The ongoing circumstances of our culture are realities of God’s relationship to our world through the gospel. Everything occurring in our world points us toward God.
– Corruption: Our world is corrupt from high places in society to the individual human heart. Moral bankruptcy may be seen in mainstream media bias, politicians actions, or in homes where there is domestic violence, all kinds of sexual perversion outside of marriage, and a host of other small and great sins.
– Concealment: While our world is corrupt, we seek to cover and hide. In shame we run away from God. Our concealment may be sophisticatedly displayed in wiping a server of deleted emails or twisting words for a non-apology, or it may be simple in the embarrassment of a toddler or teen remaining silent for their wrongful actions. The trouble is that our fig leaves can never fully conceal our sin and make us clean.
– Condemnation: We are often our worst critics. Our shame and guilt leads us to self-hate or self-medicating with food, alcohol, drugs, spending, or a number of other responses. We beat ourselves up or allow others to judge us. There is a rightful judgment for wrong actions, but there is also a wrongful judgment for those who know the justice of God through Jesus Christ paying the penalty for our sin. He was condemned that we may be set free.
– Celebration: Our happiness and pleasures are found in a variety of sources. The world’s offer of temporary satisfaction promises to please but fails to fulfill. Our smiles and laughs will echo hollow if we fail to know the life, light, and love of Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior.
In this series “Walk This Way” in 1-2-3 John, my hope is to renew our celebration and commitment to Jesus. I pray that we see more of His greatness and grace. I want us to fall more in love with Him and walk more closely to Him as either newly to the faith, as Christians who perhaps have grown complacent, and/or as a church body who needs a fresh stirring from the Holy Spirit. Let us walk in the way of God: Gospel – Family – Mission.
EXAMINE 1John Walk This Way in the Gospel
è Who is your nearest & dearest friend? Who’s the expert on you outside of yourself? You go to this person in crisis, counsel, celebrations.
o For me, growing up it was Erik. In teen years we grew apart but in this last recent year or so we’ve been slowly catching up.
o There was another best friend I had in my 20’s, Jeremy.
o Honestly, the one who knows me the best is my wife Danielle. By God’s grace, my wife is my best friend. I recommend friendship in marriage J. Seriously!
è John was an expert on Jesus. Jesus could have chosen anyone to be his best friend, but He chose John. Seems significant.
1-2-3 John were letters written by John the beloved apostle, to churches likely in Asia Minor – and possibly to the seven churches known in Revelation 2-3. John is an elder man, possibly 80’s in age (70-80 AD).
– John was a fisherman with his brother (James) and father’s (Zebedee) family business.
o Imagine leaving your family business…. Your whole life legacy past, present, and future. John does that for Jesus. Powerful thought!
o John obeys Jesus immediately, not eventually… how about you?
o ALSO – John followed Jesus with James. His mother also followed Jesus. JESUS DESIRES FAMILIES TO FOLLOW & SERVE HIM TOGETHER.
– John had special experience with James & Peter and Jesus; they were known as “the three”.
– John’s mother with James & John asks Jesus to allow her two sons to sit at His right and left in God’s kingdom. This made the other disciples upset (Matt 20:20-28; Mark 10:35-45).
– John was close with Jesus, and the other disciples call him the beloved disciple (John 13:23).
o Jesus called John and brother James “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17; cf. Lk 9:54); yet after walking with Jesus and growing older he becomes an apostle of love – word used ~90x in his writings.
o Our greatest weakness is often a strength misdirected. Knowing God redirects your weaknesses to be used for strengths. James was likely a passionate and angry man who was redirected to being passionate and loving. (Driscoll, 1John series)
à What does God need to redirect in your life?
The main purpose of the letters, especially the first, was to combat heresy concerning the person of Christ, and to combat hate and unholiness against each other. So, in 1st of 3 messages in this series we will examine John’s message to ensure we have a right understanding of the gospel and what it means to know Jesus Christ.
John’s purpose for writing for clarity of the gospel is stated at least four times: I write so that you may have
– fullness of joy (1:3),
– avoidance of sin (2:1),
– knowledge of truth (2:26),
– and having eternal life (4:13)
Even more in this letter John provides clarity to understand one’s relationship with the gospel of Jesus. John shares conditional statements, and in a sense tests of the Christian faith, exposing casualness toward faith that we may repent and have a true confession of Christ. This message will explore 5 tests to see if you are walking in the way of the gospel.
1) Test of relationship
1John 1:6 “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
Fellowship is a special and shared community. To have fellowship with God implies daily dependence and devotion with God. Fellowship with God is a genuine and growing relationship through prayer (talking to God), Scripture reading (listening to God), trusting His truth by following Him in obedience.
- If it were a crime to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
- In the first 3 hours of your day, do you spend any sincere and significant time praying and reading God’s Word? Some of us are not morning people, but as we go about our day we should be cognizant of Christ. Our circumstances should lead us to cry out to Him for help or celebrate Him in praise. Every breath is a gift and we should grow more aware of His presence in our life moment by moment.
- In challenge or crisis, is prayer our last resort or first response?
- Do others who know you or live around you, know that you are a Christian or would that be surprising information to them?
These questions help answer the test of relationship and if we have fellowship with God or are walking in darkness, not practicing the truth.
2) Test of pride
1John 1:8 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1John 1:10 “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
John says that we can be self-deceived by thinking too highly of ourselves or believing we are better than we really are. Pride is foolish and pushes us away from God. God wants us to approach Him with less swagger and increased surrender. We must be quick to be humble and repent of sin, confessing our need for grace.
Illus: Two brothers went away to college. One brother became a farmer. The other became a brilliant, wealthy lawyer. The lawyer brother visited the farmer brother on the farm. He said, “I can’t believe you’ve not made anything of your life. You’re out here on a farm. Look at me. Look where I am. I’m on Wall Street. I’m an investor in the stock market. I have clients who are millionaires. Here you are, stuck out here on the farm. I wonder what made the difference between my success and your insufficiency.
The farmer brother then spoke. He pointed out to his wheat field. He said, “You’ll see two types of wheat out there, brother. You’ll see the wheat that’s standing straight up. In the head of that wheat, there is nothing. It’s empty. That’s why it’s standing so high. You’ll also see some other wheat that is bent over. That’s because the head is full. It’s full of wheat.”
Some of us are standing straight up. We are walking tall. However, we are only able to do so because we are empty. Some of us walk a little bent over indicating that we are full. The test isn’t what you have in your pocket. It’s what you have in your heart.
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6) à We cultivate humility by 1) walking with God daily, 2) confessing sin regularly, 3) serving others frequently,
3) Test of obedience
1John 2:4-6 “Whoever says, ‘I know Him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him out to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
1John 3:4-8 “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.”.. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him… whoever practices righteousness is righteous… whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil”
1John 5:3 “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
1John 5:18 “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.”
Obedience to God is not optional. We disobey God through sin of commission and omission. We commit sin against God by doing wrong things. We also commit sin by not doing right things. The desire and discipline of our life should be to say, “Yes, Lord, yes. I will serve what you want me to do. I will avoid what you want me to abstain. I will go where you want me to go. Lord I want whatever you want, wherever and whenever.”
- What is one sin of omission that God wants you to redirect this week?
- Are there any sins you need to confess to God and another Christian friend to find healing (cf. Jam5:16)?
4) Test of love
1John 2:9 “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” 1John 3:14 “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”
1John 3:16-16 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.”
1John 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
1John 4:20 “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
We will examine the test and trait of loving others in future weeks in 2John with the way of family, and 3John the way of mission. Yet, it is important to note here that walking in the way of the gospel includes both our vertical relationship with God and horizontal relationships with others. Our Christian faith is personal but never private. If we are not connected in Christian community and serving others, then we have not seriously observed Jesus’ life or obeyed His teaching.
- SPBC Members, are you meaningfully supporting God’s church through your time, talents, and treasure?
- Are you participating in member’s meetings with your voice and vote?
- Are you serving on a ministry team?
- Are you using your spiritual gifts and physical resources to encourage others to grow in the faith?
- Are you supporting God’s church and kingdom with your financial means that He’s blessed you to be a blessing?
5) Test of Christ.
1John 2:23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”
1John 4:15 “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”
1John 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God”
1John 5:10-12 “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
John’s supreme aim in writing is to testify to the truth of Jesus’ life and teaching. Regardless of how much knowledge a person may have about religion, Scripture, and even God, if we miss Jesus then everything else becomes irrelevant.
- Would you say you know ‘about God’ but not sincerely or significantly ‘know God’?
This book, this message series, our church’s mission, and my aim in preaching is for you to know God personally (1John 5:13).
Life is like school and we must pass the test. We are not graded on our performance but on our position of having faith in Jesus Christ. These tests may produce guilt, but not for the purpose of you trying to do more or better but for you to die to self and become alive to Christ. If you die to self then God gives you grace to forgive your sin and shortcomings, but He also gives you grace to fuel your service in attitude and action.
Walk into the light, where He is.
 Tony Evans, Book of Illustrations, “pride”.