Monday, February 16, 2009
There are Pretenders Among Us
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” (I John 3:1-10). The U. S. Treasury Dept. has a special group of men whose job it is to track down counterfeiters. How do these men learn to identify fake bills? They learn by studying the real ones. They can become so familiar with authentic bills they can spot a counterfeit by looking at it or simply by feeling it. This is the approach in I John 3, which warns us that in today’s world there are counterfeit Christians, , children of the devil,” (v.10). The Scripture gives us a clear description of God’s children. The contrast between the two is obvious. It is clear that no Christian is sinless, but God expects a true believer to sin less, not to sin habitually. An unsaved person lives a life of habitual sin. Sin, especially the sin of unbelief is the normal thing in his life. Because the true Christian knows God, he lives a life of obedience and he does not practice sin. John gives three reasons for living a holy life. The first reason for living a holy life is because God the Father loves us (3:1-3). The whole wonderful plan of salvation begins with the love of God, (John 3:16). Verse one of I John 3, tells us what we shall be. God’s love continues throughout our lives and takes us right up to the return of Jesus Christ. When Jesus appears, all true believers will become like Him. In the same passage verse three tells us what we should be. In view of the return of the Lord we should keep our lives clean. The unbeliever sins against law; the believer sins against love. The second reason for living a holy life is because the Son of God died for us (3:4-8). John turns here from the future appearing of Jesus to His past appearing. John gives two reasons why Jesus came and died. He died to take away our sins (vv. 4-6). Sin is basically a matter of the will. We sin when we assert our will against God’s will, this is called rebellion. The child of God cannot practice lawlessness. John’s epistle defines sin as lawlessness, defilement, and here he views it as defiance. The emphasis is on sin (singular). Sin is the root of which sins are the fruit. He identified with the sinless Christ. Jesus died to take away our sins. The whole work of the cross is denied when a professed Christian practices deliberate sin. The Cross broke the power of the sin principle in our lives (see Romans 6: and Galatians 2:20). Christ appeared to destroy the works of the devil (3:7-8). The logic here is clear, if a man knows God he will obey God; if he belongs to the devil, he will obey the devil. John accepts the reality of a personal devil. The word “destroy” means to rob of power. After World War II, Japanese troops were discovered hiding in caves and in the jungles of the Pacific Islands. When they were told the war was over, they quickly surrendered. Satan may win a few battles, but he has already lost the war. The Christian has no desire to obey Satan and live like a rebel. The person who can live in deliberate sin and doesn’t feel convicted had better examine himself to see whether or not he is really born of God. The third reason we are to live a holy life, is the Holy Spirit of God lives in us (3:9-10). Salvation brings tremendous spiritual changes. There is a new standing-justification. We have a new position-sanctification. We experience regeneration-a new nature, God’s nature. In the natural world, physical life produces physical life. In the spiritual world, spiritual life produces spiritual life. Let’s compare the outer man with the inner man. The outer man needs food, the inner man need the Word of God. The outer man needs cleansing; the inner man needs examination, confession and repentance. The outer man needs exercise, the inner man exercises by sharing Christ, Christian service, and building others up in the body of Christ. There were false teachers who taught that only the body sinned and in no way affected the spirit. In reality the body is neutral. Do I have the diving nature within me or am I merely pretending to be a Christian? Do I purposely cultivate this divine nature by daily Bible reading and prayer? Has any unconfessed sin defiled my inner man? Do I allow my old habits to control my thoughts and desires? When temptation comes do I “play with it” or flee from it? Do I immediately yield to the diving nature within me? The life that is real is honest with God about these vital issues. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.