Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Test of Fellowship (Part 5)

SERMON            GM14-014

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 5)

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)


This first section of John’s letter that deals with the fact that the Christian life is to be viewed as a life of fellowship. We have clearly seen that the Christian life is a life of fellowship with all other believers and with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have also clearly seen that our claim to this life of fellowship can be tested, and should be tested. Once again we seen 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


So, 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

B.   Introductory Device

A Russian, a Cuban, an American businessman and an American lawyer were on a train traveling across Europe. The Russian took out a large bottle of vodka, poured each of his companions a drink and then hurled the semi-full bottle out the window.

"Why did you do that?" asked the American businessman.

"Vodka is plentiful in my country," said the Russian. "In fact, we have more than we will ever use."

A little later, the Cuban passed around fine Havana cigars. He took a couple of puffs of his and then tossed it out the window.

"I thought the Cuban economy was suffering," the businessman said. "Yet you threw that perfectly good cigar away."

"Cigars," the Cuban replied, "are a dime a dozen in Cuba. We have more of them than we know what to do with."

The American businessman sat in silence for a moment. Then he got up, grabbed the lawyer and threw him out the window.

C.   We all need a lawyer or an advocate. You see, 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. Or assurance comes from the truth that we have a lawyer, or an advocate on our side.

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

E.   Once again 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 four (4) 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…”  omalegew ”to say the same thing God says”

[Having finished examining these two principles supplied by our text, this morning we move to the third principle supplied by our text…]  

                                      TRUTH FOR TODAY

[The third principle supplied by our text is…]

                             3D     There must be an Abatement to sin (2:1-2)

“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you many not sin…” (1 John 2:1a, NKJV)

By this John means that there must be a stop to our sinning. Before we consider this statement let’s look at…

1E     The Passion of John

Let me give you a very literal rendering of this first phrase.

“My dearest darling little children...”

Do you see John’s passion for his readers?

John is an old man when he writes this letter. He is probably 85-99 years old, probably around 90. John loves these believers in these various churches in Asia Minor.

John regards his readers as dear little children whom he loves dearly.

Our Greek word teknia expresses deep or passionate affection for little or small children.

Just how loving and passionate John was is recorded in a story about when one of his converts became a robber.

John went to the convert turned robber’s house to confront him about his sin. When he saw John coming, he began to run away.

John, although an old man, tried to run after him. Of course he couldn’t, so he yelled:

“O, my Son!” “Why do you flee from me, your Father? You are armed, I am old and defenseless! Have pity on me. My son there is still hope of life (eternal) for you. I wish myself to take the burden of all before Christ.

If it is necessary I will die for you as Christ died for us. Stop! Believe! It is Christ who sends me!” [1]

[So, John is very passionate about his readers. He loves them deeply. He thinks of them as you would think of dear little children. Now let’s look @…]

                                      2E     The Purpose of John

“…I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin…”

A very literal translation reads:

“…the things that I wrote to you in vss. 5-10, I am writing to you in order that, or for this purpose, you might not commit specific or individual acts of sin…”

First – The use of the ingressive aorist tense of the verb tells us that John does not want his readers to commit even one act of sin against God.
It seems that John wasn’t just looking for the cessation of sin, but the actual eradication or extinction of every act of sin. His goal is actually nothing less than perfection.

John doesn’t want his readers to sin. Of course this by way of application is directed at us. John would not want any one of us to sin.

Secondly – although John has a very high standard and a lofty purpose for writing what we wrote, John is realistic.

John does understand the weakness of the flesh. John knows that his readers will sin.

(Augustine) “Sin comes when we take a perfectly natural desire or longing or ambition and try desperately to fulfill it without God. Not only is it sin, it is a perverse distortion of the image of the Creator in us. All these good things, and all our security, are rightly found only and completely in him.” [2]

[This reality that we will sin leads us to our fourth and final principle.]

[The fourth principle supplied by our text is…]

                             4D     There must be an Advocate for sin (2:1b-2)

And if anyone sins…”

John knows sin will get us.

I couldn’t help including this illustration of the certainty that we will sin when I came a crossed it in my study and research. I liked it when I read it and I like it now.

It comes from a "No trespassing" sign seen in west Texas. It says:

STOP. I know you're thinking about crossing this gate. What you should know is that if the Coyotes, Cactus, Mesquite, Heat, Dust or Rattlers don't get you, I will.

If we were to put up such a sign it might read like this:

Stop sinning. I now you’re thinking about crossing the line into sin. What you should know is that if your flesh, lusts, desires, appetites, whims, fancies aren’t checked by the HS, the Word, accountability partners, prayer, and your devotional life sin will get you.

[So, being realistic John says…]

“But if anyone does sin…”

“…we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

What does it mean “we have an advocate?

First of all – a more literal rendering of this verse would read:

“…and if anyone does commit individual acts of sin, we have a helper, a counselor for our defense to plead our case, Jesus Christ, righteous,”

-the Greek word for advocate is the word paraklntos.

--it is used only 5 times in the NT.

--all five times it is used by John, once here in our passage before us and 4 times in the Gospel of John. (14:6, 26, 15:26, 16:7)

--this word is applied to Jesus Christ just once and it is applied to the HS 4 times.

[To get a better understanding of this word let’s take a close look at it]

First – It was used outside of the NT long before John used it in his gospel and this letter.

Second – it is a noun and it was used of a person who was called upon to help someone, it was a person who was summoned for the purpose of giving help or assistance. It was used of a person who was a helper to someone involved in court proceedings. Its usage was clearly legal.

So we have to ask ourselves how did John use it and what did he intend for us to understand?

Here in verse 1 John tells his readers that they have a paraklntos. John’s reference of course is to Jesus. Jesus is referred to as the helper of sinning Christians. The translators translated it as advocate. Right or wrong we are left with the idea or the image of a trial before God’s court.

Having said that you must keep in mind that the HS is not the defender of Christians before God – the HS is a helper to believers in a number of other ways – teaching, convicting, comforting, counseling, and much more.

The legal aspect or flavor was never applied to the HS. He is a helper and the NKJV and the ESV are right in translating paraklntos as helper and not comforter. Nowhere in the NT do we get the idea that Jesus or the HS are comforters.

The Greek church fathers on the basis of 1 John 2:1 understood Jesus in the sense of an advocate or a legal helper. 

What does Jesus do for us in this capacity?

First of all – John changes his language from “that you don’t sin,” to “if a man does sin.”

Second – even if the sin is not thought of as inevitable, but as possible, John did not say when you, he said if you sin.

Third – the use of the Greek word kai points to a clear contrast between inevitable sin and if you possibly sin

Fourth – the tense of the verb is not speaking of a continuous repetition of sinning, but John is speaking of single act of sin. John does not expect believers to live a life of regular sinning. They are to grow, mature and as they do put sin away.

Fifth – John did not say if any man repents or feels bad that causes Christ to act as an advocate. Contrition and confession are fruits of Christ’s helping or advocacy.

Take note of a few things right here:

·        God makes no allowances for sin – not a single sin
·        God will always judge and condemn sin
·        God has made a provision for his children when they do sin

o   Christ helps believers & pleads their cause before God
o   Christ is not an advocate for sin but for sinning believers

What does he advocate for?

First of all – he does not excuse sin or extenuate sin

·        He is an advocate for the non-imputation of sin to the believer
·        He pleads that the sin has already been judged and laid upon himself
·        He pleads that he has already borne the penalty for that individual sin
·        He pleads that his blood has been shed for the remission of that sin
·        He pleads that he has made full satisfaction to God for that sin and that forgiveness should be applied to the believer 

Why does he do this?

Rev 12:10 says, “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.’” (Rev 12:10, ESV)

Satan accuses Christians of sin and unworthiness and treason and all sorts of heinous crimes against God.

·        Christ is at God’s right hand
·        Christ defends us
·        Christ maintains our rights as ransomed people

·        Christ is not begging for favors
·        He is arguing out a right, our right for grace and mercy and forgiveness
·        Christ silences the devil who accuses of sin before God

The idea that man be can be represented before God by a “superior” and holy helper, who comes forward as a helper – a defender and advocate and speaks for you or me when we commit an individual act of sin is based on references in God’s dealing with Israel in the OT.

There we are introduced to the dominant idea of the judgment of God before which sinners are arraigned and where they need an advocate.

So, the living Christ intercedes @ the right hand of God in intercession. He places His incorruptible life and death before God on our behalf.

This truth is captured in Hebrews 7:25, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25, ESV)

So Chris is the defender of those who confess him.

Do you see just how serious sin is and how serious God and Christ take it? If only we took sin as seriously.

 Remember, John is not talking about someone who practices sin regularly or commits multiple and on-going sins.

 He is talking about believers who have put sin away and yet may sin in an individual act.

So John tells us that the Christian life is a life of fellowship with God through Jesus Christ and with other believers.

John tells us that this claim of fellowship with God can be tested. It can be tested on:

·        Practical grounds

Thus far we have seen that these practical grounds include

·        A moral likeness to the character of God
·        A habitual practice of the confession of sin

John has made it clear that in order to practice the confession of sin there must be:

·        An acknowledgment of sin
·        An agreement about sin
·        An abatement to sin
·        An Advocate for sin

2E     By means of a propitiation

The atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross is the grounds on which salvation is offered by a holy God to undeserving sinners.

The atoning work of Jesus Christ actually, effectively, and eternally secures the salvation of those people whom God has given to Christ.
Propitiation: “a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath to the end.” God forgave sin at the cross. It was at the cross where God hurled the wrath he had stored up since the first sin by Adam and Eve in the Garden.

It means to make propitiation as a sacrifice of propitiation.

Christ’s actions was a sacrifice that turned away the wrath of God making God favorable toward sinners.

This is how the NT understands these words this is how the pagan and Greek religions understood His word.

Jesus bore the wrath of God against sin. This is an eternal, immutable requirement in the holiness and justice of God that sin be paid for.

Christ’s death on the cross accomplished four things:

·        It was a bloody sacrifice that appeased God
·        It removed the wrath of God from his people
·        It reconciled or restored us to God
·        It redeemed us out of the bondage to sin

“...for our sins…” – who is the “our”? John is referring to and means Jewish Christians. John is writing to Christians to deter them from sin.

“…but also for the sins of the whole world.” -  John is referring to and means also Gentile Christians. People from all tribes, ethnic groups, colors, races, and kinds of men.

John has shown us in verse 1 that in regards to an abatement of sin we have and advocate. Next week we will see that John says we have a propitiation for our sins.

 [Let’s wrap this up!]


Let me close with this. When Stephen, the great first martyr… you can read about him in Acts 6&7. When he was preaching and was brought into courts. And the religious authorities were upset that Christianity was spreading as it was. They looked at him and said we are going to execute you. Especially after he explained the gospel to them and told them they were wicked sinners. And it didn’t go over very well. You know the first part of the
Sermon tonight fortunately most of you probably will not try to execute me but some of you will probably be unhappy. In this case, Stephen was preaching to people who had the power to execute him so they did. And they took him out to stone him but just before they began to kill him God gave him something. He looked to the heavens and said “I see Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, standing at the right hand of God.” What did he see? He saw his advocate. And the thing that is so amazing is when on earth he was getting condemned - he was being called a loser, he was getting called a traitor, he was being called a cult leader and a liar. Everything he would want to claim. He would want popularity. He would want a good name. He would want success. He would want a good reputation. It was all being stripped away from him. What did he do in response? When he saw Jesus Christ as advocate standing up there, his face God radiant, it said. He says I see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” In other words, to know that his advocate in Heaven, and his Father in Heaven loved him, commended him, acclaimed him and accepted him meant that all of the rejection and even an execution here on earth. - He got so excited he seemed to forget, if you read the text, that he was about to be executed – to the degree that you grasp the fact that you have an advocate with the Father you will be able to take criticism. This guy could take an execution. You will be able to take criticism. You will be able to take rejection. You will be able to take sin and guilt. You will be able to take the things that right now weigh you down. You will have the fullness of the Spirit to the degree that you grasp that when we sin we have one who speaks to the father in our defense: Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Exhortation:  Pray for a tender heart and conscience that is wounded and agitated each time you sin so that you would confess your sin by name immediately so as to never interrupt your fellowship with God your Father.

[1] Marvin Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans’s, 1985), p. 324
[2] Augustine, The Confessions of Saint Augustine

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As always something to think over. which I will do tonight,