With 1 John 1, we experienced three signs of a believer: recognizing the facts about Jesus, being convicted of one’s sin, and choosing to walk in the light. This week with chapter 2, we explore three challenges set forth by John for those who have chosen to believe and walk in the light.
Challenge #1: Turn away from the things of this world.
“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” – 1 John 2.15-17 (NLT)
Honestly, there is a lot of junk in this world that we often try to rationalize as being OK for us to watch, read or participate in. They offer temporary satisfaction and that’s about it; they always leave us wanting more, never to be fully satisfied. This kind of satisfaction is not the kind that God offers us. His gesture of love and grace should fill us to the brim and bring us everlasting satisfaction in Him. But often we can’t see past the fading things of this world and we choose to give in. John’s call not to love the world is a call to turn away from the things of the devil, the temporary pleasures of life and seek after God who gives eternal life. On Wednesday night, we talked about “poop in the brownies.” This illustration points out that however good the brownies may seem, if there is a little poop mixed into the batch, the whole thing is ruined. This is the attitude we must take when it comes to the things of this world. The early church in the first and second century AD were often ridiculed, persecuted and even put to death for choosing not to participate in the things of this world. Are we as adamant as they were in doing the will of God? Do we see the things of this world as fading and ultimately meaningless? What things are you choosing to participate in, however you may be justifying it, that are robbing you of closer fellowship with Christ? These are the questions we are called to ask ourselves in light of this challenge. Where’s your heart on the matter?
Challenge #2: Obey His Commands.
“And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.”- 1 John 2.3-6 (NLT)
Obedience to commands equals love. You may say that you love your parents, but if you don’t obey them, it sure is hard for them to know that you love them. This is the kind of thouht portrayed here. For God, love equals obedience. Our ultimate model is Christ himself. Philippians 2 tells us that Christ’s obedience to Father was the incarnation and death for our sins. That’s love! Obedience is a sign of belief. If we call ourselves Chrisitian yet don’t obey as one, who’s to know that we actually are who we say we are. Talk the talk and walk the walk. This also boils down to how we feel about Jesus. If we say that we wish to be like Him, yet do nothing to actually carry that out, then we’re fooling ourselves and actually lying about who we are. The call of Christ is a call of action and obedience, not lip service and complacency. Do you desire to be like Him? Are you following His commands? Those two questions can not be separated. If you desire to be like Him, they you will desire to follow His commands.
Challenge #3: Abide in Christ.
“I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true-it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame. Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children.” – 1 John 2.26-29 (NLT)
In the New Living Translation, we’re called to “remain in” Christ. The New American Standard uses the word “abide.” The word abide does convey remaining in, but also means an intimacy that can not necessarily be conveyed in a word. Abiding is a continual relationship. It is present and active, not passive and accomplished already. We can not say we abided in Christ and that’s done; we must continuously abide! This is a constant calling! That means being in community with the body of believers (the Bride of Christ), being in the Word (the breathed-out Scripture that focuses on Christ) and be in constant prayer (as Christ was). Jesus ellaborates on the message of abiding in John 15 and gives us a more detailed picture of what abiding looks like, and what happens to those who are not abiding. Ouch! Abiding in Christ is only possible through the Holy Spirit; it is impossible to accomplish on our own. John 14:26 calls the Spirit our “helper” and “comforter.” 1 John 2:27 says that the Spirit always point to the truth. As believers, we have regenerated hearts from the Spirit that are drastically different from our cold, dead hearts (Ezekiel 36:26) and as regenerated believers, we now have the desire and longing to abide in Christ. Are you abiding? If not, have you asked God for a new heart in order that you may abide?
In light of 1 John 1 and continuing into chapter 2, we now have three challenges set before us as believers: turn away, obey and abide. Again, John is not writing to us as if we are perfect, but as if we will choose to rely on God’s providence and trust in Him. We can not turn away, obey and abide without the grace and power of God. If humanity could do it on our own, Christ died needlessly (Galatians 2:21). I pray that your family will take some time to revist 1 John 2 and discuss around the dinner table, coffee table, whatever table the challenges of turn away, obey and abide. I pray God will open your heart if you have yet to choose Him. The joy of knowing Him is greater than any temporary lust of this world! Take care and have a great week in the Lord!
Only by His Grace,