Summary: Two biblical reasons for Christians to obey God.
Two weeks ago, we looked at the solutions for dealing with our own sin. This morning, we will look at the opposite of our sin against God, which is our obedience to God. If we have tried to be obedient to God, and we are honest, we would agree that obedience is not easy. In fact, some of us would claim that obedience to God is near impossible because God has such high standards. Yet, John wants to assure us that obedience to God is not only a possible response, but obedience to God is a relational response.
FIRST, we need to know that obedience to God is a possible response. We see this in the first part of verses 1 and also in verse 6, "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.... Whoever claims to live in him [God] must walk as Jesus did."
Many Christians have practical and theological problems with this truth, that obedience to God is a possible response. In some cases, they have tried and tried and tried to be obedient, but have experienced very little or no progress. The God who created us calls us to worship Him alone, but we have often worshipped money, other gods and ourselves.
The God who made our tongue calls us to speak the truth in love, but we have often lied in order to have our advantage. The God who gave us our mind calls us to fill it with His truth, but we have often filled it with the trash from television and our popular culture. We know what God expects, but we’ve fallen so many times that up looks like down.
Some people don’t believe we are able not to sin, so why obey? Since God gave us solutions for dealing with our sin, He obviously expects us to sin. Right? Wrong!
That is a theological lie. God expects us not to sin, but He knows we will sometimes choose to sin. Christians are like Jesus Christ, able to sin and able not to sin. While Christ chose the latter, not to sin, we often choose the former, to sin.
We often think God is unreasonable to expect obedience from us, because we don’t realize we are able not to sin. We need to have the same expectation of us that God has for us. Obedience to God is possible.
I still remember when our daughter was two months old. I used to say that she was like a clump of rice, unable to move until we move her. What if she understood what I said? Worse still, what if she believed what I said? She would not have tried to roll over. She would not have tried to crawl. She would not have tried to walk.
God is so wise, to order the process of development in children so that they are slow to understand the verbal comments of adults but quick to imitate what they see. Esther didn’t know what I was saying about her. All she knew was that everyone else around her could move and could walk. So she expected to move as well. That expectation kept her going and growing, from rolling to crawling to walking.
God is reminding us this morning that we are to keep our eyes on Jesus Christ and to know that if Jesus Christ was obedient to God, we can be obedient to God also. "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did (1 John 2:6)." This expectation will keep us going and growing in our obedience to God.
FIRST, we need to know that obedience to God is a possible response. SECOND, we need to know that obedience to God is a relational response. We read this in the second part of verse 1 through first part of verse 5.
Before I continue with the second point, I want to define the word, " atone," and clarify a common misinterpretation from verse 2. Verse 2 reads, "He (that is Jesus Christ on the cross) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."
First, the word "atone" came from William Tyndale in 1562, before the English word "reconciliation" existed. In translating the New Testament into English, Tyndale used the word "atone" or "at-one" to express the concept of being restored to a right relationship with God.
Second, I want to clarify the misinterpretation of the Universalist, who says that Jesus Christ’s death automatically enables everyone in the world to be restored to a right relationship with God and that everyone will end up in Heaven. That’s what a Universalist believes. If that were true, the Bible would not call us to send missionaries or to persuade our family and friends to choose Jesus Christ as the only way to God.