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1 John Overview - Part 3 - Profession vs. Possession

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Introduction: The key phrases are “If we say” and “He who says” or “If someone says” which are found seven times in this epistle.  Our present lesson will cover profession vs. possession.  Something had raised the issue of the assurance of salvation in the church that John was writing to.  It runs through the whole letter.  There are at least two things that have forced the issue out into the open:

1.                  First: A group of professing believers had left the church (1Jn.2:19).

a)                   This must have hurt as well as caused confusion to the church.  “I thought the sheep hear Jesus’ voice and no one will snatch them out of His hand… has your theology changed?” 

b)                  So now the church faces the question: “how are we going to know who is genuine and who isn't?  How can we even be sure about ourselves?"

2.                  Second: A group of false teachers behind the “He who says” statements (1Jn.3:7).

a)                   John says; don’t be deceived by these false prophets that have gone out from you: he who does righteousness is righteous.  When they say that a man can stand righteous before God while going on in an unrighteous life, they are liars.  He who does righteousness is righteous.

b)                  Now we begin to see what is going on in this church.  There were many in the early church who were taking Paul’s doctrine of justification and distorting it to teach things that Paul rejected.

(1)                 Some said, "Let us do evil that good may come" (Romans 3:8).  
(2)                 Some said, "Let us sin that grace may abound" (Romans 6:1).
(3)                 And Paul corrected both of these abuses of the doctrine in the book of Romans.

c)                  So the second reason why the issue of assurance was brought into the open in this church is the false prophets were teaching that you can enjoy the assurance of standing sinless before God in righteousness even if you walk in darkness, disobey God's commandments, and hate your brother.  This did not square with Paul's teaching or John's or the Lord's. 

Not everyone who claims to be a Christian really is. 

1.                  People who are not truly Christians can be deceived into thinking they are. 

a)                  If there is no holiness in your life, you have no hope of seeing God, except in judgment:

The writer of Hebrews says “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” 

b)                  There are those who think they are saved but at the same time living a life of unholiness.  Remember, we have, not just the Spirit of God but The Holy Spirit.

c)                  There are going to be those who will be shocked to discover that in the final judgment, heaven is not their final destiny.

2.                  A Person Must Profess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Romans 10:9-10), but Not all those who call Him Lord will enter His Kingdom (Matthew 7:21).

a)                  OBEDIENCE, CHARACTER, LIFESTYLE, and CONDUCT is the deciding factor.

3.                  Two Types of False Believers: those that

a)                  “say without doing” - empty words (Matt.7:21-23)

b)                  “hear without obeying” (Matt.7:26-27)

4.                  Classic Example of Obedience from our Lord (Matthew 21:28-32)

a)                  Many want Jesus but do not want any alteration of their lifestyle (John 3:19-20).

Jesus Himself commented on this by saying "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”  (John 3:19-20, NASB95)

(1)                 Phone call of person (Maya) last week wanting Jesus for Fire insurance, but then rejecting him and not obeying Him.

#1 – “If we say that we have fellowship with Him” (1:6).

1.                  All talk, but no walk.

a)                  Their life does not back up what they “say”.

(1)                 This is the first of many declarations that John will tell us that people make.  Declarations that in and of themselves are wonderful.
(2)                 And of course, these are things that we should say, and should be able to say.  However, oftentimes, people say things but their lives do not back up what they say.
(3)                 Their life is not consistent with the things they are professing:

Paul writing to Timothy says "to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.  They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.”  (Titus 1:15-16, NASB95)

Paul said to the Jews who thought they were a guide to the blind, and a light to those who are in darkness, he said “you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?  You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal?  You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery…?  through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?

                                1 John 2:4… read this

(4)                 What a person says is not always a true indicator of where their heart is.

b)                  The Christian life is more than a profession (James 2:14-26).

(1)                 Saved by “faith alone”, but not by a “faith that is alone”
(2)                 We are “Saved by faith” (Eph. 2:8-9); “walk by faith” (2 Cor. 5:7); “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6);
(3)                 We exercise our faith in many ways everyday: Elevator; my truck starting in the morning; water we drink; medicine we take, etc...
(4)                 This guy in (v.15-16) claims faith, yet reduces to help the needy.  See, words cannot warm a person’s body, nor can words fill a person’s stomach:

We are not to love in words only but in deeds as well: "But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?  My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”  (1 John 3:17-18, NKJV)

(5)                 Homeless ministry
(6)                 We must be doers of the Word and not hearers only.

2.                  All walk (works)… but no relationship – be careful of your love for Christ growing cold.

a)                  Church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:2-5).

(1)                 Don’t judge a church by its cover.  Today, it seems as though the first thing that people judge a church by is “the way the building looks”.  Great buildings might have dead congregations, and modest buildings may be thriving for the Lord. 
(2)                 The church we think is “rich” may turn out to be poor in God’s sight (Rev.3:17), while the “poor” church is actually rich (Rev. 2:9).  Remember, the Lord looks at the heart (1Sam.16:7).     

b)                  Church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:17).

(1)                 What Jesus says of me is much more important than what I say of myself.
(2)                 In the Scriptures I see three “spiritual temperatures”:

A burning heart, on fire for God: When Jesus appeared on the road to Emmaus the disciples said: "To one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?"  (Luke 24:32, NKJV)

A cold heart: Jesus said that "Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”  (Matthew 24:12, NKJV)

A lukewarm heart: And here to the church in Laodicea He says "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”  (Revelation 3:16, NKJV)


back to 1 John 1

3.                  ‘…and walk in darkness…’  (v.6b). 

a)                  What does it mean to walk in the darkness?

(1)                 2:8-11 give some real clear indications.
(a)                 It says that he who hates his brother is in the darkness and he who loves his brother abides in the light. 
(b)                Walking in the light means being a loving person and walking in the darkness means being a person of hate.  But there is something more basic than that.
(2)                 2:8 says (at the end), "The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining."
(a)                 What is this darkness that is passing away?  Notice that the same word for passing away is used in (2:17), "The world is passing away and the desire of it."
(b)                From this I would conclude that walking in darkness means being controlled by desires for this world instead of desires for God.

b)                  Poles that have been taken say that, 90% of America is Christians!

(1)                 If so, then why does Hollywood sell so many filthy movies, pornography, etc?
(2)                 This only shows that there are those who saythey are Christians, who saythey are believers in Jesus Christ, who are actually viewing these things!
(3)                 Going and viewing that filth is walking in darkness!

c)                  Walking in darkness is a very dangerous place to be.

Paul said "For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience."  (Ephesians 5:5-6, NKJV)

(1)                 It is dangerous because it is deceptive.
(2)                 We need to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5 cf. Psalm 139:23-24).

Our cry should be as the Psalmist "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”  (Psalm 139:23-24, NKJV)

#2 – “If we say we have no sin” (1:8).

1.                  The claim to be without sin is self deception.

a)                  The truth has found no place in us.

(1)                 When a person is converted, the truth takes up residence in the heart.  Or we could say the light of God comes into the heart.  Now of course we are not sinless… but we will battle with sin all our life.
(2)                 What he says is that when the truth enters in its light reveals sin!  The mark of the saint is not sinlessness but sin-consciousness!  The evidence of indwelling truth is the exposure of error. 
(3)                 The mark of the new creature in Christ is not a rosy self concept.  It is brokenness for remaining sin mingled with a joyful confidence in the superabounding grace of God in Christ.

Listen to what Paul says about sin and God’s grace: "Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound.  But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:20-21)

b)                  “Sin” in (v.8) is reference to the sinful root.

(1)                 We did not become sinners when we sinned; we sinned because we are sinners.

Romans 5 says that "just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— " (Romans 5:12)

David says that he "was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me."  (Psalm 51:5)

Ephesians 2:1-3 says "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others."  (Ephesians 2:1-3, NKJV)

c)                  The Denial of the Sinful Root: False View – The moral government of God.

(1)                 We are all born innocent not having sinful natures.
(2)                 We chose to sin even as Adam chose to sin (false): The danger in this teaching:
(a)                 Romans 5:12 imputed sin – Paul uses the fact that Adam sinned, representing us.
(b)                Romans 5:18 Paul says that if one man can make us all sinners, then one man can make us all righteous.
(c)                 If you say that one man couldn’t make us all sinners, then you are denying that one Man can make us all righteous.
(d)                This denies that I can be made righteous through my faith in Jesus Christ.

d)                  Gnosticism – the context of this book.

(1)                 The foundation of Gnosticism is a system of belief in which salvation is based on knowledge or enlightenment in which the physical world is mocked and the spiritual world is honored.
(2)                 Gnostics believed that Jesus was not really incarnate, only seeming to be human.     
(3)                 With respect to sin, there are two directions that they took:
(a)                 To deny sin… they were beyond sin.
(b)                To claim that sin was irrelevant: sin was done in the body and the body was the outside shell of a person, the real person was the spirit, therefore, while ones body was sleeping with a prostitute, the spirit was not involved in the act.

e)                  Some even try to deny sin altogether.

(1)                 Many do not like to face the truth: seeker sensitive church’s (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
(2)                 Tell the truth, the truth hurts, but the truth shall set you free!

#3 – If we say we have not sinned” (1:10).

1.                  Those claming perfect righteousness.

a)                  This is even worse because we “Make God a liar!”

(1)                 Romans 3:23 – God says that “all have sinned”
(2)                 Sin and sins
(a)                 “Sin” singular refers to the sinful root (as noted earlier)
(b)                “Sin” plural refers to the fruit of the sinful root

(i)                   this is a declaration that my sinful nature has not born any sinful fruit

(ii)                 that is “I am perfect”

b)                  Definition of sin:

(1)                 “To miss the mark.”
(2)                 “All have missed the mark…”  “There is none righteous, no not one.”
(3)                 “For [there is] not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Ecc.7:20).
(4)                 What is the mark?
(a)                 Matthew 5:48 – perfection
(b)                2 Corinthians 5:21 – Christ is the one who makes us righteous
(5)                 Some who teach sinless perfection: there argument goes something like this:
(a)                 “Do you believe you can go 1 minute without sin?”  Yes… 2 minutes?  Yes, etc.

Paul said "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:12-14, NKJV)

2.                  Practical Considerations in (1:5–10).

a)                  Plaques on walls and bumper stickers on cars tell the world “God is love.”

(1)                 But no one displays the sign God is light.  Yet this is exactly what John does in his first epistle.  He first says, “God is light” (1:5) and later writes, “God is love” (4:16).  Light comes before love, for light uncovers that which is hidden.  When we have fellowship with God (1:3, 6), we cannot hide our sins.  Sins, like darkness, have no place in God’s light.  They must be removed.

b)                  How does God remove sins?  This is God’s method:

(1)                 First, he cleanses us from sin with “the blood of Jesus, his Son [that] purifies us from every sin” (v. 7).
(2)                 And second, he specifies our part in the remission of sin: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1:9).  God’s provision and man’s responsibility go hand in hand.
(3)                 To confess means that I say the same thing God says about sin. God applies his law and says, “You are the sinner.”  And like the publican in the temple court I acknowledge my sin and pray, “God, have mercy on me, the sinner” (Luke 18:13).

#4 – “He who says, ‘I know Him” (2:4).

1.                  What is meant by "knowing Christ" in verse 4?

a)                  Knowledge that leads to obedience.

(1)                 There must be something very powerful about this knowledge because John calls anyone a liar who claims to have this knowledge but not have obedience.
(2)                 Judas knew Christ.  Lots of unbelieving scholars today know more about Christ than many Christians.  There must be a different kind of knowledge than this merely factual knowledge.

Hoseah has the same view of knowing God that John has: the Lord said in Hoseah 4:1-2, "There is no faithfulness or kindness, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, killing, stealing, and committing adultery."

Jesus gives us a further glimpse into this kind of knowledge of God.  In Matthew 11:27 he said, "All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."  So there is a special knowledge of God that no one can have unless it is given him by the Son.

(3)                 Notice how the opposite of knowing God is "not being of God" (1Jn.4:6)
(4)                 Knowing God means belonging to him, being born of him, being of his character (1Jn.3:9).

Illustration: When a soldier comes back from combat, he may say to the civilians who stayed at home, "You don't know what war is like.”  He means, "There is a knowledge that only comes from experience.  There is a knowing that only come from taking a reality into yourself and tasting it fully. 

So the knowledge John has in view in 2:4 is an experience of Christ and God the Father in which they are taken into the depths of our life and change the way we live.

b)                  How does this knowledge lead to obedience (1 John 4:16)?

(1)                 Notice how he puts the two words together: “We know and believe the love of God.”  To know the love God has for you is to trust it.
(2)                 To know the command of God & go against it is to conclude you don’t believe that God is love.
(3)                 Turning away from the commands of God is saying “A loving God would not command me to do that”.

John says in 5:3 "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.  And His commandments are not burdensome.”  (1 John 5:3, NKJV)

(4)                 So, If you turn away from the commandments of God because you think you will find more happiness in disobedience, then you do not believe that God is love.  You don't know him.  Knowing him as a God of love must result in obedience of his commandments.

(5)                 Recall the evil servant in the parable of the Ten Minas (Luke 19:11-27).
(a)                 His master gave him a pound and said, "Do business till I come.”  But the man disobeyed and put it in a handkerchief and did not trade with it.
(b)                When the master asked why, he said, "I was afraid of you because you are a severe man.”  That is the reason behind all the disobedience of God's commandments: we don't believe that they are expressions of love, that have our best interest at heart
(c)                 We think that they are the word of a severe God who wants to withhold from us the happiness we crave.  So we disobey proving that we are liars when we claim to know him.

2.                  ‘…Whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him…’  (1Jn.2:5b).

a)                  The love of God in us, or our love for Him is perfected by our works.

(1)                 In other words: Our faith in God, or love for God, is completed when that faith or love works itself out in obedience.
(2)                 God works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure.  He will give you the desires of your heart.  We must work it out (1Jn.5:3; Jn.14:15, 21, 24; Philippians 3:8-10 Paul).

#5 – “He who says he abides in Him” (2:6).

1.                  “Ought to walk as He walked.”                  

a)                  We are commanded to abide in Christ.

Jesus said in John 15: "Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."  (John 15:4-5, NKJV)

(1)                 So according to Jesus, in order for us to bear fruit, we need to abide or remain in Him.
(2)                 See, our problem is, we become so good at so many things, and many times we do these things without prayer, & seeking God, that we think were ok.
(3)                 Illustration: let’s one might point to an incident in the life of Paul.
(a)                 In connection with a storm and shipwreck in which Paul was involved God had given him the definite promise, “There will be no loss of life among you” (Acts 27:22).
(b)                Nevertheless, Paul says to the centurion and to the soldiers, “Unless these men remain in the ship, you cannot be saved” (Acts 27:31).
(c)                 The word of warning did not in any way contradict the certainty that the men would actually be saved.  The men heeded the warning and no life was lost.
(4)                 I believe we have many warnings in Scripture because of our humanness:

Paul gives a warning in Colossians 1:23 “If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.”  (Colossians 1:23, NKJV)

We read in Hebrews "Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.”  (Hebrews 2:1, NKJV)

Hebrews 3:14 says "For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end," (Hebrews 3:14, NKJV)

(5)                 I believe that abiding in Jesus Christ is evidence of a relationship with Jesus Christ

b)                  The Spirit of God is conforming me into Christ’s image & likeness (Romans 8:29; 2Cor.3:18).

(1)                 To truly abide in Christ and Christ in me is to is to “walk as He walked
(2)                 And then my life becomes a reflection of Him.
(3)                 But to “say’ I abide in Christ is not enough… We must “walk as He walked”

2.                  How did Jesus walk?

a)                  Jesus walked in gentleness & humility.

(1)                 Jesus said "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28, NKJV)

b)                  Jesus always had time for those in need (Mark 6:32-44).

(1)                 If I walk in pride saying, “I can’t take time for you” then, this is not walking as He walked.
(2)                 Interruptions Are Opportunities – In ministry there are not interruptions, just opportunities to minister the love of God to others.  EVEN IF WE ARE TIRED!
(3)                 The Response Of The Disciples – As far as the disciples were concerned, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and nothing could be done!
(a)                 They wanted to get rid of the very people God wanted them to help. 
(b)                Note this: After Jesus met their need that is when He sent them away (Mark 6:46).  
(c)                 If I say I am abiding in Him but do not walk as He walked then my profession is false.

#6 – “He who says he is in the light” and hated his brother (2:9-11 cf. 4:20).

1.                  Love becomes the final proof of Christianity.

a)                  Our love Proof’s…

(1)                 That we are His disciples – “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” – John 13:35
(2)                 That we are born of God & know God (1 John 4:7-8)
(3)                 That God’s Spirit is within us (1 John 4:12-13)
(4)                 That our testimony & confessions are true 1 John 4:14-16)
(5)                 That God is going to deliver us from judgement  (1 John 4:17 faithful & true witness)
(6)                 That God delivers us from fear (1 John 4:18)

b)                  Biting & devouring

(1)                 We are to serve one another through love, loving our neighbor as ourselves
(2)                 But, if we bite and devour one another, we will be consumed by one another – Gal.5:13-15

c)                  Love becomes the final proof of Eternal Life (1 John 3:14-15).

(1)                 The enemy wants us to not get along & to hate each other.     

But Jesus Himself said that “By this (which is brotherly love), by this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

(2)                 This love is not optional for believers.

It not only is required but is inescapable, because “whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him” (1 John 5:1).

In John 15 Jesus said "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12, NKJV). 

(3)                 How has Jesus loved us?  With an unconditional love (Romans 5:8).
(4)                 It’s a love that loves even when it’s rejected:

Paul said "I will gladly spend myself and all I have for your spiritual good, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me.”  (2 Corinthians 12:15, NLT)

(5)                 This love does not demand, expect repayment or love in order to receive (v.16).             

Jesus said: "When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just."  (Luke 14:12-14, NKJV)

(6)                 If this love is not evident in our lives, according to John, our salvation can be questioned: 
(a)                 The Bible describes lost persons in (Titus 3:3) by saying that they are “hateful & hating one another”.  The place of hatred, of jealousy, of bitterness you find yourself in is a place of death.  You need to pass from death to life!
(b)                If your life is characterized by hatred, then you have never really experienced the new birth:

You may say, how could you say that, well John says "If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?  And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”  (1 John 4:20-21, NKJV)

#7 – “If someone says, ‘I love God” (4:20-21).

1.                  You cannot love God who you have not seen while hating your brother who is made in His image - v.19-21

a)                  The Basis: His Love – v.19

(1)                 We know that we love God because we know God’s love for us
(2)                 If you truly understand what God has done for you… then you should truly love Him.  To demonstrating your love for Him, then you would ‘love one another.’

b)                  The Illustration: A False Profession – v.20

(1)                 If we have the nature of God in us, then we should love our brothers.
(2)                 If we say that we love God and hate those whom we see, we are a liar.

c)                  The Commandment

(1)                 God Commands Love
(a)                 1 John 3:23
(b)                John 21:16

2.                  Brotherly Love Should Be Naturally Assumed if “We Say We are Christians.”

Paul says "But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;" (1 Thessalonians 4:9, NKJV)

Lets turn to 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13 and this is where we are going to end….

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NKJV)

What is the greatest?  "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)

II.                  Notice the contrasts of false professions to the actual possessions.

1.                  “If we walk in the light we have fellowship”

2.                  “If we confess our sins His is faithful and just to forgive.” – 1:9

3.                  “He that keeps His Word, the love of God is perfected in Him.” – 2:5

4.                  “He who loves his brother, abides in the light.” – 2:10


#1 – “If we say that we have fellowship with Him” (1:6).

#2 – “If we say we have no sin” (1:8).

#3 – If we say we have not sinned” (1:10).

#4 – “He who says, ‘I know Him” (2:4).

#5 – “He who says he abides in Him” (2:6).

#6 – “He who says he is in the light” and hated his brother (2:9-11 cf. 4:20).

#7 – “If someone says, ‘I love God” (4:20-21).

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