Saturday, February 20, 2016

Dethroning the American Jesus - Final 1 John Post


"We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked on. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." - 1 John 5:18-21 

This journey through the book of 1 John has been long. Looking back, my first post on the book was on January 2 of 2015, and what started out as covering nearly an entire chapter each post turned to covering about three verses.  
But here we are at the end, and John has certainly saved the best for last.  

We know, we know, we know… 
The book of 1 John is so cram-packed full of challenges for the believer. It's full of ways to test the authenticity of one's one faith. It's full of wisdom on what to do in certain situations and full of ways to know you know God. 
Here, in the final four verses, John sums up everything he has said, challenging young and old one last time to examine their lives. He leaves little grey area as three times he declares "we know." 

  1. Sin and evil 

John's first "we know" statement is a heavy one. In fact, it includes three statements within the one.  
First, "we know that whoever is born of God does not sin." 
Let's quickly rule out that this is not entirely literal. If the mark of a true, 100% authentic follower of Christ was that they absolutely never sinned, we would be in a lot of trouble. Peter and Paul would have been in trouble. Martin Luther would have been in trouble. John Piper would be in trouble. Even the Apostle John would have been in trouble. The entire planet would inevitably be damned.  

Clearly, it must mean something else. 

Let's think back to what this entire book has been about - evidence. Is there evidence for the claims you make about your faith? Is there evidence that God should listen to your prayers? Is there evidence that you know God. And now, in these verses, is there evidence that God has changed you? 

Look at the second part of the sin statement. "We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself." 

I've bolded the "but" to show the contrast. Contrary to a planet that willfully and happily chooses to do things contrary to God's Law every single day, a true believer keeps himself. He has control over his flesh and control over his emotions.  

Finally, the verse finishes, "and the wicked one does not touch him." 

No matter the consequences, a true believer will consistently choose light over darkness. He is unwavering in his resolve despite culture. She holds fast under heavy peer pressure.  

We live in a time period (as many time periods before this one) where individuals in our country do whatever they want, and our laws are constantly adapting to make sure that their impulses are legal.  

Being pregnant became annoying, so we began killing the babies. Men and women born with the desire for the same gender grew tired of trying to restrain themselves or hide, so equality was demanded. None of this is new, mind you. And it doesn't stop with these two sins. Throw in pornography, popular movies and tv shows that clearly go against what God would want for our entertainment. This story has been told many times. However, because we live in a "sort of Christian" nation, many of the people involved in such things are still claiming to be Christians. This is where 1 John comes in handy.  

They are not Christians.  

I'm not the one saying it. It's just so painfully obvious in Scripture. True believers do not live in sin. They are not "okay" with sin. When they sin, and it should not be often, they should feel the weight of that sin. They should immediately repent, which literally means to "turn away" from it. They will do everything in their power to refrain from doing it again.  

This is why I also believe that addiction has no place in the true believer. If you are addicted to something, then you are its slave, and therefore, where is the evidence that Christ has freed you from the power of sin? 

John has taken off the gloves and is delivering the final blow to fake Christians in the Church. If sin controls you, there is much evidence to declare that you are not saved. 

  1. God and the World 
John's second "we know" statement is about the true believer's place on this planet. "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one." 

This one is a bit simpler, but still has massive implications. True believers are of God. The rest of the world is under Satan. There is no middle ground. The battle is waged. The chess match is in the heat of play. You are either a pawn of Christ or of Satan.  

Therefore, those who are of Christ will fight His battle. They will not be controlled by the desire and lifestyle of the world. I'm not talking about sin. I'm talking about hopes and dreams. The unbeliever or fake believer dreams of a bigger house, a better car, retirement and health. Those are not the hopes and dreams of a true believer. There's no Scripture to back up those kinds of hopes and dreams. The believers in Acts gave everything away to help those in need. The wealthy did not save up for a better house. They sold their homes and property for the use of the Church. They didn't plant hedges around their property lines. They invited the homeless into their houses.  

Imagine you and your friend are on a fishing trip. You know that in three days the trip will be over and that you will return to your warm, comfy home where your best friends and family will be waiting for you. Your fishing partner doesn't realize anything comes after the camping trip. He's not thinking about that at all. On the first night, it rains heavily and you both get wet. The next morning, your fellow traveler declares that he is going to build a beautiful home. He is going to give the boat a paint job and fix up the gross outhouse.  

You on the other hand, should have entirely different goals. After all, you only have three days here. Why waste that time working on something that won't matter in three days? You spend all three days fishing so that you have some great "catch" photos to bring home. Your friend mocks you all the second day. "Hey, relax man. Sit back and relax, or at least help me build this nicer cabin." You shake your head. "There isn't time for that. I came here to fish, and I only have a couple of days left!" 

A true believer should be very aware of the short time he or she has on this planet, and that should dramatically impact how they spend their days here. It should impact their language, their schedules and even their hopes and dreams.  

  1. Truth and Fiction 
"And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." 

A true believer knows God, and she knows she knows him. She has no doubt of it. We know the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We know He is God's Son. We know He is the only way to the Father. We know He is the only way to eternal life. True believers have no excuse for slipping through life unnoticed. There should be no doubt in people's minds that we are believers, or at least that there is something very unusual about us. I'm not saying you have to preach on a busy street corner. Lord knows that introvert James has trouble enough speaking to strangers.  

But think of it this way. I'm a Vikings fan. Most people don't have to talk to me very long to figure that out. I'm not an expert like some of my friends, but I know a good amount of the players. I know how we did last year, and I can make a decent argument for how I think we'll do next year. If literature comes up, people will learn fairly quickly that I love C.S. Lewis. I've read about 15 of his books, so I can talk for a good while about his writing.  

So, if indeed I am in God…if He has given me understanding and my hope and trust is placed in Him, what excuse do I have to say nothing about it? The answer is none.  

  1. Believers and Idols 

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." 

"Children" here most likely refers to everyone under John's teaching, not just kids, but I think this command rings true especially for the young, both physically and spiritually.  

The Greek word for "keep" isn't just another way of saying "Don't touch." It involves action. It means to separate oneself from something, or even to flee it.  

I find it so fitting that John ends this phenomenal letter this way. After all he's said, what is his very last statement.  

"Don't get distracted." 

In your endeavor to walk with Christ, keep yourself, separate and sprint away from anything that is going to distract you from the True God. This could include so many things. Don't get distracted by Netflix. Don't get distracted by football. Don't get distracted by money or your career. Don't create a version of God that isn't true.  

The United States of America has created a version of Jesus that is so appealing. He is culturally acceptable and so very tolerant. He sits like a bobble head doll on your car dash, nodding away. Whatever you do is fine. Just be sure to sing an emotional Christian song every once in a while and post something spiritual to Facebook. He doesn't love abortion, but He's not angered by it. He prefers man and wife marriages, but you'll find him tapping his toes at a gay wedding dance. He closes his eyes during the Game of Thrones episodes, but he "gets" the epicness of the show, and is totally fine with you watching it, because "it's not really porn." He wants you to go to church, but he totally understands that you get along so much better with people outside the church. He wants you to witness, but He is insistent that you don't offend anyone or embarrass yourself. So don’t give out give out tracts. Absolutely refrain from showing anyone the Law so that they recognize they are a sinner.  

This Jesus does not exist. While we may not bow down to a literal bobble head of American Jesus, he is the one most Americans worship, and most of them have no idea who the True Christ is, and they would probably hate Him if they found out.  

Conclusion 

I hope you forgive my many rants over the last year. There is a problem with American Christians in this country. But I'm sure that I have been more convicted than any reader. I have examined myself so closely over this past year, and I'm trying so hard to cleanse the filth. Much of what I've written may sound like the writing of a Debby Downer. I hope that's not all you've gotten from this book, because it really is a book of Good News.  

You, a chosen child of God, were ripped from your depravity into His glory. You were stolen from darkness and placed into light. You were given understanding. You were given hope. You were given a promise of a beautiful home after this camping trip. You were promised victory over sin and power over greed and laziness. You were given the ability to discern things that the best scholars will never know. You were given a heart of love like no hippy can understand.  

So, let us walk in the light as He is in the light. There is no better place to walk.  


  



2 comments:

  1. Wow. Going to reflect on this for a while. You nailed it though. I'm guilty of so many of these things. Iron sharpens iron

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading, Lynsey. I'll be reflecting too. Always examining.

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