Summary: What motivates your Christian walk? John tells his readers two things old things but also a new thing...Walk as Jesus walked!
Last week when I started this series I finished on verse 2 of chapter 2 of 1st John. But hey I’m doing the Sermon overlap thing here as we can all do with a reminder of our sins being forgiven. John’s purpose for writing was so the people he was writing to would not sin.
Sin! What is it? - That thing that takes us from a right place before God, the result being that we end up struggling in it, struggling in our relationship with God and with others. John has already in this letter described it as darkness, the dark stuff, that scuzzy stuff that interferes with our relationship with God, the darkness that obstructs in the blessed relationship we can have with God, and ultimately leads to eternal death. Johnny Cash talks of how his “mother used to say, ‘God has his hand on you. “Never ignore the Gift.”” He also says “I never knew what she meant by the gift, until I felt the gift leave me. When the gift comes back, it’s so sweet.” (Johnny Cash, Unchained. (American Records), 1998. That might sound familiar to those of us who have sinned with the result that it felt like God’s Spirit was distant from us. Oh the joy, when The Holy Spirit returns!
1) The interesting thing that comes out of these first two verses of chapter two is that we have someone who speaks on our behalf to God the Father. The apostle John calls him “an advocate”. Which as I said is flash term for someone who speaks on behalf of someone else, as one of the Community Ministries team might do for one of their clients who wants help with dealing with say W.I.N.Z (Work and Income New Zealand). So when we sin Jesus our advocate speaks on our behalf with his Father, our Heavenly Father. Jesus is “the Righteous One”. Jesus was and still is the atoning sacrifice for all sins. Jesus is uniquely qualified to advocate, being truly and properly man and truly and properly God.
2) Interestingly we have a dynamic going on with God that is something we can picture as two-way. Because while Jesus is mankind’s advocate with the Father, the Holy Spirit is God’s Advocate on Earth with mankind. Jesus is also uniquely qualified in another way to advocate, as he is both the priest and the sacrifice.
This from Hebrews 9:14 “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ [Jesus] who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”
As we come to Jesus, in our initial relationship with him, in prayer, in our continuing relationship with him, our sins are forgiven. That forgiveness is something to truly celebrate; it is freedom, true freedom from sin and ultimately death. The wages for our sins have been paid, cashed up; the debt collector has no place calling. When you are reminded of forgiven sin; by the one who is our accuser in the spiritual realm, the devil, remind him that Jesus has already paid the price and advocated on your behalf with the Father. Celebrate this truth!
Now to completely head off for a moment or two in a different tack and I’m going to use an example that I never thought I would. Why do you support the Black Caps in cricket, and I know some people do? For those who aren’t into Cricket, why do you support the All Blacks?
Now those are all good answers but can I just say here that the reason you support either of those teams is because you are a New Zealander. If I was to ask a non-New Zealander who they support for instance Simone or Sala the answers would be who in Cricket? And The Springboks in Rugby for Simone. Manu Samoa in rugby for Sala. Am I right? The reason you support who you do is because of your nationality, this is what motivates your support for your team. So what is it that motivates you in your Christian walk?
Well John in this letter says things about God like this, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands” and “If anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” These are the words of John. So i living, we are to live as Jesus did, in relationship with the Father, without sin.
There are some huge implications in those words “if anyone obeys his word”. This is not something that is exclusive to a denomination, a race, an age group, a certain group that went to specific schools, studied theology or even limited to a group of people who fit the bill financially.