“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[c]—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.” 1 John Chapter 2 verses 15 to 17
Download the sermon slides: SERMON-2014-9-28
Well, we are, as a church, going through the Bible and we are right now in the book of 1John and if you have your bibles, it will be great if you can turn with me to 1John chapter 2. And the book of 1John is a very searching book. John is Apostle of Love and he doesn’t shrink back from hard truths. He doesn’t shrink back from saying tough things because that’s what love is all about. Love is not just a sugary, sentimental feeling. It’s wanting, and doing, the best for the people you care for. So he cares for his church and so he gives tough things to his church because they are necessary things.
Today, we come to 1John chapter 2 and verses 15-17. If not the most famous, will be one of the most famous passages in 1John and in, really, all of the Bible. Here, we see that John says,
“Do not love the world or the things of 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 the 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.”
Today we are going to look at the subject on ‘Love Not the World’. And we all know how powerful attraction to the world can be, isn’t it? I read of a man who, this is a fictional story of course, just bought a brand-new BMW car. It’s his favorite car. It’s his dream car. And, as he opened the door to get out of the car, another car sped by and tore off the door of the car. He got out and he was staring at his car. And a bystander came and said, ‘Sir, don’t look at your car. Look at your arm.’ He asks, ‘What’s wrong with my arm?’ ‘It’s torn off!’ And the man then looks at his arm on the floor and says, ‘Oh no, my Rolex watch!’ (laughter).
The grip of the world is strong upon the hearts of men. In fact I read again this week about someone saying that when a man falls down with an iPhone 6 in his pocket and he hears a ‘crack’ sound, he will pray, ‘Lord, let it be my leg.’ (laughter). We can love the BMWs, we can love the iPhone 6, we can love the things of the world so much because the world has a lure for every one of us, even for all of us who are Christians.
So, today, I want to share with you something really important. Why? Because it is said that, today, the greatest threat, the greatest danger to Christians is not persecution from the world, but seduction by the world. I’ll say that again.Today, the greatest threat to Christians is not persecution from the world, but seduction by the world. And, I think, everyone of us here today can feel it and can understand that. This is a very needful sermon. This is a very needful passage of scripture because it is sad today that most of Church, most of Christendom cannot be distinguished from the world today by the way we live. We are no different from the world in the way we spend our money, in the way we raise our kids, in the way we hunger and thirst for goals in our lives. It is virtually indistinguishable between the world and the Church, and yet, John tells us Love Not the World.
I think this is so important that I want to dedicate 3 sermons to this passage. You hear it right. It’s not 3 points. Usually I have a 3-point sermon. This is a 3- sermon series because I want to cover, in a very clear way, what loving the world is. The definition of loving the world. And then, in our next sermon, I want to look at the devastation when we love the world. And then we are going to cover, lastly, how we can be delivered from the world. So it’s a very simple 3-sermon outline ~ what it is, why is it bad, and how can I be delivered. (04.42)
Love Not The World
Today, we are just going to focus on one thing ~ the definition. What does it really mean to ‘love not the world’? What is loving the world? So, this is a very simple message. What does it mean by loving the world? What is the meaning of the word ‘world’, first of all. Does it mean today that you and I are not to love people? ‘Love not the world’ means ‘don’t love people’. Does God mean, does John mean, that we’re not to love our wives, our husbands, our parents and our children and our neighbours, and the lost? Does it mean we don’t love people? Answer? Obviously no. The Bible tells us that :
“For God so love the WORLD, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16 ESV
And so the use of the word ‘world’, in John 3:16, is about people. I suppose, I suggest to you, that in 1John chapter 2 when John says ‘love not the world’, he’s not saying ‘don’t love people’. The Bible is full of commands to say ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. Love one another ~ that’s what we just covered 2, 3 sermons ago so he’s not having amnesia. John is clear. ‘Love not the world’ does not refer to ‘not loving people’.
And does ‘the world’ mean ‘the planet’? Does it mean today, we cannot love the planet. We cannot love beautiful flowers and trees, and plants and animals, and rivers and streams, mountains and great scenes? Does it mean that we cannot love this planet? Is there something wrong with this planet? Well, again, I don’t think John is saying ‘love not the world’ by meaning that I cannot love the things or the beautiful, creative works of nature. No, I don’t think he refers to that. Again, Romans 1:20, tells us that the creation – this planet, this world – reveals something good to us, reveals the power and the divine nature of God.
So, some people really feel this way : ‘Oh, this is such a beautiful rose. No, no, no, no, that’s not a beautiful rose. It’s of the world. I cannot love the world.’ That’s weird if you have people like that because we all know that the world does not refer to people nor to the planet. Then you say, ‘Okay, Pastor, then I think what it means by ‘the world’ is iPhone 6, computers, cars, houses, food. These are the things of the world and we should not love them. But again, I suggest to you it is not necessarily evil for you to have an iPhone 6. It is not necessarily wrong to own a house or a car. The Bible does tell us that God richly provides us with everything to enjoy :
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” ~ 1 Tim 6:17 ESV
This world does give legitimate things for us to enjoy. So what is ‘the World’ today? We’ve got to be very clear in its definition, otherwise we will have false guilt. Or, on the other hand, we may indulge in things we shouldn’t indulge. So, what is ‘the World’ in 1John chapter 2? Well, I suggest to you, in the bible, the word ‘world’ is used in different ways. One, he refers to people. One he refers to possessions. (08:04)
But in 1John 2, it is not referring to people. It is not referring to the planet. It is not referring necessarily or primarily to possessions. ‘The World’ here refers to a kind of a power. It’s a kind of influence. Love not the world. This world is exerting a power and influence. What is this power? This is the power all around us that draws man away from God. This power can reside in people. This power can reside in a glass. This power can reside in an iPhone. The problem is not the iPhone. The problem is not about people. The problem is not about the rose. The problem is the power that Satan is exerting behind these objects that seeks to draw us away from God. And John says don’t love this influence. You see, this is an evil world. Food by itself is not evil but there can be evil that can be achieved out of that because there is that satanic influence that uses the things around us and this is like a power, this is like an influence that seeks to draw us away from God. Galatians 1:4 tells us this is an evil world :
“Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world.”
John again in this passage :
“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.” ~ 1John 2:15 ESV
reminds us that when we love the things of this world, when we love this world then the love of the Father is not in him. This is an evil power that draws man away from God. In my mind, I think of it this way : the World is the POWER all around us that draws men away from God. It’s like an electric power. And you can be plugged in here (referring to an image on the screen). But when you are plugged in to this power, it does not empower you to live for God. It empowers you to live away from God. It pulls you away from God. It draws you in the opposite direction and so this is your life. Your life, when it’s plugged into this power, (referring to another image on the screen) is not going to be godly. Your life will be worldly. Your life will be against, and away, from God. And, in 1John, we are told how we are plugged in. Three pins, right? That’s why I thought about this power analogy. Three pins. And there are three seductions that this world affords to you and if you plug in to :
the desires of the flesh
the desires of the eyes
and the pride of life,
you will be drawn away from God. And these are powerful seductions. Don’t underestimate these three phrases back in the garden of Eden (picture of a woman reaching out for a fruit). Why did Eve take that fruit? By the way, I don’t know if it’s an apple or something else? Just a picture to represent the fruit. We do not know what it looks like but when Eve saw this fruit, there was something that made her go and get it, and eat it. And, eventually, it led her away from God. In fact, it was the result of – we are all the result of – this sinful act. With this one act, the whole of humanity is drawn away from God. It’s a powerful thing. So why did she go for it? The Bible tells us that :
“when the woman saw that the tree was good for food,
and that it was a delight to the eyes,
and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,
she took of its fruit and ate ….. ~ Genesis 3:6 ESV
She absolutely plugged in to the seduction of the world. This is the lust of the flesh. This is the lust of the eyes. This is the pride of life. And the whole of human history is plunged into deep, dark evil because she bought in to the seduction of the world. It can be a fruit today, but it can be anything else. It can be an iPhone. It can be a car. It can be a bank account but when you are seduced by these three things, you’ll be led away. The key word, therefore, is the word ‘Desires’. You say, ‘Pastor, is it wrong for me to have a desire?’ After 84 hours, you will start to desire something. What do you desire? You desire food. Maybe some of you desire sleep now. ‘Pastor, please, short, short. Please, short. I want to sleep.’ (laughter). (12:58)
Is it wrong to have desires? (Someone in the congregation replied ‘No’). No, huh? Is God saying we must have no desires, like the Chinese say ‘meiyou qi qing liu yu’? Is it biblical that we should have absolutely no desires? No, of course not. Desires are good when it’s used in the right context and to the right degree. It’s good that you have a desire to eat, otherwise you die. It’s good that you have a desire for something greater than yourself, otherwise you will not have a search, or a heart to seek after God. Desires are great. So, why does John say the problem is ‘the desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes, the pride of life’? Well, the key is to understand the word ‘Desires’. In the Greek, the word ‘desire’ is the word ‘epithymia’. (Form of word is shown on the screen). The Greek form is there and this is the English transliteration of that. Epithymia. Wah, si-mi-ah? (‘what is this’ in Hokkien)
Epithymia is formed with 2 Greek words : Epi and Thymia. Thymia is the word that may be related to the word thermos, thermometer. Thymia is the word that represents what? (A member suggested ‘heat’). Heat? Very good. Or the word ‘Passion’. Thymia is the word that refers to passion. What is Epi? What is Epi? (Someone said ‘Super’). Super? Okay. Epi is the word ‘Super’. Or on top, right? Epi – on top. And it is a word that refers to ‘over’. The King James’ translates this word ‘Desires’ or Epithymia to be the word ‘Lusts’. Now let me say this : ‘Oh, lust is a bad word’. Not necessarily, alright? If you search the Scriptures, ‘Epithymia’ is used sometimes to refer to ‘good things’. It can refer to good things. It’s that deep, strong passion for something. And it can be good things. A deep, strong passion for God is a good thing. So whether it’s good or bad is not determined by the word itself but by the context ~ where it is used.
Obviously, in 1John chapter 2, the word ‘desires’ is a word that refers to a bad kind of ‘Over Passion’. In other words, it’s an excessive, inordinate desire for things that are forbidden or it’s that excessive craving for something treating it as the ultimate thing in life. And that is not God’s desire for us. The fruit is not God’s desire for Adam and Eve. But there was that excessive inordinate craving for it and treating it as the ultimate thing in life, thereby leading them to disobey God and to be separated from Him. So, the key is not that we cannot have desires. The key is not that the things of the world is wrong. The key is when we excessively crave for something, so much so that we are willing, and we are wanting, and we are deciding to say, ‘I will have it at all costs.’ Even if it means disobeying God. This is my ultimate thing. When I have it, I’ll be really, really happy. I don’t need God. So this is what the world offers to you ~ I give you things and when you treasure it to be THE thing in your life, it draws you away. It’s not passions alone. It’s over-passion. It’s excessive passion. This is seen in 1Timothy 6 :
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1Tim 6:10 ESV)
A superficial reading of this text would say, ‘Oh, money is bad’. No, money is not bad. It’s not. But what is bad? It is when you have ‘epithymia’ for it, when you love it, and when you crave after it. That is the problem. It is not wrong to have money. It is not wrong to work and get money but it is wrong when this is the ultimate pursuit of your life. It is wrong when you say money makes the man. Again, in verse 17 : (17:30)
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty (not to be proud or arrogant), nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:17 ESV
So there’s nothing wrong with being a rich man. God did not say, ‘for the rich man today, I want you to become poor’. No, He didn’t say that. It’s not about what you have but your heart. When you are rich, don’t crave after riches. Don’t let this be the ultimate thing of your life. Don’t think that because you are rich, you are somebody. Don’t be haughty, nor set your hopes upon it ~ epithymia. So, let’s come to very basic things. Oh, he’s such a worldly man because he’s so rich. Not very good deduction. Not very true. Oh, that man is so poor. He’s such a godly man. Not very true. There can be very rich men who have no craving for money and yet there are also very poor people who have a deep craving for money. It’s not money that is a problem. It’s not even having the money that is a problem. It’s not even wanting the money that is a problem. It’s the excessive desire for it. The over (the epi), desire that is the problem.
The same for a house. Is it wrong for you to have a house and an apartment? No, but if this is the house that dominates your thoughts every, you know it, every waking hour somehow you think about your house. How to decorate it, where’s my kitchen. Wah, when friends come. Wah, and when you’ve nothing to do, you think about your house. I tell you something : you have an epithymia for your house. The world has brought along this plug ~ lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. And your life has homed in on those three sockets or three pins and are connected to the power that seeks to draw you away from God.
It is the same for a car. It’s so easy to be tempted, isn’t it? Nowadays you can walk in a shopping mall and cars are displayed there. You open the door. You smell. Wah, the new car smells very shiok, ah. Wah, and you close the door. Thud. Wah, the ‘thud’ is not like mine – clank, clank, clank, clank, clank. (laughter). Wah, and you start to dream about it, think about it, you work for it. That has become an epithymia. There’s not a problem with you owning a car. The problem is : does the car own you? Do you crave for it? Same for iPhone 6. 6 and 6+ ~ which one you like? Which one you are thinking about all the time? It can come to very simple things like gadgets. It’s not very expensive but it dominates your thoughts. (20:40)
Again, iPhone 6 is not to be cursed. Wanting a phone is not to be cursed but treating it as the ultimate, and excessive craving for it, is to be cursed. Maybe for some of us it’s not so much possessions of things. For some of us, it may be this one (picture of ‘char siu’ or Chinese BBQ pork). Wah, look at this ‘char siu’. ‘Ai jiak liao’ (‘it makes me want to eat’ in Hokkien). Hungry already lah, you say. Now, is food bad? Of course not. Food is meant for sustenance. It’s wanting to eat that. Don’t dare to say, huh? Wanting to eat bad? No, of course not. It’s a perfectly legitimate thing. But when you crave and you live for food, that’s when it gets into problems. Eating is not a problem. Over-eating is. Eating is not a problem but gluttony is. There’s a distinction. Some people say, ‘Oh, I eat to live’, but there are others who live to eat. (laughter). If your life is living to eat today (laughing at who?), there is a danger. This is an excessive inordinate desire. It may be char siu, it may be durians, it may be ice cream, whatever it is. But this is where it goes wrong.
What about rest? Is it wrong to rest? Is rest bad? Is a desire to rest wrong? No, but when you rest excessively, you are lazy. Correct? Or when you live only for pleasure. That’s worldliness. And, I say, in comfortable cozy Singapore, we may be in danger of the world because we long for an epicurean lifestyle, meaning you enjoy the high things, the nice things of life. That’s what you live for. That’s why you work so hard, so that you can enjoy, you can go on holidays, you can eat the nice stuff, and, suddenly but surely, we are gripped with the world because we love pleasure. We love comfort. The mattress must be the type that you sleep already cannot wake up type. (laughter). (Someone shouts out ‘coffin’). Coffin, ah? (laughter). That’s true. If anyone of you crave for the coffin, please talk to me. You seriously need counselling. But there is that desire for comfort, for ease, that is excessive.
Let me give you something even more touchy : sex. Woh, sex is a dirty word. No, it’s not a dirty word. It is made dirty by the world but sex is a beautiful word. It’s found in the Scriptures ~ Song of Solomon, and, of course, in the New Testament Hebrews 13. The marriage bed is undefiled. In fact, we as a church look at what sex means in Christendom, in Christianity, it’s a beautiful thing. Wanting sex is also not a wrong thing. But when you excessively crave for sex, and you want to get it outside of your marriage bond, and you go beyond what God has allowed, that becomes a reason why you will be drawn away from the world. It’s an excessive inordinate desire, thinking that this will satisfy you, make you happy. And you live this kind of a promiscuous lifestyle. You could go on and on, you know. (24:20)
About art. Is art wrong? No, it’s not. But it can go wrong if you have an excessive desire for it. Is music wrong? No, but you can go wrong if you have an excessive desire for it. Is the desire for acceptance wrong? No. We are made to be loved. That’s our inbuilt desire but this can go very wrong if you think that you are the centre of the universe and it can lead to pride and self-centredness when it goes to excessive desires. So, I just want to clarify for you : loving the world today is not living in the world. Some people say, ‘Wah, you live in New York, ah? Very worldly.’ You are very worldly. No, not necessarily.
Loving the world :
Is not living in the World
Is not possessing the things in the World
Is not using the things in the World
Loving the world:
Is excessively craving for the things of the world at all costs, and seeing them as ultimate in my life.
I want to say ~ the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. Too often, we view people as worldly simply because of the people they hang around with. If Jesus hangs around with very worldly people, He was not worldly. Too often we determine worldliness by the things we possess. No, the Bible tells us clearly it’s not what you possess but what possesses you. Some people think that worldliness is categorized by the do’s and don’ts of the Christian life. No. I tell you it’s not about these outside things but what is on the inside.
A church like ours, from the background we come from, too often we categorize people as worldly, or not worldly, by the things they do on the outside, by the things they possess on the outside and by the people they hang around on the outside. Ah, you go to movies, huh? Wah, you are very worldly, huh? Wah, you go to shopping centre, huh? Wah, you are very worldly. It’s always categorized by the outside but who is to know what is on the inside? You stay at home, you don’t watch movies. You are very godly. No, inside you still want. ‘I wish I could watch The Ironman’. It’s about the heart. You don’t go to shopping centres but you do online shopping and shop more than anybody else. (laughter). It’s about the heart and is not about the haves and have-nots. It’s about the inside. So, let me summarize this : the world is a power. It’s all around us. It’s all around you, by the way. It can be a car and, like I said, it can be anything but it’s a power because Satan is real and he uses these things to seduce us and he draws us away from God. And my life can be plugged into that with the relevant date, with the relevant desire when it elicits the relevant ‘over passions’, the ‘epi desires’, the excessive cravings.
Let me make this clear.
Worldliness is not what you Possess, but what you Obsess.
‘Wah, I wear very torn clothes, Pastor. You never see my shoes all broken. My pants got holes here and there. I am very godly. I am not worldly.’ You’re serious? Peel your heart. Not how you dress on the outside. Not what you carry in your pocket but what is inside your heart. Not what you possess, but what you obsess. In fact, you can look very godly. You can serve God. You can do many good things. You are always in church but you are worldly. And people can’t tell because it’s on the inside. (28:18)
Several years ago, actually a long time ago, I would go to China to preach once in a while. I remember one trip that I was in China preaching. I was supposed to be there to be a blessing to teach the word. But I tell you something. This is embarrassing to share but I don’t think it’s unique because all of you might understand this. When I went there, I was always thinking about something. You say, I must be thinking for lost souls and for people to be trained and people to be godly. No, I was not thinking about that. I was thinking about this (picture of a blue car on the screen). This, by the way, looks a little bit like the car I used to own. This one not so good because got blue and black. Mine all black one. (laughter). Church members used to call that the Batmobile ~ Pastor PJ’s Batmobile. But it didn’t always look like the Batmobile because when this car, it’s a Subaru car, it’s a normal car but you can ‘zheng’ (in Hokkien meaning ‘to accessorize’) ‘Zheng’ the car have you heard of that? Gangsters and Ah Bengs all like to ‘zheng’ cars. And there’s an Ah Beng in me that likes to ‘zheng’ my car. So I was always thinking about my car how to zheng’ to be more ‘zheng’. How to be more Beng. And so, one thing that I kept thinking about a very significant change for my car is this bumper. You see this bumper? (Pointing to the picture on the screen). This one not ordinary. Chargespeed version 2 GD bumper. You all don’t understand. But I tell you what I was thinking about. I was thinking about this bumper for my whole trip. I mean, I was thinking whether to ‘buy, don’t buy, pay, don’t pay’.
Then it was time to go to China. Go China I thought will be better but I was still thinking about my bumper in China. Preach half-way, the bumper can come one (laughter). The whole trip thinking about bumper. Whole trip thinking, can you imagine how stupid that is? Pastor, you are crazy, huh? You are supposed to preach and you are thinking about bumper. It’s such a trivial thing. It is very trivial. I mean, this is so silly. Now I thought about it, I want to laugh. I want to hide myself. It’s so trivial but it has such a grip on me. I know it’s stupid but that’s the power of the world. I’m not proud of it because I know I was drawn away from that. I couldn’t really focus on the Lord, on the things he wants me to do.
What is it in your life today that draws you away from God? What is it today in your life that consumes your thinking, that become your focus, your obsession? What is it today that you say ‘I must have’. And if I don’t have it, I will be devastated. I’ll be at a loss. Worldliness is here (pointing to his head) and here (pointing to his heart). I look like a super godly man going to China, sacrifice my life. Go in the cold winter, never bathe two weeks. Wah, you’re such a servant. No, no, no. God knows what’s going on right inside ~ Over Passions. Living in the world is not necessarily worldly. Jesus actually wants us to live in a world. But it’s when you are plugged in, you are sucked into it by your Over Passions that’s when you are drawn by the powers all around you. It can be a car. Some of you right now, I guarantee in a congregation like this, some of you are thinking about car. Some of you who can afford a car you think about a car. Those of you who cannot afford a car ~ you are 15, 16 you are still thinking about a car because when I grow up, my first pay check, I’ll buy this car. It can be the house. Wah, Singapore property, Pastor, you don’t think about it, cannot one. You are sure? There’s a way to think about it appropriately, plan for it appropriately and another thing to obsess over it. Money. Nothing wrong with money but when money is the way by which you are plugged into the Over Passions that’s where it goes wrong. iPhone 6. I found an icon for iPhone 6. (32:40)
It can be also the applause of men. This is what I live for. I live to be popular. I live to be well accepted and if I’m not accepted, if I’m not loved, I am supremely unhappy. That’s a kind of lust, pride of life. The thumbs up thing. Wah, my Facebook must have a lot of ‘likes’. If not, I’ll be very unhappy. (laughter). Oh, the desire to be king, the desire to be the boss in a company, in a school, in the neighborhood. It can be any form and shape but it brings us back to Adam and Eve. It’s the same trick the devil uses on us all over again. So, the Scripture says today, ‘Love Not the World’.
This is a heart condition whereby we have an excessive craving for the things of the world treating them as the ultimate goal of our life and that which draws us away from God. It’s not about a problem on the outside. It’s a problem on the inside ~ it’s about the heart. My friends, what is in your heart today? The Bible says love not the world. You say, ‘Why?’ ‘How can I be delivered?’ I say, come back next week and I’ll tell you how. But this week, today, I just like you to be able to reflect upon your own life. ‘Are there idols in your heart? Are you plugged into this world?’ Do you know that your desires are meant not to plug into the things of the world but your desires are to be meant to be plugged into God. So, who is having the power in your life? Who are you obsessing and what are you obsessing about?
Let us bow for a word of prayer. I’d like you, this morning, to reflect. I think this message is simple enough, straightforward enough. And I just want to afford you this time to consider and to really be honest before God because you are not going to get this kind of a message or this kind of a reflection anywhere else in this world. The advertisements will not cause you to pause. The shopping malls will not cause you to pause. The radio programs will not cause you to pause. But God’s Word today tells you to pause. What do you love?
My friends, is there something in your heart that you are obsessing about? What is that? It may be a bumper like my car. It can be your bank account. It can be the approval of men. I tell you something. It can even be your ministry. I must succeed in ministry. I must do well here. You know there’s something about doing well for Jesus’ sake, and doing well for your own sake? It can be anything, you see, that draws you away from God. It can be your son. It can be your husband. You have treated them as the ultimate things of your life. That’s worldliness.
My friends, the bible tells us that a true Christian is someone who cannot, and will not, consistently, habitually love the world because he loves the Father. Some of you say, ‘How do I know I’m a Christian today? I’m not sure whether my baptism was ‘pakay’ (‘valid’ in Malay). I’m not sure whether my sinner’s prayer was done perfectly. My friends, this is how you know whether you are a Christian today. What’s your relationship with God? Do you obey him? What’s your relationship with one another? Do you love your brethren? And, number 3, what’s your relationship with the world? Do you love the world? I’m not asking if you are in the world. It’s obvious we are all in the world. But, I’m asking, is the world in you? By this you would know if you are truly a child of God. (37:36)
My friends, maybe today you are a disciple of Jesus Christ. You know it. You are following Him. But you, in this season of your life are just entrapped by the lures and the lust of this world : your thoughts, your life patterns, your spending patterns, the way you raise your kids, your goals for your kids. It’s so much for the world, it’s for money, for better career. The Scriptures warn us this morning, and I urge you to repent because God is good. He gives you this Word not so as to condemn you but to lovingly draw you back to a supreme love for Him. That’s where your life is supposed to be plugged in. That’s where you have the greatest satisfaction. That’s what really matters.
Maybe you’re here today, first time, and you’re saying, ‘Why should I be a Christian? Why should I love God?’ Let me tell you why : Because the world passes away. The world is an enemy to God who made us, who has a divine purpose and glorious promise for us. You say, ‘how can I be delivered from this world?’ My friends, you can only be delivered from this world if Jesus is in your life. You see, you cannot replace that deep desire for things but it is only when Jesus fills your heart, when you repent of your sin, and come to trust Him that you can truly have deliverance. Would you, this morning, choose to repent of your sin and believe in Jesus, the Son of God? Would you be born again? Would you have this real life? It’s available from the cross. Jesus has paid it all. Would you come to Him?
Father, we thank you today for your word ~ crystal clear. As we study Scripture, we are so confused because we have been so entrenched into the philosophies and the lures and attractions of this world. Would you have mercy to deliver us today? This is an evil world and if we love the world, the love of the father is not in us. So, would you work in all our hearts? Purge us from inordinate excessive cravings for the things of the world and make us have a real passion for you. For those that need to be saved today, we pray by your Spirit, awaken their soul, turn them from sin, that they will repent and believe in a wonderful Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. And for all of us who are disciples of Jesus, help us to keep our eyes on you, to decide to follow Jesus ~ no turning back. We thank you and we pray all this now in Jesus’ name.
“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children, because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:12-14
Download the sermon slides: SERMON-2014-9-21
I’d like you, this morning, to turn your Bibles to 1John and chapter 2. In our church, our preaching ministry is based on the Bible, that is to say, we preach through the Bible. That’s our goal. Once in a while, we preach the Old Testament then we switch to the New Testament then we switch to the Old Testament, and then the New Testament. So it’s alternating between the Old and the New Testaments.
Today, we are at 1 John chapter 2. If you are joining us for the first time, we are looking at verses 12 to 14. 1John chapter 2, verses 12 to 14. And we are going to look at a very unique passage of Scripture because, in a sense, it does not follow the flow of thoughts in the book of 1John, but it’s a kind of interruption, it’s a kind of interjection so that God’s people may be encouraged. So, turn with me to 1John chapter 2 this morning.
Well, there is a man who is lying on his bed. He’s supposed to get up but he just couldn’t get up. He’s lying there just rolling and rolling and his father came in and said to him, ‘Son, it’s time for you to get up.’ He says, ‘Why should I get up? Give me reasons why I should.’ And the father says, ‘Number 1, you are a Christian. This is Sunday, you need to get up to go to church. Number 2, you are already 50 years old. Don’t keep lying there on the bed. And, number 3, you are the pastor. (laughter). You have to preach. So, please get up.’
Well, we all need reminders to get up in life. Today we are going to look at a passage of Scripture that is about John encouraging the people of God, reminding them of things so that they may keep pressing on for Jesus Christ. This is a passage of encouragement and I think it is so necessary because 1John is a really tough book to read and it’s not easy for the audience of John to say, ‘Wow, you’re saying really tough things about us. You’re saying that if I do not obey the Lord Jesus Christ, I do not have real life. You are saying that if I hate my brothers and I do not love them, I’m not a Christian.’ And so these things are really tough sayings and John, as a good pastor, understands and cares for his flock. He has more things to say about what it means to be a true Christian, even tougher things to say. But before he goes there, he pauses for a moment, as it were lovingly draws his people close to him with his words and seeks to encourage them. So they are all saying, ‘Wah, this is really tough. I’m overwhelmed. I don’t think I can keep obeying, I can keep loving. It’s so difficult.’ John pauses and says, ‘You can. You should.’ Why? Because I see God’s work in your life. Let me remind you of why you should keep pressing on. That’s why we come to versus 12-14 where he says,
“I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the Word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.”
So this is a rather unique passage – 3 verses in the midst of all the many verses in 1 John. As I’ve mentioned to you 1John is really elucidating or clarifying the various marks of a true Christian. He’s not someone who just calls himself a Christian. He’s not someone who is born in a Christian home only. He is not someone who was baptized years ago. But he is a Christian and he knows it because he lives a life of consistent obedience. He lives a life of consistent love towards the brethren. And, if he is not obeying, if he is not loving, he may be really not a Christian at all. So again the people, they feel overwhelmed with a strong and tough message like this. And, before he goes on to things such as ‘love not the world’, John pauses and says, ‘Keep pressing on because even though you may feel overwhelmed, I do see the various marks of grace in your life. I see how God has worked in your life. So, be encouraged. 04:45
So here, we are going to look at this in a very simple way. He writes to three categories of people : the children, the young men and the fathers. So that’s what we are going to look at. We are going to look at what it means or what a child looks like, spiritually speaking, what a young man looks like, spiritually speaking, and what a father looks like, spiritually speaking. So we are going to look at all these categories but I hope, at the end of it, to remember why he wrote this. He wrote this to encourage the Christians to keep pressing on. He’s like that father who says, ‘Yes, I’ve spoken tough things. But at the end of the day, I want you to know I am not causing you to doubt your faith. I’m not trying to shake your confidence because I know you. I know your faith. I know your walk. I know who are the children, who are the young men, who are the fathers and I’m saying all this because I love you.’ So let’s look at the first category and today’s sermon will be really short, so you can relax and know that this is not going to be a long journey. Let’s look at
1. The Children.
John here addresses the children. This is not chronological age, alright. This is not a 5-year-old kid or 7-year-old kid. This can be a 70-year-old man. A child of God who has just believed in Jesus Christ can be spiritually immature and he is called a child. So, this does not have reference to the chronological age of a person. It’s about their spiritual maturity. So John first writes to those who are young in the faith. ‘I’m writing to you, little children.’ (verse 12), and then he repeats that again in verse 13, ‘I write to you, children.’ I put these 2 verses together because I want you to realize John actually uses 2 different words for the word ‘children’. It will not appear in your English Bible. But it will be seen if you look at the Greek original. The Bible was written in the Greek, at least for the New Testament. And the two words are as such : I write to you, (this is a word that is in the Greek) ‘teknon’ and then verse 13, I write to you ‘paidion’. So one is a teknon, one is paidion. You say what in the world is that, okay?
First one, teknon. The word ‘teknon’ really refers to a child, or a son, in relationship to his father. So this is primarily about the status of this person. He is a child of God and, no matter how old he gets, no matter how mature he becomes, he always remains a child of God. He always remains a son of God ~ a teknon. I’m now 38 years old. I am a teknon of Mr Lim Choon Huat, my father. And when I’m 60 years old, I am still going to be a teknon. It doesn’t change even if I get older, I have grey hair, I’m more mature; I remain a teknon. So John, here, is saying, ‘I’m writing to you, teknons.’ And this will have application, therefore, not just to the young in faith but to also the mature in faith because no matter how old you grow, or how mature you get, you are a teknon of God. So we are going to see the significance of that in a while.
The second word is the word ‘paidion’. The word ‘paidion’ refers to a young child. So, this is not so much the status but the stage ~ he’s a young man, he’s a young boy, he’s a young baby. ‘I’m writing to you, young ones,’ that’s what John is saying. So, what does he say to the teknons? Again, though I put it under ‘children’, this is equally applicable to the young men and to the fathers. And that’s right at the beginning, in verse 12:
‘I’m writing to you, little children (teknons), all of you because your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake.’ John is reminding his people one thing about a child of God regardless of your spiritual maturity, regardless of how long you have been in the faith, regardless of how many years of ministry you have given to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the unchangeable reality. Your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake. Notice he doesn’t say, ‘your sins WILL be forgiven.’ He doesn’t say, ‘your sins MAY be forgiven.’ He says, ‘your sins ARE forgiven.’ John is saying, if you look at the context, the whole picture, the big picture. He is saying, in your pursuit for spiritual life, yes, it is tough. You may fall, you may stumble, you may not obey God completely, perfectly. There may be times you are angry with your brothers- and sisters-in-Christ even though you desire to love them. There are times you fall. Let me tell you, even when you stumble and when you fall, your sins are forgiven. John is assuring them, reminding them of the deep security they have in God’s forgiveness. You say, why? Because your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake. 10:09
We, today, are a forgiven people, regardless of our performance, regardless of whether we are very obedient or less obedient because our forgiveness is not based on who we are but based on what Jesus Christ has done ~ His name’s sake. Let me tell you something that you may not be very familiar. And that is this : do you realize that God does not love you less when you disobey? Neither does he love you more if you are very mature? If you are truly born again, if you are truly a believer of Jesus Christ, He cannot love you less, nor can he love you more, regardless of your performance. Why? Because he loves you perfectly in Jesus Christ. His love for you is not founded in your performance. It’s founded in what Jesus Christ has done. So, even if the journey of faith is difficult and we stumble and fall, John is saying, you have this deep security and assurance : your God loves you. Your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake.
And it’s from this solid ground, this solid assurance that you and I would have that confidence, and joy, and courage to pursue holiness; to keep walking in the light and obeying God. So that’s what John is saying to everyone. He is saying, ‘I know you guys. Yes, I have spoken hard things but I want you to know, little children, young men, fathers, your sins are forgiven.’ This is the beautiful reality.
So, this is applicable to all teknons but there is a word reserved for the paidions, the young ones, and he says, ‘I write to you paidion.’ How do you know it’s pi? Remember this circumference? What’s the formula for circumference? Circumference is 22 over 7 pi. Is it? I’m wrong, huh? Ha ha. You remember the ‘pi’ thing, alright? Go back and research if you forgot, like me, forgot. But this is ‘pi’ in the Greek and so is the word ‘paidion’. It refers to a young one.
And what does he say about a young child? There’s not a lot to say about a young child, in a sense, a young child doesn’t know a lot of things. A young baby, a young toddler, he does not know current affairs. He cannot spot danger. He may not know a lot of people. He cannot react to a lot of circumstance. But I tell you what a young child knows. A young child knows his papa. My son, 2-year-old Matthias, he may not know a lot of things. He does not know what is happening on the computer screen when it’s full of words. He doesn’t know when someone may want to abduct him. He doesn’t know that eating ice cream all the time is not a good thing. He doesn’t know a lot of things but he knows his papa. He knows his mama. That’s what a child knows. Can you imagine when Papa comes home and the little child’s eyes light up, ‘Papa, Papa’. And he stretches forth his arms. He runs to Daddy. He knows Daddy’s smiles. He knows Daddy’s touch. He knows Daddy’s words. He knows Daddy loves him. That’s what a child knows. And, if you are a believer of the Lord Jesus Christ today, you may be a very young Christian but this is what you will know ~ you know the Father. You know His forgiveness. You know that he is your Abba, Father. How do I know that? Because Paul says, ‘And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6 ESV)
Christianity is not mere intellectualism. Now, you must engage the mind when you worship God. We must. In spirit and in truth. The knowledge of God involves thinking. It does. But it is not just thinking. There is a deep sense of assurance within. That’s what this verse is saying ~ that you know your God as your Abba, Father. There is a delight in God. There’s a relationship with God. There’s a joy and a hunger and a thirst for God. That’s what a child of God will experience. And John, in saying those hard things about the marks of a Christian~you need to keep obeying, you need to keep loving~he is saying, ‘I also know you. I’m not saying these things to shake your confidence. I’m not saying these things to cause you to doubt. But I know you guys. Some of you are young children and you do know the Father. I want to remind you that there is divine grace evident in your life. So, don’t give up. Keep pressing on.’ So, that’s John’s intention here. A true child of God really knows the Father because he knows forgiveness. 15:25
I like what Spurgeon has to say. He says,
‘All the philosophers in the world do not know so much of the Father God as a forgiven sinner knows!……’
You know something? Everyone in this world who studies religion, who seeks to know God, will not know as much as a child of God who has known forgiveness from God. That’s what Spurgeon is saying :
‘if you’re really forgiven, you know God in a way that nobody else can.’ Why? Because it is ‘the Father’s heart that comes out most fully and expressly when He says, ‘Bring forth the best robe, put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. For this, my son was dead and is alive again! He was lost and is found.’
Spurgeon is alluding to Luke 15 the parable of the lost son. The lost son who wasted his life and who later repented and came back to God and received this amazing, lavish forgiveness and embrace from the father. This lost-and-found son knows a lot about the father. Far more than anyone else would. He has seen forgiveness and grace.
“Then, as he looks up through his tears and sees the ineffable smile of the Father’s affection, the forgiven child knows the Father!
The very least (young) child of Grace, having received the forgiveness of sins, knows the Father in this most important sense.”
I know the Father. He has forgiven me. I see it in the scripture. I see in what he has promised. I see that Jesus, His Son, was sent to die for me. He has forgiven me. I can cry out, I want to cry out and I do cry out, ‘Abba, Father’. I am forgiven. So John says this is what characterizes the young in faith. Not a lot more you can say about them. They’re very young, just came to know Christ. They know they are forgiven. They know their Father.
2. Young Men
But Christian living is a journey. It’s whenever there is life, there is growth. And the next stage of spiritual growth, according to John, is when you arrive at ‘young men’. By the way, this does not exclude ladies. So ladies, please don’t switch off. This is just you know what he is saying. Children refers to both young men can refer to ladies as well. But this is against spiritual maturity level 2, if I may say. Young men, people in the prime of their life, they are strong, they are full of vigour and vitality. And John says, ‘young men are people who have overcome the evil one.’ So no more the image of a child, a baby, a toddler, but now an image of a soldier. He is at war. He is in battle. And he has not only gone to battle, he has actually overcome the evil one. The word ‘overcome’ is the word ‘Nikao’ which is the word you get Nike from. It is a word that means ‘to conquer’ or ‘to overcome’.
So, a spiritually more mature man is able to overcome the evil one. He’s able to overcome the devil. In what ways? In the temptations he brings, in accusations and in the deceptions, discouragements, the devil seeks to strike. He is able to stand, he is able to overcome because he is more mature. He’s stronger. And that is given to us in verse 14 : ‘I write to you, young men, because you are strong.’ Now, the baby is not strong, isn’t it? The baby is weak. The baby is defenceless. The baby cannot fight. He does not even discern. When food is on the ground, he grabs and eat. He doesn’t have any idea. So he is defenceless against attacks. He is defenceless, in a sense, he has no discernment. But, when you’re a young man, you are different. You know what is right and wrong and you are able to defend. You are able to fight. You are able to overcome the evil one because you are strong.
Now, why are they strong? Why are they strong? Why are young men strong? What’s the secret between a babe in Christ and a soldier of Christ? You are strong because the Word of God abides in you. So John is saying this is spiritual growth stage 2. Stage 1, he knows God, he knows forgiveness. But as he feeds upon God’s Word, as he not only studies but he lives out. He obeys. He trusts in God’s Word. He lives by God’s promises. He becomes strong. ‘As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the Word that you may grow thereby.’ (1 Peter 2:2) 20:22
And you remember how Jesus was able to resist the advances of the devil? This is what he did. He said, ‘It is written, it is written, it is written.’ How was it that Jesus is able to overcome the devil? He had God’s Word abiding in him. So, this is spiritual maturity level 2. You are strong because the Word of God abides in you, not just knowledge but you believe God’s Word. You live it out. You obey and therefore you are able to overcome the evil one.
And John again, bringing it back to the context, he’s saying, ‘why do you want to give up? I see this work of grace in your life. You are no more a child. You know you are forgiven. You cry out ‘Abba, Father’. And look at this : look at how you have waged war and have victory over the devil. Look at the way you have grown in your love for others. You used to be so self-centered, but you have overcome the evil one. You’re living a life of love, not lust. Look at your temper. You used to be fiery but now you are so controlled. Look at the deceptions you used to believe in, the way you live for the world but now you are living for Christ. So look at the way you have overcome the evil one and keep pressing on. Why? Because God’s grace is clear in your life. So don’t give up.’ That’s again his main point.
But let’s go finally to the fathers. I said this message will be short and I think it will be. Fathers. Fathers here, again, is not about age. There are some people with lots of grey hair but they are not very mature spiritually. And there are some people who look like kids but they can be very mature spiritually. I think Spurgeon was a preacher when he was 16, pastor when he was 19, is amazing. So, this has nothing to do with chronological physical age. This is about spiritual maturity. Let me ask you, before you look at the Bible, what will be the key characteristics or what will be the few key characteristics of a spiritually mature man? What would you think? What do you think it will be? He is mature. Why? Because? What are some of the things you look for? I would have thought a spiritual, mature person would be someone who has touched many lives, reached many souls, have a big ministry, have a big church. And maybe John may write something like that. But John has a very simple way of looking at spiritual maturity. He says in v13 and v14,
‘I’m writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning’ (verse 13)
‘I’m writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning’ (verse 14)
Anyone can tell me the difference between verses 13 and 14? With regards to this phrase ‘because you know him who is from the beginning’, there is absolutely no difference. John, you are very ‘cheong hei’ (long-winded), very repetitive. No, John is not ‘cheong hei’. He is saying this is that one thing I want you to catch. What does it mean to be a father ~ spiritually mature man? A lot of accomplishments? No. A spiritual father, a man who is mature, is someone who knows Him who is from the beginning ~ very, very focused; very, very precise. The question is : Who is this ‘who is from the beginning’? Some of us may guess it’s God the Father, and so on and so forth. But I suggest to you, it is given to you to know ~ in chapter 1 verse 1.
If you look at the Bible, chapter 1 verse one, it says that which is from the beginning, that which we have seen and heard, looked upon and touched, concerning the word of life. Who is he talking about? He’s talking about Jesus Christ who came in the flesh; was manifested before us. So John is saying, a spiritually mature man or woman is someone who knows deeply, experientially and intimately Jesus Christ who is from the beginning. That’s the mark of a spiritual man. Let me bring it back to summary. It says here ~ 3 stages. Of course there are overlaps and continuums. We all understand that. But in generalization, we see that there is ‘Children’, there is ‘Young men’, there is ‘Fathers’. How does one grow from being a child, paidion, to become a young man, a soldier of Christ? 25:21
What is the key thing? Well, what he needs is that the Word of God will abide in him. But that’s what we read earlier so he needs to know the Word of the Lord. Let me ask you, then, what does it take for a young man to be a father? Well, let me just suggest to you a very simple way of looking at it ~ just flip this around :
Children —— Young Men —— Fathers
Young men to fathers are people who know the Lord of the Word. I actually wanted to say, ‘Children to young men know the Word of the Lord. Young men to fathers know the Lord of the Word through the Word of the Lord’ but I thought you all too confused already. So, I just kept it as such but please do understand I don’t mean a mystical kind of relationship with God where you are high up in the mountain and just wait for God to fill you. No, no, no. You know the Lord of the Word through the Word of the Lord. That’s what 2 Corinthians 3 tells you.
We see Christ in his Word but what this, I think, is highlighting to us is that there is a way of reading and studying the Bible that does not lead us to knowing Christ. If merely studying the Bible, without a clear intention to do so, will lead you to spiritual maturity, the Scribes, the Pharisees and Sadducees would have rocked. It would be the best. But they studied and missed Christ.
A spiritual father is someone who not only knows the doctrines, the precepts, the teachings, the promises of the Bible but he has such a single-minded focus to say, ‘I want to know Christ. That’s my goal in life. This is my one all-consuming passion to know Him.’ I didn’t say that. Paul did, didn’t he? He says, ‘this one thing I do, this is my life that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.’ This is Paul’s heart and Paul is a spiritual father. I’m writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. You know Christ. You have a deep, intimate, experiential knowledge of him through his Word. I see the likeness of Christ in your life. You see, if you really know someone, and if you really know Jesus Christ, it is a life-changing relationship. You will be made like Christ. And John says look at your life. It’s amazing. Not only do you have forgiveness, not only do you know the Father, not only have you had victories over the evil one because you’ve been consistently obeying and applying God’s Word but you know Christ in such a deep intimate way, I see Christ in you. So, be encouraged and don’t give up. I refer you to what Paul has said :
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…..(single-mindedness)
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death.” (Philippians 3: 8,10 ESV)
Christian living, in its pinnacle, is a single-minded focus on Christ, and Christ alone. That is a mark of a spiritual man. He does not just know the Word of the Lord. He knows the Lord of the Word through the Word of the Lord. Again, I want to refer you to Spurgeon. I think, he puts it across just so well and I thought it’s worth considering, even though it may be a bit long. He says :
‘Now, a babe in Grace knows 20 things ~ a young man in Christ knows 10 things ~ but a father in Christ knows one thing and that one thing he knows thoroughly!’
Now, a babe in Grace knows 20 things. You know when people are born. I know my kids like to show off how much they know, lah. Do you know this? Do you know this? Do you know this? Wah, they know a lot of things, lah. And a babe in grace, a spiritual child of God, may know 20 things. As he grows, he says, Wah, I know this verse, I know that doctrine. A young man in Christ knows 10 things. But a father in Christ knows one thing and that one thing he knows thoroughly! Now that doesn’t mean he is ignorant of everything else, alright, so you must take it in the right context. But this is one thing he really, really knows well. 30:17
‘it is very natural for us, at first, to divide our little stream into many rivulets, but as we grow gray (grow old, grow mature) in Grace, we pour it all into one channel ~ and then it runs with a force efficient for our lifework.’
This is what powers our life. ‘I trust,’ he says of himself, ‘I trust I know many doctrines, many precepts and many teachings ~ but more and more my knowledge gathers about my Lord even as the bees swarm around their queen!
May it come to this with us all ~ ‘I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.’
May all our knowledge be focused as with a burning glass (the magnifying glass) upon this one point! May the adorable Person of Him that was from the beginning fill the entire horizon of our thought! Oh, to have one heart, one eye, for our one Lord and for Him alone!’ ~ Spurgeon
This is a spiritual father. This is what Christianity should shoot for. It’s not attendance in church. It’s not just how many times you have preached, how many people you have led to the Lord. I think all those who come as a result of someone who knows Christ. This is the source. This is the origin. So, this passage is about being encouraged. It’s interesting. This is like a hamburger, you know. John says, ‘obey’. John says ‘love’. Then later on he is going to say ‘love not the world.’ But right in the middle, very interestingly, he inserts these verses, 12-14. Why? Because he is a pastor who knows people can be overwhelmed and he wants to encourage them by reminding them God has done a divine work in your life.
You, young ones, you know Christ. You know God. You call him ‘Abba, Father’. Your sins are forgiven. You, young man, not only have you had all that the babe in Christ has experienced, you have a practical reality of victory over the evil one. And all you fathers, look at you, look at your life. You’re so much like Christ. You’re pursuing Christ. So why give up? Let me tell you next week what it means to be a Christian in not loving the world. But that will be another time.
So John, right here, is displaying a pastoral father’s heart, bringing them near, and saying ‘Cheer up, guys, be encouraged, and press on towards the mark’. I say to all of you, now this passage is not easy, in a sense, but maybe, as you look at your life in the light of these 3 stages, do you see a change in your life? Do you say to yourself, ‘I know the father’? Do you have consistent victory? Do you pursue Christ and are you like Christ? If you do, I say the number 1 response we should have is to praise God, always, because it’s His work. If you don’t, don’t give up. Your sins are forgiven. Keep pressing on because Christian living is a journey. It’s a spiritual growth. Now for those of you who are here and you said, ‘Wow, this whole passage is for a Christian. What about me? I’m not a Christian. I don’t understand what it means to know the Father, to know Christ. How do I start?’ You realize that in this whole passage, the imagery is about life. And life comes with birth. You don’t suddenly decide to be a Christian. Yes, in a sense, you do choose to believe in Jesus Christ but it’s not just about your decision. It is also, equally, in the Bible, a description of how God gives new life. How Jesus says you must be born again.
Friends, if you are here for the first time, this is the first time you hear God’s Word, you’ve never known what it means to be a Christian, I say to you, it begins with birth. And this birth is from the heavens above. It begins with being born from above, being born again, and God is the one who gives you the new birth. Your response today is to see your sin, to see your ugliness, to see your hopelessness and your helplessness and then to see what God has done for you in Jesus Christ. Your sins can be forgiven because of Jesus Christ. God sent His Son to die for your sins so that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. And if you turn from your sin and look to Christ, and ask God to give you this new birth, you can have this new life and you can know God and have your sins forgiven. 35:30
Let’s bow for a word of prayer today. I’d like you to have this time to reflect upon God’s Word, upon John’s exaltation. I want you to reflect, in a sense, that is relevant for you today because some of us may find Christian living just so hard, so difficult, you say. I’ve tried, but I keep falling into sin and I keep being selfish. Am I really a Christian? And you doubt yourself. The intention of the Bible is not to cause a Christian to doubt his salvation but it’s to help a Christian realize, with certainty, Wow! these are the marks of grace and I do know that I’m a Christian because it is evident. And so, if you are overwhelmed, if, over the past weeks you have felt Wow! these sayings are tough and John draws you near to him, puts his arm around you and says, ‘Don’t give up. I write to you, little children. I write to you because I see that you know the Father. I want to assure you your sins are forgiven. I know you. I’m your pastor. I know.’ He brings the young man over and says, ‘look at your life, look at the victories, look at the amazing things God has done through you. Come, fathers, look at your single-minded pursuit of Christ. It’s so beautiful. Guys, if God has begun this good work in you, he will perform it unto the end. So, keep pressing on.’
And for some of us today who do not know Jesus, it begins right here. Would you be born again? Now, you can’t bring about this, just like I didn’t make myself born into this world. My mother had to do it but you need to turn from sin and believe in Jesus Christ. That’s what Jesus said to Nicodemus, ‘Nicodemus, you must be born again’. Today, I say to you, you must be born again because except a man be born again, he cannot see, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. But I tell you God loves you and He’s given His Son for you. The price that is due for your sins is already paid on the cross and He invites you. He calls you. In fact, He commands you to repent and believe in Jesus, His Son, for the forgiveness of sins, in a way that is mysterious to us, in a way that is not comprehensible fully to us. If you turn and believe, he gives you new life. And that’s His promise.
So friends, Gospeliters, if you can’t say in your heart ‘I know the Father’, if you can’t say in your heart ‘I have had a changed life where I have victory over the evil one’, when you can’t say in your heart ‘I have a single-minded pursuit of Jesus Christ’, in fact, I can’t say that I’ve any of the marks that has been spoken of in 1John'; I say to you, today may be the day of your salvation, if you are willing to humble yourself and look to Jesus for what he has done. May God have mercy that none of us will pass from life to death imagining we know him when we don’t. But may this be a glorious day that you are truly saved and truly belong to Him.
Father, we thank you for this time. Would you bless your people in all the various ways you have spoken to us. And we pray that Jesus would really be in our lives and He will shine through our lives. We thank you, in advance, for all the decisions that we make, for all the choices of life that we will make, for all the life-changing relationships we can enjoy with you. We thank you and we pray all this now in Jesus’ name.← Older posts Newer posts →