1 John 5:13-21 | Abide in Me - Abide in Today
Topic: New Testament Passage: 1 John 5:13–5:21
Christopher Rich – Sept 3, 2017
1 John | ABIDE in ME
Wk 11: Abide in Today | 1 John 5:13-21
Introduction | ABIDE in ME
Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road Church where we are Saved by Jesus Work. Changed by Jesus Grace. Living on Jesus Mission. Today we continue our series in 1 John, ABIDE in ME. Are you a Christian? Am I a Christian? How do you know? As Christians, we are to be rooted and grounded in the person and work of Jesus in our place. This is the Gospel Truth of Jesus God/man entering human history for the purpose of restoring relationship between the God the Father, Creator of the Universe and His fallen creation, living the perfect sinless life no one has lived because of sin, dying the death all who have sin deserve and rising again so His people can live new life now and forever. The purpose of this mission is complete joy and satisfaction for the people who place their faith and trust in Jesus alone. We now live a new life as disciples of (followers of) Jesus. Our life is described by Jesus as Abiding in Him. ABIDE means: To not depart, to be held and kept continually, to endure, to not perish, to remain as one, to survive, to live.
We all are searching for something to “ABIDE” in. We want to be secure. We want to endure. We want to be connected and held together. We want to survive and mostly we want life. We want to live. Yet we know there is sin and brokenness in the world. There are events that rock us in our sense of security. We find ourselves weak and unable on our own strength to overcome adversity. We see others die and we know we will as well. We know we are not “remaining as one” as we sin against others and others sin against us. So we worry about survival, and holding it all together that we forget that ABIDING is not merely surviving through sin, trials, etc, but also enjoying and experiencing life with God today. So we search and search hoping to grasp for something that will provide us true “abiding” and all we find comes up a bit empty. We want what can only come from God and God knows this so God comes to us. He comes to us in Jesus, the Son of God who comes with a purpose. Today as John closes this letter/sermon he is writing to people who long for eternity but still need to live in today. This is place of tension we as individual Christians and the church need to navigate and wrestle with.
PART I | Eternal Life Today | v13-15
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
We live with our feelings as our highest authority so when God “feels” distant or we don’t like a feeling, we despair. Here we’re reminded what MLJ says “I live by this; whether I feel or whether I do not does not matter; we are not saved by feeling but by believing.” John has written to those who believe in Jesus, but because they are long suffering in the present realities of this fallen broken world are feeling despair. They are faced with persecution and rejection from outside, they have false teachers rising up inside. They see brothers and sisters falling in to sin. They are in and among many who openly reject the God of the bible and walk in disobedience. Previous John’s Gospel at 20:13 says the reason he is writing is “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” This the initiating and continuing act of a Christian to believe in, have faith in, trust in Jesus. These Christians have turned from unbelief to belief but now they need to continue in, endure in, ABIDE in the life today.
These verses remind us that life with Jesus is real. Life made clean, life saved from wrath, life made whole, life formed in a community, life empowered to fight sin, and live on Jesus’ Mission are all here. Life without Jesus is no life at all. ABIDE in Jesus today and have Life with Jesus for eternity. Eternal life is not future life. It includes life in the future but it is life today. We confuse the discussion or issue of eternal life in the Gospel with Jesus and His people as some future we should long for or wait for. To be clear there is a future day where Jesus returns and restores all things and there is no more sin, sickness, brokenness, tears, or death. But when we forget that eternal life includes today we begin to treat the Christian life like a kids who get’s savings bonds from Grandma on their birthday. You’re 8 and you open up the card from Grandma and it’s not a check you can cash today or a toy you can open up or even a sweater or sock, it’s this piece of paper that has a dollar amount you think is a lot but in the moment it’s basically worthless until it matures. And maybe you’re a long-term planner but even then you’re like “that’s nice can’t wait for that to cash in in 7 (or 70) years. This how we approach the Gospel in terms of relevance to our life today. Yet John says those of you who of have believed the Gospel Truth that we are Saved by Jesus’ work (This is written to ‘believers’) may know that you have eternal life. (So if you believe, you have this life) The purpose is assurance or those who are experiencing some doubt. But look at the immediate transition. John doesn’t talk about the glorious return of Jesus or the staying of God’s future judgement, or even going to heaven when you die. No. He doesn’t highlight the future blessings but the present reality and application of Eternal life with God Today. We long for eternity because we forget we have life with Jesus today.
Eternal life is life of ongoing dependence. We believe wrongly that the ultimate goal of life is independence. When we’re young we seek to gain independence from our parents, in middle age we strive for greater responsibilities and promotions so we don’t have to be dependent on our bosses, when we’re older we strive for financial independence so we don’t have to work in our jobs any longer. Politically we’re very libertarian desiring less involvement from outside authority in to our autonomous lives. Much of this can be good for maturity and flourishing. Yet when we believe the end goal is our individual independence from everything or everyone we’re denying a simple truth of how we’re made. We are CREATED beings meaning we from the beginning are created to be DEPENDANT on our Creator the eternal God. Because of sin claiming our independence from our Creator we haven’t been led to actual freedom but instead are in slavery to sin. This slavery robs us of joy and life. Jesus enters on mission to “set the captives fee.” This includes our slavery to sin! But it doesn’t not move us from oppression of sin to autonomous independence, but instead a return to the RIGHT type of dependence. So because of our faith in Jesus we now have a right relationship with our God who is the source. This means we can and should come to God in our need and with our needs. What does this look like? This is talking about prayer. Prayer is fundamentally a declaration of inadequacy, insufficiency, of dependence. It is also a declaration of the sufficiency, character, and nature of God to have the ability and willingness to supply, provide, all that we need according to His will.
Eternal life is a life of ongoing petition. We don’t say Eternal life is, you pray one prayer in youth camp and you’re good “see ya God when I die.” So when we talk about the gospel to nonbelievers or young children to whomever and they're wondering what does it mean? We're not asking them “do you want to go to heaven when you die” that’s talking about future life only. We’re asking them do you want eternal life with God the Creator that begins today and continues through eternity, beyond this life into the next one now and forever. Don’t hear me wrongly, we don’t continue to petition God to keep life or because we’re insecure about it losing it. We petition God because we have Eternal life with God now and that life is one marked by our dependence on Him. So we come to Him now, because He came to us when we ran.
Eternal life is a confident life. You know God is always ready to listen to you. You can ask Him whatever you want and God will listen. God is a loving perfect Father. Who is always ready to listen, who loves you, who is concerned about you, cares for you and engages with you. He is exponentially more patient and active than any earthly father and is without sin. Earlier this week one of my little comes the stairs after her bedtime (and after mine) intensely crying (but not hurt) and my quick response was GET BACK TO BED! I didn’t want to take the time to listen, I just selfishly wanted my peace and quiet. She just wanted to tell me that her friend that was staying over wanted to go home, she was sad, and I cut her off which only made her more sad. FatherhoodFAIL! Our God never does that to His children. We can approach Him any and all times with great confidence that we will be heard, that He responds. Don’t false prosperity gospel this verse like God is a cosmic genie that we just name and claim. But there’s a catch/caveat. “anything according to His will.” Eternal life is a conformed life. So we pray with correct motives. We pray as Jesus taught us. Your will be done! Not God make my will a reality. We pray to petition and we pray to be transformed. We pray because we know we don’t understand the world perfectly or know the best course in any situation so we ask God to act and to shape our attitudes. We are accepted by God in Christ so our prayers are accepted by God. I have had opportunities to experience this is large and small ways over the past week of humble prayer coming to God knowing He is powerful and active and desiring for Him to intervene in situations that are absolutely outside of my control or influence. God’s responses have been quick, clear, and life giving. But in each of these circumstances have been “others” focused.
PART II | Eternity in Community | v16-17
16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.
Eternal Life is one that is Others focused. Prayers are not only offered for one’s personal needs, according to God’s will, but on behalf of brothers caught in sin. This includes praying for repentance for those “brothers” who have been allured by false teaching but, perhaps, not the false teachers themselves.
Eternal life is formed in and shaped in community. This is our disposition towards others. Never forget Eternal Life is life in a new family of Brothers and Sisters. As with the previous text, John writes some words that have proven difficult to understand for over 2,000 years. He commands his readers not to pray for those who are committing “a sin that leads to death.” Commentators have struggled with this agreeing on the meaning of this passage. If its meaning was widely known in John’s day, it is less clear today. The most probable interpretation is: The sin that leads to death may be the same thing that Jesus called blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32) which is the attributing of Jesus’ powers to Satan, thereby renouncing the Holy Spirit as evil and Jesus as demonic.
Don’t be confused. There are not types or tiers of sin for us to worry about. The text affirms the universal nature of sin…. All wrongdoing is sin…. But how marvelous that there is sin that doesn’t lead to death because of the Finished work of Jesus in our place. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But there is no victory over sin to be had for those who are not! So when we encounter sin in others are responses and prayers are different depending on if the persons standing in the household of faith. When we find sin in a Christian (this happens! Our sins are covered and paid for, but still exist and need to be dealt with. We pray that they would repent of sin and walk in the newness of life that has already been purchased for them in Christ. We are praying from them to live as the new creations that they are. So because it's talking about a spiritual death then when we pray and know that spiritual death separates us simply from the source of life from the source of joy from the source of purpose then when we are praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ to turn from sin to walk away from sin we are really praying is for them to walk in life. Eternal life prays for believers to overcome sin that besets them. How do we respond to sin in the church, we pray for the church and those in it to repent.
Eternal life prays for unbelievers to be made alive by the power of the Gospel through the Holy Spirit.
So when we find sin in non-Christians our response is not to pray that they would stop sinning, our response should be prayer that they would start worshiping Jesus. We don’t pray for nonbelievers to not sin but for them to Trust Jesus. I don’t care if my friends sleep with their girlfriends or live with them or fill in the blank of whatever immorality that is less than God’s design. I don’t want then to have slightly more moral or virtuous life today or one that more closely resembles obedience to God’s commands. Because they can be the most moral people on the plant and still be lost, disconnected from God, separated from the source of eternal life and ultimately perish and face judgement. No, I pray for them to meet, know, love, serve, worship, and rest in Jesus. In both cases we pray to the only one powerful to actually accomplish the heart changes necessary. For the unbeliever to have new life and the believer to walk in it. We can pray for both with great confidence because we are people with great assurance.
PART III | Eternity in Assurance| v18-21
18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Eternal life knows the truth and turns from idols. The letter concludes with John affirming all the things “We Know “ that are enough to lead us to the one true God, in order to dissuade us from spending time on what we don’t, which will only lead us away. He ends with a curt, and thereby, powerful warning about the cause of all unbelief—idolatry. By doing so, he reminds all of us that the point of writing was to both declare Jesus as God and worthy of all worship and to denounce the worship of anyone or anything else.
Eternal life knows present realities. Christians don’t keep walking in sin. Thus those who do are not Christians; they avoid community and pursue sin. Gospel Community (empowered by the Holy Spirit) is necessary to overcome the burden of sin bigger than our individual ability to handle. The evil one cannot touch God’s people… But our flesh can. The world is opposed to God and following the “evil one” there is no third category. The evil one is the father of idolatry…. Worshipping that which is not God as if it is God.
Tim Keller’s Definition: What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I ‘ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.” There are many ways to describe that kind of relationship to something, but perhaps the best one is worship.
Eternal life turns from present idolatry. That this will be a continual pursuit and practice of the Christian life.
What do you need to turn from worshipping right now? Eternal life knows we serve God. We want idols to serve us. Idols are small things we make too big. The calling to turn from idols is to turn to something greater! Eternal life with God begins and continues when we Trust Jesus!