Today's lesson comes from 1 John 3:1-10 [link].
If you could ask God one question what would it be? Now I'm not talking about....Who really shot JR? Or, why does baseball have some many regular season games? I mean real questions. What would you ask Him? Me? I would ask....why do you love us so much? How can you love us the way you do? Why do you love me so much?
God created the heavens and the earth, the sky and the land, the birds and the animals, the fish, the plants and as He looked upon everything He had created He claimed that it was good. Then on the sixth day God created man and woman, Adam and Eve and claimed that it was very good. Yet our first parents, Adam and Eve, went away from God, chose to follow their own ways, to go their own route, to lean on their own understanding, thinking in their minds they could just like God and in doing so rebelled against God. What once was very good became cursed as their disobedience brought sin into the world effecting everything. Adam and Eve became separated in their marriages, they became separated from God as sin destroyed their relationships.
Because God is holy, righteous, and just sin, rebellions, and disobedience must be answered, must be paid for. Romans 6:23 says that "the wages of sin is death" and still 1 John 4:16 says that "God is love." And even though the wages of sin is death the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God is love and He showed His great love toward us in a mighty and magnificent way "in that while we were sinners Christ died for us." Romans 5:8.
I can't grasp it. Can't wrap my mind around it and apart from Jesus I have never seen this kind of love before.
David wrestled with the same thought in Psalm 8 [link]. "What is man that you are mindful of him?"
Some of you may ask or have heard it ask..."If God is love how could He allow...personal tragedies, 9/11, tornadoes, earthquakes, abortion, on and on and on." Several years ago Voddie Bachaum visited our church and I like the way he answered this question. He said, "You aren't asking the question the right way. What you should be asking is...How could a holy, righteous God allow me to live after what I did last night? What I thought this morning?"
I am blown away by God's love and so is John. "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God..." Can you believe John almost asks. Look at how good God is! This is amazing! This is the best news I have ever heard! John is literally saying that God's love is from another country, beyond this world! In 1 John 3:1 we see God's love powerfully displayed in that through the cross of Jesus, through Him dying in our place for our sins we can now become children of God. 1 John 3:1-2 we see what we are in Jesus and a hint of what we will become upon Jesus' return.
Point #1 - Through Jesus we are children of God
Not just in name not just through association. Not as being part of a club, group, or an organization but actual, literal, children, of God! This in incredible and comes with so many wonderful ramifications.
When the good news of Jesus forgiving our sins is preached and God awakens dead hearts through His Holy spirit, when people call on Jesus to save them and then place their lives in His hands and follow Him as Lord scripture says that they are made into new creatures. God takes the believer from the world, from the family of Satan and adopts the new believer into His kingdom, into His family and just like the prodigal son God places a seal on us, the Holy Spirit, and places fine linen on our backs (the righteousness of Jesus).
This means that we belong to God. We are His. We are heirs of His kingdom. We are brothers and sisters of Jesus and of other believers and that God is our Father unlike any father we may have or have had here on earth. God is perfect in His love for us. Perfect in His provisions for us and He never gives up on us, will never leave or forsake us, and He never changes.
Point #2 - Everyone who hopes in Jesus purifies themselves and is forgiven.
1 John 3:3 "And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure."
Everyone who hopes, not talking about "I wish" or "keep your fingers crossed" but hopes meaning you put all your eggs in one basket, you follow Jesus regardless of what the world says, you put your life in His hands type of hope, everyone who hopes in Jesus will be purified by this hope and will be forgiven of their sins.
What about those who don't worship Jesus? Don't believe He is God? What about people who have different perspectives, philosophies, opinions, ideas? What about those who come from different backgrounds, religions, cultures? What about those who didn't grow up in the deep south going to church every Sunday and eating fried chicken?
1. Shame on anyone not living in the deep south.
2. Shame on anyone who doesn't eat fried chicken...bless their hearts.
Paul addresses these same questions in Romans 1:18-22 [link]. You see, God's invisible attributes are on display and God has testified to His existence and glory since day 1 of creation yet man in his sinful state has chosen to suppress the truth and exchange it for a lie and instead of worshipping God we often worship created things. Instead of worshipping the creator we tend to worship creation.
Point #3 - Everyone without Jesus is under the law, will be judged, and condemned by the law.
1 John 3:4 "Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. " Those who practice sin are lawless, without the law, without regard for God's commands and decrees. Everyone sins period and by this fact we all fall under the penalty of "the wages of sin is death." In the Old Testament something had to die for sin and in the New Testament under God's new covenant someone has to die for our sins.
1 John 3:5 That someone is Jesus. "You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin." Jesus died for sin, He was the propitiation, perfect atonement, complete payment for all sins once and for all.
1 John 3:5-6 "But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him." How can verse 6 be compatible with 1 John 1:8 that says "If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." Verses 5 and 6 point to two truths we must understand:
1. When we abide in Jesus, loot o Him, run to Him, stand close to Him through His word, in prayer, we tend not to practice sin. We find freedom from sin.
2. When we sin it is because we look to other things or other people.
Time Keller - author and founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian church in New York has put for the idea that all of us have created our own personal hells comprised of those things which we are most afraid of. Some people are afraid of what others think about them, some are afraid of failing, and others are afraid of being lonely. Not only do we create our own personal hells but we also craft what he calls "functional saviors" those things that we use to save us from the very hells we create. Here is an example:
Your are very afraid of being alone, unloved, and um important. Your functional savior is new things. So you constantly buy things to save you from your greatest fears and instead of turning to Jesus for salvation from your sins, for salvation from loneliness, instead of turning to Jesus for love you replace Him with stuff.
The gospel is that Jesus lived the lives that we could not live, He died the death you and I should die, and He rose on the third day conquering sin, hell, and death for everyone who believes in Him.
Those under Jesus will be forgiven.
Those who look to Jesus will find freedom from sin.
Those who deny Jesus are under the law and will be judged by the law and it is the law that will ultimately condemn them.
Point #4 - The fruit of our lives reveal who are real daddy is.
1 John 3:6-10 "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
7Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. 9No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother."Some of you may have questions like...why does the Bible contain commands that are impossible for me to keep? Be holy, be without sin, when I can't keep them? The answer is simple in that God knows that we will try and in our trying we will utterly fail and in our failure we will once again see our need for a savior and be pointed back to Jesus.
Verse 9 tells us that anyone truly born of God can't joyfully practice sin and verse 10 tells us how to know who our real daddy is. Those who practice sin and hate their brother belong to Satan.
Who's your daddy?
God through Jesus or Satan through your sin and your own works?
Do you enjoy sin, do you make excuses for your sin?
Does your sin utterly destroy you?
Are you reborn? Born into the family of God?
This is just the beginning - what we will be is not yet known but will be revealed upon Jesus' return.