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1 John 3:1-10 15 January 2017
HOW THE FUTURE AFFECTS THE PRESENT
Ill. Michael Camp was a Bible believing Christian who began to doubt many things in the Bible and many of the accepted beliefs held by the church. By giving into his doubts Michael soon left his Bible believing church and started attending a church that taught that there are many things in the Bible that are not true. One of those things is the return of Jesus Christ to this world. Michael said, “To believe that we are living in the end times and that Jesus is coming back is a fallacy.”
What is most interesting of all is that when Michael chose to reject those important truths in scripture it also affected his view of sin. He began to accept behaviour that he once believed was morally wrong. He said it was okay to be a practicing homosexual and still be a Christian and that everyone no matter what they believe or how they live will be saved at the end.
Over the years I have noticed this, that when Bible believing Christians have stopped believing the basic, essential truths of the Bible, in generally affects the way they live. They become morally lax and accept behaviour that they once they avoided.
The truth is that what we believe will always affect how we behave. And one of the most important Bible truths that should deeply affect how we behave is the return of Jesus Christ to this world.
Time and time again Jesus told us that we believers will have to answer to Him for the way we have lived as His followers on this earth. If we truly believe that Jesus is coming back and we will be held accountable for our behaviour as Christians, it will affect what we do, say and think.
I know that this truth definitely has an effect on my attitudes and behaviour. Knowing that when Jesus returns I am going to answer to Him for the way I have lived as a believer. It is this thought that causes me to make sure there is nothing coming between me and God or a fellow believer.
John says in 2:28 that when Jesus comes back there will Christians who will shrink back in shame in His presence because of their unloving, unrighteous behaviour, but there will be those who will feel confident to face Him because as far as they know they faithfully sought to do his will. This is not a popular belief among many Christians, but it is very clear in the teaching of Jesus and in the NT letters.
So this morning we will look at the future promise and the presence practice.
THE FUTURE PROMISE v1-3
300 times the NT tells us that Jesus will return to this planet. You can get the message clearer than that.
We know how He will come – publicly so that everyone will see Him. We know where He will come – to the Mount of Olives at Jerusalem.
When He comes back every true believer will gather to meet Him in the sky as He descends to the Mount of Olives.
Ill. Someone said to me, “Do you think you will ever visit the Holy Land.” I said, “Yes, when Jesus returns and I will fly to the Holy Land it won’t be by aeroplane.”
Some Christians have the idea from 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 that we believers will rise to meet the Lord when He returns and then go off to heaven to be with Him forever, but it doesn’t actually say that. It speaks more of a welcoming party where we rise to meet the Lord as He returns to earth. And this lines up with the other scriptures that speak of the Lord’s return both in the Old and New Testament.
But I don’t want to get in to all the technicalities of how it’s all going to happen. These details are not that important to our daily life as Christians. What is important is that Jesus is coming back and that should have a significant effect on how we live now.
The real danger is to get so engrossed in working out all the little details of the second coming that we fail to deal with what is really important here and now and that is our relationship with God and its outworking in our daily lives. Whenever Jesus spoke about His return to earth he always stressed the importance of living in a state of readiness, which is seeking to do what God wants us to do.
Ill. Years ago I knew a man who spent hours studying the details of end time prophecy and he used to give lectures on the subject, but it can’t have much effect on his life because he got into an adulterous relationship with a younger woman and walked out on his family. Which makes you wonder if he really believed that Jesus was really coming back at all.
Now when Jesus returns, something amazing is going to happen to those who belong to Christ. We are going to be physically and spiritually transformed and when that happens, everyone will know who are the real children of God.
God loves us believers so much that he looks upon us as His very own children and the truth is that we are His children through faith in Jesus. Think of all the implications of that. As I said the other week, “None of the false religions or cults call God ‘Father’, but we do because He has adopted us as His Sons and daughters.
The nearest thing to the Love of God is the love of a parent for their child. As a parent we want the very best for our children and if it came to the crunch most of us parents would give our lives for our children if we had to. I know that my love for my children is unconditional, which means there is nothing they could do or not do that would stop me loving them.
God who far more perfect than any human parent, loves us far, far more than we could ever imagine.
Ill. I remember walking down the street in Rotorua and I was thinking about my son and how much I love him. I said to the Lord, “Father, if you loved me half as much as I love my son, that would be enough for me.” And in a flash a voice spoke into my mind and said, “I love you far more than you could ever love your son.”
A present the people around us don’t recognise that we are God’s children because physically we don’t look any different from them. Even us Christians can’t tell who are the true followers of Jesus are just by looking at them walking the down the street.
But it is wonderful when we meet someone and guess they are Christians by the way they relate to us and others. I often ask people who are exceptionally kind, caring and respectful, “Are you a believer?” In most cases I have guessed it right.
Sometimes I get it wrong. But physically they look no different from an unbeliever.
However when Jesus comes back the difference will be obvious. Our bodies will be transformed and we shall be exactly like Jesus as He is now.
1 Cor 15:42 tells us that our bodies will be eternal bodies that can never die, they will be radiant with the glory of God as Jesus body was on the Mt of transfiguration, they will be powerful bodies that can fly and appear and disappear, spiritual bodies that are not limited to time and space or the physical world. And what is even more wonderful is that our characters will be just like Jesus. Perfect in love, goodness and righteousness.
Now here comes the rub. John says if we truly believe that Jesus is coming back it will profoundly affect the way we live. We will do everything we can to keep our lives uncontaminated and free from sin and we will sincerely seek to do what God wants us to do.
Ill. Lord Shaftesbury was a Christian member of Parliament in Britain in the 1800s. He worked tirelessly to bring about social reforms that improved the lives of the poor and disadvantaged people of Britain. He was responsible for getting rid of child labour, getting women and children out of the coal mines, providing better conditions for factory workers, and better care for those with mental illness. At the top of his official letterheads were the words, “Even so come Lord Jesus.” The thought of Jesus return powerfully impacted his work.
THE PRESENT PRACTICE v4-10.
Now we know we are not saved by doing good works and living a good life, but the fact is that if we genuinely belong to Jesus the proof will be seen in the way we live.
John says here that it is contradiction for a genuine believer to go on doing what they know is wrong and offensive to God. In fact it is proof that they are not really God’s children at all.
This is quite a sobering thought because many people who claim to be followers of Jesus show by their behaviour that they are not really true believers at all.
Remember the words of Jesus, “By their fruit, you will know them for Not all who call me Lord will enter the Kingdom, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven,”
Some Christians will say, “But aren’t we saved by the grace of God and not by our good works?” That is true, but the proof that we are saved by the grace of God is that we don’t deliberately go on doing what is wrong but sincerely seek to do what is right.”
John says Here Jesus came to take away sins. He didn’t come just to forgive us for our sins – He came to remove sin from our lives. Why? Because He wants to live in our lives by His Spirit and the Spirit of Christ and sin cannot live together. Paul says “What has light to do with darkness.”
So if we continue to deliberately and knowingly go on sinning after we come to Christ, we are expecting Jesus to live alongside sin in our lives and He won’t do that.
In verse 4-10 whenever the word sin is used it is in the continuous present tense in the Greek which means to deliberately, knowingly and continually go on sinning.
He is not talking about the occasional times when we blow it and slip up. In fact when John speaks about sin in chapter 2:1 and says, ‘If we do sin we have One who pleads our cause with the Father”, here he uses a different tense – aorist which means a single act, the occasional slip up.
But in chapter 3:4-10 He is talking about a person who knows they are doing wrong and yet just goes on doing it, ignoring their conscience and the Holy Spirit.
Do you remember when Jesus spoke about the unforgiveable sin? Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Look at it in its context. God’s Spirit was speaking to the religious leaders through the words and miracles of Jesus, but they not only continued to reject the truth that God’s Spirit was speaking into their conscience, they went as far as to say that what the Spirit of God was doing was actually the work of Satan.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the unforgiveable sin, is when people continue to harden their heart to what the Holy Spirit is doing and speaking to their conscience to the point that they end up insulting Him.
Now this may sound pretty heavy stuff, but because I know that one day I will answer to God for what I have preached, I have to be faithful to Him and His word and share with you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And if you feel uncomfortable about some of this teaching then it may well be that God’s Spirit is speaking to you and wants you to do something about it. Please don’t be like the religious leaders and harden your hearts.
John goes on to say that those who go on and on sinning show that they really belong to the Devil, because he has been sinning from the very beginning, it’s his nature to sin. And you can tell the children of the Devil because they have the same nature. They behave like their father. They are rebellious, immoral, proud, deceitful, defiant. They refuse to accept God’s leadership and authority.
Ill. I remember a guy telling me that he never met his father until he was in his late twenties. His father was an alcoholic who walked out on his mother when he was just a baby. When he got older he decided he wanted to contact his father and get to know him. He found out where he lived and arranged to meet him. He told that as he sat in the lounge looking at and listen to his father, all he could see and hear was himself. He said that although he had never lived with his father his mannerisms, the way he talked, etc. was a reflection of himself. He said, “There is no doubt I am his son.”
Ill. My son was saying to me just the other day, “Dad I am so like you. I find myself relating to my children the way you used to relate to me.” The hardest thing is when you see some of your faults and failings in your children.
The children of the Devil behave just like him. But Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil. In other words Jesus came to destroy everything that Satan has done in your life. The godless, rebellious, deceitful, proud, sinful characteristics that you have inherited from the Devil. Jesus came to destroy them. To destroy that nature that led you into sin and kept you in sin all those years.
V9 Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life, God’s seed, God’s nature, God’s genes are in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.
The Bible tells us that you and I have died with Christ to that old way of life and we have been born again into a new family with a new Father and we have been given His nature – the nature of God Himself. Partakers of the Divine nature. That nature hates sin. It hates what is godless, evil, deceitful, unloving, unjust, proud and rebellious It hates that stuff.
Ill. Mel Trotter lived in Chicago in the early 1900s. He was an alcoholic who spent every cent he could get his hands on to buy alcohol, he even allowed his baby daughter to die of malnutrition rather than part with money to feed her. He use to sneak into funeral parlours, take the clothes off corpses and sell them to buy drink. In desperation he gave his life to Jesus and was totally transformed. It was as if he had been given a totally new nature. Mel discovered the desire for his old ways and habits disappeared and he wanted only to live for Christ and do what was loving, honest, good and right. Mel went on to become one of the greatest preachers in the city of Chicago and established a very effective ministry among alcoholics and those enslaved to all kinds of evil and addictive practices.
So John finishes this section by saying, “We don’t know who are God’s children by their physical appearance, but we do know who they are by their behaviour.” God’s children can be recognised by the way they behave. They will reflect the nature of their Father – They will do what is right, they will do all they can to keep right with God and right with others and they will love their fellow believers.
Ill. I have shared this story with you before but it’s worth repeating. Charles Swindoll tells the story of the owner of a company who had to do an extended trip overseas. Before he left he gathered his employees together and gave them instructions for how he wanted the business managed while he was away. He told them that he would keep in regular contact by E-mail giving ongoing instructions.
Everyone agreed to co-operate. After two years the owner returned to the company to find things were not going too well. There was dissension among the managers and some were not on speaking terms. Instead of finding his employees working at their posts he found them playing cards, sleeping, gossiping and generally slacking around. Instead of making a profit, the business has suffered a great loss. Very disturbed he called all the employees together and asked, “What happened? Didn’t you get my E-mails?”
‘Yes we did,” they replied, “We printed them out and put them all in a File so that everyone could read them. Some of us have memorized them. In fact, we held weekly meetings where the manager gave a lecture based on your E-mails. There is some really good stuff in those E-mails.” “But what did you do with my instructions?” asked the owner. “Do? Well, nothing. But we read every one!”
There are three great factors that should motivate a Christian’s behaviour.
- God’s love for us
- Our love for Him and
- The return of Jesus to this earth.
Do you really know that God loves you? Simply look at what He sacrificed to free you from the power of sin and death.
Do you really love God? The proof of that will be that you obey Him and do what pleases Him.
Do you really believe Jesus is coming back to this earth? If you do you will be conscientiously seeking to do what God wants and ensuring your life is right with God and right with others.