1 John 2:3-11 | Abide in Me - Abide in Obedience
Topic: New Testament Passage: 1 John 2:3–11
Christopher Rich – July 2, 2017
1 John | ABIDE in ME
Wk 3: Abide in Obedience| 1 John 2:3-11
Introduction | Basics
Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road Church where we are Saved by Jesus Work. Changed by Jesus Grace. Living on Jesus Mission. Today we continue our series in 1 John, ABIDE in ME. Are you a Christian? How do you know? When there is crisis in your life, where there is uncertainty, when there is doubt, when you are unsettled? What do you turn to? How do you go on grounded? As Christians we are to be rooted an grounded in the person and work of Jesus in our place. John in writing a letter to a newer church wants to drill deeply into the next generation of Christians the historic truths of the Gospel of Jesus fully God coming into human history as fully man for the purpose of restoring relationship between the God the Father, Creator of the Universe and His fallen creation marked by sin but living the perfect sinless life no one has lived because of sin, dying the death all who have sin deserve and rising again so His people can live new life now and forever. The purpose of this mission is complete joy and satisfaction for the people who place their faith and trust in Jesus alone. God’s character is also reaffirmed that God is light and there is no darkness in him. We have darkness because of sin but God is merciful and gracious to forgive us when we confess and are granted repentance. God knows we’re not perfect, but requires our humility. Those In Christ can be humble because we have the righteous perfect good Savior-King Jesus as our advocate before God the Father and can be confident that our sins our forgiven because Jesus has paid for them with His very life on the cross. We now live a new life as disciples of (followers of) Jesus. John does not want our lives to be continued to be marred by sin. The Gospel doesn’t lower the bar but it grants us freedom from being enslaved to sin. Our life is described by Jesus as Abiding in Him. We are to be reminded that to ABIDE means: To not depart, to be held and kept continually, to endure, to not perish, to remain as one, to survive, to live.
Yet we can know these rich, historic, and eternal truths but we can still have doubt and ambiguity on if this is really us. We can have tension where we How do I know I am a Christian?
PART I | ABIDE in Obedience | v3-6
3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
I know a lot about Chris Peterson the Husky Football coach. I followed his career from a distance in Boise State. I marveled at his winning, I even longed for him to be the Husky Coach a longtime before he got hired at UW. I imagined what it would be like for him lead my team. Then it happened. I was excited I had expectations for what this new life with Coach Pete would be like….. and it was ok but not great. I even had a moment when I got to meet him and talk with him at an airport, I pledged my allegiance and gave him my devotion as lord over my favorite football team. But, I do not KNOW Him. He doesn’t know me. He has his “Built for Life” coaching/life plan philosophy to train men to succeed in life and I don’t even know what is what it entails, I don’t follow it, I don’t tell/train others with it. After winning the Pac-12 last year, I’m an even bigger fan of Coach Pete but I am not a disciple of his or am known by him. I don’t Abide in him. I think that is like a lot of people’s experience and relationship with Jesus. Some of us know a lot about him either from a distance or more closely, we can tell others things about him. We might even be a fan of His work, the results he’s done for others, and have positive impressions of his philosophy and practices but at the end of the they day we don’t KNOW Him, we are not KNOWN by him. We know little of what He’s commanded us to do. We certainly don’t follow it. We’re just fans not disciples, yet we talk and believe we’re somehow on the same team with those we are actually playing for and submitting to the coach. John knows we need and want assurance and clarity of our position of abiding in Christ. We’re not given false hope or blanket affirmation that feels good to hear but is empty. He also doesn’t tell us to rely on some emotional feeling or charismatic experience. He gives us a positive assertion of what a Christian is before He calls us to examine our lives in light of a series self-reflecting reality checks.
We can know we “know” Jesus IF we are keeping His commandments. We will know we’re Christians not merely by what we believe (or claim) though John has just gone through an orthodox doctrinal statement, but by our obedience to Jesus. This is a big idea through out this text John uses the word “command” in some form 14 times! This requires a bit more clarification because to “keep” is not to simply know but to actively adhere to and engage with. We might think wrongly that means we are to live perfect lives after we “know” Jesus. This would condemn every professing Christian because anyone who has spent any length of time as a Christian or those who claim to be knows you, me, we do NOT perfectly keep His commandments. The test is not one of perfection in keeping but in orientation of desire and action.
He does not mean that those who wholly satisfy the Law keep His commandments (and no such instance can be found in the world), but those who strive, according to the capacity of human infirmity, to form their life in obedience to God. - John Calvin
No obedience to Jesus means not on the team. I’ve got a jersey, I cheer on the team, I tell others on the team but I don’t follow Jesus commandments. Last month read a story of Ricardo Agnant on Instagram who had a bunch of pictures of himself in a Miami Dolphins Jersey putting on pads, in different stances, stopping by the Maserati dealership, even singing his new contract #Blessed. He got into some controversy on social media and some NFL plays came to his defense. There was a problem, HE’S NOT ON THE TEAM. He said he was but he was a…liar. There is not truth in someone who professes Jesus but doesn’t follow or obey Jesus. The reason John can and does say he’s a liar because they are claiming a false Gospel that the Power the raised Jesus from the dead isn’t powerful enough to breath new life into people to empower them to follow, keep, obey the commands of Jesus to love God and love people. The love that saves us changes us that is why we say Saved by Jesus’ work. Change Jesus’ Grace. What are you claiming? How does that contrast with what you are doing? What part of you your life are you saying is Jesus’ but really it’s yours? Where are you putting in great effort to convince others you’re living as a Christian but is false?
Those who follow Jesus, will keep His word are miracles not because they are great or better than others but because they are expressing evidence of God’s Grace in their lives. God’s love is evident in them in that they are changing. God’s love is perfect and perfecting because it is a love that is corrective. It is a love that convicts of sin, comforts in the gospel, and it corrects us/reorients us towards greater obedience. Those who claim God loves them In Christ cannot then respond with expressing emotive sentimentality or pursuing hyper-spiritual experiences but in simple obedience. Whoever, says they live for Jesus, live because of Jesus, are “held and kept by Jesus, should actually “walk” the way Jesus walked meaning our way of life is one of gentle boldness, compassionate conviction, confident humility, as we are the branch he is the vine we will change. This isn’t a choice. God’s love isn’t affirming of sin it is empowering of obedience.
Part II |ABIDE in New/Old | v7-8
7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
Beloved – This transition starts with a reminder of identity. If you are a Christian you are “beloved.” By God and we know we are loved in this not that we have loved but that Christ has first loved us.
Love God and Love people they way God defines love has been the same from the beginning. John’s saying what God has prescribed as obedience has not changed since the beginning of history it has only been restated, renewed, reminded. He hasn’t set out a moving target or added something to the Gospel. As John has preached, written, discipled people in the Gospel for a few decades what he is about to tell them is not something they haven’t heard before but we are stubborn forgetful sheep and need reminders. So how can this not be new but at the same time be new? John is referencing back to Jesus’ teaching.
John 13:34 | A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
In part this is not a revolutionary concept. Love on another can be found explicitly and implicitly through out the Old Testament. What can also be seen is that humanity as a whole and individually is terrible at it. We fail all the time! The OT and Human history is a countless millennia long documentary of us not loving one another well. This is why Jesus entered the scene and why we say Jesus lived the perfect life in our place. Jesus perfect life wasn’t not only individual holiness (though it was) but active outward love, love that healed the sick, cast out demons, freeing people from spiritual bondage, forgiving sin and calling them to sin no more. It was a love that impacted and changed those around him. In love he went to the cross and died self-sacrificially. His love exemplary! Jesus can tell his disciple (us!!) we are to love one another as He has loved us. In Jesus, perfect life he has fulfilled the commands of God the Father. The commandment to love people has been perfect in Jesus thus it is perfectly true … in Him. So that means when our identity is In Christ it is true in us. So now we are to live our lives out of this new identity.
The reason Jesus (and John) can say it’s new commandment is because there is a new possibility attached to it. It’s new because now it’s possible! Before there was a period of darkness because of sin, effort individually and societally to actively love others was a continual downward spiral. Jesus entering history is a key transition point where darkness is still present (we can’t really debate that one, just pay attention to the news in the world for a few minutes an it’s clear darkness is still present) but light has now entered the room of our world. When you shine light into a room that is previously dark the darkness is over come. When the sun rises and light beams come over the horizon areas that were previously dark have light.
John 1:4-5 |4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
So there are still long deep shadows casting areas of darkness where it still seems like the darkness is winning. But we are not to despair, why? Because the darkness is passing away! That is good news! How is the darkness passing away? Because the true light of Jesus is already shining in the world. God’s answer for darkness in the world is Jesus. Light team is winning darkness is being overcome! It’s time to jump on board the bandwagon! As bright as the light of life for men and women found in Jesus shines into different areas of life and the world, in those places the darkness is overcome. This changes the way we view the world. Christians know we are now in this morning dawn period of light shining and darkness passing away and being overcome in Christ’s Light. This means we don’t throw our hands up at the darkness and sin in the world but we know if we are in Christ and Jesus is the light we are to shine now. This means we don’t have to wait until some future time of utopia or when we die and are perfected in glory but we are empowered and commissioned to live for the new king Jesus (not our old king, ourselves) the new kingdom of Heaven (not the old of the world) and we do so as people made new by the gospel! So we CAN now carry out His commandments. We don’t have to wait to love others! We have no excuses keeping us from loving others now but our own lack of repentance. What we believe is old, historic, and eternal. What we do is new. We are new, live like it! Where do we start? There is so much darkness to overcome, so many issues in the world to address! It’s overwhelming. John goes from very general to very specific. First things first, first steps of obedience first place to shine Jesus light into actually isn’t out there in the world but in the church and in your own heart towards others. THE first place of light overcoming darkness is not in some out there social justice campaign but is in your own heart toward your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Part III | ABIDE as Siblings | v9-11
9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
Abiding in Obedience is individual but it is also expressed in how you engage with your Gospel Community. Another test. Whoever says…. “I’m Abiding in the Light of God”….. But hates his brother is still in darkness. How do you feel and act towards others in the household of God? If you hate other Christians you are in darkness, walking in darkness. You’ve been blinded by darkness. This is comprehensive darkness! When I was a kid we went to Lewis and Clark Caverns where you go to a room with no natural light and complete darkness. The lights get turned off and you have no ability to navigate. It’s scary because you are blindly groping around trying to find you way not even knowing which way is which. You run in to other people begin to cause each other pain. You begin to suffer more because you’re in greater pain and isolated.
They are blind, so it doesn’t matter how bright the rest of the Gospel Community is. It doesn’t’ matter how much lighting being shined out in the world as the Gospel of Jesus is advancing. They can’t see it because they are blinded by hatred and bitterness in their heart towards Christians. If you are walking in continual darkness of anger and grumpiness towards others in the church you might want to consider what team you’re really on, and where you really are. "That guy is such a great example of a Christian and awesome ambassador of King Jesus, but man is he jerk!", said no one ever. If this is you, darkness isn’t environmental because you may be around a lot of light but you’re blind, the darkness is internal. You need a new heart, and new eyes to see. There is good news because Jesus is in the transplant and curing blindness business.
Jesus then places us with a new family with new siblings for our ongoing walk in light. So we ABIDE (endure, held, not depart) in our Gospel Community. We have light and give light in listening to and speaking into our Gospel Community, where light shines into your life and my life though the people of God who are the “Beloved”, whom we love and who love us. When we are all living out the command to Love in encouragement, admonishment, and equipping we are able to help us keep each other from stumbling because we can point each other to the true light that overcomes darkness when we Trust Jesus.