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Sunday, November 11, 2012

[Matt's Messages] "Talk & Walk"

“Talk and Walk”
Essential Christianity: 1 John
November 11, 2012
1 John 2:3-6

Our series is called “Essential Christianity” because 1 John is all about the essence of what it means to be a Christian–what is essential to be and to believe to truly be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Last week, we learned that one way to get at the essence of Christianity is say that “God is Light!”  In Him, there is no darkness at all.

And if we are going to claim a relationship with the God who is light, then we have to walk in the light as He is in the light.

We will not do that perfectly because we are still sinners. We are simultaneously righteous and sinners.  Simul justus et peccator, right?

But! We have been and continue to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. He is our Advocate who speaks in our defense because He is the propitiation, the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

And that makes all of the difference. ...  At least, it should.

It does make all the difference, if we are for real.

But John has already pointed out that some people claim to belong to the Lord Jesus, but they really don’t.

Today’s message is titled, “Talk & Walk.”

Have you ever heard this proverbial sentence?

It’s not good enough to just talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.

I think that the Apostle John would love that sentence.

It’s not good enough to just talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.

We’re only going to read four verses this morning–chapter 2, verses 3-6.

And if I could summarize it in one sentence it would be this:

It’s not good enough to just talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.

It’s not good enough to just CLAIM to be a Christian, you have to live like one.

It’s not good enough to just talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.

Now, let’s walk down through these four verses in 1 John and see exactly how John says it.

I’ve got four points of application for us this morning to think about, one for each verse.

Here’s the first one.

#1. YOU CAN KNOW THAT YOU KNOW THE LORD. v.3

“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.”  The “him” goes back to verses 1&2, and it refers to Jesus.  Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.”

The first thing I want us to see is that there is something here to be known.

One of the purposes of 1 John is to assure Christ-followers that they truly are Christ-followers.

That true believers are assured that they are saved.

That they are for real.

Remember when we had the “Real Christian” sermon series a few years ago?

1 John is like the book of Real Christians. How to know that you are for real.

Because you might be worried.

You might not know.

There are many who are not sure. They do not know.

And John comes to our rescue.

He says that you can know that you know the Lord.

“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.”

Now, we see here that we know that we’ve come to know if we obey Jesus’ commands.

We’re going to hear John say that and things like that again and again through this short book.

He’s also going to say other things, other ways of knowing that we know the Lord.

There are three areas that John will circle back on again and again in his book.

The moral, the social, and the doctrinal.

This is the moral: obedience, acting Christlike.
Next will be the social: love, especially love for other Christians.
And the last is the doctrinal: believing that Jesus is God in the flesh.

John will circle back around these three areas again and again to bring assurance to Christians.

If they obey Jesus, if they love Jesus’ people, and if they believe the truth about Jesus, then they can know that they know Jesus.

Today, we’re focusing on the first of those: the moral.

But right this second, I just want you to catch this fact: you can know that you know the Lord.

You don’t have worry or wonder or wish.

You can know that you know the Lord.

It can be a certainty in your life, something you can count on.

I remember when that hit home for me the first time. It was when I memorized 1 John 5:13.  It’ll be awhile until we get there, I just jump there right now.

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God [that’s the doctrinal] so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

I memorized that for a class at Moody Bible Institute and you memorize by just repeating it over and over again in your mind.

“...so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
“...so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
“...so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

And all of a sudden, I realized that it meant that I could know that I have eternal life.

Do you know that you have eternal life?

Do you know that you know the Lord?

I want you to know this like you know your own name!

Now, some people read verse 3 and get nervous.

But it’s not supposed to make you nervous but to give you assurance.

“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.”

If you do the things that Jesus says to do, then you can have assurance that you know Jesus as your own Lord and Savior.

You can know that you know the Lord.

If you walk the walk.

#2. IT’S LYING TO TALK THE TALK WITHOUT WALKING THE WALK. V.4

“The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

Here’s somebody who talks the talk, “I know him!” but does not walk to the walk.

And John has a name for guys like that, “Liar.”

It’s not enough to just say, “I know Jesus. I’m a Christian.”

Your life has to back that up.

Here’s another way of saying it, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be any evidence to convict you?”  Of course, you would say, “Yes, your honor, I am a Christian,” but “words are tested by works” (John Stott, pg. 90).

Is your money where your mouth is?

Do your actions match your claims?

“The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

Now, I’m sure that we can all think of the name of, at least, one of these liars.

Somebody we know who says they are a Christ-follower but their life does not match up with that claim.

But before we point fingers, we should examine ourselves.

Are we liars? Am I a liar?

Do I claim to know Christ but don’t do what He commands?

Now, my guess is that the people who should be worried right now aren’t worried enough.

And the people who shouldn’t be worried are biting their nails right now.

I was once told that my job as a pastor is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.

I think that’s what John is trying to do.

John does NOT mean that all Christ-followers follow Jesus perfectly.

We KNOW he doesn’t because of what we saw last week.  He expects us to sin sometimes. Chapter 1, verse 8, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

So, this is not saying that if you have sinned, then you are a liar.

If you have sinned, then obey Jesus’ command and confess it, and He who is faithful and just will forgive it and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.

But it is saying that if say you’re a Christian, but your regular lifestyle says something different, then you are lying to yourself and to others. There is no truth in you.

It’s lying to talk the talk without walking the walk.

And if that’s you, then there is no assurance for you that you truly are a Christian.

I know people who think that they can just IGNORE Jesus’ commands and still be considered Christ-followers.

And I want to ask, “What part of ‘follower,’ don’t you understand?”

“Oh, I prayed a pray to ask Jesus into my heart when I was 4.”

That’s great! But: “The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

Let me give you another $5 word for your vocabulary lesson this week.

“Gnosticism.”

Some of you may know that word, but many don’t.

Gnosticism was a false teaching that infiltrated the church, especially in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

A full-blown Gnosticism didn’t come along until later, but John was probably dealing with the roots of it that started even in the first century when the church was just getting off the ground.

“Gnosis” means “knowledge.”

So the Gnostics were people who claimed a secret, spiritual knowledge and that this knowledge was everything.  If you have the secret, spiritual knowledge then you didn’t need anything else including a God who comes in the flesh or obedience in your own flesh, your body.

I think that was part of what was going on in v.4.

Some guys were claiming “knowledge” of the Lord but living like the devil.

And John says, “No way, no how. That’s not how it works.”

It’s lying to talk the talk without walking the walk.

The two go together.  Here’s why.

#3. WALKING THE WALK SHOWS THAT GOD’S LOVE IS CHANGING YOU. V. 5

“But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him...”

It’s the opposite of lying! Obedience is demonstrating to the world that God’s love is “made complete in him.”

What does that mean?

Well, it could mean that love for God is made complete in the obedient Christian.

That’s one way of taking it. And that would be true.  Jesus said, “If you love me, you will do what I command,” so we can infer that if you do what Jesus commanded, then you love Him.

But I think the 1984 NIV has it right, “God’s love is truly made complete in him.”

God’s love demonstrated in the cross is having it’s full effect on the believer.

How do we know?  The believer obeys Jesus.

Now, that’s very important.

Because we can make the mistake in verse 3, of falling into the trap of the Pharisees.

“I want to know that I know the Lord.”

So, I get busy obeying commands.

Obey, obey, obey, obey.
Work, work, work, work.

How many commands until I know that I’m saved?

Give me a number!

That’s not what we’re talking about.

It’s not about earning your salvation.

It’s not about working your way there through obedience.

This is not Pharisee-ism. This is assurance that comes from fruit.

This obedience is blood bought. This obedience is built on the blood of Jesus.

This is a believer who has come to trust in the Cross of Christ, has come to know that he or she is LOVED with an incredible love.

And that love has an effect on you.

You want to obey.
You want to please Jesus.
You want your life to count for His glory.

Walking the walk is not an exercise in Pharisee-ism.

Waking the walk shows that God’s love is changing you.

Have you made changes in your life because God loves you?

Are you making changes in your life (little course corrections) because God loves you?

That’s how you know that you know Him!

A changed life.

Not a perfect life.

But a changed one.

A life aimed in Godward direction.

Waking the walk shows that God’s love is changing you.

If it isn’t, then you aren’t!

Because #4. IF YOU TALK THE TALK, YOU’VE GOT TO WALK THE WALK.

That’s how it works. V.6

“This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

Must!

The two must go together.

And if you claim to live in him, but walk your life in an opposite manner, then you aren’t real.

And I can give you no assurance that you will spend eternity with the Lord no matter what religious experiences you have had. If you talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.

That’s how it works.

So, do it.

Walk the walk.

Walk as Jesus did.

Remember the bracelets that had these letters on them? They were all the rage about a decade ago.

WWJD?

What would Jesus do?

Now, you can do that all wrong and say:

“Well, Jesus walked on water, so should I.”
“Jesus turned over tables in the temple, so should I.”
“Jesus didn’t get married, so I should stay single all of my life.”

That’s a bad way of doing WWJD.

But, I think we know enough about the Lord Jesus to see what things we can and should follow and try, by faith, to live our lives walking as Jesus did.

Right?

What would Jesus do?

And...What would Jesus have me do?

That’s waking as Jesus did.

What situations are you facing right now where you need to ask yourself the question, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” or “What would Jesus have me do in this situation?”

And once you know that, you need to do it.

The application of today’s message is simple obedience.

Obey.

Do it.

Don’t say you will and then not.

Do it.

Obey.

“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

That’s the application.

If you talk the talk, you’ve GOT TO walk the walk.

Do it.

Not perfectly, not without messing up, not without a struggle.

But truly. Growingly. Because God’s love is changing you.

Walk the walk.


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Messages about Essential Christianity

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