Temple Baptist Church - 12-31-2014
1 John 3:4-10
A. Tonight, I want to delve into these verses in which we find a great spiritual truth that believe is often missed through misunderstanding.
1. First of all, I do not want you to think that I a Greek scholar because I am not but, once again, I do not believe that you need any Greek to interpret our perfect English bible. If you needed Greek, God would have given you an extant Greek manuscript and you would have to learn Greek. God has always delivered His Word to the people in their language through biblical preservation!
2. Secondly, all you need is an old King James Bible and its Author, the Holy Spirit, in order to get the understanding of these verses. Leave the commentaries alone and let the verses say what God intended to say instead of listening to what someone thinks they say.
B. I want to establish that all of us have a sinful, depraved flesh and can and do sin. Some may fall out with me at this point but I find biblical basis for the potential sinfulness of God’s people and no biblical basis for the eradication of the old nature and the flesh.
Noah got drunk! Lot chose Sodom with its “brethren!” Jacob lied! Judah and Samson ran with harlots! David committed adultery and murder! Solomon’s heart was turned to strange gods by his 1000 wives! Peter denied the Lord! Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Ghost! Demas forsook the man of God and the ministry having loved this present world! Paul, in Romans 7, suffered constant failure because of the flesh! God’s people can not only sin as wickedly as the world they can, for a while, remain in that sin. For this cause, many are sickly among you and many sleep has become a reality for some. The Lord will chasten!
1. In order to teach this message, I want to use three things: Scripture, context, and simple logic. If someone disagrees with my interpretation, I certainly will not fall out with them but I have looked over these verses for years and can only come to this conclusion.
2. Now, it you are a “Greek Scholar,” please leave this poor old uneducated, back woods, coal mining, little preacher to his own devices! If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant! The Lord will straighten me out when we get to heaven but I don’t even eat in Greek or Hebrew restaurants much less study the menus.
C. We know several things through clear scripture:
1. Salvation is not of works though it always produces works.
Titus 3:4-7 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, (5) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (6) Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; (7) That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Grace becomes works when mixed with human merit and these verses are plain.)
Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (God did not save us to sin; He saved us from sin!)
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
James 2:17-18 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (18) Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (In my years of being a pastor, I have basically dealt with two types of church members: 1) Those who, though they have failed some, have been faithful to the Lord and church and loving towards each other 2) Those who have never gotten in and always remain on the fringe whose lives have been consistently inconsistent and remain the same through the years.)
2. Salvation is always eternal in its nature! I could fill this sermon just quoting verses of scripture that prove beyond doubt that, once a person becomes a child of God, they can no more be unborn spiritually than they can be unborn physically.
John 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (29) My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. (Add to this verse if you like or take away from this verses if you like but they remain. They say what they mean and mean what they say! A salvation that is not eternal is not salvation at all. Salvation is not probation and probation is not salvation!)
3. Though eternally saved, the child of God will always remain a sinner in this life because of two things: 1) He/she will continue to be dual in nature: the old man and the new man 2) He/she will continue to live in sinful flesh!
1 John 1:8-2:1 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (2:1) My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
Romans 7:14-25 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. (15) For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (16) If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. (17) Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (18) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (19) For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (20) Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (21) I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. (22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: (23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (25) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
D. I John is written to “my little children,” not to the unsaved! There is continual shift from Positional Sanctification (salvation) and Practical Sanctification (fellowship) found throughout the book.
1. These verses in chapter 3 can be somewhat confusing if you do not keep this in mind. There are words that seem contradictory and the efforts of good men to reconcile them with eternal life have had to make, what I believe to be, a wrong interpretation of terms.
2. At this point, let me say again, if you disagree, it does not create a problem with me because all of us know that we are eternally saved and yet still sinners. We all believe that biblical salvation always produces right spiritual fruit.
3. I believe that, at the point of salvation, God gives victory over sin so that we can live as He ordains but I believe that it is possible for God’s children to sin and pay the consequences. I believe that, in the life of each believer, we struggle with sinfulness in our flesh and too often give in to temptation with some degree of continuance. I know that the Lord corrects but He is longsuffering and gentle with us. I find periods of continuance in sin in the bible in the lives of God’s people i.e. King David, Lot, Demas, etc.
E. Verse 9 says “doeth not commit sin” and “cannot sin!” This verse does not imply continuance in sin but specifically uses the word “sin” in the singular. The wages of “sin” is death. The same word needs to have the same interpretation. One sin, not many sins. Once again, I am not a Rocket Scientist nor am I a Greek Scholar but: 1) I am not launching a rocket and 2) neither do I believe that you need the Greek to understand the English! Here’s my story and I’m sticking to it:
F. I want to use the first three verses to set the tone and give a proper biblical interpretation of the following verses as the context has not changed.
1. The Reality Of Our Present Sonship. Beloved, now are we the sons of God! We are His! We are the God’s Children! We are the sons of God now! We are not striving to be His, we are His! We are not what should be but we strive to be like Him and, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him! One day, we will be just like Him, perfected at His coming but 1 John 4:17 says, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” (Saved, secured, safe, and satisfied!)
2. Our Practical Sanctification Confirmed In Conversion! Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not … And it doth not yet appear what we shall be … And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure! These verses tell me that presently, we are not like Him yet and remain capable of sin. It doeth not yet appear because He is perfect and we are not. We do commit sin and we do commit sin willfully and fail God often. Though we are not perfect, we are different because the world has to see a difference in order not to know us. (These statements tell us several things.)
a. The world knoweth us not because they recognize their own! We are in the world but not of the world and the world sees the difference. Otherwise, we would simply blend into the world. We are not perfect but we are different! Saved and striving. Though we are not perfected, we are changed and that change is evident to the lost. They may not understand the change because they do not know the Lord but they see it.
b. We are in a perpetual state of striving to be like Him. We have not yet apprehended as Paul said so we are not perfect nor are we sinless. We that are saved have a desire to be like Christ which makes us not want to conform to the world. We do not think like them and certainly no longer fit their mold. I once walked with them because I was of the world but things forever changed when I came to Christ.
c. The Lord is our standard of excellence. We are not to conform to the thinking of men but to the Word of God. That differentiates the child of God from the religionist.
3. Our Eternal Life Secured Through A Perfect Sealing! When he shall appear, we shall be like him! Verse 9 says, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” This is not speaking of the seed of man nor the Seed of Woman in Genesis 3:15, which is Christ. This seed is God’s seed which is the Seed of God’s Word that brings salvation. We are saved through belief in the inner hearing of God’s Word. Not the outward hearing for many hear but when we hear with the ears of our heart and believe we are saved and sealed.
1 Peter 1:23-25 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (24) For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: (25) But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
4. Our Desire To Live For Christ Anchored In Hope! And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure! Notice the word “and.” We are not what we shall be; we shall be what we are not; and we that are saved strive to purify ourselves, even as He is pure for our hope is a heavenly one, not an earthly one. Now, we find the first 3 verses setting the context and, therefore, the interpretation.
a. Though we are eternally saved from sin, we are not saved to sin. Can someone come to Christ by biblical saving faith and keep walking in the same way? The scriptural answer is “no.”
b. I understand that small children who are saved at a young age cannot identify with these verses as well as us who were saved at a later age. God’s salvation not only saves and secures but also changes the heart and direction of man. I have sinned since I have been saved but the direction of my life and longings is forever changed!
c. Today’s “salvation” that many people possess gives no identifying mark of conversion or change. Most churches teach that you do not have to give anything up after you are saved. You can look, talk, think, and act like the world just like you did before your “conversion.” You hear little about conversion in our day but old folks would say “when I was converted.”
d. Herein lies the reason that righteous people try to live righteously and unrighteous people try to live unrighteous. God’s “seed” that converted us remains in us pure and powerful to do two things:
1. It is the seal of our salvation because that part of us “cannot sin” because His seed births us and also remains in. In Him is no sin.
2. It is the seal of our conversion because that part of us it converted continues to convert our outward lives.