Faithlife Sermons

With Every Fiber of My Being

1 John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:07
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Prayer is one of those things that all Christians know is important. But few of us really seem to understand much about prayer. John closes his letter to the church with some important thoughts on how prayer ought to change us.

Notes & Transcripts | Sermon Questions
Today we’ve come to the end of John’s first letter to the church. If you’ve been tracking with us all through this series, and if I asked you to summarize all that we have traced through this letter, what would you say? Maybe some would say, John’s letter is all about love. He is mainly concerned about Christians in the church being united in loving one another. Maybe you would say it is about John’s response to false teachers who were spreading lies and division among God’s people. Maybe you wouldn’t have an answer at all. After all, sometimes in this letter it appears that John is all over the map and it’s hard to track where he is going and what he is talking about.
That’s understandable. There are points here where it definitely appears as though John is hopping from one subject to another so randomly we might not track where he is going. We’ve only got eight verses left in 1 John to finish the letter. And when you look at these remaining verses it might seem confusing at first glance. But let’s track though it together.

Prayer that moves to the will of God

With the final verses of John’s letter to the church, he returns to the topic of prayer with some very specific comments.
1 John 5:13–15 (NIV)
1 John 5:13–15 (NIV)
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
Lord’s prayer | God’s will be done | we submit unto it
This is John writing these words. Let’s not forget that John was present with the other disciples when Jesus taught them how to pray. Jesus taught them to pray this: Father in heaven, hallowed is your name. May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It is a prayer that begins by declaring God as sovereign over all the universe. And then immediately the prayer submits a request that God’s will would be done. Does that seem a little redundant to you? First you acknowledge that God is sovereign—that his will is supreme above all else. Then you pray that his will would be done. Didn’t we just acknowledge that in the first part of the prayer? Is it that, somehow, if I don’t pray for God’s kingdom to come or his will to be done, that maybe it won’t happen? What’s going on here?
For those who acknowledge God as creator and Lord of the universe, of course his will is done—whether I pray for it or not. So maybe the request for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done is not so much a request for it to happen, but a request for me to submit unto it. It is a way of declaring to God, “I want in on this! This kingdom thing that you are doing on earth as it is on heaven, I want to be a part of that!”
Condition - pray according to his will | homework to know scripture
This is a prayer of submission. No longer is life about my will. No longer is life about my kingdom. This is a prayer that moves to the will of God. So, what does John say about that for us today? 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. The key condition in these verses is, “according to his will.” That’s a pretty big condition. It means that our prayers require some homework. Maybe none of us want to hear that. Maybe we would prefer that prayer be this effortless and trite activity that requires very little commitment or very little work on our part. But John says it just isn’t that way. Affective prayer is prayer that is in line with the will of God. And that means that those of us who pray have to take the extra step of aligning our hearts with the heart of God. We have to know his will. And then we have to earnestly embrace his will in the requests of our prayers.
Prayer does not move God to my desires, but moves me to God’s desires | Duane S
What’s the result of prayer like this? What makes this kind of prayer so affective? The affect of this prayer is not that it moves God to act according to my desires. Rather, it moves me to act according to God’s desires. In other words, affective prayer is prayer that changes me. It is prayer that takes the time to search God’s will by spending time in his Word. Duane Sjaardema was so good at this. For those of us who remember Duane, whenever he would pray, he would always say things like, “Lord, you have told us in your Word…” or “God, your Word says…” or “We have read in scripture…” Duane always—and I mean ALWAYS—referred to scripture in his prayers. He showed all of us here an example of how to pray according to the will of God by praying according to the words of the Bible. And that takes some homework before we get down on our knees and approach God in prayer. But that’s the kind of prayer that works because it moves to the will of God.

Prayer that moves away from sin

But John is not finished. And now it gets tricky. Let’s keep going in verse 16-17.
1 John 5:16-17 (NIV)
1 John 5:16-17 (NIV)
16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.
rules for sacrifices | intentional disobedience from God
That’s perfectly clear, right? Maybe not so much. First of all, a little bit of history from the Old Testament. These are some rules that come from the book of Leviticus. The Israelites were instructed to regularly go to the tabernacle—later to become the temple—and offer sacrifices for their sins. But those sin offerings of the Old Testament were offered by the people for the sins of which they were unaware, or for sins of which they had repented. They would regularly go to the temple and confess before God that every day—no matter what—they would sin without even knowing it. Those were the sins for which the offerings at the temple were meant to atone.
Then there is a whole different category of sin. There is the sin which was intentionally committed. There is the sin in which the person knows full well that what they are doing is a sin even before doing it. And, knowing it is a sin to God, still actively does it anyway. This is sin in which the person is basically saying to God, “I don’t care about your commands, I don’t care about your will, I don’t care about the consequences.” There is no repentance. There is no remorse. There is no turning. And there were no offerings at the temple for this. There was no way in the Old Testament to make this right again with God. The book of Leviticus provides two options here: exile or execution. That person was either banished from the community or they were put to death. I know, sounds harsh. It doesn’t seem to fit with our modern American notion of tolerance. But that’s what John is writing about. This is the world into which John was addressing his message to the first century audience. And this is what would be considered a sin that leads to death.
prayers for unrepentant not part of this message | pray for those who desire to follow Jesus
Another very important side note of this verse. John says, “I am not saying that you should pray about that.” Is John saying that our prayers for unrepentant non-believers are useless? Not at all. That is not what John is saying. All John is saying HERE is that—for the purpose of this letter—he is narrowing his attention to a very specific kind of prayer for a very specific purpose. Pray for those who do not realize they are being led astray. Pray for those in your church community who honestly and genuinely want to do the right thing. Pray for those who authentically desire to follow God and want to live according to his will.
responsibility to pray | don’t be a pharisee | move away from sin | action to identity
John is saying we have a responsibility to pray for one another. Now let me tell you what NOT to do. Don’t go walk up to a fellow Christian today and tell them, “I just want you to know that I am praying especially for you right now because you are so messed up and you are living in such terrible sin.” That’s how the Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ day went about with other people. And Jesus had some pretty harsh criticism for that type of attitude. John is not telling us to be like Pharisees.
But, if a brother or sister confesses that there is a particular issue with which they are struggling, and asks for prayer, then it’s okay to let them know you are praying. It’s okay to admit a degree of humility together and say, “Sometimes it seems difficult to discern the will of God in todays world. I pray regularly that God would help me to see and know his will. And I pray the same thing for you as well.” We have a responsibility to pray for one another. We have a responsibility to hold one another up in prayer before God.
Prayer that moves us towards the will of God is prayer that moves us away from sin. And as we move towards the will of God, as we move away from sin, this is ultimately prayer that moves into being. Not just action of what we do, but also identity of who we are. Let’s look at the final verses of 1 John and see how he wraps it up this way.

Prayer that moves into being

1 John 5:18–21 (NIV)
1 John 5:18–21 (NIV)
18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also 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 by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
verse 18 - continue to live in sin
Before we go further, maybe some of us look at verse 18 and have to do a double-take. Wait a minute. I am a Christian. I am born of God. But I also know that I am still a broken person. I am not perfect. I still sin. Does this mean that I am not really born of God? Does this mean that I am not really a Christian? Verse 18 all by itself out of context can leave people facing a bit of a crisis in their faith. But let’s remember that John is pushing a distinction between two different kinds of sins. Those who seek God’s will in scripture and pray according to his will; those who pray that God would move them and his people from sin into life; those are people who do not intentionally thumb their noses at God. Those are people who—if they see and know the will of God—do not purposefully live in ways that they know full well are contrary to God’s will with absolutely no remorse. That’s what John is saying in this verse when he claims that such people do not continue to live in sin.
move int being | “we know” | my family knows my love - identity
So how does this prayer move into being? There is a phrase that John repeats over and over in this passage: “we know.” What does John mean by this? We know the truth. We know God. We know his will. What does that mean?
Is John talking about intellectual ascent? I acknowledge the existence of this truth, and I mentally agree with it. Is John talking about emotional fulfillment? I just feel like this is right, even if I cannot explain it. What does John mean that we know the truth?
My children know that Laura and I love them…I’m pretty sure they know that. How do they know that? Is it just because we tell them so? Is it based just on a feeling? Or is this a love that takes shape in being who we are as a family? There is so much assurance and so much confidence in that love. It is a love that is woven into every single fiber of our being. If you take that way, you take away a foundational piece of who I am. I am a husband and a father to my family. It has become woven into my identity. It is who I am with every fiber of my being. And I know it. And anyone who knows me, knows that as well. That’s the kind of knowing we’re talking about here.
know identity in God with every fiber of my being | can you do that? YES
I know that I am a child of God. I know that this is the truth. I know it. I know it with every fiber of my being. I know it in ways that create the identity of who I am. I know it in ways that anyone who knows me, knows that this is my identity. They know this is part of me. I know it. They know it. This is part of my being.
Prayer that moves into being is prayer that approaches God’s throne and declares with boldness and honesty, “Make this who I am! Help me become this more and more! Put this truth into every fiber of my being!” John wants his church to pray like that.
But maybe some of us have days when we are not quite sure about that identity. Maybe we have days where we are not certain that we live up to this. After all, it’s a pretty tall order. Who among us can really is really able to live like that every single moment of every single day? Let’s be honest, who among us can say that every single other person we come into contact with every day is able to see and know our identity in Christ? Am I asking too much? Is it really possible to live in a way in which this identity as a child of God is truly woven into every fiber of my being?
Begins with Jesus | Canons of Dort
And how do I know this? Because it doesn’t begin with us. This identity that we have as children of God doesn’t begin with us. This truth about who we are in Jesus doesn’t depend on us. How do I wake up every single day and know with absolute assurance that this truth is woven into fiber of my being? Because Jesus made it so; that’s how.
The Bible has been affirming this truth for over 2000 years. The church has also held onto this truth. Listen to what those before us in our own church tradition have said about this. This comes from the Synod of Dort which met in the Netherlands back in the year 1619. Here’s what they had to say
So it is not by our own merits or strength but by God’s undeserved mercy that we neither forfeit faith and grace totally nor remain in their downfalls to the end. With respect to ourselves this not only easily could happen, but also undoubtedly would happen; but with respect to God it cannot possibly happen. God’s plan cannot be changed; God’s promise cannot fail; the calling according to God’s purpose cannot be revoked; the merit of Christ as well as his interceding and preserving cannot be nullified; and the sealing of the Holy Spirit can neither be invalidated nor wiped out.
This is who you are with every fiber of your being. Let’s be people who go out from here and live the truth of this grace in our lives. And let’s be people who go out from here and declare the truth of this grace for the lives of others.
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