Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Test of Fellowship (Part 4)


SERMON            GM14-013

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 4)

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

SCHEME:           To desire fellowship with fellow believers
         

1A     THE CHRISTIAN LIFE VIEWED AS FELLOWSHIP (1:5-2:28)

          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)



INTRODUCTION

We began this first section of John’s letter that deals with the Christian life as a life of fellowship. We saw clearly that the Christian life is a life of fellowship with all other believers and with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

And we clearly saw that our claim to this life of fellowship can be tested, and should be tested. We saw from our passage that our claim of fellowship can be tested at least three (3) ways. It can be tested by:

·        Practical grounds
·        Relational grounds
·        Christological grounds

A.   REVIEW

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

What are those practical grounds?

John identified 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

Last week we began looking at the second essential element of the test of the claim of fellowship with God on practical grounds – that element is that there must be the habitual practice of the confession of sin (s).

“…If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves…if we confess our sins. (8, 9a)

For one to claim that they know God and have fellowship God must practice the regular confessing of sins.

We identified three things about the practice of confession of sins:

·        First – There must be an acknowledgment of sin (8)
·        Second – There must be an agreement about sin (9-10)

·        [Third – There must be an abatement of sin (2:2-2))]

We only covered the first phrase of verse 9.

[We were only able to cover the first phrase of verse 9.  We now move into the latter portion of verse nine and into verse ten.]

B.   Introductory Device

There's a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

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. Unconfessed sin creates guilt and emotional turmoil inside of us. We all need the assurance that our sins are forgiven by our heavenly father.

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, and that we practice or maintain a habitual practice of the confession of our sins.

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)

[The second principle supplied by our text is…]

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

“If we confess our sins…”

In verses 9 & 10 John implies three aspects concerning the agreement about sin. These three aspects are:

·        The responsibility of agreement
·        The results of agreement
·        The reminder for agreement

[Last week we covered the first aspect, the responsibility of agreement,]

[Let’s now move to the aspect concerning the Agreement about sin and that is…]

                                      TRUTH FOR TODAY

2E     The Result of agreement (9b)

“…he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

[What are the results of agreeing with God?]

Well, there are two results indicated in the last phrase of verse 9.

First – “…he is faithful…”

-first of all the “he” is referring to God. It is not a reference to Jesus Christ.

-second: John is referencing attributes or characteristics of God’s nature

Let’s start with the word faithful. John uses the Greek word pistos. This means “trusting.”

It was used of confidence in weapons or skills in weapons.

It came to be used of confidence or trust in me. The reason it came to be used this way of men is that it implies a “duty.” This word came to have as a nuance the idea of “obedient.”

It is used of those who stand in a contractual relationship – such as business, marriage, partnership, debt, legal obligation like a contract.

Then the meaning of this word broadened so that it came to mean “reliability”, “certainty” or confidence as in trust.

For us it came to mean that if we confess our sins or agree with God that they are in fact sin and sinful, we can rely on God, or we can have absolute certainty, we can have confidence that God will:

·        Forgive us
·        Cleanse us

So, God is faithful or trustworthy. He will act in “obedience” to His nature or character and forgive us. He will exercise the duty of his character or nature and forgive us.

We never have to worry about God not forgiving us upon our confession of sin because He can only act in accordance with His character. Therefore we can trust Him, He is faithful or acts in accordance with His attributes.

Second - and just to forgive us our sins…”

John uses the Greek word dikaios. This word is connected with the idea of “tradition” or “custom.” The word is applied to “one who conforms to” or “observes” customs or rituals.

It came to mean to fulfill obligations. It’s a link for us since it speaks of those who observe legal norms.

For example:  a just or righteous man is a man who observes or is conformed to legal norms – God’s standards.
Because we can’t conform due to our sin nature, Christ conformed on our behalf, and His righteousness or His conforming to God’s laws and standards became our righteousness.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO US?

It is always God’s truth and character that our redemption is based on.

“…for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:34, ESV)

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Heb. 10:23, ESV)

Faithfulness (trustworthiness) and righteousness (conforming to God’s laws/standards) are attributes of God’s character or nature. God possessed these attributes eternally and will always possess them.

Our redemption and cleansing is not based on our actions, attitudes, activities or even confession – it is based on God’s character,

God is faithful to himself and to his word. God will do and act exactly with that which is in compliance with his character.

·        He is faithful to his promises
·        He is righteous in all of his dealings 

By confessing sin we are casting ourselves on God’s character. We are approaching God and putting to the test for ourselves and discovering God always acts in accordance with His character.

Keep in mind:  God is trustworthy! God is worthy of our confidence and always acts in accordance with His character in spite of our failings and sinning. Our sin does not keep God from remaining true to His promises or standards

So, what is God faithful and righteous to do?

                                                Our text tells us two things.

                                                First – to forgive us our sins.

Our word forgive means “to send off.” It can mean “to hurl” or “to release,” “to let go” or to “let be.”

It was used to refer to someone who was released from a legal obligation or debt. It came to mean “to pardon.”

How does the NT use it? The NT uses it to mean “to let go,” or “to leave.” The word always means “forgive.” It is almost always is used of God forgiving men.

Here in our text it means to remove the barrier that sin has put in the way of fellowship with God. God cannot treat this barrier as non-existent. It must be removed or destroyed. God removes it based on his character and nature when we confess.

Why do we need to confess?

Sin is a defilement and this defilement breaks fellowship with God. This defilement needs to be removed.

Sin breaks our fellowship or communion with God. He no longer “speaks” to us through the HS as the HS illuminates God’s word. We cannot speak to God as our prayers are now hindered.

Our relationship with God is intact, we are still God’s children. There is now a barrier between us.

The only way for this barrier to be removed is by our repentance which leads to confession of our sin.

Unfortunately and tragically many believers live in a state of broken fellowship. They have no fellowship or communion with God.

Some might say that is OK with them. They might say, “Hey, I am saved, I am going to heaven, I don’t need fellowship with God.”

·        First of all – our salvation & God’s plan does not work that way

·        Second – God actively works to demonstrate to you that He is the greatest thing that you can have and that he can give you. If God wasn’t the greatest thing then he would be an idolater for giving you something better than him. You need to continually develop a great hunger and thirst for God. Develop a passion for the supremacy of God in all things.

·        Third – God will work on you to repent through chastisement

§  Tired, lack of energy or strength
§  Sickness, accidents, problems
§  Death

Why does God work so hard and care so much?

Fellowship is a sign that you are a real and true child of God. Without this fellowship you are not a child of God.

So, God forgives us our sin. This indicates God’s response to the guilt of our sin as it occurs on a daily basis. When we fail to conform to God’s laws/standards, our sin makes us guilty and subject to chastisement or correction by God.

When we confess God acts in accordance with his attributes and character to release us from the guilt and defilement of our sin. He removes our sin, he sends our sin away.

So, the first result in the agreement about sin is that God is faithful and righteous to forgive our sin.

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 that we practice or maintain a habitual practice of the confession of our sins.

[There is a second result from the Agreement about sin and that is…

-         Cleansing

“…and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The statement to cleanse us declares that our sins make our guilty and unclean.

For example: Peter 

Sin produces a defilement that God cannot allow to remain in us.

Sin produces a defilement that only God can remove – not Shout, Tide, or Oxy-clean!

The Word for cleanses is used of physical, religious, and moral purity. It carries the idea:

o   Clean from dirt
o   Free from dirt
o   Morally free from stain or shame from dirt

This cleansing restores us to fellowship with God. The blood of Christ is the cleansing agent that God uses.

Keep in mind it is not our actions nor our confession that produces this cleansing.

The question may come to your mind about now is:

Didn’t Jesus fully satisfy/appease God by His sacrificial death? IOW didn’t Christ remove the penalty once and for all time?

This is a good question! What’s the answer?

Look at verse 7 – “…the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Look at verse 9 – “…to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

There are two statements here by John.
There are two main principles at work.

-         Vs. 7 – is a statement of what God has done to meet our needs in relationship to salvation

-         Vs. 9 – is the assurance provided for us that we are to have in view of God’s provision in vs. 7.

What Does This Mean?

Vs. 7 refers to Jesus death on the cross. This is the pardon Jesus purchased for our sin.

Vs. 9 – John assures his readers that fellowship with God and walking with God is possible. John is dealing not with Christ’s death and our salvation, but with the guilt and filth that “dirties” us which prevents or hinders us from fellowshipping with God.

John is telling us that we are guilty of sin and that we do fall into sin, even so, we can still have a means of maintaining fellowship with God.

Let’s look at some practical aspects of confession. 

There are at least four practical aspects concerning confession of sin:

1)     Confession is not optional, it is obligatory! (Why?)

a)     So that God would be honored
b)    So that God would be obeyed
c)     So that the reality of sin would be impressed upon us
d)    So that we would maintain fellowship with God

2)    Confession is the consequent and condition of true fellowship with God

3)    Confession is a result of repentance. Repentance produces:

a)     Conviction
b)    Contrition
c)     Confession

o   “But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done…’” (2 Sam. 24:10, ESV)

o   “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heard and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.” (Ezra 9:6, ESV)

o   “For Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas world grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also eagerness to clear yourselves what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment…” (2 Cor. 7:10-11, ESV)

4)    Confession is to be made freely and voluntarily

So, God forgives us and cleanses us from all sin.

There must be an agreement about sin. When there is agreement about sin there are results. We have seen two of those results in verse 9 – forgiveness of sin and cleansing from all unrighteousness.

So, the second principle supplied by our text is that there must be an agreement about sin. There are three aspects concerning this principle.

We have looked at two of these aspects: a responsibility for agreement and the results of agreement.

[We now turn to the third and final aspect in relationship to this necessary agreement about sin. We find this third and final aspect in verse 10. Here we see…] [don’t worry this is short and sweet!]
  
3E     The Reminder for Agreement (10)

“If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 Jn 1:10, ESV)

First – if we say we have not sinned…

The false teachers are denying the reality of sin or a sin principle that causes them to sin. The perfect tense of the verb indicates that they are claiming to have never sinned right up to the very moment that they made their claim.

We need to be reminded that we do sin and that we do need to confess our sin.

Second – by claiming the absence of sin they are denying the truth or veracity of God’s revealed Word. This is fatal.

They are calling God a liar by their denial. The whole plan of God’s dealing with men is based on the assumption that all men have sinned. This is a declaration that God is a liar. Worse than that, it is actually an accusation that God is a liar because God’s character or nature makes him lie.

[Turn to and read Romans 3:10-18]

Third – If we make this claim, God’s worked is not in us. God’s communicated truth is not in us. IOW, God’s redemptive message has not been appropriated and does not live in the person who would deny that they are a sinner and that they sin. IOW, there is no relationship with God, there is no intimate fellowship with God.

There must be an agreement about sin. We have a responsibility to agree with God about sin. There are valuable and indispensable results from agreeing with God about sin. We even have a reminder in this passage that we need to agree with God about sin.

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 that we maintain a habitual practice of the confession of our sins.

[Let’s wrap this up!]

CONCLUSION

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said this in a sermon to his people at the Westminster Chapel in London:

Knowing thus the faithfulness and justice of God and the power of the blood of Christ to deliver me and to cleanse me from the guilt and stain of my sins, I can with confidence go forward, knowing that my conscience has been cleansed, and I can continue to walk with God. [1]




[1] Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Life In Christ, (Wheaton:  Crossway Books, 2002), p. 134

1 comment:

Writing for Pleasure said...

WOW another good read though time consuming but I'm not complaining.

I once wrote a poem about Forgiveness, ending with these words.
"If God Can Forgive The Sins Of Me and You,
The Surely To Forgive is the Right and Proper Thing To Do".

Yvonne.