Summary: Discover God’s provision of real helps for real needs that every person has
If I seem excited this morning, more than some other mornings, it is because we will finish our study in 1 John today. We started 1 John in June 2001. I don’t mind spending almost a year studying five chapters of the Bible. Taking my time teaching through the Bible provides great job security.
John wrote this letter to help Christians discern how to have a right and healthy relationship with God and with one another. And living according to these truths, John says, brings joy into our lives. 1 John 1:4 reads, "We write this to make your joy complete."
In the concluding verses, John summarizes for us three truths that provide real help for real need.
Many times, we have needs that are not real needs but are luxuries. We really don’t need to drive a Mercedes when another safe and reliable car will do.
Other times, we have real needs but not real help. Dr. Robert Gardere, a plastic surgeon, did a study of the people on whom he performed cosmetic surgery. Many people thought the surgery had been a failure even with obvious and significant improvement. Dr. Gardere found the dissatisfaction resulted from the clients’ dissatisfaction with themselves on the inside. They needed to work on their self-worth, not on their appearance.
A journalist asked the remarkable Christian, G.K. Chesterton, what one book he would want to have along if he were stranded on a desert island. Chesterton paused only an instant before replying, "Why, A Practical Guide to Shipbuilding, of course."
Our need determines the help we really need. And John gives us real help for real need that every person has. Let me read for us the last four verses of Chapter 5.
Yesterday, we had a meeting to discuss how to reach the variety of English-speaking Asians in Marin County to share the good news of God’s love. A team was formed to determine research methods, to set a timeline for doing such research and to train others to use the research methods. We also added that the team needed to test out these research methods before we train others. Then we will have the confidence of knowing the methods work.
John shares these real help with us out of his personal experience and the experience of others who were with him. He wrote for each of the three helps, "We know...." That is personal experience, not textbook knowledge. Let’s look together at what John personally knew and desires for us to know also.
First, because of the sin in us, we need new birth. We see this in verse 18.
Most of us who are aware and honest know something is desperately wrong within us. We can’t fix is with self-help books. We can’t fix it with counseling. We can’t fix it with a makeover. We can’t fix it with a new house. We can’t fix it by getting married. And we can’t fix it by getting divorced.
The Bible in "Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, "The heart [our inner being] is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"
And one of the most law abiding religious persons, the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:15, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."
Remember the last time you told God you wouldn’t lust anymore? Remember the last time you told God you would not allow your anger to get out of control? Remember the promise about gossip?
The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23, "... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
In other words, all of us, the Pope, Billy Graham, your pastor and the person next to you, who looks so perfect on Sunday morning, are not living as God intended for us to live. We were intended to trust God and live intimately with Him. But something in us, the Bible calls "sin," causes us to turn away from God and turn toward the evil one.
Sin is a real problem of mankind. No amount of money, good works or religious effort can provide the needed help. Not only is something intrinsically wrong with us, but the evil one in this world seeks to do us harm by leading us away from God, the only source of real help.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
We have a real need, and unless God comes in with real help, we are helpless. The Bible tells us that being born of God, becoming a new creation is the only solution. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"