What Is Abiding In C hrist - 1 John 2a
1 John 2:1-6
Stephen Caswell © 2001
The Abiding Life
One year the peaches were especially abundant. The fruit was big and juicy, and it was one of the best crops in memory. While harvesting the crop, a picker noticed a limb that had fallen from a tree. It's fruit was rotten and shriveled. Because the limb was detached from the tree, it was no longer producing the good fruit that it should. The same is true of the Christian who ceases to abide in Christ, he too ceases to produce good fruit. What is abiding in Christ?
Last week we saw the how honesty with God affects our fellowship. In this passage John gives further details regarding fellowship with God. For the first time John mentions the word abide. It's one of John's favorite words and he uses it 23 times in this epistle. The word abide menw means to dwell with, to stay, to continue, to remain, to indwell. Abiding in Christ is an important key to fellowship with God. Only Jesus Christ can provide the resources we need for the victorious Christian life. John 15:5 says: 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. This morning we will see three important things about abiding in Christ. They are, Christ's Cleansing, Christ's Commands and Christ - Like Conduct.
Firstly, Christ's Cleansing
a. Avoid Sin
1 John 2:1a: My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.
Firstly, John deals with the negative matter of sin. He makes it clear that Christians do not have to sin. I write these things unto you that you may not sin. We can avoid sin through prayer and God's Word. God makes it possible for us to overcome sin. 1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
Psalm 119:11: Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You! Matthew 6:13: And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Yes, believers can overcome sin without pretense or hypocrisy. The secret to victory over sin is found in 1 John 1:7 we walk in the light. To walk in the light means to be open and honest, to be sincere. Paul prayed that his friends might be sincere and without offense until the day of Jesus Christ.
Genuine Or Fake
The word sincere comes from two Latin words, sine and cera, which mean without wax. It seems that in Roman days, some sculptors covered up their mistakes by filling the defects in their marble statues with wax, which was not readily visible — until the statue had been exposed to the hot sun awhile. But more honest sculptors made certain that their customers knew that the statues they sold were sine cera — without wax.
b. Advocate For Sinners
2:1b: And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
John's desire was that believers might not sin and he encouraged us to do this. But what if they do? John foresaw this and gives an answer. He assures us that if we sin there is a way to deal with it without losing our fellowship with God. John tells us we have an advocate, a representative in heaven who will defend our case, once we have confessed our sin. John refers to the believers defense attorney as Jesus Christ the Righteous. He is an honest Lawyer who will present our case before God.
Illustration of a Crooked Lawyer who finds a loophole in the Law!
Today many criminals are prosecuted for shocking crimes. To our horror many of these get off the charges. How do they do this? They pay a lot of money to a crooked lawyer who finds a loophole in the law. They get off on a technicality even though everyone knows that they are guilty. But God's justice doesn't work this way. Jesus doesn't deny our sins, but declares that the punishment for those sins has been paid for by Himself. He is the righteous One. Therefore God is satisfied that His holy law has been upheld.
c. Atonement For Sinners
1 John 2:2: And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
The punishment that we should have received has been paid in full. The Bible says this in Romans 1:18: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. On the cross He cried out tetalisti, it is finished, paid in full! Jesus Christ is Himself the propitiation for our sins and also for those of the whole world. The word propitiation refers to the sacrifice made to remove God's wrath. The punishment for sin according to the law was received by Christ. Christ's sacrifice turned God's wrath into divine favor. God the Father is satisfied that justice has been met. His sacrifice is sufficient for the world's sins, but efficient only to believers.
Illustration Of Martin Luther
Martin Luther had a dream one night in which he stood before God. Satan was there to accuse Luther. When the books were opened the accuser pointed to sin after sin in his life. Luther despaired. Then he remembered the cross and, turning to the devil, he quoted 1 John 1:7, The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. Satan had no reply. Because of Jesus Christ, sinners can be forgiven and stand before a holy God. Jesus Christ has paid the debt of our sin on the cross. The charges have been dealt with and God has declared us righteous. Satan may charge us but Jesus Christ the Righteous One defends us and He never loses a case.
Romans 8:33-34 speaks of this: Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? Shall God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? Shall Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
Firstly, the abiding life means that we take sin seriously. John encourages believers to avoid sin. He wants them to overcome temptation by seeking God's help. Do you ask the Lord to deliver you from the Evil One each day? Do you ask Him to strengthen you and reveal the way of escape? Do you use God's Word to overcome temptation? John also assures us that should we sin Jesus Christ will represent us before the Father. We only need to confess our sin and ask forgiveness. Do you avail yourself of Christ's cleansing? Do you keep short accounts of your sin? Or do you ignore them and allow them to ruin your fellowship with God? John assures us that Christ's sacrifice satisfies the Father's justice. Will you maintain your fellowship by avoiding sin with God's help and keeping short accounts if you do fall?
Secondly, Christ's Commands
a. Our Relationship
1 John 2:3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
How can we have the assurance that we know God personally? How can we be assured of fellowship with Christ? John gives us the answer here, we keep His commands. John deals with the positive matter of obedience. He links our obedience to the Word with our relationship with God. The word know ginwskw means to know intimately, to enjoy a close relationship. It is also in the perfect tense. Because we have come to know Christ in the past we now keep His commandments. Enoch is a good example of this. At sixty five he had a son called Methuselah. After this experience he walked with God for 300 years. Now that's unbroken fellowship. Put negatively, if we don't keep His commands we don't know God!
John's main emphasis here is the commandment to love which he expounds in verses 7 to 11. Why is John so concerned about love? Because to love God and our neighbor is to fulfill all the commandments. 1 John 3:23: And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
b. Our Response
1 John 2:4: He who says, I know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
In John's day, like today, some people thought that sin wasn't a barrier to God's fellowship. But the Bible clearly states it's impossible to enjoy fellowship with God and be disobedient at the same time. Christians who claim to know God personally don't practice sin. Deliberate disobedience is a sure sign that we don't know God at all. To know God is the same as having fellowship with God. God is light and won't have fellowship with darkness. Sin is walking in darkness. Sin is disobedience to God's Word. Some believers willfully sin planning to say sorry later on. They think that God doesn't care about their defiance. But they're wrong! He says that believers who live this double life style don't live in the truth. They're just deceiving themselves. If we know God we must obey His commandments, not just pretend to.
No, I'm Just Singing
A congregation was singing, as a closing hymn, the familiar song, For You I Am Praying. The speaker turned to a man on the platform and asked quietly, For whom are you praying? The man was stunned. Why, I guess I’m not praying for anybody. Why do you ask? Well, I just heard you say, For you I am praying, and I thought you meant it, the preacher replied. Oh, no, said the man. I’m just singing. It was simply Pious talk! A religion of words! He wasn't sincere at all. If we don't mean what we sing we shouldn't sing!
Sins We Ignore
When we falsify our tax return it's sin. If we hold a grudge against some who's wronged us, that's sin. When we covet the possessions of another person this is sin. When we gossip against another person this too is sin. Sexual lust is also sin. When we lose our temper at someone on the road, its sin. When we don't do the good we know we should do, this too is sin. When we don't share our faith it's sin. When we don't love the Lord with all our heart, it's sin. When we don't love our neighbor as our self, it's sin. When we only pretend to be spiritual that's sin. Ananias and Sapphira did that and the Lord killed them. All of these sins come under one major heading, self. These sins are motivated by the desire to look after ourselves. How do we deal with sin? Firstly, we confess our sin to God and receive His cleansing. Secondly, we ask for God's help to overcome sin through loving service. We confess and forsake our sin.
1 John 2:5: But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
Can we know God without obeying Him? No! Jesus said, why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do the things I say to you? The phrase, walking in the light means that we obey God’s Word. Psalm 119:105 says: Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. To walk in the light means to spend time daily in God’s Word, discovering His will; and then obeying what He tells us to do. John says that we are truly in Christ when we obey God's Word. But notice how he describes it. John says that God's love is perfected in us when we keep His Word. To love God is to keep His Word. Love is not only the commandment we must keep, it is also our motivation and power for service.
God's commandments aren't negative, but positive. If you really want to keep God's commands there is ample opportunity to do so. Our society is filled with people that we can love. There is ample opportunity to serve God in the Church too. If you would like to know more see me after and I will share the needs with you. Jesus emphasized the same thing in Matthew 22:36-40: Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
Converted By Livingstone’s Life
Henry M. Stanley found Livingstone in Africa and lived with him for some time. Here is his testimony: I went to Africa as prejudiced as the biggest atheist in London. But there came for me a long time for reflection. I saw this solitary old man there and asked myself, How on earth does he stop here — is he cracked, or what? What is it that inspires him? For months after we met I found myself wondering at the old man carrying out all that was said in the Bible — Leave all things and follow Me. But little by little his sympathy for others became contagious; my sympathy was aroused; seeing his piety, his gentleness, his zeal, his earnestness, and how he went about his business, I was converted by him, although he had not tried to do it. John Wesley believed that perfect love is a characteristic of a mature believer. This phrase is certainly Scriptural while Christian perfection is not. Yes, obedience to God's Word must lead us to a life of service motivated by love.
Secondly, John says the abiding life takes God's Word seriously. God doesn't want our approval of His commandments. He wants us to obey them. If we know Christ intimately we will keep His commandments. Are you obeying His commandments? Or do you hold a grudge against someone? Do you think its all right to sin as long as you say sorry later? Some people sin with confession already in mind! Are you currently deceiving someone at work? Are you allowing lustful thoughts into your life through music or the T.V? Do you love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself? How have you shown God's love for someone this week? How much time did you spend serving Christ this week? If you claim to know Christ personally are you keeping His commandments? Are you allowing God's love to be perfected in you? How real is your Christian life?
Thirdly, Christ - Like Conduct
1 John 2:6: He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
So that John's hearers won't be left wondering what this obedient life looks like, he gives them an example, Jesus Christ. Anyone who claims to abide in Christ should live like Him. This takes it from the theoretical and places it in the practical. How did Jesus walk? The New Testament gives us many details on Christ's life! The Lord summarized His ministry a few times in the Gospels. We'll look at two of these. Matthew 20:28: Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Luke 4:18-19: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
Jesus life was filled with service and sacrifice. He ministered to the point of exhaustion. He loved people and showed it by His actions. He commanded the disciples to draw on Him the power needed to serve. Jesus taught it in His illustration of the vine and its branches John 15. Just as the branch gets its life by remaining in contact with the vine, so believers receive their strength by maintaining fellowship with Christ. To abide in Christ means to depend completely on Him for all that we need in order to serve Him. To walk like Jesus we must abide in Him. It is a living vital relationship. As He lives out His life through us, we are able to follow His example and walk as He walked. Paul expresses this experience perfectly: Christ lives in me Galatians 2:20. The Christian life is not an imitation but an incarnation. It's a life of reality not hypocrisy!
What would Jesus do?
There was a Church that asked itself the question, What would Jesus do? It changed all of their lives. Businessman who previously had been dishonest now showed integrity even though it cost them. Ordinary Church folk began helping the needy. Children began to honor their parents. The impact of all these things on their society was incredible. They began to love the way that Jesus did and countless souls were saved. Can we say that we are walking the way that Jesus did? If not, why not?
God has made provisions for us to conquer sin. We can never lose or change the sin nature that we were born with, but we need not obey its desires. As we walk in the light and see sin as it actually is, we will hate it and turn from it. And if we sin, we immediately confess it to God and claim His cleansing. By depending on the power of the indwelling Spirit, we abide in Christ and walk as He walked. But all this begins with openness and honesty before God and men. The minute we start to act a part, to pretend, to impress others, we step out of the light and into shadows. Sir Walter Scott puts it this way:
Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!
The life that is real cannot be built on things that are deceptive. Before we can walk in the light, we must know ourselves, accept ourselves, and yield ourselves to God. It is foolish to try to deceive others because God already knows what we really are! I found a poem that challenges much of the hypocrisy in today's Christianity! It's called Just Suppose!
Ÿ Just suppose the Lord would begin tomorrow to make people as sick as they claim to be on Sundays.
Ÿ Just suppose the Lord would take away children from parents who use them as an excuse for staying away from church.
Ÿ Just suppose the Lord gave people as much free time as they claim to have when they excuse themselves from Church service.
Ÿ Just suppose the Lord should make the people as poor as they claim to be when asked to give to further His kingdom.
Ÿ Just suppose the Lord should have everyone stoned to death for covetousness as Achan was.
Ÿ Just suppose the Lord should let some parents look into the future and see what their example and lack of discipline will do to their children.
Ÿ Just suppose — and then, by the help of the Lord, go forth and live and serve as if eternity was soon coming.
Ÿ Because it is! Behold I come quickly, says the Lord.
Thirdly, John says the abiding life means we walk the way that Jesus walked. Can people see the Lord Jesus living His life through you? How many people have you touched with the love of Christ this week? How much sacrifice have you made for the kingdom of God? How many hours of service have you given to the Lord this year? How much have you given to the Lord's work and missions? God knows us better than we know ourselves.
Today we saw three important things about abiding in Christ. They are, Christ's Cleansing, Christ's Commands and Christ - Like Conduct. Because these things are important to God they should be important to us too. Without them we can't enjoy God's fellowship. The abiding life enriches our fellowship. It depends on these three things.
1. Christ's Cleansing - We take sin seriously. We avoid it and when we fall we confess it.
2. Christ's Commands - We take God's Word seriously. We obey it readily and fully.
3. Christ - Like Conduct - We walk the way that Jesus walked. We follow Him exactly.
Hebrews 13:20-21: Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.