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Friday, May 8, 2015

It's Not a Feeling - It's a Choice

A Study of 1 John 

Chapter 2
Every Step of Our Walk

Shirley Connolly

In the last lesson we spoke about the dangers of Gnosticism, our fellowship with God and one another, and our growing knowledge of Him and faith in Him.  In Chapter 2, John will focus on the law of love and the compassion God has toward his children.  He begins that emphasis right from the beginning.

As we study, we will need to ask ourselves who we are in the Lord, and why it is so important for us to have our minds and hearts staid on him.

I.                    That True Relationship
Read 1 John 2:1-11

(My Little Children) The real relationship between a father and his son is shown to us here in an attitude of love. John is speaking to us as our spiritual father. He's been there. He knows. What does he write to us here? 

As a son should listen to his dad; a daughter should listen to her mother.

By this time the body of believers were in a state of feeling guilty and condemned for their attitudes and actions, neglectful when it came to their God-relationships. They were allowing sin to interfere with their fellowship with God.

But Satan was then and is today nothing more than the great deceiver and condemner. He our chief accuser. He wants to convince us the spiritual death penalty will come to any who he can convince that God would no longer forgive them for their sins.

John who had the credentials to call the Ephesian church his son is sharing that they should NOT be disheartened.The message is to us, as well. We will fail. But if and when we feel guilty or condemned, God doesn’t want us to give up our hope. Our best and only defense is to go to Jesus and ask to be forgiven for our wrongs; He already paid our penalty. It is finished. 

We have Him to go to at any time in any place and for every reason.

We have successful fellowship with each other when we receive the love, forgiveness and acceptance Jesus has for us. Jesus, our propitiator (our atoning sacrifice) stands before God daily for us. John is hoping the church will see that and respond appropriately.

Romans 8:33, 34
Hebrews 7:24, 25

It's sometimes difficult to forgive those who have wronged us. But because of a God who loves us, no one is beyond forgiveness. But do we know Him enough to realize just how much He does love us? 

Those that say they KNOW Him, who are they?

  • Those who keep His commandments by faith                
  • Those who keep His word                                         
  • Those who allow the Love of God to be perfected in their hearts and let it show by their actions      
  • Those who refuse to walk in immaturity
  • Those who believe God will forgive them the moment they humble themselves before Him
  • Those who choose to walk in God's love
That last point is the commandment we have…to love others. (John 15:13) The Application Bible says: "Love is the key to walking in the light…our growing relationship with God will result in growing  in relationship with others. It's the identifying mark of the Christian community."

John is focusing here on attitudes. Christian love is NOT a feeling. It's a choice.

As we make the choice to love others with His love He will help us express our love without being tolerant of sin or of someone's disagreeable nature.

II.                  The Christian Walk (It is a family thing)
1 John 2:12-14

That spiritual state in the Christian family. What exactly is the difference between little children, father, and young men in Christ?  What does John write in the verses mentioned above?

12: Little children - Who are they? Born again believers - Just beginning their spiritual journey. New believers who have experienced forgiveness.
13: Fathers - Who are they? Mature believers, also forgiven, but with Long-standing relationships with Christ.
14: Young Men - Who are they? Those who are gaining victory with His strength but who still struggle with Satan's temptations. They struggle, yes, but they are determined to win the battles.

In these three verses, John writes to every Christian believer at every step of their walk. Each stage of the Christian pilgrimage builds upon the other. 

John, who has been around the spiritual block, knows the score.  In Lesson 1 he shared of his privilege of being not only near the Lord Jesus, but right beside him throughout his ministry up through the day of his crucifixion and resurrection. 

Whether as a child, or as a young man, or as someone maturing, we are all in a battle every day. God wants full control of our lives during all our battles. 

Unfortunately, Satan does too. He will use force, deceit, and guile to bring us back into bondage. 

What will we do? How will we respond? 

  • Stand on the freedom that the Lord gives us 
  • keep looking up
  • choose to be a bond servant of God, put the enemy at bay      

The best defense and only defense we can have in this spiritual battle is the WORD OF GOD 
and hiding it in our hearts.

Question to reflect on: Are you moving from VICTORY to VICTORY today in your personal battle?
Psalm 119:11, Psalm 119:9


III.                How are we living our Lives?
1         John 2:15-17

In Chapter 2 John show the church how much better it would be to live lives of holiness in contrast to getting caught up on the things of the world. 

Worldliness is not limited to our external behavior, Even as we think it in our minds it is as doing it, according to scripture: where we spend our time, who we hang out with reaches the heart which deals with

·         our lust of the flesh, our physical desires,
·         our lust of the eyes, what we crave,
·         our pride of life, our obsession for status, importance, recognition.

Remember Satan tempted Eve in every matter. Genesis 3:6. When he tried to tempt Jesus he did the same in Matthew 4:1-11.

But you and I don’t have to get stuck there. Jesus didn’t and He has shown us how to get away from the temptations.

Here, John gives us the formula for continuous right living. Romans 8:34    Hebrews 7:25

I always like to remember this verse when i'm struggling: 

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,
who walk NOT according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 
Romans 8:1

God doesn’t want us to get overly fixed on anything of  this world, on those things that are enticing to our eyes, to our flesh that will only satisfy for a little while. 

The truth is, when we get too hung up on the world or the things of the world, or on any person in this world, we are not attached enough to our Lord Jesus Christ. It's difficult to believe that what we want and what we are used to, which include our attachments and possessions can all have such a strong hold on us if we allow them to.

John's conviction in this chapter is based on the life, death, resurrection, and promises of Jesus Christ. He knew then, as we do now, that this evil world and our desires for all its pleasures keep us from having the courage to control our greedy appetites and self-indulgent behaviors.  

But this evil world WILL end and because of that we can seek more after doing God's will first. Verse 17 tells us the world is passing away…That and everything that’s in it. I believe this; do you?

IV.                The Last Days
1 John 2:18-22

Take a look at these verses. John is talking here about the last days and the Lord's return for his church before the antichrist is revealed. I can say with a certainty, these are the days we live in right now.

The believers from the first century, who died ahead of us, were also waiting just as we are now for that time to come -- that moment when we will meet together in the air. 

They were in their own last days just as you and I are in ours.  

Back in the old times, antichrists abounded, false teachers expressed themselves, many people  pretended to be Christians and  filled the churches and synagogues. 

Can we say it's different today?

John brought this to their attention then, just as he brings this to our attention in these verses. It's important to read it all, though, for he says in verse 19 (and it's for our encouragement):

  • They went out from us
  • They weren’t of us
  • If they'd been of us they would have continued with us
  • They went out that they might be made manifest that none were of us
The antichrists and Christians who were not as they claimed to be were not strangers to the church, nor are they today. They were a part of the church but they didn’t really belong. John was showing that their reason for joining was wrong from the start. Thankfully, the holy spirit can give us the discernment to see the truth from error so we don't have to be taken in by the false. We do not have to be deceived by any of them.

John shows the reader as a reminder of how it is important to expose the heresies of cultists today -- those who deny the divinity of Christ. Our Lord's sacrifices for our sins were permanent. He expects us to freely share this and stand firm on our convictions.

The Bible tells us you and I have the anointing from the Holy One. What does that mean to you?

I love it when i consider that anointing we can receive from the Holy One. This basically means,  the pouring out of special olive oil. 

In the OT times, oil was used to consecrate kings and special servants for service.1 Samuel 16 describes it well. We can also read about this anointing  in the book of James.

The Holy Spirit always guides the believer to Jesus.

V.                  The Visible Proof
1 John 2:24-29

Though the Christian of that day had fully heard the gospel and knew that Jesus Christ was God's Son -- that He died for their sins and raised again from the dead -- that He would return again to receive them in the clouds, their fellowship with Him was still being infiltrated by those who denied some of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. 

John encouraged them to hold on to the truth they had learned at the beginning and teach those truths to others. He encourages us to do the same.

Ephesians 2:8, 9                      
James 2:14-17

We know those who claim faith and are true believers consistently strive to do what's right.

When I start my days with the following questions on my mind, it helps me remember how important it is to not only tell others how important it is to walk in the faith of the Lord, but to live it and show it by my actions. 

                                                     What is your visible proof today? 
                                              How do you know who you are in Christ?  
                   Would you consider yourself as Women of Faith by the way you live right now?