Summary: To walk in obedience means to walk in love.
A. The story is told about a groom, whom during the wedding rehearsal, approached the minister with an unusual offer.
1. “Look, I’ll give you $100 if you’ll change the wedding vows. When you get to the part where I’m to promise to ’love, honor and obey’ and ’forsaking all others, be faithful to her forever,’ I’d appreciate it if you’d just leave that part out.”
2. He passed the minister the cash and walked away satisfied.
3. The wedding day arrived, and they arrived at the part of the ceremony where the vows are exchanged.
4. When it came time for the groom’s vows, the minister looked the young man in the eye and said, “Will you promise to bow yourself before her, obey her every command and wish, serve her breakfast in bed every morning of your life, and swear eternally to not even look at another woman, as long as you both shall live?”
5. The groom gulped and looked around, and said in a tiny voice, “I Do.”
6. After the ceremony, the groom took the minister aside and said, “I thought we had a deal.”
7. The minister put the $100 into his hand and said, “Sorry, she made me a much better offer.”
B. “Obedience” – mere mention of the word causes many of us to recoil, doesn’t it.
1. We ultimately want to be our own bosses. There’s a part of us that doesn’t want to obey anyone or anything.
2. That’s true for citizens and employees, and adults and children.
3. And it’s also true for children of God.
4. Someone has rightly said, “Every great person first learned how to obey, whom to obey and when to obey.
5. When it comes to pleasing God and walking in the light, obedience is primary.
C. Glenn’s brother, Tom Olbricht, published a new book last year called “Life Together: The Heart of Love and Fellowship in 1 John.” I want to read a few paragraphs to you.
1. In the preface Tom writes, “A jarring incident toward the end of the first century disturbed the churches in Western Asia Minor where John the aged apostle now lived. A number of the members, perhaps some of longer standing, turned their backs on their fellow believers and departed. We don’t know exactly what these people did when they departed. We do know they were dissatisfied. We know that they disdained the brothers and sisters they left behind. Did the dropouts start new churches? We don’t know for sure, but it seems likely. Some may have completely drifted away and pursued other interests.”
2. Tom continues, “Did the defectors claim superiority over the Christians left behind? The secessionists obviously claimed special experiences and insights. They alleged that they were anointed in a special manner unlike those who remained in these “humdrum” churches. They in turn felt called upon to teach others their superior understandings. They also apparently made claims as to sinlessness since John assures those to whom he writes that they can make the same claim. (But with a whole different meaning.) Those who left clearly did not love their brothers and sisters and in this they sinned despite claiming sinlessness.”
3. Tom concludes, “Do these calamitous developments strike you as exceptionally unusual? Do they cause you to exclaim, ‘I never anticipated anything like that would happen in the first century church!’ In all likelihood you will say instead, ‘It’s unfortunate, but I’m not surprised. I know individuals like that. We had people in our church who insisted that they no longer were being fed. They maintained that we only sing those old standard hymns. They feel that instead they have a real need to be lifted up through praise songs. Some of them left our church and went to other churches. A few started meeting in their own homes and anticipated establishing a congregation to their own liking. So I’m not surprised by these turn of events in the first century’” (p. 7-8)
D. Last week we looked at some of the statements that no doubt were being said by the secessionists.
1. They were claiming to have fellowship with God, but were walking in darkness.
2. They were claiming to be without sin and that they have not ever sinned.
3. And as we discussed last week, John dealt with each of those false claims with sobering and wonderful truths about walking in the light, confessing our sins, and having an advocate who is also our atoning sacrifice.
4. God doesn’t want us to sin, and our goal should be to avoid sin, but when we do sin, we must own up to in through confession, allow God to forgive our sin, and then try to walk in a right manner.
E. In today’s text, John takes aim at another important truth that takes the form of three tests.