Do We Care?

Do you have people in your life who claim to be Christians and yet their lifestyles speak the opposite of what they profess? Does this burden your heart? It should, for it is much harder to get the truth of the gospel through to someone who believes he or she has their salvation secured, based on a lie, than it is to present the gospel of our salvation to someone who has never before made any profession of faith in Jesus Christ at all. And, yet this is what John attempted to do here in this letter, to let those professers of faith in Jesus know the truth, so that they truly could be saved from sin.

You have heard me say many times that context is everything. So, if we are to understand the message God has for us here from 1 John 2, we need to see it in the context of 1 John 1, first of all. For, John began this letter by presenting to his readers the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He wanted them to know the message of eternal life with God so that they would have fellowship with them and with the Father and with the Son Jesus Christ.

Then, he went on to explain to them the truth of the gospel message, and also to dispel the lies that had been spread about that gospel. So, he first of all proclaimed to them the truth that God is light and that in him dwells no darkness. So, if we proclaim that we have fellowship with God, but we still walk (conduct our lives) in the darkness (in sin, wickedness), then we are liars who do not practice the truth. In fact, it is only as we walk (in lifestyle) in God’s light (in his truth and righteousness) that we have such fellowship, and that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin (cf. Rom. 8:1-17).

1 John 2:1-6 ESV

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. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 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, 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 ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

While it is true that genuine faith in Jesus Christ means we walk (in lifestyle) in truth and righteousness and that we don’t make sin our practice, it does not mean that we will never sin again. We are still human beings who live in flesh bodies, and so we still have the propensity to sin against God. But, as reborn believers in Jesus Christ, our desire should now be for our Lord and for his righteousness, and we should no longer thirst after the darkness.

So, although it is true that by faith in Jesus Christ we have been forgiven our sins and that if we do sin that Jesus speaks to God in our defense, for he already paid the price to set us free from our sins, it is not true that we can go on living in sin, ignoring God’s commands, and doing whatever we want.

For, the way that we know that we truly know Jesus as our Lord and Savior is if we keep (obey) his commands to us (his instructions to us). It is not, though, saying that we must keep these with absolute sinless perfection, otherwise Jesus would not have had to die for our sins if we could keep God’s commandments perfectly. But, lack of perfection is also never to be used as an excuse for continued willful sinful rebellion against God.

Basically it comes down to this. If we see our salvation from sin as merely an escape from hell, and the promise of heaven when we die, and as a free pass to continue in sin without guilt or remorse, then we have it all wrong. For, Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. This is the essence of the gospel message. He died to deliver us out of our slavery to sin so that we might now become slaves of his righteousness (Rom. 6:1-23).

Also, we must understand that faith in Jesus Christ is not something we did in the past which secures our future. Faith in Jesus Christ is continuous. It is ongoing. And, that faith is divine persuasion from God as to his holiness and righteousness and of our need to walk daily in his holiness and righteousness. For, if we walk according to our flesh, we will die in our sins. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death those sins, then we will live.

1 John 2:7-11 ESV

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. 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.

Again, we even have more stipulations as to the proof of whether or not we have genuine believing faith in Jesus Christ which results in fellowship with God and in eternal life with Christ. We must love other people with God’s love, for if we hate others, then God’s love is not in us, and we don’t have eternal life with God. Again, this is not black or white, i.e. either 100% or nothing at all. There may be times when we fail in this, but then we need to repent of that sin and make that right with others and with God. For, if we hold on to hate, and it is what we practice, we will never see God.

And, we must remember here that this is divine love which prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, pure, faithful, moral and upright. And, we must recall the words spoken to us which say that love does no harm to its neighbor, and which remind us that if we commit adultery, or steal, or bear false witness, or we are unforgiving and bitter against others, and if this is what we practice, then we don’t have the love of God within us.

1 John 2:15-17 ESV

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. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Lastly, those who are true followers of Jesus Christ must not love the world as they are to love Christ. They must not give their hearts, minds, passion, desires, time, affections, and devotion to the things of this sinful world. They must not live to fulfill the desires of their flesh, but they must live to please God in all that they are and do and say. For, if we live to please the flesh and to engage ourselves in persistent sinful pleasures, the love of God is not in us no matter what we confess with our mouths or say we believe.

We need to get this! It is only those who make it their practice to do the will of God who abide forever. We can profess all we want that we have fellowship with God and that we believe in Jesus and that we believe we are going to heaven when we die. But, if what we practice is living to fulfill the lusts of our sinful flesh, and if we practice bitterness and unforgiveness, and if we practice willful and continued disobedience to Christ’s commands, then we don’t have the promise of heaven when we die.

For, true faith in Jesus Christ dies with Christ to sin daily, and daily it lives to follow Jesus Christ in his ways and according to his will. If we sin against God, we repent of that sin, and we pray for his strength and power to help us to resist Satan and to flee temptation. And, we take the way out from under temptation that God has provided for us, instead of regularly and consistently yielding to the flesh. For, if we love Jesus, we will obey him.

My Jesus, I Love Thee

Hymn lyrics by William R. Featherstone, 1864
Music by Adoniram J. Gordon, 1876

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

*Copyright status is public domain

Sunday, November 11, 2018 – Thank You, Jesus, for this reminder that to believe in you means that we walk in your light and no longer in darkness.

 

4 thoughts on “Do We Care?

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