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O Lord, in this day of darkness and corruption and where our foundations are being crumbled and taken down, we thank You that we are planted on a firm foundation, Lord Jesus Christ. As the songwriter said, on the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. Now, Lord Jesus, as we look into Your Word tonight, would You also by Your Spirit open our hearts that we might behold wondrous things out of Thy Word, that You’ll open up our minds to understand. We ask that You, Holy Spirit, will do the work that You alone can do in each of our hearts. There are some here, Lord, that may need to be encouraged through the times they’re going through and some may be here tonight who are not sure if they belong to Jesus Christ. Lord, in Your mercy we pray that You would work in their lives, that they may leave here knowing You. Now for Your servant, pray that You’ll empty him of self and that You would fill me with Your Spirit and You will be lifted up. In Your name I pray. Amen.
Have you ever thought of how certain things just go together? So what do you think of when the word “macaroni” comes to mind? Mac and cheese. Peanut butter and jelly. Oreos and milk. Bacon and eggs. Tomato soup and grilled cheese. Bacon, lettuce and tomato. Okay, now if you’re really from the South, RC Cola and moon pies. That’s right.
Now, we would say that these are compatible with each other. That is, they are capable of living in harmony with each other.
But on the other hand, have you ever thought of how certain things repel each other? We see it in the law of nature. Take a poisonous mushroom and eat it and you’ll find out how your system reacts to it. Try mixing oil and water and see if you can come up with one mixture.
We also see it in the law of human nature. Some people groups can’t seem to get along with each other. Historically, that has been illustrated with the Arabs and the Jews. There’s also certain people can’t get along with certain people, the generational feud of the Hatfields and the McCoys, generations. My Uncle Nile was the nephew of devil Aunt Hatfield in the stories he told, he was embarrassed to say, talk about publicly, because he thought it was just a big illustration of sin and people were making money off of it.
Sometimes individuals can’t get along with each other. Two famous people who could not stand each other, Lady Astor and Sir Winston Churchill. Both of them were members of Parliament. Lady Astor was a first class liberal and Sir Winston was a rank and file conservative, and neither one could stand the other. They so happened to be at a political gathering and Lady Astor gathered her friends together and approached Sir Winston and she said, “Sir Winston, if you were my husband, I would put poison in your coffee.” Sir Winston, not missing a beat, looked at her and said, “And if I was your husband, I would drink it.” We would say these people are incompatible.
However, we have another picture which shows us incompatibility apart from the laws of nature, apart from the laws of human nature, and that is in the law of divine nature. I ask you to take your Bibles and turn with me to 1 John chapter 3, verses 4 through 10. John writes the continuation of what our brother Derek beautifully expounded this morning.
He says: “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous. 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. 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. 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.”
So far in our journey in 1 John we have learned that John calls Christians those that are born from above, those that remain in Him, and as Brother Matthew Kirk and Derek reminded us this morning, that Christians are those who abide in Him.
Now John goes on to say two other things that we need to focus on, and one tonight is this. He says it not only once but twice, that Christians do not sin. But John already told us that we do sin. You go back to chapter 1 and look at verse 8 and verse 10. John says, “If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.”
So how do we reconcile what John says in chapters 1:8 & 10 with what he is saying in chapter 3?
Well, let’s look at our text tonight. We find the key to understanding what he’s talking about. If you look at all the verbs here that are relating to the word “sinning,” you find that these verbs in the Greek are in the present tense, and that’s very important, because it denotes continuous, habitual action. That’s very important here and the ESV does very all in using the word “practice.”
In fact, if you look at verse 6 and verse 9, John is saying that Christians will not habitually and continually sin as a way of life. No one who abides in Him will keep on sinning. No one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known him. Verse 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.
So while John is not talking about sinless perfection, we all know that that’s not true, all of us are born sinners and none of us will reach that stage of complete salvation until we are in the presence of our Lord Jesus and we see Him face-to-face and we are free from the presence and the power of sin and the presence of sin forever.
So while John is not talking about sinless perfection here, he is saying that true Christians do not, and according to verse 9, cannot live a continual and a habitual life of sin. In these verses that we will see tonight, he gives us three reasons why this is the case. As we look at each reason, I want you to note how it is related to each of the members of the Godhead.
Now I’m indebted to my good friend John MacArthur for his help in my preparation for this message tonight. I want to recognize his help.
But what John says to us here tonight is mainly this. He says that Christians do not and cannot live a continual and a habitual life of sin. We find in verse 4 that habitual sin is contrary to the standard of God. John says everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness. Sin is lawlessness.
Now true Christians are not under the law. We know that. That is, we’re no longer obligated to follow the system of the law, but we are still obligated to follow the standards of the law, because the law gives us God’s definition of sinful behavior and expresses His standards of right and wrong. His standards have never changed. Although God’s grace emphasizes His love, it does not change His holiness. Sin is still sin and always has been and always will be contrary to the law and the standard of God. True Christians have been set free from sin and have committed themselves to live according to the standards of God’s law.
Paul puts it this way in Romans 6, verses 15 through 18. He says: “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you [who] were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
You know, folks, when God saves us, He saves us from sin, not to sin. The rule of our life is that we have been set free from sin, have been forgiven, and this means we no longer habitually break the law of God.
Second, John says here that continual and habitual sin is contrary to the Christian because of the sacrifice of Christ, and in verses 5 through 8, John brings that to our attention. He says, “You know that He,” that is Christ, “appeared in order to take away sins and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning. No one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous as He is righteous. 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.”
Notice what John says here in verse 5. He said the primary reason why God sent His Son into the world was for Jesus to serve as a sacrifice for our sins. In Romans 3:25, again Paul brings to our attention “whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness because in divine forbearance He had passed over former sins.”
Look at that word “away.” You know that He appeared in order to take “away.” Not only did Jesus come to serve as a sacrifice for sin and to provide forgiveness of sin, but He came to take away our sins. A little Gospel chorus which instructed us in this truth growing up was the little chorus that went “roll away, roll away, roll away, every burden of my heart, roll away, roll away, roll away, roll away, every burden of my heart, rolled away. Every sin has to go ‘neath the crimson flow. Hallelujah. Roll away, roll away, roll away, all my burden of my heart rolled away.”
That word “away” means to remove by lifting away. Jesus indeed came as a sacrifice for our sin, and He provided forgiveness for our sin, but He also took away our sin. When God saved us, He forgave us of our sins and taken them away altogether.
Again, I think that’s highlighted in the third verse of the hymn by Horatio Spafford when he wrote “my sins, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought, my sins not in part but the whole, but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh, my soul.”
Let us remember when God saves us He forgives us of our sins and He takes them away altogether and He sets us apart to live a different kind of life.
Titus chapter 2 communicates that truth. Paul again writes, “For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous of good works.”
What Paul says here is that those that come to Christ, their lives are different because Christ died to rescue us from constantly falling into sin. To go on living in habitual sin would be contrary to what He’s done for us on Calvary’s cross.
Notice here that John reiterates that no one saved, in verse 6, that is, no one who has seen Him or knows Him, can continue to sin. No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning. No one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him.
Then look at verse 7. You remember when Zach preached and he brought our attention to the phrase “little children.” You remember what he said. When John wrote this letter, he was kind of an older man. He was way up in years and he was looking at the believers there that he was writing, young in the faith. He uses those words, as Zach said, Grandpa John. I like that. He said “little children, do not be deceived, do not be deceived.”
It’s so easy if you’re not grounded in the Word to be twisted in doctrinal truths. John is coming to them and he says, “Little children, don’t be deceived.” True Christians obey God and they submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ in all things. That’s a mark of a true believer.
Now to go back and say we’re not talking about sinless perfection. Do we sin? Sure we sin occasionally. When we sin, what does John tell us? When we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. Yes, we do. But we do not live habitually, continually, in a pattern of sin. That is not in sync with being a true Christian, a true child of God.
Listen to what the Savior tells us in Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew points out Jesus says that people whose lives you see continually and habitually bearing the fruit of righteousness belong to Him. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. The healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. By their fruits ye shall know them.
So when others look at your life, do they see the fruit of righteousness? Do they see the fruit of the Spirit?
Yesterday when we observed and were honoring Maxine for her 100th birthday, it’s been a testimony throughout her life, both the world on the outside she was connected in the banking world, but she was also very involved in the churches that she was a part of, and people verified that the fruit of the Spirit was evident in her life. They could see the fruit of love, the fruit of joy, peace, goodness, kindness, long-suffering, gentleness, self-control, meekness. That’s evidence, that’s good fruit. Those are witnesses that you are a true child of God, that His righteousness is in you.
But people in whose lives you see continual fruit of unrighteousness are people who do not belong to Him.
Look at verse 8. John declares that those who don’t know the Lord are of the devil. That’s a frightful thing to think of. If you’re a parent or a grandparent, and you have children, it makes you concerned and pray that the Lord would open their eyes and draw them to a saving knowledge of Christ. Yes, thank the Lord, we have covenant children, but we need to do our part in raising them up in prayer and pointing them to Christ.
In verse 8 John writes these words: “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” That’s a good way to remember that. Sinning from the beginning. That’s the devil for you. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
It’s very clear here that John points out to us that there are two kinds of people, two kinds of people in this world – those who are of God, and those who are of the devil. We either belong to God or you belong to the devil. There’s only two kinds of people – the saints and the aints.
Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil. You say, “How did He do that?” Well, the Lord tells us in John chapter 10 the works of the devil, Jesus said, are the works include to kill, to steal, and to destroy. The devil excels in all of these vices. How does he accomplish those things? How does the devil instigate, or how does he accomplish his works? By instigating sin and rebellion against God, by promoting unbiblical teaching and false religions.
That’s what John was trying to get to the attention of the folks here in 1 John. The Gnostics, the false teachers, had crept into their congregation and began very subtly, but teaching them unbiblical truths. So that was the work of the devil.
He works by tempting, by persecuting, and accusing believers. I’ll tell you what, the devil does well with Christians in accusing us. You know, he is our adversary. He does nothing more than his best to whittle us down and fall into the valley of defeat and despair. That’s his work. But he also works by deceiving and betraying people and to carry them off into eternal hell. That’s the work of the devil. Deceiving and betraying people, carrying them right off to hell.
But Jesus, our Savior, He came to give us abundant life, eternal life. His death, His resurrection, defeated the works of the devil. The devil no longer has power over those who belong to Christ. That’s a truth we need to grasp tonight. He has no control over the people of God. We are secured in the hands of God and no one can take us out of His grip. Amen? That’s right.
The devil’s days are numbered. One day King Jesus will cast him and his cohorts into the lake of fire and brimstone.
For anyone to live in habitual sin is to live contrary to all that Jesus accomplished on the cross.
Finally, John says that continual, habitual sin is contrary to the seed of the Holy Spirit.
Look with me at verse 9 and 10: “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. 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.”
Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 3 and look at verses 3 through 6. We have the account of a ruler of the Jews, his name was Nicodemus, and he came to see Jesus by night to ask Him about how can a man be born again. “Jesus said, “ Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. ” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. ””
John MacArthur makes this very clear in his thought, “Just as human birth results from an implanted seed that grows into new physical life, so also spiritual life begins what at the moment of regeneration the divine seed is implanted by the Holy Spirit within the one who believes.”
What is that seed that the Holy Spirit plants within us? Peter gives us the answer in 1 Peter chapter 1, verse 23: “Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
Those who are born of God have been born again through the Word, the seed, the Word of God, that’s been implanted by the Spirit of God in their hearts. That new birth marks the end of a person’s old, sinful life and the beginning of a new life in which he does not and cannot continue and practice sin as a lifestyle. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things are passed away, behold all things are new.
That’s what John means when he says true Christians don’t sin. We’re called to examine ourselves and see if we’re in the faith. What is the main flowing trend in your life? Is it characterized by the fruits of righteousness? Of faith, obedience to Jesus Christ? Or is characterized by a pattern of sin? So if that be the case, the Lord is able to deliver you and give you new life anew.
Let’s pray. Father, we rejoice tonight that we have been saved from our sins, that You have delivered us from the wrath to come. Yes, not only have You forgiven us, but You’ve taken away our sins. Lord, tonight we thank You that we’re new creatures, we are children of God, that we are now in the family of God with a new appetite, a new desire, and that is to live pleasing unto you. O Lord, as we go out tonight and we think of those that You send our way, Lord, may we look at them as You see them. Give us eyes to see their need of sharing the Gospel that has set us free from our sins and so be able to set them free from their sins as well. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.