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Dr. Wayne Barber
It is apparent from a casual reading
through 1 John that someone has done something to disturb the audience to
whom John is writing. As a matter of fact, they are threatening, by
whatever they are doing, the very Gospel, the truth of the Lord Jesus
Christ. We are going to begin a journey into this book. We are going to
begin to understand some of the things we must understand if we are going
to get the message that John is trying to preach and teach in this book.
We are going to look at three things. First, there is the purpose of the
writing of 1 John. Secondly, there is the passion with which it was
written and then thirdly, the people to whom it was written. What we are
going to be looking at is the structure beneath the surface.
You know there are three rules in Bible study (see
Inductive Bible study). First is
often when you hear wrong doctrine it is because somebody begins to
interpret without first of all observing. The second step is the step of
Interpretation. Interpretation comes from a proper observation. And third
Application. How many times have you heard someone start applying
Scripture without ever observing it or without ever interpreting the text?
So we are going to observe the text, not to the degree that you would do
in your personal study, but it will give us an idea of what is underneath
the surface of this book to help us understand it as we go through it.
GREAT FISH STORY
ILLUSTRATING IMPORTANCE OF CONTEXT
No serious bass fisherman drives up to a lake, takes a little worm, puts
it on a hook with a bobber, throws it out and expects to catch a fish.
Some people think that is what fishing is all about. No, it has much more
integrity than that. A serious bass fisherman wants to know something
about that lake. Every lake is different. Every cove in that lake is
different. He wants to know the structure that is underneath the surface.
Years ago when I was getting into bass fishing, I learned that you had to
study topographical maps and find out the depths of the lake. In
Brookhaven, Mississippi there was a lake that I wanted to fish. I found it
by flying with the pastor I was working with at that time. I looked down
and saw this huge lake. You couldnít see if from the road. When we landed
I began to inquire about this lake. A man told me the state record fish
was probably in that lake. He was a writer for "Outdoor Life." I thought,
"I have got to fish that lake."
I spoke to a church there in Mississippi one day and a man walked up and
said, "I hear you like to fish." Do I like to fish!? He was associated
with that lake. He said, "Any time you want to come bring whoever you want
and fish all you want." Well, to make a long story short, the first day we
went, we fished for two or three hours and had a couple of bass over five
pounds, which wasnít bad. But I was thinking, "I thought this thing was
full of big fish." It was ten oíclock in the morning, and we were right in
the middle of the lake. We knew nothing about what was underneath the
water. We were doing what I told you serious bass fishermen donít do. We
had just been trying our best without knowing what was underneath the
The fellow who was with me took a lure out of his box and said, "I am
going to throw this lure out and catch the biggest fish in the lake." He
threw it out, and I was laughing, "Sure you are." It was about time to go.
He was cranking that lure back just as hard as he could crank it and all
of a sudden it just stopped dead. I said, "Yes, youíve caught the biggest
tree in the lake." About that time the rod started going boom, boom, boom.
I said, "That is a fish!" The fish weighed over eight pounds.
Well, we almost had a fight in the boat while he was bringing in the fish
because he would not give me a lure that looked like his. I finally found
one in my box that was similar, threw out in the same general area and had
two more bass about seven pounds a piece in the boat before he got his in!
To make a long story short, we caught seven bass that day that weighed a
total of 49 pounds.
We went home, and I said, "What in the world happened?" I called the man
who owned the lake and asked him, "Why is it that we caught bass out in
the middle of the lake?" He said, "Oh, son, if you had known the structure
underneath the surface, 20 feet down there are trees that are 20 feet
tall. Where you were fishing it is 40 feet deep, but 20 feet down the big
bass feed. That is where the springs are in the lake. You discovered the
secret of the lake accidentally."
We went back the next Saturday and went to the very same spot, chose the
same lure, caught seven more bass which weighed 51 pounds. Those were the
biggest two stringers of bass I ever caught in my life. A couple of years
ago I went back to the same lake after a hurricane. The structure had not
changed and the fish were still there.
That is the way it is with Godís Word. You have to establish the structure
underneath the surface. Donít look at the Bible and say, "Oh, I have a
great verse today. God spoke to me." You had better find out the
that verse was in before you go telling somebody that God spoke to you. If
youíll find the "structure underneath the surface" (the
context) it will never change.
Every time you go back, you will catch a bigger fish. What you are looking
for is always there. Once you have
then you can
I just wanted to tell a bass fishing story so I told that one. But I want
you to understand why I am doing that. Why do we always have these
introductions to books? Why do you have to labor through all that stuff?
Because what I am going to share with you wonít change and when we are in
chapter 5 the structure will still be the same. You canít make it be
something else. Youíve got to know why the book was written, who wrote it,
who it was written to and the authorís purpose. These things are critical
to proper interpretation in any study of the Word of God.
First, there is the purpose of why 1 John was written. Why did the Apostle
John, apart from his inspiration of the Holy Spirit, write the epistle of
1 John? Several times in the book the phrase "I am writing" or "I wrote to
you" or something to do with writing appears in the text. The reason I say
"something to do with that" is it depends on your translation. In the New
American Standard, several times we find that phrase "I am writing to
you." When he does this it seems to bring to the surface the purpose
behind the book of 1 John.
Letís just look at those places. We will come back to these verses in a
verse by verse study. This is just an overview. In 1 John 1:4 we read,
"And these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete." The New
American Standard says "our" joy, but the King James says "your joy." When
I find a discrepancy I go back to the Textus Receptus. It says, "your joy
be made complete."
Now you can see why it could be "our." If something is disturbing these
people and their joy is not being made complete, then obviously Johnís joy
is not going to be made complete. He is writing it to them so they can
understand the truth. Once their joy is complete, his joy could be
complete. The idea is the people who he is writing to somehow have lost
their joy. The joy is gone. What has pulled away their joy?
Look in 1Jn 2:1. He says,
"My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not
Now why in the world would he write to
believers and tell them not to sin? Any believer knows that. Well,
remember, there is something going on in that little community and it is
threatening the Gospel of Jesus Christ. John is saying, "I donít want you
to fall into sin of any kind." The aorist subjunctive is used here. The
subjunctive meaning is not that we donít have the potential to sin, but we
do have a choice of whether or not to sin. John is saying, "Stop making
those choices. Donít make those choices to sin. I donít want you caught in
a sin. But if someone is..." you see. That is the whole idea.
A believer has to deal with sin. Before you come to know Christ you chase
sin. After you come to know Christ sin chases you. John is saying, "Some
of you have lost your joy. I donít want you to misunderstand. You must not
fall into the trap of sin." What kind of doctrine would lead them into
that kind of trap? 1 John 2:21 (sermon) says,
"I have not written to you because
you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie
is of the truth."
The word for "know" there is from the word eido. There
are two words for "know" and very rarely are they ever translated properly
in the sense that we can understand them. One is to know experientially.
But there is the other word, to discern, to perceive something. Romans
8:28 (note) reads, "We know that all things work together for good to them that
love God and are called according to His purpose." We donít know from
experience. Yes, we do, but that is not what he is saying. He is saying it
is a built-in knowledge to the believer who loves God and is called
according to His purpose. There is a discernment that God gives to him.
The Apostle John is saying,
"I am not writing to you because you canít discern the truth. You know the
truth. Why are you allowing this thing to come into your midst and pull
you off the track? You know the truth. You can discern the truth."
1 John 2:26 says,
"These things I have written to
you concerning those who are trying to deceive you."
Now the plot is
thickening. That verb, "trying to deceive you," is in the
It is not something that they did. It is something they are doing
constantly. The word "deceived" (planao-word
study) means to pull you off the track, to get
you away from the faith, to lure you out from under the truth that
protects you. John is saying, "I am writing these things because there are
those that are seeking to deceive you."
Maybe this is telling us something of the agenda of the apostle. There is
something going on. It must be some kind of false doctrine that has gotten
among the people that has robbed them of their joy, that has somehow told
them that they didnít have to be accountable towards sin anymore. Now I am
beginning to understand.
1 John 5:13 to me sums it all up. Now watch this because it is a tense we
have got to see over and over in 1 John. He says,
"These things I have
written to you who believe [that is in the
present tense, "who are
believing, who are in the process of believing right now] in the name of
the Son of God [those who are believing daily, constantly,
moment-by-moment, not those who once believed but now are being lured off
the track] in order that you may know [intuitively] that you have eternal
I want to ask you something. Have you ever doubted your salvation? Iíll
tell you why you have doubted. Somehow you have got your mind off of what
God has said. You have listened to somebody else and what they have said.
It is because you are not daily believing in Him and living in obedience
to Him. That is where the doubt comes from. But to the people who are
daily, moment by moment, practicing what they say they believe, doubt will
flee away and they will know in their spirit that they have eternal life.
Someone used to say, "Do you know because you know because you know just
because you know Jesus Christ is in your life?" If you donít have that
kind of knowing I guarantee you something has led you away from living
your life built upon the Word of God. Somehow you are not believing Him.
The fact is you are not obeying Him. If you are not obeying Him you are
not believing Him. I donít tell you what I believe; I show you by the way
that I live. Belief is something you do, not something you tell people
about. You show them by the way you believe. And when you believe, God
gives you a discerning, a knowing that you didnít have before. You know
just because you know just because you know. If somebody can talk you out
of your salvation, you might not have had much to start with. And if you
are not living it daily, very obviously you have a serious flaw in your
thinking as to how salvation is to be lived out.
Why had they lost their joy? What was this doctrine that had gotten among
them? What was it that had led them astray, misled them? What is it now
that even tells them that they donít have to deal with sin? In 1 John
1:1-5, we begin to get a hint of what is going on, what the doctrine is
that has gotten among the people that is somehow threatening the very
truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let me tell you what it is first and
then show you how he attacks it. First of all, we see that the Gnostic
heresy was something that was very prevalent in the days of the writing of
Gnosticism is still around, by the way. It is just under a
different cover. Many religious programs on television are preaching 21th
century Gnosticism. It is not one single thing new. It has been around for
a long time. It erodes the faith, the trusting of people in the Lord Jesus
Gnosticism came from a man by the name of
Cerenthus. Cerenthus denied the
truth that Jesus Christ ever came in the flesh. He started the heresy that
Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary, not of the Virgin Mary, and that the
Spirit of God, the true Christ, never entered Him until He was baptized at
the River Jordan by John the Baptist. The Spirit of Christ lived in Him
until just before the crucifixion and then departed Him. Now what does
this do? It denies the precious atonement for our sins. It denies His
death, burial and resurrection. It denies the major tenets of the Gospel.
It denies the virgin birth.
A little later it migrated into a different form called
simply said that Jesus was a ghost, that He never had a body to start
with. He was a spirit, an apparition. It comes from the Greek word which
means to seem or to suppose. They said, "He really didnít have a body."
So then, I ask you the question, how can our Gospel be true if He didnít
have a body? Because it says in Hebrews 10:5 (note), "A body thou hast given me to do
thy will, O God." He came to die for you and for me. It wasnít just human
blood that was shed and it wasnít just divine blood that was shed. It was
divinely human blood that was shed upon the cross.
obliterated the truth of the Gospel of what we have just spoken. It denied
everything that these young Christians knew. They were being beleaguered
by the ones who were bringing this heresy in their midst.
This is a very dangerous doctrine.
Gnosticism says to the Christian,
"Because all of this is true, your flesh is evil." I would agree with that
Ė the lust of my flesh is my problem every day of my life.
Gnosticism said, "Your body is evil. But you are not accountable for sin because a
body is going to do what it only can do. It is going to sin. You are
spiritual. With mystical knowledge you live inside this body and the more
it sins the more you kind of learn about the two different lifestyles."
Have you heard the doctrine that is going around when people stand up and
confess all these things? They say we are living in a carton. They even
use the word "carton." They say, "My body is evil. Therefore, any sin that
comes in my life is really not me, it is something outside of me that is
causing me to do it and most of it is demonic." There is no personal
accountability for sin. There is no personal dealing with sin. "Oh no, we
live in a carton. And inside that carton we are like God. The body itself,
the carton, is evil. God, you see, doesnít have anything to do with those
things that are flesh." Have you heard about this doctrine? It has been in
a subtle way in recent years. You know what I am talking about.
John goes right to the heart of
Docetism, not just the Gnostic heresy,
when it says that Jesus is an apparition and He didnít have a body to
start with. In verses 1-5 look at what he says. "What was from the
beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we
beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life." Notice that,
"we have heard, we have seen with our eyes, we have beheld and our hands
have handled." If He didnít have a body, how could we do that? He is
trying to let them know, "I am an eyewitness and an eyewitness account is
important. I am the apostle and I am telling you something. You had better
hang on to what is the authority of the ones God has given it to."
Verse 2 continues, "and the life was manifested, and we have seen and we
bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the
Father [he shows the deity of Christ] and was manifested to us, what we
have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have
fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with
His Son, Jesus Christ."
Jump to verse 5: "And this is the message we have heard from Him and
announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at
all." All that John is concerned with in those first five verses is found
in verse 1 when he says, "concerning the Word of Life." Who is the Word of
Life? That is the Logos, the living Logos, Jesus Himself. That is John
1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word
was God." He is speaking there of Jesus, the preexistent Christ, the fact
that He is deity, the fact that He is Godís Son.
Then in 1 John 2:1 he seems to attack the whole fallacy of
itself. He says in verse 1,
"My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not
The Gnostics said that you didnít have to
fool with sin because you are not accountable for sin. John says, "Oh,
yes, you are. I am writing these things that you may not sin." Then he
"And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ the righteous."
That "if" is almost "Oh, did somebody sin?" You
see, what we have done is we have made sin so apparent that everybody is
doing it. We forget that we are not meant to live that way. So many of us
say, "Well, God forgives me." Certainly forgiveness was on the cross. But
until we repent do we even understand cleansing and do we ever understand
the reality of His presence in our life?
The purpose of writing the book seems to be that a doctrine had gotten
into the church, a heresy that had threatened the very tenets of what our
faith is all about. It had threatened the truth that Jesus was truly the
Son of God, preexistent before He was ever virgin born. It threatens the
very truth that He had a flesh body and that He went to the cross to die
for our sins. It threatens so many of the things that we hold on to. And
when you start listening to that kind of garbage, it causes immediately
your joy to disappear. So John writes to his little children in the faith.
Secondly, I want you to see the passion with which John wrote it. We say
that John wrote it. How do we know that it was John who wrote it? 1 John
is the easiest Greek in the whole New Testament. Only 303 words are used
out of the tremendous vocabulary of Greek words in the New Testament.
Well, if you study 2 and 3 John you begin to realize that same pattern.
You look at the language of it. It doesnít say specifically but in another
way it implies that John is the author of this particular epistle.
John is characterized by two words, one that the Spirit led him to
announce of himself and one that Jesus gave to him. The one he announced
of himself in his Gospel is "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Love is a
real characterization of John. But there is another characterization of
him and Jesus gave it to him, "Thunder." You have on the one hand "love",
and you have on the other hand "Thunder". Let me show you that. In Mark 3
Jesus gives him and his brother James a name. It says in Mk 3:13,
went up to the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and
they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him,
and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast
out the demons. And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the
What is that a prophecy of? One day he is going to become
the Rock, obviously. "And James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother
of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, ĎSons of
Now what is He saying? I think there are two things He is saying. One of
them is their temperament. Let me show you why I say that. Look in Luke 9.
I know it is a prophecy of the fact that they are going to be used
powerfully like thunder one day. I think there is also something He is
saying about their temperament, their personality, the explosiveness that
they had. Over in Luke 9:51 Jesus is with His disciples going down to a
village of the
Samaritans. "It came about, when the days were approaching
for His ascension, that He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem; and
He sent messengers on ahead of Him. And they went, and entered a village
of the Samaritans, to make arrangements for Him. And they did not receive
Him, because He was journeying with His face toward Jerusalem." The
Samaritans didnít honor Jerusalem. They had their own Temple Mount. "And
when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ĎLord, do You want
us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?í" They were
really saying, "Kill them, Lord. Burn them. They wonít let you in. Boom,
drop the fire on them." I love that about James and John. Jesus said, "You
are Sons of Thunder." Boom, you are making a lot of noise and you sure do
make some powerful statements. Jesus goes on to explain to them, "That is
not really what I came for. Not to burn everybody up, but that men might
Now why am I bringing all this out? Well, I am talking about the passion
with which the book was written, because I think you see both things come
out in the epistle: one, the apostle of love as he protected the sheep
that he is so affectionate towards; the other, the apostle of thunder, as
he absolutely came head-on with the error that had gotten among them. Like
a thunderbolt he comes out in the epistle and just directly hits right on
the face the error that had gotten among the people.
I want to focus, though, on that word "beloved" that is used in this book.
You find it over and over again. In that word is the passion with which
this shepherd writes to these sheep. He loves them and he is trying to
protect them and get them to where their joy can once again be made
complete. Look at 1 John 2:7.
"Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment
Now if you have a King James, it says "brethren." It does change
the word. The New American Standard uses the word "beloved."
Look in 3:2:
"Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared
as yet what we shall be."
In 1Jn 3:13 the New American Standard translates the
word adelphos as "brethren." It is translated the same way the word
agapetos is translated back in 3:2 in the King James.
"Do not marvel,
brethren (or beloved), if the world hates you."
Look in verse 21, "Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have
confidence before God." Look in 1Jn 4:1.
"Beloved, do not believe every
spirit, but test the spirits."
In 1Jn 4:7 it says,
"Beloved, let us love
one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God
and knows God."
1Jn 4:11 reads,
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also
ought to love one another."
I think about that "Son of Thunder" with that personality he had. He
wanted to burn the Samaritans. He had the opportunity to be with the
greatest example of love you could ever have, Jesus Christ, who is love
because He is God. He was changed where even his language to the people he
is writing rings with, "Beloved, Beloved." It is the word in the Greek
that is the most tender, precious word, dear, dear word. The True
Shepherd, as Jesus told John in John 21, has a love for the sheep because
he loves those whom the shepherd loves. When he asked Peter in John 21, He
didnít say, "Do you love the sheep?" He said, "Do you love me?"
(Jn 21:15 -
Jn 21:17-phileo) If I love
Him like I ought to, which is what this epistle is all about, then I can
love others, the sheep that He loves.
Now I want to tell you what a shepherd does. He guides the sheep, guards
the sheep and grazes the sheep because he cares about them. Do you know
how he does all three? With the precious Word. He feeds them with the
Word, he guides them with the Word, and he guards them with the Word. I
say that for a reason. Sometimes being a pastor (and it is going to be
this way until Jesus comes back) you get misunderstood. Sometimes I get
adamant about what I consider to be error in the Word of God. You have
seen it. You have seen it. I mean I just get livid. Iíve gotten letters so
I know that people have seen it. But I want you to know something. I
havenít gotten any more livid towards error than this precious apostle did
to the people who were beloved to him. Iíll tell you why; because the
first thing that will steal your joy away from you is when you start
flirting with anything that is not a part of this Word of God.
Nothing makes me any more angry than to see something that is perverted
from what the truth has to say. I will make people who do it look like
they are idiots if I have to in order to get my point across, to guard, to
guide and to graze His sheep. Somehow there seems to be in all of us a
little bit of this thunder and love. When you love somebody, you want to
protect what they think because as they think, so shall they live. You see
the purpose of the writing of 1 John, and you see the passion that he had.
Beloved. He is so affectionate. All these terms are so affectionate from
John. At the same time you see the thunder when he addresses those things
that are wrong. He redefines what the truth of the Gospel is all about.
Thirdly, look at the people to whom he wrote. If you study 3 John you find
he is writing to a person, Gaius. In 2 John 1:1, he is writing to the chosen
lady and to her children. In this epistle he never really identifies who
he is writing to. It is very difficult to make an adamant statement as to
who these people are. We do know from the historians and people like
Polycarp that he had a lot of power and influence in the area of Asia
Minor, particularly the area of Asia itself which was one of the regions
there in Asia Minor. You know in Revelation 1:11 (note), Jesus said, "Write to the
seven churches of Asia Minor." I wonder why He chose John to do that?
There was a lot of influence that he had, so most people think he probably
wrote from Ephesus and he wrote to them. But we donít know that from the
text. You canít say that is it. We just donít know. It doesnít tell us.
But it does tell us the levels of maturity of the people that he is
writing to. It does tell us that.
We know who can benefit from 1 John by something he says in chapter 2.
Some of you are thinking, "You left this one out." No, I didnít. I did it
on purpose. He pulls out four major categories of spiritual growth. He
starts from the very, very smallest and goes all the way to the most
mature. In 1Jn 2:12, 13, 14 we see, "I am writing to you..." It doesnít
matter what level of maturity you are on spiritually. There is a message
for you and for me in the book of 1 John.
Let me show you. 1Jn 2:12 says, "I am writing to you, little children."
The word there is teknion. It means little, I mean, birthed, brand new
believers if you please. "I am writing to you brand new believers, you
little children." It says he is writing, "because your sins are forgiven
you for His nameís sake." He is just reaffirming what they should already
know. Evidently this heresy is pulling them away from that. "Jesus is
Godís Son. He did come and die for you. Your sins are forgiven you." The
word "forgiven" there is in the perfect passive. You didnít do it, He did
it. They have been sent away from you.
In 1Jn 2:13 he is writing to the fathers and they, of course, are the
older persons, those who are more mature. He says in verse 13, "because
you know Him." Actually it should read "you have known Him, you are in the
state of knowing Him." You knew Him back here and you are knowing Him now.
Here the word "know" is not discerning and perceiving. It is the word for
experientially knowing Him. You experienced Him back here and look how far
you have come. Perfect tense means that you are in the state right now of
experiencing Him daily in your life. You are the mature ones. So John is
saying, "I am writing to you little babes. I am writing to you mature
Then he uses a word in 1Jn 2:13, "I am writing to you, young men, because
you have overcome the evil one." The word "young men" is the word
neaniskos, which means men in their prime, possibly up until about the age
of 40. They are men who have overcome.
The Apostle John uses the term "overcome" more than anybody in the whole
New Testament. Look in 1Jn 5:1 and look at how you overcome. "Whoever
believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves the
Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the
children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this
is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments
are not burdensome." John is talking about a present tense obeying God.
Then he says in 1Jn 5:4, "For whatever is born out of God overcomes the
world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world Ė our faith."
Separate obedience from faith and you donít have faith anymore. Our
willingness to surrender to that which we say we believe overcomes the
evil one. John said, "You younger men, you have overcome the evil one."
How did you overcome him? Because you have been willing to make conscious
choices to obey Christ. When you obey Him, you immediately live in the
ranks of the overcomers.
In 1Jn 2:13 he goes to one more word and says, "I have written to you,
children, because you know the Father." That is a different word than
teknion. The word used here is paidion. The word paidion has the idea of
an immature child who needs instruction and needs training. "You know the
Father," he says. "You have known Him. You are in the kingdom, but you are
immature and you need training."
Look at the four different words. John is saying any believer who reads
this, from the time he is birthed into the kingdom until the time he has
lived and walked with God for a long period of years, whatever level they
are on, this is written to them and they can benefit from studying it and
from learning it. So we donít know exactly where the people were from the
text, but we do know something about them. They were believers from every
category, from the very beginning, all the way to the most mature.
Verse 14 says, "I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who
has been from the beginning." Evidently there was another letter that he
had written to them at some point. The key here is that in the writing of
this book, we donít know exactly who the people were. But we know the
levels of maturity that they were on. It has something to say to all of
them. John has a message for every believer of every spiritual level, a
message of assurance, a message that believers are distinctively marked as
those who believe and obey the truth, a message that if we live obediently
to the truth, we can know Him experientially and we will overcome the
enemy with our faith. Basically that is the bottom line message of 1 John.
It is one thing to know about it. It is another thing to know it
I have always loved Tony Evans. He is one of my favorite people and I love
to hear him preach. I had been hearing him use an illustration. Tony said,
"You know, I am the chaplain of the Dallas Mavericks. I have four season
tickets to every game. I sit right on the floor. When my wife and children
donít want to go, I call up my buddies, and I say, ĎHey, guys. Do you want
to go to the game and sit on the floor? You are with me. Come on.í They
will say, ĎWell, where are we going to park? We have to go early.í ĎHey,
friend. You are with me. When you pull in the gate, tell them you are with
me. Everything is fine. You are with me.í" Sure enough, they pulled in and
there he stood and had a pass and they let him park and he walked in.
"ĎWell, what about the crowds?í ĎDonít worry about the crowds. You are
with me.í" They donít go in the regular door. They go in another door, a
special door, just for the people with passes. They go over to an elevator
and they donít go where everybody else goes. "ĎWhat about eating supper?"
"Donít worry about supper. You are with me.í" They go down this special
elevator to a team room and there is the general manager and all the other
people who have something to do with the team. Then when it is time to go
to the game, I mean five minutes before it starts, they walk out. They
walk out the same place that the team members walk out. They walk out on
the floor and sit on the second row.
I have heard him tell that, talking about you are with Jesus. But you
know, that illustration was sort of distant to me. I couldnít understand
what he was saying really. A friend called me up one day and said, "Your
expenses are paid and we want you to go with us representing a group here
in Chattanooga. We are going to Houston. Then we are going to Dallas and
visit with Tony Evans. We are going to spend about two days with him and
go through his church, etc." I said, "Oh, man. Iíll go."
We got to Dallas and that afternoon we met with him and his wife and some
of his family members. We saw all the things he was doing there. He said,
"By the way, guys, I want you to go to the ball game with me tonight."
Wow! I heard the illustration and I was going to live it! He said, "Donít
worry about where you park when you get there, Iíve got a pass. Just tell
them you are with me." I mean he was saying the same thing. We drove down
to the Coliseum, pulled up and the guy said, "You canít come in here." We
said, "Hold it." Tony was standing over there and we said, "We are with
him!" The guy said, "Okay, come on through." We parked in a special place.
We walked up to the door. We went in a special door, got in the special
elevator and went down and sat right next to the general manager of the
Dallas Mavericks. We ate together. We had food already prepared. The time
came for the game and we walked out the very entrance where the players
walked in. We walked over to the second row. Everybody was looking and
calling out, "Hey, Tony. How are you doing?" We were all waving, "Hey, how
are you doing? Weíre with him." We sat on the second row. You know, it was
one thing to hear it and believe it. It was another thing to experience it
Do you have any doubts about your salvation? Are you wide open for false
doctrine? You are when you are not living according to what is in this
Word right here. "Oh, you are so hard on that." I am just telling you like
it is. You are going to be messed up. Your joy is going to escape and I
guarantee you that you will end up thinking you are not even saved before
it is over. You wonít even know that you can know that you can know that
you know Jesus Christ until you come back to what the truth is and build
your life upon it.
What Every Believer Ought to
Turn with me to 1 John 2:26. We are
still just getting the feel of this book. The more you get the heart beat
of it, the more you can start learning what John is trying to tell all of
us as he writes this wonderful epistle. I want to entitle this, "What a
Believer Ought to Know".
We have already seen that someone has been disturbing the audience of
John, the people he is writing to. They have been disturbed and it is very
obviously false doctrine. Look at 2:26: "These things I have written to
you concerning those who are trying to deceive you." Present tense: they
didnít just make one effort and leave. John is saying, "They are
constantly seeking to deceive you, to lead you astray, to get you away
from the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Go back to 1:4. They had lost their joy. He says, "And these things we
write, so that our joy [really it should be "your" joy] may be made
complete." What was the false doctrine that was getting in amongst the
people? You will learn this as you study through it. You have to
Gnosticism is all about. You will see many facets of it
come up in the epistle. John addresses those methodically as he writes to
these precious believers in Asia Minor.
Gnosticism was one of the major threats to the gospel during the day of
the Apostle John. It was in several forms and is very difficult to
describe it in its full sense because it depends on the sect that you were
dealing with as to exactly which direction they went with it. However,
Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis, which means knowledge.
Regardless of what sect you dealt with, the Gnostics said a man was saved
by knowledge, not because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, but by a
mythological idea. It was based on some of the myths of that day. Once you
had a revelation of this knowledge, that brought you into what they called
a salvation experience. Salvation was of knowledge. Jesus was not
necessary in the picture because He didnít die. He wasnít the propitiation
for our sins.
You see, the Gnostics believed that all flesh was evil; therefore, God
would never have inhabited a human body. Jesus came and died but He was
strictly the physical, natural son of Joseph. He was not truly the Son of
The particular brand of
Gnosticism that John is dealing with came from a
man named Cerenthus. Cerenthus said first of all that Jesus was the
natural born son of Joseph and one day, at His baptism, Christ, the
Christ, the heavenly Christ came and indwelt Him and lived in Him until
right before the crucifixion. Then it departed from Him. Therefore, Jesus
when He died on the cross only died as a man. Poor, misfortunate creature!
This developed later into a more advance thinking at that time,
which said that Jesus was never really in any kind of human form. He was
just a ghost. He was an apparition. He was a spirit. He never really had a
body. Well, of course, this absolutely undermines everything we know of
the gospel of Jesus Christ; that Jesus was Godís Son long before He ever
came to this earth. He was preexistent. He is the second person of the
Trinity. He has always been God and will always be God. He came to this
earth, born of a virgin, and took upon Himself a human body without the
nature to sin. As a matter of fact, Satan came to tempt Him one day but
there was nothing in Him that he could draw out of Him. He did not have
the nature to sin.
Donít ever get hung up in the crazy argument, "Could Jesus ever have
sinned?" If you will follow that out, that is the most ridiculous argument
you could ever have because if He had sinned there would be no more second
person of the Trinity which means there wouldnít be a Trinity. How can God
deny Himself? You see, Jesus lived a perfect life as the God-man on this
earth. He took sin upon Himself, went to the cross, and paid a debt He did
not owe. We owed a debt we could not pay. He became the propitiation for
our sin. God was satisfied with His death and the shedding of His blood
for manís sin. He went there in our place. He resurrected the third day,
ascended, and is glorified. That is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Gnosticism undermined all of that. They took away the deity of Christ.
They denied that He was born of a virgin and they denied that His death
upon the cross was ever necessary. Salvation was by this mystical,
mythological knowledge. In fact, this knowledge was when you came to a
full realization of your true self. Each sect had a different myth it
seems. This knowledge that is apart from Jesus, apart from His Word, only
a few had. Therefore, they were the saved ones. Once you became a saved
person under their system, then you had to learn to deal with your flesh
which was evil.
You could go one of two different routes according to the different sects.
One was the sect of Asceticism, which means they would deny themselves.
Paul dealt with those over in the book of Colossians. Then there was the
other side of licentiousness. They believed since you canít beat it,
simply give into it. Live in sin, enjoy it. You are not accountable
because you are spirit and by your knowledge you have been saved. You just
live in a carton right now. You are not responsible for the sin that is
going on in your life.
You can see what a major problem and threat they were to the gospel of
Jesus during the New Testament time. John wants his readers to know that
the only true knowledge, the only true spiritual knowledge comes from the
Lord Jesus Christ and from His Word. We need to know this, too. Suppose
somebody comes to you and says, "Oh, I have something over here that is
not in the Book. It doesnít necessarily have to do with Jesus but, oh,
what spiritual knowledge it is." Back off and say, "Oh, God, when you
strike him, donít hit me at the same time." The only spiritual knowledge a
man can ever have comes from Jesus Christ, revealed by His Spirit and in
His Word. That is what John wants his readers to know.
As a matter of fact, the word "know" comes up in at least 25 different
verses in the letter to 1 John. It is almost as if he is saying to the
Gnostics, "You think you know something? Let me tell my sweet believers,
if you want knowledge, remember Jesus Christ lives in you and that is the
knowledge you need to have."
There are two words for knowledge that he brings up. One is the word eido.
That means intuitive knowledge, perceived knowledge, the ability to
perceive something you did not go to a class to learn. It is kind of like
when you ask your wife something sometimes and she says, "I just know it."
You say, "How do you know it?" She says, "I donít know. I just know." That
is the kind of knowledge we are talking about. It is the ability to
discern and perceive without ever having been trained to do it. The Spirit
of God lives in you, and He gives you that kind of perceiving power, that
discernment in your life. That is one kind of knowledge used in 10 verses
in the book of 1 John.
The other kind is ginosko. That is when you experientially learn it,
either through a classroom or usually the classroom of life. It comes by
obeying the Lord Jesus Christ. You donít know it until you surrender to
it. You learn it as you go along. I love that verse over in Philippians
when Paul says, "I have learned, therefore, to be content." I love that!
Do you know what that tells me? It tells me that Paul made some of the
same bad decisions I have made. He did it and said, "Oh, boy, was that
bad!" He did it again. "Oh, I am not going to do that again. I have
learned, therefore, to be content." You donít get it intuitively. It is
not discernment, a divine perception, it is something you have to go
through. It is something that you learn by experiencing the Lord Jesus
Christ. That kind of knowledge is used in 15 different verses in the book
of 1 John. So I want to show you what the believer ought to know.
Intuitively or experientially? What should he know that will help him
stand firm against the false doctrines of this world? What is it? What
should every believer know?
Look over in Colossians. I just want you to see what Paul says in
Colossians 2:1, 2, 3. He is talking about the Lord Jesus Christ. If you
ever think there is knowledge, spiritually, outside of Him, then I want
you to read these verses and memorize them. "For I want you to know how
great a struggle I have on your behalf, and for those who are at Laodicea,
and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts
may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all
the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting
in a true knowledge of Godís mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are
hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (notes
Do you want knowledge? Bow before the One who is the treasure house, the
store house of all knowledge and wisdom. Come to His Word. Surrender to
it. When you receive Him in your heart, intuitively you will know so many
things. But then you will begin to experientially learn of Him and the
knowledge we are looking for is found in a person. It is not found
anywhere else. That person is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, what should every believer know? Obviously we will get to all of
these verses in their context, but I just want to whet your appetite. What
is it that a believer should know? Turn to 1 John 2. The word "knowledge"
does not appear until chapter 2. I want you to see first of all what every
believer should know intuitively. What is it that God gives you and me the
ability to perceive and to discern that we donít have to learn anywhere
else? You can get saved today and have this exact knowledge tomorrow. It
is something built in. It comes with the package of the Holy Spirit that
comes into your life. What are the things we should know?
1Jn 2:20 says, "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all
know." Actually that should be "you know all." The word "know" there is
eido, and it is the word that means you perceive all things. There is
someone in you that gives you a discernment now that you didnít have
before. Christ has come in His Spirit, lives in you and gives you a
perception, an ability to discern that you didnít have before.
Back up to 1Jn 2:18 and you will see specifically what he is talking
about. "Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that
antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists (see
antichrist) have arisen; from this we
know that it is the last hour." This is a different word for "know." 1Jn
2:19 continues, "They went out from us, but they were not really of us;
for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they
went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us. But
you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not
written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know
it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but the one who
denies that Jesus is the Christ?"
Do you see how he is coming against that false doctrine? He is saying,
"Listen, believers, donít you listen to these people. Youíve got something
built in. You know that the man, Jesus, is the Christ, the anointed One,
the Messiah. He has always been God. Donít you let these people come to
you and shake your faith. You know that and you know it within."
If you truly are a believer, there is no excuse for you ever listening to
any kind of error that ever questions the fact that Jesus Christ was the
Son of God, the man Jesus, the Christ, the promised Messiah. It is built
in. You already know that. Stand on what you know. You donít have to be
taught that. You know it in your spirit. Every believer should know that.
Secondly, in 1Jn 3:5 we know that Jesus came to take away our sins: "And
you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is
no sin." Look at 1Jn 3:6:
"No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows
Immediately you know what sect of that Gnostic
heresy you are dealing with here. It was that group of licentiousness,
that group that said, "Hey, you live in a carton. Go on and live in sin,
man. You canít beat it, go on and join it." The Word of God says, "No,
sir. You have a discernment within you built in by the Holy Spirit of God
that says Jesus came to take away sin and the believer should never, ever
allow sin to become a practice in his life."
Let me show you the difference. Before you became a Christian there was no
one living in you to convict you of anything. You had a moral
consciousness that was developed by society and you knew right from wrong
but you had no clue about good and evil. There is a huge difference. You
can teach your son right and wrong, send him to University, and when he
gets there they change the standards. What was right and wrong in your
house is no longer right and wrong there. It is always determined by the
ways of society. But good and evil never change. Once you become a
believer, you know good and well that it was because of the evil of your
life that Jesus came to die. When you become a believer, you no longer
pursue sinful living.
If you find somebody who says, "I am a member of Such and Such Church, but
boy, do I ever love..." and he begins to name his sin, back off and say,
"Wait a minute. God says in His Word that man cannot know Christ. There is
no possible way. You donít pursue sin and claim to be a believer." Do you
know why that is not very acceptable in our society today? It is because
we have so watered it down over the last 200 years. Nobody knows what a
Christian is anymore. They think it is a member of the local church. That
is about as far as they can go with it. You donít pursue sin and claim to
know Jesus Christ because you have a built in knowledge of the Holy One.
He is letting you know that sin pursues you and you will deal with it
until Jesus comes, but you no longer can pursue and claim to be a believer
in Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, look at 1Jn 3:14, 15. What should we know? What is this intuitive
knowledge? Every believer should know this. We should know that we no
longer live in death. We have been moved into eternal life. Now watch
this. Verse 14 says,
"We know [eido] that we have passed out of death into
life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no
murderer has eternal life abiding in him."
That is a long one, and I canít wait until we get into the context of
that. But I just want to show you something. One of the things about the
Gnostics was they cared about nobody but themselves. Selfish, arrogant,
you name it. That was Gnosticism. The Lord Jesus said, "You have a built
in knowledge here. Now come on, donít be so off the wall. You have a built
in knowledge. You know good and well that you no longer live in death."
How do you know? You know by the love that God has put within you for your
brothers and your sisters in the family of God.
When you become a believer, overnight God puts within you an affinity and
affection for the family of God that is something that you cannot even
explain to anybody. The day before you couldnít stand people; the day
after, you love everybody, especially in the family of God. You find
people jumping from church to church to church, starting splits, causing
problems. They donít care about the people who are their brothers in
Christ. I seriously question whether they even know Jesus.
We are going to get real serious about Christianity in 1 John. It cuts no
corners and straight out puts it down. If you donít love your brother, you
had better check out your salvation. That is the way you know that you are
in Him. That is the way you know that you are in eternal life. Every
believer has that built-in discernment. How do I know I love Him? I know
it by the love He has given me for the brothers and sisters in the family
Turn to 1Jn 5:13. We ought to know that we have eternal life. Not only
have we been transferred into it, but we have eternal life. Verse 13 says,
"These things I have written to you who believe [present tense] in the
name of the Son of God, in order that you may know [eido] that you have
There was a man who was a principal of a school. We had a Bible study in
his school. Finally, through some of the local priests of another faith,
they got us out. They said we were preaching Baptist doctrine. This man
came to me one day and said, "Listen, you canít come over here and tell
these students that they can know that they are saved, that they can know
that they have eternal life. No man can know." I said, "I beg your pardon,
1 John 5:13 says,Ö" and I quoted it to him. He looked right back at me and
said, "Say that again." It is amazing how the Word of God clears up a lot
of our thinking.
Do you know you have eternal life (Eternal
Life)? Iíll tell you what your problem is if
you are truly a Christian and you donít know: you are not believing. That
is present tense. You are not daily obeying Him. You are not daily
trusting Him. Two weeks ago maybe you were, but something has happened in
your life and as a result you have slipped back instead of stepping
forward. That will shut you down and you will doubt your salvation like
never before. When you start believing Him, you will know that you have
eternal life. Present tense is always used for people who are Christians,
not past experience.
I want to tell you something. Talk is cheap. If you know Jesus Christ, it
is going to be seen today, not 30 years ago in your life. The Holy Spirit
of God lives in you. One of the epistles calls Him the divine referee. Do
you think He wonít blow the whistle on somebody who says they have
something that they donít have?
Look at 1Jn 5:15. The word eido is used again.
"And if we know that He
hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we
have asked from Him."
I canít wait to get to this one either. You see, we
have a listening ear with the Father. Do you know that? Do you know the
Father will listen to you? He gives you His undivided attention.
I want you to see something here. We will have to get to it in chapter 5,
but I want you to see this. We know that we have the requests which we
have asked from Him. Be real careful. It doesnít say we have received the
answer for which we were looking. That is not what the text says. People
love to get on television and throw that doctrine out. "Ask for it. You
are Godís child. He is your cosmic bellhop. He will do what you want." No
way. Your Father will give you a listening ear. Go on and bring anything
you want to bring before Him, but your Father will never grant a request
that is not somehow within His divine perfect will for your life. Ask all
We have individual requests. We can always bring anything before Him, but
He looks for the heart and He examines it according to His divine purposes
in our life. The believer knows he has a listening ear with the Father. He
knows that He will give him His undivided attention. Do you know that?
Letís look in 1Jn 5:18, 19, 20. It is all down through the last part of
the book. Verse 18 says, "We know [eido] that no one who is born out of
God sins." Now be careful. That is in the present tense. He means sins in
a habitual way. We have already seen that. You donít live in sin and call
yourself a believer. The verse goes on, "but He who was born of God keeps
him and the evil one does not touch him." We will get to that in context.
Here is something else we know. We know that we donít habitually sin. We
canít live in habitual sin. Verse 19 says, "We know that we are of God,
and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one." We can know that
we are out of God. We are not of this world. We are out of God. Big
difference. 1Jn 5:20 reads,
"And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding,
in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is
true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life."
I can know that I am in Him and He is in me.
He is in this world because I am here. He lives in me. "How do you know
that?" I donít know, I just know. He lives in me. I am in Him. He is in
There are things the believer knows. You ought to check these things out.
We ought to know some things. It is built in. We didnít have to be taught
this in a class. We know it. We just know it. Now, that is intuitive
But he also brings out some things that are experiential knowledge. What
do I mean by that? You can know some other things, but you are going to
have to obey the condition to get it. In other words, you are going to
have to obey Him. If you do this, you can know this. That is experiential
knowledge. That is ginosko. Paul said in Philippians 3:10, "I want to know
Him and the power of His resurrection." That is experiential. He knew Him
intimately as his Savior and Lord, but he wanted to experience Him on a
day by day basis.
Now, with that in mind, what is it that we can learn from Him? What
knowledge does God have for us? I havenít studied it all the way through
yet, but every time he puts down the word "know," I guarantee you, somehow
it is refuting some tenet of the false doctrine that is coming against the
people there in Asia Minor. I canít wait until one of these days when I
have enough time to work it all out and find out all that he is saying. It
is beyond my understanding or comprehension at this time.
What can a believer know experientially? Now look in 1Jn 2:3, 4, 5. The
first thing he can know experientially is we can know beyond any doubt
that we know Him. And that is only by our willingness to obey. We said
that a while ago but here we find it with the right word. Look at verse 3:
"And by this we know [experiential knowledge] that we have come to know
Him [in the past], if we keep His commandments." Now, if there is an
obedient spirit within me to do what God wants me to do, I know then that
I know Him.
I donít know how many times Christians have come to me and said, "I donít
think I am saved." I say, "Why?" "I just donít know." I say, "Why do you
come to me?" They say, "Well, I just want to obey Christ. I want to do
what He asks me to do." I thought to myself, "Well, why would a lost
person want to do what Christ wants them to do?" It is something within
you. It is built in. You want to obey Him. Obedience is not something
somebody has to knock you over the head to do. It is built in.
He says in 1Jn 2: 4,
"The one who says, ĎI have come to know Him,í and does not keep His
commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."
like the way he put that. John says, "He is not mistaken. He is not a
little bit off the wall. He is a liar!" I like that. He is a liar and the
truth is not in him. He is lying. Verse 5 continues, "but whoever keeps
His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected." So we can know
that we are in Him, but how do you know? Because you want to obey Him. It
is something inside of you. You want to obey Him. There is the "want to"
within you. It doesnít mean you always do it, but the "want to" is there.
When you donít do it, you run to Him. Why? Because you are obeying Him and
doing what He told you to do when you donít do it. Did you get all that?
Now look again at 1Jn 2:18:
"Children, it is the last hour; and just as
you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have
arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour."
How can you know that
it is the last hour? You hear people talking about the last hour, the last
days. How do you know we are in the last days? You can look around you and
see all the people who are antichrist arising daily. Daily they are coming
on the scene. Because of this, you have this knowledge that you didnít
have before. You know now. You know the days you are living in because all
you have to do is look around you at the people who reject and are
Look at 1Jn 3:16. We can know how to love:
"We know love by this, that He
laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the
How can I know how to love like Christ? How can I know what
love is? Well, by learning that it is not in word, it is in deed. Look in
"But whoever has the worldís goods, and beholds his brother in
need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in
him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in
deed and truth."
How can I learn to love others? It is not by telling
them, it is by meeting a need that they have in their life. You learn it
by experience. You learn to love. It just doesnít happen. You learn it.
You know love by this.
Look at 1Jn 4:2, 3, 4, 5, 6. "By this you know the Spirit of God." John
tells them to test the spirits. How do I know the spirit? How do I know
when I am dealing with somebody who is led of the Spirit?
that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and
every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the
spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and
now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and
have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in
We can know when we are dealing with somebody who is led of
the Spirit of God and we can know when we are dealing with somebody who is
not led by the Spirit of God. We learn it by experience. The more you are
around these kinds of people, the more you listen to what they say,
denying the fact that Jesus came in the flesh, the more you learn to test
the spirits in somebodyís life. We will get to that in the context.
1Jn 4:11 tells us we can know that we abide in Him and He is in us. Watch
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No
one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us,
and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and
He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have beheld and
bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the
Look at verse 16:
"And we have come to know and have believed the love
which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides
in God, and God abides in him."
How can we know that we abide in Him?
Again by loving one another.
Well, we could go on and on, but each time we look at it, there is
something I can intuitively know and there is something I can learn by
experience. But the place that I need to come to and learn from is at the
feet of Christ who is the treasure of all knowledge and all wisdom and His
Word. There is nothing spiritual I can learn outside of Him. I learn from
Him. I learn from His Word. I learn from obeying His Word. There is no
mystical knowledge. All this other stuff is all bound up in the Lord Jesus
Christ. It is incredible to me how many people want to go someplace else
to find knowledge. It is incredible to me how many people think they have
knowledge apart from knowing Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and
When you start listening to some of this doctrine that is floating in from
everywhere, you had better remember, if you are a true believer, there are
some things you know, you already know it and nobody has to remind you.
You know it. So quit denying what you are sensing in your Spirit. Then
secondly, get busy and start living out what you tell other people you
have because the more you live it out, the more experiential knowledge you
are going to have and the more protected you are going to be from error
ever getting into your life.
How many times have we said it! Get in the Word, obey the Word and that
becomes a protection in your life. What does Ephesians tell us? The
garment that comes from surrender is our armor in chapter 6. That is
almost the same thing John is saying. He is writing to these believers in
Asia Minor and saying, "Guys, you want knowledge? Quit chasing after those
guys. Come to Christ. Get in His Word." You have knowledge built in that
you donít even know you have yet, but it is there. You have been denying
it. Start learning to obey Him. The more you obey Him, the more knowledge
you will increase in. As you walk in Him, you learn of Him. I am thankful
I donít have to go anyplace but to Jesus to find knowledge. Oh, now if I
want to learn how to fly a jet plane, I can go take a course. If I want to
learn how to run a factory, I can go take schooling on that. But we are
talking about spiritual knowledge. The only place you are going to find it
is at the feet of Christ with a humble spirit saying, "Lord, I want to
surrender to all Your Word has to say." Over in Matthew He says, "Come
unto Me and learn of Me." He will show us everything we ever needed to
The next time you watch a program on television, listen. Not everything is
bad on television. But when you are listening, listen to what you are
hearing and see what the Spirit of God inside you says. Does it bear
witness or does it not with what God has said? You are going to be
surprised how protected you already are because of the treasure, wisdom
and knowledge living within you.
1 John 1:1-4
That Our Joy May Be Made
We have introduced the book now for
a couple of times and we want to get right into 1Jn 1:1, 2, 3, 4. I am
going to take my title from verse 4, "That Our Joy May be Made Complete!"
You know and I know that our joy is found in a person and that is the Lord
Jesus Christ. As we obey Him, as we cling to His Word, that is where our
joy comes. It grows. It is an ever increasing joy as we focus our lives
only on Him.
The Apostle John was an eyewitness of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, if
you will turn to the book of Luke with me, he would be included with those
that Luke mentioned in Luke 1:1,2. Luke says as he begins his gospel,
"Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things
accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were
eyewitnesses and servants of the word have handed them down to us, it
seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully
from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most
He speaks of those who became eyewitnesses and as a
result, became servants of the Word, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As a matter of fact, Jesus said something of those men who were
eyewitnesses, those apostles. Look over in Luke 10:23, 24. By the way, if
you are studying and you just want something to thrill your heart, get
into this passage and fill in the blanks. Oh, what a beautiful passage.
The Lord Jesus says in verse 22, "ĎAll things have been handed over to Me
by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who
the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal
Him.í And turning to the disciples, He said privately, ĎBlessed are the
eyes which see the things you see, for I say to you, that many prophets
and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them,
and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.í"
The Apostle John was an eyewitness of all that the prophets had
prophesied. He saw the Lord Jesus in human form, the Lord Jesus come in
the flesh here to this earth. Now John must have been upset when he found
out that the believers over there in Asia Minor were being deceived into
something that denied everything of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Turn to 1 John 2:26. I want you to keep remembering why he is writing this
epistle. It is very important. There were those who were seeking to
deceive the believers and anyone else who would listen to them. In verse
26 it says, "These things I have written to you concerning those who are
trying to deceive you." That is in the present tense. It means that they
are constantly, constantly trying to deceive and lead those people astray.
Here is the Apostle John, one who had both seen these people birthed into
the kingdom and had ministered to them in Asia Minor. Now somebody is
coming in and telling these precious believers and others who will listen
that Jesus was not really a man, that Jesus was a ghost and you donít need
Jesus in your life. Can you imagine how upset you would be if somebody was
doing that to people you had labored over and prayed for and seen birthed
into the kingdom of God!
Evidently the false teachers of that day followed the New Testament
pattern. Now let me explain. When you go through the epistles you begin to
realize that false doctrine was something that everybody seemed to have to
deal with. As a matter of fact, whenever you find a second epistle, it is
usually dealing with false doctrine: 2 Corinthians, 2 Peter, all the way
through. The whole book of Jude deals with false teachings. But there is
something that is very common. There is a common denominator with all the
false teaching that was going on during those days, and I want you to see
it. We wonít look at all of them, but just enough to give you an idea.
Look at 2 Peter 2:1. The question comes to your mind and should come to
all of our minds, "Were these false teachers, these Gnostic teachers,
these followers of Cerenthus, were they in church? Were they among
believers? Or were they out here someplace trying to lure the people out
of the church?" I want to show you that the common thread, the pattern in
the New Testament about false teaching is, it doesnít usually stay outside
the church. It comes inside the church. That is where you have to watch
it. People will sit next to you and sing and cry at the right time. But as
soon as they see you vulnerable, as soon as they see you open to what they
want to tell you, they will pull in their error which will lead you astray
and cause you to lose your joy in Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 2:1 reads,
false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be
false teachers among you who will secretly introduce destructive heresies,
even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon
I am not going to take that passage
and develop it, but I want to show you a few words out of 2 Peter 2:1 that
will help us see the pattern of how false teaching was a constant problem
among the Christians of that day. The word "secretly" there in verse 1 is
study). Para, means
alongside, and eisago means to introduce or bring in. The idea is they
bring in their error but you donít see it. They are not out in a big tent
trying to get people to be persuaded to follow them instead of Christ. Oh,
no. They very secretly bring it in. They gain your confidence. They win
your confidence. They join the church. They learn your language. They
always have their error, and they will put their error right beside the
truth. A false teacher will not say wrong things 100% of the time. He will
say 90% of the right things and then take 10% of what is wrong and
destructive and deadly and begin to mix it in. If I had a thousand bottles
of milk and somebody poisoned one of them and I didnít know which one it
was, they may as well have just poisoned all thousand of them! That is the
danger of these people. They may be 90% correct, but the 10% is the
damnable, destructive, fatal thing that will lead you away from anything
that will bring you joy in Jesus Christ. You had better be careful and
know the gospel and stand upon those things that God has said. They
secretly bring it in. When you are not looking, they lift up the error and
you think it is truth and before you know it, your joy is gone and you
donít even know why.
They are destructive heresies. The word destructive (word
study) means damnable. It
is the word
apoleia, which means totally fatal. It is that which will take
a believer and steal everything away from him that God wants to give him.
It is that which takes a person who is not a believer and sends him
straight to hell. That is what we are talking about. That is how
destructive they are. They are not just something that will bother you for
a while and go away. They are things that are fatal to bringing you joy in
the person of Jesus Christ.
The word heresy (word
study) means based on opinion instead of truth. Actually the
word means to select, to choose. It is when someone will look in the Bible
and say, "I like this verse, that verse and this verse and that verse. And
I tell you what I am going to do. I am going to mix my opinion into that."
That is where you get the idea of what a heresy is. It is not as if there
is no truth. It is polluted truth. They know 90% of what is right to say.
The 10% is where you find the problem.
I want you to notice again in verse 1. He says, "But there were false
prophets also among the people." They will be in the body itself. It is
not going to be just out there. Oh, they are out there. But they are going
to come in the body. In Philippians 3:18 (note) Paul says almost the same thing
in a little different way. He is talking about people who are right there
with them. He says, "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now
tell you even now weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of
Christ." These people are all around us at all times.
Have you ever gotten to be friendly with somebody who doesnít understand
and believe the doctrine of the Word of God? They donít adhere to what God
says. After a while your friendship seems to develop and you are having a
great time with them. Then suddenly one day you notice that your time
alone with God has disappeared and your joy is gone. All of a sudden, even
though you werenít aware of it, you have been led astray. Watch out
because these people are everywhere. They are rampant. They are among us,
enemies of the cross, legalists, even those who would be like the
Antinomians that Paul had to deal with. It is always somehow mixed in.
The licentiousness is there. The Gnostics said, "Since you canít fight
sin, join it. It doesnít matter. You can sin a little bit. If you want to
go out and drink on the weekend, itís okay. Help yourself. It is alright.
You can participate in immorality. You are just dabbling in it a little
bit. It is alright." All of a sudden your joy is gone because somebody has
deceitfully and secretly and privately led you astray from what the Word
of God says will bring you joy in your life.
Look at the book of Jude. The whole book is about false teachers. I want
you to see again, they are among us. Now you are wondering why I am doing
this and Iíll tell you in a minute. Jude 1:4 says,
For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long
beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the
grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord,
crept in! Secretly, they are among us. Next time you lose the joy in your
salvation, ask yourself, "Who am I fellowshipping with? What do they
believe? Have they somehow gotten me out of the will of God by their
conversation, by whatever else they are doing?" Look out. The enemy among
us is the person who doesnít adhere to what this Book has to say.
You may ask, "Why are you bringing all that out?" Iíll tell you why.
Because I think when John writes this, he has in his mind the knowledge
that this letter is going to be read among the Christians there in the
area where he is ministering. He knows that when he writes this, he is
writing it to believers, the immature ones, the fresh ones born into the
kingdom, the young men, those that are mature ones. We know that. But he
also knows that when they stand up to read this letter to the believers,
mixed in with them are going to be the false teachers and the converts to
that false teaching. He is going to say some pretty powerful things before
this book is over. "We know they are not of us because they left us. Had
they been of us, they would have stayed with us."
I really believe that is right because the pattern of false teaching in
the New Testament is not out there. It is among us. John knows that. John
also knows these letters were read to the believers in certain
congregations. He knows when they are read, even though he is writing to
believers, the false teachers are going to be out there. There is a
contrast through the whole book of "This is a Christian and this is not a
Christian." There is a line drawn between the two. John is wanting to make
sure that he nails that false doctrine to the wall. Anything that takes
away from the deity of who Christ is automatically begins to lead a person
astray from that which will bring joy in his life.
That kind of sets the scene for me. As I read this I am thinking, "John is
writing this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. He is
thinking to himself, ĎOh, they are going to be sitting out there. Watch
this.í" You can almost sense when the people receive the letter and
someone stands up to read it in their midst, all the false teachers, all
of those who have been teaching stuff that is not right, all of those who
have been leaving the service and talking about that which is not right,
are standing there. The apostle writes a letter and they start to squirm
because all of a sudden, what they have been saying is nailed to the wall
as that which is false. Get that in your mind when you are studying 1
John. They are there listening. John has a word for them. I believe there
is righteous indignation. Something has risen up inside of John. The Holy
Spirit of God is directing the anger at the problem, not the people and he
is writing this beautiful epistle that we see.
Well, letís read 1Jn 1:1-4:
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with
our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of
Life Ė and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and
proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was
manifested to us Ė what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also,
that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is
with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write,
so that your [not our] joy may be made complete.
Those first four verses begin the attack on the false doctrine that is
plaguing the churches to which John is writing. I want to just take three
things from those verses. I am just going to work through the verses and
let you see what John is doing.
The first thing he does is take them back to the very beginning when they
first heard the gospel. You know in John 1:1 and in 1John 1:1 he uses the
word "beginning." I want to submit to you that in 1 John he doesnít mean
the same thing as in John. Iíll show you that in a moment. You see, what
he is about to do is to say, "Guys, the message hasnít changed. What I
taught you, what I wrote to you has not changed one single bit. What are
you doing listening to anything other than what I gave to you as an
apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ?"
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with
our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of
He gives you the subject, "concerning the Word of Life."
That is Jesus Christ. That is who we are talking about. It is God having
come in the flesh. What you have heard about Him, concerning Him, from the
very beginning has not changed one bit.
These folks knew John. It is obvious from the way he uses terms of
endearment, "beloved, beloved." You donít use that for people you donít
know. He was very dear to them. You know good and well, if they knew him
like that and he had such an effect on them, that they had read his
gospel. Having read his gospel, then they would know what he said from the
beginning. Letís go to John 1:1 and show you what he starts off with. This
is his gospel. They have read it. I was reading this and was thinking, "I
sure wish he had said it a little clearer because you wrestle with it. It
takes you forever to try to decide what he is trying to say." To me it is
so simple. He is just taking them back to the beginning. "Hey, guys, from
the very beginning this is what I said. It hasnít changed a bit. Jesus
Christ is God in the flesh. He came to this earth and manifested Himself
as the God-man."
Look in John 1:1. Here he uses the word "beginning" that encompasses all
beginnings. He says "In the beginning." In other words, before there was
ever a beginning. Did you realize all the world had a beginning, but not
the Word? The Word has always been. He said, "In the beginning was...,"
Imperfect tense means always had been, was then, is now
and always will be. The Jehovahís Witnesses get hold of this verse and
donít have a clue what it says. John was dealing with Gnostics, but we are
dealing with other kinds of false teaching. This nails that doctrine to
the wall. They say, "Jesus was just a man and was created." Friend, Jesus
is the Word. He is God. He has always been, imperfect tense.
He said, "In the beginning was the Word." The word "Word" there is logos.
The word means intelligence. In the beginning was the divine intelligence.
Who do you think came up with all of this? God did. Nobody else could have
thought it up. The divine intelligence. "And the Word [Divine
Intelligence] was with God, and the Word [the Father and the Divine
Intelligence] was God."
That imperfect tense begins to move its way down through the verse. Look
at verse 14. This Divine Intelligence was beyond what any man could
fathom. Paul tells Timothy He dwelt in unapproachable light. No man can
approach this Divine Intelligence who no individual human being can ever,
ever, ever begin to fathom. This Divine Intelligence became flesh. John
says, "From the very beginning it has not changed. What do you mean,
listening to a man who says Jesus was a ghost. From the very beginning He
has been. He came to this earth as flesh. He didnít just dwell in a body
of flesh. He became flesh." We will come back to that in just a second.
The authority with which John has to speak here is as an eyewitness. That
is what he says in 1 John, "What we have heard, what we have seen with our
eyes, what we have beheld and our hands handled concerning the Word of
Life." Do you know what I believe he means by "we"? I donít think that is
some authorís privilege of using the term "we." I think he is referring to
the apostles. What he is simply saying is, "We all agree and you know that
we agree. We saw Him. You didnít see Him. We did. We beheld Him and we
heard Him and our hands touched Him."
I believe that is inferring even after He was resurrected because,
remember, He told the disciples, "A spirit doesnít have flesh and bones.
Touch Me. See that I have flesh and bones." Boy, that messed them up. Some
people donít believe He raised bodily, they say He raised spiritually.
That is heresy. If He didnít raise bodily, then we can forget our
resurrection when the Lord comes back for His church. We can forget that.
That is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15. We heard Him, we saw Him, and
we beheld Him.
The word "beheld" grabs your attention real quickly. It is the word
theaomai. It is the word from which we get the word "theater." "We saw"
and "we heard" are in the perfect tense. John is saying, "All this
happened. We watched Him as if we were in a theater watching a drama
unfold in front of us. But we saw more than just something on a stage
removed from us." Look back in John 1:14. The word "beheld" is used there
and it shows you what they beheld about Him, not just His flesh. They
beheld His deity. That is what John is trying to tell them. John 1:14
says, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld [same
word] His glory." John says, "Man, we didnít just see Him as some
individual, a human son of Joseph and Mary. We saw Him as the divine Son
of God of the Virgin Mary. He was God who became flesh."
John is taking them back and he is saying, "Guys, what are you doing? I am
an apostle. We saw Him. We heard Him. What we told you from the very
beginning has not changed. The gospel is the same yesterday, today and
forever. It is not going to change. It is Godís Word. Jesus Christ is
He goes on to say, "concerning the Word of Life." There are two words for
life that are so important. The word bios means the means of life. As a
matter of fact, you can get into the business of life. Ask a Baptist what
life means. "Oh, I have got the life, man, because I am busy." That is not
what John is talking about. The word zoe is the word he uses here. The
word zoe is the word that means essence of life. He is the eternal essence
of life. He is the eternal essence. Not only does He give it, He is
eternal life. He is the Divine Intelligence. He is the Divine Essence of
eternal life. He became flesh and we saw Him and we heard Him and we
beheld that He was more than a man. He was the God-man. This has not
If you are not real careful and you donít adhere to what the apostles have
given us in scripture in the New Testament and you sever yourself from
what the apostles have said, you are going to enter into the most
miserable life you have ever had in your life. There is no joy apart from
what His Word says. There is no joy apart from what we know to be the
truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. False teachers will say what you want
to hear and then they will put their error right beside it. You will lose
your joy so fast it will make your head swim. Your joy is always measured
by your willingness to accept what the Word of God says and your
allegiance and surrender to the God-man, Jesus Christ, in whom is the
fullness of the Godhead bodily, who came and who lived, was born of a
virgin. He didnít appear as a ghost. He wasnít the son of Joseph in the
natural sense. He was birthed of the Holy Spirit.
Donít ever lose that in your life or you are going to end up just like
these people to whom John is writing. He starts them from the beginning
and he basically is saying, "The message hasnít changed. What we told you,
stand on. We saw, we heard, we beheld, we even handled with our own
hands." That killed all that which Cerenthus was trying to say. It has not
The second thing shows how it got from John to the people in Asia Minor.
In other words, this is the normal plan of witnessing. This is the way it
ought to be. Once we have experienced it, we go and proclaim. John simply
says, "From the very beginning the way you found out about it was from us.
Look at verse 2: "and the life was manifested." I love this. The word
"manifested" is phaneroo, which means to be put on display for all to see.
The life was manifested. It goes on, "and we have seen and bear witness
and proclaim to you the eternal life," pointing again to God in the flesh,
"which was with the Father and was manifested to us."
The interesting thing is God chose to manifest Himself, to put Himself on
display. Now understand, even though we have come to understand Jesus and
know Him, we donít have a clue yet what all of God is all about. I hear
people talk about this sometimes. "Oh, Brother, I have all of God." Well,
true, but in a sense you donít quite understand. You have what God has
apportioned to you. In other words, He has given you of His Spirit but you
havenít touched it yet. I believe a million years into glory we are going
to be walking around saying, "Hallelujah! I didnít know that." Ten million
years later you will be going around, "Oh, man, I will never be able to
take it all in." But God chose to make Himself small and become the Life
in human form. Yes, He was the Life.
John 1:14 says He became flesh. I mentioned a moment ago that we would
come back to this. What does "He became flesh" mean? The Gnostic would
say, "Yes, we believe that. He became flesh the moment John baptized Him.
Then He ceased to become flesh right before His crucifixion. That is when
He left Him." Oh no, you donít understand, He became flesh. Are you with
me? He didnít just indwell flesh. He didnít go around looking for a good
body. He finds the body and says, "I am going to get in him." He enters
into it. That is not what it means. He was formed in the womb of the
Virgin Mary and became flesh.
I know some of you are saying, "I donít understand that." I want to say
something back to you so profound...neither do I! As a matter of fact, if
you can comprehend that, you have just proven to me that God is no bigger
than our brain. God is so much bigger than anybody. It comes to the point
you have to accept that by faith. You see, we donít walk by sight. We walk
by faith. Basically John is saying, "Hey, guys, we saw Him. We heard Him.
We were appointed as apostles. We even touched Him and handled Him after
He was resurrected from the grave. We have written to you. And what we
have said has not changed. We proclaim it to you. We have seen it. We
proclaim unto you. It was revealed to us. We didnít think it up. It didnít
come out of a frustration with some church we were going to. God revealed
it to us."
Man does not discover what God hides. God has to reveal it to man. So he
takes them back to the very beginning and says, "Hey, what was from the
very beginning, guys, understand. We saw and we heard." Then he says, "We
saw, so therefore, we have proclaimed unto you. How do you think you came
to be what you are? It is because of the Word based on what we saw and
heard and what God has documented in our life."
Look at verses 3 and 4. He begins to explain to them the motive behind
telling them all this. He is going to go in other directions. But he is
letting them know something here. Look at what he says: "what we have seen
and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with
us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus
Christ." I have never wrestled over anything as much as I have this verse.
Now think with me. Letís see if we can make it simple. John said, "Hey,
guys. We are apostles. Who are we? The apostles. We have told you and what
we have said all fits together. None of us contradict the other. We want
you to participate in what we know and have said. We want you to have
fellowship with us. But guys, you canít have fellowship with us if you are
going to sever yourself from what we have said because our fellowship is
with the Father and with the Son, Jesus Christ." The moment I sever myself
from what the apostles have given me in the Word of God concerning the
Word of Life is the very moment my joy is gone. My privileges are gone,
and His presence is no longer here. You must adhere to what this Book says
and only what this Book says, or you will never have what you are looking
Do you understand what he is saying? He is writing to believers and
saying, "Hey, guys, if your fellowship is with Him, then your fellowship
will be with us and you will be saying the same thing we say. Not only
that, you are going to recognize if somebody says something different from
that which we have said."
Look at Acts 2:42. I think it has a bearing on this. "And they were
continually devoting themselves to the apostlesí teaching and to
fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." There is a hint of a
warning here. "Guys, you had better shape up. If you want to have
fellowship with us, you had better find your fellowship first with God,
the Father and with His Son. Not some apparition, not some ghost, not some
imaginary doctrine. You find your fellowship with Him, your koinonia with
Him. Once you find it with Him and you have settled on that, you will find
yourself fellowshipping with us."
A person who is wide open to false doctrine is a person whose focus is not
on the Lord Jesus, the Son, in full surrender and abandonment to what His
Word has to say. When that happens watch him depart from the Word of God.
That is just something that hit me as I was studying. Somebody who is not
walking with a surrendered life is wide open to false doctrine.
We have dealt with it so much in the past 13 years at Woodland Park. I
wish I could tell you what we have had to deal with. Sometimes in a
message I come across so hard on something. I mean I nail it. No, I donít
just nail it, I drive it in the ground and bury it. The people probably
think, "Wow, he is wired tonight." They donít know what we knew was
beginning to seep into the body as doctrine that doesnít hold itself
accountable to the Word of God.
If you are not walking right with Him, if there is an area of your life
that is disobedient, somewhere there is false doctrine in your walk.
Somehow you have embraced the idea that you can sin and get away with it
because God doesnít care. Somehow legalism or something has gotten into
your life. Look out because your joy is going to go with it.
The apostle says, "Hey, if your fellowship is with Him, it will be with
us." He uses the word "fellowship" three times Ė in verse 3, 6 and 7. Now
verses 6 and 7 have a totally different meaning altogether. But we havenít
got there yet. I think what he is saying right here is, "You want to
fellowship with us? You find it with Him first. When you find it with Him,
you will have no trouble with what we say. But you had better focus on Him
first. Then the doctrine will take care of itself."
In verse 4 he completes his thought: "And these things we write, so that
your joy may be made complete." The word
study) means that it might be
fully accomplished, that you might be filled to the very brim with the joy
that is rightfully yours in Jesus Christ. Donít let false doctrine get you
off the track. Donít let what someone says about Jesus lure you away from
what the Word of God documents.
One of my dearest friends went to the same seminary I did two years before
me. Virginia is not known for being the most conservative state in the
world. He went there wanting to preach the Word of God. He got in the
classroom of a man who didnít believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ
and didnít believe in the virgin birth. It began to erode his mind by
tearing down the things he had thought he believed all these years. He
left seminary, wrote all his friends a letter and said, "I am going out
into the world to preach what is really truth." He has so embraced the New
Age movement that there is no way of knowing how far out he has really
Where did it start? Sitting in a classroom, listening to somebody who was
supposed to be intellectual, lead him astray from what the Word of God
simply says. Do you want to do that? Go ahead, but I can guarantee you,
you will lead the most miserable life you ever had in your life if you
walk away from what the Bible has to say, not just concerning Jesus but
whatever it says. If you ever add anything to it or take anything away
from it, you have just done yourself the biggest injustice you have ever
done in your life. You must stand, not on what I say; you must stand on
what God says.
John says, "Listen, I told you. This is how it all got started. It hasnít
changed any from the very beginning. We saw and we heard. We perceived, we
understood, we handled Him with our hands, and we proclaimed it to you.
Now we write these things to you so that your joy might be made complete.
Donít listen to them."
This is a great book. If we are not documented on what salvation is by the
time we finish, it will be a great time just to get saved. This thing is
going to take us from A to Z in what justification is and what a Christian
1 John 1:5-10
Evidence of Christianity
If you were on trial for being a
Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Sad to say,
there are a lot of people whose walk and talk donít line up.
We are going to pick up in 1 John 1:5, but I would like to back up with
you as we feel the flow of what John is doing. Verse 1 says, "What was
from the beginning, what we have heard [John is speaking of himself and
the apostles], what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our
hands handled, concerning the Word of Life Ė and the life was manifested,
and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life,
which was with the Father and was manifested to us Ė what we have seen and
heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us;
and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus
Christ. And these things we write, so that our joy [or rather it should
be, your joy] may be made complete."
Now pick up in verse 5:
And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that
God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we
have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not
practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the
light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son
cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving
ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is
faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar,
and His word is not in us.
That is the whole first chapter, as John begins to introduce what he is
about to say. The term "darkness" is found in 1 John several times. I want
to make sure we understand what it means. It is found in 1 John 1:5-6, and
in 2:8-9, 11. There are two different words used for darkness. The first
word is in verse 5. It is the word skotia. In verse 6 it is the word
Now if you look in a Greek lexicon, you are going to find in verse 5 it
says skotia means darkness.
study) in verse 6 means darkness. That is all
they are basically going to say about it. But if you will do your
homework, run both words through the New Testament, you will discover that
there is a significant difference in verses 5 and 6. Skotia is the word
John uses 98% of the time in both his gospel and his epistles. Skotos is
rarely used and n fact, it is only used by John in 1 John 1:6 and in John
Let me show you the difference. The word in 1Jn 1:5, skotia, means the
result of darkness. If I walk outside in the darkness and fall over a
stump and break my leg, I have been out in the darkness. But I have
suffered the consequence of being in that darkness. The word skotos in
1Jn 1:6 means the essence of darkness itself.
Letís look over in John 3:19. I want you to see what this darkness is. It
is important to realize what John is saying here. Why does he bring up the
word "darkness" and why does he contrast it with light? He is dealing with
false doctrine. Any false doctrine is darkness. It is clear here that
darkness is the environment in which men seek to hide their sin.
And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men
loved the darkness." This is not the consequence of the darkness because
they havenít realized that yet, but they love the essence of darkness.
They love the darkness "rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.
John 3:20 says,
For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light
lest his deeds should be exposed.
So we see that darkness, skotos, is something that hides a manís sin. He
likes it because no one knows what is going on in the darkness. But Jesus
is the light, and when Jesus comes into a manís life, He turns on the
light and exposes what is going on. That is why men would not respond to
the light. That is the judgment that has come into the world.
If you will look at our text, 1 John 1:6, we will see a very similar truth
that John is bringing out. He says, "If we say that we have fellowship
with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the
truth." "Lie" and "practice" are in the present tense, so they should read
"lying" and "practicing." In other words, John is saying, "You canít say
you know Christ and seek to go off in the darkness and hide your sin. You
cannot do that and claim to be a believer."
As I have been studying this is what is coming to me. Darkness seems to
represent false doctrine and its unethical connection to sin. Can I share
something with you? If you are not living in the Word of God, if you are
not a believer, you already somehow have learned to tolerate sin in your
life. Now that doesnít come from the truth because the truth is light. God
is light. You cannot come to Him and in any way hide anything from Him.
You see, His light will expose you. So an individual who gets off is
getting into wrong thinking. Wrong thinking is going to cause wrong
In Romans Paul is dealing with is legalism. Legalism is truth that has
been perverted and has caused people to think wrongly and is leading them
into sin. Antinomianism is another false doctrine he is dealing with. An
antinomian is someone who is against the law and feels like you can do
anything you want to do. Either way, false doctrine has an unethical
connection with sin. When a person thinks wrong, he is going to live
Now, why does John use light? Because you see, light is truth. It is Godís
truth. It exposes sin and opens our minds to understand the will and the
way of God. A man has a choice to make. Am I going to walk in darkness or
am I going to walk in light? The Apostle John is making a contrast between
the real believers and the fakes, the ones who if they were put on trial
for being a Christian would not be found guilty. There is nothing in their
walk to back it up. They have plenty of talk but they donít have any walk.
Ephesians alludes to this. In Ephesians 5 Paul talks about this unethical
connection with sin that darkness has. He warns the believers in Ephesus
not to go back and live like they used to live. You see, when you come to
Christ, you come out of darkness and you come into light. There is no
fellowship with darkness and light whatsoever. In Ephesians 5:8 (note) it says,
"for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord." We
were the epitome of what darkness is all about before we came to know
Christ. It was His light, the light of the gospel that came to us and
showed us the wickedness and the error of our ways. The verse continues,
"walk as children of light."
What is the fruit of that? Ep 5:9-10 read,
"(for the fruit of the light
consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn
what is pleasing to the Lord." (see notes
One of the quickest ways to know if a
person loves Christ and is walking in the light is that he seeks every
single way that he possibly can to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:11 (note) goes on to say,
"And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds
You see, darkness, that false
thinking, is associated with deeds. But I want you also to see that there
is no fruit in them. He didnít say the less fruit, he says the unfruitful
deeds of darkness. What is he saying? When you start walking in the
darkness and hiding your sin, the deeds that you do in the darkness will
never benefit anybody and all you are doing is bringing destruction to
yourself. Ep 5:11 continues,
"but instead even expose them."
How do you expose them? By the way you
live. When you live following after the Light, you even expose the evil
deeds of those around you. That is why the conflict is there between us
and the unbelievers in the world.
Ephesians 5:12 says,
"for it is disgraceful even to speak of the thing which are
done by them in secret." (note)
You see, that word "darkness" has the idea of
hiding. Nobody knows what I am doing. I like that lifestyle. I will go to
church on Sunday morning. I will stand up with the best of them. Iíll
confess I have fellowship with Jesus. But on Monday through Saturday, I am
going to live my own kind of life. I am going to slip off in the darkness
and do what I want to do. Those are unfruitful deeds. When you get around
people who are living right, they are going to expose you for what you
Ephesians 5:13 reads,
But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for
everything that becomes visible is light. (note)
which makes manifest is light" is the better translation.
Look at Ephesians 5:14:
"For this reason it says, ĎAwake, sleeper, and rise from the dead, and
Christ will shine [His light] on you.í" (note)
Obviously John is saying, as he
does in the gospel, Christ is light and when one professes to know Him,
everything about their life will be exposed. Everything will be open, and
they can walk in the purity of that relationship with Him. We have a
choice to make. We either walk in the darkness or we walk in the light.
Okay, letís get to the text in 1Jn 1:5. I wanted you to know some of those
things as we enter into it because they are important to Johnís thinking.
If you have ever studied his gospel, then it is easy to come into 1 John
because he says so many of these things over and over again in his gospel.
1Jn 1:1-4 tell us that the message of Jesus Christ has not changed. John
says from the very beginning it has been so. The beginning he speaks of
there is not the same one as in John 1:1. He is speaking about the first
time he wrote to them. "Jesus Christ is the Son of God who has come in the
flesh to live on this earth, to go to a cross, and to take our sin upon
Himself. We saw Him. We heard Him. We beheld Him, and we touched Him. That
has not changed."
That drives a nail into that Cerenthian heresy. The Cerenthian heresy
says, "Oh no, Jesus wasnít God."
Gnosticism says you donít even need Jesus
to be saved. You can be saved by your knowledge.
John is saying, "You canít be saved except through Jesus Christ."
Gnosticism says, "That is hogwash. Jesus was not the Son of God." So John
is methodically, as an apostle, nailing that Cerenthian heresy. We saw
Him. We heard Him. We beheld Him. The word "beheld" means we saw Him to
the point we recognized that He wasnít just a man. He was God in the
flesh. We touched Him with our hands, signifying even after He resurrected
they were able to be around Him and to touch Him and to realize He had
flesh and bones, that He didnít just resurrect spiritually. He resurrected
John is about to drive another nail into that heresy. Look at what he says
in verse 5: "And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce
to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." In
God, there is no consequence of sin. Let me work my way through the verse.
I donít think you have seen it yet. When you see it you are going to say,
"That is what he is saying!"
First of all, it is in the perfect tense. Perfect tense means we have
heard Him. We have heard Him back here. Perfect tense also means a state
of something. In other words, we heard it and we are hearing it and it has
not changed even until now. That is the beauty of the perfect tense. It is
used a lot in 1 John. Again he is just reinforcing the fact that nothing
has changed. "Nothing has changed. Quit listening to these false teachers
who are among you."
What is the message? There is no darkness in God. There is no consequence
of sin in God. What does that tell us? That tells us that the Gnostics are
off the wall because you see, they couldnít understand. All flesh is evil.
So how could God have a body? If He had a body that makes God evil.
Therefore, Jesus could not have been the Son of God. God who is perfect
and holy would never inhabit a body that was evil. John, led of the Holy
Spirit of God, uses words that give us a picture. To make his point
clearer he says, "In Him there is no darkness." There are two words for
"no" in the Greek. One means in a relative sense, but the other one means
absolutely never, of any kind. That is the word he uses here. No, there
were none, no propensity to sin, no sin nature, nothing to do with sin.
There was no consequence of sin whatsoever in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:12 (note) threw all of the Gnostics in Rome. As a matter of fact, if
anybody in Asia Minor knew what was written to the Romans they would have
been confused. Romans 5:12 says, "Therefore, just as through one man sin
entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all
men, because all sinned Ė for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin
is not imputed when there is no law." What he is saying is, "By one man,
Adam, sin came to all men." Can you see the confusion the people went
through? They probably said, "You are telling me God is a man. Well, if he
is a man and all men are under sin, then He had to have a body of sin. It
couldnít have been Jesus."
In Romans 8:20 (note) and
Ro 8:22 (note)
Paul talks about the suffering, the consequence of
Adamís sin that spread to all men. Look in Romans 8:20 and Ro 8:22. It says,
For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but
because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also
will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the
glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation [that is
nature itself] groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until
That is the sphere of what Adamís sin has affected. It affected all
men, and all men are now under sin and because they are under sin, the law
came to condemn them all and to wait to lead them unto grace.
Not only were men under sin, but the created order was under sin also. We
have in nature things that are suffering and groaning, waiting until the
revelation of the sons of God. You know it says the rocks will cry out and
the trees will praise Him. I read an article that said when trees are
starving for lack of water, they make a chirping sound that no human ear
can hear. But the roaches and the bugs that prey on them hear it and they
are drawn to those trees to eat them. That little chirping noise is going
on and human ears cannot hear it. There is a groaning going on in
So you can understand how the Gnostic heresy got started. You can
understand how it could have been out of sincerity. Somebody said, "Hey,
flesh is evil. Adam sinned. All men born of Adam are under sin. How could
God, the God-man, Jesus Christ, be the Son of God?" But here is what Paul
is trying to bring out. In all of us there is the consequence of Adamís
sin. Would you not agree with that? We are going to die. Death is the
first consequence. We know we are going to die. And thank God, He has
conquered death but we are still going to die unless He comes between now
and then. Some people say, "Oh no, the more righteous you are, you can
live forever." Nobody ever says that after they turn 40. There is a
consequence to sin. We are going to die. Everyone of us are under that
consequence. Thank God, He took the curse off of us, but we are all under
I want to tell you something, Jesus was not under that curse. There was
something unique about His body that you may have overlooked. The moment I
am born I start to die. Paul says the outer man is decaying. Your body
decays. You see, at death our spirit goes on to be with the Lord, but our
body is still subjected and as a result of that, it continues to decay.
Now I donít like to talk about that. You are probably thinking, "Why are
you pulling that out?" That is important. The body of Jesus Christ could
not decay. You have got to understand something. There is no consequence
of darkness, skotia, in the Lord Jesus. Yes, He had a body. John was
saying, "You Cerenthians, I want to tell you something. He did come in the
body of flesh, but that body was not like your body. When Satan came to
tempt Him, there was nothing in Him that he could draw out of Him." Do you
remember how John says it the Gospel of John?
Have you ever taken a magnet and put it over a tool box? It is amazing.
You put that magnet over the tool box and everything in that tool box that
responds to that magnet will just go right up to it. But if you have
something in there that has some kind of alloy in it, something in it that
doesnít respond to that magnet, it just sits there. Satan holds his magnet
over you or over me. This afternoon I was fighting with my computer. I
mean I was upset! Satan put that magnet over me and my flesh responded to
it! Why did it respond to it? Because I am still in my body and I suffer
the consequences of Adamís sin. Skotia means no consequence of darkness.
In the Lord Jesus Christ was no consequence.
Look in Psalms 16. If the Lord Jesus hadnít wanted to die, He wouldnít
have. He dismissed His own spirit from His body when He was on the cross.
No man can take His life. He gave it willingly. That is the gospel, the
good news. That is God. That is not a man. The Gnostics said, "Jesus is
just simply the son of Joseph." No, He was God! He always has been God. He
didnít enter into flesh. John 1:14 says He became flesh. Study the
difference between the two. He didnít find him a man and enter into him.
He was born of a virgin. He became flesh.
Psalm 16:8 says, "I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is
at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my
glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely." This is pointing at
the Lord Jesus. You ask, "How do you know?" Look at Ps 16:10: "For Thou
wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol." Do you know what Sheol was? That was
where the departed spirits went in the Old Testament. Do you know what it
is called in the New Testament? Hades. So often translators put "hell" in
there, and it is not the right translation.
Hades had two compartments to it. Remember Lazarus and the rich man? (see
Lu 16:19, 20, 21, 22, 23 [Hades], Lk 16:24, 25, 26,27, 28,
29, 30, 31) One
went into Abrahamís bosom and one went to a place of torment. The rich man
wouldnít argue with you that it wasnít hell, but it wasnít the literal
hell we talk about. It is torment. It is the absence of God. But hell is
being reserved for the last of the thousand years when the first ones will
be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.
(Hebrew equivalent used in the OT =
Sheol) is a very
important word to know. There were two compartments for those who died
prior to the Cross. What did Jesus do
when He went to the cross? After He died on the cross, He went in there
and took those out of Abrahamís bosom and took them right up into heaven.
So now when we die, we donít go to Abrahamís bosom, we go into the
presence of Jesus Himself.
The Psalmist goes on, "For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; neither
wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay." Whew! Thatís it! Now do
you think that is important? In Acts 2:27 [Hades], Ac 2:26,
27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 Peter brings it out again in
his message. It is trying to tell us something. He is not just a man like
we know of men. Yes, He had a body of human flesh. He is the God-man, 100%
man, 100% God, but He had no nature or propensity to sin, for in Him was
no darkness at all, no consequence of darkness at all. That is almost a
final blow to that Cerenthian heresy.
Now you ask yourself, "I wonder why John is doing all this?" We know he is
refuting their doctrine. But wait a minute, that doctrine has gotten into
the church. And because it has gotten into the church, youíve got some
believers sitting around who never study anything saying, "Golly, I didnít
know that." They are getting their attention and are beginning to lead
them astray. So the Apostle John begins in verse 6 and goes all the way
through the book contrasting what people say and what they live as being
two different things. He is saying, "These are Christians. These arenít."
Do you want to know what a Christian is?
I am going to call them forth and
put them on the witness stand and it wonít be by what they say, it will
definitely be by how they live. Look at 1Jn 1:6. In verses 1Jn 1:6-10 he has
three false statements, then he has the truth that contrasts that and he
shows you the evidence that will prove you to be guilty if you claim to be
a child of God.
False statement number one is found in verse 6: "If we say that we have
fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not
practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the
light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son
cleanses us from all sin." Since there is no darkness in Him and we
profess to have fellowship with Him, attached to Him, in Him and He in us
as John says in his gospel, you can immediately begin to see where he is
headed. You canít tolerate sin in any way in a habitual way and claim to
know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Oh yes, you will still deal
with sin. Before you became a Christian you chased it. After you become a
Christian it chases you. You will still sin. That is what chapter 2 is all
about. However, when you find a Christian living in darkness (present
tense), hiding under darkness, seeking to think nobody knows what he is
doing and if he lives habitually that way, John has something to say about
him. False doctrine has that unethical connection with sin. Truth has
nothing to do with sin, nothing. Light has nothing to do with sin.
First of all he says, "If we say." The little word "if" is a suppositional
conjunction. There are different words for "if." There is ea, and there is
ean. Ean is used here. Ean means "suppose." It is almost like saying, "If
Superman walked in the back door, letís just suppose, okay." What John is
saying is, "In the future letís just suppose that some of you in the
congregation I am writing to would say that you have fellowship with Him
and yet there is something about your lifestyle that doesnít back it up."
Here we have the word "fellowship" again. What does this mean? There are
two groups of thinking here. I will give you both of them and let you
decide for yourself. On one side the word "fellowship" does not mean
relationship. Itís like when I forgot and left the bait in my Daddyís car
on a hot day in August. We had fished all night for catfish. I forgot and
left it in the car all day. He came home from work that afternoon, got off
the bus and could smell it from the corner. I had a relationship with my
Father, but the fellowship was deeply strained! As a matter of fact, when
we sold that car it still smelled like that bait.
Some people say the word "fellowship" is a different word than the word
"relationship. They say John is simply trying to say you canít walk in
intimacy with God if you are consistently tolerating sin in your life.
That is what some say. But others say, "Now wait a minute, fellowship here
is like in verse 3. It says it you want fellowship with us, you are first
of all going to have to find it with the Father. Our fellowship is with
the Father and the Son. What he is saying is, ĎWe have intimacy with the
Father through His Son and until you come to know Him through His Son, you
canít have intimacy with us.í" So it is a matter of relationship even
though it is the word "fellowship." They say the word "fellowship" means
relationship in the sense of, do you know Him at all?
I personally am going to have to side with the second. I believe what he
is doing is drawing a contrast. I donít think he is talking right here to
the fact that believers can go off and live consistently in sin and then
claim to have a relationship, just no fellowship at the time. Now
certainly my fellowship is strained when sin gets into my life. But we are
talking about habitual, present tense, lifestyle of sin. That would agree
with chapter 3 which says a man who claims to know Christ cannot sin. But
he says it in the present tense, he cannot habitually sin. So you really
have to make up your mind. I am not going to force my opinion on you, but
you can go two different ways. I think truth has its beauty on both sides
of it if you will look at it. As a Christian, if I do sin my fellowship is
ruined. But I canít consistently habitually live in sin. That is the thing
I want you to see. I think he talks of fellowship here as a relationship
with the Father because it would line up with the context.
2Corinthians 5:17 says,
"Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature."
Do you know what that word "new" is? It is the same word used
for new covenant, New Testament. It is the word kainos. Kainos means
absolutely, qualitatively brand new, never seen before. What did you use
to do? You lived in darkness. You hid your sin under darkness. That is the
judgment that has come into the world. What happened when light came into
your life? You exposed yourself to the light, you were exposed to the
light, the light exposed you and you saw yourself as a sinner. You came
out of the darkness. Ephesians says you were once darkness, now you have
been made light. How can a person who has been made light go back and
consistently live habitually in darkness? John is saying you canít do
"Well," you might say, "if that is the case, there are a lot of people who
have joined the church who arenít saved." That is what I am saying. Yes,
salvation is by grace, but youíve got to understand grace. Youíve got to
make up your own mind. You say, "Well, there are two sides to argument."
There really are. You can find both sides of it. But I think when you stay
in the book of 1 John all the way through you are going to see he is
drawing a contrast between those who know Christ and those who donít know
Christ. That is the whole reason for writing, remember. 1Jn 5:13 says,
These things I have written...that you may know that you have eternal
Well, look at the contrast in 1Jn 1:7. That is why I think that he is talking
about relationships, not just an intimacy. Verse 7 says, "but if we walk
in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one
another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." What
does he mean, "walk in the light?" I think by now the picture should be
clear for you. Darkness hides sin. Walk in the light. What does it do? It
exposes sin. What is there going to be in the light? There is going to be
confession of sin. I heard a man not long ago say on the radio, "We are
coming into a level of maturity to where you donít have to confess sin
anymore. Confess your righteousness and what you say shall be so." Huh?
Thatís ridiculous. As a matter of fact, the closer you get to God the more
you are going to want to confess sin. Do you know why? He is Light. He is
not a light. He is not like light. He is Light. Nobody turned Him on and
nobody can turn Him off. He is perpetual Light. When I come to Him and
draw near to Him, as James says, the first thing that happens is, He
exposes anything that has been hidden in my life. You canít say that you
donít confess sin anymore if you are a believer. Youíve got to confess
sin. Do you know what "confess" means? It is the word homologeo. It means
you agree with God. "Yes sir, God, you are exactly right. That is sin in
my life." It is to say the same thing. That is what it means.
The word "sin" means I have missed the mark. It is like an archer pulling
an arrow back and shooting at a target and missing it. That is sin. Hey,
now is He in the Light. He canít get out of it. I mean, He is Light. He is
wrapped up in it. He canít remove Himself from it. If you will walk in the
Light as He is in the Light. If you will determine in your life, I am
going to stay in that Light, then something is going to be seen about your
The first signal of living that way is we will have fellowship one with
another. Ephesians 4:3 (note) says,
"Preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond
Nowhere does it say to produce it; it says to preserve it. What
is peace? Peace means to walk in relationships that have nothing in
between them that will cause friction, with God first and then with man.
As we walk that way, we are going to have fellowship with one another.
That word "fellowship" is more than cookies and ice cream. It is the
intimate spiritual participation in the things of God. We can share
together. That is the way it works. I donít have to know your name. You
donít have to come to my house; I donít have to come to yours. That is not
the way you produce it. You preserve it. You donít produce it. That is the
first signal. How do you know people who have their talk matched up with
their walk? Watch them fellowship with others who are the same way. Watch
them. There is no "Did you hear what I heard?" Forget that. They have
stepped off somewhere. It is in the Light.
The second thing is he says, "and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us
from all sin." Now explain that to me. I have heard people say, "Well,
when I confess this sin, He covers all the other ones I havenít confessed
yet." Well, I am sure He does that. But do you think that is what he
means? How do I even know He is doing that, then. I donít even know what
Iíve done, so how do I know if He is cleansing me of it? I think it means
something else and I want to show you.
Look over in Hebrews 9:14 (note). I think what he is talking about here is that
He clears our consciences of guilt and moral defilement. Are you laden
down with guilt for your past? He cleanses that. He washes you. Oh!
Hebrews 9:14 reads,
how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit
offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead
works to serve the living God?
Look in Hebrews 10:2 (note)
Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be
offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no
longer have had consciousness of sins?
He is talking about the sacrifices
of the Old Testament. Look in Heb 10:22 (note):
let us draw near with a sincere
heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from
an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Do you know
what the beautiful thing is? You donít walk around laden down with guilt
all the time when you walk in the Light as He is in the Light. Why?
Because you are dealing with sin as He brings it up in your life and He is
washing out all that ole guilt and moral defilement in your life.
How many people today are laden down with guilt for the sins of their past
and donít know that His blood has cleansed them once and daily continues
to keep them cleansed from the guilt and the moral defilement of sin? One
of the greatest things in my life was to realize that the strength of sin
is the law. The power of sin is the law. Why is it powerful? To condemn
me. But He has set me free from the power of sin which means when I walk
in the Light as He is in the Light, He frees me from not just the sin held
against me, but He frees me from the guilt. Oh, there are consequences,
yes. But He gives me mercy to bear up under them. I donít have to walk
around, my head hung every day, with guilt hanging all over me as He
cleanses me with His blood. You see, a lot of people talk it but who are
the ones who walk it? If you were on trial for being a Christian, would
there be enough evidence to convict you? If we say we have fellowship with
Him but we live in darkness, we are lying [present tense] and we are not
doing the truth [present tense]. We are not living a life that has
anything to do with the truth. I think He just separated the ones who are
and the ones who arenít.
Isnít it good to be clean from sin? It is just amazing when you are clean.
If you are a Christian and you are trying to hide sin in your life, the
blood just stopped cleansing you of that guilt and moral defilement. But
if you will come to the Light, it exposes you.
1 John 1:8-10
The Believer and Sin - Part 1
There are a lot of people who think
that now that they are believers they donít have to deal with sin any
more. As a matter of fact, many want to blame other people or other
things. I heard Vance Havner tell the story of a lady who walked into a
psychiatristís office with a strip of bacon on one ear and a strip of
bacon on the other ear and a fried egg on her head. She looked at the
doctor and said, "Doctor, I am here to talk to you about my husband. He
has a real problem." That is exactly the way most people are. If there is
a problem, it is somebody elseís fault. We never seem to look within and
understand that we never, ever outgrow the fact that we are going to have
to deal with sin in our life.
The initial message of Jesus Christ found in Mark 1:15 was this. He said,
"Repent." Then he said, "and believe." That is not in the aorist tense Ė
aorist means that at a specific point in time, do it Ė it is in the
present imperative. Present tense means repent and keep on repenting. The
imperative mood means it is a command. Believe and keep on believing. That
was Godís message. It is not a one-time repentance. It is the one time,
initial coming to know Christ and repenting of our sin, but it is also a
daily living in light of the fact that we choose the wrong things and we
daily have to repent and change our behavior for Him.
The Apostle Peter preached a message in Acts 2 that has been used by
people in the wrong way for so many years. In Acts 2:38 he said, "Repent,
and...be baptized." I donít know how many denominations have picked up on
that. I know one for sure that says, "Oh, you see, youíve got to repent
but you have to be baptized before you can be a Christian. Therefore water
baptism is what saves you." That is not at all what he is saying there. As
a matter of fact, the word "for" also is translated "because of." Are you
going to build a doctrine off of that?
Repent (see word study of related noun
metanoia). Involved in that word are all the things necessary. Belief is the
other side of repentance. They are two sides of the same coin. Repent, be
baptized. Being baptized is simply your public witness of what has already
taken place in your heart. But Luke puts it in the aorist tense. Aorist
tense means "do it". Now what is the difference? Jesus put it in the
present: "Repent and keep on repenting." Peter says, "Repent" and puts it
in the aorist. Is there a conflict there? No. Peter is dealing with the
initial response. He is dealing with what these people need to do now.
Jesus is putting it not only in the now, but in the future. He is saying,
"This is the message. You will repent now but you will live repenting the
rest of your life because a Christian deals with sin every day that he
lives." Confession and repentance are a part of the daily agenda of the
life of every believer.
We know that the Apostle John in the book of 1 John is writing to combat
the Cerenthian heresy. It is a form of
Gnosticism is a much
bigger subject than just what is going on in 1 John. Cerenthus had a
certain idea that he was getting into the church. John was writing to
There were three other tenets about the Cerenthian heresy that we havenít
talked about yet. First of all they said, "Jesus did not have a body of
flesh. Flesh is evil. God inhabited Him when He was baptized and left Him
before He was crucified." Then later it changed and another heresy grew
out of that which said He was just a ghost and never had a body to start
with. Of course, it denied everything about His redemption and why He came
to this earth.
Another part of that heresy was they had three different distinct views of
sin and it was found in different twists. One of them said that you can
claim to be a Christian and still live in sin. You are not responsible for
it anymore. You can live like you want to. Paul had a little bit to deal
with some of that type of thinking in the book of Romans when he says in
chapter 6, "What should we say then? Should we continue in sin that grace
should abound? May it never be!" We are dead to sin. But there was this
idea in the Gnostic heresy that said that you could continue to live in
sin and still claim to be a believer. No way!
Secondly, there was the idea that you could come to a plateau in your
life. In other words, if you have been a Christian for 30 years and you
have been a pretty good person and you have read your Bible every day and
you havenít missed any church, you can come to a level of not even sinning
any more. Wouldnít that be wonderful? You wouldnít even have to confess
sin any more. You can enter into this echelon of sinless perfection. That
was the second twist to how they dealt with sin.
Then there was a third twist and that was the worst one. The third one
said we have never sinned to begin with. Somebody else came up with this
word "sin." There is no sin. Nobody has sinned. Everybody is a good
person, just in the wrong environment type thing. We donít have any sin at
Those were three of the twists of the Gnostic heresy back then. Wasnít it
the author of Ecclesiastes who said there is nothing new under the sun? In
the 21st century we are not dealing with anything new. We are just dealing
with something with a different face on it. Maybe at first we think it is
new but it is the same old stuff that comes across.
John is writing to combat that. He actually makes the three false
statements that they make beginning in verse 6 of 1 John 1, and he
finishes those three false statements in verse 10. We looked at the first
one last time.
The second false confession is where we are going to start this time.
Three times he says, "If we say." Verse 8 says, "If we say that we have no
sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us." What is he
saying here? Well, first of all, the "we have" there is in the present
tense. We are in the state of having no sin. In other words, we have
reached that place. Spirituality is an attainment. We finally arrived and
we donít have to deal with sin anymore. John goes on to say if we say
that, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
The word "deceiving" is the word
study). We get the word "planet" from it.
The idea is, if we are saying this, that we donít have to deal with sin
anymore, we are like a planet wandering around. There is no direction in
our life. Have you ever noticed people who have problems in their life and
they donít want to have to deal with personal sin? It is almost as if they
have come beyond that. Something else is the matter but not sin. You canít
get them to sit down and realize that sin is the problem. These people
never seem to come to any solutions. They never come to any answers. Why?
Because they are deceiving themselves by saying they donít have any sin.
We have got to understand that sin still is in the life of a believer. A
believer has to deal with sin.
Well, he says, "the truth is not in us." There are two words for "not" in
the Greek. One is a relative type of word. The other one is the word used
here which means absolutely in any shape or form the truth is not in them.
Now, there are a lot of people in our time who still echo some of these
things. They say, "Hey, I donít have to deal with sin." As a matter of
fact, years ago I almost got caught up in a heresy that said you donít
confess sin any more, you confess who you are in Jesus. If you confess who
you are in Jesus, then whatever you confess will be so in your life. I
would get up in the morning and get in the shower and confess who I was in
Jesus. Man, I had that thing down. "I have been made righteous. I am a
child of God. I am seated in the heavenlies." I could go through that
I think that is very critical for us to understand. We need to know those
things. But folks, just confessing our righteousness doesnít mean we have
attained it. Paul didnít tell Timothy to confess it. He said pursue it.
There is a big difference. As soon as I got out of the shower and got
dressed, I said, "Oh God, I have been made the righteousness of God in
Jesus Christ. And, oh God, I am seated in the heavenlies with You. I will
not have a lustful thought today." That lasted about 30 seconds.
What are we doing when we think that we can arrive? Spirituality is not an
arrival. Spirituality is a pursuit. Itís a day by day pursuit. We are
going to deal with sin until the day Jesus comes and glorifies us. Then we
will know a presence apart from the penalty, the power and the presence of
sin. We are going to be with Him forever and wonít have to deal with it
The Gnostics said they could reach this spiritual pentacle. But a believer
must deal with sin. Now let me explain something to you. When I got saved
I got a new heart. I really did. Go back and study the covenant. It tells
us in Ezekiel that we are going to get a new heart. What does that mean?
It means that His Spirit has come to live in my spirit. Because of that
new heart that is in me, I canít pursue sin habitually anymore. Oh, I may
make some stupid choices, but I canít pursue it. I canít live it
habitually anymore. Why? Because I have the nature of God inside of me.
But here is the enigma. I still have a fallen body and James says that my
fallen body has lust in it. The problem with the lust of my flesh is they
continue to gravitate towards that which is not righteous. Whenever the
temptation comes, I had better make sure I understand the battle because
my flesh always pulls me this way and my spirit is pulling me that way.
That is the struggle Galatians 5 is talking about. Every man is going to
have to deal with sin. You can never get to a point that you donít deal
This is so neat to watch in my children when they come to me and say,
"Daddy, Iíve got this problem. Iíve got that problem." I say, "Yeah, I
know. I do, too." They hate to hear that because they are hoping when they
get out of college, get married, have children, they can get to a place
where they donít have that trouble anymore. No, no. I hate to tell you.
You not only have it, it intensifies because the more knowledge you have
about that, the more intense that particular problem becomes in your life.
One day I was studying in Galatians 5:16 (see notes
5:17). It says if you obey the Spirit you
wonít fulfill the lust of the flesh. Thank God! Man, I jumped up and
shouted. Everybody wondered why I was so happy. It didnít say you wonít
have them, it says you wonít fulfill them. Are you a Christian and for
some reason you think you have been saved long enough that you shouldnít
be bothered by certain things in your walk? Who told you that? You are
going to deal with sin until Jesus comes back. Why? Because we have fallen
bodies of flesh. Anybody who ever tells you that you will ever get beyond
sin, you had better back away from them and get on your knees and pray for
them because they are way, way off the mark. You never come to a point
that you have somehow gotten beyond sin.
One of my dearest friends came to my house one time. I remember everything
he ever said to me, even if it was humorous. He was just like me. That
brother confessed sin so many times to me. "Brother Wayne, I am so sorry."
I was thinking, "Good night. I thought maybe when I got to your age I
would get beyond some of this stuff." But he let the message come home
deep to me that you never, ever, ever get beyond sin. When you begin to
understand that, it takes all the judgmental garbage out of us. How are
you going to point a finger at somebody else when there are three fingers
pointing right back at you?
I have thought many times about the prodigal son. I would have been the
prodigal son. I mean, that is kind of the way I was when I grew up. I
would be the one taking off with my inheritance. But you know what bugs
me? It is goody-two shoes out in the fields. He didnít go. The thing that
really gets me about him is that when the prodigal son came back, he began
to accuse him of spending it on harlots. Oh, come on. Why would he say
that? Why would he pick out one thing? I guarantee you he is sitting out
there in that field and that is his problem. You see, even though he
didnít actually go do it, he was just a guilty as this one is because it
is in his heart. Friend, you never get beyond sin! Quit blaming somebody
else. You are probably in the same boat.
It is funny how God raised up the Chaldeans in the book of Habakkuk. It
shows the Chaldean in each of us, doesnít it? He will always raise up
somebody just like you except they are a little bit further down the tube
and they will drive you nuts. God is trying to show you the same thing is
in your life. Well, enough of that.
Look at the contrast in 1Jn 1:9. He says, "If we confess our sins, He is
faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness." Look at the first phrase, "if we confess our sins." The
verb "confess" again is in the
present tense. Isnít that amazing? "Now
wait a minute. I donít like the present tense. That means continual
action. I want to confess it once and thatís it." Well, for that sin that
is fine, but there will be another one and there will be another one and
another one. Part of the lifestyle of the believer is dealing with sin.
What he is saying here is that the process of confessing our sins is
energized each time we do so. If you confess it once, it is a little
easier to confess it the next time. When you let that be a practice in
your life, you start recognizing what is sin and what is not sin and you
start dealing with it. Oh, the healthiness of your mind and your whole
spiritual walk before God when you realize you are dealing with sin and
you are dealing with flesh.
The verb homologeo tells us something (Ed: see also word
study of related noun
homologia) . There are a lot of people who say
if we confess our sins, all that means is to agree with God. That is what
it says. Homo means alike, and logeo means to say. "To say the same
thing," is what he is saying. They say, "Well, God, I have sinned. Isnít
that what I am supposed to tell you?"
Now wait a minute. Think with me for a second. The very word itself shows
you that there is a whole lot more than just agreeing with God that you
have sinned. It means to take upon yourself the same estimate towards that
sin that God takes upon it. Number one, how did it happen? It wasnít your
brother. It wasnít your sister. You made the choice. Quit blaming anybody
else. Once we are saved, we are responsible. We have to deal with
individual sins. Listen, we make the choice. That is the first thing. God
makes you agree with Him on that. Secondly, that choice you made missed
the mark completely. Oh, man, I feel like this is a mirror bouncing right
back at me. This is for me, too.
The third thing is how God hates that sin. You see, there are a lot of
people who go through the motions of agreeing with God. "Oh yes, God, that
is sin I did. Thank you for reminding me. Will you forgive me?" Then they
go right on. Oh no. You look at it the way God looks at it and you agree
with Him and say the same thing He says about it. He hates it. That is
what cost Jesus His life on the cross. When a person comes to the place in
their walk that they start taking sin lightly, then they have missed the
whole purpose and point of what their Christianity is all about. In other
words, we must agree with God, not only that we are responsible for our
sins, that we chose to do the sin, but we agree with God in His estimate
towards that sin. So built in that, implicit in the word "confess" is the
attitude of repentance. The attitude of saying, "God, I am so sick of it.
I am so sorry for it. God, I want to turn away from it and I want to turn
now to do what You want me to do in that particular area of my life."
One of the places that I failed in so much in my walk in the earlier years
and still have some tendencies that way is to confess it without turning
away from it. You see, there are a lot of people doing that. In Proverbs
it says you are to confess and forsake your sin. That is the repentant
attitude. That is taking Godís estimate upon that.
I want to tell you something, sin is so deceitful. We sit back so smug as
if nothing is wrong in our life. What is wrong with us? If you ever get to
the point that you think you have gotten beyond sin, you are not going
forward, you are going backward. You are going to deal with it until Jesus
comes back. It is a subtle thing. You think you can get out of it because
you think that was Class 101 and youíve moved to Class 201. There is no
Class 201. It is 101 until Jesus comes back. We deal with it every day of
I think part of the thinking of God on this is that the more I confess
sin, the more I am able to recognize it the next time. If I donít get in
the habit of looking at it, then it can slip in and out of my life and I
never even understand what is there.
It goes on to say if you will do that, "He is faithful and righteous to
forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." He is
faithful. The word is trustworthy. He can be trusted to do what He said He
would do. What are you under? What is holding you hostage? I guarantee you
it is sin in your life somewhere. He is trustworthy. He will do what He
said He will do. Secondly, He is righteous. The word "righteous" there
means righteous. I donít know how to explain it any other way. He is who
He is. It is not something He does. It is who He is. Paul said in Romans 1
that the gospel, the good news of God, reveals the righteousness of God.
If you want to know what He is like, look at what Jesus did. He is the
only One you can turn to when you sin. You canít go to a priest. You canít
come to church and do better works. Youíve got to go to the One who is
righteous, and the One who is righteous is faithful to do what He said He
It says He will forgive us. The word "forgiveness" is the aorist
subjunctive aphiemi. The word aphiemi is from apo, from, and hiemi, which
means to send, to send away from. "Do you mean to tell me the weight of
that sin and the burden of that sin that I have been carrying around with
me, the thing that has been holding me hostage so long in my life, do you
mean when I confess it with an attitude of repentance that He will do what
He said He will do, He will set me free and He will take that burden off
of me?" Exactly. As a matter of fact, the picture is in the Old Testament,
the High Priest, taking the goat out and putting his hands on the head of
the goat and confessing the sins of the people and sending the goat off
into the wilderness never to return. The word means to send away. That is
what He is doing. He sends it away. Are there any consequences? Yes, there
are always consequences. But as far as my fellowship with Him and my right
relationship with Him, I am restored. That weight is lifted off of me and
then He gives me the mercy to bear up under whatever consequence was there
in the first place. Grace deals with sin. Mercy always deals with the
"To forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The
word "cleanse" is the word katharizo. It means something was filthy and
had to be cleaned because there is a stain there somewhere that had to be
cleansed. God wants to clean us up, cleanse us. You say, "Well, He did
that at salvation." That is exactly right. But that doesnít mean we donít
walk in the muck and the mire of sin every day. That is why we constantly
come back to have our feet washed as He told Peter one day. "Peter, you
have already had your bath. You just need your feet washed." You see, it
is a cleansing. It is a cleansing.
It is wonderful to be clean. All kinds of problems can develop when a
person is not clean before God, when he hasnít made a break with sin, when
he hasnít repented, when he hasnít taken on that estimate of sin that God
wants him to take. You see, part of that cleansing is the guilt. Hebrews
9:14 talks about the guilt and the evil consciousness. Hebrews 10:2 and
has to do with the guilt of sin. I think that is what he is talking about.
The penalty of sin has already been paid for. It has been cleansed away.
But now it is the guilt of sin.
Proverbs 5:22 (KJV) says a man is bound by the
cords of his own sin. We tend to say, "No way! It is not my sin. It is
their sin!" God says, "No way. It is not what they have done to you. It is
how you have wrongly reacted to them." A man is bound by the cords of his
own sin. All unrighteousness. There is not one single sin that you can
commit that God cannot cleanse you from except when you reject the gospel
of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit of God and blaspheme Him. There is not
much He can do with you then because evidently you donít need Him. But any
other sin we commit in our life, God can immediately cleanse us from and
it is such a wonderful thing.
One of the things I have discovered is, when you are clean, everybody gets
prettier and the grass gets greener and the sky gets bluer. It is just
amazing how it changes your whole perception towards life. But if you let
sin get into your life, watch the countenance fall. What did God say to
Adam in the garden? "Adam, why has your countenance fallen? What is going
on here?" There is always an appearance of sin on the outside.
So we see the practice of a believer as contrasted with this wrong
doctrine of people saying, "We donít have to deal with sin anymore. It is
not our problem. We have been Christians for years and we have graduated
out of it."
The third false statement is found in 1Jn 1:10:
"If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is
not in us."
Here is the
worst scenario you can possibly have. He changes from that present tense
which is in the preceding verse and puts it in the aorist tense which
means, "I have never sinned at any point in time in my life, ever. I am
not a sinner. All men are created good!" Have you heard this these days?
The tense there means that he has never at any time whatsoever sinned. The
word "not" is used there. Itís the same word for "not" used earlier. "I
have not in any way, shape or form ever sinned before in my life." Well,
if they havenít sinned, then they have no need for Christ. Is that not
As a matter of fact, he goes on to say that we make Him a liar. What did
Jesus say? "I came to die for your sin." You make Him a liar. If you
havenít sinned, then you donít need Him. This is the attitude of the lost
in our world today. Now listen to what I am about to say. People of the
world today believe that our problems are not caused because of sin. They
are caused by wrong environment. If you put a child in a wrong environment
that is what his problem is. Itís bad government. Some people are saying
Evangelical Christianity is the root of the problem because they preach
against sin and they make everybody feel guilty. That is what is wrong
with our society. They say the original Adam was a type for all men. Every
man is born good.
I was on a flight recently with this guy. When he found out what I did for
a living, he wouldnít let me talk anymore. I asked him what he did and he
said, "Well, I am a counselor of juvenile delinquents in the court
system...or I have been. I have just changed jobs and I am doing something
else." I said, "Oh, is that right? What approach do you take with these
kids who are in so much trouble with drugs and everything else?" He said,
"Oh, first of all youíve got to realize there are no bad kids. All kids
are good." Right! Do you know what he is doing? Do you know what he is
quoting? That is Freudian psychology. Freud said there is no objective
basis for wrong. You cannot track it back to sin. You can put it someplace
else but there is never one solitary reason. That is what he said. So many
have come out against that.
"So we believe it is the problem of environment," he said. "Get a kid out
of that bad environment and youíve got a kid who will change." I said,
"How long were you doing that?" He said, "Seven years." I said, "How many
people did you see change?" "Well," he said, "that is relative." I said,
"Wait a minute, I asked you a question. How many kids did you see change?"
"Well, many of them got jobs." I said, "Did you see their character
change? Did you see their life in any way morally change?" "Well, no, but
I mean, come on man, what are you asking us to do?" You see, that is
society, folks. Letís move to another neighborhood where it is a little
bit nicer and we can be better people. Are you kidding? Flesh is flesh I
donít care where you are.
When I was over in Romania all those years, I thought they were the most
precious people. I said, "Iíll never be the Christian these people are."
My friends would try to tell me, "Wayne, you donít understand. Their flesh
is just as wicked as your flesh." We got over there in one situation and
found out the liberals were arguing against the conservatives. The people
at church were having all kinds of problems. They would come for an hour
to pray, yes. But it was because they came out of the Greek Orthodox
Church which said if you donít come to pray, God will kill you. They donít
come because of a love motive. A lot of them came because of the work
ethic. They didnít understand the security of the believer. They donít
understand grace. That is what our ministry was for so many years over
there. What did He teach us? Flesh is flesh wherever you are.
My friends were telling me they have seen people who came out of Romania
being critical of Americans going to malls and getting all this
materialism. Six months later they were the same way. Why? Because every
one of us are descended from one man, Adam and because of Adam, we have
our flesh to deal with and sin to reckon with. Thank God for the first
Adam, which was not the one in Genesis. It was Jesus. Out of Him we have
been born again and we are now spiritual beings with a brand new heart.
But we still have that ole body which is plagued with the lust of our
flesh. They will eat our lunch if we give them half a change. We will deal
with sin. For a person to say I have never sinned is the height of
John said, "If you say this, you make Him a liar and His Word is not in
us." The "word" there in Johnís vocabulary refers to the preexistent word,
Jesus Christ, and also to all the truth that He gave to you and me. None
of that is in him at all, cannot be. Proverbs 28:13 says,
He who conceals
his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes
them will find compassion.
We do deal with sin. It is more intense now
probably than it was when we first started because the more you know of
light, the more it exposes the darkness and the more repentant your heart
becomes. That is why Paul says, "I am the chief of all sinners." You see,
sin is a very real problem in our life.
Do you know what I am like in my flesh? I am a manipulator. Are you that
way? If it is in my flesh, I can manipulate it to make it work for my
benefit every time. I am good at it. I have been practicing many years of
my life. When I got saved I had been in the ministry for eight years. It
helps to have a saved minister! I was in the den on my knees and said,
"God, will you show me the filth that is in my life?" I cried for two
hours until my nose bled when I saw the filth of me, just me. I have no
clue why God would ever let me pastor. It amazes me. Sin is real and donít
you ever forget it. Do you have a problem in your life? You might want to
track it back there first. Not that you have confessed it, because I think
the confession weíve heard is a watered down version of what God says.
Have you broken from it? And repented of it? That is confession because
you have taken upon yourself the same estimate of it God has.
Goto Dr Barber's Sermons on 1 John 2