1 John 3:1-10

gawlerbap1 John

1 John 3:1-10

As I sat down this week to start preparing this sermon I had the same reaction as I’ve previously had—I wish John would write more plainly!  I’m sure it all connects in his head, but it takes quite a while to connect in mine.  For today’s sermon I want us to picture an imagined dialogue between John and his readers that will hopefully offer insight into where John was going with his letter.

John

I’m a bit bothered you believers are going to be deceived [2:26].  There were some who are no longer part of your church who were in reality antichrists.  They gave themselves over to the desire of the flesh and eyes and had pride and faith in their riches [2:16].  I warned you that they were liars because regardless of what they say, their actions and attitudes showed they didn’t accept Jesus as the Messiah[ 2:22].  I also reminded you that you have the Holy Spirit who gives you all the knowledge you need to discern truth from error [2:20].  I mentioned too the importance of abiding in Jesus.  At the time you asked me what I meant by that, and I said it’s simple: keep on being a follower of Jesus.  I encouraged you with the truth that as you do that there’s no need to have any fear about coming face to face with him.  You’ll be able to do that with no shame [2:28]! I hope that made you both relieved and excited.  That what I‘m talkin’ ‘bout!! Eternal life!

But if you thought that was good, wait until you hear this: God the Father loves us so much that he’s adopted us as his children [1].  That means he’s our Father and we’re part of his family.  That’s what we are already and that’s wonderful!

Them

Wow!

John

But hang on. Just before you get too excited, unfortunately there is a down side to that.  Remember when Jesus was still here and most of his own Jewish people had no idea who he really was and actually gave him a hard time and rejected him?

Them

Yes….

John

That’s what it’s also like for us who are children of God [1].  If that’s what it was like for Jesus we could hardly expect it would be any different for us.  But here’s what gets us through: we are already God’s children [2].

Them

Wonderful! How amazing is that?!  But….I have a problem with that.  If I’m already God’s child, how come I have to put up with being given a hard time?  Surely if I already am his child I could expect to be treated a little differently?

John

Fair enough, but you’re jumping too far ahead.  While you are already God’s child, there’s still a whole lot more to see and know about that [2].  It’s like a sculpture covered by a sheet. The shape might give a good clue as to what it is, but you only see all the detail and beauty once the sheet’s been pulled away and everything’s finally been revealed.  For the time being we’re still waiting for the sheet to be pulled away.  And it will be one day.

But here’s something we do know: guess what will happen when the sheet’s pulled away?  We will finally see Jesus as he really is, and we’ll discover we’re just like him [2].  And what will that be like?  Remember what it was like when Jesus rose from the dead? There’s no doubt he was Jesus, but he was different.  He was a glimpse into the future God has prepared for us.  Obviously we’re not going to be Jesus himself, but we will finally be our true selves, fully the people God has made us to be without all the muck of sin dragging us down.  That’s what it will be like.

Here’s the thing though: that’s what we’re hoping for (and it will happen eventually), but in the meantime our part in it is to keep ourselves pure [3].

Them

Purity schmurity!  We have enough trouble getting through an hour of being pure let alone being like that the whole time.  I reckon you could be asking too much?

John

I get that too, but here’s what I’m saying.  Being like Jesus is what we’re hanging out for, and we will be like him one day.  So my point is, why not start now? If that’s our destiny, why not already start putting it into practice? Bring our future into the present.
It’s not like we’re on our own. God has given us his Holy Spirit to help make that possible.  We can be on the road now to becoming what we will be then.

Them

That does make some sense.

John

I mentioned before that I was concerned you don’t end up being deceived by others.  That still bothers me [7], so I want to lay it out for you plain and simply so there’s no room for your thinking and actions going in the wrong direction, and you don’t get sucked in by those who are antichrists.  I’m going to be a subtle as a brick and make what I’m about to say really black and white—no shades of grey.  Here’s how it is: what you do will give your game away; your actions will show who you belong to—God the Father of the devil himself.

Here’s what those whose father is the devil will look like.  Their whole life will be characterised by a consistent pattern of rebellion against God [4].  Everyone who consistently acts that way has the devil for a father because he’s been like that all along and they are no different [8].  That’s one of the reasons Jesus came to earth: to destroy anything he gets up to [8].  Here’s two simple ways you can work out whether or not someone has the devil for a father [10]:
• If they don’t do right.
• If they don’t love their fellow believers.
And by the way, they only have to do one of them to show they have the devil for a father.

Them

That’s it then. We might as well pack our bags and all go home because the bar is too high.  We don’t always do right, and we don’t always love our fellow believers as we should because sometimes that’s just plain hard.  Where does that leave us?  Is the devil our father? Are we just like him?

John

Hang in there. I haven’t finished yet. Here’s what those who have God for their Father will look like.  Remember how I said we will be like Jesus?  One of the other things about him is that there is no sin in him [5].  That means that as we keep on as his followers, we won’t sin because how could we say we know him and keep on sinning [6]?  Jesus showed he was righteous on the inside because of all the righteous things he did on the outside.  In the same way we show we are righteous on the inside by acting righteously [7].  In fact, if you keep on as a follower of Jesus, you won’t sin [9]!

Them

Thanks very much John (not). You’ve really cleared things up because now we really know the devil is our father!  You said no one who abides in him sins and if we do sin we show we don’t know him.  In fact, you even went so far as to say we cannot sin if we abide in him.  Just in case you haven’t noticed, we still sin—and we guess you might too.

John

I can see how you got to thinking that, but that’s not what I meant.  Remember I said I’m going to paint a really black and white picture?  That’s exactly what I’ve done when I’ve described those who have the devil for a father and those who have God as their Father.  The reason I’ve made it really stark is to get across to you two main things:
Firstly, I don’t want you to be deceived.
Secondly, I want you to already experience eternal life here and now.
Experiencing the life fit for heaven here and now will be different to what we would normally experience.  If nothing changes in our lives here, or if there’s no difference between the people who have God for their Father and those who have the devil for their father, what’s that got to do with eternal life?  I’m not silly enough to think that suddenly everyone will be perfect. I know you still sin and so do I.  I said all that to exaggerate my point.  What I’m talking about is the overall habitual direction of our lives: overall do they reflect the character of Jesus or of the devil?  Negatively, we can’t claim to be followers of Jesus with nothing in our lives pointing to that.  Positively, if we already have eternal life, then live it!

The audio for this sermon can be found here.