Friday, November 25, 2011

First John Chapter One, Part 5 of 5

1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Verses 6 through 10 comprise a unit as John describes walking in the light with Christ. Verse 6 declares that this is where a Christian ought to be. Verses 7 and 9 inform us how we can apprehend this coveted place. Verses 8 and 10 warn us what conditions keep a saint from being in close contact with his God.

Just like Revelation chapters 2 and 3 were penned to give the church a remedy for spiritual illness, lethargy and death these five verses (1st John 1:6-10) comprise a composite of what it means to have individual fellowship with God. This verse is one of two penned to remove the self deception that one can have fellowship with the Lord and remain in sin. The prophet records: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3.

Verse 8 happens to be something of a companion piece to this verse, as verses 7 and 9 compliment one another. Only in verses 7 and 9 we learn from the apostle how to remain and how to return to fellowship with the Lord. In verses 8 and 10 we discover how to practice self-deception and demonstrate that God’s word holds no place in our walk. To reiterate, verse 8 says that if we confess that we have no sin we are self-deceived and do not have the truth abiding in us. I insert the word “abide” because it is used in this epistle twelve times. It is a word John gives importance to. The first use of the word arrives in chapter 2 verse 6 when John writes: “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk as He walked.”

The first use of a term generally defines its usage, so we learn that John is writing about fellowship presently. He urges believers to step beyond confession into possession of Christ. It is whoever keeps His word that the love of God is perfected in, 1st John 2:5. By this we know that we are in Him. Being in Christ at this point is not a matter of whether or not you’re saved; it’s a matter of whether or not you are living the salvation out that you currently possess. Many have eternal life but show no outward sign that such life has ever visited them. John compels these Christians he writes to that if they say they abide in Him then they should walk as Christ walked and so demonstrate the truth of that confession. Christ’s intense love and devotion toward the Father manifested in His intense and compassionate concern for the lost and hurting. John counsels that Christians should emulate their Master on this account.

Our present verse suggests a refusal to acknowledge sin in our lives. Backtrack a verse and we find a continuous thought evolving on John’s pen. If we confess our sins God is faithful to forgive and cleanse us. Here John presents the opposite. If we deny that we have sinned, we in fact make God a liar. It is hard to admit when we’re wrong. It is harder still to admit when we have sinned against God. Mighty David, king of Israel, was humbled at once by the lone accusation of a prophet about his terrible infidelity toward God. He confessed it and was restored, 2nd Samuel chapter 12; Psalm 51.

We multiply our misery when we refuse to admit that we have sinned after committing sin. How in this case do we make God a liar? Generally speaking Scripture states without reservation that there is no man that doeth good and does not sin, Ecclesiastes 7:20. In short: all mankind sins. Christians sin. If these two words shock you then much of the New Testament must likewise shock you. How much is given for correction to address wrong thinking, motives, and actions? One of my brothers in Christ Troy Witherill recently said that the Bible is a record of God’s people doing bad things. This is a very accurate assessment of the record of God’s people, and I believe much error arises from a misconception about the saints. Since Israel did horrible things, rebelled and apostatized they must never have been saved. That is what many think. But is it true? Why is God correcting the unsaved which He had no dealings with outside of Israel’s influence? Does Scripture not tell us that God only corrects those He accepts and it is His sons that receive correction, Hebrews 12:8? Not that all Israel trusted in the Lord; like the church today there were both wheat and tares.

John may be considering the results of confronting a Christian who is sinning within the locality of the church. Later in his epistle John writes that we ought to pray for brethren who we see sinning, 1st John 5:16. Clearly then we also ought to correct such men, Matthew 18:15-17. David’s was a rare spirit that simply felt the conviction of his guilt and confessed his sin. God pardoned him. We are to abide in the truth that we have heard from the beginning, 1st John 1:1; 2:24. That truth is the gospel; that truth is Jesus Christ, John 14:6. Christ will not abide in a saint that is bent on resisting Him. We read: “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out AS A BRANCH and withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” The next verse creates the contrast: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you,” John 15:6-7.

His word is not in us when we deny our sin; we have not internalized it and allowed the light of that word to do its job: namely burn away the dross of sin that prevents us from maturing into a more Christ-like Christian that reflects and glorifies more of the Savior who we love and less of ourselves that can reflect nothing of value. The Psalmist wrote that he meditated on God’s word night and day, Psalm 1:2; 119:148. If we think little of our Advocate and God we are starved for His word; it is not in us. The Christian must upkeep a healthy diet of the Bible to remain spiritually strong; we need the strong meat of God’s word to undergird our thoughts and motives and to direct our worldview, 1st Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:14.

John’s words should incite sober reflection; does God’s word abide in us? Is His truth dwelling in us? Does it affect our walk? Are we walking worthy of this heavenly calling? A saint out of fellowship with Christ is a like a tugboat without an engine. When someone is in distress on the sea the very one that ought to be rushing to help them is too preoccupied with self-interest: keeping their own ship going; the cruelty of the joke is that neither has the power to do so. We’ve sabotaged the engine and thrown it overboard with our own hands. It no longer abides with us, and until we come to our senses about sin and its awful consequences many Christians become calloused enough to think that it is better that way.

3 comments:

  1. Praise God that when He sees believers, He sees not our sins, but the perfect righteousness of His Son, through His death, burial and resurrection that reconciled sinful man to Holy God. Praise God that He is swift to forgive our sins, and that His mercies are new every morning.

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  2. Praise God that He can get His message out through yielded believers like yourself! Thanks for your excellent understanding of God's precious word!

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  3. Thank you for visiting, and for the compliment, Troy. You're more than welcome to visit again and follow me through the rest of 1st John. I'll finish it sooner or later, God willing...

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