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1 John   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Confidence and Prayer:

In the letter of 1 John, John the Apostle has laid out his purpose in four parts: 1. That his readers might hear the truth. 2. In hearing the truth they might believe. 3. In believing they will have life. 4. And in living they would know or have confidence.
Last time in this knowing, this confidence, was demonstrated in the testimony or witness of Jesus’ baptism (water), His crucifixion (the blood) and the inward witness of the Holy Spirit that can only speak the truth because He is God and God is truth. Go ahead and believe the testimony of the Apostles (man) but God’s testimony is greater. With God’s testimony we know we have life, we have confidence in Him for that life. With that John has delivered a means of confidence.
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, 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 the petitions that we have asked of Him.[1]
A lot of people will amen verse 15 because if you take it out of context it sounds like you have a Santa-God who will give you whatever you ask and there are a lot of people who call themselves Bible teachers who will tell you that. But we have to be careful with that so let’s look at it in context. In verse 14 John gives us another means of confidence like I mentioned to you in verses 6-8, namely prayer. We talked about this last time but our confidence is not simply in the future, at His appearing or after we die in the sweet bye and bye. Our confidence, just like our eternal life, is not something to be waited for it is today in the here and now. Your eternal life started the moment you received Christ (). The confidence we have in prayer is that “He hears us” now which carries with it the connotation that He responds. But there is a huge qualifier there, and we don’t like qualifiers but it is there, and the qualifier is “if we ask anything according to His will.” When we ask according to His will He hears and He responds. But we have to remember that prayer is not a convenient device for imposing our will upon God, we are creatures and we can make no demands of God. Nor is prayer for bending his will to ours, but instead it is the prescribed way of subordinating our will to His.[2] But you may be asking; “how can we know His will to ask in His will?” Let me tell you the best kept secret in all of Christianity. Write this down. We know how to pray in His will by praying and reading our Bibles. Ya, that is the secret. If you have ever kept a prayer journal, and I have to admit I do not now but I have, you would see how your prayers change over time and how they are answered. They are answered as we are changed by communicating with God and allowing Him to communicate to us through His Word. In other words prayer and carefully seeking answers in God’s Word changes us to pray in His will. We know how Jesus taught us to pray: “Our Father in heaven, holy is your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And how is the Father’s will done in heaven? It is done perfectly, completely and immediately. Every single prayer should be aimed in that direction, not to change His mind but to change your heart so that His will is done not your own. John goes on to say in verse 15, to kind of wrap this up, that since we know He hears us when we ask in His will then we can be sure that He answers according to His will. This leads us to do what tells us: 16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
We have confidence that we have eternal life because of the witness of God through His Holy Spirit and the testimony of Jesus baptism and crucifixion. And we also have confidence in eternal life because we know that when we ask according to His will He will answer our requests, we can come boldly before His throne; which leads us to our next two verses. 16-17 16 If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.[3] Before we get to the part about “sin that does not lead to death and the sin that does lead to death” let’s look at what John in talking about overall. We are without a doubt convinced through John’s teaching that we are supposed to pray that that our prayers or our petitions are heard and responded to if we pray or petition according to God’s will. We are to pray for the things that concern us. But, if you are willing to admit it, most of our prayers are concerned with our own needs (give us this day our daily bread). I’m not saying that is wrong because we read that verse in Hebrews a minute ago about coming boldly before the throne to receive grace and mercy. But John is telling us these verses that intercessional prayer for our brothers is just as important. Of course we can look at the example of Jesus. In we read the greatest prayer that our Lord ever prayed. It is not the Lord’s prayer; it is often called the High Priestly prayer. In the first 5 verses of Jesus indeed prayed for Himself, that He would glorify His Father and that He would be glorified. Then in the next 14 verses He prayed for His disciples, the ones who would betray Him and deny Him ending in verses 16-19 with 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.[4] What a great prayer for His disciples who He knew would betray, desert and deny Him. Then in the last 7 verses (20-26) He prays for all believers. Verse 20 20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;[5] Make sure you understand this: Jesus is praying for you and for me and He knows that we will at some point in our walk with Him desert Him, deny Him or betray Him. You may be saying, George I have never denied or betrayed my Lord, I may have deserted Him but not denied or betrayed. You need to know that anytime you sin, whether in action or attitude you have in essence betrayed Him who died for you, you have denied His authority over your life, you have deserted Him in your obedience. Yet He prayed for you. Let’s do a little math here, and you know that is not something I do well, but if we take this chapter and determine the volume of prayer Jesus prayed for Himself and the volume of prayer for others we see that over 80% of this prayer that Jesus prayed was for others. That number is not important but it is interesting and with that as our example let’s make sure we understand that we are to pray for one another, especially when we see one another fall into sin.
Let’s stop here for just a moment and think about how we usually treat fellow believers who fall into sin. We will; ostracize them yet without calling them to repentance first, we will criticize them without any love what so ever, we will marginalize them determining that they are not worthy of calling to repentance. I think it was C. S. Lewis who said that the church is the only army that shoots its wounded. But John is very clear that when our brother, a fellow believer, falls into sin, we are to pray for them, we are to intercede for them to be restored and we know that is always in God will. Remember that this is a ‘brother’ who has already been delivered form the consequences of sin ( There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.[6]). So a brother’s sin is not going to be a sin unto death but it will separate him from fellowship with his Savior and the Saviors bride, the church. That is why John could say in verse 17 that all unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death. Remember all sin leads to death but Jesus bore the sin of all who believe If we pray for them because we love them (that is our mandate) then we will call them to repentance in love and God will forgive them and he or she or they will live that life that God has called them to.
That was for the brother sinning a sin that does not lead to death. But what about those who sin the sin that leads to death? This is not talking about a brother as I have already explained because as we have already noted there is not condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. I have to admit that this has been debated by some very smart people for a very long time and there is little agreement on what John is talking about. There are about ten different views from very learned men and women but I am going to tell what I believe John is talking about. Of course this is not from one of those leaned men so you have every right to see what they have to say. The point I believe John is making is that we need not be concerned with the sin that leads to death in the lost person because there is nothing you can do nor is there anything they can do about their sin. Let’s face it, if we who are believers, who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us have trouble keeping sin out of our lives then we have to know that the lost person really has no weapon to fight sin with. Instead of praying that they cease the sin that leads to death pray that they will receive the grace of God given by faith in Jesus Christ (by grace you are saved through faith). Believers have been called to love one another and to love those in the world. We have talked about that love before, it is not a warm fuzzy feeling, it is action and part of that action is to pray for one another especially those who have fallen into sin and those who are bound up in sin with no tools to relieve themselves of that sin.
We have confidence that we have eternal life because of the witness of God through His Holy Spirit and the testimony of Jesus baptism and crucifixion. And we also have confidence in eternal life because we know that when we ask according to His will He will hear us and answer our requests, we can come boldly before His throne and a great part of our coming boldly before the throne should be in lifting up one another especially those who have fallen into sin and those who are bound up in sin with no tools to relieve themselves of that sin.
You can only live stream for four hours so I guess I had better move on. So what do we do with all of this information? Not to sound too sarcastic but; Duh, we pray. But you know, you can spend the whole day in prayer, and you can also spend the whole day in Bible study and still not be asking in God’s will. Why? Because if you pray and study but do not obey what you studied then it is just an exercise in discipline or self control. But self control without obedience to the Word of God is what is known as legalism and legalism is not seeking and knowing the will of God. So we pray, seek God’s will in His word and act in obedience to God’s Word. Then we will pray in His will.
That is the first thing we do with the information. The second is this. How we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ when they fall into sin tells the lost how we will treat them. So, in love, pray for fellow believers who have fallen into sin, in love pray for one another period. If you are praying for one another out of love you will find ways to serve one another and ways to encourage one another. Let’s face it, with what is going on in our world today we all need that kind of encouragement. If you believe yourself to be the Lone Ranger like I used to believe then you are as big a fool as I was. Pray for one another because you know you are being heard and if you are being hear praying for me you have to know that I am being heard praying for you. When we do this, the lost, the world, will see that love and they will know that they too can receive that kind of community that every human being desires. Let me pray for you guys.
[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[2] Stott, J. R. W. (1988). The Letters of John: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 19, p. 185). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
[3] The New King James Version. (1982). (). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[4] The New King James Version. (1982). (). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[5] The New King James Version. (1982). (). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[6] The New King James Version. (1982). (). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
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