LORD’S DAY 34, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 34 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. This morning’s devotional addresses The Ten Commandments.

Q. What is God’s law?

A. God spoke all these words:

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.”

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

THE THIRD COMMANDMENT.

“You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.”

THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT.

“Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day;
therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.”

THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving to you.”

THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT.

“You shall not murder.”

THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT.

“You shall not commit adultery.”

THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT.

“You shall not steal.”

THE NINTH COMMANDMENT.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

THE TENTH COMMANDMENT.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”1

1 Exodus 20:1-17Deuteronomy 5:6-21

Q. How are these commandments divided?

A. Into two tables. The first has four commandments, teaching us how we ought to live in relation to God. The second has six commandments, teaching us what we owe our neighbor.1

1 Matthew 22:37-39

Q. What does the Lord require in the first commandment?

A. That I, not wanting to endanger my own salvation, avoid and shun all idolatry,1sorcery, superstitious rites,2 and prayer to saints or to other creatures.3

That I rightly know the only true God, 4 trust him alone, 5 and look to God for every good thing6 humbly7 and patiently, 8 and love, 9 fear, 10 and honor11 God with all my heart. In short, that I give up anything rather than go against God’s will in any way.12

1 1 Corinthians 6:9-1010:5-141 John 5:21.
2 Leviticus 19:31Deuteronomy 18:9-12.
3 Matthew 4:10Revelation 19:1022:8-9.
4 John 17:3.
5 Jeremiah 17:5, 7.
6 Psalm 104:27-28James 1:17.
7 1 Peter 5:5-6.
8 Colossians 1:11Hebrews 10:36.
9 Matthew 22:37 (Deuteronomy 6:5).
10 Proverbs 9:101 Peter 1:17.
11 Matthew 4:10 (Deuteronomy 6:13).
12 Matthew 5:29-3010:37-39.

Q. What is idolatry?

A. Idolatry is having or inventing something in which one trusts in place of or alongside of the only true God, who has revealed himself in the Word.1

1 1 Chronicles 16:26Galatians 4:8-9Ephesians 5:5Philippians 3:19.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

I John: Beloved, Let Us Love One Another.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (I John 4:7)

I really love this next section from I John. I John 4:7-11 is a paragraph of Scripture that I’ve committed to memory and quote frequently when I preach and teach on the love of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, this section contains my favorite word in the Bible: propitiation.

I John 4; 7 sets the scene and tone for what is to follow. It contains propositional truth along with personal promises from God.

The verse begins with the Apostle John’s frequent term of endearment to those to whom he is writing: “Beloved.” How fitting to write about the love of God to those who have received and who God has graced with His love.

Immediately following this term of endearment, John says, “let us love one another.” This is a present active plea from an apostle to a congregation of believers. It is not a command but rather a fervent request that from their hearts they would display a self-sacrificial love of the will towards fellow believers in Christ.

Why are believers to love in such a fashion? John gives us the reason when he writes, “for love is from God.” The reason John gives us for loving in such a way is because self-sacrificial love of the will originates from and is sourced solely in the Lord.

John then gives us two promises based upon the preceding premise of loving fellow believers with God’s love: “and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” Whoever loves in a self-sacrificial way gives testimony and evidence that God has regenerated their souls through the preaching of the Gospel and by the work of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, they give evidence that they personally know God.

Dr. Don Carson writes that, “John reinforces let us love one another with the reminder that love comes from God. Love, as Christians understand it, is not a human achievement; it is divine in origin, a gift from God. If anyone loves in this sense it shows that that person has been born of God and knows God.”

Do you love others in the way described in I John 4:7? If so, this is an evidence that you are a believer in Jesus Christ. If not, then examine whether you truly know the Lord Jesus as your Savior.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

I John: Who Belongs to Whom?

They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (I John 4:5-6)

In reading the Bible, believers in Christ must read observantly. This means that the student of Scripture must be attentive, alert, watchful and perceptive to each word and how it is used in a particular text.

For example, in today’s text the word “world” (κόσμου; kosmou) occurs three times in vs. 5 alone. This is the same word which John used in 2:15-17. It refers to the fallen world system which is disobedient to and rebellious against God.

John says here that the many antichrists belong to and are from the fallen world system. Their state of being and existence is of the world. This is evidenced by the fact that they presently and actively communicate or speak the world’s values and philosophies because it is their values and philosophies. Therefore, the fallen world’s followers believe, positively responds to and accepts the speech of the antichrists. They are in sync with each other.

By contrast, the follower of Christ belongs to and is from God. Those who belong to God believes, positively responds to and accepts the speech of apostolic teaching and preaching. Those who do not belong to God reject biblical teaching and preaching.

There are those within the church, and the culture, who say they are followers of Christ but their speech and lifestyle says otherwise. Their foundational authority is not the Scriptures but rather their own belief system as to what is right and wrong. In short, they are Atheistic Humanists in their worldview.

John says that this is how one can evaluate those who belong to Christ and those who do not. In other words, those who belong to Christ and those who belong to the world.

Dr. Don Carson says, Once again John repeats a word for emphasis; world is the last word in v 4 and it occurs three times in this verse. It is with the world that his opponents are associated: they are from it, they speak from its viewpoint, and it forms their audience. Christians should not be surprised if such people do not listen to them. They are of the wrong party. But Christians do have their hearers. We is emphatic and sets those who are from God in strong contrast with others. There is also a contrast in the hearers; those who are from God are set over against whoever is not from God. Since this is the way the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood (Brown translates, ‘Spirit of Deceit’) are known it is a fair inference that these spirits live in the people previously indicated.”

These many spirits of antichrist which lived in John’s day live in our own. It is important to take note of them and to reject their teaching and philosophy.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

I John: Greater is He!

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (I John 4:4)

The Apostle John’s reference to his readers as “little children” should not be taken as he saying his readers are physically immature or little kids. Rather, the phrase refers to a special relationship or endearment or association with people of any age. I can relate in that I just completed a conversation with a young man, a husband and father who is also a successful attorney who was in our children’s department in church some 40 years ago. I still view him as one of my “kids.”

With this special and heartfelt relationship John has with these believers, he says that they belong to God. They also have overcome the many antichrists that have sought to undermine their faith. They are victors and ones who have prevailed over the evil one.

How is this victory possible? It is possible only because within each believer in Christ is the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). This is what John means when he writes, “for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Up to now, the writer assured his dear children (teknia;), the readers, that they had overcome these antichrists. The readers had successfully resisted the antichrists (false prophets) by means of the One who is in them (no doubt another reference to the Spirit; cf. 3:24; 4:2). Reliance on God is the secret of all victory whether over heresy or any other snare. The indwelling One—the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer (3:24; 4:13; Rom. 8:9) and is thus “the One who is in you”—is mightier than the one who is in the world, namely, Satan (cf. 1 John 5:19). He is called “the prince of this world” (John 12:31); “the god of this Age” (2 Cor. 4:4); and “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Eph. 2:2).”

Dr. Don Carson explains that, “There is no need for Christians to be fearful. The word “you” is emphatic; believers are set in strong contrast to the antichrists. Believers are from God, and they have overcome. This short letter has the verb ‘to overcome’ six times, which is more than any other NT book other than Revelation (seventeen times); the note of victory is unusually prominent. Here the verb is in the perfect tense, which shows that the victory is more than a passing phase; it is decisive and continuing. It comes about because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. The first one could be any member of the Godhead; all that we can say is that it is a divine person. The second cannot be any other than the devil. John is saying that God is more powerful by far than the devil and that those in whom God dwells accordingly overcome evil.”

How has the indwelling Holy Spirit been helping you to overcome the evil one recently? How has He helped you regarding your thought life, your words and speech along with your behavior? Take time today to thank the Lord for the Comforter (John 14:26) who dwells within you and who is greater.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

I John: Knowing the Truth.

2 “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” (I John 4:2-3)

Biblical Christianity is just that: it is biblical. It is rooted and grounded in the inerrant and inspired Word of God. This is the believer’s only standard for faith and truth. Everything, and I mean everything, which the believer encounters in life and living must be evaluated by the Scriptures.

Biblical Christianity is also historical. The Gospel is rooted and grounded not only in the truth that God Exists, Sin and Salvation Exists, but also that only one Savior Exists and that Savior is Jesus Christ. Jesus entered into this world’s history, lived a sinless life, died a substitutionary death and bodily rose from the grave. Any attempt by anyone, or any church, to downplay or eliminate the historical facts of Jesus Christ’s person and work is clearly not of God.

The Apostle John sets forth a clear litmus test to discern between false teaching which is not from God and truth which is from God. The apostle writes, “2 “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.” Verse two places the Jesus question in the positive while the first part of vs. 3 places it in the negative. However, both verses say the same thing.

Commentator Daniel Akin writes, “Once again John makes it plain that Christianity is rooted and grounded in the Christological question: ‘What do you believe about Jesus?’ If He is just another enlightened religious teacher, He is permitted and tolerated as one opinion, one option, among many. If, however, He is the very incarnation of God, then the gospel and only the gospel is true and He is the only viable option for salvation amid the multitude of imposters.”

The Apostle John then adds this statement in the latter part of vs. 3: “This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” This statement regarding the spirit of the antichrist parallels what John has previously stated in I John 2:18-27.

Remember, the spirit of antichrist is the perspective that Jesus Christ was not virgin born, that He did not live a sinless life, that He did not die a substitutionary death on the cross on behalf of sinners, that He was not buried, that He did not rise from the dead, that He did not ascend to heaven and that He is not coming back in power, might and glory.

Consider this question: “Is your Jesus the real and biblical Jesus?”

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!  

 

 

 

 

I John: Test the Spirits.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1)

Identifying false teachings and teachers is neither fun nor popular. However, identifying false teachings and teachers is biblical and necessary. It is also important for every generation within the church to undertake.

In I John 4:1, the Apostle John begins with his familiar address to his readers: “Beloved.” It is a term of deep affection and endearment by a pastor for his parishioners. John is reminding his readers that he has their best interests in mind.

The apostle balances this term of endearment with a command for obedience: “Do not believe every spirit.” True love is not shy from warning the beloved of the dangers in life and the responsibilities in living for Christ. John warns his readers to not trust in, commit to, depend upon and honor and worship any and every spirit they encounter. In other words, believers are to be discerning when they encounter teachers and philosophies which are clearly unbiblical.

Not only are believers in Christ to stop believing every spirit but also we are to “test the spirits.” This too is a present active command. To test means to thoroughly examine and to evaluate the genuineness of something.

Why does John issue these two commands? The purpose of not believing every spirit but rather to test the spirits is “to see if they are from God.” One of the tasks of the church, and individual believers, is to evaluate whether teachings are from God and are biblical or are they from another source, spirit or worldview.

Remember the basic two worldviews? First, there is Biblical Theism which teaches that God Exists, that He has determined what is right or wrong, and has also indicated what man’s purpose is which is to honor and glorify the One, True God. The alternative worldview is Atheistic Humanism which teaches the exact opposite of Biblical Theism.

Therefore, the child of God is to be constantly examining what people are communicating to them and to the church in order to evaluate whether they, and what they teach, is truly biblical and from the Lord.

John then gives a decisive reasoning for these two commands: “For many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Jesus had warned people against false prophets (Matt. 7:15; 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22; Luke 6:26). The
Apostle Paul warned us (Acts 20:28-30; I Thessalonians 5:20-21). The Apostle Peter warned us 2 Peter 2:1-22). Jude warned us (Jude 4-19).

In the current culture in which tolerance for everything is applauded, the one thing false teachers cannot tolerate is truth and the one thing the church must not tolerate is false teaching and false teachers.

We are commanded to evaluate the message and the messenger by the Word of God.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

                                                                                    

I John: Reciprocity!

Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.” (I John 3:24)

Reciprocity. What does this word mean?

Reciprocity means a mutuality, and exchange, a tradeoff or an interchange. Therefore, reciprocity can pertain to politics, finances, and even agreements between members of one’s family.

For example, reciprocity may refer to an agreement a father makes with his son: “You mow the lawn and take out the garbage and do your chores without anyone reminding you to do so and you may borrow my car Saturday night.” In this agreement, both sides keep their side of the agreement. The son does his chores and the father allows his son to borrow the car on Saturday night.

In the case of our relationship with God by grace alone, through faith alone through the person and work of Jesus Christ alone, reciprocity takes the form of a familiar and ongoing theme with the Epistle of I John.

God abides in the believer. This abiding began by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit in the soul of the dead sinner through the preaching of the gospel. The Holy Spirit not only generates new life within the sinner but also faith (Ephesians 2:1-9). The sinner is born again in order to believe (John 3:1-3). In other words, regeneration precedes faith. The result of regeneration is conversion.

When conversion occurs, which not only involves faith in Christ but also repentance from one’s sin, the sinner begins the journey of growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). This journey and growth is evidenced by an increasing obedience to the Word of God. This obedience is not born by a desire to become a child of God but rather as an indication that the individual in question is a child of God.

John says “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God.” This is a simple truth with significant implications. This is John’s keynote theme. The reciprocity is that not only does the believer abide in God but also God abides in the believer. Additionally, we also know and understand that God abides in us by the Holy Spirit who the Father has given to us.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Two themes appear in this verse. The first theme is the epistle’s first reference to God, or Christ, abiding in each obedient believer. Those who obey His commands (cf. 2:3; 3:23; 5:2–3) live (menei, “abide”) in Him, and He in them. That the abiding life involves this mutuality (reciprocity) is made plain in the Parable of the Vine and the Branches (John 15:4–5, 7). The second idea is the epistle’s first of six explicit references to the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 John 4:2, 6, 13; 5:6, 8; cf. “the Holy One” in 2:20). The way a believer can verify that God lives (menei, “abides”) in him is by the operation of God’s Spirit in his life. John then showed that God’s Spirit is the Spirit of both faith (4:1–6) and love (4:7–16)—the two aspects of the two-part “command” given in 3:23.”

What evidence is there that the Holy Spirit is working in your life? Are you obeying God’s commandments? Are you displaying the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)? Are you mortifying your sin (Romans 8:13)? If these are true in your life, rejoice that you are a child of God. If not, repent of your sins and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

LORD’S DAY 33, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 32 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. This morning’s devotional, like last week’s, addresses the subject of the believer’s gratitude to God for their salvation.

Q. What is involved in genuine repentance or conversion?

A. Two things: the dying-away of the old self, and the rising-to-life of the new.1

1 Romans 6:1-112 Corinthians 5:17Ephesians 4:22-24Colossians 3:5-10.

Q. What is the dying-away of the old self?

A. To be genuinely sorry for sin and more and more to hate and run away from it.1

1 Psalm 51:3-4, 17Joel 2:12-13Romans 8:12-132 Corinthians 7:10.

Q. What is the rising-to-life of the new self?

A. Wholehearted joy in God through Christ1 and a love and delight to live according to the will of God by doing every kind of good work.2

1 Psalm 51:8, 12Isaiah 57:15Romans 5:114:17; Romans 6:10-11Galatians 2:20.

Q. What are good works?

A. Only those which are done out of true faith,1 conform to God’s law,2 and are done for God’s glory;3 and not those based on our own opinion or human tradition.4

1 John 15:5Hebrews 11:6; 2 Leviticus 18:41 Samuel 15:22Ephesians 2:10.
3 1 Corinthians 10:31.
4 Deuteronomy 12:32Isaiah 29:13Ezekiel. 20:18-19Matthew 15:7-9.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

I John: Justification and Sanctification.

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” (I John 3:23)

I  John 3:23 shows us the relationship between justification and sanctification. Justification and sanctification may be distinguished but they must not be separated.

Justification is the act by which God the Father declares elect sinners righteous before Him on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. This right standing before the Father is on the basis of grace alone, through God given faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Justification occurs in a moment when the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the Gospel, monergistically regenerates the sinner thereby giving them the ability to place their faith in Christ. The sinner is born again in order to believe and be justified. This differs from the common perspective by many Christians that one believes in order to be born again and be justified.

Sanctification is the process by which the believer grows in holiness and becomes more like Jesus Christ in thought, word and behavior. Sanctification, unlike justification, does not happen in a singular moment but rather throughout the believer’s lifetime. Sanctification ultimately concludes when the believer physically dies and goes to be with the Lord in heaven.

I John 3:23 shares that God commands us to believe in the name of Jesus Christ. To believe in Christ means to trust, commit, depend and worship Christ alone as Savior and Lord. This is synonymous with justification.

Today’s text also shares that God commands that following our conversion, we are to obey the Lord by loving one another. This love for fellow Christians is one example, of many, of how our conversion in Christ is to influence our commitment to live for Christ.

I John 3:23 provides us with not only a doctrinal test regarding the validity of our faith but also a moral test. Both are important but notice the order. One’s belief in Christ is the reason one is to love one another. In other words, we do not love another person in order to become a Christian. Rather, we believe in Christ which therefore is the impetus to love a fellow believer.

Dr. John MacArthur helpfully adds that, “These verses again repeat the three features of this epistle—believing, loving, and obeying—which are the major evidences of true salvation.”

Pastor John Piper concludes that, “The one embracing commandment of this letter is that we believe and that we love. These are the foundations of our assurance because these are the evidence of God’s work; they are the testimony of His Spirit.”

Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? Do you evidence this belief by loving other believers?

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

I John: Confidence in Prayer.

21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” (I John 3:21-22)

John begins vs. 21 with the familiar term of endearment “beloved.”  The apostle reminds the reader of his fond affection for his fellow believers in Christ.

As he continues, John wants his fellow Christians to understand that as we strive to live holy lives and pursue obedience to God’s commands, God’s Word and the Holy Spirit will confirm our right standing before God. From the human perspective, this means that our thinking, our feelings and our decisions in this life will not say to us that we have done something wrong. Remember, this understanding of what is right or wrong is based upon our thinking, feelings and decisions in relationship to the Word of God as our source of authority.

Dr, John Walvoord does lend a note of caution when he writes, John does not mean that all whose hearts do not condemn them, are therefore safe before God; for some have their conscience seared, others are ignorant of the truth. Therefore, it is not only sincerity, but sincerity in the truth which can save men. Christians are those meant here: knowing Christ’s precepts and testing themselves by them.”

With this in mind, the believer in Christ has confidence in God in prayer. We may approach God and receive what we ask of Him knowing that we have asked with right and biblical motives. In other words, we are praying while at the same time we are keeping God’s commandments and therefore doing what pleases Him.

Well over 20 years ago, a man approached me and told me that he was going to divorce his wife. He gave me his reasons for this decision, none of which were biblical, and then proceeded to tell me that he had prayed about it and that it was okay. While his heart did not condemn him for this decision, the Word of God indeed did in light of the fact that he was carrying on an affair with a mutual friend of he and his wife.

We must not believe that our prayers have no relationship with God’s Word. Rather, our prayers must be shaped and honed by the Scriptures.

Charles Spurgeon writes, “He who has a clear conscience comes to God (in prayer) with confidence, and that confidence of faith ensures to him the answer of his prayer. Childlike confidence makes us pray as none else can. It makes a man pray for great things, which he would never have asked for it he had not learned this confidence. The man of obedience is the man whom God will hear, because his obedient heart leads him to pray humbly, and with submission.”

A committed heart of obedience to the Lord will result in a confident heart of prayer before the Lord.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

I John: Pursue Assurance.

“For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” (I John 3:20)

The Apostle Paul encouraged the believers in Philippi to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Why? He knew, as we should also know, that while God saves us by grace alone, through faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone that it is not by a faith which is alone. True saving faith is always accompanied by works (James 2:14-26).

One of the works which believers are to pursue is the work of pursuing assurance. The Apostle John has repeatedly said that if an individual loves the Lord, it will be evident by their obedience to God’s commandments: especially the commandment to love one another (I John 4:7-8).

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, When we consider the matter of assurance, it is clear that believers have a certain duty to work toward attaining certainty about their salvation. Scripture explicitly commands this; for example, 2 Peter 1:10 instructs us to be diligent to confirm our “calling and election.” Yet there are many ways in which God’s Word implicitly exhorts us to pursue assurance as well. Consider the parable of the sower, for example. Among other things, this parable tells us that it is possible to profess faith in the gospel and yet lack the true faith that perseveres and produces a harvest of spiritual fruit. Many who hear the Word of God appear to be converted, but later they fall away because the gospel never truly took root in their souls (Mark 13:1–20). That should encourage all of us to seek to know whether we are good soil, whether we have truly been saved and will persevere to the end. We cannot assume that we are good soil simply because we have confessed faith; we must search our hearts and our lives to be certain that we are not poor soil or that we will not be overcome by the thorns and thistles of life.”

Dr. Sproul made mention of 2 Peter 1 regarding the believer pursuit of assurance. 2 Peter 1:3-10 says, His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”

Dr. Sproul concludes by saying, “Throughout church history, many people have thought that God does not really want us to be certain of our salvation, that gaining true assurance would make us complacent in doing good works in service to the Lord and our neighbor. Scripture, however, wants us to be sure of our salvation. The entire epistle of 1 John, for example, was written so that we would know that we are saved (5:13). Thus, we should eagerly pursue the assurance of our salvation and seek to know if we are truly in Christ. Indeed, pursuing assurance is part of our Christian duty.”

Make every effort to pursue your assurance that you are God’s child by being obedient to God’s Word.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

I John: Truth Test.

17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;” (I John 3:17-19)

How do you really know that you are a believer in Christ? Do you ever experience doubts that perhaps you are not truly a Christian, but you only think you are? Maybe it occurs during a particularly difficult trial and you wonder “where is my faith?” You discover you’re filled with self-condemnation as to why you are not stronger in the Lord.

The late Dr. James M. Boice wrote, “Self-condemnation can be due to a number of factors. It can be a matter of disposition; some people are just more introspective than others. It may be a questions of health; how a person feels inevitably affects how he thinks. It may be due to specific sin. It may be due to circumstances. But whatever the cause, the problem is a real one and quite widespread. How is a believer to deal with such doubt?”

2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

There are several false evidences which neither prove nor disprove an individual is truly converted. They include (1) Visible Morality: Matt. 19:16–21; 23:27; (2) Intellectual Knowledge: Rom. 1:21; 2:17ff.; (3) Religious Involvement: Matt. 25:1–10; (4) Active Ministry: Matt. 7:21–24; (5) Conviction of Sin: Acts 24:25; (6) Assurance: Matt. 23; and (7) a Time of Decision: Luke 8:13–14.

What are the biblical evidences which prove that an individual is indeed a child of God by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone? These evidences include (1) Love for God: Ps. 42:1ff.; 73:25Luke 10:27Rom. 8:7; (2) Repentance from Sin: Ps. 32:5Prov. 28:13Rom. 7:14ff.2 Cor. 7:101 John 1:8–10; (3) Genuine Humility: Ps. 51:17Matt. 5:1–12James 4:6, 9ff.; (4) Devotion to God’s Glory: Ps. 105:3; 115:1Isa. 43:7; 48:10ff.; Jer. 9:23–241 Cor. 10:31; (5) Continual Prayer: Luke 18:1Eph. 6:18ff.; Phil. 4:6ff.1 Tim. 2:1–4James 5:16–18; (6) Selfless Love: 1 John 2:9ff.; 3:14; 4:7ff.; (7) Separation from the World: 1 Cor. 2:12James 4:4ff.1 John 2:15–17; 5:5; (8) Spiritual Growth: Luke 8:15John 15:1–6Eph. 4:12–16; (9) Obedient Living: Matt. 7:21John 15:14ff.; Rom. 16:261 Pet. 1:2, 221 John 2:3–5; (10) Hunger for God’s Word: 1 Pet. 2:1–3; and (11) Transformation of Life: 2 Cor. 5:17.

Obedient living is the truth test the Apostle John sets forth in today’s text regarding an individual’s assurance that they are truly regenerated by the Holy Spirit and converted in Christ. As the believer in Christ continually displays authentic love for people, the assurance that they belong to Christ will well up within their soul.

One commentator explains that, “When we love ‘with truth and action’ (v. 18), this reassures our hearts before God that we are of the truth (v.19). Assurance with God will spring forth in the heart, in the conscience, when we demonstrate genuine and authentic love for others. It assures us that we are children of God. We have confidence in His presence that He is our God and we are His children.”

Take time today to examine your heart as to whether you truly belong to Christ. See whether or not your assurance is based upon false evidences or true, biblical evidences of genuine saving faith.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

I John: Talk is Cheap, but Actions are Priceless.

17 “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (I John 3:17-18)

Have you ever heard the expression “talk is cheap?” Have you ever used this expression? If so, what exactly does it mean when a person says “talk is cheap?”

The phrase talk is cheap means it is easier to talk about doing something than to actually do that thing. Many people say they will do something but never do it. Or many people may say that something should be done but they never envision themselves as the individuals by which that something could and should be done.

This attitude and inaction may happen anywhere and everywhere. It can happen at home, school, work and even in volunteer organizations such as the church. It can happen among members of a sports team. The true leader is one who does not necessarily talk about leading, but rather displays it by working hard, showing up early, being the last to leave, and being a positive example.

By the same token, another contrasting idiom is “Actions speak louder than words.” This means that people’s actions show their real attitudes, rather than what they say. This expression is sometimes used to advise a person to do something positive.

This is the essential meaning behind the Apostle John’s comments in I John 3:17-18. John once again used another cause and effect statement to bring this principle of action vs. inaction in Christian living to light.

“But if anyone has the world’s goods” refers to possessions or resources. We all have them, perhaps some more than others. It includes clothes, food, vehicles, tools, etc. These are the goods we own.

The principle John set forth was if a believer in Christ has possessions and sees a brother in Christ in need of one such possession but does nothing to help the fellow believer, that former individual does not have the self-sacrificial love of God within their soul. Remember, that John often speaks in black and white terms. He gives no room for the grey areas of life or extenuating circumstances. You are either into holy living or you are not because you are either a truly converted believer in Christ or you only pretend to be.

The principle John explicitly set forth is found in I John 3:18: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” For the apostle, deed and truth is more important that words or talk.

Recently, my boss experienced car problems with his brakes. He needed to take his Honda Accord to the local Honda dealership. However, this left him without a car to drive to work. When He spoke to me about the problem, the Lord prompted me to offer him the use of my SUV until he got his car back. He was surprised and did not know what to say, but he gratefully accepted my offer.

Well, the situation lasted about a week but my boss’ car was finally repaired and my vehicle returned to me, with a full tank of gas I might add. It turned out to be a good resolution to his problem and an opportunity for me to show the love of Christ and not just speak of it. I pray that it made an impact upon him.

I do not share this story to praise myself, but rather to illustrate that each of us can do something in order to help someone we know when they are in need. To be certain, we need to have discernment and good wisdom, but we also need to be willing to risk the loss or put up with the inconvenience in order to help a friend or a fellow believer.

How may you love in deed and truth today, and not just in word or talk?

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

I John: Serving May Mean Dying.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (I John 3:16)

Every believer in Christ probably has memorized, meditated upon and perhaps taught John 3:16. One of the most often quoted, and recognized, verses in all of Scripture says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 teaches how God loved the fallen world. However, how do believers demonstrate that they know the God of love and the love by which God loved them in their fallen and sinful condition? This is the content of I John 3; 16.

John sets forth two principles as a simple test or examination for believers in Christ, including the apostle, to show whether or not believers continually understand self-sacrificial love of the will which originates and proceeds solely from God.

The first evidence principle that we know what constitutes true love is understanding that Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. True love is acknowledging the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ on behalf of sinners. Sinner who hated Him but of whom He loved (Revelation 1:5-6).

The second evidence principle that we know what constitutes true love is that we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

As one commentator of I John writes, “Many have noticed the beautiful relationship that exists between John 3:16 and I John 3:16. The former is a demonstration of love. The latter is an explanation of love. John 3:16 says that God gave His Son for us. I John 3:16 says we should give ourselves for others. The bible says that if you want to see love, look at the cross! The Bible says that if you want to show love, looks at the cross! The bible says that if you want to know love, look the cross! The Bible says that if you want to live love, look at the cross!”

Jesus Christ lived the life that we should have lived, but couldn’t. Jesus Christ died the death we should have died but don’t have to. True love is about self-sacrifice and self-submission.

Chris Tomlin reminds us of this true love in his song You Are My King.

I’m forgiven because you were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well
Your spirit is within me
Because you died and rose again

Amazing love, how can it be?
that you, my king. would die for me.
Amazing love, I know it’s true
it’s my joy to honor you.
Amazing love how can it be?
That my king would die for me.
Amazing love I know it’s true
it’s my joy to honor you.
In all I do
I honor you.

You are my king
You are my king.
Jesus, You are my king.
Jesus, You are my king.

How may you give yourself for someone else today and in so doing, demonstrate that you understand the love of God?

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

LORD’S DAY 32, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 32 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. This morning’s devotional addresses the subject of the believer’s gratitude to God for their salvation.

Q. Since we have been delivered from our misery by grace through Christ without any merit of our own, why then should we do good works?

A. Because Christ, having redeemed us by his blood, is also restoring us by his Spirit into his image, so that with our whole lives we may show that we are thankful to God for his benefits,1 so that he may be praised through us,2 so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits,3 and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ.4

1 Romans 6:1312:1-21 Peter 2:5-10.
2 Matthew 5:161 Corinthians 6:19-20
3 Matthew 7:17-18Galatians 5:22-242 Peter 1:10-11
4 Matthew 5:14-16Romans 14:17-191 Peter 2:123:1-2

Q. Can those be saved who do not turn to God from their ungrateful and unrepentant ways?

A. By no means. Scripture tells us that no unchaste person, no idolater, adulterer, thief,
no covetous person, no drunkard, slanderer, robber, or the like will inherit the kingdom of God.1

1 1 Corinthians 6:9-10Galatians 5:19-21Ephesians 5:1-201 John 3:14.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

I John: Loving One’s Brother in Christ.

14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (I John 3:14-15)

One of the most effective teaching methods is comparison and contrast. When reading and studying the Scriptures, look for items, or individuals, that are contrasted with each other.  For example, Proverbs 14:31 says, “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” In the same way, look for items, or individuals, that are compared to each other. For example, Proverbs 25:26 says, “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well, is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.”

 Throughout the Epistle of I John, the apostle has used numerous contrasts to illustrate the Christian life. Thus far, he has used the following: (1) Light and darkness 1:5’ (2) The New Commandment & the Old Commandment 2:7-8; (3) Loving the Father and Loving the World 2:15-16; (4) Christ and Antichrist 2:18-22; (5) Truth and Lies 2:20-21; (6)  Children of God and Children of the Devil 3:1-10.

In I John 3:14-15, John uses yet another series of contrasts. In vs. 14 there is the contrast of eternal death and eternal life. In vs. 15 there is the contrast of love and hatred.

John said in 3:14 that the believer in Christ is no longer dead in sin but rather has passed out of spiritual death into eternal life. Therefore, this new life in Christ will be demonstrated by a love for fellow Christians.

In the same way, in 3:15, John said whoever hates a brother in Christ is a murderer (Matthew 5:21-26). This attitude demonstrates that the individual in question is truly not a believer in Christ.

Dr. John MacArthur writes that, “Becoming a Christian is a resurrection from death to life, and a turning of hate to love (cf. Gal. 5:6, 22). A lack of love indicates that one is spiritually dead. Love is the sure test of whether someone has experienced the new birth or is still in the darkness of spiritual death (1 John 2:9, 11). Someone who is characterized by hate has never experienced the new birth. Hatred is spiritually the same as murder in the eyes of God, i.e., the attitude is equal to the act. Hate is the seed that leads to murder, as seen in the example of the hatred of Cain for Abel that resulted in murder (Matt. 5:20–22; cf. Gal. 5:19–21Rev. 22:15).”

 How has today’s lesson challenged you to be more loving to fellow believers? In what ways have you loved a fellow Christian? In what ways have you not loved as you should? Resolve to be more loving today.

May the Lord’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

I John: True Love.

11 “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 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. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” (I John 3:11-13)

What is the core message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? The Apostle John set forth the premise that it is the love of God for a fallen and sinful world (John 3:1-16). This love was demonstrated by Jesus Christ’s obedience in dying on the cross in the sinner’s place (Romans 5:8-10). This was done even while sinner’s for whom Christ died were His enemies (Romans 5:10).

Dr. John MacArthur writes, As noted throughout this epistle, John often repeated the same truths, expanding on them to allow his readers to hear them in new and fresh ways. Each time he presents the same truths in “new” packages, which expand on a particular aspect of their significance or approach the subject from a slightly different angle.”

The natural result of receiving God’s love (John 1:12-13) is that the sinner not only becomes a child of God in position but also in behavior. The most basic behavioral demonstration that an individual is a believer in Christ is a love for other believers (John 15:12; I Peter 1:22-23).

The love of which John speaks is a self-sacrificial love of the will. It is this kind of love which John will address later on in his epistle (I John 4:7-11). John emphasized that what the church heard “from the beginning” (1:1; 2:7, 24) was being attacked by false teachers who were against that which God proclaimed through the apostles. 

The contrast to self-sacrificial love of the will is a selfish, self-centered love. This is the antithesis of God’s love. Rather, it is a love that is likened to Cain. John stressed that Cain belonged to the evil one, or the devil. This ownership was demonstrated and proven by Cain’s murdering Abel, his brother. Cain did so because while Abel’s actions before God were righteous, Cain’s were evil. Cain was filled with a jealous fury which resulted in him hating, rather than loving, his brother and God.

It is this type of jealous and irrational hatred that the fallen world has for believers in Christ. The world calls Christians bigots, hate mongers and intolerant. The irony is that the bigotry, hatred and intolerance is displayed by the fallen worldly culture towards the church in general, and the believer in particular.

How may you demonstrate God’s love today? How may you counteract the hatred of the world today? May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

I John: Why did the Son of God Come to Earth? Part Four.

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. 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.” (I John 3:9-10)

Jesus Christ came to earth to deliver sinners from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin, to destroy the works of the devil and to define, determine and establish children of God. In other words, to choose His elect.

Those who have been born of God are those who do not make a practice of sinning. This is because “God’s seed abides in him.” Seed (σπέρμα; sperma) means nature. God has replaced the sinner’s old nature with a new nature that occurs through the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration. The believer is now a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

John the apostle again sets forth, in a cause and effect statement, that “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” (I John 3:10).

The practice of righteousness, or the present, active performance from the heart of the believer for the things which please God, is evidence that the individual in question is born of God. The absence of the practice of righteousness is evidence that the individual is a child belonging to the devil.

One of the practices of righteousness in particular is the act of loving a brother in Christ. This is a present, active self-sacrificial love of the will for a fellow believer in Christ. It is a love described in I Corinthians 13:1-8a. As we will see later on in I John, it is a love sourced and originated from God (I John 4:7-8).

Are you born of God? One of the biblical evidences of such a claim is obedience to the Word and will of God. May such obedience been evident in our lives today.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!  

 

 

I John: Why did the Son of God Come to Earth? Part Three.

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. 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.” (I John 3:9-10)

Jesus Christ came to earth to deliver sinners from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin, to destroy the works of the devil and to define, determine and establish children of God. In other words, to choose His elect.

Jon sets forth his initial proposition by stating that “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” To be born of God is another way of saying being regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

Regeneration, as set forth in the Scriptures is accompanied by repentance. Repentance is a conscious ability in one’s mind, emotions and will to turn from sin and to turn by faith alone to Christ alone for salvation. This ability to repent is a fruit of sovereign regeneration (Ephesians 2:1-5).

Regeneration is also irresistible or effective. It accomplishes and overcomes all resistance. This is set forth in Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemas in John 3:1-8.

One commentator explains that, When we read Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus, it becomes clear that Jesus teaches our being born again must come before we believe. We cannot see or enter the kingdom of God before our hearts are changed (vv. 3, 5). And since we are saved by faith alone (Eph. 2:8–10), then regeneration precedes faith. The faith by which we enter the kingdom follows our being born again. Moreover, Romans 8:8 tells us that those who are in the flesh—who are controlled by sin and have hearts set on the things of this world—cannot please God. But faith certainly pleases God, for He commands us to believe (John 3:16). People in the flesh cannot exercise faith for they cannot please God. The Spirit must change us first.”

Dr. R. C. Sproul shares that, “The grace of regeneration is irresistible. Jesus likens the Spirit’s work in regeneration to the wind blowing (John 3:8). We cannot see the wind, but we can see its effects as trees sway and objects blow past us. Furthermore, try as we might, we cannot stop or control the wind. When it wants to blow in a certain direction, it will push against whatever impedes it until what is blocking it is knocked down, as those who have seen devastating windstorms know all too well. The same is true of the Holy Spirit. He will finally overcome all resistance to faith in those whom God wants to save. When we say the grace of regeneration is irresistible, we do not deny that people can resist the Holy Spirit for a time. The point is that the Spirit can and will finally overcome all resistance to the truth in those whom God has chosen for salvation. If you are a believer, it is because God overcame your resistance. Thank Him today for doing so.”

Thirdly, regeneration is mysterious. The work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration cannot finally be resisted or controlled and like the wind that blows, you cannot see the Spirit as He regenerates a dead sinner; rather, you can see only the effects of regeneration—profession of faith, repentance, and evidence of a changed life (John 3:8). This is what the Apostle John sets forth when he writes that no one born of God makes a practice of sinning because he has been born of God.

Finally, regeneration is gracious. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” God is under no obligation to enable sinners to believe the gospel but He graciously chooses to do so.

John Calvin explains from Scripture that every part of salvation is authored by God. This includes even our decision to believe.

Dr. Sproul concludes by saying, “We believe only because the Lord makes us willing to believe. Apart from grace, we are fully unwilling to believe. Our hearts are dead in sin, and dead hearts—just like dead bodies—cannot move of their own accord (Eph. 2:1–3). We must not stretch the metaphor too far; Paul is not saying that human beings are unable to make choices without God’s grace. Unredeemed sinners, after all, make choices every day. What the Apostle means is that unless God’s grace resurrects our dead hearts, we cannot make decisions that are pleasing to the Lord. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8), and to be dead in trespasses and sin is to be in or controlled by the flesh.”

Meditate upon the doctrine of regeneration today Take time to thank God for granting you a new birth by His sovereign grace alone, through God given faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

I John: Why did the Son of God Come to Earth? Part Two.

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 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.” (I John 3:7-8)

Jesus Christ came to Earth in order in order to deliver elect sinners from the penalty, power and eventually the presence of sin. Jesus Christ also came to earth in order to destroy the works of the devil.

As one commentator to today’s text observes, If sin is personal enemy #1, then Satan is public enemy #1. The flesh is our internal foe and the devil is our external foe.”

Believers in Christ fight a battle each day in order to be obedient to the Lord and to not be deceived by the world, their own sinful flesh and the devil. It can be exhausting to not stray from the truth of God’s Word and therefore wander, but this is our mission. The words of Psalm 1 come immediately to mind.

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.                                                                              He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

 

The Apostle John continued his argument that those who practice righteousness before God and man are those who have been born of God. Those who are righteous within their souls before God, by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone, will be righteous in their lives before men.

By the same logical argument, those who make a practice of sinning belong by nature and behavior to the devil. Why? Because the evil one has been a sinner and sinning since the beginning.

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “Only righteousness springs from a righteous nature. By contrast, He who does what is sinful is of the devil. It would be wrong to water this assertion down. All sin, of whatever kind or degree, is satanic in nature. This is because the devil has been sinning from the beginning (cf. John 8:44). Sin originated with Satan and is his constant practice. To take part in sin at all is to take part in his activity. It is also opposing the work of the Son of God who came (appeared; cf. 1 John 3:5; Heb. 9:28a) to put an end (lysē, destroy) to that activity. Even the smallest sin runs counter to the work of Christ. Believers are to overcome “the evil one” (1 John 2:13–14), here called “the devil,” and not to participate in what he is.”

Lest there be any doubt, John states clearly and unequivocally that the reason Jesus came was to destroy the works of the devil. In other words, to bring to an end disobedient rebellion. This is not only to occur within the fallen world by God’s judgement (Revelation 19) but also within the believer’s soul by sanctification in and through the Word of God (John 17:17).

What works of disobedient rebellion is God brining to an end in your own soul? What battlegrounds still continue to be waged in spiritual warfare? Resolve to be the blessed person depicted in Psalm 1.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

I John: Why did the Son of God Come to Earth? Part One.

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (I John 3:4-6)

As the storm clouds of World War II were approaching, German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached a sermon on November 26, 1939 entitled “Death is Swallowed Up in Victory.” He concluded his message with these words: “And when the darkest hour comes over us, then we want to hear the voice of Jesus Christ calling in our ear: Victory is won. Death is swallowed up in victory. Take comfort. And may God grant that then we will be able to say: I believe in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. It is in this faith that we want to live and die.”

One of the characteristics of John’s First Epistle is his tendency to review in a circular manner the same themes that he wrote in an earlier portion of his epistle. John wrote that true and genuine love for God is proven by a consistent keeping and obeying of God’s commandments (I John 2:3-5).

He restates that same theme another way in today’s text: “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.”Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.  Every person, it does not matter who they are, who makes it a present and active practice to sin practices lawlessness. Lawlessness, within this context, is a complete disregard for the law of God. It is displayed by lawless living and lawless attitudes. In fact, John defines sin (ἁμαρτίαν; hamartian) as nothing short of lawlessness.

A pastor explains that the apostle had four types of people in mind when he wrote this epistle. They were (1) Fully assured Christians; (2) Christians struggling with assurance; (3) Falsely assured non-Christians; and (4) Known Non-Christians. Today’s text applies to all of us but the Apostle John especially had false-assured non-Christians in mind. 

John affirms the sinlessness of Christ and His substitutionary atonement when he wrote, “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.John’s point is that being a disciple of Jesus is not only freedom from the penalty of sin, which is hell, but also freedom from power of sin in our present day lives.

The apostle’s conclusion in this section is found in 3:6: “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” Again, obedience to God and His commandments is the very best way to show that you believe.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, The primary aim of this section is to combat false teachers who are corrupting the fundamentals of the faith. These verses further amplify, reiterate, and emphasize the moral test already presented by John (see 2:3–6, 7–11).”

As one commentator of today’s text shares, “In union with Christ, which is another way of saying abiding in Christ, I have experienced a definite and decisive break with sin. It no longer rules me. Christ does! A life of living in sin and living in the Savior is an oxymoron! It does not make sense. It is spiritually crazy.”  

Strive today, by God’s strength, to live obediently to the Lord’s commandments. Remember, Jesus came to deliver us from our sin: its penalty and power.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!