Exploring 1 John Session 28: 1 John 5:1-5

 

Exploring 1 John Session 28:  1 John 5:1-5

 Last time we discovered that we take up permanent residence in a life of love by seeking God’s salvation and sanctification.  As we seek and find, we take on the characteristics of love.  We obey God’s commands, we respect others, meet their needs as the opportunity arises.  Inside we change, our character begins to be defined by: " much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely”  (Galatians 5:22-23 (MSG).  Love upward to God: love outward to others: love inwards to ourselves and John continues this theme.

In this session, we are going to learn how to conquer the ways of a Jesus denying world.  John will tell us it is by our faith, characterized by our acceptance, belief, and commitment that Jesus is God’s Messiah.

 1 John 5:1-3 (MSG)

Every person who believes that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah, is God-begotten. If we love the One who conceives the child, we'll surely love the child who was conceived.

The reality test on whether or not we love God's children is this: Do we love God? Do we keep his commands? The proof that we love God comes when we keep his commandments and they are not at all troublesome.

 4 Every God-begotten person conquers the world's ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. The person who wins out over the world's ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God.

 

The gospel reveals that when we ask God to rescue us by acknowledging our desperate need to be saved, believing that God in Jesus provides the way the truth and the life to save us, and committing ourselves to follow Jesus, then our asking to be saved results in God adopting us as His children.  Jesus called it being born again. The Apostle Paul called it becoming a new person.  Are you a child of God, born again, a new person?  Forgiveness of sin and reconciliation of relationships are yours, God’s free gift for those who acknowledge, believe, commit, and ask.   If you realize you are not of the family, today you can reach out in prayer and ask God to adopt you.  I want you as my brother or sister in Christ.   If you ask, let me know so I can help get you acclimated to the family. 

 Knowing the background associated with the Gnostic Christian heresy, to believe that Jesus is the Messiah means that you recognize not only the humanity of Jesus but also His divinity.  The Gnostic Christians rejected the truth that Jesus the man is Jesus the Christ, fully human, fully God.

 The titles of Messiah and Christ sometimes confuse a casual reader.  In the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament, the title of Messiah refers to the king of Israel, the one who leads and saves.  When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, the translators used the word Christ which means the anointed or the chosen one.  It’s fascinating to learn how the idea of the Messiah Christ develops in the Bible.  The older idea of Messiah Christ is that a descendant of David would arise and lead the nation to greatness again.  This person would be fully human only.  Then the book of Daniel (7:13-14) introduces a development “envisioning the Messiah as a heavenly redeemer figure (Rick Williamson, 1, 2, & 3 John, p. 156).  This Messiah is the Son of Man.  Both the older and new concepts inform our New Testament.  John tells us that only those who believe that Jesus is fully God and fully human are children of God.  Those that deny this truth are not walking in the light.

John tells us again, if you love God, you will love His children.  We live this love out first and foremost within the congregation.  We know it is our love for one another that reveals God and draws people to God.  Choosing not to love a brother or sister in Christ is an indication of not knowing God.  If you notice a lack of love in an individual, regardless of what such a non-lover preaches or teaches, or prophesizes, take it was a warning to be especially on guard.  There are many manipulators, deceives, and charlatans masquerading as Christians.  How a person treats others reveals the heart.

We’ve extensively examined the command to love.  To refresh your memory, the ones John insists that we love are those who are God-begotten (John 1:12 & Romans 8:15).  Those who deny the faith, those who “went out from us (1 John 2:19) are excluded from the community. They turned their backs and left.  We are not commanded to love them as if they were still members of the congregation.  Though we are called to love others, it seems to me, and this is my opinion, there is a love reserved for members of the family that are not extended to those not of the family while still maintaining the mandate to treat everyone with respect and as the opportunity arise to lend a helping hand.  John tells us that if we say we love God we will also embrace Jesus the Messiah Christ, and the rest of those who are called God-begotten (2 Corinthians 6:18 & Galatians 4:4-5).  John is concerned about how we in the family of God relate to one another, that we indeed love one another.

 How many times must something be said before you come, not only to believe it but to do it?  We know that repetition makes any fact, position, report, seem more true.  That’s how propaganda works.  It was Joseph Goebbels, a mentor of Joe Biden, who said:  “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.”  That part about Mr. Biden isn’t true, Joseph Goebbels works for Donald Trump.  Ok, you know that Goebbels was Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda-- So much for Late Night Talk Show humor.  What is true about the biased and misleading, the lie repeated and repeated, is also true about what is a fact.  So John repeats for us again the truth of the Christian life: “The proof that we love God comes when we keep his commandments and they are not at all troublesome” (1 John 5:3).  God’s commands are to love God and love others.  To put the question “am I walking in the light” to rest, just honestly evaluate if you are keeping God’s commands.  If you are, there is your assurance.  If you find an area lacking, partner with the Holy Spirit to bring it up to speed, that desire to overcome, that motivates overcoming action, is also an assurance that you are God-begotten (Romans 8:14-17).

 The decision to obey is not “a one and done event.”  One of the 7 habits of a disciple is Obedience.  The habit of obedience is the daily determination that whatever happens, you intend to obey God’s commands.  We obey not out of duty, not out of obligation, not out of coercion, not out of fear of punishment, but rather out of love.  Love becomes your natural default state of being.  As you mature you become love in action.  That’s what I want to become, not even close yet, but that’s the direction.

 There have been times when I did not want to be loving, to meet another’s need.  There have been times when I was sure someone’s greatest need was to stop talking and I was of the mind to help them out.  It can be difficult to speak the truth in love, to have your speech seasoned with salt, to speak a kind word to deflect conflict, to keep your hands to yourself, and hold on to that piece of mind you were about to give away.  But the Holy Spirit resides in each of God’s children and empowers you not to cast your stones, even at the guilty party.  Breath and pray and breath and listen and breath, did I mention breath?  Breathing and praying reduces the stress between the desire to love someone and the desire to knock some sense in their head.

Even in the midst of someone else’s frustrating, unjust, illogical, ridiculous, one-sided idiotic rant, it has been by breathing, breathing, breathing, and of course, prayer that the Holy Spirit empowered me to keep my conscience clear.  What’s neat is that after, I felt satisfaction that I did right.  I know when I am in an emotional low, I have to be especially on guard, that I don’t let anger and sarcasm win over love.  Retaliation is not loving.  Selfish anger is not loving.  Holding a grudge is not loving.  It is expected that we will love our brothers and sisters in Christ.

 The reason keeping God’s commands is not troublesome, not burdensome, is because the Holy Spirit empowers you to choose to keep them.  To do divine things one must have divine power.  The way you access this divine power is simply to let it flow through you.  Determine to be a lover and you are.  I know this is easier said than done, but you can discipline yourself to do so.

I have found it especially difficult to choose to be a lover during times of loss or tragedy or opposition, or just plain frustration.  I have found it difficult when I felt I was being taken advantage of, more so when a loved one was being abused, or that an injustice was occurring.  Another trick I try to use beside breath, pray and breath is to sing in my head the old Beatles song “All You Need Is Love.”  Maybe something like that will help you maintain a cool head and clear thinking when thrust into a nasty situation.

 There have been times when I have utterly failed in my desire to be a lover.  I blew it big time.  I found myself giving into complaint and accusation, and selfish anger, and the thought of just quitting.  In such times I found the scripture to be true: 

 2 Timothy 2:13 (NIV)

“…if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

 His love doesn’t let go.  His love draws us back home.  His love is an enduring love. His love is a jealous love.  His love doesn’t quit on us.  His love calls us to repentance and to First John 1:9 our sins. 

 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

His love restores us to be lovers, to reconcile, to apologize, to forgive. We leave the situation hopefully wiser and determined to be a lover next time.  Keep practicing and you will get it right.  That’s really how we overcome the Jesus denying world.  The Jesus denying world is any thought, word, deed, writing, or institution that refuses to love God and love others.  Obedience is the fruit of faith.  Anytime you see love not happening, it’s anti-Christ.  Anytime you love you are exercising your faith, your belief is being put into action, and you overcome the ways of a Jesus denying world.  It is by your actions that you declare that Jesus is the Son of God.

 You overcome the Jesus denying world by your deeds of love.  As you walk in the light you declare your belief that God is love loudly.  Your deeds of love bring glory to God and cause you to shine like a beacon in the night. I want you in the light, I want you to shine.  Decide that you are going to overcome the Jesus denying world, exercise your faith and love.

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