Skip to main content


Showing posts from July, 2018

1 John 3:13: If The World Hates You

1 John 3:13 [13] Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. (ESV) Can you imagine if we told people, "Come to Jesus, give your life to him, and the world will hate you."? It doesn't sound like a very good selling point.  However, the fact is we should not be surprised at all if the world hates us.  As we have just looked at in the previous verse Cain (the unrighteous) hated Abel (the righteous). He was jealous of his righteousness.  The same was true with the Pharisees (unrighteous) murdering the Savior (righteous). If you are truly going to follow the Savior you can expect to be treated like the Savior.  It is a message that needs to be taught in our churches. Suffering and persecution are part of the package.  Yes, we will live eternally.  But, as we journey in this life we should be prepared to identify with Christ in his suffering.  In fact, one of the most intimate and wonderful experiences we will have with God come as his presence is with us

1 John 3:12: We Should Not Be Like Cain

1 John 3:12 [12] We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. (ESV) The Apostle John is talking to the church. He has been speaking of how to identify those who are genuinely God's children and those who are children of the devil.  Now, he turns to this example from the very first human family to talk of how not to act.  At first glance it may seem a little odd to be speaking of Cain.  Let's take a look at why John warns the church of Cain's sinful example. Genesis 4:3–5 [3] In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, [4] and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, [5] but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. (ESV) Cain gives some kind of evidence that he was a wor

1 John 3:11: We Should Love One Another

1 John 3:11 [11] For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (ESV) One of the things that sets Christianity apart from other religions is it's message of love.  We are given the greatest example of love in the one that we follow, Jesus Christ.  It is important for us to be reminded of the message that we heard from the beginning.  That message is one of sacrificial love. Consider again just how wonderful the love of the Savior is. Romans 5:6–8 [6] For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. [7] For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—[8] but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (ESV) The message that we have heard from the beginning is one of sacrificial love.  Jesus died for the ungodly.  There is no other religion where the God of that religion sacrifices its very self fo

1 John 3:10: It Is Evident Who Are the Children of God

1 John 3:10 [10] By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (ESV) Many times we have heard people say, "Well, only God knows if that person is a Christian.  Only He can judge the heart." In the grand sense of God knowing all things I can certainly agree that God knows those who are his and those who are not.  However, here in His Word He has given us a means by which we can discern who belongs to Him and who does not.  In fact, the Apostle John says, "It is evident." So, if it is evident, what is the evidence? First of all, John claims that those who do not practice righteousness are not of God.  Notice, that he uses the word "practice." The fact is, all men do some things right some of the time. A brutal dictator may care for his own children. Most people obey the laws of the highway.  And as many have

1 John 3:9: God's Seed Abides In Him

1 John 3:9 [9] No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. (ESV) What is your identity?  Many people consider their career calling as their identity.  "I am a farmer." "I am a policeman." "I am a teacher."  For others it is a family distinction. "I am a mother." "I am a Grandfather." "I am my father's son." And still others choose their behavior as their identity. "I am a drunk." I am a playboy." "I am a rebel." In this verse John is actually speaking of our identity.  He begins by describing the one who is born of God.  I want you to see that he is speaking clearly of identity.  Consider that if someone were to ask you what your identity was, you might say, "I am born of God."  Now, that is a wonderful identity. In fact, that is the identity you should have. But, imagine us goi

1 John 3:8: Practicing sinning . . . of the Devil

1 John 3:8 [8] Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (ESV) I am convinced that one of the biggest lies of the enemy is that mankind is basically good.  In fact, many churches are filled with people who believe such drivel. As a result, they never surrender their lives to Jesus Christ, repenting of their sins, and receive salvation.  How tragic to think that people could be in the very place that should tell them of their sin nature and their great Savior, yet that truth is withheld from them. The Apostle John was dealing with similar deception in the church.  The false teachers taught that their habitual sinning was no big deal.  They claimed spiritual purity while practicing the very opposite.  John makes a strong rebuke by reminding them that if their continual practice is sinning, they are proving that they are not only unholy, they are

1 John 3:7: Everyone Who Practices Righteousness

1 John 3:7 [7] Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. (ESV) Maybe you have heard the expression, "If it acts like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, it's a duck." What's the point? The point is that actions tell the true story.  There are many who claim to be something that they are not.  In the Early Church false teachers were bringing deceptive words to sway the believers into their falsehood.  They did not see fit to live a godly lifestyle yet they felt that they could claim to be righteous. John says, "let no one deceive you." Anyone can claim to be righteous, but the one who is genuinely righteous is the one who acts righteously.  If it ain't quacking, it's not a duck.  John is speaking of new habits. New actions. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous.  This stands in contrast to the practice of lawlessness that he has described in previous verses.  Basically, thos

1 John 3:6: No one Who Abides in Him Keeps On Sinning

1 John 3:6 [6] No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. (ESV) One of the greatest hindrances to people placing their faith in Jesus Christ is the fact that they have encountered people who claim to be Christians, yet live a lifestyle no different than the world around them.  Have you ever met anyone who has embraced certain sinful behaviors and embraced them as their lifestyle, even claiming that sinful lifestyle as their identity?  John has strong words for that person.  This person has never known God.  They are not Christians I love how John describes the habitual sinner as one who has never seen or known God.  This speaks of relationship.  Christianity is not a club.  It is a relationship with God.  If you do not have a relationship with God, you are not a Christian. You can go to a Christian church. You can pay tithes. You can donate time to missions works and good causes.  But if you do not have a relationshi

1 John 3:5: He Appeared In Order To Take Away Sins

1 John 3:5 [5] You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. (ESV) Many people know that Jesus appeared. Over 2,000 years have gone by since the birth of Christ and we still have a holiday that celebrates his coming.  Jesus has come.  But why did he come?  Not everyone is agreed on that point.  Many would say that he came to be a great moral teacher.  Others would say that he came to bring peace and justice.  Still others would say that his coming is no different than any other person's birth. The Apostle John says to the believers in Jesus Christ YOU KNOW.  You know the purpose for his coming. You know that he came in order to take away sins. This point is not a small one.  To deny the truth of this point is to completely miss the purpose of Christ's incarnation, his becoming flesh.  Consider the very name Jesus.  His name speaks to the purpose of his coming. Matthew 1:21 [21] She (Mary) will bear a son, and you shall call his nam

1 John 3:4: Everyone Who Makes a Practice of Sinning

1 John 3:4 [4] Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. (ESV) False teachers had infiltrated the church.  Those who were trying to follow Christ were up against those who taught that material world was evil and only the spirit was redeemable or good.  The by product of their false teaching led them to believe that they could do whatever they wanted with their physical body.  The only thing that mattered was the spirit.  John's letter intends to correct this false teaching  He responds to the sinful behavior that the false teachers are condoning by letting them know that sinning is lawlessness.  We, who love the grace of God, also need to be careful.  If we allow the doctrine of God's grace to excuse a lifestyle of sinful behavior we are practicing lawlessness and in grave error. Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Law not abolish it.  While it is true that the Law of God does not save us, it is also true that the God whom w

1John 3:3: Everyone Who Hopes in Him (Christ)

1 John 3:3 [3] And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (ESV) Have you ever had a hero in your life?  When I was a teenager I began learning how to play the bass guitar.  I remember listening to the band Yes.  I heard the bass guitar in their music.  I was blown away by the sound that Christopher Squire (Yes' bass guitarist) was getting out of his bass.  I began to try to make my bass sound like his.  But, there were two problems.  One, I was nowhere near as good as my musical hero.  Additionally, I did not have a Rickenbacker Bass. For years of playing the bass guitar the standard was set.  I wanted to play like Christopher Squire.  I would need to have a bass guitar like his and I would have to work harder at my skills.  Well, I know that my skills are nowhere near to those of my hero, but after waiting almost thirty years my sweet wife bought me a Rickenbacker Bass!  You may be wondering what my bass guitar hero story has to do with today'

1 John 3:2: We Shall Be Like Him

1 John 3:2 [2] Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (ESV) I love how the Apostle John describes the Christ followers whom he is writing this letter to.  He calls them beloved.  Not only did John himself love the people he was writing to, but he is speaking of the great love of God demonstrated in Christ Jesus.  Those who belong to Jesus are loved by their Heavenly Father.  He adopted us.  We were purchased even though we were undeserving. What is our status now?  We are children of God. I think that the truth of our new identity is a bit difficult to grasp.  I don't know about you, but I struggle daily with feeling that I am not a very good son.  I still fail my Heavenly Father.  I know that the things I am not supposed to do are still a temptation to me.  The good things I am supposed to be doing I sometimes cowardly refuse to do. I am not

1 John 3:1: That We Should Be Called Children of God

1 John 3:1 [1] See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (ESV) The Apostle John goes into a celebratory statement here.  He revels in the fact that we are called children of God.  This is a direct result of the amazing love that the Father has given to us.  It is a most astonishing thing that we can be called children of God. Have you ever thought about that?  Are you overwhelmed with joy that you can be called God's child?  What makes it so amazing is that we are not the most lovable, and certainly not deserving of God's love at all. Consider what the Apostle Paul said concerning the state of natural man before God the Father chose to love us: Ephesians 2:1–3 [1] And you were dead in the trespasses and sins [2] in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that

1 John 2:29: If You Know That He Is Righteous (Part 2)

1 John 2:29 [29] If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (ESV) Yesterday we looked at the first part of this verse.  We concentrated on the concept that many people do NOT know that God is righteous.  They view themselves as being righteous.  People will refer to their own sense of goodness.  Yet, the reality is, when we gaze correctly at God we find our nature exposed as completely vile and corrupt.  God's righteousness is perfect and holy.  Ours is not. For those who are aware of God's perfect righteousness there is now an ability to practice righteousness.  This idea of practicing righteousness speaks of a new habit of godly living.  It is not an occasional thing.  It is not something that we just do on Sundays.  Rather, practicing righteousness means that the way we conduct ourselves in our workplace, our schools, our family times, and any other occasion will glorify God and not ourselves. H

1 John 2:29: If You Know That He Is Righteous (Part 1)

1 John 2:29 [29] If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (ESV) The Apostle John begins this word with the word "If."  If we know that he is righteous.  How many people have fully recognized the righteousness of God.  Most of humanity is trying to convince themselves that man is righteous and does not need God.  They define their righteousness by comparing themselves to others.  "I'm not as bad as so-and-so.  I've never killed anyone." These are expressions of people who do not truly know the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God, if it is fully known, exposes our unrighteousness and shows us just how far from God's standard we really are. There is a wonderful account given by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.  He describes his encounter with God.  Isaiah was a prophet.  He was a "godly" man.  How did he respond when he saw God in his holy righteousness?

1 John 2:28: Confidence At His Coming

1 John 2:28 [28] And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. (ESV) When I was a child there were times that my father would assign me a task that was to be done by the time that he came home from wherever he may have been going.  I may or may not have liked the task that was assigned to me, but one thing is certain; I did not want him to come home to find that I had not been diligent in doing what he asked of me. My father is a good father.  I knew that he loved me.  He had expectations of me that were very appropriate.  He believed that if we had a loving relationship that one of the ways that I would show him that I loved him was to do what he said.  Isn't it interesting that our Heavenly Father feels very much the same way?  If we love him, we will obey him.  The Apostle John actually tells us that in this very epistle: 1 John 2:4 [4] Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep

1 John 2:27: His Anointing Teaches You About Everything

1 John 2:27 [27] But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. (ESV) In the previous verse we looked at the false teachers.  They were claiming to be the sole possessors of special knowledge.  They were bringing harm to the church with their false teaching.  They were deceivers.  The church was left with wondering whether or not they needed special teachers to give them special knowledge.  John reminds them that they already have the teacher they need. Who is their teacher?  John describes him as "the anointing that you have received." This is a description of the Holy Spirit.  All believers have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them.  This Spirit of God is the very same Spirit that inspired every word of Scripture in the Old and New Testaments. Consider that the very author of the Bible

1 John 2:26: Those Who Are Trying To Deceive You

1 John 2:26 [26] I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. (ESV) The Apostle John could easily be referred to as the Apostle of Love.  I often refer to the Apostle Paul as the Apostle of Grace.  Certain authors of the Scripture had a more dominant theme that the Lord gave them to write about.  John loves the church.  He has referred to the recipients of this epistle as "little children," and "beloved."  John loves the church and because he loves, he protects.  He has been writing to protect them from those who were in the church and were false teachers trying to deceive. As beloved children of God, John's message resonates with us as well.  First of all, we are dearly loved by our Heavenly Father.  Secondly, because our Heavenly Father loves us he wants us to be aware of those who would deceive us.  It is a sad reality that in every church there is likely someone who is willing to be used by the enemy of our souls to bring d

1 John 2:25: Eternal Life

1 John 2:25 [25] And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. (ESV) Have you ever considered what being a Christian is all about?  For some people Christianity is simply a religion.  They go to church, listen to some prayers, and perform some spiritual rituals.  For others Christianity is a list of rules and regulations; a standard by which they measure their own holiness, as well as measuring the holiness of others.  For still others, Christianity is a club, a place to gather with friends and have fellowship. Missing in all of things is the very thing that we are promised, eternal life! Sometimes we get so caught up in the busyness of our daily lives that we forget to consider our future.  For the true believer in Jesus Christ we have a forward looking mindset.  We long for the day that we will be in Jesus' presence for all of eternity. Some have used the expression, "too heavenly minded to be any earthly good." However, we really should have a heaven

1 John 2:24: What You Heard From the Beginning

1 John 2:24 [24] Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. (ESV) When God speaks he means what he says.  From the very beginning of Scripture we have God speaking.  His authoritative word is what creates the very world that we live in and all of the universes and galaxies that we admire.  God's word told the very first couple what was expected of them.  His word told them , “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). If the Word of God which Adam and Eve had heard from the beginning had continued to abide in the first couple they would not have fallen into sin and impacted all of humanity. So, what happened? The ancient serpent, Satan himself, questioned what was heard from the beginning! Listen to the words of th

1 John 2:23: No one Who Denies the Son has the Father

1 John 2:23 [23] No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. (ESV) There is a desire by so many people to believe the notion that all faiths are essentially the same.  As long as we believe in some kind of god that is all that matters.  People want to believe in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.  We are all to basically try to be kind to one another and God our Father is pleased with us. This is at the heart of what some would call the interfaith movement. One of the things that I have discovered with any involvement with those who ascribe to an interfaith philosophy is that the one who ultimately suffers is Jesus Christ.  If you are going to blend faiths or religious ideas what do you do with Jesus?  Jesus made such bold claims that set him apart from all others that it is truly impossible to embrace other faiths and truly follow Him. The false teachers were trying to embrace a faith that denied the deity of Jesus

1 John 2:22: Who is the Liar?

1 John 2:22 [22] Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. (ESV) In our current culture we seem to be afraid to be firmly committed to any truth.  It is thought that if we define things in terms of truth and lies we have become extremist, and are maybe even dangerous people.  As a result of blurring the lines between truth and falsehood it becomes more difficult for the Church to speak to these things.  The fact is, the Bible is very clear about truth and falsehood.  In this book of 1 John, the Apostle is countering the false teachers who were infiltrating the church. It may make some folks in our current society to hear the Apostle John's words, but he is very direct about truth and lies.  "Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?" John does not stop there.  He calls such a liar the antichrist. Can you imagine confronting people that you know as being the antichrist

1 John 2:21: You Know the Truth

1 John 2:21 [21] I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. (ESV) Not everyone who claims to know the truth actually does.  The false teachers in the church of the Apostle John's day had claimed that they alone had special knowledge for salvation.  They were wrong.  The Apostle John writes to bring clarity to the turmoil that was going on in the church. To those who were faithfully following the Savior John writes that he is writing to them because they know the truth.  What an encouragement.  They had been spiritually bullied and told that they were lacking in their knowledge, but the reality is they were the ones who knew the truth. How did the believers in Jesus Christ know the truth?  John told us in the previous verse that all of the believers had the anointing, the very Spirit of God living within them.  This truth is very powerful for all of us to consider.  The Spirit of God has many attributes

1 John 2:20: You Have Been Anointed

1 John 2:20 [20] But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. (ESV) If you watch enough late night preaching you are likely to hear some preacher talk about the "anointing." The anointing of the Holy Spirit is portrayed as some mystical, almost unattainable, except by the very holy, thing to pursue and ultimately possess.  If someone is viewed as successful in ministry many will say, "Wow, they must have a powerful anointing." This kind of portrayal of the anointing of God's Spirit does a great disservice to many believers who feel intimidated by this way of thinking and feel that they are somehow deficient because they obviously don't have a special anointing, or at least not as powerful as brother so and so. John is writing to believers who also had been beaten up by false teaching. They were made to think that somehow they were deficient in their understanding.  The false teachers claimed that they and they alone had spe

1 John 2:19: They Went Out From Us

1 John 2:19 [19] They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (ESV) As we read the Apostle John's words we are roughly two millennia removed from the church that he was writing to.  He speaks of false teachers that were in the church.  They were in one way or another perceived as being a part of the body, and yet they left.  In the church two thousand years ago, the members were left with an unsettling feeling because some of their number was now gone.  We experience similar feelings today when people leave the church.  Let's look at what these people leaving really means. John lets us know what the people leaving says about them.  He says that if they had really been a part of the body, they would not have left. As a result of their leaving it is now obvious what they were really all about.  False teaching cannot stay with the fai

1 John 2:18: Antichrists Have Come

1 John 2:18 [18] Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. (ESV) Are we living in the last days?  This is a question that has been asked for the last two thousand years.  Every generation looks at what is going on in the world around them and comes to the conclusion that we are in the last days. My parents who have now been married for close to sixty years tell of how they did not think they would be able to be married because they were sure that the Lord would return before they had the opportunity to get married. So, are we living in the last days? Actually, John says that we are in the last hour! That last hour is obviously a phrase that is much longer than a time segment of sixty minutes.  This hour represents the time period between Christ's ascension until his return.  We eagerly await his return, and of course we recognize that we are living in the las

1 John 2:17: The World is Passing Away

1 John 2:17 [17] And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (ESV) Perhaps you have heard the expression, "I've never seen a U-Haul pulled behind a hearse." The fact is, we cannot take our earthly possessions with us when we die.  The Egyptian kings were all buried in tombs filled with their riches.  Those kings are gone.  Their bodies decomposed,  even those that were mummified.  Do you know what is still here?  Their riches!  Although many have been stolen. The Apostle John gives us yet another reason why we are not to pursue the worldly system with its desires.  What the world offers is temporal.  What God offers is eternal.  It is amazing how enamored we are with worldly things.  We are jealous of the house that our neighbor has.  We are envious of someone else's career.  We think that if we only had that promotion, or got that new car, or had some other new gadget we would experience true bliss.

1 John 2:16: All That is in the World

1 John 2:16 [16] For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. (ESV) How do you define success?  A great career?  A large 401K Retirement fund?  Being publicly recognized?  Fame?  All of these things that I just mentioned are part of what the world and its values have to offer.  If we chase after all of these things in order to feel that we are a success in life the Apostle John has a word for us.  Do not chase after the desires of the flesh, eyes, and pride of life.  That is not from your Heavenly Father, but from the world. Do you find this verse a shock to your system?  After all, doesn't God care about us being successful?  What is wrong with us being happy?  What is bad about recognition?  The point is this.  For the believer in Jesus Christ we live for God's glory. We do not live for our glory.  God may at times allow you to experience material wealth or "succe

1 John 2:15: Do Not Love the World

1 John 2:15 [15] Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (ESV) We are created in the image of God.  There are so many wonderful aspects about that fact that we could explore, but as it relates to this verse that we are looking at today we discover that we are created to love.  In the Garden of Eden you have the first couple loving the God who created them. There was a genuine love for the father. They used to walk with him in the cool of the evening.  Tragically, that love was deeply corrupted by sin. We are still created to love.  But, because of sin, our propensity is to sin and rebel against the love of God and love things other than the Father. John says that we are not to love the world or the things in the world.  While he does not mean the physical universe (the earth, plants, trees, etc.) the case can be made that worshiping the created order is idolatry.  In Romans 1 mankind is judged by God bec

1 John 2:14: Fathers and Young Men

1 John 2:14 [14] I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (ESV) When I was a child I spent a lot of time talking to those who were much older than me.  As a pastor's son, I was at the church long before it started, and found that one of the best ways to spend my time was to talk with the Senior Saints who also arrived very early to church.  The conversations I had with those great men of God have been an encouragement to my faith to this very day. The Apostle John talks about old men and young men in this verse.  He does not praise one and criticize the other, but rather says encouraging words about both of them.  It is important to recognize that we never reach a point where we know everything.  And we are never in a position where we cannot learn from someone else.  One of the greatest tragedies in our society is young m

1 John 2:13: Fathers, Young Men, Children

1 John 2:13 [13] I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. (ESV) I remember as a kid looking at old family photo albums.  It was fascinating to look at pictures of my parents when they were young.  I would wonder what their ambitions were back then.  What were they into?  Did they ever think that they would grow up and have a child as wonderful as me?  Pictures do tell a story.  Our lives are very different as we grow and mature. Just like there should be progression in our lives in a physical sense, there should also be progression in our lives in a spiritual sense.  John has addressed the church as being a family.  We understand that we either belong to a family with Satan himself as our father, or we belong to God's family.  Belonging to God's family happens as our hearts have been changed, we respond to Go