Faithlife Sermons

Two Characteristics of Genuine Faith (1 John 2:3-6)

1 John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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INTRO

You can say it, but prove it.
On a quick trip to Maryland, my family got a late start coming home than we normally would. We left around 6:30pm on Saturday night and were just about home around 1am. Everyone was asleep as I was driving, and I was starting to nod off. All of a sudden, I hit the brakes and swerve. Nikki wakes up: “what happened?”
“I almost hit a kangaroo.” We both then agreed that I was delirious and we just got home and slept. I could say it, but I couldn’t prove it.
The following Tuesday, I’m sitting in the surgery center visiting with a family having a surgery done. The 12 o’clock news came on in the lobby with this story: “80 year old Marion County man is in critical condition still after being mauled by a kangaroo on Saturday.” I paid attention. Apparently an exotic animal farm in Green Camp had a kangaroo escape and it somehow got tangled up with this man.
I walked out of the surgery center, called Nikki, and said “I told you I almost hit a kangaroo! Now I have proof!
You can say it, but prove it.
If I told you that I was the first man to orbit the moon, what would you say?
If I told you that I was the great, great grandson of Abraham Lincoln, what would you say?
Prove it.
You would want some kind of proof—a certificate from NASA, or a proof of lineage.
You would want some kind of proof—a certificate from NASA, or a proof of lineage.
If you are born, you get a birth certificate.
If you graduate from high school, you get a diploma.
If you get a job, then you get a paycheck.
There’s something to show for it.
There’s something to show for it. But do we think the same way about our faith? Is there anything to show for your faith?
But do we think the same way about our faith? Is there anything to show for your faith?
You can say it, but prove it.
John presents 2 similar statements, two main ideas: by this we may know… In each of these, something is said. Whoever says, I know him (v.4). Whoever says, I abide in him (v.6). Well, You can say it, but prove it.
What it comes down to today is that we will basically examine whether something is genuinely saved or not. Whether it is real within you or it is just something you talk about. We want to see the proof, the fruit, in our lives.
Whoever says “I know him” ; Whoever says “I abide in him.”

KNOWING IS KEEPING

I want to tell you two realities of genuine saving faith: Knowing is Keeping; Abiding is Walking.

KNOWING IS KEEPING

By this we know that we have come to know him (Jesus): if we keep his commandments.
First, let me point out that there can be an assurance of salvation. We know. Some people can remember an exact point in time, the moment when they prayed to repent of their sin and put their faith in Jesus Christ. Others can’t. I don’t believe you have to know an exact day and time.
I’ve heard the analogy that you might not have known the exact time of the sunrise, but you can see the sun shining right now.
The sun shining in your life is that you now are having a greater disposition toward the Word of God and you are finding that it is becoming more a part of your life. You have a greater desire to learn it and live it.
We know we have come to know him if we keep his commandments. Whoever keeps His word.
If you say you know God but you don’t keep His word, you’re a liar. You’re not genuine. There’s no real faith there.
In fact, John is specifying that the internal will become external. Therefore, the liar will be exposed.
“Keep” is a verb. Interestingly, the noun form of the Greek word used here will help us understand what we’re to do. The noun means “warden, guard”. Think about how much attention a warden or prison guard pays to inmates.
That should be our attitude toward the Bible. We are “to watch, observe attentively, keep the eyes fixed upon. Figuratively, to obey, observe, keep, fulfill a duty, precept, law, custom, or custom meaning to perform watchfully, vigilantly.” (Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).)
Particularly to watch, observe attentively, keep the eyes fixed upon, with the acc. (, keeping for the fulfillment of the prophecy; 22:7, 9; Sept.: ; ). Figuratively, to obey, observe, keep, fulfill a duty, precept, law, custom, or custom meaning to perform watchfully, vigilantly
acc (accusative)
Sept (Septuagint)
This goes beyond just reading the Bible or having a knowledge of God. This is observing. Doing.
Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).
Turn to ., where we will find the relationship between faith and works. Many have challenged that the book of James advocates a works-based salvation, even making it unpopular with some during the Protestant Reformation.
But the context of James shows that there cannot be two camps of people in regard to the Bible: the hearers and the doers. Those go together for the genuine believer. You can say it, but prove it.
It is written about George Whitfield that he tried to live as righteously on his own as possible. “I began to fast twice a week for thirty-six hours together,” Whitefield wrote in later years, “prayed many times a day and received the sacrament every Lord’s Day. I fasted myself almost to death all the forty days of Lent, during which I made it a point of duty never to go less than three times a day to public worship, besides seven times a day to my private prayers. Yet I knew no more that I was to be born a new creature in Christ Jesus than if I had never been born at all.”
Deeply dissatisfied at heart, the reading of a book with the title The Life of God in the Soul of Man by Henry Scougal made plain to him the necessity of personal commitment to and union with Christ as Saviour and Lord.
This example shows that there is more to faith than good works. You can’t be good enough to earns God’s favor. You must have a solid union with Christ. John point out both of these characteristics of genuine faith in this passage: righteous works are evidence of faith, and so is union with Christ, which is shown by abiding in Christ.
So the first characteristic of a genuine faith is keeping God’s commandments. Now let’s talk about another characteristic of genuine faith: abiding in Christ. And let me tell you that:

ABIDING IS WALKING

Whoever says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. Abiding in Christ is similar to keeping God’s commandments in that it involves our actions. We are to walk in the same way in which Jesus walks.
But abiding goes beyond just acting a certain way. Abide simply means what we would expect it to mean: “To remain, abide, dwell, live.” (Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).)
To remain, abide, dwell, live.
I think abiding in Christ in a great phrase that expresses our union with Christ. John says “in him” at the end of v.5 and “abides in him” in v.6. We are to remain in Christ. We are united with Him through faith because of His sacrifice for our sin.
Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).
It only makes sense to think about how if you are in something, you will go where it goes. If you are in a car, you will go where it goes.
But I want to share with you one of the greatest examples of abiding in Christ I have experienced. I first shared this the first time I preached after Caleb was born. One of my favorite parts of Caleb’s birth was when I cut the umbilical cord.
I was thinking about that experience and why there even is an umbilical cord. So I looked up what an umbilical cord does and here’s what I read: “The umbilical cord, which connects your baby to the placenta, contains three vessels: two arteries, which carry blood from the baby to the placenta, and one vein, which carries blood back to the baby. The blood in the arteries contains waste products, such as carbon dioxide, from the baby's metabolism. Carbon dioxide is transferred across the placenta to your bloodstream and then to your lungs, where it's breathed out. Oxygen is transported from red bloods cells in your circulation, across the placenta to the baby in the umbilical vein. In addition to oxygen, the umbilical vein transports nutrients from the placenta to your baby.
I realized that everything that baby needs comes from the umbilical cord. That baby’s life is sustained by that cord.
And this is what our union with Christ is like, our abiding in Christ: He is the very sustenance for everything in our lives. When we are genuinely saved, we will come to realize that everything we need is in Christ.
When we become distant from Christ, temptation gets fiercer, sin becomes more prevalent, doubt, anger, fear become greater. Because we are farther away from our very source of life.
If you are genuinely saved, you will become more and more dependent on Christ and less dependent on yourself.

CONCLUSION

YOU CAN SAY IT, BUT PROVE IT. So let me remind you of these 2 characteristics of genuine faith and ask you if they are present in your life: you will keep God’s commands (the Bible becomes a greater part of your life); and you will abide in Christ, growing in dependency on Him.
Are you faking faith? Are you putting up a front but unfulfilled on the inside? Make that decision today!
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