1 John 2.3-6 (2008)
Mature Christians Are Obedient Christians
1 John 2:3-11
I heard a story recently of a preacher who was sitting in a stall in a bathroom. He was sitting there and the man in the next stall said, “Hey, how are you doing?” The preacher said, “Fine, thank you.” The man said, “What are you doing tonight?” The preacher said, “I’m plan to be at home with my wife.” The man said, “You want to go out to eat together?” The preacher said, “No, I said I was going home to be with my wife.” The man then said, “Honey, let me call you back I’ve got a man next to me that is answering all my questions.”
I want to ask some questions this morning. John is giving a test and here are the questions: What is the one true test that determines whether a man s faith is real or not? What is the one word that determines whether you are a mere professor of salvation or a possessor of salvation? What is the greatest single thing that God desires from his children?
These are the three questions on the test. But they each have only one answer and they all have the same answer. They all can be answered in one word. The magic word with God is obedience.
No matter what you are giving to God. Regardless of what you are doing for God, no matter where you are going for God. No matter how much you are believing God, if you are not living in total obedience to God, it is not enough.
The bottom line with God is obedience Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” It is not enough just to say you love Jesus. It is not enough just to believe in Jesus, the bottom line with God is obedience. “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”
Do you want me to tell you why Christians are not happy in their faith? They’re saved but they’re enduring it rather than enjoying it. They’re simply not being obedient. Remember, there is no other way to be happy in Jesus us but to trust and obey.
Every single aspect of your Christian life hinges on your obedience to God. If you only knew how crucial obedience is to your spiritual happiness, for your spiritual health, for your spiritual holiness, and for your spiritual helpfulness. Notice just how important obedience to God really is.
1. Our Assurance Depends on Obedience
John is not only interested that people come to know the Lord. But that people who do know the Lord know that they know the Lord. The acid test for assurance with John is obedience. You cannot live in disobedience to God and be sure of your salvation at the same time. Assurance with obedience is certainty. But assurance without obedience is mere presumption.
a. Obedience is the test of our profession
· He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4)
John is describing a man whose lips say one thing but whose life says another. The apostle James said basically the-same thing.
· But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:18)
There are two things that bear witness to my salvation, one bears witness to me and one bears witness to others. God’s Word bears witness to my spirit that I am a child of God. My works bear witness to others that I am a child of God.
It is not my works that prove I am saved. It is God’s word that proves I am saved, but it is my works that back up my words. I’m afraid we have too many “professing” Christians and too few “possessing Christians.” As one Chinese said who came over to America, “the problem with Christians over here is that they are too much talky-talky and not enough walky-walky.”
· “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
Good works do not make you saved. For Jesus went on to say in verses 22-23 of that same chapter that there will be many who prophesy and who exorcized and who performed many miracles but they will not enter into the kingdom of Gods no good works do not make you saved but they are witnesses to the fact that you are saved, obedience to God is an outward assurance of your inward salvation.
Charles Finney, one of the greatest revival preachers ever known, said this, “Revival is nothing less than a new beginning of obedience to God. Whereas mind and conscience may assent to truth when revival comes obedience to the truth is the one thing that matters.” Many Christians do not need reassurance. They need a revival. You will never have complete assurance of your salvation until you become completely obedient to God.
There are no substitutes for obedience. Some Christians try to substitute things for obedience but to no avail. It is not a substitute for obedience. There are many who say well, I am not doing for God what I ought to do but you pray for me that one of these days I’ll get around to doing that, friend, is not enough.
Stewardship is no substitute for obedience. There are many churches and many individuals who are giving “guilt money” to God. Service is no substitute for obedience. Obedience is not just doing something for God. It is doing the right thing for God. You see there is a real difference between obedience and service you can be serving God and yet not obeying God.
Obedience is not doing anything for God. It is doing the right thing for God. Obedience is doing what God wants you to do. When God wants you to do it where God wants you to do it, the way God wants you to do it.
Going through the motions. Lip syncing with the trumpet.
b. Obedience is a test of our position
· …By this we know that we are in Him. (1 John 2:5b)
How do you know if Jesus is in you and if you are in Jesus? One test John says will suffice that of obedience, keeping his commands. On the walls of a medieval castle were written these words:
You call me master and obey me not;
You call me light and see me not;
You call me way and walk me not;
You call me life and desire me not;,
You call me wise and follow me not;
You call me fair and love me not;
You call me rich and ask me not;
You call me eternal and seek me not;
You call me gracious and trust me not;
You call me noble and serve me not;
You call me mighty and honor me not;
You call me just and fear me not;
If I condemn you blame me not.
2. Our Attitude Depends upon Obedience
· But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. (1 John 2:5a)
The word “keep” means literally to “closely guard something” or “to cherish as one would cherish a treasure.” The word refers not just to the act of keeping a command but to the attitude of wanting to keep that command.
God measures obedience both outwardly and inwardly. Did you know that you can be obedient to God outwardly and yet seethed with disobedience inwardly? There was a man who had to get after his little son for misbehaving and he made his boy sit down in a corner. He walked by him a little later and saw the boy just seething mad and he said, “Well, what is it?” He said, “Well, I just want you to know that I’m sitting down on the outside but I’m standing up on the inside.”
In this context, the matter of obedience God is not just concerned with our method but with our motives. There are three motives a person can have for obeying someone. We can obey someone because we have to we can obey someone because we need to. We can obey someone because we want to. A slave obeys his master because he has to. If he doesn’t obey he is punished. An employee obeys because he needs to. He needs to obey because he has a family to feed and clothe and support. But a Christian is to obey the Lord because he wants to.
The only pure motive for obedience is love. The only reason to do anything for God is because you love the Lord. John says that obedience means that “love is perfected.” The word “perfection” literally means to grow to maturity. The more you love Jesus the more you will obey Jesus and the more you obey Jesus the more you will love Jesus.
The clue to obedience is loving God. Take this matter of soul winning. People say, “Well, I don’t witness like I ought to because I just don t love lost people like I ought to. No, we don’t witness like we’ve ought to not because we don’t love lost people like we ought to but because we don t love Jesus like we ought to. If you want to really get a burden for lost people, you fall in love with Jesus.
Do you remember what Jesus said to Peter in John 21? He said, ‘Peter do you love me?” He said “Lord you know I love you,” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” Now Jesus didn’t say, “Do you love sheep?” Or “Do you love to feed sheep?” Jesus said, “Do you love me?” The only qualification for serving God in the kingdom is a love for Jesus.
Attitude depends upon obedience and obedience is a matter of attitude.
3. Our Actions Depend Upon Obedience
· He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:6)
If you are abiding in Jesus, not only can people hear it in your talk, they can see it in your walk. If you are abiding in Jesus you are going to walk like Jesus, talk like Jesus, love like Jesus, live like Jesus. “God is not concerned with how loud you shout, and how high you can jump but how straight you walk.”
Notice that abiding comes before action. Now if you abide in Jesus you ought to walk like Jesus walked. But if you don’t abide in Jesus you can’t walk like Jesus walked. A man says “Well I have never accepted Jesus as my savior and Lord but I do try to follow his teachings.” If you’re not abiding in Christ, it is impossible to follow his teachings.
· “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
In Hampton Court near London, there is a grapevine which is about 1,000 years old. This grapevine has one root which is at least two feet thick, and some of the branches are 200 feet long. Despite its age the vine produces several tons of grapes each year. Although some of the smaller branches are 200 feet from the main stem, they still bear the sweet and delicious fruit because they are connected to the vine. Life flows from that single root and through out the vine bringing nourishment and strength to each of the branches.
Without Jesus you can do nothing. Do you know what a nothing is? A nothing is a zero with the edges cut off. If you abide in Jesus you ought to and you will walk like Jesus walked. And how did Jesus walk?
a. He walked in communion with God
Jesus lived in intimate communion with the father. He had a prayer life that was as rich as gold. His heart was a storehouse that was stocked with the word of God. He radiated the presence of God and he breathed out the power of God. If you are going to walk like Jesus walked you are going to walk in communion with the Lord. “When you walk with the Lord in the light of his Word what a glory He’ll shed on your way.”
b. He walked in the compassion of God
Jesus loved the lost. Jesus loved the saved. He loved his friends, his family, the faithful, the faithless, and the forsaken. If you are going, to walk like Jesus walked you are going to have to walk in compassion for everyone. “Red and yellow, black and white, they were precious in His sight.”
c. He walked in commitment to God
Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of the father who sent me.” Do you want to walk like Jesus? The only way you can is to abide in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Churck Swindoll wrote in his book, Improving Your Serve, about the value of obedience in a practical way.
Let's pretend that you work for me. In fact, you are my executive assistant in a company that is growing rapidly. I'm the owner and I'm interested in expanding overseas. To pull this off, I make plans to travel abroad and stay there until the new branch office gets established. I make all the arrangements to take my family in the move to Europe for six to eight months, and I leave you in charge of the busy stateside organization. I tell you that I will write you regularly and give you direction and instructions.
I leave and you stay. Months pass. A flow of letters are mailed from Europe and received by you at the national headquarters. I spell out all my expectations. Finally, I return. Soon after my arrival I drive down to the office. I am stunned! Grass and weeds have grown up high. A few windows along the street are broken. I walk into the receptionist's room and she is doing her nails, chewing gum, and listening to her favorite disco station. I look around and notice the waste baskets are overflowing, the carpet hasn't been vacuumed for weeks, and nobody seems concerned that the owner has returned. I ask about your whereabouts and someone in the crowded lounge area points down the hall and yells, "I think he's down there." Disturbed, I move in that direction and bump into you as you are finishing a chess game with our sales manager. I ask you to step into my office (which has been temporarily turned into a television room for watching afternoon soap operas).
"What in the world is going on, man?" "What do ya' mean, Chuck?" "Well, look at this place! Didn't you get any of my letters?"
"Letters? Oh, yeah -- sure, got every one of them. As a matter of fact, Chuck, we have had letter study every Friday night since you left. We have even divided all the personnel into small groups and discussed many of the things you wrote. Some of those things were really interesting. You'll be pleased to know that a few of us have actually committed to memory some of your sentences and paragraphs. One or two memorized an entire letter or two! Great stuff in those letters!"
"Okay, okay -- you got my letters, you studied them and meditated on them, discussed and even memorized them. But what did you do about them?" "Do? Uh -- we didn't do anything about them."