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.

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