Summary: It is obvious if we are born of God because we live the right way and love others well.
An Incarnational, Missional People
“Becoming Consistent & Consecrated”
William Willimon used to be the dean of the chapel at Duke University. "One day he received a phone call from a very irate father. The father exploded on the other end of the line, telling Willimon furiously, ’I hold you personally responsible for this!’ He was angry because his graduate-school-bound daughter had decided (in his words) ’to throw it all away and go and do mission work in Haiti with the Presbyterian Church.’
The father screamed, ’Isn’t that absurd! She has a B.S. degree from Duke and she is going to dig ditches in Haiti! I hold you responsible for this!’
Willimon said, ’Why me?’ The father said, ’You ingratiated yourself and filled her with all this religion stuff.’
Will Willimon is not easily intimidated. He asked the father, ’Sir, weren’t you the one who had her baptized?’
’Well, well, well, yes.’
’And didn’t you take her to Sunday School when she was a little girl?’
’Well, well, yes.’
’And didn’t you allow your daughter to go on those youth group ski trips to Colorado when she was in high school?’
’Yes . . . but what does that have to do with anything?’
’Sir, you are the reason she is throwing it all away. You introduced her to Jesus. Not me!’
’But,’ said the father, ’all we wanted was a Presbyterian.’
Willimon, who has an instinct for the jugular, replied, ’Well, sorry, sir, you messed up. You’ve gone and made a disciple.’"
(Len Sweet, Preaching Plus, 2/15/2004)
What do you want to be, a religious person? A church-going person? A theological person? Or do you want to be a disciple?
Our studies from 1 John have been about being a disciple. We’ve been focusing on what it look likes to be Incarnational and missional. By that we mean--
Incarnational: bearing or carrying the presence of God in our lives. For someone to be around us is to be around God.
Missional: spending our lives doing the same thing Jesus did, namely seeking for those who have are lost from God so that they may be found by God.
How’s it going? How well are you BEING and DOING what God has called you and saved you for? You cannot be Incarnational and missional unless you have been born into God’s family and John will tell us today that if you have been born again, you will not sin. Let’s read the text.
[read 1 John 3:4-10]
Let’s remember to whom John is speaking and why. In John’s day there have been some who used to be in the church and have since left and are teaching and preaching heresy. In short they have bought into a belief that we call Gnosticism. They believe that salvation is a matter of having special knowledge about God. They also believe that things in this physical and material world don’t matter. All that matters is the spirit. Therefore they don’t believe in sin or the consequences of sin. Behavior with the physical body is inconsequential and irrelevant. That means that nothing is sin and no one can be a sinner.
John is clarifying that sin is a reality and that in fact, the very reason Jesus came into this world was to take away sin.
The phrase, “take away our sins” is a reflection from the Old Testament. In Leviticus 16 instruction was given about how to deal with sin. The priest was to take a goat, place his hands over the goat’s head and thereby place the sins of the people upon the goat. This would happen on Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. Once the goat was “loaded” with the sins of the people then it would be driven out into the wilderness. This “escape goat” or scapegoat would in effect take away the sins of the people paying the atoning price for sin with its own life.
This scapegoat was a pre-figuration of who Jesus is and what Jesus would do. Jesus took our sins upon Himself while on the cross and became the scapegoat that takes away sin.
So, everyone has sinned and is condemned for sin. But, Jesus has taken our condemnation upon Himself and therefore, those who are in Christ no longer practice sin (3:6).
“Continues to sin” (NIV) is rendered “practices sin” in NASB. What does that mean?
Recently some friends invited me to attend a “Late Nite Catechism”. The evening features a “Sister” who holds class with a roomful of “students” (audience) as “lessons” of faith are imparted. This is the longest continuous running theatric production in Seattle in its 11th year.
The evening is highly interactive as Sister asks questions of her students and then has a lot of fun at their expense on how they answer (or don’t answer) her questions. The room was diverse as we discovered there were a few Catholics, former Catholics (Sister claims there is no such thing!), various Protestants and self-proclaimed “spiritual” people.