Monday, July 2, 2012

Righteousness vs. Sinfulness (1 John 2:28-3:10)

  1.  Introduction:
It seems that we have become afraid to draw certain lines of distinction between those who are saved and those who are not saved. The scriptures, however, do draw such lines. These distinctions could not be made by us. Only God and we obligated to submit to them.

God has established these distinctions between those who are His children and those who are not His children, not only for our personal knowledge and assurance, but also for protection both individually and collectively (as a Body) from Satanic counterfeiting. John, in his first letter, devoted much time in making these lines of demarcation visible for us. The whole of 1 John could be studied, without any violence to John’s intent, from the point of view that he is answering the question “Who is and who is not a child of God?”

In this short series, we are going to limit ourselves to John’s treatment of this question from 2:28 through 3:24. This first message deals with only 2:28-3:10. (This passage all belongs together; don’t let the chapter division fool you).

 The line of demarcation that John sets before us in these verses could be called: The line of righteousness vs. sinfulness. John introduces this line by pointing to an important truth (v. 28).

a.  We must abide (continue) in Jesus to have confidence before Him at His appearing. 
b.  We must have a relationship with Jesus and not merely an experience of Jesus. As Jesus taught us in Matt.7:15-23, one of His revelations of the standard by which we will be judged when we stand before Him, the dividing line will be a matter of His intimate relationship and knowledge of us. This same passage makes it abundantly clear that He does not have such a relationship with us unless it is evidenced by us bearing good fruit (vv.17-20) and by us doing the will of the Father (v. 21).

John introduces the thesis that he is going to develop over these next few verses (v. 29). That thesis is – We know God is righteous; therefore, we know that those who do what is right must be born of Him. Or we could say it this way:-

2. Like Begets Like : The Positive Side (v. 29):
This is John’s main premise on which he builds all his following thoughts:
2.1.   In 3:1, we are like Him because:
1.      We have received God’s gracious love.
2.      We are misunderstood and rejected like Jesus.
2.2.   In 3:2, we are like Him because:
1.      We have a destiny beyond this world.
2.      We are being transformed into His likeness.
3.      We are certain of being made like Him “for we shall see Him as He is.” Until we are transformed, our limited perception cannot “perceive him as he is.” Because we have been promised that we shall be with Him and certainly see His glory (John 17:24), then we are sure that we will be transformed into His likeness. Premise – Like perceives like.
2.3.   In 3:3, we are like Him because:
1.      We are filled with a compelling hope of being made like Him.
2.      This hope compels us to seek this likeness through purity (holiness) now. The one with this hope “purifies (Greek- hagnizei, cleases, sanctifies) himself (by means of God’s provision in Christ) just as He is pure (Greek- hagnos, clean, perfect).” His perfection gives direction to our moral aim.

3.  Like Begets Like : The Negative Side:
This is the negative form of John’s premise: Sin is lawlessness (law breaking); those who sin are breaking the law.

3.1.   This lawlessness cannot be excused. Jesus has provided a remedy (v. 5).
1.      The central purpose of Jesus coming is to take away (Greek- airo, to loosen and carry away, remove by expiation) our sins. We cannot deny that He has done this without calling Jesus a failure.
2.       He has come to make us like himself, and He was sinless.
3.      We must, therefore, begin on the path of separation from sinful conduct.

3.2.   Therefore, there are two logical conclusions (v. 6):
1.      No true Christian will live a life of practicing sin. If there is no sin in Jesus, and we are to aim at being pure as He is pure, then we must forsake all sinful practices.
2.      Anyone who does continue in a life of practicing sin is not a true Christian (has never been).

3.3.   John begins with a warning against false teaching about God’s tolerance toward sinful practice in the life of His children (vv. 7-9). He introduces this with the warning, “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray.”  There will be those who will try to water down the grace of God into a license to practice sin. This is deception. As Paul would say, “By no means!” (Rom.6:2). The grace of God is not only Jesus dying to make an atonement for our sins (we certainly do not deserve even this), but, wonderful news, it is also His Spirit bringing His deathless life within us and shedding abroad His nature (Greek- agape, divine love) in our hearts (5:5, 10). There is a transforming grace by which we are changed from death to life. We are enabled to walk in newness of life in the here and now with our fruits unto holiness (6:4-7, 14, 22).

1.   John drives this warning home with the logical assertion. Righteousness (right conduct, not merely abstract righteousness) is the sign of His presence and control in a life (v.7). His presence in our lives not only imputes righteousness to us but also imparts it to us though His grace of ongoing transformation and continual empowerment.

2.   John points out that the opposite is also true. Sinful conduct is a sign of the devil’s presence and control in a life (v.8). They are not children of God. This is John’s whole point! 

3.   John reminds us again: Jesus and His manifestation in the flesh is about nothing less than the destruction of the devil’s work (willful rebellious conduct toward God and His holiness, v.8). So we cannot talk about being His children when we are not yet free from such conduct. He has provided for such freedom! There is no excuse.
4.   The life (seed) of God excludes the willfully rebellious, sinful life (v.9). The nature of Jesus is to always submit to the Father’s will (Luke 22:42, John 5:30). If His life (nature) is in us, we will have the same desire ruling our life even though we cannot be as perfect in the performance of it as Jesus.

5.   John makes a logical deduction (v.9). It could be pictured like this, “Born of God cancels Sinful life, Sinful life cancels Born of God.”

5.1.   This is a logical assertion by John. He declares as self-evident the fact that you cannot have an honest thief or a truthful liar. You cannot have a pure immoral person. Such concepts are mere foolishness.

5.2.   You cannot have a sin-practicing saint (holy one). John’s word for “cannot” in the statement. “He cannot go on sinning” is the Greek phrase – ou dunatai. Ou is an absolute negative meaning “no absolutely” and dunatai means “to be possible.” So this phrase means “absolutely not possible.” John is saying it is not logically possible to have these two opposites existing at the same time. They are mutually exclusive.

4.  Conclusion: A Test of Conduct:
John now makes the application of his conclusions in this matter of the distinguishing line of righteousness vs. sinfulness. His application is powerfully revealing concerning how important this line is to the matter of who is and who is not a child God.

1.   John points out that this line is a primary means in which the Church can identify who is a child of God and who is a child of devil (v.10). So he says, This is how we know.” We must not try to explain away through very absolute conclusion by John. If we do, we are with no way to protect the Church of Jesus Christ from Satan’s impostors. We forever blur any distinction in unavoidably blaspheme the power of Jesus Christ to effect any such distinction. For if He cannot, He is a future, God forbid! Notice the colon following this statement, what it means is “what now follows is the test.”
     John now gives us the test (v.10). He gives two fold key for identification by giving us the conclusion of what he has just taught from 2:28 through 3:10. Then he gives us a second conclusion that we must allow if that conclusion be true. This second conclusion will be his point of demarcation for the second line of distinction between God and Satan’s children.

1.      The first test is sinful conduct. Those who practice sin are not God’s children, period!
2.       The second test is lack of love for His nature. If we don’t love Christ’s body, the Church will    do not love Him.

Special Songs –          Lord, I Life Your Name On High…
                                    You Are My Hiding Place…
                                    Be Still and Know That I Am God…


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