Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Where Have You Pitched Your Tent?

1 John 3 1-12 (NASB)


Just as in the previous chapters, John addresses his readers as “Little children” and “Beloved.” And in some translations "Dear Friends—his desire is to remind his fellow believers, who he loves, of God’s great love—the love by which they are called “children of God.”  I believe it's a reminder we need often.

Matter of fact, in my humble opinion, without the knowledge, experience, and understanding of God's love, our expression and development of our relationship with Him will be skin deep, known only in the mind but not one that seizes our heart in an overwhelming sense of connectedness with a Holy God.

Verse 1
“See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” 

In other translations of the Bible the word “lavish” is used instead of bestowed. To lavish is: sumptuously rich, elaborate, or luxurious . . . Bestow is: something in generous or extravagant quantities.

So we can say it like this . . . Beloved, God’s luxurious love has been sumptuously rich toward us. Not only that but elaborate and generously given. His love comes in extravagant quantities, which has been poured on us. In this we are called his children.

What do you think about God's love? When I think of God’s love lavished upon me, it’s hard to wrap my mind around the “extravagant quantities” in which he has poured his love into my life even at the times I've felt undeserving.  Can you relate?
An awesome quote from Corrie Ten Boom says this, “There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still.”  Oh the depth of God's love toward us is unfathomable. 
Through times of ministry, I’ve met those who found it difficult to grasp why God would love them, especially when all they see is their sin instead of the grace of God’s love. A love so powerful it washes away the mire and muck of our choices, once we've come to know the salvation of Christ and God's grace.

The Greek/Hebrew language has several different definitions for love, maybe you know them.
  • Phileo, which indicates friendship love
  • Eros, which indicates romantic love
  • Agape, which referrers to God’s unconditional love
Agape love is God's awesome affections toward humankind, “. . . So loved the world that he gave his One and only Son,” (John 3:16; NIV).

Agape love is sacrificial and is the deepest form of God's endearment toward us. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8; NIV).


As I read chapter 3 particularly verses 1-12, words which popped out to me were: sin, children of God, practices, righteousness, and evil.

Considering this mix of words a sentence came to me, which I think sums up these first twelve verses: Children of God, sin is evil, practice righteousness. 

CHILDREN BEHAVE

Verse 2
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.”
This verse not only speaks of the now in which we became God's children through faith in Christ but also of future things to come—when Jesus appears, during his second coming . . . “we shall be like Him” and “shall see Him just as He is.” Exciting or what?

Until then we are to be imitators of God as dearly loved children, and practice righteousness (See Ephesians 5:1).

Verse 3
“And everyone who has this hope [Christ coming] fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
What does that mean to be pure? Of course, it’s to be void of any pollutants. 

It’s easy today, as it was back in John’s time, to fill our souls with things other then what is good for us spiritually, emotionally and or physically. 

I think of that verse which says, "Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything," (1 Corinthians 6:12; NIV).

Purity also indicates that we are to set ourselves apart from the world. That doesn’t mean we become monks or nuns or crawl into a cave to avoid the world around us. We are to be in the world but not of it.

We are instructed not to pattern our lives after the world but to transform our minds to be more Christ like. In doing so, we move away from our old ways and into the ways of God. (See Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 5:17; NIV). There is a caution here as some Christians can walk in legalism and create of list of do's and don'ts.


TO SIN OR NOT TO SIN

Verses 4, 5
“Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin." (Italics mine).
What can we say about sin? Some don’t believe in “sin” or that they are able to sin, like I mentioned in my last writing. However, when we compare our life to the Holiness of God, our "perceived" goodness becomes dark shades of grey. 

And of course it would be amiss not to mention the old faithful verse of, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23).

However as God's children, we have confidence that as we abide in Christ, his righteousness will dwell in us. And the reassurance we have is knowing His " . . . divine power has given us everything we need through life and godliness . . . " (2 Peter 1:3).

When we are alone it’s easy to let ourselves go, I know and especially at home where we are most comfortable; but think for a moment when a guest arrives, we are on our best behavior.

So it is with Christ, if we are mindful of our standing in Him, perhaps we will be more conscience of our own behaviors and lean toward practicing righteousness. 

Let me say though, putting off our old nature, to be like Christ, is not a “works” mentality . . . it should be out of love for God and for Christ where we willingly decide to chuck off our old habits and build on ones that draw us closer to Jesus. 

Verse 7-12

In these verses the warning goes out . . . again, “ . . . Let no one deceive you . . ..” In other words you know what sin is and what it is not. If you practice righteousness, good but if you practice sin know this, “sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.” 

I’m reminded of the song by Bob Dylan in which he sang you’ve got to serve somebody. I submit that we are in one of two camps . . . God’s our the devils. Oh how archaic and legalistic to ascertain we are serving the devil if we are not serving God. But friends it's right there in the pages of God's word. And important even for John to write about it. If we are not serving God, then who are we serving?
The good news is “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil,” (verse 8). (God gets a standing ovation for this one.)

MAN'S SIN NATURE IN THE LAST DAYS 

Christians, me included, need to push in—the battle is fierce. The sacred values, which we old dear are slowly being erased by those who choose to believe that God is but a myth or a mere fairytale. 

2 Timothy chapter three tells Christians how people will be in the last days. I feel that everyday leads to the birth pains of a degenerate world. 

Here is a list of what is to come and what is already in our world.


Men will be lovers of self
Lovers of money
Boastful, arrogant
Conceited, Revilers
Disobedient to parents
Ungrateful
Unholy, Unloving
Irreconcilable
Malicious gossips
Without self-control
Brutal, Haters of good
Treacherous, Reckless
Lover of pleasure rather than lovers of God
Holding a form of godliness, denying its power
Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of truth




If that does not sound like today, then we are a blinded people. Those practices mentioned above in 2 Timothy 3 are acts of unrighteousness, they’re what the Bible says are the works and deeds of evil. 
Love has something to do with overcoming sin . . . Verse 11 tells us, “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain who was of the evil one and slew his brother.”
If Cain was not riddled with selfish ambitions, was not arrogant, jealous, hater of what was good in Abel, and loved his brother, he possibly wouldn't have killed him in the field. But he was filled with hate and he did kill his brother. (Cain and Abel's story is found in Genesis 4:8). 

What is the application for us today? I think it’s much like it was at the time John wrote this letter. 

  • We are to walk in God's love
  • Love others 
  • Practice righteous living
  • Be aware of lawlessness
  • Don't forget whose child you are

We have to decide, in this upside down world, what camp we are going to pitch our tent in and take up residency. What values and morals are we willing to stand for or to give up? 

Chime in, what are your thoughts of John's message?