Real Faith

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Our actions show whether our faith is real or counterfeit.

1 John(3) (Part of the Pursuing Holiness(4) series)
by Stuart Johns(145) on December 27, 2020 (Sunday Morning(200))

Holiness(9), Love(14), Salvation(55)

Pursuit Of Holiness

Real Faith

(1 John 3:1-10)

 

INTRODUCTION

“The United States Treasury Department has a special group of men whose job it is to track down counterfeiters. ​​ Naturally, these men need to know a counterfeit bill when they see it.

 

How do they learn to identify fake bills?

 

Oddly enough, they are not trained by spending hours examining counterfeit money. ​​ Rather, they study the real thing. ​​ They become so familiar with authentic bills that they can spot a counterfeit by looking at it or, often, simply feeling it.”

 

[Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Volume 2, 503].

 

“The United States Treasury uses a number of sophisticated techniques to keep counterfeiters from reproducing the look of paper currency. ​​ The exact makeup of paper bills is a secret, but it is widely known that the paper is made of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen, with red and blue flecks of silk. ​​ In addition to the high quality of the paper, United States currency also has magnetic ink, an almost invisible ink on the left side of larger bills, and an engraved ‘United State of America’ around the face of the larger bills. ​​ The final feature that is impossible for anyone to replicate is that the paper is run through machines with high-pressure rollers that create a uniform thickness. ​​ Without these machines, this feature cannot be duplicated.

 

These sophisticated measures do not keep counterfeiters from trying, nevertheless, because they can get so close that many people cannot tell the difference. ​​ Deceit of course, is the whole point of counterfeiting. ​​ Someone who does not have the real thing wants someone else to believe he has. ​​ We must be aware, alert, on guard against deceit, in regard to money as well as other things in life.”

 

[Walls & Anders, Holman New Testament Commentary, I & II Peter, I, II, & III John, Jude, 187].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Bank training

        • Right out of college, I worked as a bank teller

        • After being hired, I had to go through several days of training, which included learning what real currency looked like

        • They trained us to identify the attributes and characteristics of real money before they ever tested us to see if we could identify counterfeit money

        • After working with money every day for months, I was able to tell when paper money didn’t feel right

    • Coins

        • One thing I also learned while working at the bank was that Canadian coins sounded different when dropped on the counter top or floor than American coins

        • I could tell when someone gave me a Canadian coin mixed in American coins without looking at it because of the sound that it made when dropped on the counter

 

  • WE

    • Counterfeit Detector Pens

        • How many of us have every used one of those counterfeit detector pens?

        • I did when I worked as a cashier at Walmart, many years ago

    • UV Counterfeit Detectors

        • Now they have UV counterfeit detectors

        • These detectors can be used for U.S. dollars and many other currencies

        • It can also be used to check credit cards, ID’s and passports

    • Carob instead of chocolate

        • How many of you know what carob is?

        • It’s basically a chocolate substitute made from a carob pod instead of cocoa pod

        • Carob is less bitter and has a roasted, naturally sweet flavor

        • Carob is caffeine-free and high in fiber

        • I remember the first time my Mom made carob brownies (I knew something was different, but I didn’t know what)

        • How many of us are able to tell when something has been substituted in our favorite foods? ​​ (we know what the original ingredient tastes like, so we know something’s different)

 

John was writing to reassure Christians, in several Gentile churches, to hold on to their faith and not be led astray by antichrists that had joined, not only the Ephesian church, but other churches as well. ​​ They were spiritual counterfeiters. ​​ In 1 John 3, “God reveals the characteristics of the bad currency and the good, so that his church can grasp the good” [Walls & Anders, 187]. ​​ John compares the characteristics of those who are children of God and those who are children of the devil. ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Our actions show whether our faith is real or counterfeit.

 

Let’s pray

 

A faith that’s real is characterized by the pursuit of holiness

 

Warren Wiersbe says that “John gives three reasons for a holy life” [Wiersbe, 504]. ​​ Those are going to be our three points this morning.

 

  • GOD (1 John 3:1-10)

    • God the Father loves us (vv. 1-3)

        • What we are (v. 1)

          • We are loved

            • The NIV doesn’t translate the first Greek word in chapter 3, which is ὁράω (horaō) and means “behold” or “see” (most other translations have one or the other)

            • The Greek for “how great” means, “what kind/sort of or quality”

              • Wiersbe translates it this way, “Behold, what peculiar, out-of-this-world kind of love the Father has bestowed on us.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 504]

              • It’s an unconditional, never ending kind of love

              • Jeremiah 31:3, The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

              • Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

                • That’s unconditional love at its best

                • While we don’t want anything to do with God, He still loves us – no matter what!

                • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is love!

                  • That is one of God’s many attributes

                  • His attributes are qualities about Him that we can hold on to and have confidence in

                  • No matter how bad you think your sins are, God still loves you – unconditionally

                  • His love is so great that He is willing to adopt you into His forever family

              • When is the last time you’ve experienced that kind of love?

                • I would venture to say, that most of us have never experienced that kind or quality of love

                • We’ve experienced conditional love a lot

            • Perhaps children who have been adopted understand God’s unconditional love better than children who grew up in a biological family

            • God’s love for us is of such incredible quality that He calls us His children

          • We are children of God

            • NOTE: ​​ most manuscripts do not have “and that is what we are!

            • John tells us in his Gospel how we become children of God

            • John 1:12-13, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

              • This isn’t a natural, biological birth that John is talking about

              • It’s a supernatural adoption that takes place by believing in Jesus name and receiving Him into our lives

              • We have to repent (turn from our sins) and begin to follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior

              • Repentance is more than saying a prayer, it’s a lifestyle change that affects every area of our life

              • Application

                • Have you received Jesus into your life and believed in His name?

                • Have you turned from your sins and pursued a relationship with Jesus?

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Receive Jesus and believe in His name, so I can become a child of God.

            • When this transformation truly takes place in our lives, the world will not understand it

          • We are unknown by the world

            • “[The world] Does not understand our principles; the reasons of our conduct; the sources of our comforts and joys.” [Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2006), paragraph 32512.]

              • The world has a hard time understanding how we can have a smile on our face and be optimistic when everything seems to be falling down around us

              • The hope that we have comes from the Lord

              • We understand that this world is not the end, that the difficulties we are currently experiencing are only temporary, and the glory we will experience will far exceed the hardships we are going through

              • We are in great company

              • John 15:18, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”

            • The world won’t understand our transformation, because they don’t know the Lord

              • John 1:10, He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

              • The world doesn’t know Jesus, because they have rejected Him

          • Our actions show whether our faith is real or counterfeit.

          • We know from verse 1 what we are, but verse 2 tells us what we will be

        • What we will be (v. 2)

          • Now we are children of God

            • The moment that we receive Jesus into our lives and believe in Him, is when we become children of God

            • It’s not something that happens later on

            • “The present possession of believers requires constant reaffirmation because of what daily life present them with, as seen in Calvin’s (1988: 266) memorable words: ‘Physically, we are dust and a shadow, and death is always before our eyes. ​​ We are exposed to a thousand miseries and our souls to innumerable evils, so that we always find a hell within us. ​​ The more necessary is it that our sense should be withdrawn from the view of present things, lest the miseries . . . should shake our trust in that happiness which as yet is hidden.’” ​​ [Yarbrough, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 1-3 John, 177]

            • What John is addressing here is the tension between the already and not yet that we see throughout Scripture

              • Already Romans 8:15, For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship [adoption]. ​​ And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

              • Not yetRomans 8:23, Not only so, be we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

              • [show figure B] [https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/already-not-yet]

          • What we will be has not yet been made known

            • John tells us a little about what we will be when he says that when Jesus appears, we will be like Him

            • Scripture helps us understand what Jesus is like now, so we know what we will be like

              • Colossians 3:4, When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

              • 2 Corinthians 3:18, And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

              • 2 Corinthians 4:6, For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

              • Philippians 3:20-21, But our citizenship is in heaven. ​​ And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

          • We know what we are and what we will be, which should affect what we should be

        • What we should be (v. 3)

          • Because we know that Jesus is returning again, we should strive for holiness (to keep our lives clean)

            • Paul expresses it this way to the Corinthian believers, Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God (2 Corinthians 7:1)

            • James expresses it as standing firm (James 5:8)

            • Peter tells us to be self-controlled (1 Peter 1:13)

            • Our actions show whether our faith is real or counterfeit.

            • Application

              • Are you striving for holiness, purity, and self-control?

              • Are you struggling with habitual sin, right now?

              • Do you have someone to help hold you accountable?

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Strive for holiness as I wait, with hope, for Jesus to return.

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is pure (holy)!

            • John tells us that our model, our guide, our standard of holiness is Jesus

            • “In every case Painter’s observation (2002: 228) holds true: ‘The use of this word [καθώς] suggests that Jesus is the source and mode of the believer’s righteousness.’” ​​ [Yarbrough, 179]

          • “A group of teenagers were enjoying a party, and someone suggested that they go to a certain restaurant for a good time. ​​ ‘I’d rather you took me home,’ Jan said to her date. ​​ ‘My parents don’t approve of that place.’ ​​ ‘Afraid your father will hurt you?’ one of the girls asked sarcastically. ​​ ‘No,’ Jan replied, ‘I’m not afraid my father will hurt me, but I am afraid I might hurt him.’ ​​ She understood the principle that a true child of God, who has experienced the love of God, has no desire to sin against that love.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 504-5]

        • God’s love for us is a great reason to live a holy life!

        • John gives us a second reason in verse 4-8

    • God the Son died for us (vv. 4-8)

        • In these verses we see that there were two reasons why Jesus died for us

          • To take away our sins (vv. 4-6)

            • John 1:29, The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

            • Sin

              • I like the NASB 1995 translation of verse 4, Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness

              • The tense (present), voice (active), and mood (participle) of the Greek word for “practices” helps us understand that it is a habit of doing sin and not occasionally sinning [Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2001), paragraph 7795]

              • Definitions of sin in the Bible

                • Lawlessness – breaking God’s laws (1 John 3:4)

                • Anything not from faith (Romans 14:23b, everything that does not come from faith is sin)

                • Thought of foolishness (Proverbs 24:9a, the schemes of folly are sin . . .)

                • Knowing to do good, but not doing it (James 4:17, Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins)

                • All unrighteousness (1 John 5:17a, All wrongdoing is sin . . .)

                • “Sin is basically a matter of the will. ​​ For us to assert our will against God’s will is rebellion, and rebellion is the root of sin.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 505]

                • We can fake holiness and purity on the outside, so that other people think we’re a good person

                • We can’t fake holiness and purity on the inside, and God is able to see both the inside and the outside – He knows the attitude of our hearts

                • “Little Judy was riding in the care with her father. ​​ She decided to stand up in the front seat. ​​ Her father commanded her to sit down and put on the seat belt, but she declined. ​​ He told her a second time, and again she refused. ​​ ‘If you don’t sit down immediately, I’ll pull over to the side of the road and spank you!’ ​​ Dad finally said, and at this the little girl obeyed. ​​ But in a few minutes she said quietly, ‘Daddy, I’m still standing up inside.’” ​​ [Wiersbe, 505]

              • We’re all born with a rebellious attitude toward God

                • Isaiah 53:6a, We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; . . .

                • Romans 3:23, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

              • We know that all human beings are sinners, but God had a plan to deal with our sin

            • Jesus came to take away our sins

              • Isaiah 53:6b, . . . and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

              • 1 Peter 3:18, For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. ​​ He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.

              • 2 Corinthians 5:21, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

            • He is the only One who can take away our sins, because He is perfect, without sin

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is pure (holy)!

              • He lived a sinless life while on earth

              • That’s why He was able to take away our sins when He died on the cross – He fulfilled God’s standard and required payment for sin

            • Real faith vs. counterfeit faith

              • John makes it clear that a genuine, real faith and relationship with Jesus Christ means that we will not keep on practicing habitual sin

                • To live in Jesus means to remain in Him, to abide in Him

                • John 15:5-6, “I am the vine; you are the branches. ​​ If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ​​ If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

                • PRINCIPLE #3 – God completely transforms those who live/abide in Jesus Christ.

              • The opposite is also true, that if we continue to practice habitual sin we have a counterfeit faith and we have neither seen or known Jesus

            • Jesus not only died to take away our sins, but to destroy the works of the devil

          • To destroy the works of the devil (vv. 7-8)

            • John knew that there were antichrists in the various churches trying to deceive and lead followers of Jesus Christ astray

            • Actions speak louder than words

              • Doing what is right

                • The same Greek word is used here as in verse 4 and means practices

                • Again, it means a habit of doing what is right

                • 1 John 3:7, Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous (NASB 1995).

              • Doing what is sinful

                • 1 John 3:8a, the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning (NASB 1995).

                • Those who follow the devil are the ones who habitually practice sin

              • Our actions show whether our faith is real or counterfeit.

            • Destruction of the devil’s work

              • When we think of the word “destroy” we usually think of something being completely taken away (annihilated), but we know that the devil is still active in our world today

              • So, what is John saying here about the purpose or reason why Jesus appeared

              • The Greek word can mean, “to loosen, release; melt” or “to loosen, undo, dissolve, anything bound, tied, or compacted together.”

              • We are tied up and bound by sin

              • Destroy, here, means ‘to render inoperative, to rob of power.’” ​​ [Wiersbe, 506]

                • Hebrews 2:14-15, Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

                • 2 Timothy 1:10, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

                • Acts 10:38, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

              • Jesus won over sin and death when He died on the cross, was buried, and came alive again the third day

          • I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful for all that Jesus has done for me

        • Because Jesus died for us, we should pursue holiness as His followers

        • John gives us one more reason to live a holy life

    • God the Holy Spirit lives in us (vv. 9-10)

        • “A person who can enjoy deliberate sin and who does not feel convicted or experience God’s chastening had better examine himself to see whether or not he is really born of God.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 506]

        • God’s seed remains in us (v. 9)

          • Chiastic structure [Kruse, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Letters of John, 125]
            a  ​​​​ No one who is born of God
             ​​ ​​​​ b  ​​​​ will continue to sin,
             ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ c ​​ 
            because God’s seed remains in him;
             ​​ ​​​​ b’ ​​ he cannot sin,
            a’ ​​ because he has been born of God.

          • Born of God

            • We already talked about this in verse 1

            • We are children of God

            • Everyone who receives Jesus and believes in His name is given the right to become a child of God – born of God (John 1:12-13)

          • Will continue to sin and cannot sin

            • What the NIV translates as “continue to sin,” the NASB translates as “practices sin”

              • The same Greek word is used here as in verses 4, 7, & 8

              • This is not talking about sinless perfection

              • It is talking about willful, habitual sin – being characterized as a sinner

            • As children of God we will not continue to sin or cannot sin, because God disciplines His children

            • Hebrews 12:4-6, In your struggle against sin, you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood. ​​ And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punished everyone he accepts as a son.”

            • In addition, we will not continue to practice sin, because we have a new nature – God’s nature living in us

          • God’s seed

            • When we become a child of God several incredible transformations take place [Wiersbe, 506]

              • Justification – a new standing before God (He sees us a righteous, through the blood of Jesus Christ)

              • Sanctification – a new position before God (this is the ongoing, continual growth to become more like Jesus)

              • Regeneration – a new nature (we have the Holy Spirit that lives within us to help us say “no” to sin and “yes” to righteousness)

              • 2 Peter 1:3-4, His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. ​​ Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

            • “Based on his readers’ divine parentage, John is confident that God’s true children, like those of the devil, ultimately cannot conceal their identity. ​​ The nature of their inner identity will be ‘evident’ (φανερά, phanera) from their actions.” [Yarbrough, 196]

            • Our actions show whether our faith is real or counterfeit.

          • In this final verse, John addresses the two families that humanity can be a part of

        • Who’s your Father?

          • Children of the devil

            • John states it in the negative as it pertains to children of the devil

            • Two characteristics

              • Anyone who does not practice righteousness (make a habit of doing what is right)

              • Anyone who does not love his brother

          • Children of God

            • The positive is also true as it pertains to children of God

            • Two characteristics

              • Anyone who practices righteousness

              • Anyone who loves his brother

            • People will know that we are children of God when we love God and others

            • “Augustine summarizes John’s counsel this way: ‘Love, and sin is undone’ (Bray 2000: 200).” ​​ [Yarbrough, 197]

 

  • YOU

    • Questions to contemplate [Wiersbe, 509]

        • “Do I have the divine nature within me or am I merely pretending to be a Christian?”

        • “Do I cultivate this divine nature by daily Bible reading and prayer?”

        • “Has any unconfessed sin defiled my inner man? ​​ Am I willing to confess and forsake it?”

        • “Do I allow my old nature to control my thoughts and desires, or does the divine nature rule me?”

        • “When temptation comes, do I ‘play with it’ or do I flee from it? ​​ Do I immediately yield to the divine nature within me?”

    • Our actions show whether our faith is real or counterfeit.

 

  • WE

    • As a body of believers here at Idaville Church, we should be characterized as people who practice righteousness

    • Our community, neighbors, coworkers, and family members should be able to tell that we are children of God

 

CONCLUSION

“You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase, if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one's holy Father.

If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God's child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.”

 

J. I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 182; submitted by Aaron Goerner, Utica, New York.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2004/april/15035.html]

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