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Rodney Stratton

GOD
IS IN NATURE,
LOVE IT!

"Claritas est etiam processus dynamicus, qui sequitur mutationem consuetudium lectorum. Claritas est etiam processus dynamicus, qui sequitur mutationem consuetudium lectorum."
Robert H. Schuller

WE ALL
KNOW THAT A CHURCH
IS NOT A BUILDING.

"Claritas est etiam processus dynamicus, qui sequitur mutationem consuetudium lectorum. Claritas est etiam processus dynamicus, qui sequitur mutationem consuetudium lectorum."
Thomas Paine

MY
MIND IS MY
OWN CHURCH.

"Claritas est etiam processus dynamicus, qui sequitur mutationem consuetudium lectorum. Claritas est etiam processus dynamicus, qui sequitur mutationem consuetudium lectorum."

1 JOHN – SERIES : NR 9
Scripture: 1 John 3: 4 – 10
Theme: Sin and justice!

Anyone who has been in conversation with people who are not yet true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, would have noticed the peculiarity that they sometimes confess to believe everything Christians are supposed to believe AND YET they believe – at the same time – things also which are in contradiction with the Word of God.

That makes one wonder.

The person would for example say something such as that Jesus is certainly the unique Son of God (which is true), but then he/she would add that all people are also sons of God – just like Jesus (which is a falsehood).

One hears this confusion more and more these days – because post-modernism with its false notion that truth is merely relative – has embedded its claws deep into our present culture. You can believe irreconcilable things, completely contradictory things, and it is acceptable. It just depends on how each individual looks at it and what feels right to him/her.

It is however significant that the Apostle John precisely do NOT speak this way. Look carefully at his letter. His purpose is though, to differentiate and separate truth and falsehood. In the entire Bible and with John the apostle, the truth is ABSOLUTE – and certainly not relative. And the true church of Christ shall repeat after and imitate the Scriptures.

Just look at this reading passage. There is nothing in it that says that the truth can be interpreted SUCH and SUCH. The Apostle SAY what the absolute truth is, and with that, the matter is settled.

In the previous verse (which we studied last week) the Apostle said that Christ Jesus will come again and that all true Christians expect His appearance and that the expectation leads to the believers purifying themselves as He is pure. They deal earnestly with sin in their lives and are serious with the way to sanctification – their will to get sin purged from their lives with all their might.

And now – in verses 4-10 – he connects to what he has said there in verse 3: the question of PURIFICATION. Sin still plays a role in the life of the saved/recreated person. And on the way to the second coming and final end, the true Christian experience many spiritual struggles and sometimes conflict to see the sin uprooted. A struggle to LIVE out of the new heart that has already been received. I HAVE ALREADY received a new heart – and now I STRIVE to live from out of that new heart in the reality of every day – and sometimes it is tough. Sometimes it seems as if I have not yet become a child of the Lord at all. Sometimes it feels as if I belong to satan. Sometimes I feel as if I do not know WHERE I belong.

In verses 4-10 the apostle comes and shows the church what the key is to correctly understand this struggle of sanctification. He compares children of the devil with children of the true God. There are only two kinds of life possible: EITHER you live under the reign/tyranny of sin and devil OR you live under the dominion of Christ.

Before we look at each verse individually, here is a summary of the Apostle’s message:

No 1: Sin is a fact and it is very serious. No 2: Jesus removes the sin and He sanctifies. No 3: The bond with either Christ OR the devil determines whether someone is living under the dominion of God or the reign of sin and satan. No 4: Protection/safeguarding from sin and devil is only found IN CHRIST. The bond with Him is decisive. There is nothing of own merit. The focus is upon the Lord Jesus and not on the Christian.

And of course: The Gnostics – Cerinthius and his mates – wanted to alienate the churches from these essential truths mentioned. That is one of the reasons why John is spelling everything out so painfully accurately.

Come, let us start with verse 4 (read it again):

Yes, true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ can still sin against God’s law/will/being. And sin is lawlessness. Sin means to break God’s will, to disobey His commandment.

The life of a reborn person is not free from lawlessness and when a Christian believer does it, it is the same as when an unsaved person does it. It is and remains lawless. The breaking of the will of the holy God. Can one imagine how serious that is?

Examples are legion:
Is joy the will of God, I want to just worry and complain. Is gratitude the will of God, then I want to be rebellious. Is it God’s will that all people are reached with the Gospel, I want to just stay at home and relax. Is idolatry against the will of God, then I fantasize about the god of my imagination. Is adultery against God’s will, then I desire lust. Are the gatherings of the church God’s will, then I do my own thing. Is murder against God’s will, then I consider enmity against people. Is steeling against God’s will, then I consider excuses why I have not yet returned this-and-that which I have borrowed. And so forth…Sin is lawlessness.

And lawlessness is always punishable. Because sinning is the breaking of the eternal will of God, the punishment also is death that never ends. That is all which is appropriate.

It is only when these facts penetrate your consciousness, that you start to long for salvation. In some way one must be delivered from this monster of lawlessness, otherwise, the curtain will go down for you.

Admittedly, the child of God is fully aware that he/she does not live under the tyranny of sin and that he will not go to hell and not die an eternal death. There is no longer the reign of sin. But sin does pop up. And that grieves the Holy Spirit. And because the Christian has received God’s own life into his soul, it is an unbearable situation. It does not work! The Christian who disobeys God’s law feels as if he/she can run away.
Hence the struggle for sanctification.

Is sanctification a limited struggle? Indeed, not! Look at verse 5…

Verse 5 (read it again)

The Christian knows with absolute assurance that there was no sin in Jesus Christ and that He – the sinless – came to the earth to take away the sins. No, sin in the life of a Christian is not regarded as trifling, but the saving power of God in Christ is much greater! And the Christian KNOWS that, says the Apostle.

It is only here and also in John 1:29 where TAKE AWAY of the sins is mentioned. With that is meant that Jesus has broken the POWER of sin – to stop the propulsion of it in the life of the newly created person. Yes, the hold it has on the believer is destroyed. It is truly powerful and great!

That is why sins are spoken of in plural – in other words, the real personal individual acts of lawlessness that cast the believer into despair and make him feel like a prisoner. Of this power, the believer is delivered and saved when the believer’s eyes are opened that a living connection with this Saviour brings about true salvation from the power of sin. Consequently, the Christian concentrates on that connection and no longer on the sins or any own effort to conquer. Verse 6 says it very clearly…

Verse 6 (read it again):

Concentrate on the connection with Christ and something wonderful happens: The continuous fall-in-sin – like a pig that rolls in the mud – is stopped. And you know that it is not a power within yourself. It comes from a supernatural source!

A person who does not truly know the Lord, who does not have that connection, continues and continues with sinning. They do not even know that they are living in continuous lawlessness.

Take note: He is NOT saying: “Someone who lives in Him, do not sin any longer”. He is saying: “No one who remains in Him, keeps on sinning”. That is exactly the way it is written in Greek. The person who is in Christ can sin, and indeed do so, but the sin is no longer a lifestyle. It is no longer a pattern. It does not have authority any longer. Someone with whom it is a lifestyle, do not know the Lord, says the Holy Spirit.

What verse 6 is saying is that a connection with Christ (on the one hand) and a lifestyle of sinning (on the other hand) is irreconcilable. Or to say it better: A relationship with Christ (on the one hand) and sin (on the other hand) is irreconcilable.

That is why, WHEN the Christian believer does sin, it brings about so much struggle and stress. With the result that the person cast themselves all the more upon Christ in absolute trust – knowing that only HE can break the power of sin. It is a process that never ends. Therefore the Apostle’s continuous appeal: REMAIN IN HIM! In other words: Focus on the connection with Christ. And do not be led astray (by the Gnostics)! Christ is RIGHTEOUS and the person who pursues a connection with Him shall also be RIGHTEOUS in life. That is verse 7…

Verse 7 (read it again):

What is meant here with Christ Jesus being RIGHTEOUS, means that He is living fully in keeping with the will of the Father. Exactly the opposite of what sin is per definition = lawless. As verse 5 said: In Him is no sin.

What verse 7 therefore teaches, is that the faith connection with Christ has a very powerful effect on the believer, namely that such a person also starts to live RIGHT. That means to display the same character in life which Christ has = life in agreement with the will of the Father. It becomes a passion, a thirst, a hunger, and nothing can remove it from your heart: You WILL live in agreement with the will of the Father. And that is a clear indication that the connection with Christ is a reality in your life and that it has a powerful effect on you. And that does not come out of man at all, but entirely from Him!

We now move on to verse 8 (read it again):

Observe how the Apostle repeats in verses 8-10 the thought process of verses 4-7.

Here is the thought process again:

No 1: Sin is a fact and it is very serious – ALSO in the life of a Christian. No 2: Jesus takes away the sin and He purifies. No 3: The connection with either Christ OR the devil determines whether someone is living under the dominion of God or the dominion of sin and satan. No 4: Protection against sin and devil is found only IN CHRIST. The connection with Him is decisive. There is nothing of own merit. The focus is on the Lord Jesus and not on the Christian.

In verse 8 he again starts with the sin. But not what it is (lawlessness) but what the origin of it is, namely: it is from the devil. Meaning: it is through satan’s corrupting influence that man fell into lawlessness in the first place. The satan does not carry the blame for it. The blame belongs to man, but the devil exerted the influence. Incidentally, that is what is meant with unsaved people “belongs to the devil”. It does not mean that they are born of the devil, as the saved are born of God. No, it means that the unsaved are living under his influence and are doing his will (Eph 2:2).

What verse 8 teaches is therefore the following: The origin of sin is because of the encouragement of satan and whoever are not yet Christ-believers, are constantly under the influence of satan. Because that is exactly what Satan has been doing from the beginning and continues to do: disobey God’s law and will.

But there is good news, says verse 8 furthermore, the SON OF GOD came to the earth with the specific purpose to destroy the devil’s work. To crush his head, as Gen 3:15 foretold. It is a reality, not only a possibility.

The power of Satan has been broken and destroyed. It only exists in people who believe in him and do not desire a connection with Christ. But where the Christian lives in a connection with Christ, something wonderful emerges: the devil’s power is destroyed. It is IN THE CONNECTION WITH CHRIST that it is experienced.

And add to that: The indwelling Holy Spirit and born of God. Those three things: The connection with Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit and born of God. Within THAT atmosphere, the devil has no power. Throw those three realities in the devil’s face, and see if he still keeps on attacking you.

Look at verse 9 (read it again):

What does the word BECAUSE tell you? It indicates a REASON. The REASON why a child of God does not keep on and on and on to live with sin is that the Holy Spirit dwells and remains in him/her. And BECAUSE he/she is born of God (reborn).

It says there that GOD’S SEED REMAINS in the child of God. God’s seed? What a strange expression!

It means literally that if God had brought about a change of lifestyle in you (rebirth), He continues to work in you (continuation of the new life = seed). There is a constant, life-giving activity going on inside of you. God’s power to grow is inside of you and continues to work.

Now we can understand why some translations say that “the Holy Spirit” dwells in the child of God and THAT is the reason why the person cannot continue in sin. Because WHO is the Person that keeps the life-giving activity going in the Christian person? The Holy Spirit of course.

There are therefore THREE formidable reasons why the Christian does not live under satan’s influence and no longer can and shall continue in a lifestyle of sin:
1>The connection with Christ 2> The seed of God/Holy Spirit that never stops working 3> Born of God.

THAT distinguishes the child of God from the person who is “child of the devil” > who plods along under his influence.

Verse 10 clearly says:

READ VERSE 10 AGAIN>

In everyday life, a child of God and a child of the devil can be recognized.

Where there is not a passion to live a holy life and where there is not a special love for Christians (brothers) – such a person does not belong to God, says the Apostle. There is a specific driving force that is characteristic of someone whom God recreated and in whom the Holy Spirit came to dwell. And it is visible to the outside.

Someone with whom there is no visible testimony of the new life and a connection with Christ does not have the right to claim that he/she is a Christian.

The flipside of the coin is just as true: The excitement and joy when one can indeed observe the fruit of the new life and when other people also can testify that they have seen it in you. That is a great encouragement to be more serious about your walk with God.

Translated by Marthie Wilson

Category 1 John

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