Last Sunday we looked at the first of three reasons or motivations the Apostle John gives his congregation for living righteously. Live Righteously Because of the Affection of the Father. According to the first two verses of 1 John 3, the Apostle reminds us that God’s adopting love lavishes grace upon the undeserving sinner who comes to Him by faith in His Son. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” (1 John 3:1–3, NIV84). Just as earthly sons and daughters want to please a loving, doting father by obeying and honoring him, so spiritual sons and daughters want to obey and honor their Heavenly Father by living righteously in an unrighteous world.
But there is a second reason or motivation why believers should want to live righteously in an unrighteous world: Live Righteously Because of the Manifestation of the Son. Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, came into the world, born of the Virgin, to saves sinners from the eternal penalty and power of sin as well as breaking the dominion of Satan in their lives.
II. LIVE RIGHTEOUSLY BECAUSE OF THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SON vv. 4-8
- “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:4–8, NIV84)
- sin is first and foremost lawlessness—breaking of God’s commands, laws, and statutes
- God’s law—especially His moral laws that we know as the Ten Commandments—was never given to save by attempting to obey it, it was given to reveal to man that he is a sinner
- sin is basically and fundamentally that which is contrary to the will of God
- in other words, a sinner is one who is insubordinate to the will of God
- ILLUS. Horatius Bonar, Scottish churchman and poet, said it this way in his hymn “I Was a Wandering Sheep” ... /I was a wandering sheep, I did not love the fold, I did not love my Shepherd’s voice, I would not be controlled: I was a wayward child, I did not love my home, I did not love my Father’s voice, I loved afar to roam.
- ILLUS. Adrian Rogers told the story of a little girl was asked in Sunday School to give her definition of what sin is. She said, “I think it is anything that you like to do.”
- the Apostle Paul emphasizes that in Romans 8:5
- “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” (Romans 8:5, NIV84)
- the Apostle declares that Christ appeared or was manifested (KJV) for a specific purpose
- the word manifested in the KJV refers to something that is readily perceived by the senses
- if you remember, this is how the Apostle opens his sermon ...
- “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” (1 John 1:1, NIV84)
- Remove the Practice of Sin
- Rob Satan of Power over the Sinner
- throughout its history the true church has always maintained that Scripture clearly sets forth certain outcomes of belief
- the outcome is behavior that characterizes Jesus which is the mark of genuine saving faith
- genuine faith will always translate into practicing righteousness
- an affirmation and acceptance of the biblical gospel, and a life that is characterized by a worthy walk, have rightly been seen as accurate indicators of the work of the Trinity on a person’s heart
- and when such fruit is absent in an individual’s life, the church has appropriately called into question his or her profession of faith
- here, the Apostle John is blunt—
- “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” v. 4
- “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning.” v. 6
- “No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” v. 6
- no, for he has already admitted that true Christians do sin and will be liars if they deny this truth (1 Jn 1:7–9)
- what he is saying is that a true Christian has within him or her—by virtue of their new birth—a power not to sin
- God within us is causes righteous living—God will never lead us into sin
- “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16, ESV)
A. CHRIST CAME TO REMOVE THE PRACTICE OF SIN
- in vv. 4-8 the verbs related to sin are all in the present tense, indicating continuous, habitual action
- in other words, John is not referring to occasional acts of sin, but to established and continual patterns of sinful behavior
- the New American Standard Bible most closely translates the Apostle’s thoughts in v. 4 as “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness ... “
- what is practice? —practice is what you systematically do to get better at something!
- believers will still sin—even willfully—but they will not and cannot sin habitually, persistently, and as a way of life
- "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24, NIV84)
- the truth is not that we don’t sin, but that the Christian is habitually, persistently, and as a way of life attempting not to sin!
- if you are God’s child, that new nature will not go along with the old nature and commit sin
- “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:4–7, NIV84)
- the unredeemed sinner simply has no choice but to sin—they have no power to not sin—they are unrighteous in all they do
- the justified saint, however, can choose to not sin and has the ability to sin not—because we have the righteousness of Christ in us
- because of Christ in us, believers have the ability to live righteously
- “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:10–14, NIV84)
- we are recreated to obey the Word
- we are recreated to follow Christ
- we are recreated to reject the temptations of the world
- we are recreated to display the fruits of righteousness in their lives
B. CHRIST CAME TO ROB SATAN OF POWER
- Satan is the Great Deceiver who would convince you that sin is not nearly as serious a matter as God says it is
- to that end, the Apostle tells us, Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray ...
- Satan is the Great Tempter who would lure us away from the faith by dangling the world before our eyes
- but Jesus was manifested in order to destroy the works of the devil
- what is the work of the Devil?
- a clue is given in v. 4 when the Apostle says that sin is lawlessness
- lawlessness is living as though your own ideas are superior to God's
- lawlessness says, "God may demand it but I don't prefer it."
- lawlessness says, "God may promise it but I don't want it."
- the work of the Devil is to promote, cultivate, encourage, and tempt humans toward a life of lawlessness
- the work of the Devil is to tempt us to reject the authority of God and become like God ourselves—ruling our lives in sovereign autonomy
- the works of the Devil enslave human beings to act as his emissaries who in turn permeate families, churches, communities, nations, and the entire world system
- but Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil
- destroy does not mean to annihilate
- the word that is translated destroy means to take away the power of the devil
- ILLUS. One of the videos making the rounds on the internet the last two weeks shows a lioness attempting to attack and eat a toddler at a Seattle zoo. The little boy is dressed in a black and white stripped hoodie and, to the lion, looks remarkably like a young Zebra. The child is sitting next to the lion enclosure separated from the lioness by thick tempered glass. The lioness paws, slaps at, and repeatedly attempts to wrap its mouth around the child, but is thwarted by the glass. The child is oblivious to the danger finding the whole adventure uneventful.
- [PLAY VIDEO]
- he is, as the Apostle Peter describes him, a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour
- but Christ, like the tempered glass that stood between the lioness and the baby, stands between us the Devil
- the Devil may look and act fearsome, but he has no power over us
- by indwelling us through his Spirit which is the “seed” that lives in us
- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NIV84)
CON. In these verses, the Apostle John outlines the responsibility that falls on the children of God. Quite clearly he expects that those of us who call ourselves “Christian” will bear an undeniable resemblance to the one whom we claim to be our spiritual parent. That resemblance comes to the fore primarily in the sphere of our conduct—in the way the child lives out the responsibility summarized in the descriptive phrase does what is right, (3:7).
Christians do not habitually practice sin. Sin is incompatible with the law of God, it is incompatible with the work of Christ, and it is incompatible with the ministry of the Holy Spirit. “Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God.” It does not matter who you are or how sincere your profession of faith was: If a person is not trying to live for God, he is not a child of God.
God knows our hearts and knows whether or not we have really been born again and are His children. But our neighbor next door doesn’t know that. The only way for him to know is for the life of God to be manifested in us. It is not necessarily manifested by lip and language, but it is manifested by our living.