Peninsula Community Church
Displaying the Life Of Christ – Are You Living It?
September 2, 2012
1 John 5:16-21 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life–to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
For the last couple of months we have been taking a journey through the book of 1 John. We have unpacked much through this journey but today the rubber meets the road so to speak. The question we must ask is “will we be hearers only or will we put into action what we have learned?” This action is critical to the process of learning to display the life of Christ in our life. And yet, this is one of the greatest struggles of our life.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been taking some golf lessons. The instructor is very capable and is revamping everything I do from changing my grip, to changing the way I swing and how I approach the ball. All of these is awesome but if I don’t implement what I have learned I will never improve my game and never will enjoy the game. It takes practice and it also means there are times I may fail but it is in the failure that I learn how to improve my game.
As passionate followers of Christ we may know what we need to do but doing it sometimes is the most difficult thing we will try. But, we have a secret weapon or two in our arsenal that will help us. First of all, we have the power of prayer that will help us. Secondly, the entire Godhead is on our side and is fighting for us, if we will yield ourselves to God’s will, God’s purpose and His plan for our life. And most of all we have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. It is His assignment to teach us what we need, to convict us when we go astray and to guide us to the truth of the gospel. With that said by way of remembrance let me highlight a couple of issues.
First of all in 1 John as passionate followers of Christ we realize that we are not independent but interdependent upon each other and God. God calls us to love Him and He calls us to love one another because it is through this love that we exhibit our commitment to Christ. We can raise our hands and be completely faithful to church attendance and outwardly we can do everything right but treat others with contempt and disgust. But through the book of 1 John we learn that if we truly want to be passionate followers of Christ we will love others because we have an understanding that God loved us before we could love Him and that He gave Himself for us in spite of what we were or what we did.
This idea of love is exhibited in our passage this morning in the fact that when we see our brother sinning we will pray for them so that they will return to truth and be healed. The fact is we need each other. We need to encourage one another toward hope and a full life. We need to pray for one another. We need to challenge one another in love to grow and become better than they are.
Secondly, a passionate follower of Christ does not keep on sinning because he is obedient to God’s commands in our walk with Christ. To use my golf analogy if I continue in my bad habits I will not see the improvements needed and my game will suffer. This is accomplished by abiding in the Word and abiding in Him. In others words, we saturate ourselves with the Word of God so that we will not keep on sinning. This does not mean that we will never sin, it simply means that because we are in the Word and we are in Him that we will be easily convicted and that conviction will lead to confession and to repentance. When we are in the Word and we are abiding in Him, it will become increasingly harder to intentionally sin without the heart rate increasing and the blood pressure rising. There will be the penetrating sound of that still small voice in our ears and in our hearts.
In the passage for this morning, we see that the one born of God will be protected from the evil one. This happens in two ways. First, God will block the work of the enemy from advancing against us and at other times He will allow things to come so that we learn to make the right decision and stand our ground upon biblical truth and righteousness but He will not allow us to be destroyed. He is our protector.
God becomes that little alarm in our hearts that says something is wrong. Over the last few weeks we have been getting an alarm here at the church. I was getting calls from the alarm company at all hours of the day and night. You see there was no fire but there was a problem with the system. We could not see the problem but there was a problem. We had to have a tech come in and run diagnostics to determine the source of the problem. The Holy Spirit is that alarm system in our lives that points to a problem and the word of God becomes the diagnostic guideline to determine what is wrong. You see the fact that the alarm going off was not the problem, the problem was that the Mother board of the alarm panel was broken and needed to be replaced.
Too often, we believe that the alarm is the problem and we try to fix the alarm but the alarm only points out that there is a problem. I could turn the alarm off but the problem still exists. Too often we look at the symptoms of sin in our life without dealing with the sin itself or the issue that is causing the problem. We cannot manage sin we must get rid of it.
And lastly, a passionate follower of Christ must keep themselves from idols. We don’t use this word very much anymore but an idol is anything that will distract from our worship of God. Remember we said a couple of weeks ago that worship means to ascribe worth to something. It is to place a value on an item, person, place or thing. An idol is anything that we value more than we value God and obedience to His ways. Our friends can be an idol as we choose to please them more than we please God. Our failures and diminished capacities to be healed can be an idol as we value being unhealthy more than we do being whole in Christ and in essence we prevent God’s work and will from being accomplished in us.
One of the problems that existed with Israel is that their worship became an idol. They were good at offering sacrifices and doing the religious things but God’s indictment for them was that their hearts were far from God although outwardly they were doing everything right and by the book. God looks at the heart and not the outward.
To avoid idols we must have a love for God that runs deep. I am reminded of a story told by Gordon MacDonald in his book “The Life God Blesses: Weathering the Storms of Life that Threaten the Soul.” A boat builder wanted to build a boat that everyone would talk about. He outfitted his boat with colorful sails, complex rigging, and comfortable appointments and conveniences in its cabin. The decks were made of beautiful teakwood and all of the fittings were polished brass. As he built the boat, he fantasized about the admiration and praise he would receive from the members of the yacht and boat club where he would be launching his boat. This made him spend even more time on the appearance of the boat. He paid little attention to what was hidden or out of sight. On the day he launched his boat, he received the accolades of the crowd. The people praised him and proclaimed that this was the grandest boat they had ever seen.
With the crack of the champagne bottle on the bow the boat set sail. He stood at the helm with great pride racing through his veins. All was well until a small storm arose. This was not a hurricane or a storm of any significance but just a small squall. Suddenly the boat capsized. And what would have normally caused the ship to right itself was not there for you see there was no weight in the hull. He had spent so much time on the outward appearance of what could be seen but he never attended to the keel of the boat and that part of the boat not seen by anyone.
The lesson here and the lesson of 1 John is to make sure that the parts of our life that are unseen receive just as much attention as the ones that are seen. And in that, we will display the life of Christ with grandeur. The storms may come but because we have the right priorities and the right mindsets we will be righted even in the greatest of all storms. We will display the life of Christ in us and people will see Him through what we do and how we live.
So how is your hidden life? How’s your life when no one is looking? Are you trying to turn the alarm of heart off without dealing with the issues causing the alarm?