2008-10-19 (am) 1 John 5:1-12 Believe in Jesus
This morning, we’re going to concentrate on the first five verses of chapter 5, though the rest of the verses provide context. These first five verses teach us three things with regard to our personal relationship with God and with those around us. These three things are: Faith, Love and Obedience.
It all begins with faith.
Verse one. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. Everyone who has faith that Jesus is the messiah, that Jesus is the anointed one, that Jesus is King, Saviour, Lord, High Priest—the word anointed conveys all those things—is born of God.
From Ephesians 2:8&9, we learn: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” The very act of faith, that is the moment of believing, yes the Bible is true, Jesus really lived and he really is the Son of God. Such faith is a gift of God, without it there is no belief, otherwise, Paul says, we’d be able to boast about being so smart to know to come to Christ. Instead, our attitude, the right attitude is, wow, God has blessed us with faith!
The moment God places faith in us, and we receive it and act on it, we are born of God. This is what Jesus told Nicodemus. In order to see God, Jesus said, in order to see the kingdom of God, in order to recognise Jesus for who He really is, you have to be born again.
Faith, given to us by God, enables us to see Jesus and believe in Jesus. But John takes us a step further than just a vague general idea of Jesus. He says that we need to see Jesus as the Christ.
There are two ways of looking at Christ, and we need to balance both. The first way to look at Christ is to see Him as our example. Jesus led a perfect life, and he gives us the tools we need to strive to live a life like him. For a while, when I was in college, there were acronyms which highlighted this focus on Christ, Christ as example, there were bracelets, book marks, bumper stickers, necklaces, key chains, doorknockers, bottle openers all kinds of things with the acronym WWJD on them. What would Jesus do? Since Jesus lived a perfect life, it makes sense to seek after Him, His life, to see what He did and then do likewise.
But if that is the only way we look at Jesus, we run into danger. First, it becomes dependent upon us to succeed, and then if we fail, what happens? Second, it could easily lead into works righteousness, where we start to think that we’re meriting Christ’s goodness and lifestyle through our own efforts. And third, our fundamental problem isn’t lack of a good role model, our fundamental problem is that we are sinners, dead in our sins.
So we also have to see Christ as saviour. Jesus isn’t simply the best example that we’re to follow. He is the one who has paved the way through His precious blood! He’s the power by which we struggle and strive, and follow and emulate and copy! We look to Jesus, not simply as the best example, but also as the one who conquered sin and death, who has set us free from bondage, and who has given us freedom to live as Christ lived.
There is yet still another aspect of faith in Christ the anointed. And this has to do with believing and accepting that Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives.
A litmus test for seeing if Christ is Lord of our lives comes not from what we do, or church attendance or what have you. Scripture says, out of the overflow of our hearts, our mouths speak. So, if Christ is Lord of our lives, we will see it in how we speak.
Perhaps you’ve seen someone who is drunk who not only behaves poorly, but they go off on someone or something. They’re in a conversation, and they start talking in sexually explicit tones about women.
Scripture says, out of the overflow of our hearts, our mouths speak. Don’t be deceived, it wasn’t the alcohol speaking. What the drunk person said was what he really believed in his heart.
We must consider our words. Who hasn’t said something and then immediately regretted it and tried to brush it off by saying, “Oh don’t mind what I just said, I didn’t mean to say it.”
But Jesus says, out of the overflow of our heart, we speak, so when we say something to someone that we shouldn’t, we cannot get away with saying, “oh, don’t worry, I didn’t mean that.” What we say is what we believe in our hearts. We can’t simply brush those words off. They have power, they hurt. What we should say is, “please forgive me, for I really do think that about you in my heart, and it is wrong.”
Why? Why do our hearts harbour these things? Why do we have bad things in our hearts? It is because we fail to make Jesus the Lord of our lives. Instead we keep and maintain our own little kingdoms. We want to be the kings of our lives. We want to be served. We want things our way.
And, so we react when things don’t going our way. In our kingdom, people would show up on time, be committed, and do a good job. In our kingdom, children don’t constantly interrupt us, they honour us and respect us, and recognise when we need just fifteen minutes of peace! In our kingdoms, our bosses treat us with respect. In our kingdoms our teachers do what we want them to do.
So when things don’t go as planned, when we walk into the back yard to settle the world ending dispute of who had which toy first, we do not do it as servants of Christ and His kingdom, seeing an opportunity to speak words of redemption into our children’s hearts, we react as kings of our own kingdom in which our children get along perfectly and who are constantly asking, “would you like to play with my favourite toy? And our words reflect not the violation of Christ’s kingdom, but rather the violation of our kingdoms.
And we wonder why we struggle. It is because we are not exercising our faith in Christ as Lord of our lives. We need to surrender to Him, and when we do, we discover an amazing thing! Our kingdom grows, it exceeds expectations, instead of being our little world where we pretend we’re in control, we realise that we are in God’s great big country, where He reigns as Lord! And we’re able to experience the life that God has planned for us, not the little drab dreary stable that we fashion for ourselves.
Now for our second point: Love. Obviously, this is tied strongly to faith in the Lordship of Christ. We love God and we love one another. We cannot love one another if we don’t first love God.
So we have in our relationships with one another, where our love for ourselves sneaks in, where it seeks to be put in priority, ahead of others, and ahead of God. Someone after last week’s service last week asked me, “Do you know what the opposite of love is?” I said, “I dunno, hatred?” He said, “No, it is selfishness.”
That’s precisely the characteristic of our own kingdoms. We want honour, love, peace, understanding. We want respect and recognition. We want our way, conflicts happen when we don’t get our own way, when we don’t love others as much as we love ourselves.
This is what causes so much conflict even in churches. We put faith in ourselves, rather than faith in God. We love ourselves more than we love others.
So, we need to step back and get some perspective. This is Christ’s kingdom, not ours. Christ is first of all king of my life, I am not king. Christ is head of the church; he is Lord and King over the church. He has called us all to be church together because we need each other. Even our disagreements, our differences of opinion are orchestrated by Christ to make us more loving, more forgiving toward one another.
Now, in order to be loving toward one another, we have to be obedient to Christ, and that brings us to our third point.
John says, “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:2-5).
In obedience there is freedom. In submission there is liberty. There is far less freedom in living according to your own terms rather than living according to God’s terms.
God created us. He knows what is best for us. This book shows us how to get the most out of our lives, for the glory of God, and for our personal enjoyment. We have the Ten Commandments. We have the Sermon on the Mount. We have the words of the prophets. We have the letters of the apostles. We have the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. We have the book of Acts and Revelation. We have the Psalms.
In my personal devotions, I’ve been reading the NIV Chronological Bible. I just finished reading through the final instructions given by Moses before he died. He warned the Israelites that if they were obedient, God would bless them. If they were not obedient, God would not bless them.
But again, this obedience is rooted in loving God first. Suppose you said to your mom or dad, “I feel a deep sense of responsibility toward you, I feel that I ought to do what you say. I know that if I obey you I will get what I want.”
That wouldn’t be very satisfactory to hear, would it? It would be so much better to hear, “I love you, I want to demonstrate my love for you by what I do.”
Obedience, motivated by our love for God, moves us to do what God requires of us.
Obedience results in blessing in this life and in the life to come. The blessings are not limited to health and wealth, though they are promised by God, that is true. The blessings from God in this life is contentment in every situation.
Our obedience is grounded first in our relationship, our love for, our desire for God. We seek Him and His kingdom first and all these things are added unto us. We demonstrate our love for God by being obedient to his commands.
And as we live out His commands, we discover that they are not burdensome at all.
In fact, when we follow them, we find that our life is running smoothly, like a well maintained machine. We follow our manufacturer’s recommendations for our vehicles, but how well do we follow God’s commandments for our daily living?
Obedience is given as an expression of love, to the one whom we have faith in. Obedience is not a burden, it brings us peace. Love is the expression of our new nature in Christ, whom we desire more than anything else, whom we are able to desire more than anything else, because we’ve received and have put our faith and trust in Christ, having accepted the testimony about Him.
Let us commit again to surrendering our lives to Christ. Let us stand firm in what we believe, who we are as God’s children, and seek His kingdom through obedient living. Amen.