Sermon Recap — February 23, 2020

Living In Light of God’s Holiness

Christopher Patton
1 John 2:28-3:10
February 23, 2020
Sermon Audio 

Introduction

  • Our passage today addresses the topic of personal holiness–what it means to live not like the world, but instead to live lives that please God, characterized by righteousness and purity.
  • This can be an uncomfortable topic because to talk about holiness is to come face to face with how very far we fall short of God’s glory and how much we still sin as Christians.
  • However, we have a great Savior who forgives our every sin, so we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about what is a major theme in the Bible and what is a major theme in this epistle as well, even though it can make us uncomfortable.
  • Reminder of the theme of light and darkness in 1 John.
  • The pull towards sin, towards evil, towards darkness is something we all must fight against daily. It is part of living in fallen broken world…. a world the apostle Paul characterizes as under “this present darkness.”
  • We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us who is mighty and strong, yet remaining sin within, the world, demonic powers….“The dark-side,” if you will beckons each one of us in different ways… depending on our particular set of weaknesses and temptations.
  • Often the pull is subtle – self-pity, bitterness, gossip, envy, unbelief etc… Sins such as these can be so familiar to us. They don’t seem that bad, yet they are part of the darkness that ensnares us.
  • At times, the pull is not so subtle. The Enemy whispers, ”go on, click on that image..it will not hurt you.”
  • We love and affirm the Reformed and biblical doctrine of eternal security. We believe those who are truly and genuinely saved, God keeps to the end. Yet we also affirm, God keeps us, in part, through our Spirit-powered, gospel-driven efforts to put off sin and put on holiness.
  • We don’t remain in the Light by doing nothing. Instead, John says, we remain in the Light by walking in it.
  • That means you’ve got to always be moving towards the Light because if you are not moving towards the Light you are invariably moving away from it.
  • In our passage, John seeks to impress upon the hearts of his original readers  and ours as well three biblical realities intended by God to spur us on to holiness

I. The Return of Christ

when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is (1 John 2:2).

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (1 Thessalonians 4:16)  

[51] Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51–52) 

  • What is the implication? What does the return of Christ mean for us today?
  • Well we don’t have to guess.
  • John tells us — “everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (3:3).”
  • As believers, we are those who long for a day, when we will be like our Savior, like our God, without sin.
  • It is as Matthew Henry points out –therefore a great contradiction and evil, when we who live for that day, long for that day, hope for that day — in this day, make an allowance for sin and wickedness and impurity in our lives.
  • Henry reminds us–  “It is the hope of hypocrites, and not of the sons of God, that makes an allowance for the gratification of impure desires and lusts.”
  • God by his Holy Spirit, is eager to protect all of us from the hypocrisy that on one hand — says “I long for the day when I am holy” and on the other refuses to repent, instead choosing to make allowance, make room for, make excuses for sin.
  • We know we are not in a good place when we try to justify our sins, when we become OK with them, when we wake up and begin a new day assuming we are going to sin in the same way we did yesterday. God protect us from that kind of hypocrisy.

II. The Holiness of God

If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him (2:29). 

And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (3:3).

In him there is NO SIN. [6] No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him (3:5).

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous (3:7).

  • God is righteous. He is pure. In him there is no sin. In other words – God is holy.

Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?   Who is like you, majestic in holiness (Exodus 15:11)

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory (Isaiah 6:3)!  –

Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord GOd Almighty, Who was and is and is to come (Rev.4:8).

  • God is holy. He is set apart. How?
    • He is transcendent – He is far above us in every way.
    • He also is morally perfect. He has no imperfection, no impurity, no defect.
  • Here in our text, the Apostle John asserts that to be born of the Holy One, to hope in the Holy One, to abide in the Holy One is to reflect His holy character — not perfectly, but we reflect it nevertheless.

”everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him (2:29).”

“Everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (3:3)”

“No one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him (3:6)..”

“ as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).”

  • We cannot flourish as Christians apart from the gospel of grace.
  • It is also true our lives have been bought with a price — the blood of Jesus. Our lives our not our own. They belong to God. God is holy and as His children we are to bear resemblance to our heavenly Father.
  • I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit who is working his character in us, conforming us day by day into the image of our Savior.

III. The Sinfulness of Sin

  • When we contemplate the sinfulness of sin — how bad it is, how evil it is, how God hates it — the result should be a hatred and distaste for sin that rises up in our souls stirring us to pursue holiness.
    • We pursue holiness –not legalistically — but in a gospel-driven, faith-fueled, Spirit-powered way.
  • Often I think, we tolerate sin, we make room for it, we don’t repent sometimes because it doesn’t seem that bad.
  • John seeks to help us see the sinfulness of sin so we can repent and flee.
  • Sin is lawlessness (verse 4)
    • We can’t just think sin is OK — it is breaking God’s holy and good law.
  • Jesus came to take away sins (verse 5)
    • Sin is so evil that it required the blood of God’s own dearly beloved Son in order to rescue us.
    • When I remember that, it causes me to not want to sin.
  • Sin aligns a person with the works of Satan (verses 8-10)

[8] Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. [9] No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. [10] By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (ESV)

  • Someone who makes a practice of sinning is someone who continues to indulge sin and refuses to repent.
  • John is not talking here about the person who fights hard against sin, yet at times still stumbles in a particular sin area. He is talking about the person who refuses to stop sinning–who makes a practice of it. He says that person is of the devil.
  • This is the dividing mark between those who are children of the devil and those who are children of God — “do they make a practice of sinning — or do they make their practice righteousness?”
  • Note John associates sin with demonic activity. Though we cannot blame our sin on the devil, the devil does get involved. 
    • He wants us to sin
    • He prompts us to sin 
    • He entices sin
  • That should sober us to fight our sin. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. We should want to have nothing to do with his works–nothing to do with rebellion against God, with sin and evil.

Conclusion

  • The world, the flesh, the devil entice each one of us in various ways. If we are not moving towards the Light were invariably moving away from it. Therefore, let’s keep moving towards the Light.
  • Is there a sin you are convicted of?
    • Ask God to forgive you.
    • Receive his forgiveness
    • Turn from it.
  • Where the Spirit of God shows us even in small ways that we’ve been sinning, let’s not be condemned, but lets take it seriously.
    • Let’s humble ourselves before the Lord.
    • Let us ask his forgiveness.
    • Seek his help to turn from our sins.

Questions For Discussion/Application:

  • Re-read the text, 1 John 2:28-3:10. What initial observations and insights do you have from reading this text?
  • Read the texts listed under point #1, “The Return of Christ.” What are you most looking forward to about the return of Christ?
  • As believers, we long for the day of Christ’s return. We long for our glorification. We long for the day when we are sinless. What, according to John, is the implication on us today (see verse 3)?
  • What does it mean practically to purify ourselves as he is pure?
  • What does it look like to pursue holiness, actively, persistently with our might in a gospel-driven, Spirit-dependent, faith-fueled way?
  • Read the texts listed under point #2 that speak of God’s holiness. What does it mean that God is holy (be specific)?
  • In our text, the Apostle John asserts that to be born of the Holy One, to hope in the Holy One, to abide in the Holy One is to reflect His holy character — not perfectly, but we reflect it nevertheless. What are practical ways we can reflect God’s holiness to those around us?
  • Group exercise: Go through verses 4-10 and point out every place that helps us to see the sinfulness of sin.
  • What is one take home point for your from this text and our discussion?
  • Take time to pray that God would help us to simultaneously rest in the grace of the gospel and walk in the light, pursuing holiness day by day.

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