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Bold Belief in Tough Times – Part 2

Bold Belief in Tough Times - Part 2

Sermon Transcript

What if we were to live in light of who Christ is and who He says we really are? What difference would it make? Join Dr. Marty Baker as we take a look at 1 John 2:29-3:3 and continue to unpack what it means to have bold belief in tough times.

As false, devious, and destructive belief systems (viz., progressivism, Marxism, nihilism, atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, hedonism, pragmatism, secularism, etc.) purposefully seek to dismantle everything from sex and gender to the concept of law and order, what are Christians to do?  Two things: give time and attention to true words buttressed by a true walk.  The former speaks of our responsibility, like the prophets and saints of old, to challenge falsity with truth no matter the cost.  This means we will study the culture so we will know how to respond to its ever-changing philosophical emphases. The latter denotes the utter importance for our lives to be lived according to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Please note: a sound, cohesive, clear presentation of biblical and philosophical truth, coupled with a life lived according to the lofty teachings of Jesus, is destined to be persuasive and convincing. This continual balance is what our misguided, messed-up world desperately needs.

Writing to churches in Asia Minor who contended with the clever, though destructive, teaching of Gnosticism, John sought the balance just described.  He taught the saints how to counter false teaching with true teaching. He did this from his opening words about the person of Jesus Christ, the God-man (1 John 1:1-4), a theological concept the Gnostics opposed. When these false teachers taught that God was composed of spiritual light and darkness, John minced no words and countered by underscoring the premise that spiritual darkness has no place in God’s person, ever (1 John 1:5).  Granted, some false doctrines we encounter today are similar to Gnosticism (i.e., trangenderism’s bifurcation of the mind and the body); however, the Devil has undoubtedly introduced a plethora of erroneous, evil belief systems.  Like John, we must identify, study, and refute them in love. That is one side of the spiritual teeter-totter.

On the other side of the teeter-totter is our responsibility to be Christ to those around us, whether they are saints or sinners. John drives this truth home in 1 John 2:28 through 4:19 in an instructional and pragmatic fashion.  The central motif of this section can easily be summed up with this hermeneutical query:

What Does Bold Belief Look Like In Trying Times? (1 John 2:28)

Bold Belief Strives For Consistent Obedience (1 John 2:28)

What is the motivation for said obedience?  We obey, of course, because we love Christ.  We also follow because we know He will personally judge each of us one day to ascertain the quality of our Christian walk.  Are you ready to give an account of how well you have run the spiritual race (1 Cor. 9:24)?

In addition to this truth, John adds three more, starting in verse 29 and running through chapter 3, verse 2.

Bold Belief Lives In Light Of Who Jesus’s Character (1 John 2:29) 

John makes this additional motivational statement with the Judgment Seat of Christ.

NAS 1 John 2:29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.

BYZ 1 John 2:29 Ἐὰν εἰδῆτε ὅτι δίκαιός ἐστιν, γινώσκετε ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν δικαιοσύνην ἐξ αὐτοῦ γεγέννηται.

The structure of this particular Greek conditional clause (i.e., Third Class Condition) leaves the door open for disobedience from believers.  As stated in verse five of chapter one, we can surmise the Gnostics taught that both light and darkness, truth and error, existed in the person of God, which is logically and theologically impossible.  However, some intellectually immature ancient believers, based on the conditional sentence before us, possibly bought into this false theological emphasis.  The NT teaches just the opposite (Mark 1:24; Luke 1:35; John 6:69; Heb. 4:15, 7:26, “Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens”).  Ask yourself: Are there any areas of theology, especially where the doctrine of God is concerned, where I am off-base and misled?

John’s conditional sentence can also express that most of the saints in these embattled churches thought Jesus was, and is, the epitome of righteousness. Put differently, he possibly assumes here the majority of them believed Jesus was, and is, the standard of what is righteous and holy.  John’s words at the close of Revelation underscore these excellent characteristics of the Lord:

11 And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war (Rev. 19).

Because of who He is, He is ideally suited to mete out judgment on the godless when He arrives in glory at the end of the Tribulation.  His perfect righteousness and holiness will be the standard by which the godless will be judged.

All of this is most motivational.  How could it not be?  When you understand that His righteous character knows no flaws or imperfections, you must live each day in light of who He is.  You must give constant time and attention to ensure your life measures up to His standard of righteousness. Perhaps an illustration will help.

 Think of a laser level.  Last year when the contractor arrived at the point of installing our new cabinets, he placed the fancy laser level on a flat surface in the middle of the kitchen and then turned it on.  Immediately, bright red lines appeared all over the kitchen walls, showing him where the cabinets should be hung.  I’m thankful he didn’t disregard those laser lines, and I’m grateful he didn’t think he could eye-ball the complex job.  Each cabinet had to be continually repositioned until it rested on that perfectly straight laser line. Then and only then did the workers screw the cabinet to the wall.

The laser in the illustration represents the utter righteousness of Jesus.  As I study Him and His words, I see what is spiritually and morally straight and what is not.  By aligning my life with this line, I mature in the faith. I am also setting myself up to be confident and devoid of shame when I stand before Christ’s judgment bar.

Saints who know who Jesus is as the righteous Lord and who choose to live by this knowledge, by definition, show they are born again. However, the imperatives in the book reveal believers can decide to either abide by Christ’s moral standards or not.  Those who obey are easily identified as saints, and those who do not follow resemble the lost.  Present tense Greek commands wedded to the Greek negative particle seek to stop behavior believers are willfully embracing (viz., Eph. 4:25-29; Col. 3:2, 9, 19).  John’s use of the present imperative with the negative in 1 John 3, verse 7 illustrates how some of the saints were being led astray by false teachers:

1 John 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;

 1 John 3:7 Τεκνία, μηδεὶς (negative) πλανάτω (present active imperative) ὑμᾶς· ὁ ποιῶν τὴνδικαιοσύνην δίκαιός ἐστιν, καθὼς ἐκεῖνος δίκαιός ἐστιν·

The presence of imperatives like this readily demonstrates John is not describing in 1 John 2, verse 29 how to identify whether you are saved or not.  He is talking about how to know whether you are intimately united to Christ or not.  Again, the question is not about salvific position, it is about practice and how practice/obedience impacts the believer’s fellowship with Jesus.  Those who live in light of His character will be righteous and look like born-again believers.  This does not mean; however, all saints will live consistently righteous lives.  Some will lack confidence and possess shame when they see their Lord underscores this raw reality.

Again, I must ask you a personal question:  How are you faring in aligning your life with Christ’s life?  The more you do this, the more you illustrate your saved status, and the better you are prepared to give account to Him at the Judgment Seat (1 Cor. 3).  The less you do this, the less you will be ready to give account to Him. I pray the Spirit of God moves you toward working hard at making His character your character so you can stand before Him with great joy.  Also, as your character mirrors His your defense of the faith before a godless world will position you to be persuasive in leading some of them to the cross of Christ where they, too, can be saved.


Bold Belief Lives In Light of Who You Are (1 John 3:1)

Who are you as a Christian?  You are a son or daughter of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 3:1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

 1 John 3:1 Ἴδετε ποταπὴν ἀγάπην δέδωκεν ἡμῖν ὁ πατὴρ ἵνα τέκνα θεοῦ κληθῶμεν, καί ἐσμεν. διὰ τοῦτο ὁ κόσμος οὐ γινώσκει ἡμᾶς ὅτι οὐκ ἔγνω αὐτόν.

Talk about a self-esteem booster.  You might be an American, but first and foremost, you are God’s unique child, a member of His holy, eternal family.  John’s command here is for us to pay strict attention to our familial standing with God constantly and how we became family members.  Why does He give us this command?  He knows how easily and readily we forget our lofty, noble position as we move through the demands, challenges, and adversities of a given day on earth.  When, however, we remember we are members of God’s family, we have not just a new spring in our steps, we know we must live like we are His children before a watching world.

So, let’s reflect for a moment.

Who were we before becoming sons and daughters of Jesus?

  • We were classified as sinners and enemies of God:

For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Romans 5:10).

  • We were sons of darkness:

36 While you have the light, believe in the light, in order that you may become sons of light. These things Jesus spoke, and He departed and hid Himself from them (John. 12:36).

  • We were sons of disobedience:

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2).

  • We were children who were objects of divine wrath:

 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest (Eph. 2).

That is who you used to be when Christ was not your Savior.  But now you are His son or daughter. What a unique, amazing, and exceptional standing.

How did you become a son or a daughter of God?  As John states, God set the stage for a family change when He poured His love on you when you are not worthy of His love.  How did He do this?

  • He who was sinless bore our sin (1 Pet. 2:24).
  • He who was eternal life died to give us the prospects of life to those dead in sin (Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13).
  • He who was innocent died for the guilty (1 Pet. 1:19).
  • He who was spiritually and morally perfect died for the spiritually and morally imperfect (1 John 3:5; 1 Pet. 2:22).
  • He, the epitome of spiritual light, died for those in spiritual darkness (2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 5:8; 1 Pet. 2:9).

When Christ died on that cruel Roman cross, divine love was in action. After describing our sinful position before salvation in Ephesians 2, verse 3, Paul adds:

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, (Eph. 2).

Jaw-dropping, isn’t it?  When we didn’t love Him, He loved us and sent His only Son to be our Sacrifice and Savior (John 3:16).  And as Paul goes on to state in verses 8 through 9, once your faith was placed in Jesus, you passed from death to life, from Satan’s family to God’s family:

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast (Eph. 2).

You didn’t work for your status as a son or daughter of God.  No, the Lord paid that price with His life when He lovingly and thoughtfully died for your sin.  When you accept His work by simple faith is when you become His child.  Now, you should daily go out and live like His son or daughter.  Yes, there should be no doubt to your unbelieving husband, to your unbelieving teens, to your co-workers, to your battalion, and so forth that you are a child of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They should be able to tell whose child you are by how your life resembles that of the Holy Trinity.  Can they tell?  Talk about a powerful way to move non-Christians into God’s family.

Being Christ’s son or daughter, however, is not without its worldly challenges, as John states:

1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him (1 John 3).

Since most of the wicked world didn’t recognize Jesus as God’s Son when He came, it should be no shock to you when they don’t recognize you either.  Jesus said this would happen:

 20 Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me (John 15).

Translated: Expect to be misunderstood, to be shouted down, to be opposed, to be mocked, to be wrongly labeled, and to be physically persecuted because the world will you as a problem and not a solution.  You won’t go along to get along. You won’t wink at their wickedness but will call it what it is.  You won’t embrace their misguided zeal to redefine how we understand reality. You won’t kowtow to their intimidation. You won’t let them indoctrinate your children with false, destructive ideologies. And so on.  Because of this, they will not just wonder where you come from, but they will oppose you.  When, not, if this happens, don’t fear. Conversely, follow Jesus, who made your position as a son or a daughter possible.

So, what about it?  Are you living like a son or a daughter of the Lord?  If so, you are not only making Him proud but also cutting deep into Satan’s kingdom as some people want what you have.


Bold Belief Lives In Light Of Who You Will Be (1 John 3:2-3)

John moves here from our earthly status as God’s children to what we will inherit when we see Him face to face:

2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is (1 John 3).

The magnificent, mind-numbing specifics of what will happen to us when we see Christ in heaven one day are incapable of being cataloged or described.  How could we because our limited dimensionality cannot fully describe life in God’s dimensionality?

But, as John notes, when Jesus appears we will be immediately transformed to be like Him. Various Scriptures give us ideas of what this means:

  • You will be you. You won’t lose your identity.  Jesus didn’t. When Thomas saw the risen Lord he said, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).  He knew exactly who Jesus was. Even Jesus said, “It is I myself!” (Luke 24:39).
  • You will have your emotions . . . but they will be perfect. Jesus’s emotions are fully displayed in Revelation chapters 2 through 3 where He judges His churches.  Many of Christ’s parables tell us heaven will be chock-full of bountiful feasts and singing.  In Luke 6, verse 21, Jesus says we will even laugh in heaven.  Don’t you think Jesus will smile when He comes for you?
  • Your name will be your name. As Isaiah remarks, 22 For just as the new heavens and the new earth Which I make will endure before Me," declares the LORD, "So your offspring and your name will endure” (Isa. 66). Again, Jesus retains His name, and so will you.  He will give you a new, unique, secret name (Rev. 2:17), but this won’t abolish your current name.
  • You will retain your racial distinction because God gave it to you. The twenty-four elders say this much as they speak out before Christ’s throne: 9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Rev. 5).
  • Your body will be organically related to your present body, but it will be flesh and bones ramped up to a new level. 36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15). Sow a tulip seed into the ground and it appears to die, but it eventually brings forth a plant that is organically related to the seed but is far more spectacular and beautiful.  So it will be when we see Christ.  Further, all the different types of flesh on earth merely tell us there is a heavenly flesh that will radically differ from anything we have ever seen. Christ’s fleshly resurrected body was unusual insofar as it could appear in locked rooms (John 20:19) and ascend up into the clouds at will (Acts 1:9).  Our heavenly bodies will possibly also be able to defy present laws of physics and do incomprehensible things.  Our bodies will also glow and pulsate with the glory of Jesus. According to Paul, the luminosity variance between the stars in the cosmos tells us this much. Daniel mentions it as well (Dan. 12:3).

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point.  The time of our transformation into amazing bodies fitted for the wonders of heaven is coming according to the Lord’s loving promise.  In light of this, we should live transformed spiritual lives in the here and now. Yes, live in such a way you give the lost around a taste of what a spiritually transformed, heaven-bound life looks like. Live in such a way, they cannot help but ask, “What do you have that I don’t have?

And while you are thinking about how you can go about living that transformed life before the world, focus on the beautiful truth John lays out in verse 3:

3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3).

Understanding that one day Jesus will transform you into His glorious likeness in untold ways leads to inner purification.  How does this occur?

  • It drives out the impurity of hopelessness when you face adversity.
  • It drives out the impurity of fear when you face a fearful situation.
  • It drives out dismay as you watch your body slowly age.
  • It drives out discouragement when God calls a Christian loved one home.

So, let the truth of the coming transformation wash your heart and mind right now, leaving you with joy, peace, and excitement.

Finally, why not show some love to the One who loved you first? Why not pour love on the One who loved you enough to pay the penalty for your sin? What better way to do this than through a song of rich, moving, heart-felt worship?

I don't know how to say exactly how I feel.
And I can't begin to tell you what your love has meant
I'm lost for words
Is there a way to show the passion in my heart
Can I express how truly great I think you are
My dearest friend
Lord, this is my desire
To pour my love on You

Like oil upon your feet
Like wine for you to drink
Like water from my heart
I pour my love on you
If praise is like perfume
I'll lavish mine on you
Till every drop is gone
I'll pour my love on you

Is there a way to show the passion in my heart
Can I express how truly great I think you are
My dearest friend
Lord, this is my desire
To pour my love on you

Like oil upon your feet
Like wine for you to drink
Like water from my heart
I pour my love on you
If praise is like perfume
I'll lavish mine on you
Till every drop is gone
I'll pour my love on you