Message Title: ‘God’s children… behave!’ Text: 1 John 3:4-10
Introduction: On Friday I received this in the mail.
‘Give to a good Claus!’ Toys for Tots. And it got me really excited… that Christmas is just a short 76 days away.
One of the songs often sung during the Christmas season is ‘Santa Clause is Coming to town.’ In case you’ve forgotten here are the very life altering words to that song.
- You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.
- He’s making a list and checking it twice; he’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice. Santa Claus is coming to town.
- He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake!
- O! You better watch out! You better not cry. Better not pout, I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.
I believe the children of the writer of that song probably were more… on the naughty than nice side.
The lyrics to that song drill into children’s minds that they should never forget that Santa is watching, everything they do and say.
Oddly enough I see a connection to our text this morning.
OK, I don’t believe the Bible ever uses the word behave. But this is what it does say:
- I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called (Ephesians 4:1)
- so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him (Colossians 1:10)
- we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God (1 Thessalonians 2:12)
So, in essence, the Apostle Paul, who wrote those 3 verses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is telling all children of God… to behave!
Background: Perhaps more than any other book in the Bible, 1 John was written to help us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, as Children of God. And here’s why: false teachers.
- They denied Jesus was God in the flesh… human.
- They taught that there was no relationship between how we choose to live and the success of our spiritual lives.
- In other words, since the body/flesh doesn’t matter in the spiritual realm, we can do whatever we want to satisfy its urgings… it’s not sin to do so
To use ‘Santa Clause is Coming to Town’ they would say something like this:
John, in the first two chapters, has been showing us that how we behave… matters, when it comes to our fellowship with God.
Transition: Open your Bibles to 1 John 3:4 where we’ll find that Children of God… behave.
1. vs. 4 Sin & lawlessness
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
Let’s listen again to 1 John 3:3 And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure. Last week I said that every child of God, through faith in Jesus, begins to develop and nurture a deep desire for purity in their life.
In verse 4, John starts to explain what that looks like. And the first thing John says is we call sin what it is… lawlessness. The idea is this:
- It’s intentional disobedience to God and to His Word.
- It’s placing your wants, needs, desires and agenda above God’s.
- It’s calling sin, not sin, so that you can choose to behave badly and still call yourself a child of God.
But, the prophet Isaiah didn’t agree. And by the way, we see this today everyday.
- Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)
In other words, they choose to ignore as sin, what God clearly calls sin in the Bible. And therefore, choose to behave… badly.
And listen, we see this not only in the unsaved world around us, it has infiltrated the church.
- Much of what the world regards as not sin, the Bible says, is in fact, sin.
- And many in the church, in order to justify their sinful desires, are following the worlds lead.
- They refuse to call sin, sin or they say we know more today than what the Apostles did so we can rightfully disregard much of what they wrote in the Bible.
Now, not only are they not calling sin, sin, they pick and choose what they say is inspired and what’s not inspired by God in the Bible in order to justify their sin.
Let me remind all of us what 2 Timothy 3:16 says: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.
All of the Bible, even the parts you don’t like, are inspired, given to us by God Himself. AND, we use what we read in the Bible to help us know how to live rightly (behave) before God and others.
One last thing before I move on.
- The ESV says: everyone who makes a practice of sinning.
Perhaps your translation has commits or just sins. The Greek word here is not a onetime act, but an ongoing lifestyle of sin, since the word is in the Greek present tense. Let me give you an example before I move on. Pastor Scott Brewer put it this way:
A musician knows what it means to practice. An athlete knows what it means to practice. You do something over and over again until it is a way of life for you. It becomes your lifestyle. John is declaring that Christians, children of God, do not ‘practice’ sin.
2. vs. 5 Jesus & sin
You know that He appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin.
This is great. Even though John’s telling us what our responsibility is in the sanctification/purity process, he reminds us that the big work was already done for us, by Jesus.
In John’s Gospel, he records this: The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Sin is the single most significant problem for everyone on this planet.
- Everyone is in need of a cleansing of their sin against God.
- Everyone is in need of God’s forgiveness
That cleansing, that forgiveness, came when Jesus, who lived a sinless life, went to the cross to pay the penalty for our sin against God… dying in our place.
3. vss. 6-7 The Christian, sin & righteousness
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.
John here is making a contrast between one who keeps on sinning, practices sin, and one who practices righteousness, right living, behaving well.
John affectionately writes Little children, let no one deceive you. This is because there were people in the church who were actively trying to deceive them. John pleads with them to be wise and discern the truth. What’s the truth?
- No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him.
- Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous
When we abide, live, dwell, make Jesus our highest priority in life, we’ll believe and live in such a way that’s in opposition to sin. We’ll practice, make it a habit, of doing what’s right.
But, if we choose to habitually sin, if we choose to have a lifestyle of disregarding right living, it’ll show that we don’t have a relationship with God, through faith in Jesus.
Christian, this is a challenge to us as well.
Or, are you just wishing that some day you’ll be able to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord?
Ill: Jack Nicklaus was golfing in a celebrity golf tournament, and Jack’s celebrity partner turned to him after watching him putt and said, “I wish I could putt like that”. Jack’s response? “I didn’t get to putt like this by wishing”. (Bryn Macphaile) OK?
4. vss. 8-9 Sin, the devil, Jesus & the Christian
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.
Again we see John put forth 2 different contrasts:
- Those who keep on sinning are from the devil
- Those who do not practice sinning are born of God.
- The devil who has kept sinning from the beginning
- Jesus who came to destroy the works of the devil
Let’s look at the first contrast…
Whoever, anyone, who chooses a lifestyle of sinning shows they are children of the devil, they’re not children of God.
John recording Jesus’ own words in John 8:44 in reference to those who did not believe in Him wrote:
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.
Their lifestyle of sin, their disregard for right living, their bad behavior, shows they are not a child of God… but are instead a child of the devil.
By contrast, those who make a lifestyle of not sinning, of living rightly, are born of God, are children of God. Again we see God’s hand in how we choose to live rightly: for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.
This is not saying Christians can’t or won’t ever sin. It’s saying those who are children of God through faith in Jesus, won’t choose to habitually sin, because they’re born again, they have a new kind of life that includes God’s seed (His Holy Spirit) living in them.
You see, John’s telling us that there’s a real connection between being born again and how we choose to live.
God Himself is at work in the new birth so powerfully that the Christian cannot keep on practicing sin.
Next, John contrasts the works of the devil to the works of Jesus, the Son of God. He begins with the devil.
for the devil has been sinning from the beginning
Satan, the devil committed the first sin and has been sinning against God ever since. What was the first sin? Isaiah 14:14. Lucifer said:
- I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.
The devil rejected God’s rule over him and has continued to do that even to this day. And listen, at its root, that’s what Satan wants to make you do.
- Continually reject God’s rule over your life.
- In other words, to continually sin against God.
John counters that by saying the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus came to intervene on our behalf so that Satan no longer would have the power, influence over us he once held.
Later in 1 John 4:4 John will give these encouraging words to the child of God in their ongoing fight to find victory over Satan’s influence:
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
Again, John is telling us our part in becoming pure. But, he tells us we never do it alone.
Listen, this is hard to say but still true. There are only two kinds of people in the world today:
- Those who are children of God who practice righteousness.
- Those who are children of the devil and practice sin.
That’s it. There are no other options.
5. vs. 10 Marks of the children of the devil
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.
In verse 10 John gives two indisputable signs, marks of someone who is not a child of God. And it also tells us two indisputable signs, marks of those who are.
- Those who do not practice righteousness are not God’s children… but, those who do, are.
- Those who do not show love to their brother/sisters in Christ are not children of God, but those who do, are.
OK, we get the first one, but the love your brother part, is that truly that important? Absolutely. John already dealt with this in 1 John 2:10-11:
Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
So, how are you doing at loving the brothers and sisters here at CBC? It’s one of the confirmations that you are a child of God.
Conclusion: Let me close with this:
A new believer was asked how he was doing in his Christian walk. He replied that it felt like he had a black dog and a white dog inside him that were constantly fighting each other. He was asked which dog was winning. His reply was, “The one I feed the most!”
- Christian, which one are you feeding the most? (Dave McFadden)
The dogs represent
- sin against God and faithfulness to God
- Bad behavior and good behavior
You are feeding one more than the other by the choices you make every day. John wants us to remember:
- God’s children… behave.