Putting God's Word into Practice…

1 John 2:18-29 ~ Abiding

This passage offers four steps to starting and maintaining fellowship with God the Father.

  1. Confess the truth about Jesus Christ (2:23).  The truth about Jesus is that He is God’s Son and the Savior of the world.  He is the only way to the Father.  (“I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6)
  2. Upon confession of Jesus as Lord, we are given by God the gift of His Spirit abiding in us.  We are never alone.  We cannot make excuses that we don’t know right from wrong.  We don’t need any other teacher.  The Holy Spirit and God’s living word are sufficient to teach us all we need to know to discern lies from truth in this world.  To be in fellowship with God and live a joy-filled life, we must be surrendered to the teaching of the Holy Spirit abiding in us. (2:20, 27)
  3. Abide in Christ (2:28).  In John 15, Jesus had a lot to teach the disciples about what it means to abide in Him.  It is like a branch being attached to a vine.  When we abide in Christ, we depend on Him for life, nourishment, strength, fellowship, unity and joy.   Jesus himself said in John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you (regarding abiding), that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”  As I wrote in my journal, a wind-blown leaf caught my attention outside of my window.  It looked so free, but it was dead because it wasn’t attached to its tree!  That leaf was only going to end up decomposing in some neighbor’s landscaping.  Life is found in abiding in Christ!
  4. Practice righteousness (2:29).  I don’t have any righteousness of my own–the only thing righteous about me is that Jesus has given His gift of righteousness to me–wrapped me in it like a robe!  Therefore, my life needs to reflect His righteousness, and that is only possible through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in me.  Practicing basketball every day doesn’t make us part of the basketball team.  Someone with authority has to declare us on the team–officially making us basketball players.   But a basketball career doesn’t stop there.  The team members must practice with the team everyday so that others know we are on the team and we better reflect the title of basketball players.  Practicing righteousness does not make us righteous, it just proves that we know Christ has declared us righteous before His Father.

And now little children, abide in Christ, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.  If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:28-29)

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1 John 2:7-17 ~ Love People–Not Things

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.  Whoever LOVES his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.  But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes…DO NOT LOVE the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:9-11, 15-17)

LOVE–the greatest virtue, the greatest commandment–is the key to all of the Christian’s life.  When we are LOVING God and people, it is impossible for us to be walking in sin.  When we are LOVING God and others, it is impossible to be out of fellowship with them.  LOVE brings light into the world (2:10).  LOVE dispels darkness (2:8).  LOVE prevents stumbling in life (2:10).  LOVE gives direction and purpose to life (2:11).

BUT THE WORLD…convinces us to love ourselves and our possessions and our desires instead of God and others.  Everything of this world promises physical pleasure, elevates the joy of amassing possessions, and/or enables personal pride in our achievements and accumulations.  This world’s system deceives us into spending our lives and resources on things that don’t last, don’t satisfy, and usually end in disillusionment.

John was writing this letter to tell us the path to unity, fellowship, and complete joy.  LOVE! LOVING God and others more than self and stuff is that path!  LOVE is God’s will for His people!

Is there anything I love more than God?  Do I love myself more than others?  Do I love things more than people? More than God?  How can I show love today?

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1 John 2:1-6 ~ “I Know Him!”

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. BUT if anyone does sin, we have an ADVOCATE with the Father, JESUS CHRIST THE RIGHTEOUS.  He is the propitiation (the “sacrifice that takes God’s wrath and turns it to favor” ESV Study Bible) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD!  And by this we KNOW that we have come to KNOW him, if we keep his commandments.  Whoever says, “I KNOW HIM,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.  By this we may KNOW that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

At the risk of exposing my cheesiness–when I saw the phrase, “I know him!” all I could think of was Buddy the Elf talking about Santa Clause in Gimbel’s department store. http://youtu.be/9jyCfRHumHU No one believed that Santa was real, but Buddy actually “knew” him.  And by living out the Code of Elves in his daily life, others started to believe in the existence of Santa too.

When we “KNOW” Christ, it changes how we live, how we experience joy and love.  People often won’t believe in a God they cannot see, until they see Him in us!  He uses our lives to display His grace, love, and transforming power.

When we “KNOW” Christ, we are called to walk like Him.  The ESV Study Bible says, “walk the way that led to the cross.”  Jesus walked in power, boldness, humility, compassion, grace, truth, generosity, peace, self-sacrifice, hating evil, overcoming temptation, fellowship with the Father, with no attachment to earthly things, and in full submission to the Father’s will.

Do I desire to do what is right in God’s eyes?  Do I look like Jesus in how I live and how I treat others?  Does the way I live my life prove that I know Jesus–the Righteous One, my Advocate, my Savior who paid the penalty for my sins with His own blood?

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