The Life Changing Power of Godly Hope
1 John 3:1-10
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Jan. 24, 2016
*Hope is a wonderful thing. John Maxwell said, "Hope is one of the greatest gifts leaders can give to those around them. Its power should never be underestimated. It takes a great leader to give hope to people when they can’t find it within themselves.
*Winston Churchill recognized the value of hope. He was prime minister of England during the darkest days of World War II. Churchill was once asked by a reporter what his country’s greatest weapon had been against Hitler’s Nazi regime. Without pausing for a moment he said: 'It was what England’s greatest weapon has always been -- Hope.'" (1)
*In vs. 3, the Apostle John talks about the hope we have as Christians, but what kind of hope was he talking about? One Thanksgiving when he was a little boy, Pastor James Chandler got asked to say the family prayer. And in that prayer he said: "Dear God, I sure hope the Oakland Raiders make it to the Super Bowl!"
*James remembers that prayer, because he learned it "wasn’t really appropriate." And he said, "As I grew, I also learned that real hope is not the kind of hope I mentioned in my prayer. Real hope is not a wish, but confidence in a certainty." (2)
*I like that definition: "Real hope is confidence in a certainty." Real hope, Godly hope, Bible hope, is joyful confidence in something that is certain. That is the kind of hope John is talking about in vs. 3: Confidence in the certainty of all we have in Jesus Christ.
*He’s talking about: Our hope of Heaven, our hope of the resurrection, our hope of perfection, the hope of all that we have in Jesus Christ. And John says: "Everyone who has this hope in (Jesus Christ) purifies himself, just as He is pure."
*In other words: Real hope in Jesus Christ has the power to change our lives. And in today's Scripture, God gives us four truths about the life-changing power of hope.
1. First: Real hope is hungry to be holy.
*Real hope longs to be like the Lord Jesus Christ. We see this truth in vs. 3, but we also see it down in vs. 5-7. There John said:
5. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.
6. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
7. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.
*In vs. 7, there is a hunger to be righteous, just as Jesus is righteous, a hunger for holiness. Jim Elliot had a full measure of this holy hunger. He was one of the heroes of our faith in the last century.
*Jim Elliot was one of the five missionaries who were speared and hacked to death by Auca Indians in the rain forest of eastern Ecuador. It happened on Jan. 8, 1956, and the missionaries were armed with rifles but they did not try to defend themselves.
*"Life Magazine" later ran a ten-page article on their mission and death. But I want you to hear these few words from Jim Elliot’s journal, written in 1949:
*"I am dwelling in a generation to whom nothing is holy. Sacredness is an aspect people never assume toward anything. . . Oh, to be holy! Just to sense for a moment that I have somehow, however small, simulated some measure of Thy character, Lord Jesus." (3)
*Jim Elliot was hungry to be holy. And the Apostle John says that all Christians should hunger for holiness. But why should we be hungry for holiness?
 One great reason is because of what’s behind us, and that is the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
*The cross of Jesus is why John could say what he said in vs. 1: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" The cross of Jesus Christ was what led those missionaries to lay down their lives, even when they could have defended themselves.
*Colossians 1:14 tells us that in Jesus Christ "we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." And Colossians 1:20 tells us that our peace with the Heavenly Father came "through the blood of His cross." So Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price to give us hope.
*God’s Son took all of the punishment for all of our sins on Himself when He died on the cross for us. And the more we really look at Jesus' sacrificial love, the more it gives us a hunger for holiness.
*When she was a young lady, Frances Havergal saw a picture of the crucified Christ with this caption under it: "I did this for thee. What hast thou done for Me?" Frances was so inspired by the cross and that question that she quickly wrote a poem.
*Later she was dissatisfied with her poem, and threw it into the fireplace. But the paper came out unharmed! Finally, at her father's suggestion Frances published her poem, and we still sing the words today:
"I gave My life for thee,
My precious blood I shed;
That thou might ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead.
I gave, I gave, My life for thee,
What hast thou given for Me?" (4)
*Why should we be hungry for holiness? -- Because of what’s behind us: The cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
 But also because of what's before us: A perfect eternity in Heaven with Almighty God.
*That's what was on John's mind when he wrote vs. 2: "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
*William Barclay explained, "John has just said that the Christian is on the way to seeing God and being like Him. . . The man who knows that God is at the end of the road will make all life a preparation to meet Him." (5)
*So Church: The more we focus on what's behind us, and what’s ahead of us, and Who is ahead of us, the more we will seek to purify ourselves, even as He is pure. Real hope is hungry to be holy.
2. And real hope refuses to be satisfied with sin.
*It simply refuses to be satisfied with sin. The Apostle John reminds us of this great truth in vs. 4, where he said: "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness." Real hope refuses to be satisfied with sin.
*That's why down in vs. 8-9, John also said:
8. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
9. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
*What does this Scripture say to Christians like us who know, or should know that we fall short every day? Well, one thing it says is this: God will never, ever, even for one second give us the green light to sin. And it helps us to know that John was warning the early Christians about false teachers who were trying to justify sin.
*William Barclay explained: "This passage was first directed against the false teachers called 'Gnostics.' They had come up with more than one reason to justify sin. The Gnostics basically believed that only our present physical bodies were evil, so there was no harm in satisfying our selfish desires.
*They actually taught that a truly spiritual man was so protected by the Holy Spirit that he could sin to his heart's content and take no harm from it. They even taught that true Gnostics were obligated to explore the heights and plumb the depths of sin, so they might truly know all things." (6)
*Well, that's as big of a lie as you will ever hear. God hates sin, and He will never, ever give us a green light to sin.
*Now I don't think any of us would ever intentionally believe that it's good to sin. But we tend to have another problem: Denial and spiritual deception, spiritual blind spots. There are some sins we tend to be blind to. Maybe we don’t consciously excuse our sins. But we have a tendency to pick and choose which Scriptures we are going to obey. And we have a tendency to ignore the others.
*For example, there are liberal Christians today who want to ignore the clear Bible teachings on abortion. And I doubt any of us would ever do that, but what about the Scriptures on tithing? What about the Scripture on loving our neighbors? What about the Scriptures on neglecting the Word of God or neglecting God’s Church?
*One day years ago, I got a call from a lady member of another church. She never told me which church it was. I think she was too embarrassed to say. But she wanted some advice and help, because three children in her church had cheated on the Bible Drill.
*Cheating on the Bible Drill! -- Talk about a blind spot. That kind-of defeats the purpose doesn’t it? Well, I think I was able to help her. And the truth is that all of us have blind spots in our lives. That's why King David prayed this prayer in Psalm 19:12: "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.
*All of us have blind spots in our lives, and if you think you don’t, well, your blind spot is pride. But real hope refuses to be satisfied with sin.
3. And real hope is secure in our Savior.
*This is a truth we must see in vs. 9, where John said: "Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God."
*Wow! -- If we take this verse out of context. If we look at this verse by itself, then we would have no hope at all! Thank God that the Holy Spirit also put chapter 1 in this letter! I say that, because 1 John 1:8-10 tells all Christians:
8. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
*If Christians never sinned, then Jesus would have re-written the Lord's Prayer, and Matthew 6:11-12 wouldn't say:
11. "Give us this day our daily bread.
12. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors."
*So what is the meaning of 1 John 3:9? John Gill explained that when vs. 9 says a born again person "does not sin" and "cannot sin," he means that he "does not make sin his trade and business. It is not the constant course of his life.
-He does not live and walk in sin, or give up himself to it.
*He is not without the being of sin in him, or free from acts of sin in his life and conversation. But he does not so commit it as to be the servant of it, a slave unto it, or to continue in it." (7)
*William Barclay explained that: "The Apostle John is not setting before us a terrifying perfectionism. But he is demanding a life which is ever on the watch against sin, a life in which sin is not the normal accepted way but the abnormal moment of defeat. John is not saying that the man who abides in God cannot sin. But he is saying that the man who abides in God cannot continue to be a deliberate sinner." (8)
*The bottom line is that there is only one way to have real hope: And that is through the grace, mercy, love, faithfulness and forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ. It only through the cross! We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, or we not saved at all!
*Our hope is always in Jesus. And it is never in our works, because Ephesians 2:9 tells us that salvation is "not of works, lest any man should boast." God wants us to hunger for holiness, but real hope is secure in the Savior.
*One great testimony about the security of our salvation came from a lady who got saved very late in life. She was always praising God and talking about Jesus.
*Then one day a so-called friend said to her, "You seem pretty confident about this Savior of yours! I wouldn’t be too sure about it if I were you. Suppose the Lord should let you slip through His fingers?"
*That old Christian joyfully replied, "But I am one of His fingers." -- And she was right! As Christians we are part of the Spiritual Body of Christ, and our hope is secure in Jesus. (9)
4. Real hope is secure in the Savior, and real hope is led by love.
*Real hope is led by love. First and foremost, it gives us love for God, so 1 John 4:19 tells Christians: "We love Him because He first loved us."
*Real hope also gives us love for God's people. Verse 10 reminds us of this great truth, for here John said: "In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother."
*Godly, brotherly love is one of the greatest themes in this tremendous little letter. Take a look at vs. 11-19 for example. Here John wrote:
11. . . This is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,
12. not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous.
13. Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.
14. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.
15. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
18. My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
19. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.
*Another example is 1 John 4:7-11, where the Word of God says:
7. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
10. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
*Real hope is led by love. It was God's kind of love that led Jim Elliot and 4 other missionaries to sacrifice their lives, even when they could have defended themselves. It was God's kind of love that led Jim Elliot's wife, Elisabeth and Nate Saint's sister back to Auca territory just a few years later.
*It was God's kind of love that left the Aucas curious and bothered why the five young men had not tried to defend themselves. And it was God's kind of love that soon led the Auca tribesmen to put their faith in Jesus.
*One of the killers became the pastor for the tribe. And in fact, he was the man who later baptized Steve and Kathy Saint, -- children of the man he and his companions had killed with their spears.
*Before their baptism, they walked with the Auca elders to see the place where their father was killed. When they arrived, an elder said, "This being the place that we came to, to do badly, badly before. Now I say here, let's take Steve and Kathy and baptize them right in this place."
*He then prayed, "Father Creator, before we came here to do a bad, bad thing. It made you sad. It made you cry. But now look, now we have come here. And we are teaching those two children of that man to walk Your trail so they will live well." Three years after those tragic deaths in the Amazon jungle, Nate Saint's son and daughter were baptized by his killers in the same spot where they had taken his life. (3)
*That is the astounding, miraculous, soul-saving, life-changing power of real hope. Do you have it?
*Put your trust in the cross of Jesus Christ, and you will have real hope:
-Hope of all your sins forgiven.
-Hope of an everlasting home in heaven.
-And hope of a life transformed by the saving power of Jesus Christ.
*Put your trust in Jesus Christ, as we go to God in prayer.
(1) John C. Maxwell, DEVELOPING THE LEADERS AROUND YOU - Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers, 1947 - p. 72 - Source: Sermons.com illustration download - Christmas 2001
(2) Sermon Central illustration contributed by James Chandler
-"The Journals of Jim Elliot, from 1949" - Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 5 - Source: “Bible Illustrator for Windows” - Topic: Holiness - Subtopic: Commanded - Index: 1598 - Date: 7/1998.2089 - Title: Oh, to Be Holy!
-Beaumont Enterprise, 1142006 - Source: "In Other Words" - February, 2006 #1 - Produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - www.iows.net
-Morgan, Robert J., From This Verse, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers)
-World, 1082005, p.12; Beaumont Enterprise, 1142006; "The Amazing Power of Forgiveness, Part 2" by Rick Warren - "Purpose Driven Preaching" 182006 - Source: "In Other Words" - January, 2006 #4 - Produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - www.iows.net
(4) SermonCentral sermon "Costly Redemption" by Dennis Davidson - 1 Peter 1:18-1:21
(5) Adapted from "Barclay's Daily Bible Study Series - NT" by William Barclay - Revised Edition - Copyright 1975 - First published by the Saint Andrew - Press, Edinburgh, Scotland - The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - "The Obligation of Purity" - 1 John 3:3-8
(6) Adapted from "Barclay's Daily Bible Study Series - NT" by William Barclay - Revised Edition - Copyright 1975 - First published by the Saint Andrew - Press, Edinburgh, Scotland - The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - "The Obligation of Purity" - 1 John 3:3-8
(7) Adapted from "John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible" - 1 John 3:9
(8) Adapted from "Barclay's Daily Bible Study Series - NT" by William Barclay - Revised Edition - Copyright 1975 - First published by the Saint Andrew - Press, Edinburgh, Scotland - The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - "The Man Who Cannot Sin" - 1 John 3:9 continued
(9) An Unknown Christian, HOW TO LIVE THE VICTORIOUS LIFE - Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986 - p. 38 - Source: Sermons.com Dynamic Illustrations - Christmas 2001