On Sunday, I continued our sermon series on 1 John that we are calling Reality Check.
Many of the polls today suggest that one-third of Americans claim to be born again believers. Church attendance may cause you to celebrate thinking that Christianity is alive and well in our country. But if you probe a little further, you realize that the numbers are partly right.
David Wells in his booklet, The Bleeding of the Evangelical Church, took the poll and added a few questions to the question “Are you born again?” for Clarification. He also asked, “Do you go to church with some regularity, do you pray with some regularity, and do you have some minimal structure of formal Christian belief?” The Number of people claiming to be born again Christians Dropped from 32 percent to 8 percent. Wells speculated, based on research, that if you added a few more basic questions (such as, “Are you regenerate?”) the numbers would drop to 1 or 2 percent.
John gives us 3 clarifying statements that will separate believers from unbelievers. He is going to help identify whether you or someone else is walking in the light or wallowing in the dark.
1 John 1:5-10:
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
1. Walk in Darkness
The first sentence encapsulates what John believes about God. This was not hearsay or second hand information. John’s apostolic testimony contrasts the gnostic teachers of the day who did not hear from or meet Jesus personally.
Jesus States 3 ways to Shipwreck Your Fellowship With God.
“If We Say” can be Translated as “Suppose.” “Suppose someone says that they have fellowship with God, but their lifestyle doesn’t back Up their claims.”
Why would John begin his Epistle this way? Theology books always begin with a study of God. They list the communicable attributes of God, The noncommunicable attributes of God, the names of God, the characteristics of God, etc. John does the same thing, and by doing so he reminds us of that belief and behavior go hand in hand. What you really believe works its way out in the way you live your Christian life.
When you sin as a Christian, It obstructs your fellowship with God. Your intimacy with God is affected. He is not saying that believers don’t sin, but that we don’t habitually sin.
John is not talking fellowship as intimacy, but fellowship as a relationship. How do I know this? From the context. Look at Verse 6,
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
The present tense verb Walk is talking about someone’s lifestyle. It’s the sum total of their life. Those who walk in darkness are habitual sinners.
I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do (Practice or Live) such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Do is a PRESENT TENSE VERB. Something you do all the time, everyday.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We can assume that the people John was writing to were making these claims. John uses the word SIN 17 times in this letter alone, signifying something that misses the mark or departs from God’s Holy standard in word or deed.
John is not talking about a particular sin, but about our sin nature. Greek Scholar Kenneth Wuest says,
Sin here is the nature, not the act, and for two reasons; the word is without the definite article, and such a construction in Greek emphasizes nature, quality, and 2nd the word is singular.
You were born a sinner with a sin nature. When you are born again, You are no longer a sinner , but a Saint. But we still have a sin nature called the FLESH.
If we say we have no sin, we are sinning to ourselves, thereby proving the truth is not in us.
How can a Person Ever Deny their Sin? I believe It’s deeper than that. These individuals don’t deny sin, so much, as they diminish what they are doing as sin.
John gives the remedy for our sin problem: Confession. This is not only naming our sins before God. It is agreeing with God about what is sin.
2. Live in Denial
If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
D. L. Moody tells of the time he visited a prison in New York to lead a Revival Service for the prisoners. Afterwards he spoke to each of the prisoners privately. Upon leaving, He said,
I never found such an innocent group of men in my life as in that place. Each man explained that somebody else was to blame for his Crime.
John gives us a clue on how to live. What if I told you that you could Live an abundant Christian life, Would you want to know how? What If I told you that you could have fellowship with God himself?
The keyword is Walk. It’s used 2 times in this section. 10 times in John’s Epistles. It can be translated as Growing Up in Christ. It’s the sanctification process of submitting to Christ completely.
Those who experience a true conversion or a false conversion will both sin. Paul said at the end of his Life that HE IS the CHIEF OF SINNERS.” The difference is that when a true believer sins, He recognizes his sin, asks for forgiveness, and lives for the Lord. The unbeliever does nothing.
The Promise Land is not just a destination. It’s a journey. It’s a walk. Character is formed in the crucible of adversity, yet we always want to take the short route.
A Christian’s road is paved with the bricks of repentance. It begins with confession of our sins and continues with confession of our sins.
When Jesus called People to His Movement, He didn't Say, “Recite this Prayer and Be Saved.” “Go through the A, B, C’s of salvation and then you’ll have a place in Heaven.”
How do I know if I've shipwrecked my fellowship with God? Check which direction you’re walking in.