the Reality of Jesus Christ
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
He who conceals his sins does not prosper,
but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (NIV)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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)