Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, July 11, 2010
1 John 2:28 - 3:10 – “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.
Have you ever tried to show someone something, or explain something to someone, and after you were finished with the ‘show and tell’ you realized that your ‘student’ simply didn’t ‘get it’? Even though you as the ‘teacher’ tried your best to make the subject clear, somehow-someway, for your student, it simply didn’t ‘compute’. He or she did not learn what you were trying to teach him.
When the apostle John wrote this letter, late in the first century A.D., he was functioning as the Teacher. He was seeking to help his ‘students’ learn some things that were crucial to their day-to-day lives as Christians. He was presenting to them, not only ‘study material’ for them to take note of, but also ‘test questions’ for his students to use to see whether or not they were ‘getting it’.
One of the areas of ‘learning’ which John particularly emphasized pertained to the subject of one’s everyday behavior and one’s response to sin and sin-ning. In effect, by his words of instruction the apostle John sought to answer the question his students must have posed to him – or, at least, had floating around in their minds. That question was: “What’s the big deal about sin and sinning? I don’t get it!”
So far in our look at this powerful letter of John, this Holy Spirit-inspired word from God to us, we have been confronted with several key ‘test questions’ designed to probe us and prod us in the direction of self-examination, to help us see whether or not we really are “in the faith.” (See 2 Cor. 13:5-6) For example, in 1 John 1:5-7, John asks, “Are you walking in the light? Are you practicing – literally DOING – the truth?” “John, what’s the big deal about walking in the light, doing the truth, and so on? I don’t get it!” Here’s the big deal: walking in the light is important simply because God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all! Walking in the light – DOING the truth - is essential, why? Because the continuation of our fellowship with other Christians and, because of the continuation of our being cleansed by Christ’s blood hinge upon it!
Then there’s the issue of obedience – “I mean, John, what’s the big deal about obeying God’s commands, His word? I don’t get it!” 1 John 2:3-6 – Here’s the big deal: to claim, to confess – “I know God, I’m a Christian” – but to fail to consistently pursue obedience to God’s Word, is to make those claims, those confessions, nothing but big, fat lies! Obedience to God’s Word – is it a big deal? Verse 5 – you bet it is a big deal – for, “Whoever keeps, whoever obeys God’s word, truly the love of God is perfected in him [and] by these we [can] know that we are in God…”
One more - test question number three – “What’s the big deal about believing that Jesus is the Christ? Can’t I be a Christian - someone who thinks Jesus is pretty ‘cool, who likes what He said and did – without having to hold to some declaration about His unique identity? I don’t get it!” What IS the big deal about one’s willingness to acknowledge and submit it to WHO Jesus is? 1 John 2:18-23 – Here's the big deal about the identity of Jesus and one's acknowledgement of it: to deny that Jesus is the Christ is – in fact – to be anti-Christ, against Christ! In fact, to deny that Jesus is the Christ is to deny God the Father also!
Now, let's come again to our text for today's study, and watch and listen and learn, as John presents to us yet another test question for our consideration. This one dealing with the issue of sin and sinning.
Before we examine the passage in some detail, I invite you to take note of two or three things going in. The issue of sin and sinning, if we don't grasp anything else from John's instruction here, let's at least be careful to observe that sin and sinning, our day-to-day behavior either for or again God and Christ, these things are connected to the second coming of Christ. 1 John 2:28 and 3:2,3 – They are connected to the new birth, to being born again. 1 John 2:29, 1 John 3:1-2,9-10 – And, number three, sin and sinning IS a big deal – why? Because it is connected to the work, the saving, and sanctifying work of Jesus Christ, against the devil and his sinful works - 1 John 3:8.
“What IS the big deal about sin and sinning? Is my day-to-day behavior either for or against Christ really that significant? I don't get it!” As we seek to grasp these things, let's begin our study where John begins it, with a consideration of two interesting questions. Listen closely: question number one, “What will it be like to stand before Jesus Christ, when He comes again?” And, number two - “What will it be like to see myself for what I really am, as I look upon Jesus, and contemplate who He really is?” Read the text again with me.
1 John 2:28 – 3:3 - “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
“What IS the big deal about sin and sinning? I mean everybody's doing it! In fact, Christians are doing it, some even enjoying it!” Ever allowed your mind to run down that trail?
Allow me to shine some Light on that way of thinking. The nature of sin and sinning, is kind of like the nature of one's nakedness.
Because of shame, embarrassment, modesty, propriety – however you want to put it - most of us cover up, most us do what we can not to expose ourselves! But, listen – 1 John 2:28, 1 John 3:2-3 – One of these days it's coming, I guarantee it, one of these days all the covering up will be over with, and who we are and what we are will be made known! Wide open, and laid bare, that's what we will be at Christ's coming. Now, here's the crucial question: when He comes, and we stand before Him, will we be confident and un-ashamed because we are like Him or will we grope for some fig leaves to cover ourselves?
So, what IS the big deal about sin, and sinning? Is my day-to-day behavior either for against Christ really all that important. John answers that so simply, so powerfully – when he says in chapter 3, verse 3 that, “Everyone who has this hope, the hope of seeing Christ, and being like Him, purifies himself, even as Christ is pure!” Sin and sinning are a big deal because they hinder me from becoming more like Christ!
Secondly, sin and sinning are a big deal because they are an indicator of my ancestry – because they are a sign-post declaring my allegiance. Look again at our text with me. How can you tell - you know, you and I can't read each other's minds, we can't discern each other's heartfelt thoughts and intentions, can we? But listen, we can tell a lot about ourselves, and, even a lot about each other, by observing our ACTIONS! Our day-to-day behavior, is it that big of a deal? It is! It is – because, as John points out in chapter two, verse 29, and again in chapter three, verses 8 and 9 – these things TELL us who our ancestor is! I mean, either I make a habit, a concerted effort by the help of the Holy Spirit, to practice righteousness – and by that I show that God is my Father, or I practice sin as a basic way of life, and, in doing so, I show that my father is not God, but the Devil! Sin and sinning, they are an indicator of my true ancestry: born of God, a child of God, or a child of the devil. Those are the only two choices.
But, then, notice also, how sin and sinning also tells a lot about where our allegiance is: 1 John 3:6 – What is the Christians 'Pledge of Allegiance'? In simple terms, according to 1 John 3:6, it is: “I know God”, 3 or 4 short words, “I have seen Christ,” “I know Christ”. Now, listen – I was not born in Missouri, nor have I ever lived in Missouri - But listen, I'm a little like Thomas was, He was from Missouri, did you know that? He said to his fellow disciples: “Show me! Unless I see Jesus' hands and feet and side, I won't believe it! You're gonna have to show me!” People like you and me, make statements all day long like, “I know God,” “I have seen Christ,” “I am a Christian” - but listen, the biggest sign-post to their allegiance, to OUR allegiance is not our words, but our actions. Verse 6 - “I know Him!” “I've seen Him!” But, what about that sinful habit you just won't let go of! Really now, where IS your allegiance? Where?
What is the big deal about sin and sinning? Let me see if I can wrap up our study in this way: to understand all that we're learning about today – to GET IT – we must grasp two basic ideas. One has to do with the nature of sin and, the other has to do with the nature of Christ and of God. Let's look at these one at a time: first of all, the nature of sin. What is it? 1 John 3:4 – Sin, by it's very nature is lawlessness! To commit sin, is to act unlawfully - to violate the law of God, to break His word! My friends, do you grasp the significance of that simple truth? Think of it – every time you and I sin, we are violating God's law! We are breaking, not the word and command of some man – no! Rather, we are breaking the command of our Mighty Creator, our Sovereign Sustainer, our Gracious Savior, our Faithful Father! Now tell me, IS sin a big deal?
Secondly, basic idea number two – what is the nature of God? What is the nature of Christ?
1 John 3:5 - “And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.
Sin and sinning, do you see it? Sin and sinning are a big deal – why? Because not only are they a violation of God's law, they also are an assault on God's character – in Him is NO SIN! Am I in Him? If I am, then my aim, with His strength, is AWAY from sin, and TOWARD obedience to His will!
And, so, let me conclude by reading once more these words of the apostle John:
1 John 3:4-8: “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.