I John 1
Last week we saw that the theme of I John was fellowship. But we can let things into our lives that defraud us of fellowship.
Billy Graham told of a little boy who went into a drugstore and asked the druggist if he could borrow the telephone. The druggist told him that would be fine. So the little boy dials the grocery store and asks, “Do you need a stock clerk?” They said, “No, we already have a little boy who does that for us.” He said, “Does he do a good job? Maybe you need someone else.” The grocer said, “No, we are very satisfied with the little boy we have.” He said, “Thank you,” and he hung up.
The druggist said, “I’m sorry you didn’t get the job.” The boy said, “No, you don’t understand. I already have the job over there: I was just checking up on myself.”
Today I want you to check up on yourself and see if there’s something in your life that’s keeping you from enjoying the sweetest fellowship this side of Heaven. If there is, that something is likely sin……secret faults that can cause moral earthquakes.
We’re going to talk about secret faults today…things we hide that keeps us from fellowshipping with God. Look at I John 1:5-2:6. “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 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: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not the commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: herby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
The way to deal with sin is to recognize sin for what it is. We have a generation today that doesn’t even like the word sin. It seems that the only sin today is to call sin sin. We rather call it a mistake, or a misjudgment, or an error, etc. But Jesus didn’t die for mistakes; He died for sin.
We live in an age of behavioristic psychology. Psychologist tell us that we are just the sum total of our genes and chromosomes and our environment. They say that man isn’t wicked; he’s just weak. He’s not sinful; he’s sick. He’s not evil’ he’s ill. Therefore, we never deal with the real problem.
We’ve been spurred on by evolution. We’ve been told that man wasn’t created, but he evolved from some primordial soup. Of course, they never tell us where the soup came from! But if what they say is true, we’ve come from soup to nuts!
Man didn’t evolve. He was created in the image of God. Man sinned willfully. Sin isn’t an accident; it’s high treason against God. If you don’t understand sin for what it is, you never deal with sin or understand the remedy for sin which God has provided. If you think sin is a problem to be fixed, you’re going to be looking for a cure rather than for forgiveness. Thank God for this epistle that tells us how to deal with the sin problem and how to have fellowship with God.
People have lost the concept of sin today. The evolutionist says that we’re on our way up and that time will kill the beast that’s in us. You can believe that if you want to, but King Kong is not my cousin!
Education says that if we get more learning we’ll be able to deal with the sin problem. Is that true? What about Nazi Germany? The Nazi’s were highly educated. And today our universities have become cesspools of sin.
Science says that we can just breed sin out of man by genetic engineering. And parents are trying to prearrange the birth of their children today.
Sociologists tell us that if we can just change our environment man will be better. But I want to remind them that man fell in the best environment ever created…..the Garden of Eden. Sin is no respecter of persons. It will come to the high rise just as easily as it comes to the ghetto.
Psychologists tell us that these are feelings we’ve generated inside ourselves and that we just need to get rid of these guilt feelings. But it’s not the guilt feelings we need to get rid of; it’s the guilt!
The only place you’ll find the answer for the sin problem is in the Word of God.
How does God deal with sin? When you repent of your sin and trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are born again. Judicially and legally sin is dealt with forever. God said in Hebrews 8:12, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” When you get saved, every sin (past, present and future) is buried in the grave of God’s forgetfulness.
Isaiah 43:25 says, “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” That’s good news! That is the gospel of grace.
Jeremiah 31:34 says, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
When God says He’ll remember our iniquities no more, does that mean He can’t recall them anymore? No. He’s saying, “I won’t remember their sin against them anymore.” He only remembers them as sins that have been forgiven…and therefore forgotten as sins.
Intellectually, I can never forget the sins I’ve committed. But when I do remember those sins, I remember then as a sin that’s no longer held against me. They are sins that have been forgiven by the grace of God.
That’s how the Lord deals with us judicially. “Blessed is the man to whom God will not impute sin.” If God ever put one half of one sin on my account, it would be enough to damn me forever. I can’t behave myself into Heaven. If I’m going to be saved, then I have to be saved by the grace of God.
But how does God deal with our sins day by day? If I’m saved by grace and kept by grace; if no sin will ever be brought up against me anymore; if my sin is buried in the grave of God’s forgetfulness, then how does God deal with me day by day? How does He deal with me when I’m proud, or arrogant, or when I tell a lie, or when I have a lustful look? Well, He doesn’t deal with me as a Judge, but as a Father. In this chapter we’re not talking about legal judgment; we’re talking about God dealing with us in a parental way.
When I’m born into the family of God, a son-ship is established. Son-ship never changes. I was born into the Flynt family and nothing can ever change that. When the sun, moon and stars have grown cold, I’ll still be a Flynt. It’s the same way when you’re born again.
Son-ship can never change. But there’s another relationship that can change. It’s called fellowship. When I was growing up, I always had relationship with my father, but I didn’t always have fellowship. There were times when I didn’t do what my father told me to do, or I did what he told me not to do. That’s when he would apply the board of education to my seat of knowledge!
The Bible says, “Whom the Father loveth, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”
Son-ship is established by birth, but fellowship is established by conduct. When John talks about the cleansing of our daily sins, he’s talking about the fact that God is not dealing with us as Judge, but as Father.
I want us to see how we can restore our fellowship with the Father…how we can rid ourselves of those secret faults and hidden sins that divide us from the Father’s smile and rob us of sweet fellowship with God.
First, I want us to see how the Father convicts of sin. Look at I John 1:5-7. “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
Look at all the times he mentions lying here. He says, “If we say…, If we say…, If we say…” In other words, we’re saying one thing and doing another. He’s talking about the evolution of a lie.
First of all, we lie to deny sin (verses 5-6). Look at the people around you this morning. Do you think everyone here has their heart right with God? People can come in here with a Bible in their hands, they can sing songs, they can nod their heads and say, “Amen,” but their hearts are not right with God. John says, “If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie.” There are some living lies sitting on the pews this morning. You know in your heart that you’re playing a game.
That’s what happens when we get sin in our hearts. We come to church and sing in the choir, or teach a class, etc., but there is that secret fault.
After you do that for a while, you get to believing your own lie. The next step is in verse 8. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” When you set out to deceive someone else, you deceive yourself most of all.
The man who deceives himself is on the verge of a mental breakdown. When a man can’t even believe himself, when he blurs the distinction between light and dark and between the truth and a lie, he’s on the edge. He begins to think, “Maybe it’s not sin at all. Maybe I’m all right.”
First we deceive others, then we deceive ourselves, and then we lie to God. Verse 10 says, “If we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar.” When we call God a liar, we’re the ones who are lying. God cannot lie.
God brings us under conviction and we say, “Oh, no, God. You’re wrong. It was just a mistake. It was the environment. It was just righteous indignation, etc.” And we don’t let the Holy Spirit convict us of that sin in our lives. Then we have the audacity to lie to God.
We lie to deny sin, we lie to deceive self, and we lie to defy the Savior. When we do that, fellowship is completely broken. We’ve stepped out of the light and over into darkness.
How does God bring us back? God won’t bring us back unless we expose ourselves to the light. If you stay in the darkness, there will never be any conviction. But if you step back into the light, God will shine the light of His holiness upon your life and bring you under conviction.
It’s extremely important that the child of God learn the difference between Holy Spirit conviction and satanic accusation. The devil is the accuser of the brethren. The Holy Spirit loves us and convicts us.
Before you sin, the devil will say, “Go ahead, you can get away with it.” But after you sin, the devil will say, “You’ll never get away with it.” He’ll entice you to sin and then condemn you because you did it.
When the Holy Spirit shines His pure light on you, you’ll come under the conviction of God. If you’ll just turn and face the light, He’ll pull the veil of darkness back and expose those lies that you’ve been telling others, telling yourself, and telling God.
The Holy Spirit will convict you legitimately. He’ll never convict you of sin that has been confessed and repented of. If it comes up again, it’s not the Holy Spirit; it’s the devil. He goes back into your past and brings up some sin that’s been cleansed and forgotten.
A man told his pastor that he couldn’t get peace. The pastor asked him why. He said, “I did a horrible thing.” The pastor asked, “Have you confessed it to God?” He said, “I’ve confessed it a thousand times.” The pastor said, “That’s 999 times too many.”
If it comes up again, the devil is trying to bring you into double jeopardy. The devil will accuse you of sin that’s already been forgiven and cleansed, but the Holy Spirit will convict you legitimately. He’ll never bring up something in your past that’s already been dealt with.
But not only will the Holy Spirit convict you legitimately, He’ll convict you specifically. If the devil can’t go back into your past and drag up something that’s already been dealt with, he’ll just convict you vaguely. He’ll just make you feel unworthy.
Sometimes you’ll hear Christians pray, “God, I know I’m just a poor, old, unworthy sinner.” Where’d you get that nonsense from? You aren’t a poor, old, unworthy sinner; you are the righteousness of God in Christ! You’re a child of God! You’re a prince! You’re next of kin to the Holy Trinity! Jesus is not ashamed to call you His brother!
But the devil tries to make you feel bad all over…and you don’t have to take it!
The Holy Spirit will convict you specifically. He’ll say, “That was a lie you just told.” And like a good doctor, He’ll put His finger on the sore spot and push!
But not only will He convict you legitimately and specifically; He’ll convict you redemptively. Accusation discourages and drives you away from God. Accusation says, “Woe is me! There’s no way out. I’m done for. I might as well quit.” But Holy Spirit conviction says, “Here’s what you’ve done. But if you’ll confess it to Jesus, He’ll forgive you and cleanse you. Come back into the fellowship of the Lord.”
I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
If we don’t stonewall God, but genuinely confess our sins and turn from them, He’ll cleanse and forgive us. This isn’t the judicial cleansing we got when we were saved; this is God dealing with us as His children.
The word confess means “to say the same thing about.” Confession is an agreement with God. It’s saying what god says about that sin. If you say, “Yes, I did it,” that’s not confession: that’s an admission.
How do we confess our sin? We need to confess it immediately. When it says, “If we confess our sin…” it’s written in the present tense. It’s not talking about something you’ve done: it’s talking about something you do. It literally says, “If we continually confess our sins.”
If you get a speck of dust in your eye, when do you get it out? Do you get it out at the end of the week? No! You get it out immediately!
Most of us live down on a very low plain. Then we hear the preacher preach, or we’re in a revival meeting, or we read some great book, and we just have a religious spasm! We get on a high….but it doesn’t last very long. Then we’re back down in the valley. Then we’re up again. Then we’re down again. Have you ever ridden that roller coaster? That’s not the Spirit-filled life.
The victorious life is not living without any temptation, without any fault, or without any failure. We all sin. That’s what John has been telling us. But when we learn these truths and get up here on a higher plain and start living in the light, then, when the Holy Spirit says, “You did wrong,” you confess it immediately.
You may be at the dinner table and nobody even knows what you’ve done. Maybe you said something you shouldn’t have. But you say, “God forgive me.” And He does.
You do it immediately and specifically. He doesn’t say to confess our sin; He says to confess our sins. We’re not talking about the sin nature anymore; we’re talking about what you did particularly. Call it by name. That’s the painful part.
Have you been in a prayer meeting where someone says, “Oh, Lord, if we’ve sinned, forgive us.” Or they say, “Forgive us all our sins.” As far as I’m concerned, you’re just wasting your breath when you pray that way. If you want to do business with God you say, “God, forgive me for reading that filthy book, I won’t do it again, Lord. Please forgive me.” Or you say, “Lord, forgive me for the lie I told.” Or, “Lord, forgive me for my pride and selfishness.” Name it and nail it!
Do it immediately and specifically. But also do it confidently. The devil will try to tell you that what you’ve done is so bad that you can’t get forgiveness for it. That’s a lie! I John 1:9 says that God forgives us from all sin. There is no sin that Jesus’ blood can’t cleanse. That’s what verse 7 says. Jesus doesn’t just forgive; He cleanses. He washes out the stain. His blood washes whiter than snow!
There is the conviction of sin and the cleansing of sin, but there’s also the conquest of sin. Do you think that because cleansing and forgiveness is by grace, and that all you have to do is ask for it, that God is encouraging us to sin? No! He’s encouraging us not to sin. Chapter 2 and verse 1 says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not! And if any man does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father.” The word “Advocate” is just a fancy word for lawyer. I have a Savior who is interceding for me. The Bible says that He ever lives to make intercession for us.
Jesus is the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. That’s why I don’t believe the nonsense of limited atonement. He died for everybody! And He satisfies the righteous demands of a holy God.
But you are not to be cavalier about your sin. In a few more verses He talks about living in us and how the love of God is perfected. A slave serves because he has to; an employee serves because he needs to; but a child of God serves because he wants to.
To think that God would save me to begin with, and then cleanse me……do you think that encourages me to sin? No, it encourages me not to. But if I do sin, thank God I have an Advocate who is the propitiation…the satisfaction for my sin. His blood satisfies God.
Don’t we have a wonderful Savior? If people really understood what we have in Jesus, you couldn’t keep them away from here with a machine gun! But the stubborn hearts of so many people just stonewall themselves against God.
John said in verse 4 that he was writing this so that you could have fullness of joy with God and with one another. It’s the sweetest fellowship this side of Heaven. Do you have it?