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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Matt's Messages - Real Christians Walk in the Light

“Real Christians Walk in the Light”
Real Christians
November 18, 2007
1 John 1:5-2:2

I want to thank everyone who turned in a Sermon Survey over the last several weeks. A number of you wrote me very helpful comments about what you would say to the community if you had the opportunity I have on Wednesday night to preach at the Community Thanksgiving Service.

I plan to work in as many of your comments as possible when I speak on Wednesday night.

Can I ask you to pray for me today, tomorrow, Tuesday, and Wednesday as I prepare? I hope to speak on 5 things I’m thankful for this year, and all of 5 of them are about the Main Character in our life-story: God! I’d appreciate your prayers.

The second question on the survey asked what aspects of being a Real Christian were you hoping that I would speak on before this series was over.

And there were a number of you who asked questions about a Real Christians’ present relationship to sin.

For example, one of you wrote, “Real Christians Face Temptations–How to Not Give In.”

Another one of you wrote, “What do ‘Real Christians’ do when they sin?”

Another one: “Real Christians stumble, please preach on where true and lasting mercy is found.”

And this one said, “Being a real Christian in today’s society means pressure to compromise. Please speak on how to recover when we blow-it.”

I like that: when we blow it.

And we all have, haven’t we?!

I think that one of the best places for us to go to to see how to answer these questions is the book of 1 John.

Turn with me, if you would, to John’s first letter, chapter 1.

I might be tempted to call 1 John, “The Real Christian Book of the Bible” because 1 John is all about real versus fake. Authentic versus counterfeit. How you can know if you are really a believer, if the Truth is really in you. Most of the things we’ve learned together this Fall can be found in 1 John.

Believing the Real Gospel
Really Loving God
Really Loving People
Really Praying, Really Delighting in God’s Word

1 John is all about Real Christians.

And after a short introduction about how Jesus Christ is real and how John really knew Him, he gets down to this message: Verse 5.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (NIV)
Here’s the title of today’s message. It comes right out of verse 7.

“Real Christians Walk in the Light.” Let’s see what that means.

In verse 5, John declares to us a message about the bright holiness of God. Verse 5.

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”

God is light. In fact, He is so full of the radiance of glory and holiness that, “in him there is no darkness at all.”

In a few minutes, we’re going to sing, “There is no shadow of turning with Thee.”

God is holy, holy, holy. There is no darkness in Him at all.

He doesn’t do anything wrong. He isn’t tainted by sin in the slightest.

He is the brightest light, and there isn’t any darkness in Him!

Wow! We can’t really imagine how holy God is!

And we are called to “walk” in His light. To live in His light. To live like He does–in holiness and bright righteous living.

And Real Christians do.

John says that fake Christians claim to have a relationship with God but don’t walk in the light. Look at verse 6.

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”

You see what he’s saying? God is light. So, if we claim to know God, we will walk in light. But some people claim to know God and walk in the darkness.

They live lives of unholiness. They habitually live in sin.

They claim to love God, but their life does not show it.

John says that people like that are liars and do not live by the truth.

We would say they are not Real.

This is a warning to each of us. If we claim to have fellowship/relationship with God, but walk in the darkness (and I think we all have an idea of what that means), then we are not Real.

Not that habitual sinning would cause us to lose our realness, to lose our salvation, but to show that the truth was never really in us.

Real Christians Walk in the Light, Not in the Darkness.

That’s what John says in verse 7.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

So, that’s application point #1 this morning: WALK IN THE LIGHT.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Walk in the Light.

What does that mean?

Well, partially, it must mean to walk in holiness.

To say “No” to temptation.
To do what is right and upright.
To live wisely and not like we used to live before we knew Jesus.
To walk in bright righteousness.

But I think a big part of the key to understanding this walking in the light is the little phrase that comes after it: “as he is in the light.”

It’s about our relationship with Him.

If we are close to Him, we’ll be walking in the light.

If we are distant from Him, we’ll be playing with the shadows.

“Walk in the light, as He is in the light.”

Are you close to the Lord right now?

Do you want to know how to say no to temptation?

A big part of it are these phrases, “walk in the light, as he is in the light.”

Are you driving down the middle of the road with the Lord right now?

I have a friend who talks about “riding on the rumble strips.”

Flirting with the darkness. Not going down the off-ramp, not yet.

But just riding on the rumble strips, coming close to the shoulder. Coming close to the shadow.

That’s not where God wants you. He wants you driving down the middle of the road, where He is.

That’s where the light is good. That’s where you need to cruise.

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light,” John says, “we have fellowship with one another [not just with God, but with one another–sin will separate us, too, but holiness will bring us together], and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Now, here we’re getting to the other side of the equation.

Some people claim to be Real Christians but they live lives of habitual unconfessed, unrepentant sin.

But other people claim to not sin at all! John has heard that one, too. Look at v.8.

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

Real Christians still sin!

We’re called to walk in the light, but we don’t do it perfectly.

We all stumble. All of us.

One of you said it best, “Often, we blow it!”

I almost titled this message, “Real Christians Often Blow It!”

We just sang, “Prone to Wander, Lord I Feel It. Prone to Leave the God I Love.”

There are no perfect Christians. And those who claim to be, John says, are deceiving themselves and the truth is not in them.

It’s time now for our yearly lesson in Latin!

Can anyone pronounce these words and tell us what they mean?

“Simul Justus Et Peccator!”

This was one of Martin Luther’s favorite descriptions of Real Christians.

Simul = Simultaneously
Justus = Righteous
Et = And
Peccator = Sinner

Real Christians are simultaneously righteous and sinful.

Saints and sinners at the same time.

Real Christians are simultaneously righteous and sinful.

There are no Christians who are perfect.

We all lie in the tension between the already and the not yet.

Already saved and perfect in Christ’s righteousness.
Not yet perfected and still getting caught by temptation and sin.

Simul Justus Et Peccator.

If you claim to be sinless, you aren’t a Real Christian.

We all blow it.

So, what do we do? “What do Real Christians do when they sin?”

We confess our sins. V.9 It’s glorious. Everyone here should have this one memorized!

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Application Point #2. CONFESS YOUR SINS.

At least part of what it means to walk in the light is to regularly confess our sins!

What does it mean to confess?

It isn’t just to feel bad about being bad. That isn’t confession.

Confession means to completely agree with God about our sins.

It means to tell God that we have sinned, to name it, to own it, and to agree that it was wrong and an offense against Him.

Confession means to completely agree with God about our sins.

I say “completely” to stress that it isn’t, “Well God, the devil made me do it!”

Or, “She made me do it!” Like Adam did, “The woman you gave me, Lord, she made me do it!”

Or, “Lord, I kind of feel bad about that thing I’ve done, but if you knew the circumstances you’d have done it, too!”

That’s not completely agree.

Completely agreeing is, “Lord, what I have done here was wrong. I shouldn’t have done it. It was against your law. It wasn’t walking in the light. And I wasn’t glorifying you when I did it. It wasn’t sourced in love for you. And I’m sorry.”

Completely agreeing includes your emotions. Isn’t not just feeling bad about being bad, but it is not less than feeling bad about being bad.

True confession includes agreeing with your whole heart that what you did was sin.

And I don’t think that Christians practice confession enough.

I don’t know about you, but I’m often tempted to just say every once in awhile, “Lord, forgive me for the things I do that are bad.”

But it would be a lot more helpful to start listing them.

Even better would be to confess fast. To confess as soon as conviction comes.

To turn around and agree with God quick as you can.

That’s the goal. Not sinless perfection, but short accounts.

Real Christians keep short accounts with God.

Confess your sins.

Not just at night in general terms. But specifics and as soon as conviction hits.

Confess your sins.

And here’s the good news. V.9

“If we [Real Christians] confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

We don’t have to live in guilt and condemnation.

God forgives.

And more than that, God purifies. He makes us righteous.

He cleanses us from our sins and sets us on a new path.

Isn’t that good news?!

Here’s how to recover when we blow-it: confession. Because God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness.

I got the sense from some of these blue survey forms that a number of us are struggling with guilt, with feeling like we’ve blown it, and living under a cloud of condemnation.

The Bible is full of hope for sinners like you and me.

It doesn’t pretend that we’ve been or what we’ve done is good. We have to say that it was and is bad.

But when we do, we can experience the forgiveness of God! And purification for our sins!

We don’t have to live out of fellowship with God.

You understand that sin doesn’t destroy a Christian’s relationship with God, but it does hamper our fellowship with God.

If one of my sons disobeys me, he’s still my son. But a cloud has passed between us. Our fellowship has been hindered.

So, there needs to be confession and forgiveness for that full fellowship to be restored.

It’s the same with God.

Real Christians blow it. But God invites us to confess our sins and then promises to forgive us and to purify us from all unrighteousness.

How can He do that?

He must do that. It says that He is faithful to do it.

That means that He has promised forgiveness, and God always keeps His promises.

Are you worried that He doesn’t really forgive you? That maybe he’ll bring up your sin again and thrust in your face?

He won’t. He’s faithful to forgive.

And more than that, He would be unjust to not forgive.

What does that mean?

Why does it say, “faithful and just” to forgive?

What is it just, right, holy for God to forgive?

It seems like it should be just for God to punish! And it would!

The just punishment for our sins is God’s wrath!

He should bring wrath and punishment and condemnation for our sins, not forgiveness!

But, it says, that He is just. How is that just?

You probably know the answer. Let’s keep reading. V.10

“If we claim we have not sinned [again], we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. [God has said that all are sinners. No one consistently does what is right. And so we’re saying He’s a liar if we say that we have not sinned. Chapter 2, verse 1.]

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin [He’s not advocating sinning just because God forgives. The whole point of the letter is to help us to walk in the light.] But if anybody does sin [and we know that we will], we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One [our advocate!]. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

What’s he talking about?

He’s talking about Jesus and the Cross!

Jesus Christ died for our sins!

The Righteous One, the One in whom there is no darkness at all, took on our darkness and was crucified for it!

He bore the punishment that we deserved.

He became (v.2) the “atoning sacrifice.” The big word for that is “propitiation” for ours sins.

We just sang about it, “The Father’s wrath completely satisfied!”

Jesus died for our sins!

Real Christians are those who have put all their faith and trust in what Jesus did for them on the Cross.

And so now, Jesus is our advocate. V.1 “We have one who speaks to the Father in our defense!”

That’s what makes it “just” for Him to forgive!

Because that sin has already been paid for!

It would be unjust to not forgive.

That sin has already been paid for.

That’s why Real Christians don’t do “penance.”

As I understand it “penance,” is taking on a penalty or a punishment to help atone for a sin (at least, that’s how it seems to be practiced).

But our sin has already been paid for!

That’s what makes it “just” for Him to forgive!

That’s why John said in verse 7, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

The Cross is so powerful, brothers and sisters!

Sin is powerful. We almost always underestimate the power of sin.

But the Cross is so much more powerful.

Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Anyone, anywhere who puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice can be forgiven!

The Father’s Wrath Completely Satisfied.

No more condemnation...because of the blood of Jesus Christ.

Application Point #3 (perfect for Thanksgiving week).

THANK JESUS FOR HIS CROSS.

If you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your King and your Rescuer, I invite you to do so today.

He is the atoning sacrifice for all who believe.

He invites you to turn from your sins (to repent) and to put your trust in Him and Him alone and what He did for you at Calvary.

And you will be forgiven. The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, will purify you from all sin.

And you can begin to walk in the light!

I invite you to do that right now.

And all of us who have, need to thank Jesus every single day.

Your Blood Has Washed Away My Sin.
Jesus, Thank You!
The Father’s Wrath Completely Satisfied
Jesus, Thank You!
Once Your Enemy, Now Seated at Your Table
Jesus, Thank You!

You might have noticed that there is new white card in our fish bowl. A second one.

A number of you have been praying for my son Isaac this Fall.

His sister, Robin, has been praying for him every night. He was on her fish card this Fall.

Well, this week, Isaac seemed to come under conviction and understand the gospel in real way.

And Heather prayed with him, and he’s been telling everyone since then that God has given him a new heart!

And we’ve also seen a real difference in him this week, too.

I’m happy to believe that Isaac is now a found sheep.

And I thank Jesus for His Cross!

If you have never turned and come to trust in Jesus, today could be your day of salvation.

If he is dealing with you right now, don’t ignore Him.

Conviction is fleeting. Don’t ignore it.

Turn from your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Even you. Even you can say, “Jesus, Thank You!”

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