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Love & Warning

Sermon Series:

Final Words

Jon Delger
Jon Delger

Executive Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
1 John 2


Good morning, Peace Church.

Good morning.

My name is John. I get to serve as the Executive Pastor here at Peace. And you never know what Pastor Ryan is going to say before you come out to get to preach. But we'll be sure to drop some truth bombs here for us to have a chance to amen and praise God for it. So we're going to have some fun this morning. If you've got a Bible with you, would you grab it and open it with me to 1 John, Chapter 2? That's what we're reading from this morning. 1 John, Chapter 2, near the end of the Bible. We're in the second week of our series, final words, the last letters of the last apostle, the apostle John as an old man giving us some of his last words before he leaves the earth, when the last of Jesus's followers is still on the earth. All right, hey, we're gonna read starting in verse one of chapter two

I'm gonna we've got a lot to cover in this chapter this morning.

So I'm just gonna read each section as we come to it. So let me read the first six verses Well, we'll dig into it and then we'll read each section as we go. So let's read scripture Let's pray and then we'll get to work.

Here we go My little children I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments. Whoever says, I know Him, but does not keep His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in Him. But whoever keeps His word in Him truly, the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him. Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

This is God's word, amen? Amen, let's pray.

Father God, we thank you for your word this morning. God, I pray that you would open up our hearts to hear it, to be changed by it, to be convicted, challenged, and encouraged. Father, I pray that you would fill me with your Holy Spirit as a broken instrument, come to bring your word to your people, and God, I pray that you'd be glorified by your church. We love you, Lord. In Jesus' name, we pray.

Amen. Amen.

Well, hey, one of the roles that I get to play in life, and it's a great privilege, is as a pastor, as executive pastor at Peace, but I also have another role that I get to play in my life, and that's the role of a father, the role of a dad. Believe it or not, these beautiful children belong to me. I know you look at me and you think, I don't know, I don't understand how that works, but when you meet their mom, you'll understand, you get it. So Bailey Charity, Levi, and Micah, right on down to just turned three last week. Those are our kids.

And an experience that I have whenever I get to go out in public with my kids and we're walking down the street or we're in a restaurant or something like that, one of the things that often happens is I have somebody come to me and often it's a little old lady and she'll come to me and she'll say sir you have such a beautiful family and I said well thank you that's very kind and then she says do they ever do anything wrong and the explosions start to go off in my mind and I think to myself do they ever do anything wrong? They sure do. Let me tell you about it.

And I sort of have the same reaction actually when I come to the first verse of this passage that we read this morning. Here's the first verse. My little children, I am raising these things to you so that you may not sin, but if anyone does sin, John the Apostle, I don't know what things were like in the first century, but that if is no longer necessary, brother.

If we sin, if I sin, oh man, that's kind of a given at this point, right? That we are people who have sin in our lives, that we live in sin. Now, on the one hand, let me say a couple of things about this. On the one hand, it's true that we are all sinners, right? It's basic biblical theology. Romans 3.10 tells us that there's no one righteous, not even one. Romans 3.23 tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So it's basic biblical theology that we are sinners, that we are people who fall short of God's perfect standard. So John isn't actually saying that, hey, you're supposed to be perfect. Jesus was the only one who was perfect. But the other thing I want to say about our reaction to this is why do we have such a strong reaction to the way that John words this verse? Why do we have such a strong reaction?

 Even though the Bible tells us that all of us are sinners, I think it is an unbiblical mentality that we think to ourselves because we are all sinners we cannot get any better, that we cannot grow, that we cannot do less sin and become more like Jesus. That's an unbiblical mentality. In fact, I would call that a defeatist mentality.

My wife used to be a nurse, and when she would work in the surgery center, she'd have to ask intake questions to patients coming in for surgery. And some of the questions would be about lifestyle choices and diet and exercise. And as she'd ask patients these questions, one of the common responses she got is people would look at her and say, diet, exercise, I have cholesterol pills, that's what those are for, why would I change my lifestyle? Right? And they think this is a magic pill that fixes things so I don't have to change.

Now unfortunately I think in the Christian life we can think that we have a magic pill that makes it so that we don't ever have to change. I think that magic pill comes in the next couple of verses if anyone does sin we have an advocate with the Father Jesus Christ the righteous he is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world Now this is the gospel.

This is the core Christian message It's the good news that Jesus is fully God and fully man and he came to the earth and he lived the righteous, it says, the righteous and perfect life that you and I couldn't live. Then he went to the cross and he died the death for sin that you and I deserve to die. That's this fancy word, propitiation, 12 letter word, worth a lot of points. 12 letters, propitiation, means the sacrifice of atonement. Somebody who dies in the place of somebody else. And that's what Jesus does. He dies the death for sin that we deserve to die. And then he was raised to new life, so if we put our faith in Jesus, we can have new life forever. That's the good news of the gospel. Amen. Amen.

And yet sometimes I think we're tempted to take this good news and say, because Jesus saves me from my sin, I don't have to grow at all. It's okay. I'm just going to go on sinning even though Jesus has taken away my sin, but actually, that's not the way the gospel works. Jesus calls us to more. Jesus in fact calls us in response to the gospel to a life of transformation. That's what the rest of this passage is going to go on to tell us. Look at the next couple of verses. By this we know that we have come to know him if we keep his commandments as a liar and the truth is not in him.

This is, I would say, the opposite of the defeatist mentality. This is a mentality of victory and of growth. That you and I can grow more and more in our likeness to Jesus. No, you can't become perfect. No, you can't earn your way into heaven. Jesus paid it all. But Jesus does call you to take his hand and come along with him and grow more and more in likeness to him over time. This last verse in this first section that we're looking at has a word that's repeated throughout the Gospel or the letter of 1 John. Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walks.

So Jesus calls us to walk in his way and throughout this letter he uses the word abide. And that's what we're gonna focus on this morning, is this word abide and three ways that we can see it in the text.

That word abides like one definition would be to endure without yielding, to be secure, to be steadfast, to be immovable in Christ.

When I think of this word, I actually think of the house that I live in. We bought this house about a year ago and we did a lot of renovations to it to move in and get our four kids into there and before we owned this house it belonged to my wife's grandpa. They're her grandparents and he built this house back in the 70s back when 2x10s were actually 2 inches by 10 inches none of this one-and-a-half by nine and a quarter stuff and it was built with nails and not screws and the nails were about as big around as my finger, and they were like eight inches long. And so as I'm trying to take down walls and adjust bedrooms and make room for these four kids, I'll tell you what, I about broke my shoulder a lot of times trying to remodel this house. When I think of unyielding, immovable, and abiding, I think of my house. No matter what comes at it, it is unshakable.

And that's the kind of Christians that God calls us to be. And I think 1 John, the rest of this passage in chapter 2 is going to tell us three ways that we can have that kind of a Christian life. So let's get into it. Here we go. The first way and the first section of the text. We can abide by loving our brother, abide by loving our brother.

Take a look at verses 7 through 11. Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it's a new commandment that I'm writing to you, which is true in him and in you because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light and in him, there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. All right, so John talks about this old and new commandments. So the reason he talks about that is because this idea of loving others is not new, right?

The Old Testament told us to love God and to love our neighbor. Jesus reiterates that in the New Testament. He renews that commandment. I think of passages like John 13, that actually look a lot like this passage that we're reading right now. It starts with Jesus addressing us, like John does, little children. He says, a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. You also love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have a love for one another. Right, so it's old in the sense that it's always been, this is what God's been telling us all along, and yet it's new in the sense that Jesus renews this commandment and tells his disciples, this is how you should live.

And the passage that we look at, draws a connection between love and light and hate and darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light. In him, there is no cause for stumbling. Whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in darkness. All right, so John paints a picture for us that if you are somebody who's got love in your heart if you are walking with Jesus in love for other people, then you are in the light. You can see.

Your eyes are open to see the way that God sees other people and his love for human beings. If you're walking in hate, then your eyes are darkened. You're blinded. You're not seeing things the way that God has called us to see things.

And I think in the Bible of a couple of different examples of this happening. In my own readings, and devotions, I've been reading 1st and 2nd Samuel, which is largely the story of David. I think of David and Saul. David is a man who loves the Lord and who also loves King Saul, who becomes his enemy. King Saul is the king of the land. He actually spends most of his career as a king trying to kill David, right? Even though David is his greatest military commander, even though David is a guy who plays some music for him when he's not feeling well, and even though David is his son's best friend, Saul throws a spear at him. Saul is clearly blinded to seeing who David really is and what it's really like to have a friendship with him. And instead, he's just filled with hate and fear that this man is going to take his power. And David responds not with more hatred, but instead with love. David has so much respect for the king that he goes to great lengths to not hurt him. There's even this funny scene in the story, if you know it, where Saul is out on the battlefield and he's trying to find David and he's searching for him to kill him. And David's hiding in a cave and Saul makes his way into the cave to use the restroom and so Saul is using the restroom here in the corner of a cave and David sneaks up and with his sword sort of cuts off a part of his robe which I imagine would be a pretty scary experience and David immediately repents. He says, you know what? I did the wrong thing. That was wrong. He has love and respect for the king, for Saul. His eyes are open to see things the way that God sees them, instead of being blinded by hatred.

Jesus and the Pharisees, I see a similar example. The Pharisees are these guys who are all about the law and teaching people to not just follow God's laws but actually follow man-made versions, and fences around the law. And they're so committed to this that they spend all their time teaching this and oppressing the people with these burdens, but then at the end of Jesus's life, right before they crucify him, they have this sort of mock trial of him, and the Pharisees, even though they spend their lives preaching these laws, they break every single one of them in order to murder Jesus. They are so blinded by hatred that very thing that they spend their lives upholding, they're willing to throw it away, to break it in order to hurt Jesus. And by contrast, of course, Jesus is on the cross and says, forgive them for they know not what they do.

So here's the question for us. I have three questions for us. Number one, brothers and sisters, where are we blinded by hate? Now I want to warn you too, don't get caught up in a technical definition of hate. If you're saying to yourself, well, I don't hate anybody. I don't hate him or I don't hate her. I just hope that they get allergic to the state of Michigan so they have to move and I never have to see them again. That's all. It's not hate. Who in your life do you have this kind of feelings towards? Where are you being blinded to the way that God sees this person? Where do you need to step into the light? Where do you need to open God's word and remind yourself that this person is a human being made in God's image? That God has plans for them, that God loves them, that God has actually put you in their life for their good?

Finally, where do you need to have forgiveness? I think if you're in the spot of hatred and you want to get to the spot of love, the bridge between the two is forgiveness. Right, if you hate somebody, there's usually a reason. Because they've done something wrong, something against you, there's something that needs to be forgiven. And the bridge from hatred to love is forgiveness. Where does that need to happen in your life? Where do you need to imitate Jesus, who hangs on the cross, having been beaten, tortured, and murdered, says, forgive them for they know not what they do?

Point number two in 1 John chapter two, we abide by not loving the world, by not loving the world. Look at verse 15 and let's read. Verse 15 and following. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride and possessions are not from the Father but from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires. But whoever does the will of God abides forever.

So quick clarification here. God is not saying, the apostle John is not saying that we should hate the people of the world, right? We just talked about that a moment ago. He specifies in verses 15 and 16, he's talking about the desires of the flesh and it says, do not love the world or the things in the world. Right? John is talking about something very specific.

God loves the people of the world. We are called to love the people of the world, and yet the temptations, the desires, and the things of the world are things that we're not supposed to fall in love with.

So I think there are so many different things that I could talk about here. There are so many different desires of the flesh. There are so many different things in the world that we could talk about, but I want to just kind of focus on a few.

You guys know that at Peace Church, one of the things that we care a lot about is challenging men. God has called men to a unique place in the world, and so we want to issue a biblical challenge to men to live according to God's calling.

And so I read an article this past week of a guy making the case that said, pastors, pastors, if you want to speak to men, you got to talk about the three things that men think about during the week. And he said that those three things are money, sex, and physical fitness. Now, I grew up in Middleville, so I thought those three things were hunting, fishing, and beer. But I guess I was wrong, so we'll just go with what the article said and talk about those things. The things of this world, the question is this, am I using these things for my own selfish desires or for God's calling in my life?

Money. Let me ask you a question. Is there anything wrong with having money? No, there's not. It's kind of helpful. Does some good stuff for you sometimes. It's okay to have money. The question is, where is your heart in relation to it? Are you using it only for your selfish desires or are you using it for God's purpose?

Same question with sex. Is sex a bad thing? No, it's not. It's a good thing within the context that God has designed it for. Are you using it for your own selfish desires or are you living according to God's design for it?

Physical fitness. Is it a bad thing to be physically fit? No, it's not. It's okay. It's good. But are you using it for your own vanity or are you using it for God's desire design in your life? And these are not just true, you might have noticed, just for men, but these are also true for women.

Actually, this past week I heard an interview of a female actress who is known specifically for being all about her youth and about making sure she doesn't have any wrinkles and stuff like that. And so the interviewer asked her the question, this female actress, and said, hey if a doctor came to you and said that if you were to eat human feces, it would make sure that you don't have any wrinkles the rest of your life, would you do it? And she said, yes. I know, right? That's how you might know that physical fitness has gotten to a place in your life where maybe a little too high, a little too high on the charts.

Let me make one more argument about the things of this world and it comes from verse 17. "'The world is passing away along with its desires, "' but whoever does the will of God abides forever.'" I would call this the argument from time. That if you're weighing out in your mind the desires of the flesh, the things of this world versus the things of God and you're wrestling with your own desires, one maybe perspective to look at it is, is from time. Which one of these is going to be right in the long run? And we know that God's ways are always going to be right in the long run, right?

I've got a daughter who just turned eight within the last couple of weeks here and I'm already, as she gets older, I think every birthday I have these thoughts. I think when she becomes a teenager or a preteen and I have to start talking to her more and more about what we wear and stuff like that, how am I gonna make the case? And I had this sort of vision this week of how I would make the case, and I thought I'd just say to her, hey, you know what, sweetheart? Short shorts and mini skirts won't be in heaven, so why wear them now? That stuff's going out of style. Stick with what lasts. You'll always be fashionable. The world is passing away in temporal.

Obeying God's will, and going His way lasts forever. Last one. Abide by holding to the truth. Abide by holding to the truth.

Look at verse 18. Jump down to verse 18 and follow with me. Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that Antichrist is coming, so now many Antichrists have come. Therefore, we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us. If they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist. He who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us, eternal life.

Yee-haw, here we go, right?

Talking about the Antichrist and all that kind of stuff. We're gonna get into it. Let's take a look at what scripture has to say about this big, much-talked-about concept. Verse 18, it's the last hour, as you have heard, Antichrist is coming, and so now many Antichrists has come and In fact, he's sitting right now. I'm just kidding. That's not true. I think that's exactly what this verse warns against, right? I think it's tempting for Christians to look at the news look at the newspaper and try to pick out who is the Antichrist Are we in the last days that kind of thing? I think the scripture is clear children It is the last hour and the Apostle John wrote this, you know in the first century a long time ago. Ever since Jesus ascended to heaven, we've been in the last days.

We've been in the endgame since Jesus ascended to heaven. We're waiting for his return. We've got a mission while he's there. His Holy Spirit is with us. We're in the last days. And it says that many antichrists have come. People who are opposed to Jesus, they're coming all the time. Now, there will be one final one that's gonna come but our job is not to figure out exactly who that is our job is to stay faithful in the meantime what is the Antichrist verse 22 tells us who is the liar but he denies that Jesus is the Christ this is the Antichrist he denies the Father and the Son that's what makes an Antichrist if you're asking what is this mystical word this phrase that I've heard maybe read books about that's what it is it's somebody who opposes the truth about Jesus, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

The rest of the text also tells us that he's somebody who was once a part of the church. Talks about him being among us and then going out from us. So this is somebody who knows the Bible, who's good at speaking half-truths, right, is gonna be very deceptive. That's their mission, that's their purpose. Verse 26, I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. That's the mission of the Antichrist, to deceive us, to convince us of something that is not the truth, dissuade us from reality. So if the end is coming, if there are those who are trying to deceive us, what's the call? What are we supposed to do? I think the answer comes in verse 24. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And John's talking about the Bible, the gospel, God's word. What you've heard from the beginning, what you were taught by the apostles when they came and planted the church that he's writing letters to, when you heard God's word, abide in that, stick with that. And so I have two very simple questions for you. Are you in the Word and are you studying the Word with others? Sounds too simple, right?

But are you?

Are you daily reading God's word? Having the Lord speak to you, that's how he speaks, through his word, that's why we call it his word. Are you hearing the Lord speak day in and day out? Are you doing it with others where you can make sure that you're on the right track, make sure that you're reading scripture correctly, and that you can be challenged, encouraged, convicted, and held accountable? Here at Peace Church, one of the things that we say is true of a healthy member of Peace Church is that they're part of a discipleship community, a men's Bible study, a women's Bible study, or a community group. Men's Bible study, women's Bible study, and community groups. Are you part of one of those? Where you're sitting with other men, women, and couples, and talking about God's word, holding each other accountable, praying through it. I think the way to sniff out the antichrists, the deceivers, is not by studying all the subtle tactics of the deceiver, but by knowing really well the real thing.

I've heard it said before that those who are trained to find counterfeit money, don't spend all their time studying the counterfeits and all the different strategies and tactics and what they look like. They actually spend most of their training figuring out exactly what the real dollar is like. What's its size? What's its weight? What are the letters? What are the things on it? Because if you know the real thing, then you're going to spot the counterfeit.

For example, which one of these is Tom Cruise? Oh, you're all guessing, I hear it. I'm not going to tell you, that would be no fun. So you'll have to think about it and figure it out. It's bothering all of you, isn't it? I can see it in the room, it's bothering you. Do you want to know the real answer? You're gonna be really disappointed by this. Are you ready? Are you ready? None of them. Oh, that hurts. That hurts. They're actually all stunt doubles. Big, big disappointment, right? Everybody, big letdown, big letdown. But you know who would have known the answer to that Tom Cruise's mama, right? Tom Cruise's mama has known Tom Cruise since he was a little baby boy. She's known him his whole life.

She knows the real thing.

And so I think when she would look at those pictures, she'd say, oh no, that's not my Tom. That one's not my Tom. That one's not my Tom, right? She knew the real thing. And so she was able to spot the counterfeits. So brothers and sisters, we need to be in the word if we wanna hold to the truth long-term.

Now, you might've noticed that everything in 1 John chapter two that we've talked about this morning had to do with either love or truth. Like these are the major themes in our passage this morning, love and truth. It's who Jesus was, it's who he calls Christians to be. It's what he calls the church to be. It's a strange thing, isn't it? To hold with strong conviction to the truth and yet to be loving and kind to other people. People who are like that are weird. They don't fit into the categories of the world. And I think, praise God, I think Peace Church is kind of like that.

As I've spoken with some of you that have come to Peace Church in the last few years, some of you have shared with me stories of what you've experienced, that you've heard these stories about this church that is ruthlessly committed to the Bible, and you came in maybe thinking this is going to be a church that's stiff and stuffy and no fun, and you came and you found out, yep, they are ruthlessly committed to the Bible, but they're also fun and happy and they have the joy of the Lord.

Some of you have come in thinking, you know, you've maybe looked online and you've seen they've got, you know, fancy lights on the stage and the pastor doesn't tuck in his shirt. So they're going to be loosey-goosey and not care about theology and stuff like that. And you came and you found out that's not true. We're a weird group of people. All right, there it is. We love the truth. We are convicted and committed to God's Word. But we also love people and want to be kind and want to win them over with our kindness to the truth. That's going to be weirder and weirder the more we go on through life until Jesus returns. This last weekend, I thought about this a lot.

Just yesterday here in Middleville, our town, my hometown, I grew up here, went to high school here, I live here. In our hometown, we had something that we as Christians, we can't stand with, we can't be on that side. A pride festival, a drag show. That's a challenge for us. I know a lot of us because it came to our little old small town, I think it became personal at that point, I know that's how I felt about it. But you know who we're called to go out and be this week? People of truth and people of love. That's who we are called to be. As you go to work this week, as you go out and talk with friends this week who might totally disagree with you, you are called to be somebody who stands for the truth and you are called to be somebody who is loving and kind and wants to win people over to the truth. That's who God's called us to be. If you want to abide in Jesus Christ, if you want to be unyielding, if you want to be like a real 2x10 and none of this 1.5x9.25 stuff, if you want to be built that way, immovable, steadfast, and unyielding, we are called to be people of truth and love.

Let me pray for us.

Father God, we love you and we adore you, and we thank you for Jesus, who is our perfect example of truth and love, and who also died to save us from sin because of his great love for us. Thank you, God, for loving us. Thank you for making us yours. God, I pray that you would be glorified in Peace Church and in all of us as individuals this week as we go out. God, I pray that you would use us as tools and instruments to shine, to share the truth, and to do so in love. God, we love you. Pray this all in Jesus' powerful name. Amen. Amen. Amen.

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