A Troubled Land – Part 3

1 John 3:4-12

by Paul George

In part 3, A Troubled Land” we will examine the sources of the problems in our nation and in the Church.

The number one source is disobedience. This is not a popular subject. Many view the concept of disobedience antiquated and demeaning, something that needs casting aside in light of current “modern thought.” The advocates of the current modern thought theory claim the problems in our nation and in the Church are the result of a conflict between those who are content living a life that is going nowhere and those who are moving forward to a higher state of consciousness. Christians however know the Word of God will never become outdated. Disobedience is one of the subjects that will never become outdated. It is as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago.

Disobedience is defined as the knowingly and willful refusal to comply with the guidance of authority, especially a refusal to obey the commandments and statues of God. Disobedience involves the setting of the human will above the will of God. This is a natural tendency. It is the Christian’s responsibility to engage in a spiritual warfare against their natural tendency to disobey God (2 Corinthians 10:5-6) and be as obedient to God’s will as Christ was when He “became obedient to the point of death (Philippians 2:8).

We do not do this blindly. God has given us His commandments and statues to guide us in the way of righteousness. These commandments and laws are for our good and are meant to preserve the gift of life that God has given us. When we obey God’s commandments and law there is liberty and freedom to enjoy the gift of life without fear of future problems.

James wrote in his letter, “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does” (1:25). The laws of God are perfect and are given to bless us.  When we break God’s law we have committed sin and are acting in a way that will be detrimental to our own good and that of our neighbor.

Righteousness is a word used to describe the state of being in conformity with God’s laws and requirements. The apostle Paul asked the Corinthians, “Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). He told them, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership has righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Unrighteousness is the same as lawlessness both of which describe the concept of sin. “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

The second source of the problems in the nation and in the Church is Rejecting God’s Plans and Purpose.

God has given His laws to govern His creation. These laws govern our lives in the context of the pursuit of God’s plans and purposes. God has created and designed this world with specific plans and purposes that are not to be neglected or rejected. His original plan for the human family was to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth. This puts the focus of life on the family. Husbands and wives raising children in loving families where the truth about God is learned from God’s word. Disobedience has altered the original plans and purposes of God.

The focus of the disobedient society we live in is the destruction of the family unit. In the disobedient society, the family unit is described as three or more people living together as a family unit. This can be two men living together in the role of a husband and wife. Two women living together in the role of a husband and wife. The label, “domestic partners” is used to describe this perverting of God’s plan and purpose for the family unit.

The problems in our nation and in the Church exist because this one source of disobedience that is supported by the authorities of this nation and the judicial system. In the Church, it is tolerated. We often ask the question what would Jesus do. If we need to ask this question we have not listened to what Jesus said when He walked on this earth two thousand years age. He has not changed His mind.

The third source of the problems in the nation and in the Church is Rejection of the Will of God.

The will of God for our lives includes our salvation, sanctification and service for the kingdom of God. When we reject the plans and purposes of God for our life in pursuit of our own plans and purposes we are disobeying God. Isaiah said, “Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the LORD, and whose deeds are done in a dark place, and they say, “Who sees us?” or “Who knows us?” (Isaiah 29:15). The Lord sees and the Lord knows.

The fourth source of the problems in our nation and in the Church is The Human Heart, the Human Nature.

The scriptures are consistent in teaching that man is inherently flawed. This idea like that of disobedience is not popular with many today. However, what needs to be accepted is not what is popular but what is true. The Bible as God’s word is true when it speaks of the condition of man. The prophet Jeremiah tells us, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus said, “That which proceeds out of the man that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23)

The apostle Paul, one of the greatest Christians to have lived, evaluated his own heart condition in these words: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good… Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

While some might recoil at the thought of admitting to the presence of sin in their heart, others might find hope in being able to define and understand a principle at work in their lives that moves them towards that which they know to be wrong. May such an individual find even more hope in the words of Jesus, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” ((Luke 5:31-32).

The most important aspect of disobedience is the rejection God’s plan and purpose for our lives and the rejection of His will. We need to understand and acknowledge these are the universal nature of disobedience. The scriptures are clear and unmistakable on this point. Every person has disobeyed God and stands before God guilty. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:9-10), and “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). We need acknowledge the source of disobedience. It is the sinful human nature.

These verses are not saying that every person is living a life characterized by consistent patterns of gross sin and rebellion against God but simply that all have sinned in one way or another and as a result that none can stand before God in perfect righteousness. We need to stop making excuses and justifying the problems in the nation and in the Church and apply the cure, confession. Confess disobedience and return to the ways of the Lord. As long as our nation and the Church disobey God, we will not solve the problems.

Conditions for Fellowship

1 John 1:1-9

by Paul George

When John wrote this epistle the heresy of Gnosticism was making its way into the church. Among the teachings were, knowledge is superior to virtue, the nonlinearly sense of Scripture is correct and can be understood only by a select few, evil in the world precludes God being the only Creator, the incarnation is incredible because deity cannot unite itself with anything material such as the body, and there is no resurrection of the flesh.

John tells us Jesus is the subject of good news. He is the foundation and object of our faith and hope. He is the Word of Life, the eternal, intellectual Word of the eternal living Father, manifested in the flesh. Through Him we are united to God. There is sufficient evidence eternal life assumed mortality and dwelt among mankind. The life, the word of life, the eternal life could not be seen and felt; but the life manifested might be, and was.

The Word incarnate presented and evinced itself to every sense of the apostles. To their sense of hearing the Word assumed a human mouth and tongue, that He might utter words of life. The apostles heard His public sermons and private expositions. They were charmed by the words of Him who spoke as never man spoke before or since. To their sense of sight the Word became visible. The apostles saw the eternal Word in the life and ministry of Jesus, in his transfiguration on the mount, and after His return from the grave and resurrection from the dead.

To their sense of feeling refers to the apostles seeing Jesus after His resurrection from the dead when He showed them His hands and His side, when He permitted them to touch Him. Jesus knew of Thomas’s unbelief, and his claim he would not believe Jesus had been raised from the dead till he had seen and felt the wounds by which He died. Accordingly at the next meeting with the apostles Jesus called Thomas, in the presence of the rest, to satisfy the curiosity of his unbelief. And probably others of them did so too. Our Lord took care to satisfy all the senses of His apostles, that they might be the more authentic witnesses of Him to the world.

It became the apostles’ responsibility to reveal to the church the evidence by which they were led to proclaim and propagate the Christian doctrine in the world. Wisdom and integrity obliged them to demonstrate that it was not a cunningly, devised fable that they presented to the world. It was the truth that caused them to open their mouths and make a public profession.

It was necessary the apostles be well assured of the truth of the doctrine they embraced if they were to see the evidences of their convictions. Their doctrine was able to face the most judicious examination.

The reason John makes this summary of faith is that the believers of it may be moved to the same happiness with the apostles. That which they saw and heard they proclaimed to others so that they too may have fellowship with the apostles and fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

John does not necessarily mean personal fellowship but that which is consistent with distance from each other. It is communion with heaven, and the blessings that come from the throne of the Father. There may be some personal distinctions in the common participation of fellowship that belongs to all saints, from the highest apostle to the lowest believer. Just as there is the same faith, there are the same promises dignifying that fellowship and the same blessings and glories enriching and filling those promises.

In verse four, John gives his reason for writing verses one through three. It is to move us above sin and earth and to carry us to a blessed communion with the Father and the Son. In this we see for what end the eternal life was made flesh. That He might move us to eternal life in communion with the Father and Himself that we might be enlarged and advanced in holy joy.

The church age is not an age of fear, sorrow, and dread, but of peace and joy. Terror and astonishment was present at Mount Sinai, but exultation and joy are present at mount Zion, where the eternal Word, the eternal life is manifested in the flesh. The mystery of the Christian religion is directly calculated for the joy of mortals. It should be joy to us that the eternal Son came to seek and save that which was lost. That He made a full atonement for our sins and has conquered sin and death and hell, that He lives as our Intercessor and Advocate with the Father, and that He will come again to perfect and glorify His persevering believers.

We should rejoice in our happy relationship to God, as His sons and heirs, His beloved and adopted, members of His beloved body, and coheirs with our Lord Jesus Christ. Himself, in the pardon of our sins, the sanctification of our natures, and the prospect of grace and glory that will be revealed at the return of our Lord.

John having declared the truth and dignity of the Author of the gospel brings a message from Him, from which a just conclusion is to be drawn for the consideration and conviction of the professors of this glorious gospel. John tells us the message has come from the Lord (v. 5). Since He is the Sender of the apostles, He is the principle person spoken of in the message.

The apostles and ministers are the messengers of the Lord Jesus. It is their honor to bring His message to the world and to the churches. This is the wisdom and method of the Lord Jesus. He sends His messages to us by persons like ourselves.

It was the goal of the apostles to be found faithful, and faithfully deliverers of the message they had received. What was communicated to them they were willing to deliver to those who needed to hear the good news of salvation. We should gladly receive a message from the Word of life, from the eternal Word because it asserts the Excellency of the nature of God. His beauty and perfection is represented to us by light.

The message relates to what is usually called the moral perfection of the divine nature, what we are to imitate, or what is more directly to influence us in our walk with the Lord. It speaks of the holiness of God, the absolute purity of His nature and will, His penetrating knowledge of the intent of the human heart, and His jealousy that burns like a bright flame. It is fitting that to this dark world God should be represented as a pure and perfect light. And it is the Lord Jesus that reveals to us the name and nature of the unsearchable God, the only begotten, who is in the bosom of the Father.

We must never forget it is the calling of the church to reveal to the world the most noble and impressive account of the blessed God that is most suitable to the light of reason and demonstrates the magnificence of His works round about us, and to the nature and office of Him that is the supreme administrator, governor, and judge of the world.

There is a just conclusion to be drawn from this message for the consideration and conviction of
true believers in Christ and professing believers. For the conviction of those who have no true fellowship with God, John says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;” To have fellowship with God our lives and actions will be those of the moral life. A life, so far as it is possible, subjected to the law of God. To walk in darkness is to live and act contrary to the fundamental dictates of God’s will.

There is no denying there are many who pretend to profess the enjoyments in communion with God and yet their lives are irreligious, immoral, and impure. To these John said, “They lie, and do not the truth.” They lie because God has no fellowship with unholy souls. They lie to themselves, or lie concerning themselves, for they have no communications with God nor accesses to him. There is no truth in their profession nor in their practice and demonstrates their folly and falsehood.

Those who walk in the light have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanse them from all sin. Those that walk in the light show that they know God, that they have received of the Spirit of God, and that the divine image is stamped upon their souls.

This is one of those beatific communications to us, that God’s Son’s blood is applied or imputed to us. The eternal Son put on flesh and blood, and became Jesus of Nazareth. He shed His blood on a Roman cross for us. He washes us from our sins in His own blood. His blood applied to us discharges us from the guilt of all sin, both original and actual, inherent and committed, and we stand righteous in God’s sight; and His Son’s blood procures for us those sacred influences by which sin is to be subdued more and more, till it is quite abolished (Galatians 3:13-14).

John claims those who have this heavenly communion have yet their sin. To justify his claim he shows the dreadful consequences of denying it. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (v. 8). John warns us we must beware of deceiving ourselves in denying or excusing our sins. If we deny them, the truth is not in us. When we deny our sin we not only deceive ourselves, but reflect dishonor upon God. It challenges his veracity. He has abundantly testified of, and testified against, the sin of the world.

God has provided a sufficient effectual sacrifice for sin that is needed in all ages and to the continued sinfulness of believers themselves by requiring them continually to confess their sins, and apply themselves by faith to the blood of that sacrifice. And therefore, if we say either that we have not sinned or do not yet sin, the word of God is not in us, neither in our minds, as to the acquaintance we have with it, nor in our hearts, as to the practical influence it has upon us.

John tells us If we confess our sins (v.9) the Lord is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He is faithful to His covenant and word, wherein He has promised forgiveness to the penitent believing confessor. He is just to Himself and His glory that has provided such a sacrifice, by which His righteousness is declared in the justification of sinners. He is just to His Son whom He promised all who come to Him through His Son will be forgiven.