John Invites Christians to Live A Truly Godly Life
The primary issues addressed in 1 John are to combat the influence of false teaching concerning salvation through Christ and how that salvation works in the life of a believer. These false teachers denied that Jesus was the Messiah (5:1) and the Son of God (2:22), and even that He really came as an actual human being (4:2-3). Ethically they taught that obedience to Christs commands, overcoming worldly desires and avoiding evil, were not necessary for spiritual salvation. As long as they had the right beliefs, they felt that their physical actions (sexual promiscuity and other physical indulgences) did not affect them spiritually. Today many people still want to believe that Jesus Christ was just a good man and that it doesnt matter what they do in their everyday life as long as their good actions in some way outweigh the bad. Even those individuals who commit the worst of atrocities seem to find a way to justify their actions. How can we as humans know when we are deceiving ourselves or are being deceived? How can we know what is true and what is a lie? How can we know if we are truly saved?
To find hope for our own lives and for the world around us we must find what is true and then live by it. John is convinced that he has found the truth. Let us read 1 John 1:1-3. Because of what John knew he insisted that he had to proclaim it. Transformation occurred in Johns life because he walked with and was changed by the reality of Jesus. You too can experience that transformation.
What Actions Does John Encourage Us To Take?
1) Believe that Jesus is the Christ (1Jn 4:13-15, 5:1, 5)
If we want to know truth we need to walk with Jesus and be convinced that He is who He says He is. We have to open the door of our heart and mind and at least give Him a chance to reveal Himself to us in some way.
Once we know that He really is the Son of God, our Creator and the One who has authority over the universe, we must humble ourselves before Him and repent of our self-centered, selfish and rebellious life and commit to His way of living our lives.
Faith is the attitude in which a person abandons their own efforts to improve their life and obtain salvation. Instead they cast themselves on Gods mercy and rely on the finished work of Christ for salvation (1Jn 2:21-23, 4:2-3 and 5:10-12).
2) Refrain from a Life Pattern of Continual Sin
The false teachers seem to have believed that knowledge was all-important and that conduct was a minor matter. John speaks strongly about living godly lives. He insists that sin is evidence of wrong relationship with God. Only those who continue to live in a right relationship with God now have the power (through the Holy Spirit) not to sin.
1 John 1:5-10 Walking in the Light
Walking in darkness means to live outside of Gods truth and His standards. People who live this way do not have fellowship with God.
Walking in the light means we believe and accept Gods truth and with His help we commit our lives to earnestly pursuing to live His way everyday. We allow Him to continue (1:7) to refine, purify and mature us so that He can use us for His purposes.
1:8-10 speaks to us about claiming to be without sin. We have all offended God and defied His standards. That is why He sent His Son to die in our place and pay the penalty for our sin.
1 John 3:4-10 Sin is lawlessness
This means that sin is a deliberate act of asserting oneself against Gods revealed ways. It is a defiant violation of Gods moral law. Christians must commit themselves not to sin, but if they do sin they should confess it as lawlessness and abandon it.
vs5-7 Christ came and died to take away our habitual practice of selfishness and lawlessness. John insists that no one who truly lives in Christ keeps an attitude that any habitual sin in his or her life is okay.
vs8-10 shows us the diabolical nature of sin because it sets us in opposition to God. A constant indulgence in sin should be unnatural to children of God, because they have experienced a change of identity and nature.
That which keeps Christs followers from willfully and continually sinning is Gods seed (His life, Spirit and nature) in them.
We must understand that this does not mean we will live in continuous sinless perfection. What John has stated in 1:8-10 must be considered. If we say we are living without sin in our lives, even as a Christian, we are lying.
1 John 2:15-17 Loving the world is a form of spiritual adultery
This unfaithfulness defiles our relationship with God and leads to spiritual destruction.
It is impossible to love the worlds destructive system and God the Father at the same time.
To summarize this point, if we know and love Jesus, then we are to endeavor to strive to live and love as He did. Gods work of salvation is changing us in this way (Ro 6:11-18).
3) Love God and Our Christian Family (1Jn 4:7-12; 3:10-11)
Love is commanded as if it is something we are responsible to develop. John expects Gods people to love others and to demonstrate love.
What does this godly love look like?
1. This love is demonstrated in practical actions of compassion for brothers and sisters in need (1Jn 3:14-18). Refusing to help people who are genuinely in need of basic necessities such as food and shelter when it is within our ability to help is to close our hearts to them. God wants us to be moved with compassion.
2. This love is to look like His love (1Jn 4:7-12). As followers of Christ it should be our nature to demonstrate godly love.
3. This love is also expressed by living in a compassionate manner with one another (1Jn 5:2). We know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey Him. Faith brings us into a loving relationship with God, and love for Him leads to practical compassionate living with others.
4) Seek Heartfelt Obedience Towards God and His Word (1Jn 2:3-6, 1Jn 5:3-4).
His commands are not always easy to live by, yet the power of the Holy Spirit works in us the desire and the ability to obey God (Php 2:13).
Obedience involves doing the good and not just avoiding the bad.
It means that we love God so much and see so much value in His character that we desire to become more like Him.
This love of God will be characterized by a concern for the spiritual and physical needs of others.
Obedience to these commands will put us in a safe position in which there can be no ultimate harm by the evil one. Lets read 1 John 4:4, 5:18.
As we learn to walk in companionship with God we are challenged to pursue a life of purity and be devoted to what is right and true. Such a life is characterized by the full joy (1:4) and the assurance of eternal life (5:13) that come from an obedient faith walk in Jesus as the Son of God (4:15, 5:3-5, 12) and by the continual presence of the Holy Spirit (2:20, 4:4, 13) in our lives.
True believers must reject any belief or teaching that claims that we can be out of fellowship with God (1:3), continue to sin, do the works of the evil one (3:8), love the world (2:15), do harm to others (3:14-18) and yet be children of God and destined for heaven.
Are there areas where the results of regeneration are not very clearly seen in your own life? What are you going to do about it?
1) Do you think it is possible for a person to become a Christian and then stagnate spiritually so that there is little or no growth?
2) To what degree does the teaching one receives and the regularity of ones personal time of Bible reading and prayer affect ones spiritual life and growth?