Spiritual Growth Metrics
Good morning! We are week 3 in of our Series entitled - Radical Community…
I am really excited in what God is doing in our congregation.. We have four Community groups meeting and I would like to encourage you to participate…not only will you get something out of it your will be a blessing to someone else... We are going deeper together in these Epistles of John..
Most people have heard of the "five second rule"—that if food spends just a few seconds on the floor, dirt and germs won't have enough time to contaminate it. Parents sometimes apply the rule to pacifiers (after their first child of course)
There was actually a two year study conducted in 2016 to test the theory!
Professor Donald W. Schaffner, a food microbiologist at Rutgers University, did the study .. You can check it out for yourself in his journal article "Is the Five-Second Rule Real?"
Professor Schaffner tested four surfaces—stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood, and carpet—and four different foods: cut watermelon, bread, buttered bread, and strawberry gummy candy. They were dropped from a height of five inches onto surfaces treated with a bacteria.
The researchers tested four contact times—less than one second and five, 30 and 300 seconds. A total of 128 possible combinations of surface, food, and seconds were replicated 20 times each, yielding 2,560 measurements. So after those 2,560 drops they found that no fallen food escaped contamination, leading Professor Schaffner to conclude, "Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously." In other words, they debunked the legendary five second rule… Think that most us figure that out… already!
This morning we are talk about Spirtual Metrics… We use Metrics/numbers measurements --- to help us understand out actual properties and values… Metrics help us understand something — When it comes to our health we might stand on a scale..
I don’t know about you but the scale is not my friend… it seems like it never gives me number I’m looking for.....The scale gives us one measurement of health--- it’s not the only one measurement… There are other measurements, blood pressure, heart rate, body composition..
Throughout the Bible there are metrics for Spiritual health health… For example in Galatians 5 where we are given list of fruit of the spirit… We are encouraged to live in the spirit… walk in step with the spirit and we are told what this looks like..
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
There are other measurements of spiritual growth… John 15 Abiding in Christ… In the book of 1 John there are several tests/metrics for walking with Christ… 1 John 2 John says that those who claim to abide in Christ should walk as Jesus walked…
In 1 John chapter 2:9 . John uses is the measurement of light… who ever says he walks in the light yet hates his brother is in darkness.
The reason John may use the reference of “light” may be on account of claims of the Gnostics - who equated “knowing God” with being “enlightened.” John says knowing God is about obedience to his word than “enlightenement”
T/S Lets look at our text — John was the only disciple that made it to old age… Tradition tells us that John in his old age was still teaching about the love of God… and loving others…
7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
The first metric that John gives us has to do with our Affections. Our affections have to do with our emotional life... something that is close to us… strong affection or love for something. John challenges our affections… The first metric is..
1. Do my Affections align with the Word of life?
1. Do my Affections align with the Word of life?
John uses paternal language—throughout the Epistles of John… From the tone of his letters... You get the sense that he wants us to succeed in our walk with Christ and in our relationships with each other…
John address the church plural in the singular “Beloved” the greek word Agapao - this is a person that is cherished and sometimes preferred above all others and treated with partiality… He uses the phrase” I am writing to you’ 6 times and by so doing reinforcing that there is a mission and purpose behind his letter...
He is eager to remind them of the great commandment… It’s both an Old Commandment and a New commandment---
This isn’t some new radical teaching that he is presenting but rather it stems from Old Covenant……
The Old Testament law had commanded, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Leviticus 19:18), and Jesus commanded his disciples, ‘Love each other as I have loved you’ (John 15:12).
But this is a new commandment because Jesus has now shown the kind of love involved. He has washed his disciples’ feet—acting as their slave even though he is their Lord (John 13:12–15). And he has given his life on the cross—making the supreme sacrifice for everyone in the world.
John tells us that with the coming of Jesus into the world the Light has been significantly increased... Jesus is the light of the world and with his coming darkness is diminishing and the light is increasing…
In Second Temple Judaism there was the Messianic expectation…where they were looking for the Messiah...
The long-awaited Messiah, and that therefore the new age began when he came. He was the dawn of the new era. He ushered in the day. He proclaimed the break-in of the kingdom of God. At the same time, the old age has not yet come to an end.
As John put it, ‘the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining’.76 So, for the time being, the two ages overlap. Unbelievers belong to the old age, and are still in the darkness. But those who belong to Jesus Christ have been transferred into the new age, into the light. Already in Christ we have ‘tasted … the powers of the coming age.’ Already, God has brought us ‘out of darkness into his wonderful light’.78 Only when Christ comes in glory will the present overlap then end..
W are told that light not only exists in God but his light now lives in us..
At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
“What’s true of him is true of us…” God’s light now shines in our heart… One of the metrics for Spiritual growth is walking in the light…
One of the test has to do with our Affections (emotions) toward other (believers)—
Here is Johns polemic/argument..
‘If we make the claim that we are walking with Christ in his light but we still hate our brother… we are really not walking with God.
To claim existence “in the light” of God is one matter; but to do so while practicing hatred, rather than love, is a contradiction.
Westcott (55) says, “there is no twilight in this spiritual world.
That ethical line that John brings up… Ethics is all about behavior… if you living in this quadrant of spiritual growth… It has to influence the way we interact with each other.... (if we are below the line) — no longer walking in light…
The word Hate miseo means to dislike intensely —to show aversion towards, or to decrees in status…(belittle) Grow hostile towards someone…
Whoever loves his brother Abides in the light… (above the line) ---
Have you ever been in pitch black room… My first job was in a dark room --- developing photographs… the old fashioned way… You can function in the darkness but your are blinded to the fact that you are blinded…
The tragedy of hatred is always twofold. First, there is the harm it does to the neighbor; second, there is the harm it does to the person who hates. Hatred, according to John, blurs vision and sets into place a basic disorientation and confusion.
Love clears the head; hatred confuses the head. There is even a greater danger: we become like that which we do. When we choose the strategy or tactics of darkness we inevitably end up under the control of darkness.
Walking in light and so there is no stumbling in the relationship… walking together in the light...
The point is plain. If we lose love then we lose everything. There is nothing left. You can do all the right things, believe all the right truths, but if you do not love other Christians, then all is lost
When we walk in darkness we stumble… (prov 4:17)
The litmus test of Abiding and walking in light is how much love you putting out there……
T/S John gives us another test and it has to do about what we know and put into Practice..
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
T/S The second test is..
2. Do I Affirm the great truths of the Scriptures?
2. Do I Affirm the great truths of the Scriptures?
This phrase I write to you comes up 11 times in this Chapter… Speaks of intentionality and mission in John Letter… Specific things he wants them to know… and it has to do with knowing Jesus the word of life.... knowing him personally.
John talks about little Children… Fathers and young men…They are not give in a specific order and so scholars have different ideas - some say these are general qualities that are make up the church-…Calvin held to this view…
more general view.... but other day like Augustine.. held to Another view which is more specific....that I think might be likely....
The three groups listed—children, fathers, and young men—most likely refer to three spiritual stages represented by John's readers.
Some are new believers, still rejoicing in their forgiveness. Some are seasoned believers, mature in their knowledge of God. And others are just hitting their stride as followers of Christ, full of zeal and strength. Wherever they might be in their journeys, he doesn't want them to get discouraged by his challenging words, and he wants them to understand that he has their best interests at heart.
And certainly all three groups are represented here today—some of us are new to the faith and full of gratitude and curiosity; some have been following Christ for a lifetime but still are eager to grow; and others are enjoying a season of strength and impact. Wherever we are, we are all eager to go deeper in our faith this year. And like a wise parent, John sits us down and looks us in the eye; he tells us that he loves us and is proud of us, and that he has something very important to share with us.... But it is not who… that really matter but really what is John saying to this demographic in the church...
The message is the same…that it takes faith to receive the message…the message has to be heard believed and appropriate or apply…
Theology talk about Appropriation… Especially in Salvation
The appropriation of Christ as Savior means to fully receive all that He has done on Calvary for the redemption of your soul: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (Jn. 1:12).
a. Appropriating the work of the cross..
Young Christian (Children) mature (fathers) know that your sin are forgiven.. This is back to chapter 1 where John tells us that he writes so we do not sin…However, because of we are in process and not perfect… When you do sin… You have an Advocate with the father… remember that when God forgives us he put up a sign no fishing….
Forgiven (means freedom - its being released from a consequence) - Forgiveness does not come by degrees. Even the youngest Christian is completely forgiven. They will never be “more forgiven.” Forgiveness is God’s gift, not man’s achievement.
For his name (speak of Christ nature and attributes)sake… Forgiveness has nothing to do with my goodness… my ability… it rests on perfection of Christ.
Forgiveness means that when the Father looks upon you --- He sees the Righteous one… He sees Jesus…
Some of us are Jacob walking around wounded --- with a limp because struggle with forgiving ourselves and others....
Walking in the light means walking Forgiven....
He is writing to Fathers… remember the things you heard from the beginning… in regards to message of life and knowing Jesus.
Fathers speaks of a - level of mature…
These are men and women of deep, long spiritual standing. They have the kind of walk with God that doesn’t come overnight. These are like great oak trees in the Lord, that have grown big and strong through the years.
b. You have known Him: This is what spiritual maturity has its roots in. It is not so much in an intellectual knowledge (though that is a part of it), but more so in the depth of fellowship and relationship we have with Jesus. There is no substitute for years and years of an experiential relationship with Jesus.
the only problem with maturity is thinking you know better.. John says to the mature — Practice love!!
Maturity doesn’t mean exemption.. the gnostics thought they had reach spiritual plato…they were above sin… Spiritual maturity can be deceitful....
You Know what is true… but Knowledge that God is light… knowledge that he “word of life” — Experienced this life… but you also need to walk in the law of love.... Appropriate what you Know!!
Young men--- Those who are struggling with temptation… Greek tense is interesting here “You have overcome” its the Pefect Activie indicative tense with basically means that Overcoming of sin is the summit is the highest point…of the process… In one sense this has been fully realized.... we are overcomers because what Christ has done… but we are overcomers because we still have to appropriate… the victory of the cross…
These young men have overcome the spiritual foes that would seek to destroy their spiritual life. Believers are victors, yet because of the “already but not yet” tension of the Kingdom of god, they still struggle with sin, temptation, and persecution
There are four things listed that believers know:
(1) that their sins are forgiven, v, 12;
(2) that through Christ they have overcome the devil (v. 13);
(3) that they “know” they have fellowship with both the Father (v. 14) and the Son (vv. 13–14); and
(4) that they are strong in the Word of God (v.
Affirm Ourselves in what we know is true of God Children stumble and fall- means knowing your sins are forgiven - (Advocate with the father)Knowing the "Word of life" messageYoung men - Overcoming
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
T/S Where are my Affections and Aversions? What am I moving towards and what am I moving away from?
3. Do I Avoid living with a “worldly” mindset?
3. Do I Avoid living with a “worldly” mindset?
What is interesting here is John uses the same word that he uses when talking about his affection toward the church… the word Beloved - or agapao— which refers to showing affection and preference that he has toward them as the brothers.
Now he uses the same word in context of the world… Uses a negative imperative “Do not “Agapao (beloved)” the world… …John uses the same world in his Gospels John 3:16--- In a positive light --- God so loved the world that he gave his only begottten son whoever believers in him will not perish…
We need to know that John is not saying that the world is intrinsically evil… Christianity is not Dualism - Dualism is a very ancient philosophy that saw the spirit and the immaterial as good, and matter and the tangible and the physical as bad.People who have bought into dualism and read it into Christianity and read it into this text … Things in the world have neutral properties… it’s what values we ascribe to them… for example money isn’t evil, however the love of money changes the value we ascribe to it…
The world is the word Kosmos and it is speaking of worlds system - that is the values, beliefs, and morals are in contrast to the word of life...
This seems to refer to a love of material objects (cf. v. 16) or the things the world has to offer: power, prestige, influence, etc. (cf. Rom. 12:2; James 1:27). This fallen world system attempts to meet all of mankind’s needs apart from God.
The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology says that loving the world is “an affection for that which is unlike God and contrary to his will” (1191). Warren Wiersbe writes in the Bible Exposition Commentary:
Worldliness is not so much a matter of activity as attitude … [It] not only affects your response to the love of God; it also affects your response to the will of God.
When you put these two factors together, you have a practical definition of worldliness: anything in a Christian’s life that causes him to lose his enjoyment of the Father’s love or his desire to do the Father’s will is worldly and must be avoided
He is saying don’t love the ways of the world… the system of practices and standards associated with secular society
One of the first examples of this idea of the world in the Bible helps us to understand this point. Genesis 11 speaks of human society’s united rebellion against God at the tower of Babel. At the tower of Babel, there was an anti-God leader of humanity (whose name was Nimrod). There was organized rebellion against God (in disobeying the command to disperse over the whole earth). There was direct distrust of God’s word and promise (in building what was probably a water-safe tower to protect against a future flood from heaven).
ii. The whole story of the tower of Babel also shows us another fundamental fact about the world system. The world’s progress, technology, government, and organization can make man better off, but not better. Because we like being better off, it is easy to fall in love with the world.
iii. Finally, the story of the tower of Babel shows us that the world system—as impressive and winning as it appears to be—will never win out over God. The Lord defeated the rebellion at the tower of Babel easily. The world system will never win out over God.
Again the contrast of light and darkness....It is impossible to love the world and its system an love God… they are incompatible…
As Augustine said so well, “man has a God-shaped hole” in his life. We try to fill that hole with earthly things, but we can only find peace and fulfilment in Him!
John gives us the reason why!
World based on Desires -
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
The word desire is the word epithumia, which means literally an over-desire. Epi is a Greek word that has to do with intensity. An epicenter is the heart of the heart. You know, the epicenter of the earthquake. This is not just the center, but the center of the center. Epi means intensity, and it has to do with the word over. A lust or a craving … that’s how they translate it here. Literally, what John is saying is the over-desires of the body.
Desires (over-desire) of the Flesh -
The world takes these desires and twists them into something they were never meant to be. There's nothing wrong with food, until we eat too much of it. ), until it alters our behavior, or until we can't live without it.
Jewish writers used the word in a similar way; cf. Philo, in his tractate on the Decalogue (par. 153): “For all the wars of Greeks and barbarians between themselves or against each other … are sprung from one source, desire, the desire for money or glory or pleasure. These it is that bring disaster to the human race
Desires (Over-desire) of the Eyes —
There’s nothing wrong with the eye. What does the eye see? Beauty. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying beauty, but when there’s an “epidesire” for beauty --
The Jews recognized that the eyes are the windows of the soul.... Eyes are the gateway and we need to be careful at what we look at..
Sin begins in the thought life and works its way out to action.
Pride of Life -
The ‘pride of life’, (over- drive of self importance) — We need to have a level of pride… confidence… and in fact we need to like and love ourselves… What John is dealing with here is this arrogant sense of self-sufficiency and self-importance…
Pride is the “epidesires” of the ego - It is when I take center stage.. .
It’s been said that Pride is like a beard. It just keeps growing. The solution? Shave it everyday...
Pride is the measurement of our Success —
The problem with Pride is that
“A life that is wrapped up in itself makes a very small package.”
Those who taunted Jesus while He was on the cross measured life in terms of self-preservation. Jesus measured life in terms of self-giving. His death on the cross was the supreme expression of His measurement of life
In summary Worldliness is- The over-desires of the body, the over-desires of the eye, and the over-desires of the ego. . When these normal things become elevated to the place where they become everything…
There is really an obvious problem with worldly mindset… and it has to do with the transient nature of life
Problem with buying into the values of our world… is that they are passing —
The concept of truth has been dying a slow death for many years and has become more noticeable in the past decade or so. In the early 2000s, comedian Stephen Colbert picked up on this cultural phenomenon by coining the term "truthiness," which went on to become Merriam-Webster's word of the year in 2006. Similarly, in 2016 in the wake of our presidential election, Brexit, and accusations across the political spectrum about "fake news," Oxford Dictionaries named "post-truth" its word of the year. Shortly thereafter, commenting on the presidential inauguration, Kellyanne Conway famously spoke of "alternative facts." In response, Timeblazoned the question "Is Truth Dead?" on its April 3, 2017 cover.
one day all the things that we thought we wanted or needed will not mean anything…
The contrast to this is that ever does the will of God (ie walking in the light of God) abides forever...
Through the centuries, Christians have dealt with the magnetic pull of the world in different ways. At one time it was thought that if you were a really committed Christian and really wanted to love God instead of the world, you would leave human society and live as a monk or a nun out in a desolate monastery.
ii. This approach, and other approaches that seek to take us out of the world, have two problems. The first problem is that we bring the world with us into our monastery. The other problem is that Jesus intended us to be in the world but not of the world. We see this in His prayer for us in John 17:14–18.
17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
John has portrayed the Christian journey with strong and vivid freedom language. We are invited into fellowship but the decision is ours to make; we are challenged to choose for ourselves the way of light, to confess our sins, to keep God’s commandments, to love our brother. I
We are not commanded to “feel” a certain way toward others, but only to “act” properly toward them. Understood this way, when we act properly toward our Christian brothers, out of a desire to be obedient to God, we love them.
It is a desirable and honorable exchange to give that which passes away for that which endures.
Bernard of Clairvaux
We are in regular contact with three eternal things: the Holy Spirit of God, the people around you, and the eternal words recorded in the book you hold. Time, attention, and expense put into those things pays eternal rewards.