Exploring 1 John Session 24 1 John 4:2-3

 

Exploring 1 John Session 24 1 John 4:2-3

In Session 23 we learned that as disciples we are required to learn and discern truth from error because face it there are a lot of creepy Christians in the church.  Everybody knows a creepy Christian.  If you don’t know a creepy Christian your friends do.  False teachers, false prophets, servants of darkness masquerading as ministers of light, John has told us that there are anti-Christs everywhere.  You find them in the church all the time.

We know from our exploration of this letter of 1 John that there was a group of believers that got swayed by the popular philosophy of the time and become Gnostic Christians.  The particular brand of Gnosticism that these former members of the congregation got into involved the denial of the incarnation.  “No way would God become flesh and blood because the material world is evil.”  Subsequently, there was no divine resurrection, again because who would want to be trapped in a body for all eternity, the body is evil because it is material. 

So John writes specifically warns about this false teaching.

1 John 4:2-3 (MSG)

Here's how you test for the genuine Spirit of God. Everyone who confesses openly his faith in Jesus Christ—the Son of God, who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person—comes from God and belongs to God. And everyone who refuses to confess faith in Jesus has nothing in common with God. This is the spirit of antichrist that you heard was coming. Well, here it is, sooner than we thought!

Deny the incarnation, deny the resurrection, you deny Jesus and his message, and thus reject God Himself.  For there to be salvation in the gospel, Jesus must be fully human and fully divine.  Only a human could represent humanity, as Adam did in the Genesis account of Creation.  Only God can forgive sins.  In Christ Humanity and Divinity combine to make it possible for your sins to be forgiven, that you can be reconciled with God, and that you can start filling your life with righteous relationships, living the way God always intended for you to live.

John 3:16 (MSG)

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

Acknowledge your need, believe the gospel, commit to following, ask God to accept your faith, confess to others that you have just entered into the light. If this feels right to you, let me know, I want to help you discover all that is ahead once you become spiritually alive.

The spirit of the anti-Christ, the spirit that opposes loving God and loving others is influencing this very moment.  A month doesn’t go by when the news takes great joy in revealing that yet another minister of the gospel is corrupt, a fraud, a criminal, an abuser of authority.  From the rooftops, it’s screamed that another ministry is misusing funds, that more donated money goes to administrators rather than the people that a ministry supposedly supports,  money given to support lavish lifestyles.  The media is quick to identify and bring to everyone’s attention supposed Christ-followers promoting hate against anyone who is not one of their own.  What this reveals to me is that there is a rot within the Church.  That rot is the spirit of the anti-Christ which has infiltrated the church.

The spirit of the anti-Christ influences followers of Christ to wander from the path of righteousness.  Little compromises, little disobedience, little self-centeredness, and your off course.  When it comes to navigation you want to stay on course.  Those who are skilled in navigation know the “1 in 60 rule,” which dictates that for every degree you are off course over a 60-mile leg of your journey you will be 1  mile off of your desired destination.  So let’s say you want to make a journey of 1000 miles, we all know it begins with a single step, a single step in the right direction.  I think if you’re in good shape you can do 20 miles a day, so in 50 days you’ll reach your destination.  But if you are one degree off in the direction you are going after those 50 days you will have missed your destination by 17 miles. When your spiritual journey ends you don’t want to be off course.  To be off course at the journey’s end is to miss the mark, you’ll be wandering in the wilderness wondering what happened. 

1 degree off.  When I think of the choices that I make in the day, what to wear, what to eat, what to do, does Hebrews 10:24 ever come into my consideration?

Hebrews 10:24-25 (MSG)

Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

1 degree off is choosing not to be inventive in how to encourage, how to love, and how to help out others daily.  “I am busy all day, I have schedules to keep, meetings to make, commitments to keep, obligations to attend to, I don’t have time to be inventive.  So I choose to disregard the scripture and do what I want.”

1 degree off is choosing not to worship together.  Skip the fellowship of your congregation as many do and soon you’re off course.  “Didn’t I just tell you I am very busy, Sunday is my only day off, besides it football season, it's family day, it's my time. I can’t find the time to attend.  So I choose to disregard the scripture and do what I want.”

 Here’s a Public Service Announcement.  Monday 5 PM we have drive-in prayer meeting and 7 PM we have an indoor prayer meeting.  Tuesday there’s a bible study at 4:30 and 7:30.  Wednesday Bible study for adults and the teen group meets on campus and Jesus House hosts a children’s meeting online.  Friday Pastor Noelani will serve dinner a 6:15 PM, worship, and the word at 7 PM with another opportunity for Teens to meet.  Sunday morning I’m right here. Sunday night Pastor Paul takes over.  I know COVID has made things inconvenient so each ministry also lives streams, and archives the live streams, and bible studies and gives you free access at any time.  Could it be that you are missing worshiping together because you’re at least 1 degree off course?

 1 degree off.  Gossip.  I was sitting with a beautiful woman having lunch at Café Zov’s in Tustin.  At the next table over. I tried to ignore it, but the conversation was loud.  No doubt the two gals sitting at the next table were church attenders as they were planning upcoming events for their congregation.  Great.  But they also started to gossip.  Telling things about another gal that wasn’t theirs to tell.

 Proverbs 11:13 (MSG)

A gadabout gossip can't be trusted with a secret, but someone of integrity won't violate a confidence.

 A Christian who can’t be trusted is at least 1 degree off course.

 1 Degree off. Un-Forgiveness.  Forgiving someone for the wrong they’ve done to you is no easy thing to do.  One area I struggle with is canceling the debt another owes me.  I think I have released the offender only to later find there still is an animosity in my heart.  Holding a grudge is much easier.  If I ignore it, let bygones be bygones that decision leaves plenty of room for bitterness to grow.  Complaints flourish.  Most people find confrontation difficult so they avoid it. Jesus taught us:

 Matthew 18:15 (MSG)

"If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you've made a friend.

 Don’t deal with relational problems between you and another believer and you are going off course. 

 1 Degree off.  Silence.  Normally silence is a good thing, but the preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes would tell us there is a time for silence and a time to speak.  In the 2016 Presidential election, the pundits were shocked that Donald Trump won the election.  One of those reasons is polling data.  People didn’t want to tell pollsters they were voting for Trump.  Fear, rejection, not wanting to be confronted, not wanting to ruffle feathers, may all have played into this silence.  Cultural pressure exerts its influence on everyone and like a prevailing wind, it can move you off course.

 Ephesians 4:15 (MSG)

God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do.

 We are to speak the truth in love.  We are to speak like Jesus who is our example.  When we are immersed in the silence of tolerance the current moves us off course.  One must earn the right to speak the truth to someone they know, once that trust is earned, love someone enough to tell them one of their behaviors is wrong.  Have you ever told someone, you need to stop smoking its bad for your health?  Have you ever told someone, you need to stop sinning because its behavior inconsistent with discipleship?  Silence can be the medium that moves you 1 degree off course.

 Jesus gave us the harshest of warnings. 

 Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

 Why did Jesus say He never knew them? Because they were 1 degree or more off course. Being off course is to be anti-Christ. 

 Matthew 7:13-14 (MSG)

"Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

 A little compromise, a little disobedience, a little self-centeredness and you’re going to be a little off course.  A horrible thing about being just a little off course is you think you are on course.  Only at the journey’s end do you realize you missed the mark.  For me, this is a terrifying prospect.  I want to stay on course, walking in the light, shining in the light.  That’s where I want you.  We guard against these little deviances that get us off course by faith in Jesus.  Faith is belief in action.   The action of faith is obedience to Christ.  Doing the things Jesus said to do, refraining from the things He warns us against, that’s obedience.  This kind of obedience is not selective.  This kind of obedience is demonstrated by our love for God and our love for others.  The things that we do, are a greater testimony to our faith in Jesus, than the things we believe and the things we say.  

 Stay on course. 


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