INTRODUCTION: The Christmas season is the time of Advent. Advent means “coming.” The prophets of old predicted that the Messiah would come. God’s people anticipated his coming. We lit the first Advent candle, the Prophet’s Candle or the Candle of Hope, on the Advent wreath this morning. Christmas celebrates the promised coming of God in the flesh through his son Jesus the Messiah. Christmas also anticipates the time when Jesus will come again and establish his eternal kingdom. God offers us hope atChristmas.
Paul writes in Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
HOPE BEGINS WITH THE GOD OF HOPE.
*Our God is the source of hope. His name is Hope. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing (15:13).
*At a time of despair and hopelessness, God promised his people that a Savior would come who would deliver them. The people looked to God in expectation for the coming Messiah. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness’ (Jeremiah 33:14-16).
God is your source of hope this Christmas.
HOPE BELIEVES, ENDURES AND OVERCOMES.
*God fulfilled his promise to Israel. It took many centuries, but the hope of the coming Messiah helped God’s people to endure. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:30-33).
*God gives us the faith to trust him in all circumstances. The Holy Spirit empowers us and encourages us to keep going. We can thrive and have peace and joy no matter how difficult the situation. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (15:13).
You can go on in hope because Jesus is Immanuel, God with us.
HOPE LASTS FOREVER.
*Hope is eternal. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
*Christmas is about God becoming one of us, so we could become part of his family. Jesus Christ gives us the hope of eternallife. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
You can have the hope of eternal life this Christmas!
INTRODUCTION: John says the mark of the Christian is love. God has given us the Holy Spirit to assure us and guide us into truth. The Spirit gives us assurance of our salvation and discernment of what is right and what is wrong. John concludes his letter with a discussion of eternal life. John writes, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Believers can be certain that they have eternal life. Chapter 5 gives three reasons why every Christian can be confident that he or she has eternal life.
ETERNAL LIFE BEGINS WITH A NEWBIRTH (1-5).
*A person who has been spirituallyborn from above believes that Jesus is the Christ and loves other believers. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him (1).
*Believers obey God and love oneanother. This proves they have been born again. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome (2-3).
*People who are born again believe Jesus is the Son of God and overcome the world by their faith. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (4-5).
“Belief, love, and obedience are marks of the new birth” (John Stott).
ETERNAL LIFE IS VERIFIED BY DIVINETESTIMONY (6-12).
*How can we be certain that Jesus is the Christ? The Old Testament required the testimony of two or three witnesses to verify the truth of a matter (Deuteronomy 19:15). John says that there are three witnesses that testify to the truth that Jesus is the Messiah.
The Father’s affirmation of Jesus at his baptism and the finishedwork of Jesus on the cross testify to Jesus as the Messiah. This is hewho came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only
but by the water and the blood (6).
The internalwitness of the Spirit of Truth confirms that Jesus is the
Christ. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth (6).
The historical facts and the subjective Spirit provide three witnesses that Jesus is the Christ. God has given this testimony and it should be accepted as true. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son (7-9).
The believer accepts the testimony of God. The unbeliever does not. 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 (10).
The believer receives eternal life through Jesus Christ. God gives us eternal life only through Jesus. 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 (11-12).
ETERNAL LIFE BRINGSFIRMASSURANCES (13-21).
*John writes the letter to assure believers that they have eternal life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life ((13).
*Believers also can be confident that God will answer their prayers of petition and intercession. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life…There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death (14-17).
*Believers can be certain of three things: victory over sin and the devil; assurance of salvation; and the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives. We know that everyone 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. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols (18-21).
INTRODUCTION: John says the mark of the Christian is love. He interrupts his discussion on love with a short comment on truth and error. What if a person has doubts about his or her salvation? How does a Christian know what is spiritually true and what is false? God has given us the Holy Spirit to assure us and guide us. Jesus said, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (John 15:26). The Holy Spirit is the Helper and the Spirit of Truth. He gives us assurance and discernment. He shows us the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. John shares this in 1 John 3:18-4:6.
THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH ASSURES US OF OUR SALVATION.
*God reassures our condemning heart. When we doubt our salvation or have guilt about our sins, we need to review our relationship with God. Are we resting in the truth of God’s Word and loving others? God is greater than our conscience and knows our true desire to follow him. “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (3:18-20).
*God blesses an uncondemning heart with answered prayer. We can pray boldly because we have confidence and keep his commandments. “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him” (3:21-22).
*What are his commandments? Faith and love. We believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God and we love one another. We have a decisive act of faith carried out practically in continuous acts of love. “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” (3:23).
*We abide in Christ by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. As we keep his commands, the Holy Spirit empowers us and assures us. “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us” (3:24).
THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH REVEALS WHAT IS TRUE OR FALSE.
*Not all teachers are inspired by the Spirit of God. That is why we need to test the spirits before we accept the message of the speaker. “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” (4:1).
*The Spirit of God always acknowledges that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come in the flesh. Every spirit that denies Jesus as the Son of God is not of God and is the spirit of antichrist. “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 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” (4:2-3).
*Believers are from God and have proven it by overcoming the deceptions of the antichrists. God in the believer is greater than the devil who is in the world. “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” (4:4).
*False prophets are popular with the world and speak a message the world likes to hear. “They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them” (4:5).
*The Holy Spirit reveals the spirit of truth and error by the way an audienceresponds to the truth. Christians are from God and believerslisten to them when they speak. Unbelievers do not listen to them and expose their true character. “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” (4:6).
God has given us the Holy Spirit to assure us and guide us into truth.
INTRODUCTION: John says we are to live a life of obedience and love. We must walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). We can do this because we are children of God. Children of God can thrive in a hostile world. It requires that God’s people love one another. For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another (1 John 3:11). The mark of the Christian is love. John defines what he means by love in chapters 3:11-18 and 4:7-21.
LOVE IS THE OPPOSITE OF HATE (3:12-15).
*Love exposes evil. The world hates us because their true unrighteous character is revealed in the presence of love. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (3:12-15).
LOVE IS SACRIFICIAL AND GIVING (3:16-18).
*Jesus showed us that love is self-sacrifice. He gave up his life for us. We do that practically by taking care of others in need. 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 (3:16-18).
GOD IS LOVE AND THE SOURCE OF LOVE (4:7-12).
*The essence of God’s being is love. Love comes from God and the supreme example of God’s love is the sending of His Son Jesus to die for us on the Cross. As we love oneanother we experience God’s love. 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. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us (4:7-12).
LOVE IS EVIDENCE THAT WE ARE CHILDREN OF GOD (4:13-16).
*We become Christians by faith in Jesus Christ. His Spirit liveswithin us. Believers love like God loves and prove that they are part of God’s family. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (4:13-16).
GOD’S PERFECT LOVE DRIVES OUT FEAR (4:17-18).
*The more we abide in God’s love, the more confident we become before God. God’s love drives out the fear of punishment. We can face any trial because we know God loves us. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love (4:17-18).
WE LOVE BECAUSE GOD FIRST LOVED US (4:19-21).
*God’s love compels us to love. We cannot see God but we can see others. We demonstrate God’s love by loving people around us who are in need. We love because he first loved us. 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. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother (4:19-21).
INTRODUCTION: John says we are to live a life of obedience and love. We must walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). John warns that we are living in the last days and that antichrists already live among us. But with the Holy Spirit’s power and the truth of God’s Word, we can repudiate the lies and deception of the antichrists. We can do this because we are children of God. Children of God can thrive in a hostile world. John reminds us of the characteristics and benefits of being a child of God in 1 John 2:28-3:10.
WE ARE BORN INTO GOD’S FAMILY AND ABIDE IN CHRIST.
*Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Children of God are spiritually regenerated and receive God’s nature within them. The Spirit leads them to do what is right. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him (2:29).
*God’s children dwell in Christ. Like the branch connects to the vine, so a child of God receives nourishment and bears fruit in connection with Jesus. Children of God are ready for Christ’s return because they are in daily contact with him. 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 (2:28).
“You must be born again” (John 3:7) to become a child of God.
WE ARE LOVED BY GOD AND WILL BE WITH HIM FOREVER.
*The Father in heaven loves us and calls us his children. The world rejects us because we belong to the family of God. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him (1 John 3:1).
*We have the hope that Christ will return, and we will be like him. We model our lives after Jesus and stay ready for his coming. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall seehim as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (1 John 3:2-3).
We live pure lives because he loves us and soon will come again.
WE DO WHAT IS RIGHT AND DO NOT PRACTICE SIN.
*We do what is right because of the work of Christ.
Jesus came to takeaway sins. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him (3:4-6).
Sin is breaking God’s law. Jesus came to remove sin.
He could do that because he was sinless. Those who abide in him do not habitually sin.
Those who make a habit of sin do not know Christ or belong to him.
Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Little children let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil (3:7-8).
Whoever does what is good is a child of the Righteous One.
Whoever lives a lifestyle of sin is a child of Satan.
*We do what is right because of the nature of the new birth.
Children of God have the spiritualnature of the Father in them and therefore cannot keep on sinning against God. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God (3:9).
Children of the devil refuse to do right and do not love others. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother (3:10).
Jesus has freed us from our sins, therefore, we can live for him.
INTRODUCTION: John says we are to live a life of obedience and love. We must walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). We can walk as Jesus walked when we claim our resources in Christ and resist the world, the flesh, and the devil. We face enemies to our faith that want to distract us and deceive us. John calls these adversaries “antichrists.” We must recognize and withstand the antichrists in the power of the Spirit. John explains our situation and our protections in 1 John 2:18-27.
WE ARE LIVING IN THE LASTDAYS.
*John believed he was in the last hour of the end time. The last days were the time before Christ’s SecondComing. In that sense, we are living in the last days. Children, it is the last hour… (18).
*The appearance of “antichrists’ was John’s proof that we are living in the last days. The Scripture indicates that one day the Antichrist will come (Daniel 11:31; Mark 13:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Revelation 13). John recognizes that forerunners to the Antichrist have already come. 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 (18).
ANTICHRISTS ARE LIVING AMONG US.
*Antichrist can mean “against Christ” or “in place of Christ.” The antichrists oppose and counterfeit Christ. They have some obvious characteristics that reveal their identity:
Antichrists cause division in the church. They leave the church because their teachings disrupt the fellowship. They reject the truth and try to lead people away from the fellowship. 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 (18-19).
Antichrists deny that Jesus is the Messiah and that he is the Eternal Son of God. They deny the incarnation, that Jesus is God in the flesh. The antichrists lie about the relationship of the Father and the Son. John says that you cannot have a relationship with God the Father without confessing that Jesus is God’s Son. 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. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also (22-23).
Antichrists try to deceive followers of Christ. Their teachings and their actions are designed to mislead believers. I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you (26).
WE HAVE THE POWER TO BE FAITHFUL TO CHRIST.
*Christians can discern the lies of the antichrists and refuse their traps. Christians have two protections and one assurance that gives us the power to be faithful to Christ:
We have the anointing of the Holy Spirit to guard and guide us. The anointing (chrisma) with the Spirit is given at salvation and all Christians possess it. The Spirit lives in us, teaches us and guides us into truth (John 16:13). But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 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 (20-21).
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 (27-28).
We have the Word of God to keep us grounded in the truth. We receive the Good News at conversion and we let the Good News continue to dwell in us and shape our thoughts and choices. We experience God as we internalize and live out his Word. 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 (24).
No matter what trials we face and antichrists we encounter, we have the promise of eternalsecurity in Christ. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life (25).
With the Holy Spirit’s power and the truth of God’s Word, we can repudiate the lies and deception of the antichrists.
INTRODUCTION: Obedience is the essence of fellowship with God. Love is the evidence of fellowship with God. John says we are to live a life of obedience and love. We must walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). To do that, we need to attach ourselves to that which is eternal and lasting and avoid that which is earthly and fades away. John writes, “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17). How do we do the will of God and not get attached to the world? John reminds us of the basic truths of the Christian life and warns us of the dangers we face as we try to walk as Jesus walked.
REAFFIRM YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST.
*There are ages and stages in the Christian’s walk with Christ. All Christians go through stages of progress and development in their spirituality. Maturity and immaturity do not depend on your age. John uses poetic form to address all Christians at different levels of growth: “I am writing to you, little children…I am writing to you, fathers… I am writing to you, young men… I write to you, children… I write to you, fathers… I write to you, young men…” (1 John 2:12-14).
*At all ages and stages of their Christian walk, Christians need to remember the possessions they have in Christ. Christians can walk as Jesus walked when they claim the resources they have in Christ.
We have forgiveness of sins in Christ. I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake (12).
We are children of God because we know the Father through his Son Jesus Christ. “I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning…I write to you, children because you know the Father” (13).
We have overcomeSatan through the Word of God. “I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (14).
All Christians have the resources to walk as Jesus walked and to…
RESIST THE WORLD, THE FLESH, AND THE DEVIL.
*The Christian is to avoid all compromises with the world. Our devotion is to be first and foremost to Christ. Nothing else is to take the place of our love for God. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (15).
*What is the world? Here it is the kosmos, society arranged on the principles and morals of men at different points of time in history. It is the spirit of the age that is opposed to God. It is a system of false values, false standards, and false gods. It is the world that humans have made that is sinful and godless. It does not mean the world God has made. It is very good (Gen. 1:31). It does not mean humanrelations. God loves the world, meaning people (John 3:16). John is talking about a love for the world that is in rebellion to God and under the control of the evil one. “For all that is in the world…is not from the Father but is from the world” (16).
*What are the things of the world that we are to avoid and reject? They are the same temptations that Eve faced in the garden (Genesis 3) and Jesus faced in the wilderness (Luke 4). Satan continues to tempt us to follow him.
Craving for physicalpleasure. “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh…” (16).
Desire for everything we see. “For all that is in the world…the desires of the eyes…” (15).
Pride in our achievements and possessions. “For all that is in the world…and pride of life”
*The life invested in Christ will last forever. The life devoted to the world will passaway. “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (17).
We can walk as Jesus walked when we claim our resources in Christ and resist the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Are you devoted to the world or to Christ? Have you invested your life in Jesus? Are you preparing for eternity?
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
INTRODUCTION: Christian fellowship and authentic relationships are possible in Christ. But sin blocks fellowship with God and others. John writes, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin” (1 John 2:1). We can deny sin, excuse sin, or confess sin. We can find forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ. Jesus is our Advocate and our Atonement. He secures our fellowship with God and he maintains our fellowship with God (1 John 2:1-2). Jesus is the foundation of our fellowship with God. But how can we be sure that we are walking in fellowship and resisting sin? Are there indications that our fellowship with God is on the right track? John says yes and gives us two clear indicators that we know God and are maintaining fellowship with him.
OBEDIENCE IS THE ESSENCE OF FELLOWSHIP.
*Obedience overcomes sin. “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3-4).
*Obedience proves our love for God. God fills his obedient children with increasing love. “but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected” (1 John 2:5).
*Obedience assures us of our salvation. The ultimate evidence of fellowship is when we walk as Jesus walked. “By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:5-6).
The person who obeys God’s Word experiences God’s love.
LOVE IS THE EVIDENCE OF FELLOWSHIP.
*Jesus commanded us to love oneanother. Love for one another indicates that we are followers of Jesus. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (1 John 13:34-35).
*Love overcomes sin. Obedience puts Jesus’ command into action and darkness flees. “Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:7-8).
*Love of neighborconfirms our love for God. To love is to walk in the light. To hate is to walk in the darkness. How we treat one another shows whether we are in the light or in the darkness. “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:9-11).
The mark of the Christian is love for God and for others.
INTRODUCTION: The Apostle John writes his letter 1 John so that we may experience joy (1 John 1:4). We also are invited to participate in genuine fellowship with God and each other. Christian fellowship and authentic relationships are possible in Christ. But sin blocks fellowship with God and others. How do we deal with sin? What do we do with the guilt of sin? How do we restore fellowship with God and others? John gives us important guidelines to follow as we struggle with sin.
HOW DO WE DEAL WITH SIN?
We can deny it. We reject the principle of sin (our sin nature). If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).
We can excuse it. We refuse to acknowledge our practice of sin. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (1 John 1:10).
We can confess it. We agree with God that we are sinners by nature and by choice. God forgives our practice of sin and cleanses our character. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Confession, not denial, is God’s answer to our sin problem.
But what if we mess up? What if we continue to struggle and fall?
HOW DO WE RESTOREFELLOWSHIP WITH GOD?
*Jesus is our Advocate and our Atonement. He secures our fellowship with God and he maintains our fellowship with God.
Jesus’ blood cleanses us from our sin nature. His finished work on the Cross secures our salvation. Sin has been defeated and we have been redeemed. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
Our confession of sins restores us into fellowship. “Our union with God is eternal while our communion is conditional” (Roy Laurin). The basis of this fellowship is Jesus’ faithfulness to forgive our sins. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Jesus assures us of our fellowship with God. Jesus is our Advocate with God and our Atonement for sin. Jesus alone preserves our relationship with God.
*Our Advocate (lawyer, paraclete, spokesman, helper). My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1).
*Our Atonement (sacrifice, expiation, satisfaction, appeasement, remedy).He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).
Jesus intercedes for us and took the punishment for our sins, so we can have fellowship with God.
INTRODUCTION: The Apostle John writes his letter 1 John so that we may experience joy (1 John 1:4). To know Jesus is to know joy. John explains that a right view of Jesus is essential to full joy (1:1-4). But John also writes “so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). We are invited to participate in genuine fellowship with God and each other. Christian fellowship and authentic relationships are possible in Christ.
CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP BEGINS WITH A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FATHER AND HIS SON JESUS.
*Christian fellowship is eternal, personal and communal. John shares his personal testimony that Jesus is the Messiah. He invites others to follow Jesus too: “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1:3).
*The foundation of Christian fellowship is the sharedexperience of Jesus Christ as our Savior. Jesus Christ alone can give us eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
We must have a personal relationship with Jesus to have eternal life and to experience joyful fellowship.
CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP BUILDS ON HONEST, AUTHENTIC, AND OPEN RELATIONSHIPS.
*God’s character is our standard. God is light. He is pure, holy, without stain or blemish, transparent, and revealing. “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1:5).
*Fellowship demands that we practice truth and walk in the light of God’s presence. If we walk in darkness and deny the truth, we hinder fellowship. “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another (1:6-7).
*Christians will stumble and fall and have conflict. We are broken people. The nature of relationships breeds misunderstandings. The nature of fellowship requires honesty, humility, and forgiveness. The uniqueness of our individuality demands that we be honest in our relationships and wear no masks to hide behind. Jesus’ blood continually cleanses our sins and makes authenticity possible. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1:7).
True fellowship means a person grows closer to God and others every day.
CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP IS BASED ON FORGIVENESS AND CONFESSION.
*If we refuse to admit our faults, we are in denial. If we refuse to admit we are wrong, we resist God’s truth. Christian fellowship depends upon total honesty and transparency before God and others. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1:8-10).
*Confession, not denial, is God’s answer to our sin problem. To confess our sins means we say the samething about our sin that God does. God has forgiven us at the Cross. It is a once for all completed act (1:7). We experience this forgiveness with the conditional act of confession. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1:9).
*Christian unity and authentic relationships are possible in Christ. Healing comes through admission of wrong and encouraging prayer. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16).
The Jesus Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.