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Experiencing the Reality of Jesus Christ

1 John 1:1-2:6

Jim Davis

John opens his book pointing to the origin of Jesus Christ by saying, "That which was from the beginning . . ." This is reminiscent of John’s opening of the gospel of John.

John 1:1-4
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
(NIV)

Christ as creator, sustainer and savior of this world is the foundation for our physical and spiritual lives. The Bible goes to great pains to explain who Jesus Christ is. Conceived of Holy Spirit and he is equal to God.

Philippians 2:1-11
Jesus is real. The disciples saw him, touched him, ate with him and virtually lived with him for three years. He had appeared to them after his resurrection. The apostles knew that Jesus was real. He wasn't a phantom or a vision he was God in the flesh. However the greatest reality experienced by the disciples was his spiritual nearness.

1 John 1:1-3
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-- this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (NIV)

The disciples proclaimed the reality of God’s work in Christ so that we may have fellowship with them and with God and his Son, Jesus Christ. They not only proclaimed the reality of Jesus Christ, but they also proclaimed the message of Jesus Christ.

Experiencing the Reality of the Message

We all are searching for something that is real. Sometimes it is hard to face reality when we find it, but we still seek something that is real. We look for reality in wealth, knowledge, thrills, conquest, power and even religion. Solomon sought reality through all these avenues. He finally discovered the reality of God as each of these avenues brought him to a dead end road.

Desiring reality and finding reality are two totally different things. It is like eating Jell-O; it may be tasty, but it isn't very satisfying. So John seeks to introduce us to the realities of life. Many who claim to be Christians have never experienced the reality of Christ. They may be filled with knowledge of his word, but their lives are void of his presence. The reality of Jesus Christ has never seeped into the souls existence.

As we study 1 John, John seeks to introduce a way of living that will allow us to experience the reality of Jesus' life and message in how we live. God revealed himself in creation, but nothing proclaims his loving presence in this world more than Jesus Christ living in us. God has manifested himself in the person of Jesus Christ and he wishes to manifest Christ to the world as we allow him to live in us.

To experience the reality of Jesus Christ we must truly hear the message he has proclaimed to us through the apostles.

1 John 1:5-10
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. (NIV)

There is no way we can experience the reality of Christ and his message if we refuse to recognize the reality of our personal sin. Salvation is not the end it is only the beginning. We may look at salvation in such a way that we seek to hide or deny the ongoing sin problem in our lives. Being born again into God’s family does not destroy our tendency to sin. John makes it plain that no amount of human effort can eradicate the nature to sin. No amount of man-made rules and regulations can control this old nature. John seeks us to warn us about the reality of sin.

John is writing to those who are the children of God. We may have recognized the reality of sin in our lives before we were baptized, but do we recognize sin's presence now. Last Sunday evening, I was teaching Mark Gregory about Christ and forgiveness. He saw that he needed to be forgiven, but he was deeply concerned about what he would do about the sin in his life after becoming a child of God. He said, "I was wondering what to do when I go back to work tomorrow in conditions where I know I can't live perfect." So I brought him to 1 John. He recognized his battle with sin wouldn’t be over when he was baptized.

The Bible refers to Jesus Christ as the light of life. We are called out of darkness into his light. (1 Peter 2:9) We are the children of light. (1 Thessalonians 5:5) Those who do wrong hate the light. (John 3:19-21) When light shines in on us, it reveals our true nature. (Ephesians 5:18-13) When the light of Christ comes into our lives, it reveals the presence of sin. Light produces life, growth and beauty, while darkness brings decay and ruin.

Honesty is the only personal trait that will allow us to recognize the reality of sin in our own lives. If we deny our sin the truth is not in us. I am amazed at how much trouble we have admitting our sin. We deny and shift blame to others.

We not only lie to ourselves but we also make God a liar. When we make God to be a liar, the word has no place in our hearts. The Holy Spirit paints a dark picture of the human heart. All have sinned—the darkness of every heart is revealed here. Sometimes church going people look down their noses at those outside of Christ. However, without the atoning blood of Christ we are no better—all are lost without Christ.

The presence of sin in our lives reveals that we cannot live independent of God. Pride seeks to cover our sins.

Proverbs 28:13
He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (NIV)

Psalms 32:3-5
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"-- and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah (NIV)

The reason we refuse to recognize our sin is because we fail to hear God’s message of salvation.

Experiencing Reality through Confession

1 John 2:1-2
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (NIV)

Jesus Christ speaks to the father in our defense when we do sin because he has made the atoning sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the whole world. The sacrifice he made qualifies him to intercede on our behalf. God so loved the world that he gave his Son. We know that God listens to his Son because this was the purpose of his coming. God judged sin and laid on his Son the iniquity of us all.

Zechariah 3:1-7
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?" Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes." Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you." Then I said, "Put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by. The angel of the LORD gave this charge to Joshua: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here. (NIV)

It would make it much easier to confess our sins if we understood that Christ has already atoned for our sins. God forgives us because of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 7:23-28
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need-- one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. (NIV)

It would help tremendously if we also understood the Holy Spirit’s intercession on our behalf.

Romans 8:26-28
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

Heaven understands our predicament. Confession gets heaven involved in salvaging our lives.

Hebrews 4:15-16
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (NIV)

It is hard to approach God’s throne with confidence when we refuse to acknowledge our sin. We often say, "If I have sinned," rather than just admitting we have sinned. There are so many who are willing to shift blame.

John says, I am writing to you so you want sin, but if you do, I want you to know how to take care of it.

When we confess our sins it is because we have recognized the light Jesus shines into our hearts. It is essential that we allow the light to expose the sin in our hearts and begin walking in the light.

Psalms 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (NIV)

I don’t know how people expect to walk in the light without knowledge of God’s Word. We need to spend time in God’s word so that we might know his will.

John 15:3
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. (NIV)

I wouldn’t want anyone to think that merely having the word spoke to you will cleanse you of your sin. It is through heeding the word that we find forgiveness and renewal. The word is what Jesus uses to shine his light into our hearts.

The life that is real cannot be built on things that are deceptive. Before we can walk in the light, we must know ourselves, accept ourselves, and yield ourselves to God.

Sins Which Must Be Confessed

Bad things you did. This category is obvious, because it includes anything you thought, did, or said that was wrong. The temptation here is to judge whether something was wrong or not before you confess it. I’m sure you could find many reasons to forgive yourself, but that is like going to a trophy shop, purchasing a trophy, having it engraved, and awarding it to yourself in the privacy of your own home when no one else is around. Isn’t it better to wait for someone else to do it, so you can receive it at a podium in front of an applauding crowd? So my advice is, if something bothers you at all, confess it, and let Jesus decide whether it is a sin. How much better it is to receive Jesus’ forgiveness than your own!

Good things you neglected to do. This category is very easy and obvious to the recently bereaved and to survivors of great tragedies. The rest of us rationalize our failure to act. "They wouldn’t have appreciated a stranger trying to help them," we say to ourselves, or "he would have spent it on booze anyway," or even, "they would have robbed me and beat me up." But Scripture tells us that knowing a good thing to do and failing to do it is a sin, and we should confess these failures as well. Don’t just hide them more deeply in your soul. I suppose you could put your kitchen garbage in a thicker plastic sack and that would kill the stink—but for how long? Isn’t it better to get it out of the house altogether?

Anxieties you felt. You say you trust Jesus for the fate of our soul, did you trust Him to get you safely through the day? Some people have panic disorders that require medical treatment, and sometimes the rest of us panic because we had too much caffeine or too many decongestants. But in the absence of these causes, anxiety is a sin, because Jesus told you not to worry about tomorrow. So confess all your anxieties, because anxiety only comes when you do not have faith that He will provide for you.

I wonder if you have noticed this, but sometimes when you are praying, something awful from your past comes to mind. Is it the Holy Spirit telling you that it is time to deal with it, or is it a demon trying to throw you off the track with dead issues? It doesn’t matter if you confess it right there and then. (If it really was a dead issue, it wouldn’t trouble you, now would it?) Admit your wrongdoing, ask Jesus to forgive you, and ask Him to take the sting from the memory of the deed. If your heart accuses you a second time about the same sin, ask Jesus to remove the thorn from your soul.

If you develop this lifestyle of confession and repentance, you will be amazed how it clears up your prayer life. It’s awkward talking to people when there are outstanding issues, but the conversation flows freely when you have resolved all the issues and offenses from the past. Learn from this, because it’s true with God as well. Not only will your prayers become more frequent and more confident, your entire spirit will be transformed, and you will reap material benefits in your daily life.

Conclusion:

The purpose of recognizing the sin in our lives is so we can repent and turn to God. Confession is designed to bring us more fully into the life God desires us to live.

1 John 2:3-6
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (NIV)
 
 

 

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