Sermons

Summary: Fellowship with God is a matter of letting that which comes from him, rather than the world system, define how we live.

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Unless otherwise indicated all scripture is quoted from the New Living Translation of the Bible.

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Several people have commented about the fact that they are finding the book of 1st John to be extremely timely and thought-provoking. I agree. Sometimes when we’re looking at the Bible we’re storing information for application at a later time. Here we’re looking

at a message that is very applicable to where most of us are in our lives right now.

The theme of 1st John, of course, is glue ¨C fellowship or bonding with God -- and subsequently, each other.

Last Sunday we looked at two tests or indicators that demonstrate the state of our fellowship with God ¨C obedience and love.

Soon we’re going to look at a third indicator -- but in 1 John 2:12-17 the apostle digresses from his argument momentarily ¨C so he can encourage his readers.

He realizes that he’s come across quite strongly in the preceding section and he wants to make sure that we are not discouraged. John is saying here ¨C "So your test scores are a bit on the weak side -- Maybe you don’t score as high in love and obedience as you think you should. Well listen closely --"

Starting at verse 12 ¨C "I am writing to you, my dear children, because your sins have been forgiven because of Jesus. [13] I am writing to you who are mature because you know Christ, the one who is from the beginning. I am writing to you who are young because you have won your battle with Satan. [14] I have written to you, children, because you have known the Father."

John is saying, be encouraged! Whether you’re a child in the faith or an old man there is cause for encouragement in the work of Christ and in the fact that you are experiencing victories over the devil.

You, ordinary Christians -- you know Christ, you have a strong faith, his word or will abides in you, and thus you got da devil on da run -- or more properly as he says in verse 14, "You have won your battle with Satan."

Yet the mention of Satan ¨C the "evil one" here, throws the apostle back into the cautioning mode. He’s like a pendulum ¨C swinging back and forth.

Oh, you’re doing such a good job in walking with Christ. You’re defeating the devil.

But then in verse 15 he swings back to cautioning his readers. "Stop loving this world and all that it offers you..."

Well wait a minute here. This sounds rather peculiar. When you think about it, it doesn’t really seem to make much sense.

Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t it the false teachers -- John’s opponents -- who are trying to not love the world?

Remember, they’re the ones who say that there are two sides to life the material and the spiritual. And your goal in life should be to divorce yourself from the material world -- to get caught up in the spiritual to such a degree that the physical material realm becomes moot -- irrelevant -- unimportant.

When I was doing campus ministry I once had a conversation with a student who had joined a cult called The Way. And I remember him telling me that since he was forgiven by Christ that the forgiveness extended in such a way that he could do whatever he wanted in the physical side of life. He could sin as much as he wanted and it didn’t matter because the victory had been won spiritually and that’s what really counted.

I suspect that he and his cronies were modern equivalents to what John was dealing with in the last decade of the first century.

They are all people who have little regard for the physical side of life. It’s unimportant to them. So in a sense they don’t love it.

Verse 15, which says, "Stop loving this world", seems even more baffling when you remember that in the third chapter of the Gospel of John it says: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son..."

And by the way, John uses the same Greek words in here in chapter 2 as are used in John 3:16 ¨C agape or love and cosmos or world.

If we’re to be walking as God does (vs. 6) how come God loves the world and we don’t -- or at least shouldn’t?

The clarification which follows in verses 16-17 I think will show you that even though he uses the same words, he’s not really talking about the same thing.

Nor is John is aligning himself with the false teachers who are indifferent to the world. They were so indifferent to it that they were easily sucked into it -- which seems to be John’s point.

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