You Look Like Your Dad! (I John 3:1-12)
November 27, 2016, 3:27 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

I John is written to cast God’s spotlight on a form of false teaching, Gnosticism, that existed among the believers of the early church. Since there had never been “Christians” before Christ built the church, believers faced the enticement of false teachers which would damage the these “little children”. God, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, instructed these believers to two practical moral tests to validate their reality of their faith.
The verse that unlocks the two moral tests in I John 3:10, “in this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”
The first test is: “True Christians practice righteous living” and the second is “True Christians loves other Christians”. In John 3, the first ten verses focus on the right living and verses 11 and 12 start the section about loving other Christians.
The Gnostics claimed man is divided into a “dualism”: the material and the spirit. While that is true, the problem with the Gnostics was their position that the material (body) is evil and no one can change that, so we should just fulfill its lusts. But the spirit is totally detached from the body, so it suffers no consequences of sin. So here is what Gnosticism taught- a person could sin all he wanted without it ever affecting him.
John, again led by the Holy Spirit, said that true Christianity and sin are incompatible. A true Christian, one who has a relationship with God has the indwelling Holy Spirit who gives them the desire to avoid sin and the new nature which enables them to live in the right relationship with God and with other believers. Since we are Christ-like ones, we behave like God’s sons and daughters.
In this passage are two controversial statements that are difficult to understand. In verse 6 the assertion is made that if we live in Christ, we don’t sin. In verse 9, we read that whoever is born of God doesn’t commit sin. In simple, common language, verse 6 tells us sin is incompatible for a Christian and verse 9 tells us that it is impossible to be a Christian who sins.
What is a good understanding of these two concepts? I think the best understanding is that the “sin” here is habitual sin. In this passage, John is talking about practicing sin as a way of life. Verse 6 literally translates, “whoever abides in him does not continually, habitually practice sin” while verse 9 translates as “whoever is born of God doesn’t continually, habitually practice sin.”
As a Christian, we sometimes sin, and sometimes it is deliberate. However, unlike the lost, true Christians will respond (eventually) with grief and repentance over their sin. Sometimes, the lost will show grief and remorse over the consequences of sin. Let me insert this important concept into this examination of the passage. What about the good and righteous actions of the unsaved? Isaiah 64:6 tells us that those are as “filthy rags” in God’s sight. But what John teaches us in I John 3:1-10 is that true Christians don’t live lives of habitual sin.
In verses 4 to 10, John teaches us that true followers of Christ can’t habitually practice sin because it is incompatible with the law of God, the work of Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
In verse 4, the correct understanding is that the person who is continually doing actions that break God’s standards because they live as if there were no law of God. “Transgresseth” is the Greek word “anomia” which means “without law” or “lawlessness”. While the Bible gives many definitions for the word “sin” perhaps we find the best one in verse 4. Sin is to live without law. To live with law is to live as if God doesn’t exist. A Christian, in a relationship with God, could never habitually practice sin as if God doesn’t exist would be violating the very nature of His relationship with God. To sin is open rebellion against God. The continually sin is declared war against God. In our relationship with God, He enables us to have the capability to obey and do what is right in God’s sight. Paul writes in Romans 7:22 that he delighted in the law of God, but struggled at times to obey and do it. He saw himself as a “wretched man” because of his failure to obey God’s law because he loved the law. Romans 7 is Paul trying to fulfill the law on his own but in Romans 8, we see God the Holy Spirit fulfilling the law through me. As a Christian, that’s how we are to live. True believers follow God and false believers stand out because they habitually practice sin.
A second reason that believers don’t practice sin is because it is incompatible with the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to take away sin. When we are in Him, there is no sin. To continue in sins would make the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus pointless. I love the part of the verse, that says “to take away our sins” because it means “to remove by lifting”. Same word as in John 1:29 which talked about the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. Jesus took our sins off us and took them on Himself on the cross.

Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world.” How did Jesus do that? When He died on the cross, He bore our sins in His body. He lifted them off us and took them on Himself. The minute we are saved, sin’s dominant power in our lives was broken. We no longer sin because it is our nature, but sin because we choose to. But if we sin habitually, that is proof we have never received salvation based on Christ. We are servants to the one that we yield ourselves to.
The final thing is that sin in a believer’s life is incompatible with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We become “new creatures” with the Holy Spirit within us. We are partakers of the divine nature. We are new creations, in Christ Jesus. Sin no longer controls us. We start looking like our Father.
In I John 3, verse 11 we are told that since we are new creatures, no longer control by sin, we are free to love one another. The freedom to love as Christ loved is the result of the Holy Spirit’s control in our lives.
A common thing is to tell parents of a newborn is that he or she looks just like them. As the child gets older, appearance and conduct reminds people of a parent. Who do you remind people of?


What Am I Worth To God?
November 23, 2016, 12:34 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Galatians 2:20- “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
If you place a $20 bill in a cashier’s hand, who determines the value of the currency- you or the cashier? Of course the answer is neither because the value was determined before by an authority.
My value and your value has also been determined before by an authority- God. So what are we worth to Him? Take a look at Jesus on the cross- that’s our value! He gave Himself for me!

Jesus’ Story of Choice
November 22, 2016, 4:20 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Jesus, my strength when I am weaks
In Luke 15, Jesus tells three stories for the Pharisees’ benefit. In each, He stresses the joy that comes from finding something lost. But the story involving two sons is especially convicting for the Pharisees because they are in the story. This tory of the prodigal son is perhaps the greatest story ever told by Jesus. In the story, Jesus paints a picture of the absolute worst sinner imagined, the son who repeatedly violates important Bible laws and seems to get worse with each rebellious choice. In the mind of His audience (the Pharisees) there could be no greater sinner than this rebellious son. So many times our focus turns to the son and we rejoice that he makes the decision to repent and come back to the father. Some even try to make the cold-hearted, legalistic older son the hero, praising him for his faithfulness and resolve to stick to doing the right things.
But if you read the story, the true hero, the great champion is the dad. In spite of great sin, he loves the rebellious son with mercy and GRACE that is unknown to the Pharisees. All they understood was harsh judgment to the offending person. The ideal of unlimited grace and unconditional love shows our Heavenly Father and how He dealt and deals with us. Running to his son wasn’t just the joy of a happy father, by the protection of that father for a son who should be stoned by the elders. Using his own robe to clothe the son pictures us receiving the righteousness of Christ as our own. The ring was given to show authority and the shoes set the son apart from what he was willing to be, a servant. Restored and forgiven were concepts not understood by the old brother, whose response reveal a bitterness, a hatred, and the lack of a relationship with both the younger son, but sadly also the father.
So when we read the story- focus on the father! He’s the hero of grace and love! But if you’re a prodigal, running away because of your self-centered choices, while the father’s grace and love are always there, you don’t experience them until you repent and return to him. Can you see the choices each person made. The younger son to return and repent, the older son to separate and reject, and the father to love and show grace. It’s your choice and choices always have consequences. Make the right choice! Choose Him.

Overwhelmed by Idols
November 20, 2016, 5:47 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

A question that skeptics ask is “Can God create a rock that He can’t carry?” In Isaiah 46:1 God tells us that Bel and Nebo, two created idols of the Babylonians that were worshiped by the Jews, were loaded on carriages and caused them to bow under the pressure. But according to Isaiah 46:2, “they stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, BUT themselves are gone into captivity.” These created idols were unable to bear burdens but were a load carried away by the people.
Contrast that statement with verses 3 and 4 “. . . are borne by me from the belly . . .” and ” . . . will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver (SAVE) you.”
Here’s what I learn from this passage: God carries me and He even carries me when I am carrying a ridiculous and worthless idol of my own making. An idol is something that I have created to try to fix my life on my terms. It is the answer we give when we say “My life would change if I only had __”. The reality is that my life doesn’t change with anything other than God being in control. My self-created idol is worthless and I have to end up carrying it. Before long, it overwhelms me because each time I count on it, it fails and my stress and pressure grows until I break under the weight and stress. The great news is that God carries me and nothing overwhelms Him. Not even my self made idols!
Today, surrender to Him and let Him be the answer to “my life would change if I only had GOD! He is my burden-bearer!