.  You know, Paul says, “let this mind be in you…”  Let it, he asks you to be part of the process.  “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God…but took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man, and he humbled himself…”and so forth.  Let this mind be in you.  What rights do you really have?  If Christ is your Lord, we set aside our rights, and we walk even as he walked. 

 

Loving One Another

 

          “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye have from the beginning.  The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.”  (verse 7)  The Word of God, what you’ve heard of the gospel, what you know.  “Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.” (verse 8) And it sounds like double-speak but it’s not.  ‘It’s not a new commandment, you know what you’re supposed to do, you know the things of Christ, and particularly in regards to loving one another.  Particularly about letting him be the Lord of our lives.’  But it’s new in this sense.  He says “Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you”—within the realm of your personal living relationship with Christ, there’s always newness, he’s saying, because, King James says, ‘the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.”—the tense is, ‘the darkness is presently passing away and the true light is now shining.’  What he says is, in our lives and in our personal walk with Christ, more and more the darkness is passing away and the light is shining.  I mean, I know more about Christ now than I did in 1972 when I got saved.  But more importantly, I know the presence of his Spirit more intimately now.  I’m more familiar with his Word than I was then.  And the truth is, I sin less, but I repent more, as I go on with Christ.  I sin less, but I repent more.  You know, when you first get saved, the biggies go.  You know, drugs, immorality, knockin’ people out, you know, just those things that Christians should not have attached to them.  But you know as you go on, and you grow in grace and the knowledge of him, you’re in a process where the darkness is passing, he’s brought you out of darkness and into the light, and the light is increasing, and you realize—‘Hey, wait a minute Lord, that attitude is wrong.’  The fact that I repeated that to someone, ‘Lord forgive me, I shouldn’t have said that, I should have just put that brush-fire out.’  ‘Lord, this hatred I have…’  You know, as we go, it’s always something new.  [The late Dr. Bill Bright called it “Breathing in and out with the Lord”, a constant process of confessing our sins, and repenting, like breathing in and out with the Lord.]  It’s not a new commandment, but it’s new, he says “in you and in him…” in that relationship.  Because in the process, darkness is passing away and light is shining. 

          “He that sayeth he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.” (verse 9)—is constantly in the process of hating his brother, is in darkness even until now.  If someone’s life is characterized by bitterness and hatred, they’re walking in darkness, not in the light.  They’re not walking in fellowship with Jesus, who’s our advocate, who’s made propitiation for our sins, who’s provided forgiveness.  And this is even talking about Christians.  Remember back in 2nd Peter, he says “he that lacketh these things,” talking about temperance, patience, godliness, virtue, diligence, faith…he says “he that lacketh these things is blind and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten”—talking about a believer—“that he was purged from his old sins.”  He’s forgotten, he has no perspective, he can’t see where he’s going, he’s forgotten where he himself has come from.  What John says here is, we’re in the process of living in bitterness and hatred—and look, if you are bitter at someone here tonight, and you are hating someone tonight, listen, you can get past that.  I don’t care if it’s somebody who’s sexually abused you as a child, I don’t care if it’s a best friend who’s stabbed you in the back—you can get past that, or God is not on the throne and his Word does not mean what it says.  You can get past it.  Oh, there’s a cost involved.  That’s to set aside your will, and to submit to his.  That’s for sure.  But you can get past that.  Because he says, if you’re doing that, you’re in darkness, you can’t see where you’re going, and you’ve forgotten the same blood had to be shed to cleanse you, as this other sinner you’re so mad at.  So he says, “Whoever is like that, he’s walking in darkness even until now.” 

          “He that loveth his brother abideth in the light,”—notice verse 10, that’s not “he that sayeth”, this is a person that’s doing it, he that agape, he that’s loving his brother sacrificially, is presently in the process of abiding in the light—“and there is no occasion of stumbling in him.”  If you’re loving the way Christ wants us to love, and he says, “as I have loved you”, remember, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  “Love one another the way I have loved you” says that if we’re loving that way, we are in the light, and then because we’re in the light, we’re not going to stumble over anything.  And the word “stumble” there, [Strongs Greek # 4625] skandalon, it was a piece of the trap in this culture where the bait was attached, someone who is a trapper, was setting a trap for an animal, would attach, like a bear trap where you put the bait in the center, that was the skandalon.  And it says, if we understand how he wants us to love one other, and it’s with a self-sacrificial love, it’s without strings attached, and it’s hard, and it can’t happen except through his Spirit, and through his enabling, and through our dependence on him—but if we love one another like that, it says that we’re in the light, and we’re not going to be stumbled.  Because a little thing goes off, where Satan wants to put the bait on the trap is not going to, you know, turn us away.  You know, of all of the people that are closest to me in this world, and closest to me here where I work there isn’t a single one of them that hasn’t hurt my feelings.  There’s not a single one of them that wouldn’t take a bullet for me.  There’s not a single one of them who would have hurt my feelings if they knew they were hurting my feelings.  And I’m always willing to step past that.  And when someone is deliberately trying, then I’m in the process of thinking, ‘What’s wrong with them?’  ‘What’s wrong in their life that they would be this vindictive or this angry?’  Don’t let me get into the ring, don’t let me put the gloves on.  If you put the gloves on, you get into the ring, you have just become a participant instead of a spectator.  The best thing to say is ‘Lord, let me be a spectator, let me stand outside the ring and look at this and say ‘Man, this is crazy, Lord, help me get through this.’’  Don’t get personally involved.  “But he that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him.  But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.” (verses 10-11)  Hatred is one of the things he warns us of here.  He tells us he doesn’t want us to sin.  He tells us if we know that we know Christ, that in our hearts we really want to keep his commandments, if we walk with him.  One of the things that makes it evident that we’re not walking with him is if we’re not in the light because we’re filled with hatred, we’re filled with anger, we don’t love one another.

          Now, one of the things he warns about is the world.  He says “I’m writing to you that you sin not”…and he begins to warn Christians about the world, and loving the world and the fact that that can be a downfall and it can hurt the fellowship that we should have with one another.  Verse 12 he says, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.”  And I’ll read these verses, because again it sounds a little like doublespeak.  “I write unto you little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.  I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.  I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one.  I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.” (verse 13)  Again, “I write unto you little children”—is born-ones again.  That’s to all of us.  To all of us who have experienced a new birth he says this, ‘I’m writing unto you, those of you that are born from above, because your sins are forgiven,’  and the idea is, they are permanently put away.  Those are the tenses.  Your sins have been forgiven once and for all, you that are born-ones.  And that, he says, ‘for his name’s sake’, because he’s the propitiation for our sins, not just for our sins alone, but for the sins of the whole world, he satisfied God’s justice.  ‘So I write unto you children, born ones, so we have access, he’s our Father, he’s our Father.  I always want my kids to have access.  You know, one of the things that makes the office busy and noisy sometimes is I feel like all the guys who work there, their kids should be able to walk right in, and their wives should be able to walk right in.  I don’t want their kids growing up with a wrong impression of what a father should be—they’re church kids, they live here half their lives you know—but I want them to think ‘I always had access to my father.’  And I don’t want any secretaries to say ‘You can’t go in there, he’s talking…’  At least with my kids, if they open the door and I’m talking to somebody or somebody’s there crying, or a husband and wife are there rolling on the floor strangling each other, or something [laughter], they understand, they shut the door and they go.  I always want them to have access.  We’re born-ones, we’re in the family now.  And we always have access to the Father.  And we’re forgiven for his name’s sake, our sins have been completely forgiven once and for all.  And he says ‘I’m writing to you because of who you are, I’m writing unto you fathers, those of you who have been in the faith longer, because you have known him from the beginning.’  And you know, the interesting thing is of course, we grow in Christ.  You’re in Christ a year, two years, five years, ten years, twenty years, you start to be amazed as time goes on the Deity of Jesus Christ, with who he is, with what he’s done, with the price that he’s paid, with the incarnation, that he’s come and subjected himself to his own creation, that he bore our sin.  He says, ‘I write unto you fathers, those who know him from the beginning, I write unto you, young men—thirty year olds in this culture—because you have overcome the wicked  one, I mean, you’ve made that step, you’re in your youth, you’re not compromising, you’ve overcome the wicked one.  And then [he says in verse 13] ‘I write unto you little children’, he uses a different word than ‘born ones’, verse 12 seems like he’s writing to everybody, now  it seems he’s writing to folks in the church with a different level of maturity.  He says, ‘I write unto you, little children,’—we get pediatric from that, from that word, it’s a different word than little children up further [i.e. up further to verse 12 and before], and it means those who are under instruction.  You know, new believers, in one sense, there’s some great stuff about new believers, I mean when they’re just asking about everything.  They don’t know the difference between an epistle and an apostle.  They don’t know how many points Calvin has or doesn’t have.  They don’t know who Armenian is.  They’re just on fire for Jesus, they love Jesus, they’re asking questions, ‘Oh really?! Show me that.  Where’s that?  Oh, I love that song!  Oh, I love to go to church, I love the hug part.  And everything’s brand new.  You see, sadly, as Christians mature, ‘Oh, we’re not singing this song again.  Don’t sit over there, because when they hug this one always wants to hug and I don’t feel like hugging.’  ‘I write unto you young ones, who are under instruction,’ he says, ‘because you know the Father.’  You’re amazed with just the very open time in the life of a young child under instruction [and it’s the same way with a new believer].

 

What we’re producing in the church a spiritual fast-food culture

Now again, “I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.”  Now, very important.  I have written unto you young men, because ye are strong,”—and he adds the secret of their strength—“and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” (verse 14)  The secret of their strength, the Word of God abideth in you.  You know, people come for counseling, they’ve got these problems, and you talk to them, and I’ll say “Are you spending any time in the Word?”  “Oh yeah.”  “Well how much?”  “Well, you mean every day?”  “Yeah, today, how much?”  “Well, it’s not daily, sometimes it’s daily bread, but it’s not daily.”  And one of the first things you try to find out is, ‘Hey, are you spending time in the Word?’, because if you’re spending time in the Word, then the Word is spending time in you.  It’s alive and it’s powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword.  It’s not laying their static.  If you’re spending time in God’s Word, something is happening in your life.  If you spend an hour a day in God’s Word, and you’re thirty years old now, or you’re sixteen years old now, what are you going to be like by the time you’re 70?  You’re going to be a treasure for God’s Church and God’s people, and your family and your grandchildren.  “I write unto you young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.”  Where does strength come from?  Abiding in the Word, and letting the Word abide in you.  [You see, there’s an interaction between the Holy Spirit who indwells you and the Word of God when you read it, one enabling the other, making the Word come alive within you.  The Jewish scribes that make the Torah scrolls, both historically and now, have a special calligraphy for the Hebrew letters they use in some of the Torah scrolls they write for the synagogues, and the letters appear to have flames coming off of them, symbolizing the Living Word of God, God breathed.  God’s Word lives in a believer when it is mixed with the indwelling Holy Spirit within that believer in some mysterious way that brings spiritual life and strength into that Holy Spirit indwelt believer.]   It produces health.  We know all kinds of things about health now, you take supplements now, not just vitamins anymore, metabolic enhancers, you take all of these different things they’re discovering—co-enzyme Q10 does this for your heart, and if you take acetocartatene…improve the mitacondria of your cells…there’s like all of this stuff out there.  And they’re constantly finding out more and more.  And now, all this stuff that’s in vegetables, they’re finding that out, so I can take a pill and not have to eat the vegetables—I was never really big on vegetables, with all the polyphenols and bioflavinoids, now I can get them in a pill form.  You know we’re finding out all this stuff for the physical frame.  Well spiritual health is produced through your spiritual diet, and what we’re producing in the church a fast-food culture, we’re MacDonald-sizing or whatever that movie is [Super-size Me].  In our culture, one of the problems is, we’re producing poor health because of fast-food restaurants, drive-through restaurants.  And there’s no meat, no wholesome healthy diet that’s being produced [or there’s no vegetables, and poor meat loaded with fat].  Well the same thing’s happening in the church.  Churches are filling people with their overhead projectors, and the rock music, and they have the best of this, and they have CEO’s from corporations coming in, and famous people, and it becomes an entertainment center, it becomes a multimedia center—because you sit in front of your multi-media center all week and you have surround-sound and you have the Big Screen now, and the Big Screen now is High Definition, you never just watch a regular old TV anymore.  But I read something about hi-definition TV’s, this report that said when they put hummingbirds in front of this hi-definition television for awhile, they lose their way, they can’t find out when the let them go, the emf’s are high enough.  And when they put porpoises in front of a hi-definition television their sonar doesn’t work right afterward, and you see people just sitting in front of those things and afterwards they’re just wandering around…[laughter]  But then, you know, when we come to church, we’re bored.  ‘I mean, I went to church, that guy’s sitting there with a book open [laughter], and he talks.  It’s because this industry out there is called “Amusement”.  Muse the word from the Latin to think.  Amuse means to not to think.  It’s the biggest industry in the country, making you “not think”.  And we’re producing fast-food diets in the church now, across America.  And you deserve to come here and be fed, that’s what Jesus said.  [“Feed my lambs, feed my sheep”]  And he said it to Peter, and he said it to John, “If you love me, feed my sheep.  You deserve to come and get the Word of God, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, Paul said “I didn’t neglect to declare unto you the whole counsel of God.”  Isaiah said “here a little, there a little, line upon line, precept upon precept.”  Jesus said “Father, sanctify them through thy truth, thy Word is truth.”  And all through the Scripture we hear how important the truth is, and not to turn away from the truth.  And the church and the world we’re living in doesn’t want to hear about truth.  And the church is becoming an entertainment center.  And in the long-term that fast-food diet is going to produce the same unhealthy fat, lazy Christians with bad cardiac heart problems, and in the spiritual realm they’re going to look the same way—pubitatus, not doing anything, not walking.  Jesus is walking, it says.  “The Word of God abideth in you.”  Martha, busy, busy, busy—Mary, sitting.  You know, spend time—I can’t give you any better advice than to spend time in the Word.  Never come here and believe what I say [without reading in the Word to see if those things be so], if you do, you are foolish.  Paul said the Bereans were more noble because they searched the Scripture to see if the things he preached were true or not.  That’s your responsibility, Acts 17:11.  It should be written in the first page of your Bible, it should say Acts 17:11.

 

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” Acts 17:11.

 

You should search the Scripture, you have an open Bible.  You have to see if I’m telling you the truth.  What if you come here and I tell you “Let’s go wait on the hill for the flying saucers, the mother-ship is getting close”.  “Hey, it’s not in here”, you’d tar and feather me and run me outa here.  What a great privilege we have to study the Bible chapter by chapter and verse by verse [which is the way Calvary Chapel’s study and  preach from the Word of God.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/pom/philofmin.htm].  How long will we have it?  If Christ tarries, how long will it be before we’re persecuted for believing and teaching and embracing the things on this page.  I don’t know.  It’s happening in many other places.  [Some pastors in Canada have been locked in jail for preaching the clear teaching about proper morality and that homosexuality, along with any immorality is wrong.  Shame on you, government of Canada!]  “But I’ve written unto you young men because you are strong, the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.”  You’ve had victory over the enemy through the Word of God, and he says this now.

 

Warning About the World

 

          “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (verses 15-17)  Love not the world, it’s very interesting.  It’s [in the] emphatic, and it says “stop considering the world precious”, that’s what the Greek says.  It’s assuming that we already struggle with that.  And he’s telling us there’s another world.  We’ve come from darkness to light.  God has given us his Word, and we can have victory over this world, and the prince of this world, called the devil.  “So stop” he says “loving this world.  Stop considering it precious.  And don’t love the world or the things that are in the world.  Now, the world, what’s he talking about?  You’re supposed to hate the Earth and wish you were on Mars?  Ah, stop loving the world.  You know, John says a little further on, “he who has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need”, and he’s talking about the material world.  And he uses the same word.  John uses the word world, cosmos, in his writings, more that the rest of the New Testament combined, more than anyone.  He says here, “Stop loving the world.”  What’s he talking about?  Because he says “God so loved the world, same word [cosmos] that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes on him should never perish and have everlasting life.”  There, he’s talking about the world of humanity.  God so love the world, the world of humanity.  There’s the material world.  He speaks of the world that is the literal physical world, and God made this, it’s God’s creation and there’s beauty there, and John appreciates that.  But here he’s talking about the world of men’s standards and values, and he says it in 16, “All that is of the world…”  This is the world he’s talking about, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father, it’s of the world.  So stop loving the that world, in that sense.  Because if any man is filled for the love of the physical, the material, the sensual, it says the love—not for the Father—but the love of the Father is not in him.  Remember he said, same author, John in John chapter 14, he says “if a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we—Jesus says—me and my Father will come and make our abode in him.  He only uses that word “abode” twice in his writings.  Earlier in the chapter he says “You believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions, many abodes.  If it were not so, I would have told you…that where I am you may also be.”  He’s been preparing a place for us now for 2,000 years.  What is that like?  He created the heavens and the earth in six days.  And they’re pretty amazing.  What’s the place he’s been fixing up for us for 2,000 years?  He says, ‘What I’m asking of you is, if you will keep my commandments, the word that I give you, and the Father will love you, and I and the Father, we will come and make our mansion in you.  Now it’s funny, because I look in the mirror and think I’m a fixer-upper.  He says ‘you’re a mansion’.  He says, this is what it’s all about for us.  The world, and all of the beauty, the physical cosmos, all of that was just the stage for the romance of redemption to be worked out for God in time and eternity to take a Bride for his Son.  And it will all pass away and be rolled up like a scroll, an old rag [and be recreated, both heavens and earth, cf. Revelation 21:1], the Bible says.  [And then the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven, and be placed in the area that is now the Middle East, on the recreated planet earth.  Read Revelation 21:1-17.  That is the mansion of the saints, gonna be 1,500 miles square and that distance high, rising up from the earth.]  But when he sees Christ in us, and he sees our hearts turn towards him, it says “then he comes” and the verse before that says “and we will manifest ourselves to you.”  It’s talking about reality, knowing Christ.  And then he says “the Father and I, we will come and make our mansion in you.”  Seems like a bad trade, doesn’t it?  We get saved, our sins get forgiven, and we’re headed to glory, to go to a mansion in heaven [in the kingdom of heaven, biblically] that’s unimaginable, and he did all the work and paid the price, and went under God’s wrath for us to pay for our sin, and he gets us for his mansion.  But he says here “If you love the world, if you’re drawn away by how sensual and pleasurable the world is, and it is, and you’re heart is there,” he said, “then the love of the Father finds no room in you.”  God’s heart is infinite, he can love all of us individually.  Our heart is not infinite, we can only have a certain amount of attractions in it.  And Jesus says, if we get caught up with the cares of this life and the riches of this world, it chokes the Word, there’s not enough room.  Here it says, “if we stop loving the world, and we really look to the things of God, the Father finds great place in us then, in us and through us to this lost world.”  “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world”—he says in verse 17, look—“passeth”—‘eth’ in the King James tells us that it’s in the tense of “the world is presently passing away.”  Where are you building your future?  This world, this ball of dirt, is presently passing away.  The price of gas is never going to be where you want it to be.  [that’s a bit prophetic, since this sermon was given in 1996, and look where the price of gas is now in 2006!]  I remember when I could fill up my gas tank for two bucks (well, then it was my father’s gas tank).  And that was a big boat, too.  I remember when Burger Chef, before Burger King, across from Northeast High School, when you could get a hamburger for ten cents, and a cheeseburger for 15 cents.  I told my kids, you could pull up there with a twenty dollar bill and say “Give me 200 hamburgers.”  [laughter] This world, this economy, this morality, the societies of this world, it’s in the process of failing, of disintegrating.  The world, the present world with its standards, moral standards are being devaluated.  All we have to do is look around us.  There’s a greater gulf between darkness and light than there has ever been.  The world, he says, is presently passing away.  Why put all of your affection there?  ‘The world is passing away, and the lust thereof’—and it’s being caused to pass away—“but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.’  (17) Now this is what he says, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life—that’s what takes us down.  From the Garden of Eden, Eve saw the lust of the eyes, and it was good to the taste, the lust of the flesh.  To make one wise, the pride of life.  Satan got Eve alone and he appealed to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life to take her down. 

 

James 4:1-7, “From whence come wars and fightings among you?  Come they not hence, even of you own lusts that war in your members?  Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.  Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?  Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.  Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?  But God giveth more grace.  Wherefore he said, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.  Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you…”

 

When God said to the children of Israel, Deuteronomy 17, ‘When you come into the land that I’m going to give you, and you chose a king, see that he’s not a foreigner, but one of your brethren, and there’s three things that I’m going to ask.  I don’t want him to multiply wives’—lust of the flesh—‘I don’t want him to multiply gold and silver to himself’—pride of life, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes—‘and I don’t want him to go back to Egypt and multiply horses’—pride of life, military strength.  Satan comes to Jesus in the wilderness to tempt him, and says, “Since you’re the Son of God, turn these stones into bread.”—the lust of the flesh, hunger—he shows him all the kingdoms of the world and says ‘all of these are yours, if you will bow down and worship me I’ll give them to you.’—lust of the eyes—He says to Jesus, there’s the pinnacle of the temple, you’re the Son of God, Scripture says that he’ll give his angels charge over thee to bear thee up lest you dash your foot against a stone, cast yourself down, make a grand entrance, and everybody will know you’re Messiah.’—pride of life.  And in all three places, when that temptation came, Jesus said, “It is written…”  ‘Since you’re the Son of God’, and got him at his weakest point.  You ever notice the devil does that?  He doesn’t wait till you’re really doing great.  No he’s there all the time to hassle us, and he doesn’t personally do it, he’s got his minions.  But when you’re having a really terrible week, and life has really fallen apart, and things really stink, and you feel like throwing in the towel, you feel like giving up.  The devil doesn’t say, ‘Oh the poor Christian, I’m going to leave them alone till they get back on their feet, because I love a fair fight.’  No, that’s when he pours it on.  Jesus hadn’t eaten for forty days, it says at that point his body was breaking down, he’s given to hunger, he could feel the hunger, and Satan comes and says ‘Hey, hey, you’re the Son of God.  This is the way God treats his own kid?  Since you’re the Son of God, turn these stones into bread.’  Jesus could have turned the whole wilderness into a bakery.  He could have Crispy Crème’d all of Judea if he wanted to.  [laughter]  He could have turned Satan into bread, that’s what I’d have done.  And what he says to him is, ‘You know what?  I don’t have to be the Son of God to whup you.  Man doesn’t live by break alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’  He did that for us and on our behalf.  And he said to the devil, ‘All I have to be to beat you is a man who is filled with the Spirit and submitted to the Word of God.’  ‘Man, doesn’t live by bread alone.’  And in all three places, he quoted the Scripture.  Let me tell you something.  If Satan comes to him, because the Spirit descended from heaven, he heard the voice from heaven say ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I’m well pleased’, he [Satan] says forty days later, ‘Well, since you are the Son of God’—it’s not “if”, the class condition in the Greek, it’s “since you’re to Son of God, do this…”  No doubt about it.  And the temptations he came to Christ with were the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  That means, those are the best three things he has in his arsenal.  If he used those three things in Eden, and he used those three things against the Son of God, you can be sure those are the three things that will come against you—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life.  The lust of the flesh may be tougher when we’re sixteen, seventeen, eighteen.  But the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life are there—the lust of the eyes may come to the forefront when we’re middle aged, but the lust of the flesh is still there, the pride of life is still there.  The pride of life may come to the fore when we’re 70 years old and we’re tempted to say to our grandkids ‘Ah, let me tell you, you’ll find out someday what life is all about kid.  When I was a kid I walked ninety-four miles to school every day.’  And you know, different aspects of those may come to the fore at different points in our life, but they’re all there, they’re all there.  And we’ve overcome because of our strength, and we have strength because the Word of God abides in us, and we abide in the Word of God.  And when the enemy comes, we don’t have to be anything but a man whose walking in the Light, filled with God’s Spirit, submitted to God’s Word.  Man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  ‘Well Pastor Joe, what if I blow it?’  Well, if you blow it, we have an advocate with the Father, and he goes up to the Judge and says ‘Dad, this one blew it, but the price is already paid, because I’m the propitiation too.’  Provision has been made.  Provision has been made.  The challenge is, John says, “I’m writing that you sin not.”  Are you this evening, living in a sexual relationship—outside of marriage?  You shouldn’t be.  It’s sin, and the Bible says that it’s sin [remember, sin is the transgression of God’s law, 1 John 3:4], and God is the one who invented sexual intimacy, and he’s the one who has the right to proscribe what it should be for, he wants it to be pleasurable, he wants it to be fulfilling, and he wants it to be in marriage.  And it has a great purpose there.  Are you drunk all week?  You’re in sin.  God made grapes, I know that.  Don’t tell me.  Jesus drank.  ‘Well I want to be like Jesus.’  Well I want to be like Jesus too.  And he said “I’m going to drink no more of the fruit of the vine till I drink anew in my Father’s kingdom’, and when Jesus drinks wine, I’m gonna drink wine with him—okay?  Until then, I want to be like him.  Drugs, if you’re using drugs, you’re a sap.  I know that from experience.  The Bible uses the word pharmakia, when it talks about being involved in witchcraft.  We get pharmacy from it.  Pharmakia, pharmacose, is the using and selling of drugs.  Paul could have used other words to describe sorcery, but he knew most of us aren’t going to put a pentagram on our living-room floor and sacrifice a chicken in our house.  The way Satan gets us involved in another realm is through the use of drugs.  [Timothy Leary, a brilliant chemistry professor at Harvard invented LSD in an attempt to achieve Nirvana in a quick, drug induced manner.]  And it opens us up to a spiritual realm we’re not supposed to be opened to.  It takes us somewhere we’re not supposed to be taken.  Besides, it reduces us to being an idiot.  You sit in a park stoned and say, ‘Looook at those weeds, man, how beautiful they are, they’re all arranged, look at the bark on that tree, man…’  You’re drooling like…Look, the point is, are you living in sin, tonight?  Are you deliberately, willfully, daily, rebelling against something you know is completely wrong?  If you are, you’re not walking in the Light, and you’re not walking in fellowship with him, because he’s not walking there.  That’s what the Bible says.  But the great news is, if we confess, if we repent, he’s faithful and just to forgive us, to cleanse us.  We have an Advocate with the Father.  He’s paid for every drop of our sin, he came under the wrath of God on our behalf.  And through his Word and through his Spirit he has given us what’s necessary to appropriate, that we can live in spiritual victory.  I encourage you to read ahead.  Next week it’s going to start to talk about the antichrist, and deceivers in the church, and certainly we’re getting close to all of that.  I encourage you to read ahead and look at those things.  Let’s stand.  Let’s pray.”  [transcript of a sermon on 1st John 2:1-17 ge’s Heiven by Pastor Joe Focht, © Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116.]

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