Friday, May 10, 2024

Morning Message: Love One Another

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "Love One Another"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

It astounds me that in these end-times, that there is such a lack of discernment and knowledge among “learned” individuals, and even in many so-called Christian Churches. Among the “Gifts of the Holy Ghost” are discernment of spirits, a word of wisdom, and a word of knowledge.

1 Corinthians 12 mentions these and other gifts of the Spirit. These are just a few of the gifts mentioned in the chapter and there are other Spiritual Gifts mentioned elsewhere in the Epistles, and all were meant to build faith and enhance ministry; literally, “to profit withal.”

Critical thinking in our times has been replaced by Critical Race Theory, but mind you, it’s only an unproven theory that is being deliberately promoted by racist minds. Reality in our times seems to have escaped our educators, and our students. And little Johnny’s hopes of being President someday are being replaced by hopes of being a female! Twenty years ago, the Country song hits included singer Shania Twain’s song, “MAN! I FEEL LIKE A WOMAN.” The song is resurging on the charts again! If ever there was a time for common sense, it’s now when there seems to be such a lack of it.

The current Hamas/Israel war is a perfect example for the youth of today. Maybe you have noticed that today’s young people always will support whoever they perceive as being persecuted. From the surprise Hamas attack of October 7th, they were all feeling supportive for Israelis because the attack killed so many, and Hamas took many others hostage. How the tables have turned now! Hamas’ goals were to have public opinion of Israel turned against them. And it has worked. Hamas brought the proverbial “knife to a gun fight.”

Hamas planned for this turn of events, and to change the pity for Israel, to Hamas themselves. They started a war they knew they could not win, so now they are the underdogs that our youth rally around. The Hamas battle cry against Israel has always been “From the river to the sea,” driving the Jews from the Jordan River and into the Mediterranean Sea. Now Israel has its guns out, and it is Hamas that’s being driven to the sea.

There was enmity between Cain and Abel; and between Isaac and Ismael, and Joseph and his 11 brothers. Jealousy was at the core then, and is still at the core today between brothers, and/or neighbors.

“…perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment.”  - 1 John 4:15

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
1 John 3:10 - 24 - "Love One Another"

Summary/Additional Commentary and Definitions:  

Christians who are genuinely born of God manifest a transformation by means of righteousness and love. We have been born again by the Spirit of God, and literally have His abiding presence in our lives. Therefore, the characteristics of God, become ours.

As we begin our study in 1 John 3:10, John is summarizing his teachings in verses 1 through 9 with two characteristics.  They are two basic behavior tests, the measurements of conduct.   
 The first is righteousness (verses 4-10). The one who practices righteousness, verse 7, is righteous. But the one who practices sin is of the devil (verse 8).  In other words, a person who does not "practice righteousness" is not from God. A true believer will seek to live according to God's ways, not deliberately "walking" in darkness. We are told why in verse 9, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 

As we come to verse 10, John sums it up for us, "
In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God...” – Now comes the transition, verse 10 – “nor the one who does not love his brother.”

The first test (moral or behavioral) that validates one’s claim to be a Christian is the test of righteous conduct. The second is the test of love. 

Now remember, there were false teachers who were in this particular church who were coming against this particular assembly of believers, and they were claiming to have a relationship with God, the Creator and to have a relationship with Christ. However, they were not willing to acknowledge their sin. In fact, according to chapter 1, they were pretty much denying they had any sin, nor were they manifestly characterized by love for the brethren. John is pointing out here that no matter what somebody claims, the truth can be determined in these two behavioral ways. Obedience, righteous behavior and love are evidences of true sons of God.

In 1 John 3:12, the apostle goes on to give us an example of what love is not, the opposite of love, is hate. John says we are not to be like Cain, the first son of Adam and Eve. Cain is at first presented in God’s Word as one who worshipped God and even offered a sacrifice, but when his sacrifice was not accepted by God and his brother’s sacrifice was accepted by God, Cain became jealous and hateful and rose us and murdered his brother, Abel. His murderous actions revealed that inwardly his deeds were evil.  Self-styled religion has been rejected by God.  Pleasing God is not left to our own design, or standard or imagination, but rather obeying His will, doing what God has asked of us.  We know that Cain was a very religious man.  His sacrifice was rejected because he didn't bring the right sacrifice.  The brother's were asked to bring an animal sacrifice. Abel did, Cain did not. Rather than bring a sacrifice which God asked, Cain brought the fruit of the land which he himself had toiled to produce.  Our relationship with God is not based upon our own accomplishments, but true faith produces obedience and love.   

In verses 11-15, John focuses on love believers should have for one another. 
  John goes on to tell his readers to not be surprised if the world hates them. We have heard the stories throughout history, from the early church of the first century to our present day how the world hates Christians and shows it by persecuting them.  John then reminds us of the hope that we have, the truth that makes it possible to endure the hatred and persecution of the world, he says we know that we have passed out of death into life, and this is seen because we no longer hate, but instead we love our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can even love those who hate us and persecute us. Becoming a Christian is a resurrection from death to life and a turning from hate to love. When this love is lacking it is an indication that the person who does not love is spiritually dead. John is trying to show us that love for one another is a sure test of whether someone has experienced new birth in Christ or if they are still in the darkness of spiritual death or are as John writes, abiding in death, dwelling there, because no resurrection has taken place.

In verses 16-18, that love is evidenced by our actions. Since we now understand what love is not, John introduces the standard of love, what love is for the one who has placed their faith in the Lord Jesus. John writes, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:” (1 John 3:16). John has given us the measuring stick for every expression of love.  Those who are in darkness, are ruled by Satan and his characteristics.  They are filled with hatred and murder.  Their lack of love is seen as indifference toward the needs of others. Contrasted with this is the selflessness of Christ, who was considering only the needs of others as He laid down His life for us. This phrase, “He laid down His life…”  is a phrase that is unique to John (see John 10:11; 15:13).  This standard of love is about self-sacrifice and giving of yourself, it truly is the opposite of hate as you are sacrificing yourself for someone else. Jesus Christ giving up his life so that sinners might be reconciled to God, have their sins forgiven, and become His people, having a new nature characterized by His love. As God’s children, we ought to be willing "to lay down our lives for the brethren."  God has called us to the same standard of love that He has for us. There are not many who will be called to make this supreme sacrifice, to lay down his life for his brother, but this same kind of love can be shown in lesser ways. John goes on to give us an example and this is where the rubber meets the road. This is where we are confronted with Scripture, and we must do something about what we read.

Then in verses 19-24 discusses whether our hearts condemn us or not. Every human being is born with a knowledge of God, and with the law of God written in their conscience.  This law accuses or excuses depending on the person's actions in regard to His law.   This means every person has the ability to recognize right and wrong.  When we obey the Word of God, our conscience informs us that we are doing right, pleasing God.  As a result, we have confidence before God.   When we live a lifestyle opposed to God's law, we are condemned, our conscience indicts us (John 8:9).  A believer who persists in sin, disobeying God, will become fearful, insecure, doubting their faith and salvation (Psalm 32:3-4; 38:1-8; 40:11-12). First John 3:21 notes, "Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God." When we have confessed our sins and abide (remain) in Christ, we can ask for anything according to His will and receive it (1 John 3:22).

The final two verses also offer an important reminder. John again focuses on love for God through Jesus as well as loving one another, offering teaching closely similar to the Great Commandment in Matthew 22:37–40.  These verses also highlight the triune nature of God. John mentions God twice in verse 24, the Son Jesus Christ in verse 23, and the Spirit in verse 24. All three persons of the triune Godhead are distinct yet serve in perfect unity as the One True God.

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Children of the Devil (3:10) - There is nothing more sobering to learn that according to the Scriptures, there are only two kinds of children who exist in this world:  children of God and children of Satan. It's one or the other.  Children of God exhibit His righteous character.  Children of Satan exhibit his sinful nature.  Children of the Devil are also called:  children of the wicked one (Matthew 13:38), children of disobedience and children of wrath (Ephesians 2:2-3).  

From the Beginning (3:11) - Since the beginning of the proclaiming of the gospel, love has been a central theme of Christianity.  What they heard "from the beginning" John has now repeated several times to emphasize that the false teachers were preventing that which God, through the apostles, proclaimed.  

Cain (3:12) - In Genesis 4, outwardly Cain is a worshiper of God who even offered a sacrifice.  Cain's murderous actions, however, revealed that inwardly he was a child of the devil, "of that wicked one" (John 8:44). 

The World Hates You (3:13) - History is filled with stories of persecuted Christians. This should not surprise believers.  
Jesus taught, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:10). Such people will be rewarded (Matthew 5:12). Jesus also taught, "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20). As opposed to the claim that salvation will make all of our earthly trouble vanish, the gospel implies that loving God means being hated by the world.

Passed From Death Unto Life (3:14) - Becoming a Christian is a resurrection from death to life, from sin to obedience, and from hate to love (Gal. 5:6,22).  Love is the sure test of whether someone has experienced the new birth or is still in darkness, or spiritual death (2:9, 11).  Someone who is characterized by hate has never experienced the new birth, they "abide in death."

Love The Brethren (3:14) - By doing righteousness (3:10); self-sacrificing, being willing to lay your life down for the brethren(3:16); willing to ease the burdens of others, meeting needs (3:17). 

A Murderer (3:15) - Hatred is spiritually the same as a murder in the eyes of God.  As Jesus taught the disciples, the attitude is equal to the act.  Hate is the seed that leads to murder, as seen in the example of Cain. See Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 22:15.

Lay Down Our Lives (3:16) - The meaning here is "be laying down."  Our love and service are a daily "living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1) for the sake of the brethren.  God calls Christians to the same standard of love for one another as He had for us (see verse 16). 

Seeth... Shutteth Up His Bowels of Compassion (3:17) - The verb is a continuing present - "goes on seeing."  This does not refer to a chance encounter with someone in need, but a continual refusal to help a fellow Christian who we are in frequent contact with and is truly in need. Genuine Christian love expresses itself in sacrificial giving to other Christians' needs (his brother).  It is a Christian's practical love that finds motivation in helping others (1Timothy 6:17-19; Hebrews 13:16; James 2:14-17). 

Not Love in Word (3:18) - Claiming to love is not enough.  Love is not sentiment, but deeds.  Our love for God is demonstrated by living it, not by talking or singing about it.  Our love for the brethren is manifested in our relations with other Christians. 

Hereby We Know (3:19) - A lifestyle of love in action is demonstrable proof of salvation.

Shall Assure Our Hearts (3:19) - The benefits of love is the assurance of salvation (3:17-21; Answered prayer (3:22) and the abiding presence and empowerment of the Holy Spirit (3:23-24). 

We Receive of Him (3:22) - The condition for answered prayer is that we pray according to His will, and also to do according to His will

He Gave Us Commandment (3:23) - Loving God and loving our neighbor (see Matthew 22:36-40).

He In Him (3:24) - See John 15:4,7, 10.  We are commanded to abide in Christ and to allow Him to abide in us. We have assurance when we love His words and seek to obey them.

The Spirit (3:24) - Another assurance of salvation is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16-17).  

Friday, May 3, 2024

Morning Message: Trusting His Holy Spirit

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "Trusting His Holy Spirit"
Written by:
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

A Christian female friend attended a Pastor’s Conference at a local church, and by the end of one pastor’s final conference presentation, she was doubting her salvation. Though she had professed Jesus as her Savior some 15 or 18 years prior, she became worried that her profession of faith wasn’t as sincere as it “needed” to be.

Though that Pastor’s teachings were always good, he sometimes came across as doubting his audience’s commitment to the Lord, which in turn brought some hearers also to doubt their own walk with the Lord. Chapter 3 of John’s first Epistle follows the warnings against false teachers and the spirit of antichrist. John’s words move from warnings to an assurance of an individual’s salvation, based upon the indwelling (abiding) presence of the Holy Spirit in the Believer. The spirit of antichrist will always be opposed to the Holy Spirit.

Conviction is for the Holy Spirit to bring through the Word, and teachers are to supply encouragement from the scriptures. As with the Prodigal Son in the parable, he realized his greed, and his hunger eventually, and knew right away that his father would not abandon him now that he was in need. But it would take some humility to admit to his father how wrong he had been. Even so, it was love that brought them back together. Love never fails. But if you remember the parable, the father received his son with open arms and never once humiliated the young man. In fact, the father gave him a robe and shoes to wear, and a ring for his finger.

God’s program of “Doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16) never includes humiliation but is uplifting to the goal of a closer walk with Jesus. It is the spirit of antichrist that tells us we are not good enough. God’s love and acceptance of us is never in question when approach Him in humility. Humility is something that we put on ourselves. Humiliation is something the others put on us.
John repeatedly uses the phrase “my little children” in this Epistle. He takes ownership of his readers, and like the consummate father-figure-teacher, draws the reader into that close relationship with himself and with Jesus. John’s heart-warming style has been perfected in his exile.

“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grevious words stir up anger.” 
- Proverbs 15:1

Bobservations Column:  Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
1 John 2:26 - 3:10 - "Trusting His Holy Spirit"

Summary/Additional Commentary and Definitions:

This week we continue in John's first epistle, from chapter 2:28 - 3:10.

Previously, we learned that Christians have two safeguards against heresy:  the Holy Spirit and God's Word.  The Holy Spirit is doing His part.  Our part is to be obedient to Scripture.  

John presented a picture of the Christian in contrast to the antichrists.  Unbelievers depart from the fellowship, deny the faith and try to deceive the faithful.  Christians accept the faith and remain faithful.  Why?  Because of the anointing of the Spirit (v. 20), and the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit.  God has so endowed the Christian with discernment that they ultimately will not be deceived by lies. 

As we begin our study today, starting in 1 John 2:26, John continues to contrast the differences between false and true Christians, false and true teachers, the spirit of antichrists, and the Holy Spirit. 
For the young believer, some who have not yet been taught much, it is many times difficult for them to sort out the differences.  John wants to make those distinctions clear, to know the truth from lies, true believers from heretics.  As he has already given them several doctrinal and moral tests of a true believer. John then builds up their faith, by defining the Spirit that indwells every believer.

Now remember he is writing to them concerning those who are trying to deceive them (vs 26). They have come into the church and the deny the faith, the reality of Jesus Christ that is central to the gospel.  They deny sin, the trinity, the deity of Christ, the atonement of Christ, and in doing so they are calling the Holy spirit a liar, because the Holy Spirit testifies of Christ.  They introduce damnable heresies to lead people astray.  So how can believers discern between what is true from all the lies?  John says, "But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things."   You have an unction (anointing), and you have knowledge.  How?  The Holy Spirit who indwells the believer. Jesus said, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you," Acts 1:8. And who gave us the Holy Spirit?  It's Jesus Christ, the Holy One. 

The Gnostics claimed to have a special anointing, a special elevation, a superior knowledge, higher than everyone else, but the Holy Spirit doesn't work that way.  Anyone who claims such things does so to intimidate and deceive others.  

Believers have a true knowledge, the knowledge of the true gospel, the revelation of the truth, the truth that saves.  Through His presence in us, and through His inspired Word, the things of God are revealed to us.  The Holy Spirit is our teacher.   He is the built in lie detector.  You don't need some human teacher to come in and offer to take you to the heights, the higher, deeper, truer, greater knowledge that contradicts the gospel that saved you. You have the truth already. This is the affirming and securing factor against the threat, intimidation and seduction of false teachers (antichrists).

This section also deals with the "purifying hope" of every Christian--the return of Christ. John uses this hope to elaborate on the love and obedience of the believer. The hope of Christ's return has a sanctifying effect on our behavior.

God is the source of hope, and He has graciously given that hope to us and laid it out for us in Scripture. He secured that hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, then confirmed and energized in us by the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

It is the Holy Spirit who stirs up that hopeful attitude in the heart in response to the promises of God revealed in Scripture. This is a marvelous hope. This engulfs all of redemptive purpose. This encompasses the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father gives the hope, the Son secures the hope, the Spirit confirms the hope. We are to live with hope. We are not a people who have hope only in this world; we have hope in the world to come, and it is a living hope. It is a hope for real life, guaranteed and secured for us because Jesus conquered death not only for Himself but for all who are in Him.

True believers, says John, believe the right thing about themselves and their sin, they believe the right thing about Christ and His salvation. True believers conduct themselves in obedience to the Word of God, and true believers demonstrate love for God and for others and not for the world. True believers live in hope and are motivated by that hope to purity by the Holy Spirit.

The Believer's Hope Abides in Christ (2:28), makes righteousness a habit (2:29), magnifies God's love (3:1), anticipates Christ's return (3:2) and desires to be like Him (3:3). 

Sunday Morning Audio Message:  1 John 2:16-3:10

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Anointing (2:27) - See 1 John 2:20. The word in the Greek is Chrisma, meaning the special endowment of the Holy Spirit. The anointing we have received from the Holy Spirit never needs to be repeated, it abides in us, and we shall abide in Him.  John assures his readers that they already possess this anointing and that it is sufficient to instruct them in all they need to know. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the all-efficient means of enabling believers to possess a knowledge of the truth.  God's Holy Spirit guards and guides the true believer into the truth.  Because God is true, and Christ is the truth, so is the Holy Spirit.  This is our triune God.  He abides in us, and we should abide in Him.

Teach You (2:27) - This in no way lowers the value of God-called teachers, in fact, scripture tells us that He has given them to us "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-12). What it does show us is that each believer is not only capable but responsible to study the Word of God for himself.  The Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures, and He has anointed and indwells each believer.  We are called to "walk in the truth." 

Little Children (2:28) - Specifically those who are new Christians, but it applies just as urgently to all Christians.

Abide in Him (2:28) - To “abide” is to live, continue, or remain; so, to abide in Christ is Faithful Christian living.  Abiding in Christ is taught in 1 John 2:5–6, where it is synonymous with “knowing” Christ (verses 2 and 3). Later in the same chapter, John equates “remaining” in the Father and the Son with having the promise of eternal life (verses 24 and 25). Biblically, “abiding in,” “remaining in,” and “knowing” Christ are references to the same thing: salvation. The phrase abiding in Christ pictures an intimate, close relationship, and not just a superficial acquaintance. In John 15:4–7, Jesus tells His disciples that drawing life from Him is essential, using the picture of branches united to a vine: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

When He Shall Appear (2:28) - This refers especially to the rapture and gathering of the church (John 14:1-6; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and the judgment seat of Christ to follow (1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:9, 10).  All believers are to anticipate Christ's return at any moment. Whether by His return, or natural death, or other means, each person is always a heartbeat away from meeting God face-to-face.

Confidence... Not Be Ashamed Before Him (2:28) - This does not mean loss of salvation, but rather shame and loss of confidence if we are behaving inconsistently when Christ returns.   Close fellowship with Christ (Abiding in) leads to two important results when He returns. First, is confidence, both in our salvation and in our relationship with Him. Second, we will not need to be embarrassed about our lives and lifestyles. Instead of shame, a faithful believer can have confidence and look forward to Christ's coming. First Thessalonians 4:18 says that believers should encourage one another with the truth of Christ's imminent return.

Doeth Righteousness (2:29) - The believer's habitual lifestyle of righteousness stands in sharp contrast to false teachers who practiced sin. 
The context of this statement is purely positive: godly behavior is a sign of a close relationship with God. John is building towards a key point in 1 John 4:12–16, which is that when a person truly walks with God, God is working directly through them. Righteous living does not provide salvation; righteous living is the result of salvation. All have sinned and fall short of God's glory (Romans 3:23). Salvation is not earned by works, but is the result of grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9). Good works should naturally result from the person who has become a believer (Ephesians 2:10). When they do, such righteous deeds offer evidence that a person has truly come to faith in Christ.

Born of Him (2:29) - This is the first of seven occurrences of the phrase "born of God" or "born of Him" in 1 John, each giving a "description" of those who are truly born again. See 1 John 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18.

Sons of God (3:1, 2) - Becoming a child of God is seen as a great sign of love from God the Father. John specifically mentions that believers are not only "called sons of God;" believers truly are God's children. We can be called the "Sons of God" because we have been "created in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:10) and are "new creature[s]" in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Everyone who exercises genuine saving faith becomes a child of God at the moment of belief (John 1:12; Romans 8:15; 2 Peter 1:4).
Shall Be Like Him (3:2) - At Christ's return, the believer will experience ultimate conformity to His likeness.  When He comes, He "shall change our vile body, to be fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Philippians 3:21).  He will "make all things new" again (Revelation 21:5).  

Purifieth Himself (3:3) - Living in the reality of Christ's return makes a difference in a Christian's behavior.  Since Christians someday will be like Him, a desire should grow within them to become like Him now. Because believers have hope, and anticipate being with Jesus for eternity, they pursue a pure life. The goal of living a pure life is to be like Christ. He is pure, and believers seek to live like Him. Purity is a strong theme in the New Testament. In Matthew 5:8, Jesus taught, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Paul sought to present believers as a "pure virgin to Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:2). Believers are to "be pure and blameless for the day of Christ" (Philippians 1:10). 1 Peter 3:2 speaks of the "pure conduct" a believer should pursue, which stands out to unbelievers. To be pure is to be free from sin, to live increasingly like Christ in a world filled with evil. Those who do can look forward to heaven rather than fear future judgment.

Committeth Sin (3:4) - The verb in the Greek conveys the idea of making sin a habitual practice.  
In contrast with the purity described in verse 3, John labels the "practice of sinning" as "lawlessness."  The term lawlessness conveys more than transgressing God's Law.  It conveys the ultimate sense of rebellion:  living as there is no law, or ignoring what laws exist (James 4:17).  Christians cannot practice sin because it is incompatible with the Law of God which they love. (Psalm 119:34, 77, 97; Romans 7:12, 22).  Christians cannot practice sin because it is incompatible with the work of Christ, who died to sanctify (make holy) the believer (2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 5:25-27). 

He Was Manifested (3:5) - Three important truths are noted in this verse.
  1. That Jesus appeared; earlier verses in 1 John specify that this was in a real, flesh-and-blood form. While false teachers argue Jesus never came as a human, believers accept the coming of Jesus to this world, called the incarnation, as an essential part of the faith (John 1:1–14).
  2. Jesus had a clear purpose for coming to this world. He did not come to merely make us better. His mission was to remove the power of sin from our lives. He did so by paying the price of our evil actions on the cross. Christ's sacrifice.  He is the only One sufficient to pay the price for every sin, once and for all. Why?
  3. Jesus was sinless.  Hebrews 4:15, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."  See also: 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22.
Let No Man Deceive You (3:7) - Deceive means "to be led astray."  Since false teachers were attempting to pervert the fundamentals of the faith, the possibility existed that some Christians might be fooled into accepting what they were advocating.  To prevent this from occurring, John repeatedly emphasized the basics of Christianity... obedience, love, and a proper view of Christ. 

From the Beginning (3:8) - Satan was originally created as perfect and only later rebelled against God (Isaiah 13:12-14; Ezekiel 28:12-17).  Sin characterizes him completely, so those characterized by sin are of the devil.  

Children of the Devil (3:10) - Those who do not habitually "practice righteousness" and "love his brother", are children of the devil.  There is no middle ground.  You are a child of God, or a child of the devil. Scripture also calls them "children of the wicked one" (Matthew 13:38), "children of disobedience" and "children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:2-3). A person who does not "practice righteousness" is not from God. In other words, a believer will seek to live according to God's ways. They may fail, sometimes miserably (Psalm 51:1–4), but they will not persist in deliberately "walking" in darkness.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Morning Message: Forgiveness and Refreshing

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "Forgiveness and Refreshing"
Written by:  Pastor Bob Lawrenz

With the text today, we learn something about God’s commandments, and the underlying truths which help us make sense of why God has given them to us and given them for us. The idea of Jesus being our Lord reminds me of Mary Magdalene at Jesus’ tomb when she realized to Who it was that she was speaking. Much more than the gardener, she heard His voice and recognized it, responding, “Rabboni,” which is Hebrew for “Master.” Jesus our Lord, and Master is a benevolent, kind, loving, gracious, and forgiving Lord over us. The Apostle Paul called himself a bond-slave to Him, and thought it an honor.

“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19), gives us a reason to willingly become His bond-slave too; no more striving to supply our own daily needs. Jesus will supply!

When benevolent slave-owners of 18th and 19th century America found a loyalty among their servants, they did not have to leave after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. And Biblically, it happened also, In Exodus 21:5,6, when a slave was to be given his freedom at the year of Jubilee, he could say, “I love my master, I love my wife, and my children, I will not go out free.” The master would take the slave to a door, or doorpost, and put an awl through his ear, designating the servant-slave’s desire to remain under his benevolent master. Kind and considerate masters would honor such loyalty, and the servant would remain “on the job.” But it happened by mutual agreement between the master and the slave. A scared earlobe was the evidence of such an agreement. And the master would continue to supply for the needs of that servant and his family.

While the concept of “owning” another person is repugnant to much of the world today, slavery and servanthood continues in many cultures. And the evidence of a Christian master/servant relationship in the Church are the scares carried by our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Love, loyalty, and obedience grow.

John 20:27-29 - "Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
1 John 1:9-1 John 2:14 - "Forgiveness and Refreshing"

Summary/Additional Commentary and Definitions:  

1 John chapter 2 acts as a guide for all believers, reminding us that our relationship with God is reflected in our actions and love for others. In a world filled with distractions and false teachings, we are encouraged to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, abiding in His truth, and continually growing in spiritual maturity. As we walk in obedience and love, we can be assured of our place in His eternal kingdom.

John's focus on right fellowship with God, includes a lifestyle of overcoming sin. Believers are not to continue in a lifestyle of sin (1 John 2:1). However, if and when they do sin (a single act), John reminds them that Jesus Christ is our Advocate with the Father. (1 John 2:1). Through Jesus sacrifice on the cross, he is not only the propitiation for our sins, but the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2). Those who keep His commandments are demonstrating that they truly know Christ (1 John 2:3). Those who do not keep His commands, but say they have fellowship with Him, are liars (1 John 2:4). Those who walk in Christ, as Christ walked, give evidence that they are "in" Him (1 John 2:5–6).

John continues to remind believers that we are commanded to love one another (1 John 2:7–14). John mentions "commandment" or "commandments" nearly a dozen times in this letter. Three of these mentions are in this single verse. He begins by noting that these directives are not new but are existing instructions, and he is simply giving a reminder to live as Christ (1 John 2:7). Hate for one's spiritual brother or sister is incompatible with fellowship with Christ. Love for one another is evidence of a close relationship to Christ. The believer who loves his brother abides or remains in the light, which is Christ. Those who do not, in contrast, are in darkness—they are at minimum failing to obey Christ's commands (1 John 2:9). Love is the single most important sign which the world uses to identify a Christian. Those who love their fellow brother show they are "in the light" (1 John 2:10). John's writing includes an important poetic section in verses 12–14.

Lastly in today's teaching, John addresses various stages of spiritual maturity—children, fathers, and young men. The Word of God applies to all believers in whatever stage of maturity they are in.

Keep in mind that John is countering the false teachings of the Gnostics and reminding true believers not to forsake the teachings of the apostles, the teachings which they have heard from the very beginning of their faith, but to continue in faithful obedience, and discerning between truth and lies. 

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Confess Our Sins (1:9) - The term confess means to say the same thing about sin as God does; to acknowledge His perspective about sin. Continual confession of sin is an indication of genuine salvation. God wants us to live with a clear conscience and a pure heart (Matthew 5:8; Psalm 24:4). This is only possible when we regularly confess and forsake our sins, keeping the model of Jesus ever before us (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1). He never had to confess His sins because He never committed any (Hebrews 4:15). Since we have inherited a sin nature, and are prone to sin, we need to learn how to confess our sins regularly both to God and to other people so that we can live free of guilt and shame (Colossians 2:14).

Cleanse Us (1:9) - "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all."  (1:5). He calls us to walk in that Light, not in darkness of our sin, the sin that separates us from Him. The Bible makes it clear that every human being is born into this world as a sinner (Romans 3:23). That sin makes us ceremonially unclean and unfit to enter into the presence of God. The blood of Christ is what washes our sins away (1 John 1:7; 1 Peter 1:19). The way to deal with sin is to repent and confess it as soon as we recognize it. Otherwise, guilt will weigh heavily on us. We must be willing to admit our sins to ourselves. “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me,” said David in Psalm 51:3. We injure ourselves and hamper our relationship with God if we try to hide or deny our sins: “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). But if we are honest with ourselves, we can repent and confess our sins to God and experience His forgiveness and cleansing (Acts 3:19). God continually cleanses those who are confessing sin.

Have Not Sinned (1:10) - To say that we "have no sin" (1:8) or "have not sinned" (1:10) is a lie. Since God has said that all people are sinners (Psalm 14:3; 51:5; Isaiah 53:6; Jeremiah 17:5, 6; Romans 3:10-19, 23; 6:23). to deny that fact is to blaspheme God with slander that defames His name.

Sin Not (2:1) - Greek hamartia - "to miss the mark."  John speaks of a kind of sin one can recover from and another kind of sin from which one cannot recover.  To counter the false teachers who denied the existence or importance of sin, John affirms its reality.  This affirmation of sin's reality constitutes the second test of true fellowship. Although Christians must continually acknowledge and confess sin (1:9), they are not powerless against it.  (Romas 6:12-14; 8:12,13; 1 Corinthians 15:34; Titus 2:11, 2; 1 Peter 1:13-16). Those who deny the reality of sin demonstrate their lack of genuine salvation.  John's readers, unlike readers today, apparently understood the difference between these two kinds of sin.  Those who denied the Christian community (2:18-19) to follow heretical "antichrist" teachings were irrecoverable.  Their rebellion and denial of Jesus' true identity (4:1-3) leads to unrepentant sin.  In the end, their sin produces spiritual death.

If Any Man Sin (2:1) - This refers to a specific sin.  This provision is not applicable to a life of habitual sin, which is a clear indication that the sinner has not yet truly been born again.

Advocate (2:1) - Greek parakletos, literally "one who is called to our side."  This Greek term refers to the position of a comforter, consoler, or defense attorney.  In John 14:26 and 15:26, the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter/ Helper/ Advocate for believers.  Who is our advocate with the Father?  Jesus Christ the Righteous.  He becomes our lawyer in a sense.

Propitiation (2:2) - Propitiation is a big word and it means to cover or to satisfy or appease–it is the turning away of wrath by an offering. John uses it here (and again in chapter 4) to illustrate the truth of what's been done for us. The danger for us is that we would minimize or overlook what's actually happened. The sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross satisfied the demands of God's holiness for the punishment of sin (Romans 1:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:3). Jesus' sacrifice for us satisfied God. What this verse is telling us is that Jesus Christ Himself offers to pay the full price for our sin. He is the propitiation. He is the payment. He is the covering.

The Whole World (2:2) - This is a generic term, referring not to every single individual, but to mankind in general. The value of Christ's blood was infinite, sufficient to cover all the sins of all mankind throughout the history of the world. The power of the blood of Jesus is not limited, but only applies to those who believe in Him. There is some theological debate on this verse. To clarify, this text is not telling us that atonement/payment was made for everyone, and everyone is going to heaven–that is universalism. In the book of Revelation, we see the wrath of God being poured out on the unrepentant, unregenerate mass of humanity who show up at the Great White Throne judgment and are cast into the Lake of Fire. Christ's atonement is offered to anyone who repents. And the merit of Christ's atonement is given to all who believe and to all who repent of their sins. With atonement, it's a covering of the sin, whereas the propitiation also includes the turning away of God's anger. Is the invitation for all? Yes, it is. Does God so love the world that He gave his Son? Yes, He does. Jesus offers forgiveness and salvation to all–to anyone who sees their sin, understands their desperate need, and comes to Him in humble faith, turning from their sin and submitting their life to Christ.

Know... Keep (2:3) - Know in the Greek, ginosko, meaning "to understand." Keep in the Greek, tereo, meaning to watch, preserve, keep, observe, hold fast. This is the first of at least 37 occurrences of "know" in 1 John.  One of the prominent themes in this epistle is the assurance which we have in Christ.  Those who are genuinely born again display the habit of obedience. Obedience results in assurance of salvation (Ephesians 2:2; 1 Peter 1:14). 

Abideth (2:6) - This word is one of John's favorite terms for salvation.  Jesus' life of obedience is the Christian's pattern.  Those who claim to be Christians out to live as He did (John 6:38) since they possess His Spirit's presence and power. 

New (2:7) - Not referring to new in the sense of time, but something that is fresh in quality, kind or form.  Jesus personified love in a fresh and new way, and it was shed abroad in believers' hearts (Romans 5:5) and energized by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22; 1 Thessalonians 4:9).  Jesus raised love to a higher standard for the church and commanded His disciples to imitate His love.   The commandment to love was not only new, but old because the Old Testament commanded love (Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 6:5) and the readers of John's epistle had heard about Jesus' command to love when they first heard the gospel. 

From the Beginning (2:7) - The commandment to love one another is not a new revelation, for Jesus had repeatedly taught this in His earthly ministry.   

Hates. . . in darkness until now (2:9) - The original language conveys the idea of someone who habitually hates or is marked by a lifestyle of hate. Those professing to be believers yet characterized by hate are not true believers.  The false teachers in the church, Gnostics, made claims of transcendent knowledge of God, and salvation, but their actions and behavior proved their claims to be false. 

Little Children (2:12) - John is addressing three special groups in 1 John 12-14.  "Little children" is from the Greek word meaning "infants," referring to spiritual babes in Christ (same as in 2:1).  However, Little children" in 1 John 2:13 is from the Greek word meaning "young child," referring to half-grown Christians (same in 2:18). 

Fathers...young men...little children (2:13-14) - These very clear distinctions identify three stages of spiritual growth in God's family.  Fathers, the most mature, have a deep knowledge of the eternal God.   The pinnacle of spiritual maturity is to know God in His fullness (Philippians 3:10).  Young men are those who, while not yet have the mature experience of knowing God in the Word and through life, do know sound doctrine.  The are strong against sin and error because they have His Word in them.  

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Morning Message: For Fullness of Joy

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "For Fullness of Joy"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

After completing our study through the Book of Revelation, I thought of what the Angel of the Lord had directed the Apostle John to do in Revelation 1. John had just seen the vision of Jesus in His Spiritual Body in verses 12 through 15, and the Angel said to John in Verse 19, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.”

Many Bible teachers and commentaries take the angel at His word and begin the Book of Revelation right there with the vision of Jesus he had just seen. But what else had John seen?

It occurred to me that John had seen so much more! John has seen Jesus in His physical body too! John’s entire Gospel tells the story, and most scholars agree that his Gospel account was written between 85 and 90 A.D., a trusted source believes it is likely the latter, 90 A.D. This is where John’s first Epistle begins, and he describes not only what he had seen, but heard, looked upon, and touched!

My own personal thought is that when telling John to write what he had seen, the Angel of the Lord, was actually prompting John to start penning his account of the Gospel. And the Gospel of John stands apart from the other Gospels. They generally cover the same things as each other, with some variation by way of their individual experiences.

But John’s Gospel is a most personal account of Jesus’ ministry. The text reveals the close tie that John had with Jesus. John being seated next to Jesus at the Last Supper would reveal the bond that they both shared. Effectively, Jesus knew ahead of time what the role of young John was to be.

But just before Revelation, John also wrote three Epistles that give us further insight into the first century Church. First, Second, and Third John were written in sequence, probably in 90 A.D., based upon their historical content.

We learn about antichrist’s work in Revelation, but to see “antichrist” in print, in the Bible? It only appears in First and Second John. Antichrist was also at work in the Book of Daniel, but never mentioned by that term. In fact, antichrist and his works are everywhere in the Bible, undermining God’s every move.

John the Baptist, and John the Apostle 

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light…” - John 1:6,7

Bobservations Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:

1 John 1:1-9 - "For Fullness of Joy"

Summary/Additional Commentary and Definitions:  Audio message will be uploaded Sunday Afternoon.

First John is one of five New Testament books written by the apostle John. The others are the Gospel of John, 2 John, 3 John, and the book of Revelation. This is the first of his three letters in the New Testament. While no specific audience is mentioned, he is clearly writing to the churches he is overseeing, the churches in Asia Minor.

The parallelisms in 1 John are striking for their simplicity: Christ vs. antichrists, light vs. darkness, truth vs. falsehood, righteousness vs. sin, love of the Father vs. love of the world, and the Spirit of God vs. the spirit of the Antichrist. While this is not a complete list, it reveals a letter that presents the world in an uncomplicated way—there is right and there is wrong, period. This emphasis by John, while striking, is not without love. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. John recognized that love comes from God, and he encouraged the believers to love one another (1 John 4:7). John’s first epistle teaches that while it is important to recognize the lines between truth and error, it must always be done in a spirit of love.

The Book of 1 John seems to be a summary that assumes the readers' knowledge of the gospel as written by John and offers certainty for their faith in Christ. The first epistle indicates that the readers were confronted with the error of Gnosticism, which became a more serious problem in the second century.   Gnosticism was a pagan evolutionary philosophy which was in existence well before the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But by the middle of the first century, however, many Christians were compromising with it.  There were many varieties of Gnostics, but all rejected the concept of special creation by the transcendent God of the bible, and either the true deity or true humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

As a philosophy of religion, it held that matter is evil, and spirit is good. The solution to the tension between these two was knowledge, or gnosis, through which man rose from the mundane to the spiritual. In the gospel message, this led to two false theories concerning the person of Christ, Docetism—regarding the human Jesus as a ghost—and Cerinthianism—making Jesus a dual personality, at times human and at times divine. The key purpose of 1 John is to set boundaries on the content of faith and to give believers assurance of their salvation.

Just like the apostle Paul prophesied, many false teachers had arisen within the church's own ranks. Their teachings had become saturated in philosophical trends infecting the church with false doctrine and perverting the fundamental teaching of the apostles, including the full deity and humanity of Jesus, and the atonement of Christ.

These false teachers were advocating "new ideas" from Greek philosophers which eventually became known as "Gnosticism." Basically, they were introducing "dualism" into the church. It is the belief that matter was inherently evil, but the spirit was good. Therefore, they attributed some form of deity to Christ, but denied His humanity in order to preserve Him from evil. The bible affirms Jesus' full deity as well as His full humanity (Philippians 2:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 2:22; Mark 1:24; Acts 3:14; Revelation 3:7.)

Gnostics also claimed elevated knowledge of truth, even higher than Scripture. Instead of Divine Truth standing as judge over man's ideas, Gnostic ideas were judging God's Revelation. Because they denied Jesus' physical body was real (Docetism), the apostle John forcefully affirms Jesus physical reality (1 John 1:1 seen, heard, handled).

Their belief that matter was evil, but the spirit was good led to the idea that sin in the body had no connection or effect on one's spirit. Therefore, they taught that sin committed in the physical body did not matter, absolute indulgence and immorality was permissible, they could even deny that sin existed (1:8-10). They could disregard God's law with no consequence (3:4).  

Although these false teachers claimed to believe in Christ, their denial of the true nature of Christ demonstrated their lack of genuine salvation. 

One of the purposes of this Epistle was to stress the full though sinless humanity of Jesus and to assure believers of the certainty of their gift of salvation.  A further purpose was to refute those in the church who were seeking to accommodate Gnostic philosophies and practices into their Christian faith and life. 

Since this letter’s audience was clearly dealing with problems related to false teachers. John warns against them throughout this entire writing. John also develops themes of fellowship, Christ-like love, forgiveness of sins, and assurance of salvation. John focuses on specific needs related to the church.

At the time of this letter, John is the last apostle still alive. John is fully aware of the false doctrine infecting the church and opens the letter in a very straightforward way, jumping right into the issue at hand. John is writing from personal experience and sharing his eyewitness testimony. I saw Him. I heard Him. I handled Him.

As we read through John's epistles, we see the apostle respond to the crisis. First, he reassures the faithful and instructs them to combat the threat to the church. The letters were sent to the churches to stop the spreading of false doctrine and to encourage the faithful.

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

That Which (1:1) - refers to the proclamation of the gospel that centers in the person, words and works of Jesus contained in the apostle's testimony.

We (1:1) - refers to the twelve apostles.

From the Beginning (1:1) - A similar text is used in John's gospel, "In the beginning."  But while John's gospel looks back before the beginning of time, His epistle, proceeds forward from that beginning of time to the incarnation of the eternal "Word," which became the Word of life," the manifestation of the Father in "his Son Jesus Christ."  It refers to the beginnings of gospel preaching when they first heard about Jesus.  "From the beginning" emphasizes the stability of the gospel message, it is unchanging no matter current worldly fads or philosophical thinking. 

We have Heard... We have Seen... We have Looked Upon... We have Handled (1:1) - This is John's personal eyewitness testimony of the person of Jesus Christ - his physical reality.

Manifested... Seen... Bear Witness... and Shew it Unto You (1:2) - John reemphasizing the authority of his own personal experience as an eyewitness of Jesus' life, powerfully refuting the false teachers wrongly portraying Christ.  

That Eternal Life... With the Father... Manifested to Us (1:2) - Jesus is eternal, and that eternal life was "manifested to us."  

Fellowship with Us (1:3) - Fellowship does not mean social relations.  Believers are to be partakers with John in possessing eternal life (Philippians 1:5; 1 Peter 5:1; 2 Peter 1:4).  The same word is translated "communion" (1 Corinthians 10:16; 2 Corinthians 6:14).  It means "joint participation in things held in common."  The fellowship we can have with the Father through the Son is the same fellowship we as believers can have with one another.  

That Your Joy May Be Full (1:4) - John's goal for this epistle is that the reader will have joy.  The truth of the gospel, the proclamation of the gospel produces life eternal, and true fellowship with God and with fellow believers. 

We Have Heard From Him (1:5) - The message that John and the other apostles preached came from God, not from men (Galatians 1:12).

God is Light (1:5) - 1 Timothy 6:16 tells us that God is light, and dwells in light.  God is the light of shining glory; He is the light of truth and the light of holiness.  He is also the light of life (John 1:4) and of true guidance (John 8:12).  In Scripture, light and darkness are familiar symbols.  Light refers to biblical truth, while darkness refers to error or falsehood (Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 6:23; John 1:4; 8:12).  Morally, light refers to holiness and purity.  Darkness refers to sin and wrongdoing (Romans 13:11-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-7).  While the heretics claim to be truly enlightened and walking in the true light, John exposes that lie, for they do not even recognize their sin.

No Darkness at All (5:5) - John forcefully affirms that God is absolutely perfect, and nothing exists in God's character that impinges upon His truth and holiness (James 1:17).

Do Not the Truth (5:6) - Our greatest reality is that we possess Divine truth.  That is, the testimony of ALL SCRIPTURE.  There is nothing more important, more valuable, more powerful, more necessary that God's truth. Whatever God has said is truth, and His word is something that all believers should believe, abide in, teach, obey, protect and proclaim. Those who do not the truth are simply liars, they are not believers.

Walk in the Light (1:7) - There are two distinct groups in Scripture, those who Walk in the Light, and those who Walk in Darkness They are the Saved and the Unsaved. It is the separation of believers from non-believers.  1 Thessalonians 5 succinctly describes this contrast:  Believers Walk in Light, not Darkness; we are Children of the Day, not Night; Believers are Alert, not Asleep; they are Sober, Not Drunk.  To walk in the light, is to follow Jesus.  We are no more children of darkness.  Ephesians 5:8 says, "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light."  To “walk” is, in short, to live one’s life. One’s lifestyle or way of life can be considered a “walk.” The word also indicates progress. Walking is related to growth; it is taking steps toward maturity. “Light” in the Bible can be a metaphor for life, happiness, righteousness, or understanding. The Bible is clear that light comes from the Lord God, the “Father of the lights” (James 1:17). He is the opposite of evil. Putting it all together, walking in the light means growing in holiness and maturing in the faith as we follow Jesus.

All Sin (1:7) - The Greek word for "sin" is Hamartia - (1 John 1:7, 8; 3:4, 5, 8, 9; 5:16, 17).  It literally means "to miss the mark."  Sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4) and rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7; Joshua 1:18). Sin had its beginning with Lucifer, probably the most beautiful and powerful of the angels. Not content with his position, he desired to be higher than God, and that was his downfall, the beginning of sin (Isaiah 14:12-15). Renamed Satan, he brought sin to the human race in the Garden of Eden, where he tempted Adam and Eve with the same enticement, “you shall be like God.” Genesis 3 describes Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God and against His command. Since that time, sin has been passed down through all the generations of mankind and we, Adam’s descendants, have inherited sin from him. Romans 5:12 tells us that through Adam sin entered the world, and so death was passed on to all men because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  All sin, whether known or unknown, is cleansed by the blood of Jesus as we walk in fellowship with Him.   A genuine Christine walks habitually in the light (truth and holiness), not in darkness (falsehood and sin). 

Deceive Ourselves (1:8) - Self-deception. We live in a world full of lies, and deceit comes from many sources. There are lying spirits who lead astray (1 Timothy 4:1); there are “evildoers and impostors” looking for dupes (2 Timothy 3:13); and, perhaps most insidious, we have ourselves to deal with. Self-deception is common in our fallen world. Our own hearts are deceitful—so much so that we easily fool ourselves (Jeremiah 17:9). Not only did the false teachers of John's day walk in darkness (sin) but went so far as to deny the existence of a sin nature in their lives. If someone cannot admit to being a sinner, salvation is not possible (Matthew 19:16-22). There is only One who was sinless, that was Jesus Christ.

Confess Our Sins (1:9) - The term confess means to say the same thing about sin as God does; to acknowledge His perspective about sin.  Continual confession of sin is an indication of genuine salvation. God wants us to live with a clear conscience and a pure heart (Matthew 5:8; Psalm 24:4). This is only possible when we regularly confess and forsake our sins, keeping the model of Jesus ever before us (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1). He never had to confess His sins because He never committed any (Hebrews 4:15). Since we have inherited a sin nature, and are prone to sin, we need to learn how to confess our sins regularly both to God and to other people so that we can live free of guilt and shame (Colossians 2:14).

Cleanse Us (1:9) - "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.  (1:5). He calls us to walk in that Light, not in darkness of our sin, the sin that separates us from Him.  The Bible makes it clear that every human being is born into this world as a sinner (Romans 3:23). That sin makes us ceremonially unclean and unfit to enter into the presence of God. The blood of Christ is what washes our sins away (1 John 1:7; 1 Peter 1:19). The way to deal with sin is to repent and confess it as soon as we recognize it. Otherwise, guilt will weigh heavily on us. We must be willing to admit our sins to ourselves. “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me,” said David in Psalm 51:3. We injure ourselves and hamper our relationship with God if we try to hide or deny our sins: “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). But if we are honest with ourselves, we can repent and confess our sins to God and experience His forgiveness and cleansing (Acts 3:19). God continually cleanses those who are confessing sin.

Have Not Sinned (1:10) - To say that we "have no sin" (1:8) or "have not sinned" (1:10) is a lie.  Since God has said that all people are sinners (Psalm 14:3; 51:5; Isaiah 53:6; Jeremiah 17:5, 6; Romans 3:10-19, 23; 6:23).  to deny that fact is to blaspheme God with slander that defames His name.

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