Summary: I am going to review 1 John 3:19-24 and suggest doubt can be removed by: 1) seeking the truth, 2) seeking God’s wisdom, 3) receiving what we ask for in prayer, 4) being able to obey God’s commands, and 5) in commune with the Holy Spirit living inside of us!
Dealing with Doubt
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
The Great Divide
What would it have been like to be part of one of the churches found by the Beloved Disciple John? While certainly his witness, teaching and miraculous signs would have been truly remarkable to see, after having been expelled from the Synagogue, separated from their homes and families (John 16:2, John 9:22), hated by the world (1 John 3:13), and going through one of the most “fiercest of conflicts” and church splits (1 John 2:19) in first-century Christianity; I doubt anyone would say being a member of the Johannine community was easy! While the origin or theology of the group that split which many call the “secessionists” or “schematics” is not known, based on John’s teachings against this group much can be learned known about them. Due to their Docetic and overall gnostic beliefs this group rejected the incarnation because to them the “divine Christ, the eternal Son of God only appeared to be human.” The Secessionists also claimed to be incapable of sinning (1 John 1:8-10), and like Cain, the evil and murderous (1 John 3:11-15), in their struggle for power they hated their former brothers and sisters of the Johannine community (1 John 2:9–11, 4:19-21), refusing to help them in their time of need (1 John 3:16–18)! In their struggle to “obtain perceived, spiritual power or superiority” they inflicted doubt on the Johannine community by stating they alone spoke by and knew the truth of the Holy Spirit (1 John 4:1-3, 2:20, 27)! To keep orthodoxy from being blurred and to reassure them his community they lived by the truth, John told them because these “secessionists” hated their brothers and sisters and did not believe in the incarnate Son of God, and claimed to be without sin these falsehoods proved they were “liars” (1 John 1:6; 2:4, 22; 4:20), “deceivers” (1 John 2:26; 3:7; 2 John 7), “antichrists” (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7), “children of the devil” (3:10), “murderers” (3:15), and “false prophets” (4:1). The truth by which they lived had truly set them free for Christ’s atonement was their grounds of being justified before a holy God!
If those being led by the “one Jesus loved” (John 20:2) had doubts about knowing the truth and being part of God’s kingdom, should it come as a surprise that doubt, guilt, and failure are not far from the minds of today’s Christians? While John talked a lot about “righteousness, love and truth” in his letter, he also felt an overwhelming need to address how Christians were to handle the “accusations of the conscience,” whether justified by one’s sins, imagined, or outright attacks from both unbelievers and believers. He who roars like a lion never stops seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8) the faith of God’s own by filling their minds with the idea that they are somehow not worthy to approach God’s throne, even though it be one of grace (Hebrews 4:18) and eternally secured in the atonement of His very own Son! Self-doubt, self- incrimination or false judgements from others not only leads to questioning whether or not one “belongs to the truth” (3:19) but can paralyze a person’s relationship with God to the point that one no longer dares to even talk to God in prayer! Even though intellectually Christians know they are assured of the place in God’s family through Christ, they often go through long periods of time in which they doubt and need reassurance! In the rest of this sermon I am going to review 1 John 3:19-24 and suggest doubt can be removed by: 1) seeking the truth, 2) seeking God’s wisdom, 3) receiving what we ask for in prayer, 4) being able to obey God’s commands, and 5) in commune with the Holy Spirit living inside of us!
Cure for Doubt #1 – Seeking the Truth
The first step in curing doubt is to seek and know the truth. Jesus told the Jews who had believed Him “if you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-33). Since it is “in the mind’s knowledge by which the heart’s doubts may be silenced,” the only way to thwart the fiery darts of lies and accusations of the master deceiver is to take up the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:14-17) by meditating on the word (Psalms 4:4) and standing firmly on the promises of God (2 Corinthians 1:19-20)! Lest one rely on the Pharisaic misconception that knowledge alone proves holiness, to eliminate doubt one must use God’s word to accurately assess one’s walk with the Lord! “By loving in deed and according to the truth, we will come to know by experience that we are sourced in that same truth.” By loving our enemies (Matthew 5:44-48), not seeing God’s commands as burdensome (1 John 5:2-4), and through evidence of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in one’s life such as “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22); one has sufficient evidence that one is living by the truth. The ultimate knowledge that crushes doubts is to remember all the miracles God has done to and through your life, for knowledge of holiness cannot be lived unless quickened and empowered by the Holy Spirit who seals us until the day of redemption (2 Corinthians 1:22)!