Wednesday, July 30, 2008

His Mission, My Example

Living Right: Part 3

We acknowledge that it is a struggle to live a life that honors Jesus. From the hardships of life, to the temptation to sin, to the little doubts from the lies of this world we are worn down. The result is that many of us want to give up. It isn’t like we are in danger of becoming atheists, but we just don’t want to try as hard and to go with the flow.

The Bible tells us that if we want to have life, real life, eternal life, then we have to stay connected to Jesus. We stay connected to Jesus by obeying His teaching, loving His creation, and believing His truth. When we give up, even if we remained involved in the church, we are in danger of severing that needed connection to life.

So we read throughout the New Testament that the encouragement to remain faithful and to persevere. One of the ways we do this is to keep our eyes on Jesus. Reading through 1 John I believe we can find two eyes of Jesus life that we need to focus on if we are going to keep our eyes on Jesus, and thus remain connected to Him. Yesterday, I pointed out that when we remember the promises of Jesus we have the hope we need to hang on through the difficulties of life.

The second area of Jesus’ life we must get to know is His Mission.
4 Everyone who keeps living in sin also practices disobedience. In fact, sin is disobedience. 5 You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and there is not any sin in him. 6 No one who remains in him goes on sinning. The one who goes on sinning hasn't seen him or known him.
7 Little children, don't let anyone deceive you. The person who practices righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The person who practices sin belongs to the evil one, because the devil has been sinning since the beginning. The reason that the Son of God was revealed was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who has been born from God practices sin, because God's seed abides in him. Indeed, he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born from God. 10 This is how God's children and the devil's children are distinguished. No person who fails to practice righteousness and to love his brother is from God. (1 John 3:4-10; ISV)

John expected the mission of Jesus to have an effect on our lives. What is the mission of Jesus?
16 Now Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to tell them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read." (Luke 4:16-21; NET)

Jesus said that this prophecy from the book of Isaiah applied to Him. His mission had to do with setting captives free and making the wrong right. John puts it a little simpler: take away our sin and to destroy the work of the devil.

Before we can really understand Jesus’ mission we have to first understand the rebellion of Satan. It is the rebellion of Satan that gives context to the mission of Jesus Christ. Satan is absolutely opposed to the will of God. He is dedicated to hindering God’s work at every turn. Clinton Gill in his commentary on the letters of John wrote; “The devil sins as a matter of principle...” (Hereby We Know: A Study of the Epistles of John, p. 79). While God’s character can be described in the word love Satan’s character can be summed up with the word sin. Satan is the greatest sinner in the universe. His every action is opposed to God’s will.

From the very beginning with Adam and Eve we can see how Satan has been out to destroy all the good things God has created. Do we really believe that he has stopped? The biggest way Satan can oppose God’s will is to deceive people, men and women God loves, into opposing God as well.

John has to remind his readers of this because a very serious deception had crept into the church. That deception was found in the false teachings of the Gnostics. The entire letter of 1 John, and this passage in particular, is directed at undermining their false teachings. According to William Barclay the Gnostics taught:
“that the body was evil and that, therefore, there was no harm in sating its lusts, because what happened to it was of no importance. They said that the truly spiritual man was so armoured with the Spirit that he could sin to his heart’s content and take no harm from it. They even said that the true Gnostic was under obligation both to scale the height and to plumb the depths so that he might be truly said to know all things.” (pp. 76-77; The Daily Study Bible: The Letters of John and Jude)

The denial of sin and its effects in our lives is one of the quickest ways we can cut ourselves off from our source of life: Jesus. These false teachers said that sin didn’t matter and that you could sin with no fear of consequences. This, my friends, is a lie from the depths of hell. Of course it is an appealing deception because it means we don’t have to struggle with the temptations of life, we can do what we want, and not feel guilty. In the process Satan begins to undo all the work Jesus came to accomplish.

In this passage we find John contrasting the work of Satan, the lawless one, with Jesus, the obedient Son of God, and then John asks the question: which one are you following? To live a life of sin is to follow Satan not Jesus. To live a righteous life is to follow Jesus.

This whole passage deals with our commitment. John is not suggesting that we must never sin again for us to follow Jesus. The Apostle already told us in Chapter 2 verse 1 that if we do sin we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. What John wants us to understand is that we can commit ourselves to getting rid of the sin in our lives and struggling with the temptation that leads to sin. To live a lifestyle of sin is to ignore the example of Jesus and the fact that He came to destroy the work of Satan, which is sin, the opposition of God’s will. If we are born of God then the sin we have in our lives will have no place to dwell and we will do what it takes to get rid of it.

How do we know if we are striving to live a righteous life? Righteousness is tied to our love. If we are seeking to love our brother and our neighbor, then we are striving for righteousness. Love is the evidence that we are seeking to live righteously.

The mission of Jesus provides us with the example to live righteous lives.

  • Point to Ponder: The mission of Jesus provides us with the example to live righteous lives.
  • Passage to Remember: 1 John 3:4-10
  • Question to Consider: Am I following Jesus or Satan?

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