Love Letters: God is Right I
Pastor Terry Inman
1 John 2:15-3:10 (NIV)
A couple weeks ago we opened a new study of the letters of John. Love Letters is a good title. John, the disciple Jesus loved, writes to his children like a loving Father.
As I mentioned this first edition (1 John) can be broken down in to three themes, God is Light, God is Right (righteous) and God is Love.
John has been talking about what it really means to walk in the light. Living in the light is obeying his commands and loving one another. It not a way of thinking it’s a way of living.
Last week he assured the young in faith of their forgiveness and their place in the family. He affirmed those growing in faith (the young men) for overcoming the enemy. Then he commended the Fathers, for their faithfulness and challenged them to keep nurturing the faith of others.
The rest of chapter 2 and half way thru chapter 3 John moves from the God is Light theme to God is Right. This section of the letter hinges on this key verse in 1John 2.29 “If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.”
God is Light so we are to live in the Light. God is Right so we are to do right! So lets begin where we left off in 1 John 2.15. John begins with some dos and don’ts. Don’t love the world and do love the Father.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (NIV)
Here the world (kosmos) is the evil system under the grip of the devil. 1John 5.19 says, “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”
A triad of evils defines this underworld. The New King James Version describes it as the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” Some suggest these are the same temptations Jesus overcame.
The message translation says it this way. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. 1 John 2:16 (MSG)
I would call this self-interest, self-indulgence and self-importance!
The love of the world versus the love of the Father is another challenging “test” of living in the light by doing what is right.
There are two reasons to live apart from the world system and its values.
First, love for the world precludes love for God. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” You can’t have it both ways.
Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Matt. 6:24) Self-interest, self indulgence and self-importance leaves no room in our hearts for God.
James the brother of Jesus didn’t hold back his thoughts on this ether. “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. James 4:4 (NIV)
The other reason we need to reject the egocentric values of the world is because it’s temporal. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:17 (NIV)
John is not suggesting we drop out of the world. God made the natural world its people and its beauty. He also brought us into the world. God wants us to enjoy his world. It’s is Satan’s corrupted world system that we need to checkout of.
Jesus prayed for his disciples. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. John 17:14,15 (NIV)
John has been addressing these false teachers that had abandoned the faith for their own self-serving beliefs. In the next ten verses he labels them Antichrists.
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. 1 John 2:18-19 (NIV)
John lived like we all should, in expectation of Christ’s return. He said that false teachers: antichrists and people abandoning the faith and the fellowship were indicators of the last hour.
Paul warned Timothy of the same thing. “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” 1Tim. 4:1(NIV)
John exposes the methods of these antichrists: they lie and deny Jesus as Christ but he says God’s children have an anointing for truth.
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 1 John 2:20-21(NIV)
These false teachers had some kind of mystical “anointing” ceremony that made them enlightened teachers. One of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit is to teach and lead us into the truth. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. John 16:13 (NIV). We are we are anointed with the truth by the Holy Spirit, not by men.
Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:22-23 (NIV)
The anointing of the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to distinguish truth from error. In chapter 4 John says…
This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. 1 John 4:2
According to John the best way to refute error is to stay committed to the truth. Living in the truth comes with a reward.
See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—even eternal life. I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 1 John 2:24-26 (NIV)
It is the anointing, the indwelling presence of the Spirit of Truth in our lives that gives us staying power. The word, “remain” means to abide. When his word abides in us it is active and alive. He abides in us!
As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. 1 John 2:27 (NIV)
This doesn’t mean we don’t need teachers. Teaching is a gift of the Spirit. It simply means that the spirit of truth in each of us confirms the truth. John wraps this thought by encouraging us to stay faithful to the truth.
And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 1 John 2:28 (NIV)
Now this brings us back to the primary theme of this section. Doing what is right is evidence that we are truly in Jesus. If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. 1 John 2:29 (NIV)
It is relationship with Jesus and not religious rules and regulations that motivate us to do right. John says…
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1(NIV)
John wants us to know that approval by the world is to be feared, not desired. To be loved by God is far more important than being loved by the world. We are born of Him, we are his family and we will bear his image.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:2-3 (NIV)
The hope that we are becoming like Jesus inspires us to avoid sin. Because he is right we want to do right.
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 1 John 3:4-6 (NIV)
Again these Antichrist false teachers thought they could know God and do as they pleased. But John makes it clear Jesus freed us from sin and expects us to flee from sin. God is right so we do right.
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 1 John 3:7-8 (NIV)
Jesus death on the cross for us has foiled Satan’s scheme to destroy us with sin. We have re-born. We are not perfect, we are not sinless but we are not living in sin if we are living in Jesus.
John wraps it up this way. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:9-10 (NIV)
God is right, He made us right in Jesus Christ. We are His children and though Christ we will live right and we will do right!