A few Sundays ago we began looking at three reasons or motivations for living righteously. The Apostle John tells his congregation: First—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.
The Apostle John tells his congregation: Second—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.
"But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin." (1 John 3:5, NIV84)
"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)
While Christians will continue to transgress God’s laws and commands, sin and Satan no longer have dominion over us as they do the lost person. The believer is capable of practicing righteousness. Our motivation for doing so is the love of God the Father shed abroad in our hearts and the presence of God the Son in the world to make atonement for sin.
This morning I want you to see a third reason for the Apostle John gives his congregation— Live Righteously Because of the Regeneration of the Holy Spirit. God had given us His Spirit, and it is this Holy Spirit who works the works of God in us, urging us on in our desire to live for Christ and like Christ.
This morning, I want us to take a few moments to examine this third motivation for holy living.
III. LIVE RIGHTEOUSLY BECAUSE OF THE REGENERATION BY THE SPIRIT vv. 9-10
- “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 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; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:9–10, NIV84)
- the Bible teaches that just as we have two parents physically we have two parents spiritually—the Word and the Spirit
- it is the Spirit of God who births us into the family of God
- it is the Word of God that nourishes us in our growth in becoming a mature family member of the Household of God
A. WE ARE BORN OF THE SPIRIT
- how do natural children come into a family?—by physical birth
- how do spiritual children come into the family of God? —by supernatural birth!
- born of God in v. 9 is a reference, of course, to the New Birth
- this is what the Lord Jesus spoke of when He said to a religious ruler, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:7)
- true Christianity has always been a “born again” Christianity
- ILLUS. It’s been perhaps two years ago now, but I remember the conversation clearly. I was witnessing to a man about coming to faith in Christ and I had shared with him part of my testimony of being raised Catholic and being ‘born again’ when I was eighteen. He looked at me and said,"Well, I’m not a born again Christian. I’m a Methodist.” As if that’s all that’s necessary!
- “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” (John 3:6, NIV84)
- “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4–5, NIV84)
- now, let me take a few moments to share some characteristics of the Spirit’s regenerating work in your life
- 1st, the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is a work of grace and not something the sinner merits or can earn
- “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5–7, NIV84)
- no amount of “right living” can merit the mercy of God
- in fact the bible teaches that it is impossible for the unredeemed sinner to live righteously
- “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23, NIV84)
- “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38–39, NIV84)
- there was a time when you were not a Christian—you were lost in sin and under the wrath and condemnation of God
- there was a time when God the Spirit quickened your soul, and made you spiritually alive, by coming into your life to live
- the theological term for this event is regeneration and it moves the sinner to confess their sin and to confess Christ
- it had a point-in-time moment
- ILLUS. Some of us are like the Apostle Paul and can vividly recall that moment. Mine was on a Thursday in July of 1973. I was driving a delivery truck. I was about half way between St. Louis and Columbia when the Spirit came flooding into my life. Some of us are like the Paul’s protegee, Timothy, who was brought up in a Godly home, and who probably couldn’t pinpoint his moment of conversion, yet he knew that it had happened. Either way, there was a specific instant when your spiritual birth took place.
- “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, NIV84)
- at the moment of your new birth, God began a work in you that continues until the moment of your death or the return of Christ
- the Spirit of God never stops working in a believer’s life
- we can ignore Him, and we can grieve Him, but He never abandons us
- the work of the Spirit is a good work of conforming you into the image of His Son
- “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29, NIV84)
- “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 3:2–3, NIV84)
- “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” (1 John 3:9, NIV84)
- the Apostle assumes that just as children have a likeness to their parents, and just as that likeness will and must manifest itself in behavior, so the conduct of the children of God makes it manifest to whom they belong
- specifically, being related to God has two manifestations: Righteousness and Love
- both are characteristic of God and both are characteristic of the children of God
- the Apostle John is insistent on this
- “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; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:10, NIV84)
- “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, the Spirit of God will not go along with the old nature and commit sin
B. WE ARE NURTURED BY THE WORD
- the seed that John is talking about is the Word of God
*“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23, NIV84)
- just as physical babies need food, spiritual babies need food
- both begin with milk and work their way toward more solid food
- just as physical babies grow into adulthood, so must spiritual babies
- and all through that process, both need continual nourishment
- ILLUS. You’ll never hear a person say, “Well, I’ve reached adulthood. I suppose I can stop eating now.” That’s just silly, isn’t it.
- they stop eating—they stop taking in spiritual nourishment
- ILLUS. Many years ago, I heard an evangelist describe the ongoing war between our old sinful-nature, and our new Christ-nature. He described them this way: “There’s two dogs that live in me, one’s the old dog, he’s mean and vicious and hard and sinful. Then there’s the new dog who walks after Christ. Each is constantly fighting to have control of me. Which one wins? The one I feed the most, that’s which one wins.”
- the one you feed the most
- ILLUS. If you walk in circles where they tell the world’s jokes, live by the world’s standard and the world’s rules, that man will win because you’ve fed him, you’ve made him strong, you’ve made him dominant. If you walk in circles where they daily meditate on the Word of God, they pray, they associate with other believers who talk of Godly things the new man will have dominance because you’ve fed him, you’ve made him strong.
- “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2, NIV84)
- why do you suppose that so many professing Christians struggle with the sins of omission, commission, faulty disposition and attitudes as well as presumptuous sins?
- perhaps it is the failure to appropriate the new life of Christ in us through faith
- faith is the victory that overcomes the world
- active faith facilitates the putting away of disbelief, disobedience and destructive thinking patterns
- and you feed your faith by feasting on the Word
The Apostle John 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.
Over the last three Sundays, we’ve discovered that the Apostle lays out another authenticating mark—A Genuine Christian will live righteously in an unrighteous world. Our motivation for doing so is three-fold:
- 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