A Study of the Book of 1st John
“Back To the Basics”
Sermon # 4
“The Test of Fellowship”
1 John 2:3-11
John states the purpose of writing his letter in 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” He says that he is writing so that they may know that they have eternal life, but the question remains, How can we be sure we are saved? What happens after we are saved a while and our zeal starts to get zapped; when our evangelistic fervor starts diminishing, then we begin to wonder, “Have I really been changed? The same temptations are still after me if not worse? How do I know if I am truly a child of God?”
Some teach that if one has repeated a certain prayer, gone forward at the conclusion of a service, made a profession of faith, or has been baptized then you are definitely saved and should never question that salvation. The Bible DOES clearly state that those are truly saved can never lose their salvation (Jn. 10:28). They have been permanently sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13), and nothing can separate them from the love of the Savior (Rom. 8:38-39). Yet the Apostle Paul admonishes in 2 Corinthians 13:5 that every professing Christian, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.”
The Bible does plainly teach that it is possible to know for sure you are a Christian, but that assurance is to be built on facts. In today’s text I want you to note a phrase that occurs three times in these verses. It is the phrase, “He who says,” (vv. 4, 6, 9) and introduces a series of three tests by which anyone can know beyond a shadow of a doubt whether or not they are a child of God.
In verse three we read, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. (4) He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (5) But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. (6) He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (7) Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old comman-ment which you have had from the begin-ning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. (8) Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. (9) He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. (10) He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. (11) But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
The believer can and should enjoy the confident assurance of knowing that they are really saved, but that assurance is to be built on an objective source of certainty. This objective source is the result of personal examination that reveals the practical evidence in their lives that John outlines for us in today’s text.
First, The Test of Attitude (vv. 3-5) Obedience
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. (4) He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (5) But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.”
How can we know that we have truly come to know God in a life changing way? Is it in the church we attend? Or is it the version of the Bible that we use? Is it the length of our hair or the way that we dress? Or is in having some kind of second blessing, spiritual experience? John states his case with certainty; he does not say, “we hope so” or “we think so,” but rather he says “we know.” The Greek language has two different words for “know” and here it is (ginosko) (present tense form) and means the knowledge attained from experience.
The first test that John gives for us to evaluate our spiritual condition; is that of obedience and will answer the question – Am I Keeping His Word?
John has harsh words for the person who claims to know God but does not keep His commandments. John is countering the teaching of a heretical teaching (Gnosticism) that what is needed is some kind of hidden mystical knowledge of God. John says that people who make the claim that they know God must have evidence in their daily lives that their relationship effects the decisions that they make. In 1 John 1:18 we learned that a denial of sin is evidence that truth is not in a person, now we learn that a denial of the need for obedience means the same thing. In verse four John says, “He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar.” The person who does this is neither deceived by someone else nor confused on the facts. Rather they are consciously professing something that they know is not true and thereby can justifiably be called a liar.
In verse five John says that the person who truly knows God is not the one who brags about how well he knows God but the one who proves he knows God by his godly actions.
The first test that John gave for determining those who know God is Attitude - Am I Keeping His Word?
Secondly, The Test of Actions (vv. 6-8)
“He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (7) Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. (8) Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.”
The second test that John gives for us to evaluate our spiritual condition, is that of our actions – Am I Following His Example? The call is to emulate Jesus in our conduct. Not too long ago the phrase "What would Jesus do?" (often abbreviated to WWJD) became popular in the United States as a personal motto for thousands of Christians who used the phrase as a reminder of their belief that Jesus is the example to be followed in daily life, and to act in a manner of which Jesus would approve. This of course is commend-able and should be the aim of every Christian everyday of their lives. But when it comes to following Jesus in our conduct sometimes we are like the two brothers who were arguing over the last pancake at breakfast. “The mother asked little Johnny, “Johnny now what would Jesus do?” Johnny answered, “I know he would not take the last pancake.” Then with a twinkle in his eye Johnny looked at his brother and said, “Bobby you be Jesus!” We know it should be done but we would rather someone else made the sacrifice!
In verse seven and eight of our text John says, “Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. (8) Again, a new commandment I write to you.” At first glance these verses seem to contradict one another, he says this is not a new command but an older one but on the other hand it is a new command.
But in saying this he is saying that the command to love is old, in that it existed and was known even before Christ coming. Way back in Leviticus 19:18 we read, “… you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It is this scripture the Jesus is quoting when he answers the question about which is the greatest of the commandments (Matthew 22:36-38).
Yet the command to love is new in that Jesus raised it to an entirely new level. In John 13:34-35 John records Jesus saying, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (35) By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” And in John 15:12 Jesus says, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
A real relationship with Christ inevitably produces a daily walk that mirrors the pattern of Christ’s life. John uses the word “abides” (v. 6) to suggest just how strong and permanent this relationship with Jesus is. No doubt John had in mind the words of Jesus about the relationship between the vine and branches that he had recorded in John 15. In John 15:4 Jesus said, “Abide in me and I in you, As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” Any person who claims to abide in Christ is under the obligation to behave in the same way as his Lord. The words “ought” and “walk” are both present tense indicating the need to continually behave in this fashion.
“He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (v. 6)
The second test that John gave for those who know God is Actions – Am I Following His Example?
Third, The Test of Affections (vv. 9-11)
“He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. (10) He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. (11) But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
I think that we laugh at cartoon strips because they so often reveal the truth about life and what we see in ourselves. I remember seeing a Peanuts cartoon in which Linus makes the statement, “I love mankind; it’s people I can’t stand!” That really does reveal a startling truth - Love in the abstract is a cinch. It is loving those irritating people that we come into contact with on a daily basis that is not easy.
So where do we begin to put this command to love our brothers into practice.
•First, Love begins with how you think about others.
Instead of thinking first about yourself, your feelings, your rights, and your needs, we must learn to think about others first. But the problem is how do I show the love of Jesus Christ to the difficult people in my life? How can I serve that person in love? Rather than thinking angry thoughts about how they wronged you and how you can get even, we must begin to think about how the Lord would want us to think about the person who has mistreated you.
•Then, love extends to your speech.
You put off the kind of speech that tears down the other person, and you put on speech that builds him up (Gal. 5:15; Eph. 4:29, 31-32; Col. 3:8). You stop lying or stretching the truth to your own advantage and begin speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15, 25). You cease from gossip and slander (2 Cor. 12:20).
•Then, in your behavior you begin to practice loving deeds (Rom. 12:9-13; Eph. 5:2).
“A newspaper columnist named George Crane told once of a woman who was full of hatred toward her husband. Someone counseled the woman to act as if she really loved her husband, to tell him how much he meant to her, to praise him for every decent trait, to be kind, considerate, and generous whenever possible. Then, when she’d fully convinced him of her undying love, she’d make her move and file for divorce. With revenge in her eyes she said, "That’s perfect, I’ll do it." And so she did...but guess what happened...the more she demonstrated sacrificial love toward her husband, the more she began to actually love him, and at the end of a few months divorce was the furthest thing from her mind.”
It must be remembered that when it comes to the practicalities of learning to live in love, it is a lifelong process. You never arrive at the place where you can say, “I love everyone perfectly now! I’m ready to move on!”
John says that if you love your brother and abide in the light, “there is no cause for stumbling” (skandalon) in you (v. 10). This may mean that you do not cause others to stumble in their walk with God because, out of love for them, you only say and do that which builds them in Christ. Or, it may mean that the person who walks in the light will not stumble himself, because the light illumines his path (John 11:9-10).
One has to wonder, how many people have been driven out of the church by hatred they have experienced from other Christians? When we fail to love each other as we should we actually set a snare that ultimately drives people out of our churches, disillusioned, hurting and broken.
We have all crossed paths with people who profess to know Christ, but their relationships are marked by anger, abusive speech, bitterness, and self-centeredness. Invariably, they don’t have a clue as to why they keep experiencing broken relationships. While we cannot judge their hearts (only God can), their lives do not give evidence that they have experienced the love of God in Jesus Christ. Rather, they seem to be in spiritual darkness, blindly colliding from one broken relationship to the next. They do not practice biblical love, which is an essential mark of every true Christian.
John has given us three test by which anyone can determine whether they are genuinely saved.
First, The Test of Attitude – Am I Keeping His Word?
Secondly, The Test of Actions - Am I following His Example?
Third, The Test of Affection - Am I showing His Love?
Does your spiritual life pass these three tests? If not, why not make a commitment to Christ and begin your spiritual journey?
“The Test of Fellowship”
1 John 2:3-11
The Bible DOES clearly state that those are truly saved can never ____ their salvation (Jn. 10:28). They have been permanently _______ by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13), and nothing can __________ them from the love of the Savior (Rom. 8:38-39). Yet the Paul admonishes in (2 Cor.13:5) that Christian __________ themselves.
The phrase that occurs three times in (1 John 2:3-11), “He who says,” (vv. 4,6,9) introduces a series of three tests by which anyone can know whether or not they are a child of God.
First, The Test of ____________ (vv. 3-5) -Obedience – Am I Keeping His __________?
Secondly, The Test of ___________ (vv. 6-8)
Am I following His _____________?
Third, The Test of ___________ (vv. 9-11)
I am I showing His _________?
•Love begins with how you _______ about others.
•Love extends to your _________
•In your behavior you begin to practice loving __________