Understanding Our Purpose in Him
A Study of 1 John
“Our Intimate Reassurance”
In order to better understand (with God's spiritual wisdom that leads to the actions of our lives) our purpose in Him, there are several crucial elements we need as believers.
- A relationship with Jesus Christ
- A growing life of faith and joy
- A growing spiritual discernment of what is right and wrong
- A strong commitment to God
- A strong stand in knowing our tolerance level of sin and how we act on it
John, the Apostle wrote five books in the New Testament. The three epistles we are going to study before Jude, the gospel of John and the book of Revelation. He died around AD 100, shortly after writing 1, 2, and 3 John. As the ministering pastor of the church in Ephesus, a church founded by Paul, John saw that they were doing a lot of good things, but they had left their first love. (Revelation 2:4). He also saw that their relationships with God were growing cold. (DANGEROUS TREADING)
The heresy called Gnosticism was sweeping through the church at this time. This teaching denied that Jesus was actually a man (with a body). It taught that everything material is evil and everything spiritual is good regardless of what it is. John wanted to set the record straight. He will show that he had the credentials to share this because he saw Jesus with his own eyes. That Jesus was not just a spirit or philosophy. That HE was a living person who wanted then and now to have fellowship with us.
I. From the Beginning
1 John 1:1-7 (Please grab your Bible and read)
The first letter of John will speak to us of all these things and more. I believe there is no one who can better teach this to us than John the Beloved.
A. That Personal Experience
John wrote this letter to the church around AD 85 - 90 from Ephesus. This would be not far from the time he ended up on the island of Patmos in AD 70 which we read about in the book of Revelations (1:9)
At that time Jerusalem had been destroyed and a lot of Christians had scattered. The church had faced a lot of persecution too. Some of the persecution unfortunately caused a lot of Christians to not be as strongly committed as they should have been and as they once were.
Many in the church were becoming too tolerant of the world's standards -- less willing to make stands for their faith and beliefs -- more tempted to compromise.
Stop and Reflect: What do you think of when you consider the word "tolerance" as a Christian woman today?
False teachers and phony believers (and there had to be a great number of them for John and Paul and so many others to write in reference to them as much as they did), was part of the cause for the church to be on one fast downhill slide.
NOTE: another item to consider in this letter is how John goes out of his way to bring complete honor to the Lord and not himself. Instead of even mentioning who he is or his name, he says "WE."
WE too have heard the Lord but with spiritual ears to hear. WE too have seen the Lord but spiritual eyes to see. We too have handled His Word and do handle His Word daily and we know how precious it is to have it with us ALWAYS. That is pure and unadulterated fellowship
B. That Declaration of Boldness
A bold statement is needed here. This speaks to our level of tolerance and knowing where ours truly is. How principled we are. Jesus had tolerance of disciples when they doubted. Jesus tolerated crowds who misunderstood Him. God tolerated David's ups and downs. Jesus was tolerant of our failures, if our hearts are right and we let Him turn us around.
But neither the Lord nor John were tolerant when it came to the path to salvation and we'll see that in this letter. When it comes to a person having a relationship with God, Jesus, and later John remained bold and apologetic about what that means. The road is narrow, and the path is fixed. And there are few that will find it.
Warren Weirsbe calls it BEING REAL. Being real means an INTOLERANCE of what is fake.
The only real thing we have in God is in knowing we can ONLY reach Him by way of His Son. His life has never been hidden from us. It was revealed openly then, as it is revealed openly today through His Word. Thankfully, we've had access to His Word all our lives.
The more we know about Him the more we realize WHO HE IS, WHAT HE REQUIRES OF US, WHY HE CAME, WHEN IT'S RIGHT FOR US TO STEP OUT ON FAITH, and WHEN IT'S NOT, and WHERE WE CAN GO WITH HIM LEADING OUR LIVES.
If we are wrong about knowing who Jesus is, we'll always be wrong about knowing what we need to know about God.
Moment to Reflect: How real is the Lord to you, or are you unable to be bold enough to declare with boldness that HE is the only way to the truth?
When it comes to tolerance, we really need to see the importance of making a stand somewhere. One might stand for principle but another might not have the same standard at all.
Think of a time when you had to make a stand that went against what others were doing. What was the final result of your situation? HOW PRINCIPLED ARE WE REALLY?
C. The Condition of Fellowship
How many people profess to know God and have fellowship with Him, and yet they are walking in darkness, contrary to the commands of God? In truth, they are only fooling themselves. We must be walking in the light, and to what is good and holy and true and reliable to be in proper fellowship with God. Only God can guide us out of the darkness of sin.
To claim we live for Him and are in fellowship but still live for ourselves is living a hypocritical life. We can't love God and court sin at the same time.
REAL FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD CHANGES US FROM WITHIN.
Any person can have a wonderful prayer life and FEEL very close to God, but we can still be living a lie if we do not turn away from our sins. Just because we pray does not speak to true fellowship and relationship if it isn't as it should be.
(BE REMINDED OF DAVID WHEN HE FELL. BE REMINDED OF SAUL WHO WAS NEVER REAL WITH HIS RELATIONSHIP TO GOD. REMEMBER WHEN HE PRAYED AND EVEN PROPHESIED?)
So what are the three principles of true fellowship? Let's review
- To be grounded in His Word
- To have unity with other believers who are committed to Him
- To stay in spiritual interaction with other believers.
We show we have a living active relationship with Christ by wanting to be able to share it.
II. A Joyful Knowledge of God
1 John 1:4 again
Question for you: How do you know you have joy, when you cannot feel it?
A. The Happiness Factor
Joy is the natural out flowing of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The one thing that will give us the sustained happiness we need is FULLENESS OF JOY. That word "Joy" though we don't see it a lot in this letter, runs all the way through this letter of John.
According to what we read in God's Word, Joy is the answer to all the emptiness and the hollowness of life. Do you believe that today too?
III. Life is Often a Struggle
1 John 1:6-10
Warren Weirsbe said each of us must ask ourselves honestly "Am I a true child of God, or am I a counterfeit Christian. Have I truly been born of God" and how do I know it?" Such an important principle to grasp.
Because life truly IS often a struggle for all of us at times, we should take a moment to reflect on this:
WHAT ACTIVITIES (which may involve attitude more than action but to God is just as crucial) ARE IN MY LIFE THAT MAYBE NEED FORGIVENESS? IS THERE ANYTHING GOING ON THAT SHOULDN’T BE? AM I ALLOWING THAT WHICH I SHOULD NOT?
There is nothing more important in our lives today than this: and that means removing every sinful activity from my life that GOD knows shouldn’t be there. We may be making excuses for it, but He does not. He says back in verse one that he writes these things to us so that we may not sin.
John expects us to see that a true commitment to the Lord involves NOT to continue in sin.
A. How am I walking?
When we look in a mirror to see ourselves and become truly honest with ourselves about how we are walking spiritually with the Lord, let's consider these things.
- Are we willing to admit we need cleansing? Can we?
- Do we agree our sins are truly sins when God is trying to show us they are? Or are we living in denial?
- Are we willing to turn from those sins that have been brought to our attention? Perhaps by someone else -- or God himself.
- Do we recognize our tendency to commit sin? (It's easier than we think)
- Do we want to rely on HIS power to overcome that sin nature? Or are we trying to be overcomers with our own strength?
Moment to Reflect: Why do you think it's so important to continue talking about sin, even after you've been forgiven?
B. Looking at the Difference
Another thing we see in verses 6 through 9, which John wants us to be careful of, and which the Christians at that time, were NOT careful of, was why it was so important to be wary of false teachers, who not only denied that sin was the key to the breaking of pure fellowship with God, it also made it impossible to be in right fellowship with God. That would include not only false teachers, as we mentioned earlier, but also phony believers hanging around doing and saying their own thing and justifying their actions. The Bible makes it clear if we walk in darkness it is impossible to be in right fellowship.
C. A Look at Our Natures
What is your test of knowing Him?
What to you is the difference between having a godly nature and having a sin nature?
It takes humility and honesty to recognize our weaknesses when maybe most of us or some of us would rather convince ourselves that we are strong. There is also a big difference between saying and doing.
Where do you want to be in your relationship with the Lord today?