“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.”
(1 John Chapter 2 verses 1-2)
Download the sermon slides: SERMON-2014-8-31
If you’re here for the first time, you’ve chosen a wonderful week to join us because this is a special Sunday. This is our baptism Sunday. Some 30 of our people will be baptised today. And it is a big day for us. Because baptism is a wonderful way for us to tell you and to tell the world that our lives have been changed by the Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism is the glorious declaration of the saving work of Jesus in our lives. So we’re going to have our people enter the waters of baptism to tell you Jesus is their Saviour, Jesus died for their sins, they have believed on Him for eternal life. May I also clarify to you, the people who are getting into the water of baptism are not getting saved today. They’ve already been saved. Baptism is not the means to salvation; it is a declaration of salvation. 0:01:00.7
A story is told of a man. He was walking by the beach. He’s not a Christian. He’s never been to church. He doesn’t know what Christianity is all about. But he was walking at a beach and he spotted a group of people gathered by the seaside. They were actually having a baptism service. A pastor was baptising people in the sea and he walked by, he was curious. What’s all this about? So he got real close and the pastor turned around, saw him and thought that he was also going to be baptised. So he grabbed him and plunged him into the water, got him out and said to him, “Have you found Jesus?” The man says, “No, I’ve not found Jesus.” The pastor was shocked. Put him into the water another time, brings him out and says, “Have you found Jesus?” The man says, “No, I haven’t found Jesus.” Orr…this time I’m going to give it to you! Push him into the water for a good 30 seconds and while bubbles were coming out, he finally lifted him out and says, “Have you found Jesus?” The man panting, says, “No, I’ve not found Jesus but are you sure he fell in here?” (Laughter from congregation) 0:02:06.3
Baptism is not for you to find Jesus. Baptism is telling you, sometime before this, Jesus has already found me. He has saved me and I’ve received Him, believed upon Him to be my Lord and Saviour. And so all our baptismal candidates today, do take note, they are not getting saved today but they have already trusted the Lord and they are telling you about the glorious salvation in Jesus Christ. So what you are going to see later on is that I would dunk, or some of our pastors will be immersing our people into the water and then lifting them up. It’s a beautiful picture of how the old man, the old John, the old David, the old Sam, he is now dead and now arises in that state, a new man in Jesus Christ. This is not the day he is changed but this is the day he tells you he has been changed. And the water that the person gets into is a picture of the blood of Jesus Christ that can cleanse us from all sin. Again it’s just a picture because the water in the baptism tank later cannot wash away sin. The water, as I’ve always say, is from PUB, no… no special treatment. It’s just ordinary water and if you are the 30th person to be baptised today. I don’t think you will feel very clean. (Laughter from congregation) So it is all a picture. But it’s a beautiful illustration that the Christian is a man whose sin has been washed and cleansed. This is the central teaching of the Bible. Some of you are here for the first time. You come from overseas; you’ve never been to church. You are here for the first time and you’re wondering what is the central teaching of the Bible? The central teaching of the Bible is that there is a God who is willing to cleanse us from all sin. 0:04:03.1
You see, in the Bible, for example, in 1 John 2, and this is the text we are looking at. As a church we are studying the Bible and we come to 1 John chapter 2. And in this text, we read, “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.” (1 John 2:1-2, ESV) So even in this text, we see that the central problem of humanity is this word ‘sin’. And ‘sin’ is disobedience against God. It’s rebellion against our Maker, our Creator. And the central theme in these verses and indeed of the Bible is how God is able to save us and cleanse us from our sin. And I believe there is a message for everyone here, whether you are a Christian for a long time, whether you are someone who is going to be baptised today or whether you are a guest, a friend who has come to support your friend but you yourself have not trusted in Christ yet. I believe these words will be a blessing to your heart. 0:05:16.5
So, without much ado, let me take this portion by portion, starting with verse one, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” The writer here is John. That’s why it’s called 1st John. It’s the first letter of John. And John is like an old man right now. He is 80, 90 years old. Some of you here I know is 70 plus but this is an old man writing. 80, 90 years old and as a pastor, he writes to his church like a kind and tender father. He says, my little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin. I’m writing these things to you like a father would warn a child away from drugs and from danger. I’m saying to you, don’t sin. Because sin is destructive; sin robs you of joy; sin robs you of intimacy with God; sin dishonours God. So my little children, now that you have believed in Jesus, now that Christ has changed your life, your perspective has changed. Avoid sin! Do not sin! But of course, this is easier said than done. We all know as Christians if you have been in church for some time, you have believed in Jesus; you all know we are to walk in the light; you all know that we are to be disciples of Jesus, following Him, avoiding sin. But we all know it is harder than we have just said. Easier said than done. Why? Because right in all our lives, even though God has changed our hearts, even God…even though God has given us a new life, the old remnant of that sinful nature still remains. It is now no more the core of our being, but it is still a part of our being. The Bible tells us this is the flesh, the desires and the lust of sin still is with a Christian. And though God at salvation has dealt sin a death blow, it is still very much alive. 0:07:21.6
Let me give you an illustration. I was reading this week about a couple who was eating in a restaurant in Guangdong. And in the middle of the meal, there was a commotion from the kitchen. People were screaming, “Help! Help! Get the doctors please!” And er…they rushed in and they noticed that a man was lying still on the floor. He’s the chef. And they were told what has happened. The chef was actually preparing a snake dish. 蛇羹 (she geng) (Mandarin words meaning snake soup) I don’t know what lah! Maybe a snake dish. The chef has actually just cut off the head of the snake, place it to one side. Was dealing with the body of the snake, treating it and don’t know what else he’s doing and later on, he remembered he has to throw the head of the snake away. So he went to take hold of the head and the snake’s head, even though was decapitated, proceeded to bite the chef. Injected lethal toxin and he died before the doctors could come. Huh? You say, can like that one ah? I also didn’t know that it could happen but there was a video that they shown. Let me say to you, warning ah, viewer’s discretion is advised. (Laughter from congregation) If you are scared of this video, you can close your eyes and don’t watch it. But let me show you because I think this describe the sin nature in us. 0:08:38.3
Eeek! (Laughter from congregation) I don’t think you will ever want to touch snakes or decapitated snakes ever since now I think. Um… well this snake is amazing. I’m told that a snake’s head could still function for up to 20 minutes after it’s cut off from the body. And I think it’s a picture of sin nature in our lives. When we come to Jesus Christ for salvation and life, there is a crucifixion of the old life. The old sinful nature is rendered inoperative. But it doesn’t mean that it is now unable to tempt. It is unable to, or you are incapable of sinning. The sin nature resides in us in the flesh and if you are not careful, like the chef, we can be bitten by sin.
So, John here is saying, my little children, I write to you because I know sin is lethal. Sin is destructive and though it has been dealt a death blow, it is still very much alive. Be watchful! Be vigilant! Do not sin. But the question is: What if we are not careful? What if… because we are careless, we stumble and fall into sin. Will we die? Will we lose our salvation? Would…does a Christian go to hell? Even though he has believed in Jesus, but after he sins a sin, after he’s saved, will he then be consigned to hell? Will he lose his salvation? What happens if we sin? That’s the question that John seeks to answer next. But if anyone does sin, what happens to a Christian when he sins? What happen to a believer who has trusted in Jesus when he sins? Well, he says, if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father. The word ‘advocate’ is a legal term. It’s referring to something based on a court of law. A court of justice. The picture here is that someone is accused. For example, myself, I’m accused. I’ve sinned against God and I stand before the Holy God as the accused. And charge after charge, evidence after evidence is laid before the judge. And I’m speechless. I have no defence. I have no excuse because indeed I have sinned. And it looks terrible, it doesn’t look good for me because sin deserved judgement. The righteous judge will mete out punishment for sin. And when I’m defenceless and when I’m helpless, the Bible tells us that we have an advocate. This is a lawyer. This is a defence attorney. In the Greek, it refers to a man or someone who is called alongside, a ‘parakletos’ in the Greek. Someone who is called alongside to defend you. 0:12:06.5
I’m told in Singapore that we have… we are going to have a glut or too many lawyers for the jobs that are being available. And so if you are studying law, you may end up with no job in a few years time. But there is no one, who is skilled in law in this whole world who can be our advocate with the Father except for the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ the righteous. So we stand before the Holy God, we are guilty. We are charged. Evidence is laid before us, we can’t defend ourselves and now our advocate comes. Our defence lawyer comes. But this may surprise you. When he comes, he’s going to say something that may shock you. He’s going to say to the judge, “Your Honour, without a shadow of a doubt, my client is absolutely guilty as charged.” You say, “Huh? Jesus Christ is my defence lawyer and he comes and says I am guilty as charged? Shouldn’t he be defending me?” Well, he’s going to defend you but he’s not going to lie. He’s not going to say I defend him because he is innocent, he is good. You should know all the mitigating factors. He’s actually quite a good guy, so God don’t judge him. No, he’s going to say quite the opposite. He’s absolutely guilty. But the defence plea is not his innocence, the defence plea is that all his sin and the punishment that should be meted out against him is satisfied in me. That’s why he says he is the propitiation for our sins. The plea for pardon is not my innocence but on Jesus’ sufferings for us. 0:14:04.2
The word ‘propitiation’, I know it’s a big word, none of us use this in our normal conversation. What is the meaning of the word ‘propitiation’? In its essence, it means to appease, to placate, to satisfy the wrath of someone. You know what I mean, when someone is angry with me, you got to do something to appease. And…and Jesus is saying I am the appeasement for your sins. The Greek word, you know the Bible is not written in English, it’s…for the New Testament, it’s written in the Greek and the Greek word here is actually the word ‘Hilasmos’. It is a word that is related to ‘Hilastaron’. Wah… you say pastor, what are you doing? So many Greek words on Sunday morning. Well this is all I’m going to say. It is the word ‘Hilasmos’ related to another Greek word called ‘Hilasterion’. And the word ‘Hilasterion’ is interesting because it is used to refer to a piece of furniture that the Jews used to worship God. Now for the Jews, their worship of God is rather elaborate in the past. And they use different kinds of furniture and instruments. They have an altar where animals are slain. They have a basin where hands can be washed. They have a lampstand where light emits. They have this table of shew bread or bread or biscuit-like, wafer-like stuff. They have this altar where incense is offered. And they have this box and this ark where the Ten Commandments are contained. So they have all these instruments and furniture. And there is one of them that is called ‘Hilasterion’ in the Greek. Anyone knows which piece of furniture that is? Ok, never mind. We can try that again next time. Anyone want to have a last shot? Someone in first service actually mention it. Ark of covenant, very close. ‘Char tan po’ (Hokkien dialect words meaning missed a little bit), (Laughter from congregation). (Response from someone in congregation) Huh? Sorry? The mercy seat. And this is the piece of furniture that we are referring to. 0:16:16.1
This is actually…this box…alright…this box like structure (referring to picture shown), of course these are artists’ impressions. This box-like structure is what they called the ark of the covenant or the ark of testimony. Inside will have Moses’ rod, the Ten Commandments, the pot of manna. Er… this ark of covenant is in a very secluded, very special place. Er… in the tabernacle or the place that God dwells. But on top of this box is this cover. This lid. And on this lid are these two cherubims with wings spread out. And this cover, interestingly is called the ‘Hilasterion’ in Hebrews 9:5. This is the mercy seat. You say what is this all about? What is so special about this piece of furniture? This is what God says in Exodus 25, “There I will meet with you…” Oh, this is a special place where God meets with the people of Israel during Moses’ time. There, specifically, “…there I will meet with you and from above the mercy seat…” Above the ‘Hilasterion’ in the Greek. “…from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony…” (Exodus 25:22)
So this is the place where the people of Israel would want to be in. To meet with God before the ark, on top of the mercy seat. The problem is that the average Joe can never get near. They can’t. Why? This is the picture of the time of Moses (picture shown). Er… you know that the people of Israel, under Moses’ leadership, they travelled from place to place, and as they pitched their tents, they also set up their place of worship and their place of worship is a very interesting thing. This whole thing is called the Tabernacle. And it is fenced up, the average population cannot go in, except when they offered a sacrifice and within this tabernacle is also the Tabernacle proper. The actual tabernacle itself. It’s a kind of a hut-like structure and inside, it is divided into two parts. The outer part called the Holy Place and the inner part called the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies is a very, very special place. In the whole wide world, God only allows one person to go in. It’s not the King, not the Prime Minister, but only the great High Priest. The average people can only come right up to here to offer the sacrifices (referring to picture shown). The ordinary priests will be here killing the animals, cutting out the body parts, putting it on the altar to be sacrificed. They will wash their hands. But only the great High Priest can enter into the inner chamber. The Holy of Holies. Only the High Priest can meet with God in that way. And he doesn’t go in casually. He has to go in with a special garment and as you could see (referring to picture), he goes in with blood. He goes in with the blood of animals that was sacrificed. And as the High Priest, he represents Israel and says, God, we meet with you. God, we meet you but we dare not stand before you until blood is shed, until an animal is killed, until a sacrifice is offered, because we dared not stand before you. You are a God of righteousness; you are a God of Holiness. You are so holy you must judge sin and we can only come with an atonement. We can only come with a sacrifice and the blood must be sprinkled on the ‘Hilasterion’. There must be a propitiation. There must be an appeasement of the righteous wrath of God. 0:20:18.9
So when you look at the way the Jews worship. This whole thing, this whole setup is elaborate. But it is intended to teach a few things. One, it is intended to teach you that there is a way to approach God. You come with a sacrifice. You wash your hands and you go in to the presence of God but at the very same time, whilst there is a way to come to God, this is also a lesson to teach the Jews that there are barriers. There are separations; there are judgements; there are deaths; there are sacrifices that are necessary. Because man is sinful and God is holy and unless there is a sacrifice, there is no way you can approach God. And so in the light of this, John says to his people, when we sin, there are barriers, there are separations, we deserve death, we deserve judgement. It’s farther and farther away, but Jesus is the propitiation. He’s the one who reconciles us to God. He’s the one who appeases the righteous wrath of God. Otherwise, no mortal man would dare stand before the throne as the song goes. It’s only by His blood. It’s only through His mercy that we can come. 0:21:49.5
Sometime ago, there’s a preacher called R.C. Sproul. He asked this question in a sermon, “Saved from what?” We say, oh, we…we become Christians, we come to church, we hear the Bible to be saved. But I asked you what…what are you saved from? Saved from what? Because people today… I tell you why many people go to church. They go to church to be saved, that’s true. But they want to be saved from poverty. They want to be saved from their illness. They want to be saved from difficulties and pain and trials. They want to be saved from meaninglessness, the ‘emptilessness’…‘emptilessness’? ‘Wah lao’ (Hokkien dialect exclamation meaning oh my goodness) (Laughter from congregation), emptiness; want to be saved from loneliness. They want to be saved from these things. But actually… according to the Bible, what are you saved from? R.C. Sproul gave an answer and the people were stunned. He said, as far as I know, as far as I can read from the Bible, Jesus came so that I can be saved from God. Wow-o, what do you mean saved from God? So that I can be saved from God’s wrath that will fall on me if Jesus had not died for me. You see, Jesus himself says, I warned you, you should fear someone. “I warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:5, ESV) Jesus says God has the authority to kill and to cast into hell. Why? Because we are sinners. And because God is holy and righteous, he hates sin and if Jesus did not died for us, if there is no sacrifice for us, if we do not have an advocate, we will be damned in hell. Because God is holy and we are sinful. And that’s why Jesus had to die. And that’s why Jesus had to come. My friends, Jesus did not come just to save you from your pimples, or your backaches. He did not save you so you have a few more thousand notes of dollar in your bank. He did far more than that. Something far greater. He came to appease the wrath of the Holy God against sinful man. He came to do what none of us would ever be able to do. He came to bring sinful man back to the Holy God. 0:24:17.7
That’s why He came. He came to save us from God’s wrath. Jesus Christ died for God, to save us; for God, to justify us. See, this is what is said in Romans 3, why did Jesus come and die? Why did He give his life? “It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and also the justifier of the one who has faith in Christ (or in Jesus).” (Romans 3:26, ESV) The logic is this: if you and I today, we sin, we are sinners, we died and God says, “Alright, it doesn’t matter. I know he has sinned all his life, but I’m so good to him, I’m going to let him come to heaven.” You know what’s going to happen for all eternity? There will be a joke. There will be a scandal. And say aah… this God who says He is righteous, this God who says He is holy, He is a joke because look at all these sinners. He lets them into heaven. He doesn’t deal with sin. He’s not the Holy God. He’s not the righteous God. He is a scandal, he is a joke! So that cannot happen. God is just. He must deal with sin. But how can He deal with sin and yet still justify us who are sinners? The answer is that the judgement and the punishment will be taken by Jesus Christ, his own Son. So Jesus had to die, to show that God is righteous. So that God now can be both just, to judge sin and He may justify us, because the sin is already judged on His son. 0:26:09.6
See, Spurgeon understood this. That’s why he said this so eloquently: “Ah, sinner, if God punish not thy sin, he has ceased to be what He has always been – the severely just, the inflexibly righteous…Is it possible then, that the sinner cannot be saved? This is the great riddle of the law, and the grand discovery of the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ. Wonder ye heavens! Be astonished O earth! That very justice which stood in the sinner’s way and prevented his being pardoned, has been by the gospel of Christ appeased…” This justice of God demands that we be judged for our sins. But the very same time, because Jesus died for us, this same very justice of God is completely satisfied by Christ and now I’m free. “…by the rich atonement offered upon Calvary (the place where Jesus was crucified), justice is satisfied, has sheathed its sword, and has no, not a word to say against the pardon of the penitent.” And our advocate now, Jesus Christ, because He has completed this work, because He has died for us, He could come to God and say Lord, it is finished. Justify them.
Why did God do this? Why did God do this? Why did Jesus go to the cross? Why did He pay for your sins? The answer is right here in verse 10, “In this is love…” (1 John 4:10, ESV) Today we talked about God loves you, God loves you, God loves you and sometimes we have this sentimental syrupy, mushy kind of idea of love. No, it is a strong love, a strong love that God sent His Son to appease for our sins. This is the love of God and when you think of the cross. The cross is the supreme demonstration of the righteousness of God. Sin must be dealt with. At the very same time, the cross is the supreme demonstration of the love of God. My Son has taken it all. It’s on the cross that the justice of God and the love of God kissed. It’s on the cross that God who is angry with sin, and God who is angry with sinners could love us and save us and deliver us. 0:28:58:7 J.I. Packer, he says, “In paganism,” what is paganism? Paganism is false religion, false worship, false idolatry. “In paganism, man tries to appease his gods, and religion becomes a form of commercialism and, indeed of bribery.” It’s very interesting. He says, look at every religion in this world. Everyone offers a pig, a cow, a chicken, for what? To appease their god. But Packer says this is all a form of bribery. We are hoping that if I give you a chicken, you will spare me. You will give me 4D. Christianity is different. “In Christianity, however,” and this is what is so unique about the biblical teaching, “God propitiates his wrath by his own action.” It’s not what you have done. It’s not what we could do. It’s what His Son has done. “He set forth Jesus Christ… to be the propitiation for our sins.” (Quote from J.I. Packer)
Therefore in salvation, for all eternity, there is only one person who is going to get all the glory, not you. It’s all Him. Because it is by His own action. And because it’s by His own action, it is a complete and thorough work. And so who is to condemn. Now you are a Christian today, let’s put it back in the focus. You’re a Christian today, you sin against God. Will you lose your salvation? Let me tell you something. The Bible says, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, He was raised…” He has conquered sin, all sins. He rose again, He resurrected the third day. Meaning He has done it all. He is successful and right now He is at the right hand of God, interceding for us. (Romans 8:34, ESV) We are all familiar with the idea that Jesus live and died for us. Do you know that after He died, He is still serving you? Like a High Priest, He goes to the presence of God the Father and pleads for you, intercedes for you. He’s our great High Priest. So who dares to condemn the child of God today? “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost…” Aahhh…you will never be lost if you truly belong to Jesus. Even if you sin, and you sin and you sin, he’s able to save you to the uttermost because He is not looking to your merits. God is looking to Christ and what He has done. “…he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25, ESV) What does He pray for? Let me tell you what He prays for. The intercession of Christ, according to Calvin is a continual application of his death for our salvation. Picture this: I just sinned today and I’m going to sin tomorrow and I’m going to sin the day after, many, many, many, many times. And my Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of God is saying, Jason sinned, he is absolutely guilty! No defence! No excuses! But Father, look at my hands, look at my sides. I took his sins; I paid for them. Look upon what I have done and be satisfied in your holy wrath and justify Jason. I will save him to the uttermost. 0:32:50.5
This is the amazing grace of God, folks! We often think of God’s grace up to the point He saved us. Do you know that even after you’ve trusted in Jesus, that moment where your life is changed, for the rest of your life, He is still interceding for you? And He’s applying His finished work on the cross daily for you? If anyone does sin, oh, I wish you wouldn’t. John says, I wish you wouldn’t sin, please don’t! It’s dangerous. It ruins you. It dishonours God. But in case you do sin, this is your supreme confidence. It’s not about how good you are but you have an advocate. You have a defence attorney, who appears before the Father, and He pleads again, not your innocence, but that He has paid for all your sins. Some of you are here and you’ve been a Christian for some time and right here, right now, you are living in sin. And you are deeply ashamed of yourself. Satan has come and he makes sure he wants you to despair. He wants you to feel absolutely lousy about yourself. He wants you to say, how can you ever face God? How can you ever face yourself? This is the umpteen times you’ve sin in this area! You are not worthy to be called the son of God. You’re not worthy to be God’s children. That’s the time when we need the comforting assurance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I come to God not because I am good. I come to God because of Jesus Christ, the righteous. And He is the propitiation, the appeasement. 0:34:33.2
There is a great song we sing. It goes like this:
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look (I don’t look inward) and see Him there
who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Saviour died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
A beautiful text that reminds us of Christ, our advocate, His amazing grace, available to all who have believed. Now, let’s put all these together again. John says, my little children, I’m writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And maybe some of us, if we were to write the epistle of John, we would say, my…let’s say you are me…or let’s say Jason, I write a letter to the church. My dear Gospeliters, I’m writing to you so that you may not sin. Because if you sin, you are going to lose your salvation and going to be damned to hell! I may have written something like that because I thought a threat is a powerful teaching. No, nothing like that from John. He says, my little children, I write to you that you may not sin. Let me tell you my amazing grace. God’s amazing grace. That even when you do sin, you are saved to the uttermost. And your great High Priest, your advocate, your propitiation, is still here for you. Nothing changes a man’s heart like the grace and the love of God. I say to you, the Bible tells us of God’s love, not in the sentimental mushy, kind of a… kind of a indefinite way. It’s a very clear demonstration and teaching on God’s love. And the grace of God should melt our hearts. The grace of God should be like a father speaking to a son. The son says…the father says, “Son, no matter what you do, I’m always going to love you. I’m always your father.” And the true son, will not respond by saying, “That’s great, Dad! I can do all I want to sin.” But the true son says in his heart, I will never want to disappoint my father. I want to live my life to honour him. I want to live my life to please him. My friends, if you today are bought by the blood of Jesus Christ and if God has a true work in your heart, you will not say to God, I can sin all I want so that He can forgive all He wants. But you will say, Lord, I will obey you. I will honour you. I will want to please you in all that I do. You see, it’s what Isaac Watts says: “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” It’s the love of Christ that constraint us. 0:38:21.7 Are you living in sin today? The good news is that if you are truly a follower of Jesus Christ, you don’t lose your salvation because your High Priest pleads for you. The bad news I tell you, is that your Father’s heart is supremely grieved when you do so. Would the goodness of God today lead you back to repentance?
I want to say a last word for all our friends who may be here for the first time. If you’ve been sleeping, not clear what has been going on, hey, this is the time for you. Because John says, Jesus is not just the propitiation for sins for the believer, but he is also the propitiation for sins for the whole world. In other words, even though you are not an insider, even though you are not a believer of Jesus Christ yet, this sacrifice of Jesus Christ is equally available for you. You see, all of us were outsiders in the first place. And if you today, you come and you say, what is this church all about? I’m not a Christian, I don’t have a faith in Jesus, can I be saved? The answer here is that yes, Jesus is the propitiation for sins, not only for the believers right now, but it’s also for you. For the sins of the whole world. The death of Jesus Christ is so great, so amazing, it could atone for all the sins of the world. If they would only believe. And therefore, Jesus gave a very generous and wide offer. He says, “For God so loved the world, (the world!) that he gave his only Son, that whoever (that’s big! Anyone!) whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV) Anyone of you today, you can come to Jesus for eternal life. You say, Pastor does this mean then, that every single human being on this earth will be saved since Jesus is the propitiation for the sins for the whole world? No, only those who believe. But the offer is to the whole world. How do you know that pastor? Well, John 3:16 seems to say, tell you that anyone who believes so will be saved. What if I don’t believe? Well, it says here in verse 36, just 20 verses down, “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36, ESV) 0:41:02.9
Jesus is the propitiation. He is not a propitiation. He’s not one of the propitiation. He’s not a good propitiation. He is the only propitiation and if you do not believe in Jesus, if you do not follow Jesus, if he’s not the Saviour of your life, then the wrath of God abides on you. Because no one else can take that from you. The Bible says all of us will die. And after this, the judgement. It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgement. And we all will be the accused. We will stand before the holy judge. Charge after charge, evidence after evidence and we will be left speechless. You will know on that day you have no defence. You are guilty as charged. The difference is that a person who has believes in Jesus Christ, he stands free. Because his advocate comes besides him and shows the Father, I’ve paid for his sins, justify him. 0:42:20.3
My friends, when you appear before God, do you have an advocate? Do you have Jesus? Will you be saved? The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. It doesn’t matter how many sins you have. You may feel I’m…I’m so rotten I can never be saved, no, Jesus is the propitiation.
Let me close with a story. And it’s about this man called Charles Finney. 1800’s, a pastor, he preached a message in a church service. And after service, a man came up to him and say, “Can I meet you, Sir, tomorrow?” He immediately said yes. And…and the deacons, the other church leaders came and realised that their pastor is going to meet with this man and he came to say, Pastor, do you know what kind of a man he is? He’s a murderer, he’s a killer, he’s a robber, he’s a terrible… don’t meet him! He’s going to kill you! Charles Finney says, “No, I can’t. I have to keep my word.” And so they met the next day at an alley. And this man led him to the back of a building, open the door, let him inside and they both got in and sat down. The man turned backwards and locked the door. Sat down, open the drawer and took out a gun and placed it on the table. He said to Charles Finney, “What you said yesterday, is it really true?” Charles Finney says, “What did I say?” “You said that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin, is that really true?” Charles, in a kind of a shock says, “I didn’t say that, but God said it in His word, so I supposed you can trust Him. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” The man then says, “Do you know what kind of a man I am? I open a bar, I sell alcohol, spirits to people. I see men get drunk on what I sell them. And they ruin their families. Do you think there is hope for a man like me? Do you think I can be saved?” Charles finney says, “The Bible says the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” “Do you know that I also open a gambling den and I rigged all the devices. I’ve cheated people of all their money. I’ve seen men ruin themselves. I’ve seen family get destroyed. Do you think there is hope for a man like me?” “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” “You see this pistol? I’ve killed many men with this gun. I’ve hired others to kill my enemies. I’ve taken many lives. I’m a murderer. Is there hope for someone like me?” “Well sir, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” “I’ve been married for sixteen years. I’ve a wife, I’ve children. But for sixteen years, I’ve never said a kind word to my family. Is there hope for someone like me?” Charles Finney got up, grab him by the collar, shook him and says, “You are a terrible man! And if it was up to me, you will be damned in hell. But the Bible says, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” The next day, this man got home from his pub, went upstairs. His wife was preparing breakfast. And the wife said to the little girl, “Dear, go call daddy for breakfast.” So she went up and she came down. And she said to mummy, “Mummy, daddy says, sweetheart, I don’t need breakfast today.” The mummy said, “What? What? What? What did daddy said? Sweetheart? Something must be wrong with your daddy, go check on him again.” And so she went up, and after a while she didn’t come down and mummy was a little bit worry, what’s wrong with daddy? She went up and she saw the little girl sitting on the lap of daddy and the daddy was crying tears. And when he saw her come as well, he said, “Dear, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for how I’ve treated you all my life. I’m sorry for the way I am. But I heard yesterday that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. I’ve given my life to Jesus and He really did.” Because from the terror of the town, he became the benefactor of the town. There is power in the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is forgiveness in His blood. There is reconciliation of sinful man to the Holy God. Jesus, our advocate! Jesus, our propitiation! Jesus, our Saviour! 0:47:17:8
He can cleanse you from all sin. Would you come to Jesus Christ today? Let’s bow for a word of prayer. This morning, I just like us to consider before God, our lives. You may be one of those who are getting baptised today. Please don’t walk away from this baptism thinking, “Oh, it’s great. I’m now saved. I’m now forgiven. I’m now a child of God. I can do as I wish. I can do as I want.” My little children, I write this to you that you may not sin. Or maybe today you are here and you have beaten yourself up. You… you are so guilty. You’re so despairing of life. You are so ashamed of being a Christian. You are so ashamed of facing God. You… you have been miserable. I ask you today, please don’t look at yourself. You may say, I can’t forgive myself! Look at Jesus Christ, the worthiness of God forgiving you and cleansing you is not based on you, on what you have done or not able to do, but it’s based on what Jesus had done perfectly on the cross. This is our strong and perfect plea, the great High Priest whose name is love.
And if you are here today for the first time, I understand this has been a tough message. It’s so technical you say. It’s about the anger of God. It’s about my sin and how Jesus sacrifice and… it is. But there is nothing more important in life than how your sin can be forgiven, isn’t it? Because you are made for God and you will be empty and you will be doomed and you will be damned if you do not return to God who made you. And the tremendous good news of the Bible is… you know what? God has done it all. He’s angry with your sins, He’s angry with you but He loves you so much, He was willing to give His Son for you. God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we are yet sinners, Christ, His only Son died for us. And Jesus said, “It is finished.” The wrath of God toward my sins, Jesus paid it all. And therefore now, would you say all to him I owe? Would you turn from your sin and follow Jesus, believe in Him? Believe in His perfect sacrifice. This is a baptism day but may this also be salvation day, if you were to turn and come to Jesus. Come unto me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. I will change your life. I will cleanse you. I will make you my own. I will save you to the uttermost. And when you die, and when you stand before the Holy God, my Father , I plead for your pardon, I plead for your justification, not based on what you have done but what I have perfectly done. Look unto me, all ye end of the world and be ye saved.
Would you make that decision, right here, right now today? Would you turn from sin and believe in God, in Jesus, in His work on the cross? Father, we thank you this morning, that you are amazing God of righteousness, of wisdom, of power, of love. Thank you for your perfect salvation plan, we bow down before you. We stand at the foot of the cross. Love so amazing, so divine, stuns our hearts, and may it today brings us to joyful obedience to your will. I pray today for Christians who are living in sin, that you will convict their hearts, turn them around, that they may walk in the light, pursuing, following Jesus. I pray for those today who are guilty, despairing, sorrowing in their lives, that they will bring their guilt, they will bring their shame to Jesus Christ. Once again, find joy, find confidence, find security and bring glory to what your Son has accomplished. Once more, we pray for all our friends who are gathered here, that they will not remain as outsiders. But by faith they will come in, they will have Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. So Spirit of God, whilst the voice of man will soon cease, draw people for which Jesus…for whom Jesus has died. Draw each one of us to yourself. We thank you, we pray all these now, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John Chapter 1 verses 8 – 10)
Download the sermon slides: SERMON-2014-8-24
Now, in our church, we are going through the Bible and we are going through the book of 1 John, so, if you have your Bibles please turn with me, to the book of 1 John and we are looking at the very first chapter and verses 8 to 10 in particular. We are going to look at the subject that is really important for a Christian and that is – confession. The reason is because, all of us, sinned, even if you are a Christian, you sin and that’s why, we need to understand confession.
A story is told of four pastors who were gathered together. They had a little kind of a chit-chat and one of them says, “You know, we as pastors, we get people, our members come to us. They come to us with their problems; they come to us with their prayer requests; they come to us confessing their sins. Maybe we as pastors, should confess our sins to one another.” They said, “Oh, that’s a great idea. It’s good for our souls,” they said. And so, the first pastor says, “Well, I confess that I am an alcoholic. I love to drink and I get drunk all the time.” The second one is now encouraged. “You know, I am also addicted. I am addicted to cigarettes. My church doesn’t know, but from Monday to Saturday, I am like a chimney. I am addicted to cigarettes.” The third man then says, “Well, since you all have confessed, I will also confess mine. I am an addict to gambling. I love to go to casino; I love to play poker cards; I love to gamble.” And then the fourth man, had nothing to say. “Come on, you must have something to say, you must have some sin.” “No, I won’t say.” “Come on, don’t be a spoilt sport. We have all said, what’s yours?” “I am afraid that if I tell you, you will bash me up.” “No, no, we won’t hurt you. We promise.” He took a deep breath and says, “My sin is that I love to gossip, and I can’t wait to get out of here and tell your churches about your sins.” (Laughter in the congregation). 0:01:58.7
Everybody sins, even as a Christian. And that’s why we need to understand confession. You see, we learned earlier, in the series in 1 John that walking in the light – that’s a characteristic of someone who has known God, someone who has life – the ‘zoe’, the eternal life. Someone who is walking in the light is not someone who is sinlessly perfect, but he has a sincere progression. In other words, he is not sinless, but he will sin less, over the course of time. There is a genuine change in his heart that makes him hunger for God, hates sin and that will be seen and there will be a genuine, sincere pursuit of God. But, he is not going to be sinlessly perfect, at least not until Jesus returns. Therefore, John continues to say in verse 8, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
So, being a Christian, is not an immunity to all sin. We are going to grow as a Christian, we are going to be better by the grace of God but there will still be sin in your life. So, what do we do if we fall and stumble into sin? Well, that’s where the precious promise of Scripture comes in. It says, “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) This is a beautiful verse that unlocks a beautiful blessing that is found in confession. But let me say this, before we look at what confession is all about and why, I want to say that in Singapore, there is a church, there is a pastor in particular, a preacher who says, that as a Christian, you don’t have to confess your sins anymore.
In fact, let me quote to you what he says, “So when you fall, don’t be conscious of your failure and feel bad or condemned.” That is not falling physically, it’s falling into sin. That’s the context of what he is writing. When you fall into sin, he says, as a Christian, don’t be conscious of your failure, don’t feel bad, don’t feel guilty about it. Move on, ignore it, don’t dwell upon it. He goes on to say, “Preaching, (he’s saying to all preachers, pastors, teachers)…preaching a repentance in the area of imparting consciousness of sins is nothing more than dishonouring the work of Jesus.” Wow, this is a very strong statement. If a preacher says, we got to repent of our sins, you got to search your sins, you got to search your hearts and you got to bring it before God to be confessed, to be washed, he says, “This is dishonouring the work of Jesus.”
Another statement he says: “We don’t have to confess our sins in order to be forgiven.” No need. You say, pastor, this is one pastor in this country? Yes, one, as far as I know. One church that preaches this? Yes, as far as I know. Then, why does it bother us? There are thousands of church in Singapore…churches in Singapore, why do you highlight this? I’ll tell you why I highlight this, because, he, by the way has the biggest church in Singapore. And I dare to say, maybe around you, there are people, who come from this church and tell you this message. At least, personally, in my life, I have had people and I know of individuals in this church who have had people come to them and tell them, you don’t have to obey 1 John 1:9, because as a Christian, you don’t have to confess your sins anymore. By now, I think you would probably know who this preacher is. His name is: Joseph Prince. And I take this from his book, not that I somehow listen into his secret conversation. It is from his book, one of his best sellers – ‘Destined to Reign – we don’t have to confess our sins in order to be forgiven’.
He goes on to say, page 109: “…confessing your sins all the time will only make you more sin-conscious.” (Joseph Prince – Destined to Reign, Page 109)
He goes on to say, “Christians believe wrongly that the Holy Spirit convicts believers of their sins.” (Joseph Prince – Destined to Reign, Page 139)
And he says, “My friends, God does not require you to search your heart and locate your sins before you can worship Him.” (Joseph Prince – Destined to Reign, Page 173)
“Stop examining yourself and searching your heart for sin.” (Joseph Prince – Destined to Reign, Page 187) Don’t do that! Don’t bother to repent! Don’t bother to confess! You don’t have to be conscious of sin.
“There are still people who insist that we have to preach on repentance. Well, I disagree!” (Joseph Prince – Destined to Reign, Page 232)
Whoa, we don’t have to confess our sins, in order to be forgiven. All this is taken from his book – Destined to Reign and if you look at his book introduction (referring to picture shown), he says, “The secret…” Okay, by the way, there are some who may not have good eyesight, I’ll help you, alright? Expanded here. The secret…this book, what is this book about? What is this book about? It is about a secret. He says something that you may not know, but I want to tell you. There is a secret to effortless success, wholeness and victorious living. And if you read the book, and if you understand his theology, I wouldn’t even say theology, his understanding of the Bible, or how he interprets it, is that, the key to that, consists of a few things: Number one – You don’t have to confess your sins. It’s effortless. You don’t have to search your heart. You don’t have to feel bad about sin, you don’t have to…you don’t have to repent before God, no confession needed. By the way, he calls this, grace. He calls this, the revolution of grace. He calls himself, the apostle of grace. But, this is no grace, this is no apostle of grace. It is a false teaching. It is a lie, it is a perversion. It is a presumption upon God and I will show you why.
But besides this, no repentance – extreme view of grace. He preaches health and wealth and we have dealt with this, in quite a few sermons in the past. And because of the health and wealth understanding of the success, prosperity gospel, their teaching is also that God will not give you trials or chastisements. The sufferings, the sickness, the pains in your life are not from God, they say, it’s from the devil. So passages like Hebrews 12 are not touch upon, not preached, because their understanding, their teaching is that no trials, no pain from God. And the fourth thing that I could see is the word-of-faith teaching. This is a name-it, claim-it lie and we have dealt with it as well in a series, in Daniel. But you add all these together, it is a powerful, dangerous concoction of venomous doctrine. Effortless success, wholeness, victorious living. Really? 0:09:33.3
Well, as I said, I’m not going to deal with all of this, we have covered some components of that, but we are going to look at ‘No Confession’. As a Christian, now that you have believed in Jesus, you don’t have to confess your sins anymore, just ignore it, move on. But the Bible, squarely says, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. But, you see, this is why they are so clever. They know 1 John 1:9 and they have an explanation for you. So they tell you, you don’t have to confess your sins. You then say, but look at 1 John 1:9, it’s very clear. They will say to you, yes, it is said, if we confess our sins, but this is not written to believers. They say, this is written to the unbelievers. Now, this is where Christians are really stunned. Har? Oh, I didn’t know huh. Yah, I never really study, is this to believers or unbelievers? And whilst you are temporarily stunned, they throw another stun grenade and that is to say, this is a book written to Gnostics. That’s where Christians blur already, what, what, what Gnostics? I have no idea what Gnostics? Okay, okay, you win, you win, you win! So, they throw this smoke bomb, by the way, what is Gnosticism? In a sense, we have covered that in our 1st introductory sermon in 1 John. And, so they sort of brush this aside and say, this is a text that is for unbelievers and believers don’t have to confess your sins. But, is that true?
An honest fair reading of 1 John, you will realize, is a book about, or a letter to encourage people about joy, fellowship that is partnering, sharing with God and the Son. It’s a book about walking in the light; it’s a book about walking as a believer and if you are not convinced already, look at two verses after verse 9. So you have verse 10 and then you have Chapter 2 verse 1. And chapter 2 verse 1 says, “My little children, I’m writing these things to you…” What are little children? Verse 12, “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven…” In other words, 1 John is written to forgiven people. 1 John is written to people who have been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. 1 John is written to believers and 1 John 1:9 is written to those who have believed in Jesus Christ. It’s not to unbelievers or that smokescreen called Gnostics. From the verse itself, actually you could have known. In the English, we write it, “If we confess our sins…” But in the Greek, the word ‘confess’ is in the present tense, which is a continuous action. A better way to translate this verse, you can verify it, is: “If we are confessing…” This is not a once for all action, before I came to Jesus. But this is to be the ongoing pattern and practice of a child of God, regularly confessing our sins, to be washed at the fountain of His blood. 0:12:47.7
So, 1 John 1:9 clearly teaches the need for confession. In fact, Jesus Himself teaches us how to pray. The disciples were asking, Lord, teach us how to pray. And Jesus said, this is how you pray, in this manner do you pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” and so on and so forth and look at that verse, “…give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts.” This is a prayer of confession of repentance. Before who? Before God as a mighty judge? No, before your Father. And is this a prayer that you make one time, many years ago? Give us this day our daily bread – this day, and forgive us our debts. It’s to be the ongoing pattern and practice of a Christian to be repenting and confessing and being forgiven, and being walking in the light. That’s what it means. We can come, because our God is our Father. He doesn’t reject us. So he says, no confession, because you have automatic forgiveness. That is the secret, one of the secrets to effortless success.
When I think about this, I think about Michael Jackson. No, no, he doesn’t look like Michael Jackson. But I think about Michael Jackson, he is someone who has struggled big time in his life. He’s struggles with many issues from childhood; he struggles with psychological problems. He can’t sleep, he’s in agony. He has a messed up life. He never really dealt with the problems in his heart, but what he does, is that he numbs himself with drugs and medications. And so he feels good, he can finally sleep, but the problems still remain and ultimately he died a tragic death. He never resolved his problems. I say to you, this teaching that no confession is needed, is like someone whose leg is rotting. It’s smelly, it’s in extreme pain, but you know what you do? You don’t deal with it. What you do is, you get the doctor to give you heroin, opium, drugs. Numb yourself, ignore this, move on, get that feel-good theology. You are forgiven, just move on. 0:15:16.1
But you don’t know that this is going to eat up your soul. It’s going to ruin your life because you’re not willing to be washed and forgiven by the blood. It looks so much like the truth – don’t have to confess your sins. I can move on because God’s grace is so great, I don’t even need to confess anymore. But look at it more closely and you realize it’s all made up of a pack of lies. 1 John 1:9 is what God says. Joseph Prince says, no need to confess, no need to be conscious of your sins. Let me tell you of another JP. John Piper. He says, “The mark of a saint is not sinlessness, but sin-consciousness.” Very different, don’t you think? Preaching repentance is dishonouring the work of Christ. Don’t talk about sin, it only makes you more sin conscious. Here we have John Piper says, the mark of a saint is sin-consciousness. He says know your sins. Why? Because only then, can you bring it to God, can you bring it to the fount, that you may be thoroughly and truly healed and cleansed. 0:16:35.1
See, this is a picture of our church. (Referring to picture shown) One of the corners, remember this? GLCC is famous for…? (Response in the congregation) Rats… what rats?! GLCC is famous for the gospel! Alright? (Laughter in the congregation) You all don’t learn! Just don’t learn. Yes, we are famous for the gospel but our building also has rats lah. We are besides Adam Road Food Centre and by and by there are rats that come in and I showed this to you before. Er… there were two rats, actually when I heard from Pastor Chee Kean yesterday, he says there were actually three. But I think he may be thinking too much already. Wah… I killed three! I killed five! Herr (laughing)… we began to exaggerate the number. Okay anyway, there were two or three and they were hiding in the corners in our kitchen and we were trying to get them out. We made lots of noise. We bang! We clang! We did everything, they just won’t come out. They would rather hide in the corner of darkness than to be exposed. Why? Because instinctively the rat knows, there is no love between Pastor Chee Kean and the rat. If they were to run out, they will be whack to death! They wouldn’t come out.
But as a Christian, as a child of God, you don’t have to hide in the corners of sin because we know that when we come out in the light, we don’t have a judge who will whack us. Because we know we come to a father, who loves us. There is no condemnation to those, to them, who are in Christ Jesus. Nothing! Absolutely nothing, shall separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Because of His steadfast love, even when I sin, we can have this confidence, not in our worthiness, but in His grace, in His love. That we can come out into the light and be washed of our sins because our Father wants, our God wants, to cleanse us. That’s the language, Jesus gave us. Why is it that I can come and confess my sins – Lord, forgive me? Because… our Father, He wants to. He tells us to. 0:18:54.3
You know, there is a beautiful story in the Bible about Jesus washing the feet of the disciples? The last night before he was going to go to the cross. And he was washing, about to wash the feet of Peter, when Peter said, you shall never wash my feet, Lord this is too much! I can’t take it! I’m…I’m your follower, don’t wash my feet! Jesus then says, if I do not wash you, you shall have no share with me. You are not going to fellowship with me. You have no part with me. You are not going to commune with me. And Peter says, Har? Like that ah? Okay, then like that, then don’t only wash my feet lah, wash my hands, wash my head, wash my whole body lah! Please, clean me thoroughly! And Jesus says, don’t need! “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.” (John 13:10) Don’t need. It’s okay. Once washed, once bathed, once saved, no need to keep washing and bathing and getting saved. When we sinned, the reason why we confess is not so that we can get saved again. No, no, you never lost your salvation, if you truly believe in Jesus Christ. Bathe once, that’s it! But washing, you need it repeatedly.
You see, in the Greek the word ‘bathed’ is the word ‘louo’, which speaks of a complete thorough bath. And then the word ‘wash’ is the word ‘nipto’ which means to wash the extremities. And Jesus is saying, you don’t have to be saved, over and over again but you need to be forgiven, you need to be cleansed. As you walk in life, you pick up the sand, the dirt, the grime of life and that needs to be washed. And if you don’t, you have no share with me. You can’t sit with me at the table. You can’t have fellowship with me. You know in those days, they… actually this is not a very good picture (referring to picture shown) because they lie. You know, like the Roman’s way of eating. So the ‘chao kar’ ah (Hokkien dialect words meaning smelly feet), the smelly feet ah, will be right at my nose ah. You don’t wash, don’t sit near me lah! You can’t really be with me. That’s the idea. 0:21:05.3
Suppose today I say to my son Shawn, “Shawn, come! Daddy wash your hands before dinner.” Shawn says, “Don’t need Daddy, I’ve already bathe.” “No, Shawn, I know you have bathed but you just played in the garden, your hands are dirty, wash your hands.” “Daddy, no, I don’t want to wash. I’ve already bathe.” “Shawn, if you don’t come and wash your hands, you shall have no part with me!” “Daddy! You mean I’m no more your son?” “No, Shawn, you are always my son. Nothing can change that. You are forever Jason Lim’s son and I’m forever your daddy but if you don’t wash your hands, you can’t eat at the table.” You don’t lose your salvation folks. Joseph Prince says, once you have ‘louo’, you don’t need ‘nipto’. That’s his idea. Once you have ‘louo’, don’t need to think about ‘nipto’. Jesus says, yes, you are ‘louo’ once, but daily in our lives, regularly, be sure you are confessing, you are repenting, so that you’re always being ‘nipto’. Okay, there’s such a word. Cleansed and wash and forgiven, that’s why 1 John 1:9. If we are confessing our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us. Not that He needs to save you all over again but he restores to you – joy of salvation. He restores that fellowship, that communion that you so longed for. And that’s why this is a beautiful word, this is a beautiful teaching. There is forgiveness, there is cleansing. The word ‘forgive’ means ‘to send away’. It’s derived from the Old Testament picture where a priest lays his hand on the goat, symbolizing the transference. It’s a symbol, it’s a transference of sins of Israel onto the goat. And the goat is send away, far out into the wilderness, never to be seen. When we confess our sins, God sends our sins far, far away. He cleanses us, He washes us. This is a word that refers to ceremonial cleansing. He washes us, we are clean, when we confess our sins.
This week I was er…having dinner with my family and we got home and we unlock the door and wanted to open the door. And I realized that when I open just a little bit of it, it got stuck. I can’t figure out why is it stuck? Never happened before. We didn’t bring the keys to the back door out. We have no alternative keys. We are stuck, we can’t get in. So I tried harder to push it through and I managed to push a little bit more and I tried to squeeze in. I thought I’m very slim. Squeeze, squeeze squeeze, ‘kena’ (Malay word meaning get hit) stuck, my tummy too big. I got out and my wife says, “I will try.” And she ‘whoop’…she got in right away, no problem. She switched on the lights, she looked behind the door and try to find what’s the cause of it. She couldn’t find it, “Jason I couldn’t see any problem.” “Can you do something?” She says, “No, it’s stuck.” So I say, no choice lah. Both of us just try and push some more. So she pulls on the inside, I push on the outside and I just need a little bit more only actually… not so fat lah. Ah… I push a little bit more and I managed to squeeze right in. My son of course came in and everyone else came in. My kids came in. Then we inspected the door. Why ah? Why stuck huh? Wah…like a detective, we looked up and down. My son says, “Is it because the door is er…spoilt…the hinges is spoilt and is curving in?” And then he says, “Is it because the floor tiles popped and it got raised up?” We couldn’t figure out why? And then I decided to switch on the torch in my phone and looked at the very bottom’s slit. I saw something metallic there. Just a small metallic bit at the end of it. Took a knife, and try to free it out. And this is what we found (picture shown). We found this little thing. Small little, little thing. And it’s so small that when you put it on your finger, it’s really tiny. Of course, all of us recognize this is…to be a battery, right? Battery from one of my son’s toys, of course. And when I took out my phone and wanted to take photo, my son asked me, “Daddy do you have a lesson for this?” He is so smart! (Laughter in the congregation) I said, “Yes, Shawn, what do you think is the lesson?” He immediately says, “Oh, is that small things can give you big problems.” (Laughter & claps from the congregation) He is right, don’t you think? He is absolutely right.
This illustration however fails here. This is a small thing but our sin is not a small thing. Imagine this small little battery could almost lock the entire Lim family out of the house. No rest for the whole night. Just one small little battery. Do you realize that sins can block you from God’s blessings in your life? You reap the consequences of your sin. You, in a sense, are estranged from God. You don’t enjoy fellowship with him because there’s something in your heart and you are ashamed to turn. What do we do? Ignore it? Take heroin? Believed false teachings? Or would we, as God has commanded and given us the privilege, come and confess our sins? See this is the experience of the psalmist. Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven… (Psalm 32:1-4) He says ‘blessed’. It’s not a negative word, it’s a beautiful word! Confession! It’s blessed to have our sins forgiven. Sin covered… Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, when I was stubborn, when I refused to humble myself and repent and confess of my sins. When I kept silence, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. Agonizing, that’s the word. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as the heat of summer. (Psalm 32:1-4) 0:27:36.7
But all changed, it all changed. That battery that’s stuck, that got stuck, that blocked you from joy and blessings was removed. When I acknowledged my sin to you and I did not cover my iniquity, I said I will confess my transgressions to the Lord and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. By the way, New Creation – Joseph Prince will tell you, you can’t learn from the Psalms. You can’t even learn from Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6. You know why? They say because that is all in the old covenant. Wah…that one, another ‘chim’ (Hokkien dialect word meaning deep) word that the Christians are bamboozled. They say we don’t really need to listen to the Sermon on the Mount, we don’t really need to listen to David’s penitential psalm because it’s all in the old covenant. They don’t understand what is the new covenant, old covenant. They don’t. David is saved not by the old covenant, he’s saved under the new covenant. Everyone who’s saved, is saved under the new covenant. But you see, with this one broad stroke, they say don’t have to bother about this text. Don’t! They pick and choose. The lie that starts with saying no need to confess has to snowball into a terrible massacre of Scripture. But David understood this and so he says, when I confess my sin in Psalm 51, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation…” (Psalm 51:12). He never says, restore to me my salvation. No, he never lost his salvation, but he lost the joy of his salvation. And when he confesses his sins, when he is no more hiding, running from God, he finds forgiveness and cleansing and he says, Lord, restore to me the joy. 0:29:32.8
You know, this week we have guest from the States. Wonderful people from the States. They were with us and I was driving them and I can’t remember what actually triggered the topic but it was not because I spoke about the sermon. But one of them mentioned about repentance and asked…and was sharing about it and I say wow, this is good stuff! And he shared about someone he met, he knows – a pastor in Africa. Guess what’s his name? His name is…? Not easy to guess ah… so many names, right? His name is one I’ve never heard before. His name is Repent. (Laughter from congregation) Wow, not bad, very biblical. And it’s a beautiful word. Wah…Repent like very serious, very scary… No, no, it’s a beautiful word, understand scripturally, it’s a beautiful thing. And then he told me that Repent got married and guess what his wife’s name is? His wife’s name is…? (Response from the congregation) What? Forgive ah? (Laughter in the congregation) No lah, his wife’s name is… Joy. I tell you what, Repent and Joy are married. (Laughter in the congregation) They are. Theologically it’s true. Repent and Joy are married. You take away repent you have no joy. You take away sin-consciousness, you have no joy. Repent and Joy are married. This is the teaching of Scripture – when you confess, he forgives.
Question now is what do you mean by confess? Because a lot of us don’t quite understand confess. The word ‘confess’ is the Greek word ‘homologeo’ which is…the word ‘homo’ means same, ‘logeo’ means the word or to say. So ‘homologeo’ means ‘to say the same’. In other words we agree with God about his judgment on our lives, about his view on our lives. That was a sin! No lah, God, that’s not the same. That’s not ‘homologeo’. That’s a sin. I say yes, that’s sinful God, that’s wrong, that’s ugly, that’s repugnant, that’s bad! That’s ‘homologeo’. But is confession merely saying: I agree that I’ve sin? I don’t think so. It’s not just a mechanical saying that, Ah yes, what I did was wrong but it’s all their fault! They made me do this! No, that’s not quite ‘homologeo-ing’, in a sense, with God. You see, in 1 John we see this subtle but important difference, in verse 8 and 9. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. If we confess our sins, so there is a sin and there is a sins. Why? I suggest to you, sins refer to the actions that we have done. Maybe the words that we have said, the thoughts of our heart, but sin refers to the underlying root. I sin in the act because I have a sinful flesh that got the better of me. So when we confess our sins, it’s not just saying, I did that which was wrong but it’s all her fault. She started it first! No, it’s to recognize that what I did is wrong and what inspired and motivated that is also wrong. I confess both the fact and the fault of my sin.
See this is exactly what David said, in Psalm 51. Again that Psalm, he wrote after he had sinned in the issue of Bathsheba. He says I…I acknowledge my transgressions, my iniquity, my sin. Three words for the same thing you say. Why? Because they are a little bit subtle, in their different meanings. The word transgressions means to cross the line. I crossed the line. The word sin means to miss the mark. I’ve fallen short of what God wants. I have broken His laws; I’ve come short of His standard. And the last word – iniquity is a word that means perverseness, wickedness. So David is saying, I sinned in the issue of Bathsheba because I was perverse. I was sinful. I was wretched. It’s not like Adam, when he said, Aiyah, God, yah, I ate the fruit but it’s the woman lah. And by the way, it’s the woman you give me hor! He…he blames others, he blames God. That’s not true repentance. We often said, “It’s all their fault.” “It’s the devil who made me do it.” No, no, no, when you truly confess your sins, you confess both the fact and the fault of sin. David didn’t say it’s all Bathsheba’s fault. Who ask her to be so pretty? And who asked her to bathe in the open? It’s all her mother’s fault, she’s too pretty to me. And by the way I want to sue the architect also. Who makes this kind of building I can see people’s toilet? (Laughter from congregation) Later we have an architectural presentation so… so it’s all the architect’s fault, they say. No, he said nothing like that at all. He says it’s me. Lord, I ‘homologeo’. I agree. I humble myself and I recognise that I’ve sinned against you. Forgive me. It’s not a mechanical, formulate words you just utter mindlessly but it springs from a heart of true conviction. And when you do so, there is forgiveness. You say why? Why is it so…seems easy, don’t you think? I mean I don’t have to climb a mountain, build a temple, built a church, whatever. I don’t have to do anything like that. And God forgives me, isn’t it too cheap? In a sense, too easy? You mean just like that? It’s not just like that. Noticed, John says, when you confess, He is faithful and just. Surprising, because I would, if I were to be writing this, I would say: if we confess our sins, he is gracious and merciful. Don’t you think you’d have written that about confession and forgiveness? But he doesn’t write “merciful and gracious”. He wrote “faithful and just”. Why? Because He says my Son has paid it all. That sin which you commit, those series of sins which you commit, my Son has paid it all. And if you come and confess your sins, I forgive them because it is fully paid. God is invoking His very own righteousness and justice. It will not be right for him to do double jeopardy, to punish the same sin twice. And so if Jesus has taken it, we can be forgiven…and therefore all unrighteousness, because Jesus our Saviour paid it all. 0:37:04.6
I end with this quote. Thomas Watson. I love this: “A true penitent confesses his sin in the fountain.” If we do not know Jesus, if Jesus had not died, if Jesus had not sacrifice his life and gave His blood, confession is horrendous! It is scary! It is facing all our problems and there is no solution for it. But if you know Jesus has paid it all, there is a precious fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins, that sinners can plunge within that flood and lose all their guilty stains. Confession, is a beautiful thing. You can be restored to your Father. You can enjoy your walk and communion with Him.
Just a few days ago, my son, Matthias the younger one, was being naughty. He was told to keep his toys, he refused to. He has this very rebellious streak in him. Matthias, keep your toys. KEEP YOUR TOYS! You know, it’s so tiring but he just wants to show you he’s not going to be ordered around. Matthias keep your toys! You see, if not, we will have to discipline you. We’ll have to teach you. Wah…wah…serious ah. Okay, so I take out my cane. And he refused to do so still. I just gave him one cane lah, to his backside. Wrrrahhh…really wail in front of us, just to show us his true colours. He kept crying and crying and after a while, maybe five minutes or so, he settled down. Mummy got to bring him back to bed to sleep. He got in. Fifteen minutes later, my…my wife, I almost said my mom, (Laughter in the congregation) my wife, Winnie walked out and she had this smile on her face. Jason, I think you’ve got to come in. I say why? ‘Didi’ (Mandarin words meaning younger brother) won’t sleep. Why? Because he kept saying, papa angry…papa angry…papa angry, no matter what she does he won’t sleep. Papa angry… I got into the room. Stood beside the cot. Matthias, do you know why daddy has to spank you? Because you didn’t obey. Matthias, but daddy loves you. Daddy loves you, you’re forever my baby, my Didi Matthias. Matthias had a smile break out on his face and he lie down. Hehehehehe (laughing)…. He literally just lie down after a short while. He could finally rest. He will never stop being my son. But the enjoyment of communion with his daddy can be ruined because he’s rebellious. And until we are willing to come to our Father, and ‘homologeo’ saying: God, Father, I’m wrong. Thank you for your Son, Jesus, who paid for my sins. I don’t want to live with this cancer of sin. I don’t want to believe in false teaching that numbs my sensations. I want to be cleansed. Thank you, you are faithful and just. 0:40:45.7
Are you holding out against God today? Maybe your life is jammed up? You look up, look left, you do not know where the problem is. Let me tell you, it might be unconfessed, rebellious sins against God. And maybe today you are here with us for the first time. You say what is Christianity about? What’s this? That when we see our sinfulness before the Holy God, we will confess our sins, acknowledge that we are helpless to save ourselves and come to the fountain filled with blood drawn from Jesus’ veins. My friends, there is forgiveness for you. Would you come to Jesus Christ today? Let’s bow, for a word of prayer together.
There is a fountain filled with blood, there is. That fountain was open for us some two thousand years ago and the power to save, exist till today. The power to cleanse and to forgive is available for you today. My brothers and sisters in Christ, this morning as we gather, is there something between your soul and your Saviour? You don’t have to hide like a rat in the corner of your life, you can come out into the light because your Father loves you. He wants to cleanse you. He wants to give you the ‘niptos’ that are necessary, so that you may now walk in joy and fellowship with Him. Would you come? Would you lay down your sin at the foot of the cross? Would you stop holding out against God, fighting Him? And would you agree with Him with regards to the fact and the fault of your sin. There is goodness, there is grace, there is mercy, there is justice and there is faithfulness with God. May His goodness lead you to repentance today. And as you repent, would you be then gloriously married to joy.
Dear friends, if you’re here today for the first time, your life is empty, your life is meaningless, you’re struggling with life, you’re looking for joy. There is no such thing as joy apart from God. It is found only in Him. And the way to God is through Jesus Christ, because he paid the price necessary, to wash you of your sins. And today if you were to turn from sin and believe in Jesus, that he died and he rose again for all our sins, you can be washed. You can receive this everlasting life. Would you do that this morning as well? Whatever the Lord is speaking to you, take this time, respond to Him. Beautiful forgiveness, amazing grace, I will sing thy power to save. Father, we thank you for this morning, for Your Word, for your grace, for your faithfulness. For who you are and what your Son has done. Thank you today we as filthy sinners can be washed, can be cleansed. Lord we praise you! We rejoice in you! We exalt you today! Turn our eyes unto Jesus this morning, bring us to love and obedience before you. And we’ll be careful to give you the glory and praise that is due Your Name. Bless everyone seated here today. May each one of us, experience that cleansing, that forgiveness, that joy in all our hearts. We thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen.← Older posts Newer posts →