Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Test of Fellowship (Part 3)

SERMON            GM14-012

SERIES:              Christian Living in a World of Chaos & Contradiction

SCRIPTURE:     1 John 1:8-2:2

SUBJ:                  Fellowship with. God

SUBTITLE:        The Test of Fellowship (Part 3)

SUMMARY:       The Christian life is viewed as a life of fellowship

SCHEME:           To desire fellowship with fellow believers


          1B     Fellowship is tested on practical grounds (1:5-2:11)

                   1C     Practical grounds of moral like-ness (1:5-7)

                   2C     Practical grounds of confession of sin (1:8-2:2)

                   3C     Practical grounds of obedience (2:3-6)

                   4C     Practical grounds of love for God (2:7-11)

          2B     Fellowship is tested on relational grounds (2:12-17)

                   1C     The Positive Relationship (2:12-14)
                   2C     The Negative Relationship (2:15-17)

          3B     Fellowship is tested on Christological grounds (2:18-28)

                   1C     The Contrast (2:18-21)
                   2C     The Christological (2:22-23)
                   3C     The Centrality (2:24-28)


Approximately 60 years after Jesus rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and the coming of the Holy Spirit to form the body of Christ, false teachers had invaded many of the churches that John oversaw or had charge of as the last living Apostle.

Among many things these false teachers denied the existence of the reality of the incarnation of God in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. They also stated that John, the other apostles, and these believers did not fellowship with the “real” God. They claimed to have special knowledge and special fellowship. They were working to lure the believers of this time away from the truth and into their false doctrine.

John writes this letter to these believers in these various churches to combat all of the false charges and teachings of these false teachers. The first thing that John addresses is the apostolic truth about true and real fellowship that can be had with John, fellow believers, and more importantly with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, we began this section that deals with the Christian life as a life of fellowship. The Christian life is a life of fellowship with all other believers and with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

And we noted that our claim to this life of fellowship can be tested. We see from our passage that this claim of fellowship can be tested at least three (3) ways. It can be tested by:

·        Practical grounds
·        Relational grounds
·        Christological grounds


John charged his readers with the truth that fellowship can be tested on practical grounds.

What are those practical grounds?

John identifies the essential elements necessary when we claim to have fellowship with God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ on practical grounds. Those four essential elements are:

·        The presence of a  moral likeness to God
·        The habitual confessing of sin
·        The  habitual practice of obedience
·        The existence of a love for God

Two weeks ago we began looking at the first essential element of the test of the claim of fellowship with God on practical grounds – that element is that there must be present in the person making a claim of having fellowship with God a moral likeness to God.

“…God is light and in Him is darkness at all. (5b)

For one to claim that they know God and have fellowship God must live in the light of God and must reject the darkness.

We noted three things about this moral likeness:

·        First – God is the absolute standard by which we compare
·        Second – The standard is absolute and does not change
·        Third – Similarity to the standard produces assurance

Basically, if we in order to have fellowship with God there must be more than just a claim. Since God is holy and with no darkness, we must be holy in our position and practice. If we claim to know God or to fellowship with God and live in opposition to His nature or character we are actually liars. But if we live consistently is the light we saw that we have fellowship with other believers, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from sin.

[This moves us then from the first essential element of this test on practical grounds to the second essential element.

B.   Introductory Device
King David once wrote this sad commentary on his life, "When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the daylong" (Psa. 32:3).
There is nothing that so takes the joy out of life like unconfessed sin on the conscience. Unconfessed sin can make us tired, listless, and irritable.
Before we get into our text let me share this with you:
Four preachers met for a friendly gathering. During the conversation one preacher said, "Our people come to us and pour out their hearts, confess certain sins and needs. Let's do the same. Confession is good for the soul." In due time all agreed. One confessed he liked to go to movies and would sneak off when away from his church. The second confessed to liking to smoke cigars and the third one confessed to liking to play cards. When it came to the fourth one, he wouldn't confess. The others pressed him saying, "Come now, we confessed ours. What is your secret or vice?" Finally he answered, "It is gossiping and I can hardly wait to get out of here."

C.   We all sin. We all need to confess our sins to God and seek forgiveness from God. Unconfessed sin “breaks” or impedes our fellowship with each other and with our God.

D.   Our theme this morning continues to be that our claim of fellowship with God can be tested on practical grounds.

E.   This is a good reminder for us all that as we claim to have fellowship with God that our claim can be tested by determining if our character contains a moral likeness to God’s character.

F.    I propose to you this morning that there is a second essential element of testing our claim of having fellowship with God by the means of practical grounds.

What is the second essential element by which we can test our claim of fellowship with God? The second essential element is…

                   2C     The Habitual confession of sin (1:8-2:2)

[Read 1 John 1:8-2:2]

[Our text supplies three (3) principles that enables a habitual practice of the confession of sin.]

[The first principle supplied by our text is…]

                             1D     There must be an Acknowledgment of sin (8)

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8, NKJV)

When John writes, “If we say that we have no sin…” he is not talking about:

·        Original sin – the sin we are born with as a result of the fall

·        Sin in general – he is not talking about the various acts of sin

The false teachers plaguing these Christians to whom John is writing to were actively denying the existence of an abiding power of sin as a principle within themselves that caused them to sin.

Why is this a problem?

First of all – sin stops being a “problem” or an issue for those who do not acknowledge the presence of an indwelling power or principle called sin.

What results from this attitude is we no longer acknowledge sin as sin, but we begin to rename it like mistakes, problems, hang-ups, errors, or we demand people to take us just the way that we are.

Or we blame others – this is where the phrase “you made me do it” comes from. You heard it and probably have said it, you made me mad. You made me lie, or it was your fault.

Second problem – sin becomes something that simply happens rather than something with very serious consequences. We stop seeing the action as something than can bring repercussions, such as the chastisement of God.

If you don’t think sin is an indwelling principle or power that generates sin behavior with serious consequences ask the Corinthians who got sick or died who got drunk on the communion wine or ate up all the food at the pot-luck rather than waiting and sharing with everyone.

This denial of sin leads to what John calls self-deception. This word means to lead astray, to lead away from the truth.

This self-deception is maintained by those people who turn a blind-eye to the sin in their life.

What they want is a reality where there is no personal guilt. Where they are not responsible for their actions – they want to do, say, respond, act any way they want with no consequence.

That is total deception.

For clarification purposes the phrase “have no sin” is peculiar to John. He alone uses it. But he does in order to distinguish that concept from “the verb to sin.” This phrase points to the principle of sin in the flesh rather than the “acts” of sin

The Gnostics, these false teachers taught that they were without sin. They argued that they did not need the cleansing spoken of in verse 7.

So there must be an acknowledgment of sin in order to maintain a habit of confessing sin. We cannot deny that an awful, horrible, wicked, evil, dark, and treasonous principle of sin lives inside us enticing and luring us into sinful actions and activities.

If not we lead ourselves astray in to great danger and God’s truth is not in us. By the way this word lead astray is used about the one sheep who wandered away from the 99 sheep in the fold

The basic idea is leading one away from the right way. When used in the NT it refers not to mistakes but to major error.

For example:

Matt 24:4 – “…take heed that no man leads you astray.”

James 5:19 – “...if anyone wanders from the truth

1 Peter 2:25 – “…ye were sheep going astray.”

Rev 12:9 – “…Satan, who leads the whole world astray.”

Listen, it does not mean nor imply that the person who is being led astray isn’t deceived without him knowing he is being deceived, it means he himself has led himself astray.

When you deny sin and your sinful behavior you are leading yourself astray or from the truth and into serious consequences.

The truth refers to the moral truth that God has revealed to his people, the light! His Word.

This is how serious it is. Those who deny that they possess the sin principle have never received truth into their souls. One cannot be a believer, one cannot have fellowship with God unless he/she recognizes that he/she is sinful and commits acts of sin.

We all sin. We all need to confess our sins to God and seek forgiveness from God. Unconfessed sin “breaks” or impedes our fellowship with each other and with our God.

Our theme this morning continues to be that our claim of fellowship with God can be tested on practical grounds.

This is a good reminder for us all that as we claim to have fellowship with God that our claim can be tested by determining if our character contains a moral likeness to God’s character.

So, the first principle supplied by our text is there must be an acknowledgment of sin.

[The second principle supplied by our text is…]

                             2D     There must be an Agreement about sin (9-10)

“If we confess our sins…”

The hard truth of the matter is that sin, the root of wickedness or unrighteousness remains in us even after our salvation by Jesus Christ.

The first question that should come to our mind is are we affected by this root of indwelling wickedness?

The second question that should concern us, does this root of evil cause us to sin?

Thirdly, we should be concerned with the question, that if this root of evil affects us, what do we do about it?

1E     First – you must recognize the fact that sin is an active principle, actively at work in your life.

2E     Second – you must recognize some important facts about this active principle:

·        The vileness of your own flesh
·        The enmity of Satan against you
·        The world constantly lays snares and traps to draw you into sin

3E     Third – you cannot deliver yourself from the power of sin. God has, past tense. However, to experience this deliverance you must walk in the light on a constant or consistent basis.

4E     you must realize that there is no relief from sin, no restraint against sin, and no restoration with God until there is confession of sin

5E     You must realize that it is pride and a refusal to humble yourself that stops us from the confession of sin. We hate to admit sin.

          This is why many times we refuse to call our attitudes or actions sin, and call them mistakes, short-comings, or hang-ups.

Or we go to the other side of the coin and constantly blame our sinful attitudes or actions on other people.

“You made me made, or you made me do it.”

“…if we confess our sins…”

First of all – we must recognize that sin, any sin, interrupts our fellowship with God.

Once you recognize that and there are several things to keep in mind:

·        The verb that John uses is the present tense verb. It gives the idea of confessing after each act of sin.

It is easy to say, “I am a sinner,” but if confession is to have value it must state the definite acts of sin.” [1]

Apparently we don’t wait and save up a whole bunch of sins or wait until the end of the day. It is an acknowledgment at the time the HS convicts us of our sin

·        The verb used means “to speak together,” “to speak in agreement,” ultimately it came to mean to admit or to confess.

It was used primarily to “admit” or “confess” Christ, or to confess truths about Christ. It is used 11 times in the NT. 3 of those 11 times it is translated as “admit.”

·        The verb is used in relationship to individual acts of sin. It is a frank and honest acknowledgment or agreement of our sin. The specific acts of sin must be named and admitted to.

By the way this concept goes beyond a general cataloging our sins; we must lay each sin before God and honestly admit them as sin, agree with God that they are sin, and honestly seek God’s forgiveness.

Let me say three things about this:

One – we cannot claim to be sinless or that our actions or attitudes are not sinful. This is self-deception.

Second – most believers wouldn’t say that they are without sin or that they don’t sin. Many believers down play the seriousness of their actions or attitudes which is tantamount to actually saying you didn’t or don’t sin.

Third – we cannot, as we have already said, reclassify our sins into faults or mistakes.

There must be an agreement with God that certain specific actions or attitudes are in fact sin. BTW, God already knows that they are sin, He wants us to admit it.

Augustine wrote: “He who confesses and condemns his sins already acts with God. God condemns sin: if thou also dost condemn sin, thou are linked to God.”

(We hate to!)

What Happens when you choose not to confess your sin or sins?

First of all – and this is elementary, but fellowship and communion with God is interrupted or broken.

Second – you are choosing not to be honest with yourself and with God. You have chosen to be deceived. This is the worst kind of deception, you are self-deceived.

Third – you are avoiding the light

·        You are refusing to face the truth
·        You are concealing something
·        You are resisting the HS to bring whatever is hidden to the light

Fourth – you are actually hating the light

Remember those whose deeds are evil hate the light, but those who come to the light do deeds worthy of the light?

Confession is essential to our Christian life. It means that we must remain open to the working of the light through the HS in our lives.

Fifth – it doesn’t just affect us spiritually it also effects of physically and emotionally.

Turn to Psalm 32:3-4

There is no relief for a conscience that is riddled with the guilt of sin. There is no restoration to fellowship with God apart from confession.

Many times we are slow to confess our sins or we simply hate to do so. Unconfessed sin produces a cold and hardened attitude in our heart toward God.
If we continue to refuse to confess our sins then God will begin to work in our lives to bring us to confession.

Listen to David’s experience during the time, possibly a year, or a little less when he refused to confess his sin of lust, adultery, and murder.

A.   W. Pink describes David’s experience this way:

“He was like a man in a fever – tossing about upon his bed, trying first one position and then another, but finding no rest. Such perturbation and disquietude of spirit in a believer is one of the surest signs that he is out of communication with the Lord.” [2]

Unconfessed sin in a true believer brings a pressure of guilt in the “mind” and physical effects on the body.

David said his body “wasted away.”
David said his strength evaporated
When your energy is zapped you grow tired, irritable, listless, and sometimes unable to move.

God will bring this condition upon us if we refuse to confess our sin. 

The next step is active chastisement in various forms of illness, accidents, and or various events.

Finally, at some point refusal to confess brings death.

Granted, this is a description of a believer, a true child of God who has sinned and refused to confess their sin. Unbelievers may never experience any of these symptoms.

Looks like we are going to have to pick up the rest of verse 9 and 10 next week. We are going to stop here.

We all sin. We all need to confess our sins to God and seek forgiveness from God. Unconfessed sin “breaks” or impedes our fellowship with each other and with our God.

Our theme this morning continues to be that our claim of fellowship with God can be tested on practical grounds.

This is a good reminder for us all that as we claim to have fellowship with God that our claim can be tested by determining if our character contains a moral likeness to God’s character.

And our claim can be tested by our constant or consistent confession of sin.

So, the first principle supplied by our text is there must be an acknowledgment of sin.

The second principle supplied by our text is there must be an agreement about sin.

Let’s Wrap This Up:


     Erwin Lutzer

Forgiveness is always free. But that doesn't mean that confession is always easy. Sometimes it is hard. Incredibly hard. It is painful to admit our sins and entrust ourselves to God's care.

[1] Ed. H. D. M. Spence & J. S. Excell, The Pulpit Commentary, (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 1937), p. 5
[2] A. W. Pink, Exposition of First John 1 & 2, (Lafayette: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 2001), p.57


Susan said...

What I've learned recently is that we do not have fellowship with unbelievers...we can have friends who are unbelievers, that is completely different from fellowship. There is a "kinship" that (if we are saved) only happens with others who are saved. The way I learned this was painful, but something that was needful for me to understand. It isn't that I'm "better" than an unsaved person, it is just that the basis for true fellowship (Jesus) just isn't there unless both are born of the Spirit. There's no true understanding of what each other is talking about when one is speaking by the Spirit and the other does not have the Spirit. It just doesn't work that way...

I'm still learning about this, but this was astounding to me. I always thought it was something under my control. My abilities have nothing to do with it, it is all according to what the Spirit is doing...

Writing for Pleasure said...

What a most absorbing and interesting post, sorry I am late with a comment.
It took me quite a while to read and to get the gist of what you were writing but got there in the end.
About not being honest with oneself, I was brought up to believe that "Always to thine self be true" if you can't be true to yourself how can you be true and respect other people?