Love the Brothers (1 John 3:11-24 and 4:7-21)

Publié le 22 novembre 2020 dans Non classé

Sermon by Pastor Vincent Bourrel

Introduction

This epistle of John has been compared to a spiral staircase, because it keeps coming back to the same subjects (love, obedience and the truth). Each time he comes back to one of these themes, John takes it further.

He has already said in 2.7-11 that love for the brothers is the proof of our communion with God (of a walk in the light), in 3.10-14 it is the proof of our status as sons, and in 4.7-16, we discover why love for the brothers is the fundamental element for an authentic faith.

Today’s test is a love test. In 4.7-21 the word appears 29 times.

Three times John says that we are to love one another (v. 7, 11, 12), and this is the structure of his argument. We must love one another because God is love, because Jesus Christ is given on the cross, and because the Holy Spirit dwells in us.

The source of love: God is Love (v. 7-8)

We are to love one another because love is from God (v.7) and God is love (v.8). God is the source and origin of love, and all true love stems from him: it follows that whoever truly loves is born of God (lit. was begotten) and knows God. Love is the sign of true knowledge of God and of our birth from above. To love is necessarily to love God since God is love.

God is love does not mean that loving is only one of the many activities of God, but rather that all of his activity is an activity of love. He creates out of love, he rules the world out of love, he judges by and with love.

So we make ourselves known as sons and daughters of God by the love we have for one another. And whoever does not love v.8 has not known God. Brotherly love is not an option you take or not, but it is part of its nature. It would be like a plane that doesn’t fly, a compass that doesn’t point north, or a fish that can’t swim. This is where the test of love is reliable. If I don’t love, I don’t know God.

If we are born of him we at least bear the reflection of his divine nature, we resemble him. If we know him, we know his language, and his language is love.

This is John’s main point throughout his epistle. The nature of God is found in his children. God is light; his children walk in the light. God is righteous; he who is born of him practices righteousness (2.29, 3.7). God is love; he who loves is born of him.

v.4.19-21 So the test is not only in the love we have for God but for our brothers.

No doubt it sometimes seems easier to love this invisible God, whose goodness we know, than our brother or sister whose faults we see only too well. But it is only by loving this brother or sister that we will know that our love for God is not purely imaginary. We take our imagination so easily for our heart. Our love for our brothers and sisters is all the more precious in the sight of God as it is the fruit of a victory over ourselves, a victory won by obedience to his command.

The revelation of love: Christ is given on the cross (v. 9-11)

The love of God, the love with which we must love one another, has been revealed in the gift of his only begotten Son for us to live. Look at v. 10, John says that it is not our love but God’s love that came first and all our love is only the reflection, a response to his (cf. v. 19). This means that understanding his love for us will have a direct impact on how we love God and our brothers. The better we understand the greatness of God’s love for us, the better we love.

The love of God was manifested towards us in that Jesus Christ died for us on the cross (atoning victim for our sins, v.10), so that we might live through him v.9.

  • The greatness of the love of God is therefore seen first of all by seeing the greatness of the one who is given (Jesus, the only and eternal Son, beloved of the Father, only righteous, the image of the invisible God). “A greater gift from God is inconceivable, because a greater gift was not possible. (John Stott).
  • The greatness of his love is also seen in his sacrifice. It is not the incarnation, but the atonement that is the supreme manifestation of love (cf. 3.16a « in that he gave his life »). It is at the death on the cross that we see God’s love for us. In the sacrifice made, in the lowering of himself, even to death.
  • The greatness of his love is also seen in the objects of his love. He loved us and sent his Son to save us, not because we were in any way worthy of being loved, but because he is love. Paul says it in his letter to Titus 3: 3-5 « we were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, enslaved to every kind of lust and pleasure, living in wickedness and in envy, worthy to be hated, and hating ourselves each other. But when the goodness of God our Savior and his love for men were manifested, he saved us, not because of the works of righteousness which we would have done, but according to his mercy ”
  • The greatness of his love is therefore seen in the high price of his own sacrifice for those who are quite unworthy of it. The essence of love is self-sacrifice v. 3.16 Jesus’ self-sacrifice is not just a revelation to admire, but an example to emulate. “We must give our life for the brothers”. True love is not revealed only in this supreme sacrifice, but in even the smallest acts that cost us, that may kill a small part of us. How much do our actions show that we love others? To what extent are our acts of love manifested towards people who are not particularly lovable? Are we as generous as we could be with our money, our possessions, our time?
  • The revelation of the love of God in the person of Christ crucified places us in a v.11 obligation. John Stott said, « No one, after going to the cross and seeing the undeserved and immeasurable love that God showed there, can return to a selfish life » 

Here are some practical aspects for us.

1) God did not love in words only, but in action: he sent his Son. Love is not just words. 

Ch 3: 17-18. A « may God help you my friend or may God rescue you » is an offensive defeat against God. It is through us that God wants to assist the poor, for our good. God sends it to us, and we send it back to God! It is a scandal.

This week Henri Beau passed away, the testimony of brotherly love he left in his memories was not only words and a warm smile but works, time, finance, sweat …

2) The love of God is without consideration. He responds to the needs of the other. God is love from all eternity, he is perfectly righteous from all eternity. He didn’t need to save sinners like us for himself. He loved us so that we could share his glory. To love according to God is to take the interests of others to heart. How can we love others? By serving them without any thought of getting paid in return.

Not for what they might give us in return. Not to ease our conscience, not to satisfy our emotions, not to gain accolades, but because we have been loved that way.

3) True love is sacrificial. God gave his only begotten Son. Jesus loved us by offering himself as a sacrifice to save us. The supreme act of love is to give of ourselves for others. Love is the eagerness to let go of what is of value in our own lives, in order to enrich the life of another. Sometimes what is precious to us is our comfort, our means, our time, our tranquility …

When I am asked for material goods, I give what encumbers me at home. I don’t love, it is the person who rids me who shows love. I’m ashamed but that’s what I do sometimes.

No sacrifice, no love.

Cain’s hatred led him to murder, Christ’s love led him to self-sacrifice (cf 3.12).

Living as a child of God (1 John 3:1-10)

Publié le 15 novembre 2020 dans Non classé

By Aurelien Duperchy, intern

Introduction

Our theme today is « living as children of God ».

It’s folly to say today that you are a child of God. When you say to your friends or colleagues, « I am a child of God », people will stare at you with wide eyes wondering, « but who does he think he is? God is not a human being. He’s gone mad, he is a fanatic! »

That’s why we first need to live as children of God, bearing witness to it in life before we can say this. It is generally wiser to say that we are Christians rather than children of God.

What John has written allows us to see why it is necessary to live as a child of God.

Scripture reading: 1 John 3/1-10

1 Jesus’ disciples are children of God: vv1-2

The first verse reads, « See what kind of love the Father has given to us in that we should be called God’s children, and that is what we are ».

John clearly tells us why the Father manifested his love, that we may be children of God. He marvels at this.

To be a child of God is a privilege that God grants us. It is a source of hope for us.

A theologian said that the first verse could be translated into « SEE what kind of love, totally different and unusual, the Father has given us. »That we are born of God is related to His intervention. He adopts us; He makes us heirs of Heaven; He powerfully restores the hearts of those who once belonged to the devil and have now turned to God.

Paul says in Romans 8/17 that « if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ. » God grants us the privilege of being His heirs.

When God adopts us, we can no longer become children of the devil once again, for we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. We can’t lose salvation. If we could lose it, it would mean that we could earn it, and that we would therefore be good enough. If we could gain salvation, it would be by our own efforts, therefore it would be on our own merit. If it were the case, it would no longer be grace.

God gives us this enormous grace to be His children forever. This is the greatest of all privileges.

Through the sacrifice of Jesus, we have the firm assurance that Jesus did not die in vain. We don’t run the risk of losing the grace He offers us.

v3 « And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself even as he is pure. »

John speaks of the hope quoted in v2: hope in our God, in the return of Christ. Those who have this hope will be like Him because they will see Him as he is, and will be as He is. They will be 100% pure, just as Jesus is.

Titus 2:13 reads, « At the same time we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and savior Jesus Christ. »

To be a child of God is to hope in our Father who fulfills all His Word in a sure and perfect way.

To be a child of God is a source of wonder for John, and specifically for Jesus because the Son of God loves the Father, and the children of God live out of love for the Father.

We seek to live as the Son of God did.

We can’t say that we live in Christ if we don’t behave like him, because the children of God strive to live out the example of God’s only begotten Son, and also because the Son of God appeared for this purpose (v8).

In his book, « The divinity of Christ in the face of Islam, » Rémi Gomez says: « To follow Jesus is to model a man who has succeeded where no other has succeeded. »

No man is a perfect model –Moses, David, John the Baptist, Peter, all these men were sinners. They were examples at certain times during their lives, but Jesus alone is the perfect example during ALL his life!

A question arises: Is the Son still the Only-begotten Son since we are children of God?

The word « Son » does not always have the same meaning throughout the Bible. Jesus is the Son of God, He is the Word of God, the expression of the thought of God.

Therefore Jesus did not become Son of God when he was baptized (contrary to what false teachers said in John’s time), but He is, has been from the beginning, and will forever be God’s eternal Only-begotten Son.

He comes from the Father. As we see in John 1/18, Jesus is « at the Father’s side, » and in John 16/28, Jesus « left the Father and came into the world. »

The Only-begotten Son is God by nature whereas we are not God. We become God’s children by adoption, by being born again.

This is a source of motivation for us to seek to live as Jesus did.

2 Children of God live without sin

In John’s time, false teachers did not live out a life that glorified God. Intellectual knowledge was paramount for them, but living a holy life had little importance.

To be honest, we are basically like them, particularly in the French culture and among intellectuals, and also according to the era of Enlightenment. But to be a child of God is to live for our Father who is holy, and because we love and know our Father, we run away from sin.

Sin means « to miss the target ».

v4 « Every person who practices sin commits an act of rebellion, and sin is rebellion. »

John talks about the law of love, rather than a list of prescriptions to apply with no understanding.

This is what Jesus says in Matthew 22/34-38

« When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. One of them, a legal expert, tested him. « Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law? » He replied, « You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands. »

1 John 3/6 reads, « Every person who remains in relationship to him does not sin. Any person who sins has not seen him or known him. »

The first part of v8 says the same thing differently, « The person who practices sin belongs to the devil. »

V9 reads, « Those born from God don’t practice sin. »

John uses specific words in the passage. It is of utmost importance to be careful to what he says to get it correctly, otherwise we can easily misunderstand what he says.

In v8, John talks about « the person » and in v9 about « those ».

The definition of those is « all those ». Concretely speaking, John says that all the children of God don’t practice sin since it is only the person belonging to the devil who practices sin.

In v6, can we see God? God is invisible but He reveals Himself in Jesus.

In John 6/46, John also says, « No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God. He has seen the Father. »

What John means here is that we only see God through holiness. He fills us with his Spirit, and as a result we show God’s work by living as Jesus did.

v10 « This is how God’s children and the devil’s children are apparent… »

We can recognize a child of God because he runs away from sin. A Christian can’t play hide-and-seek and live a holy life. John says that people can recognize the children of God, which does not leave them indifferent.

That’s why Christians have an impact on others, and can bring them to Jesus by witnessing. And that’s also why they are persecuted as they live according to God’s will.

The word of God is spread by witnessing and living as children of God. Preaching the Gospel is both bearing witness in our lives and teaching Jesus’ death and resurrection. These two things are inseparable.

However, we still sin even though we are children of God. So why does John say that we no longer sin?

There’s a difference between living in sin, that is under the yoke of sin, and committing sin.

The difference between living in sin and living in Christ is that when we live in sin, we don’t take into account the abounding grace Jesus came to bring us. And so we belittle God’s grace and the gravity of sin, and we can’t be sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Our sinfulness brings us pleasure. By nature, we cherish sin whereas the spiritual pleasure of God’s children lies in holiness. The objective is to turn our eyes away from sin to lift them up to Christ.

When I first read the New Testament, I wasn’t converted. When I finished reading it, I thought there were many values that I could apply to my life to be a better person.

I tried to be better by my own strength. I was careful with my actions and my words, but in the end, I couldn’t achieve it. I was increasingly disappointed with myself, which is called legalism.

It made me realize that I was even more sinful than I thought, and I realized that I needed God, because I didn’t have the strength to be better without Him and without His intervention to sanctify me. We are not sanctified by our own strength but by letting the Holy Spirit work in us.

When you are a disciple of Jesus, and commit evil, then the Holy Spirit shows you your sin, makes you sad and aware of it, and leads you to repentance.

In fact, John contrasts « living in sin » with « living in purification ».

In 1 John 2/1, John says that he’s writing this letter so that we don’t sin. The text shows that the target of the Christian life is to commit no sin.

John is not saying that a Christian no longer sins at all but that a Christian no longer lives under the law of sin.

The text says that a Christian can’t sin. It doesn’t mean that « he is incapable of committing a sin, » but rather that « he can no longer live in sin in the usual way without being aware of it ».

So Christians still sin. Vv2-3 show that we purify ourselves, but that we are not yet pure enough, and that when Jesus returns, we will no longer commit any sin.

We often do evil: we are unpleasant to our family members or our colleagues, and even as children of God we can fall into a sin that has lasting consequences. Yet the habit of living in sin has been broken.

We have not reached perfection yet, but we’re striving for it. And we will eventually reach it because Jesus is perfect.

When a Christian does evil, he doesn’t take what Jesus did on the cross at face value. And quite honestly, all of us often take the cross of Jesus too lightly. When I hurt my wife, I take the cross of Jesus lightly. When I complain about what I have, or about not having enough, I take the cross of Jesus lightly.

What John means is that to reject the sin in our lives shows that we are children of God.

We can’t say we can still sin on the grounds that there is grace.

Romans 6/1-2, « So what are we going to say? Should we continue sinning so grace will multiply? Absolutely not! All of us died to sin. How can we still live in it? »

Sin is death, but Jesus takes us out of the law of sin. We are baptized in His death by immersion in water, and He gives us life by taking us out of our immersion in sin. Paul says the same thing as John. We are dead to sin, we can’t willfully practice it as an affront to God. We used to willfully sin but we now want to live as children of God.

In the past, when someone hurt me, I would enjoy to retaliate. When I was insulted, I would sometimes go so far as to hit the person. But now God gives me love and compassion for them. I’m sad not because they want to hurt me, but because they live in darkness, imposing a life without God upon themselves while God is knocking at the door of their hearts. It’s now out of question for me to be violent when I’m insulted because it’s not worth it.

God gives us consideration for His values and not for what characterizes the values of sin.

In the example I’ve just given, God’s values are to love those who insult me, and to reject the values of sin and retaliation. Now on, I reject my desire to prove that I’m superior to others.

V8b reads that « God’s Son appeared for this purpose: to destroy the works of the devil. »

Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil that we had done, and that had caused us to be increasingly destined to hell.

But God has predestined us for Heaven, to see His glory. He has made us partakers of His divine nature. The glory of God is the sum total of his attributes. And there’s nothing more glorious than to be a child of God.

So even if someone wants to hurt me, what can they do? I’m sitting in the heavenly places in Jesus Christ. Heaven is my destiny. No-one can reach me.

If you insult me, I leave it to God to handle it. I no longer act on my own since my Father protects me as He is my Father. Jesus destroyed the works of the devil but even though I am still imperfect, I am spiritually untouchable.

Try to attack a child of the President, and see what happens… Well, I’m a child of God!

Conclusion

The purification process is on. It’s loading.

One must be patient. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. Even when we bear fruit, there might be seeds. But let’s persevere even if it’s long and difficult, and even if we go through moments of doubt and discouragement.

During this time of lockdown when we’re staying at home, we must put our hope in God. To live as children of God today means to protect ourselves and others from coronavirus. By protecting ourselves, we protect others.

In the same way, we also need to protect ourselves from sin. And by doing this, we also protect others from the consequences of our sins.

Jesus rose to first open the door to resurrection for us.

When we live in sin, under the yoke of sin, we live as children of the devil. But Jesus came to earth to take us out of the devil’s claws.

We can’t be half child of God and half child of the devil; half sinner and half saint. We are children of God or we are not. But even as children of God, we’re still sinning and are waiting for the great deliverance.

To live as children of God is to preach the Gospel every day, feeding ourselves on the Word of God, which in turn nourishes our dialog with Him. It’s also to remember that the Son of God came to bear our sins, and that He took both the condemnation of our sins on Himself, and our place so that we can be purified.

It is like a man being tried for murder, who bitterly regrets and asks forgiveness for his act, recognizing that he deserves the sentence that he will have to serve. And then the sentence is given: 15 years in jail. But a man, unknown to all, having heard him repent, says, « I’ll serve the prison sentence. Murderer, you are forgiven. Justice is done. I’ll pay for your sin, and I’ll serve the 15-year prison sentence in your place even if I’m innocent.

Jesus is like that unknown man who came to serve.

Abide in the Truth (1 John 2.18-28, 4.1-6)

Publié le 8 novembre 2020 dans Non classé

1 John 2:18-28 and 4:1-6

2:18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.[d] 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us[e]—eternal life. 26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. 28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Sermon

A question that comes up often for us human beings is: How do we know that we really know something? How do you know that what you know is true?

John writes to a group of Christians, a church, in Ephesus and these Christians are troubled because there were people there who also called themselves Christians, and claimed to be in communion with God, but they were teaching contrary things about the person of Jesus, and they were behaving in ways contrary to Christ’s example. They called themselves Christians but did not believe in the same Christ; they called themselves Christians but did not act like Christ. Normally, one thing and its opposite cannot be true at the same time. But each of these groups said they were right. In our day also, we see the same sort of thing : we see things, people, institutions which bear the Christian name, but which have abandoned fundamental Christian beliefs and obedience, saying ‘it’s no longer relevant in today’s culture’.

So who is telling the truth, and who is not ? In our time, some would say that’s not even the right question. “The important thing is diversity.” “Everyone should find their way, have their own interpretation, whatever is true for you.” Recently, a teacher said that to claim that 2 + 2 = 4 is Western imperialism, because the truth is fluid and adaptable.

The apostle John, the one we often call the apostle of love, wants to reassure his Christian friends, but he also wants to warn them, (and we see that he has not lost his reputation of “a son of thunder”) against errors and lies. The Christian faith is not a gullible spirituality, open to everything. There is the concern for the truth. For John, one of the tests to recognize an authentic Christian, is ongoing attachment to the truth. That’s the goal this morning : to abide in the truth. For that; we need to 

1) Recognize the opposition, 2) Receive the “anointing”, and 3) Remain in Christ

1) Recognize the opposition, v18-19

In a few words, John reminds his readers of God’s great plan for the ages : he says this in verse 18. It is the last hour. Since the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are in the last chapter of history. This last hour has been going on 2000 years, but the next stage is the final stage : the return of Christ and his final confrontation with evil, the evil one. This text and others in the NT allude to the coming of the Antichrist (v18 “you have heard that an Antichrist is coming.”), a person who represents and leads the final attack / rebellion against God. Antichrist means to be against Christ, but in many ways he will try to mimic Christ. From the Garden of Eden to the end of time, we are in a struggle between good and evil, truth and error, light and darkness, but evil disguises itself as good, darkness disguises itself as light, error mixes with the truth. 

So John refers to the ultimate Antichrist, but looks back through time and says that throughout history, between Christ’s first and second coming, there will be many antichrists. Because there is an ongoing battle between good and evil, we can know today that there will be influences, ideas, false teachers that are trying to lead us astray, to lie to us. 

And these antichrists, with their false doctrines, will have some resemblance to the truth, for a while… As John was writing these lines, perhaps, he was thinking of his colleague Judas, who lived as a disciple of Christ for many years …Verse 19 gives us an explanation to understand what unfortunately sometimes happens in the church : people who seem to be with us, engaged with Christ, get carried away by errors, abandon the faith, they do not remain in the truth; these were not of us, they never were.

2. Receive the “anointing”.

v20: you have received the anointing. Again in v27. This way of talking might seem weird to you. In some circles, people use this vocabulary to describe a heightened state of spirituality, or a feeling of being particularly close to God, or a special spiritual gift. “Our guitarist really had the anointing this morning…” But that’s not how John speaks. This is to confuse the OT and the NT. You have all received the anointing from Him who is holy. Every Christian receives this blessing, namely the Holy Spirit in us, he enlightens us, he helps us understand the Bible for ourselves, he  leads us in the truth, he gives us understanding to know Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible.

Amazing ! Any Christian, with the help of God, the word of God, can differentiate between truth and lies on matters that are essential to the faith. Often the lies and the errors will focus on the person of Jesus, v22.

So for example; you will find that a young Christian, without having done any major theological studies, will smell something fishy when talking to a Jehovah’s Witness, who denies that Jesus is God. Or one of you will have found something on the internet, and say, wait a second; this teaching is denying Jesus as the perfect, sufficient Christ, Savior, and telling me that I have to become my own Savior. Or a colleague might say ‘Anyways, we all worship the same God,” but you can’t agree. We cannot say that we worship the same God if we do not worship the same Jesus, who is his Son. (v23)

Throughout the centuries, the evil one, through his “antichrists”, has tried to pass on lies, errors which prevent saving faith in a saving Christ. All possible variations of error exist concerning 

Jesus: “Jesus was not really God.” “Jesus was not really a man.” “Jesus was not really dead.” “Jesus was not really resurrected.” “The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three different gods.” “Or the Father, the son, the holy spirit are all the same person, etc, etc”.

We can be thankful that we do not have groups of heretics, antichrist, false prophets rising up every week in EBTM to lead others astray. Which is thanks to God; the influence of this epistle, the anointing we all have as Christians. and the Bible. But we can understand that in some contexts (a young church, pioneer missions; or where the Bible is not yet accessible, or not printed, not yet a solid Christian heritage), deceivers can be a real problem.

During the first 300 years after Jesus, there was a lot of debate about the person of Jesus, how to articulate the truth. Through this anointing, the church was able to enrich itself with some of the denominations, creeds, symbols (like the one we read a while ago, the Nicene Creed)). They are not infallible, inspired, but they offer guides to help us abide in the truth.

3. Remain in Christ, v24-28

In v24: Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. v.27 abide in him, according to the teachings. What they heard from the beginning, the teachings they received, was the apostolic message, the gospel message. The best way to stay in the truth is to stay attached to the gospel, to Jesus. 

Which means that abiding in the truth is more than just reciting a creed. It is being attached to Jesus, relying on him alone for the promise of eternal life, as in v25. Through Jesus, and what he did for us on the cross, paying the penalty of our sins, we can be confident that (v28) we will not shrink from him in shame at his coming. Any teaching or influence or persons that pull us away from Christ is… anti-christ.

In conclusion, who are you listening to ? Where are you getting your knowledge ? Is it true ? The main reason we believe the Bible is because it is a true, historical fact about Christ and it tells the truth about our own hearts.

Or are you being lied to ? Do you base your life on what the world says or what God says?  The media and the news outlets are not often going to declare that Jesus is King, that he reigns and that he is coming again, and yet, that’s the truth. Social media isn’t going to tell you that the most important thing about you is what you do with Jesus, and yet, that’s the truth. May God help us all to discern His truth and abide in it.

Walk in the Light (1 John 1:1-2:17)

Publié le 1 novembre 2020 dans Non classé

Pastor Vincent BOURREL

Introduction

The three epistles of John were probably one package delivered together: the main written sermon (1 John), a cover letter to the congregation (2 John), a cover letter to the pastor (3 John).

The first letter of John is not signed but the following ones are with this term « the old » which suggests the advanced age of the author and an incontestable authority recognized by the church to the point that he does not doesn’t even need to identify himself. He is one of the 12 apostles as shown in v.1. Only John, the last living apostle, enjoyed such authority. The tone of the epistle is that of a father addressing his children in tender and intimate conversation, it is warm and filled with love.

It is a letter written at the end of the 1st century, when Christianity had been known for over a generation and survived harsh persecution. Now so-called teachers are influencing the church; John calls them “false prophets” (4.1), who mislead believers (2.26), antichrist (2.18) who deny the divinity of Christ (2.22), and his incarnation (4.2). John therefore writes to refute their serious errors and to reassure believers.

The purpose of the letter: v.3 “so that you may be in communion (in harmony, in agreement) with us, and therefore with God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ”, v.4 there is nothing that may please him more. The question that is implied for us: are we in communion with God, Jesus Christ and other believers? Which is to say are we saved, at peace with God and with our brothers?

Lately you may have been feeling a little feverish, have a stuffy nose, be tired and have a little headache … you wondered if you had not caught the Coronavirus … How do you know? Get tested!

In the spiritual realm, it’s a bit the same: you believe in the existence of a God, that Jesus was certainly the best man who ever lived, that it is better to love people than to hate them, that there is certainly an eternal life… But in the end, where are you? Are you a true Christian? forgiven? Saved?…

Frankly these questions are of the utmost importance. If you do not make the correct diagnosis you will lose your soul. John therefore writes so that each of us can test ourselves.

The test of attitude towards sin v. 1.5-2.2

When he says in verse 5 « The message that we announce to you is that God is light and that there is no darkness in him » he affirms that God is truth and holiness. There is no error, lie or sin in Him.

So as darkness cannot exist in the presence of light, sin cannot exist in the presence of a holy God. If we want to live in fellowship with God, we must renounce the sin of lying.

John denounces 3 misconceptions about sin that were probably spread by false teachers. They are introduced by « If we say » v.6, 8, 10

• v.6 “I sin and have fellowship with God”, I walk in darkness and yet I have fellowship with God. The false teachers of the day said that what is physical is worthless. What matters is the mind. It’s a thought that is coming back in force these days. People have an extra marital relationship and they justify their attitude by saying you know it’s purely physical, it has no value, you don’t have to feel betrayed, there were no feelings. I love you. => we lie v.6b. We can’t do that with God.

• v.8 « I have no sin (not of a sinful nature) ». This discourse is also widespread nowadays: If I do bad things it is not because of my sinful nature but it is impulses, psychological mechanisms, physiological reactions, or sociological ones. => we are fooling ourselves. The death of Christ, therefore, is of little use to them.

• v.10 “I do not sin”. I have a sinful nature and indeed I believe that sin interferes with fellowship with God but I am done with sin, I am completely delivered from the power of sin. To claim that we have not sinned is not simply a deliberate lie, but is to accuse God of lying, since the Word repeatedly declares that sin is universal (cf. Ec 7.20 “No, there is no righteous man on earth who does good and who never sins ”)

But John presents the reality in verses 7 and 9.

The righteous attitude of a Christian towards sin is not to deny it, but to recognize it and to receive divine forgiveness. Forgiveness made possible because the penalty for sin was paid by Jesus Christ on the cross. This forgiveness and purification are linked to the confession of our sins (v. 9). It is not just a matter of recognizing our sinful nature in a general manner, but our specific sins … and forsaking them. Pr 28.13 « Whoever hides his faults will not prosper; whoever confesses them and forsakes them obtains mercy »

He sums up this truth in verses 1 and 2 of chapter 2. There is a tension here not to minimize sin and also not to despair because of sin and hide it. The cross keeps us from these two ends. We cannot minimize sin because Jesus Christ suffered on the cross so that we may be forgiven. The purpose of the epistle John says is to keep us from sin (2.1). Sin is very serious. But we can’t despair because of sin because Jesus Christ suffered the cross for us. We do not have to hide it, but to recognize it. His sacrifice perfectly satisfied the righteousness of God. The proof of which is that he is risen and seated at the right hand of God and he is our advocate. Our lawyer does not plead our innocence and does not bring forward extenuating circumstances. He acknowledges our guilt and presents his death as substitute for our acquittal.

John declares that concrete sins are possible and even inevitable for the Christian, but he opposes the idea of ​​complacency in sin. He severely denounces « The practice of sin » (3: 6, 8, 9; 5.18).

So, if you live in sin and say you have fellowship with God you are missing the test. God is light. If, on the other hand, you have sinned, you confess your sin, abandon it and find full forgiveness in Jesus Christ, this is living in communion with the God who is light.

And if you live the Christian life without ever asking forgiveness from God and those you have offended you are probably not a true believer.

=> The true Gospel pushes us to confess and abandon sin, injustice.

The test of obedience v. 2.3-11

How can we be sure that we belong to Christ? Jean gives us 2 clues: we do what he tells us and we live as he asks us to.

We do what he tells us.

« We know by this » v.3 and v.5 (and not we hope, think, would like) it is a certainty « that we have known him » (v.3) = « that we are his » (v.5) = that we have believed in Jesus Christ for salvation = that we are saved. How? If we keep his commandments (v.3), his word (v.5). It is not my obedience that saves me, but that of Christ, but because I am saved, I obey.

We can know that we know him if we keep his commandments. One cannot distinguish love for God from love for his commands. If I say love my wife but not do what she loves, what pleases her and is right. => I am a liar. It is about keeping the commandments of God and wanting to shape your life in obedience to God.

v.5 he reaffirms the same principle positively. The love we have for God (as BDS translates it) is manifested in our obedience and it is proof that we are « in him ». “In him” which we find in v. 6, is an expression that the apostle John cherishes (cf Jn 15, abide in him, the vine and the branches) if we are in him we will bear fruits in conformity with his nature.

We live as he asks us or the test of love

In the following verses (è-11) he develops what obedience is and he sums up in 3.23

«  And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. « 

He has just said that the true Christian has chosen to obey the commandments of God, he follows his master, he submits his will to that of God. It does not explicitly reveal the nature of this “old” (v.7) and “new” (v.8) commandment, but since the subject of v.9-11 is love and the new commandment given by Jesus is to “love one another as Christ loved us” (Jn 15.12) we must walk as Christ himself walked, in brotherly love. Jesus’ love was shown to people who were not loveable.

Christian love is not a feeling but a choice, a commandment (this is why it is in the test of obedience).

If you only love those who love you, if you only greet people who look like you (same color, same age …) if you are only interested in those who bring you something … that does not prove that you are a Christian– all men do this.

What proves that you are a Christian, is the love you show for brothers to whom you are not naturally drawn. Is there a brother or sister that you dislike, that you hate? You failed the v.9-11 test

You don’t love God. 4.20-21. You fail the test.

To obey the command is therefore to love your brother. AND to love your brother is also to obey the command of God. You love your brothers by keeping away from sin and the world, by obeying his word. We do not live for ourselves alone. My sin harms the church, my brothers. It’s blatantly seen in the lack of thanksgiving, of joy, in bitterness, backbiting and jealousy, it always infects others. My bad example influences others, especially those close to me. I fail the test of obedience and love.

The Test of Eternity v. 12-17

After discussing the tests by which false teachers will be exposed, he hastens to reassure believers.

“I am writing to you” (x6) “little children” because your sins are forgiven, because you know him who is from the beginning, because you have conquered evil.

He uses 3 expressions to address them: little children, fathers and young people. But the first is general and brings together all the readers. “Little children” = all believers (cf. 2.1, 18, 28 and again 3.7, 18; 4.4; 5.21).

Your sins are forgiven: because you have confessed and forsaken them, and you have believed in Jesus.

You have known the Father (v.13c): you are the people who walk with God in the light, who obey his Word and practice love.

He distinguishes 2 groups: young people and fathers and here it looks like he is talking about the young and the less young.

The fathers: you know the one who is from the beginning (cf 1.1) Jesus.

Young men: you don’t get carried away by lies, because the Word of God abides in you. You remain attached to the word and you reject the error, the lie.

He reassured them, even congratulated them. Now he encourages them in their walk « don’t love the world » because it is going to disappear. By ordering us not to love the world, he also shows that we are naturally inclined to it. We must resist its appeal.

In fact, what defines the value of a person of the world is what they have: a good job, a good salary, a good look, a good notoriety, good possessions and all the pride that they have in life comes from those things.

All of this is what the world gives. And we’re tempted to want to possess it all. But John reminds us of the passing of this world and its lust too, but he who does the will of God remains eternally.

The 3rd test we are subjected to is that of eternity, to live for the things that are valuable, the things that should be pursued, the things that identify us as a Christian. These are the eternal things = the will of God.

If we walk in the light eternal things matter to us.

D. Carson: “Christians are invited to evaluate all things in the light of eternity (v. 17). Woe to him who bases his personal identity and his hope on fleeting things! Billions of years from now, the car you drive today, the amount in your bank account, the position you hold, the accolades you have received, it will all seem like a pittance. And the pride that you will have displayed in these things will strike you as an enormous folly. Whether or not you have obtained an academic or professional award will then be infinitely less important than the loyalty you have shown to your spouse. Whether or not you have been a famous athlete will count infinitely less than the generosity you have shown.

V.17

What do you love? The things, the honors, the comfort, and the glory that this world offers or the will of God?

Conclusion

If God is light, let us walk in the light. Have a righteous attitude towards sin, obey the word, and love one another, and, finally, live with an eternal perspective.

We have all passed tests that we have failed. Nobody likes it. And yet it is a crucial moment. We know where we are.

If I have failed thus far I can now come to the light and confess what is wrong with my life: my attitude towards sin, my resistance to God, my lack of love, my heart that lives only for this world which will pass.

Jesus died for this. He forgives, he reconciles us to God.