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Politically Incorrect Christianity: Living the Truth “Reasons for Righteous Living” —A

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Notes & Transcripts

What is the reason for this sermon from the aged Apostle John to his congregation at Ephesus? He distills it down into one statement "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life," (I John 5:13). The Apostle is writing to a congregation where, because of recent events—the ‘going out’ of many from the congregation—those left behind are struggling with their own eternal security. There question to their pastor is, “If these people really were not ‘of us’ from the beginning, how can we be sure of our relationship with Christ?” It’s an honest and serious question.

In the first century church, as we have already seen in our study of 1 John, there were Counterfeit Christians. There were people running around who talked a good story, who said the right things, and who said things that sounded deeply spiritual. However, these were people who were walking in darkness rather than walking in the light. The Apostle writes to his congregation to assure them that there are certain identifying marks that reveal the authenticity of a person’s faith.

We’ve already looked at several of these authenticating marks:

    • A genuine Christian must believe that Jesus is the Christ who has eternally existed with the Father.
    • A genuine Christian must believe that the Christ came in the flesh.
    • A genuine Christian must regularly confess sin and seek God’s cleansing.
    • A genuine Christian must obey God’s commandments.
    • A genuine Christian must walk in loving fellowship with other Christians.

This morning we’re going to concentrate on 1 John 3:1-10 where the Apostle lays out another authenticating mark—A Genuine Christian will live righteously in an unrighteous world. In vv. 7-8 the Apostle writes: /“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 3:7–8, NIV84)

This morning, I want us to tackle the issue of how do we deal with the conflict between the reality of the new birth, on the one hand, and the reality of our ongoing sin, on the other hand? How can we enjoy the assurance of being born again, and yet not take lightly the sinfulness of our lives that is sometimes so out of step with being born again? John's first letter, more than any other book in the Bible, seems to be designed to help us in this practical, daily battle.

So then, for the next little while, lets look at some reasons why we should seek to live righteously.

    • Live Righteously Because of the Affection of the Father
    • Live Righteously Because of the Manifestation of the Son
    • Live Righteously Because of the Regeneration of the Holy Spirit


    • "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)


            1. the Apostle John begins with a powerfully affirming statement; By your faith in the risen Lord Jesus, God the Father has adopted you into His family!
                1. the Father’s love is amazing to behold, it is awesome to try to comprehend
                2. John asks, How great is the love the Father has lavished on us
                    1. in the KJV that opening statement is translated, Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us
                    2. the word rendered what manner occurs only seven times in the New Testament and implies a reaction of astonishment that leads to admiration of the person or thing we’re looking at
                3. that God would love me—a sinner condemned, unclean—is astonishing
            2. the love of the Father is astonishing because it’s unbelievable
                1. it’s unbelievable that God should love lost sinners, because there is nothing in a lost sinner worthy of love
                2. read what the Bible says about mankind
                    1. all humans are totally, absolutely depraved, there is nothing in us that can please God
                      • ILLUS. Just when you think that mankind couldn’t possibly invent a newer way of expressing his utter moral perversion, corruption and degeneracy comes news out of South Korea that government inspectors have intercepted capsules being sold in that country as “energy supplements”. They’re coming out of China which has a “one child” per couple policy. That policy forces millions of abortions each year. If that were not bad enough, they’ve discovered a way to profit from the carnage. The capsules confiscated by the South Koreans contain the dehydrated and powered remains of aborted babies.
                3. in spite of this, and even because of it, God so loved that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on him shall not perish but have everlasting life
                    1. the love of the Father is unbelievable
            3. the love of the Father is astonishing because it’s undeserved
                1. it’s undeserved because of its unbelievability
                    1. who would think that God would become man and die for the sins of men?
                    2. who would think that God would do what men could not do? —that is, reconcile us to Himself?
                2. we don’t deserve to be Christians, but on the basis of love God chose us even though we don’t deserve to be ‘chosen’ for anything but hell
            4. the love of the Father is astonishing because it’s unearthly
                1. there is no love on the face of this earth like the love of God for His Elect
                    1. it is a heavenly love
                    2. it is from above and bestowed on His children
                2. God the Father has lavishly bestowed on believers a gracious, unmerited, sovereign love apart from any human merit
                    1. such love is inexplicable in human terms
            5. the world does not understand this relationship
                1. the Apostle writes: the reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him
                    1. John doesn’t mean that our the friends and family and co-workers won’t recognize us
                    2. he means that they won’t understand us
                        1. they don’t understand that you’d rather be in church on Sunday morning than sleeping in, or boating on the lake, or cutting the grass or any of a hundred other activities you could be doing right now
                        2. they don’t understand when you give 10% or more of your income away to the Church or missions or Christian charities
                        3. they don’t understand when you don’t take advantage of other’s misfortune in order to advance yourself
                        4. they don’t understand when you forgive others who trespass against you
                    3. the Apostle John says they won’t understand you because they don’t understand Jesus whom you’re trying to be like
                2. those outside of Christ cannot fathom the true essence and character of believers which shines forth in their likeness to the heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ


            1. our potential is that one day we’re going to be all that God saved us to be
                1. I may not look much like Jesus right now, but wait till God gets done with me
                2. God is going to perfect a work of grace in my life and in your life
            2. we have the promise that, at the resurrection of the Saint, God will transform us into the likeness of His only begotten Son
                1. we will be glorified
                2. we will be sinless
                3. we will be eternal
                  • ILLUS. When he was a young man, the Italian city of Florence gave to a young sculpturer named Michelangelo a large piece of marble that had been damaged during shipment to the city. As Michelangelo walked around it, looking at it, he smiled and said to one of his assistants, “My, isn’t it beautiful!” The assistant was puzzled and said, “All I see is a great big piece of marble—that’s all.” Michelangelo exclaimed, “You don’t see what I see. I see a statue of David there.” The assistant looked again and replied, “Well, I don’t see it.” Michelangelo said, “That is because it is now in my own mind, but I am going to translate this piece of marble into what I see inside of it.” And that is what he did.
            3. this is what the Father will accomplish in His children
                1. God says, “It doth not yet appear what you shall be”
                2. He sees what He is going to make out of us someday
            4. we may sometimes get discouraged when we look at ourselves and each other as we are now
                1. God, however, sees us as we shall be when He shall appear and we shall be made like Him
                2. what a glorious prospect this is for us!


            1. if you believe that Jesus is coming and that someday you are going to be like Him, that will motivate you to live a pure life down here
                1. this is the believer’s great incentive for holy living
                2. we are not wonderful now, but we shall be wonderful someday
            2. the “hope” of the believer that the Apostle speaks of in v. 3 is that Jesus is coming again to establish His eternal Kingdom
                1. the hope of Christ’s return makes a practical difference in the lifestyle and behavior of believers
                2. when this hope is fixed on Him, it produces a growing desire to become like Him now
                  • “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:1–5, NIV84)


            1. much of what the Apostle John writes in this passage is a response to the false teaching his congregation is encountering
                1. these false doctrines are being taught by some of the very people who once part of their congregation
            2. they taught that our spiritual life can be separated from physical life
                1. John, in fact, insists that spiritual being must be validated by physical doing, or else the spiritual being is simply not real
                2. this is why the Apostle writes: "Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous." (1 John 3:7)
            3. the deceivers were saying: You can be righteous and yet not practice righteousness
                1. John says absolutely not, The only people who are righteous are the ones who practice righteousness
                    1. doing confirms being
                      • ILLUS Mickey Cohen was a well-known Los Angeles gangster in the 1950's and 1960's. Very early in life he was known as a hustler, and a runner—delivering boot-leg gin made by his older brother. As a young man, he became an enforcer in Al Capone's gang. He also began running card games and engaging in other illegal activities. While in Chicago, he survived arrests, prison and at least one assassination attempt. After the attempt on his life he moved back Los Angeles, which had been his boyhood home. There, he partnered with Bugsy Siegel and helped Siegel create and then run The Flamingo Hotel. In the early 1950's, Cohen was sentenced to four years in prison for tax evasion. After his release he became something of a media celebrity. In 1961 he was again convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to 15 years. In 1949, one of Cohen's "associates," Jim Vaus, was converted to faith in Christ by Billy Graham at his famous Los Angeles crusade. The man renounced his life of crime and made restitution for the things he had stolen. Mickey was intrigued and asked Jim Vaus to arrange a meeting with "that guy who's converting all those famous folks." A meeting was arranged, and along with a few others, Mickey Cohen sat and listened to Billy Graham preach the gospel. But he went away unconverted, and his life of crime continued and he ended up in prison. When he was released from his stint in prison, a Los Angeles evangelist named Bill Jones made it his personal mission to lead Cohen to Christ. After Cohen heard Jones's simple gospel presentation, he repeated a prayer to accept Christ. The evangelist was elated and word soon spread that Mickey Cohen, the once dangerous mobster, had turned his life over to Christ. Hallelujah! But Mickey did not change his ways. He continued his life of crime. The disheartened Jones confronted Cohen to tell him that as a Christian, he needed to put distance between himself and his old buddies in crime. He needed to end his criminal behavior! Puzzled, Cohen responded, "Jones, you never told me that I had to give up my career. You never told me that I had to give up my friends. There are Christian movie stars, Christian athletes, Christian businessmen. So what's the matter with being a Christian gangster? If I have to give up all that—if that's Christianity—then count me out."
                2. so here is the question: “Are you practicing righteousness in you life? Are you earnestly contending for the faith in how you live?”
                    1. the Apostle John says that practicing righteousness is one of the authenticating marks of the Christian life
                      • A genuine Christian must believe that Jesus is the Christ who has eternally existed with the Father.
                      • A genuine Christian must believe that the Christ came in the flesh.
                      • A genuine Christian must regularly confess sin and seek God’s cleansing.
                      • A genuine Christian must obey God’s commandments.
                      • A genuine Christian must walk in loving fellowship with other Christians.
                      • A genuine Christian must seek to live righteously in an unrighteous world.
            4. Live Righteously Because of the Affection of the Father

CON. John ends this passage by reminding us, This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God ... God’s children will seek to live righteously, because they have been made righteous in Christ. 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.

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