Summary: Admonitions from 1 John to believers.
“Terms of Endearment”
Several years ago there was a popular movie entitled “Terms of Endearment” and it starred Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Danny Devito and Jack Nicholson. It was about a mother daughter relationship and it enjoyed critical acclaim. Tonight I’m going to borrow the title from that movie and talk about the relationship between the Apostle John and a group of believers that he loved and wanted to help. As I read through the little book of 1 John, I could not help but notice the many times that the phrase “little children” was used by the apostle to refer to these believers. To me this phrase is a term of endearment and John uses it 9 times in this epistle. I want to see if there is anything we can learn from admonitions found here.
My little children - Ôåêíéá ìïõ͂ Teknia mou. This is such language as an aged apostle would be likely to use when addressing a church, and its use in this Epistle may be regarded as one evidence that John had reached an advanced period of life when he wrote the Epistle. (Barnes)
My little children - Ôåêíéá ìïõ· My beloved children; is the address of an affectionate father to children whom he tenderly loves. The term also refers to the apostle’s authority as their spiritual father, and their obligation to obey as his spiritual children. (Clark)
I. The Advocate
1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
THE RIGHT NAME OPENS DOORS
Mark Roberts wrote of a time when he visited the Capitol as a guest of Congressman John Campbell. As long as he was with the congressman, he could walk freely around the Capitol, entering many areas that were reserved "for authorized personnel only," reserved for members of Congress and their guests. He could enter those places, not because of who he was or because of what he had done, but because of who Congressman Campbell was. The name "Congressman John Campbell" opened doors. So it is when we come before God in the name of Jesus.
Praying in Jesus' name is a recognition that he is our mediator, that we do not deserve an audience with the Father. It is a recognition that we only have authority to come to the Father because Jesus, our High Priest, has prepared the way for us. He died on the cross to save us. It means that we know we are unworthy of approaching the throne of grace on our own without our advocate. The name of Jesus opens doors.
II. The Assurance
1 John 2:12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.
13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.
THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT
So is your sin and guilt getting the better of you?
Well, now "There’s an app for that." CBS News reports (February 9, 2011) a new application for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch called the "Confession Booth app. All you do is confess to your iPhone! It sells for $1.99 and is described as the "perfect aid for the penitent." The program let users compile list of their sins. Users get taken through the Ten Commandments, with questions attached to each. The app displays the sins along with a written act of contrition for the penitent.
I am not making this up!
SIMPLE CONFESSION, PROFOUND FORGIVENESS
In 1818 one out of six women who had children died of something called "childbirth fever." A doctor’s daily routine back then started in the dissecting room, where he performed autopsies, and from there he made his rounds to examine expectant mothers. No one even thought to wash his hands...at least not until a doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis began to practice strict hand washing. He was the very first doctor to associate a lack of hand washing with the huge fatality rate. Dr. Semmelweis only lost one in fifty, yet his colleagues laughed at him. Once he said, "Childbirth fever is caused by decomposed material conveyed to a wound...I have shown how it can be prevented. I have proven all that I’ve said. But while we talk, talk, talk, women are dying.. I’m not asking for anything world shaking, only that you wash your hands." Yet virtually no one believed him.
And Jesus is not asking anything earth shaking from us. John writes, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." We only need to confess our sins, to regularly wash our souls before God. It’s essential. The failure to confess our sins will result in spiritual infection that will hinder our ability in the spiritual journey.