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  • 1st John chapter 2, "My little children,"

  • and of course when this is speaking

  • not about his actual biological children,

  • but when this is speaking to Christians,

  • you know many believed that John was an aged, old apostle

  • and certainly a title like this would give reason for us to see him

  • just addressing these Christians;

  • the tender affection of an aged pastor, a spiritual father.

  • You can see a man in his 80s or 90s.

  • Even old men in their 50s and 60s and 70s are little children to him.

  • "I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.

  • But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,

  • Jesus Christ the Righteous."

  • Now, brothers and sisters, I want you to focus your attention

  • on not only the first verse here in this second chapter,

  • but I want, right here in the beginning, I want us to focus

  • on the first sentence of this first verse of this second chapter.

  • "My little children, I am writing these things to you

  • so that you may not sin."

  • I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.

  • Just simply reading these words, I mean just think about it;

  • Just read these words as they are.

  • Pastoral. Practical. These things were meant to be practical.

  • So often, we turn things into theological debates.

  • That doesn't mean we don't need to discuss what things mean,

  • but a lot of times we use verses more from a theoretical stand point;

  • in our ivory towers, you know, we want to discuss and debate theology.

  • But that's not what Scripture is primarily intended for.

  • It's meant to be practical.

  • It's meant to deal with people right where they are.

  • That's what John is doing, he's addressing these people.

  • And I want you to ask yourselves,

  • What's John saying here? What's he saying?

  • I mean, just a practical, pastoral sense,

  • what do you hear coming from the heart of this apostle?

  • He's teaching, he's encouraging his spiritual children.

  • I ask you this question, Is John not clearly indicating

  • that Christians need not sin?

  • I mean, think with me. What's he saying here?

  • I'm not saying John is teaching perfectionism here.

  • You can all read this for yourselves.

  • You've got your Bibles open before you, you can see for yourself

  • and read for yourself what he is saying.

  • What does it sound like John is saying here?

  • "My little children, I am writing these things to you

  • so that you may not sin."

  • Grace Community Church, some things have been done

  • in order to equip you so that you don't sin.

  • Some things have been done so that you may not sin.

  • John is assuming here,

  • It certainly sounds like John is expressing his desire

  • that these Christians he's writing to might not sin.

  • Might not sin when?

  • Ever.

  • At all.

  • Again, perfectionism isn't the issue here.

  • But is he not writing to them that they not sin, when?

  • When they might sin.

  • And I mean, you live a whole life like that,

  • not sinning when you might sin,

  • what does it end up looking like?

  • It ends up looking good.

  • It ends up looking healthy.

  • It ends up looking to be like the life

  • that clearly John wants his little children to live like.

  • Brethren, that's what it says.

  • What does it sound like John is saying here?

  • His desire is that they may not sin, period.

  • I know you can all see that.

  • But you know what?

  • This isn't just him giving an expression of his desire that they not sin.

  • John is not just a passive observer on all these,

  • who sort of sits over there and says

  • "O, I hope they don't sin."

  • That's not what's happening.

  • John tells us he is actively engaged

  • in his own effort in helping them not to sin.

  • How is that?

  • By writing in the way that he believes is calculated

  • to prevent these Christians from sinning.

  • You all see that?

  • "My little children, I am writing these things to you

  • so that you may not sin."

  • 'So that' — John writes what he writes

  • in order to produce a certain result;

  • so that Christians who would potentially,

  • perhaps sin in a certain situation, had John not written to them

  • what he's written to them, they might now avoid sin

  • precisely because of what he has written to them.

  • You can see the pulse of John's pastoral heart here.

  • That's what's coming out.

  • Here he is, an old man, and he's penning this letter.

  • He's penning it with a heartfelt purpose.

  • And what's that purpose?

  • His earnestness is about this little flock.

  • What does he want? He wants them not sinning.

  • I am trying to drive a point home here.

  • I mean, for one, John is not casually writing.

  • He writes on purpose, with a purpose;

  • and that is, that God's people not sin.

  • That is realistic folks,

  • to believe that the Christian doesn't have to sin.

  • That's what I'm driving home.

  • As I survey John's words here,

  • it's clear to me that John does not believe that Christians have to sin.

  • Christian, do you think that way?

  • I'll tell you, the mindset with which we approach sin

  • is so absolutely critical.

  • I come back to this, time and time again; that there in Romans 6,

  • where we are specifically told not to let sin reign

  • in your mortal bodies, that's not how he started.

  • Paul started by saying, You need to reckon yourself,

  • you need to consider yourselves dead to sin.

  • You need to think right about sin.

  • You need to think right about who is master in the Christian life.

  • And unless you think right about it,

  • if you go into the Christian life with this defeatist mentality

  • that I just have no power over it,

  • I'm just kind of a rag doll and it throws me around wherever,

  • you know, you can't expect me to do much better.

  • That's not the approach of Scripture;

  • and what Scripture is saying to us is,

  • we've got to think right about sin

  • and how it relates to the Christian

  • if we're ever going to fight it right.

  • John isn't denying that this is an all out battle.

  • John isn't denying that there aren't these passions of the flesh

  • that wage war against the soul.

  • John isn't denying that sometimes we have to resist sin

  • all the way to shedding our blood.

  • He's not denying any of that.

  • But you see clearly what he is saying.

  • You can see as plainly as I can,

  • that it is assumed here that if Christians take what John has written,

  • and do with it what John intends for them to do with it,

  • the result will be what?

  • You answer it, That they may not sin.

  • That these Christians would refrain from sin.

  • And you tell me this, What is John writing?

  • What is he writing?

  • "My little children, I write these things,"

  • What things?

  • Obviously 1st John.

  • And what is 1st John?

  • It's Scripture.

  • It's God-breathed.

  • That's what we have here.

  • I mean, what you need to get from that is,

  • it's not just John who believes that the Christian doesn't have to sin.

  • It's ultimately who?

  • It's God. This is God-breathed.

  • So, it is ultimately God who believes that Christians don't have to sin.

  • It's God who believes that Christians,

  • think about this: It's God who believes that you take a person

  • and save them through the merits,

  • through the shed blood of Jesus Christ;

  • regenerate them by the power of God,

  • Indwell them by the Spirit of God.

  • If they'll use their heads, the brains that God gave them,

  • and process the Word of God.

  • If they will meditate on that Word and know that Word

  • and come to fear that Word.

  • In their minds, they'll chew on it.

  • They'll tremble at it.

  • They'll believe it, they'll be convicted by it

  • if they apply it to their life.

  • God believes you can actually be deterred from sin by doing that.

  • You can avoid sin.

  • Brethren, does this not sound something like

  • maybe what David said in Psalm 119?

  • What did David say in Psalm 119 that sounds really similar to this?

  • I've hid Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.

  • Is there a reality to that?

  • I mean, did he just make that up? Is he an exception?

  • Brethren, John assumes the same thing. Absolutely.

  • And notice, I want you to see this.

  • Notice how John progresses in this first verse.

  • What's the next thing that he says?

  • It's really interesting to me how he says this.

  • "But - that's the ESV - but, If anyone does sin."

  • I write these things to you so that you don't sin,

  • but if you do, (now a lot of the translations put 'and',

  • but that doesn't take away from the fact that that word 'if' is there.)

  • You know what? That could easily be translated 'incase.'

  • It means the same thing.

  • You're not doing any injustice to Scripture if you read it this way:

  • "I write to you that you do not sin, but incase you do,"

  • Now here's the thing that I want you to see about that.

  • In John's mind, what does it sound like is normative,

  • and what does it sound like to him, is the exception?

  • Is sinning the normative thing, or not sinning the normative thing?

  • Which one is the exception, when we don't sin as Christians

  • or when we do?

  • What does that sound like?

  • Christians, I write to you that you don't sin, but incase you do.

  • I mean, incase there's a fire, we have an exit back there.

  • Does that sound like the fire is the normal thing?

  • It sounds like it's the exception.

  • That's how he's talking here.

  • Can you imagine it?

  • An inspired man, An inspired apostle

  • actually writing like the most normative thing is that the Christian

  • practices righteousness.

  • Is that amazing to people?

  • Christians not sinning is the norm here, not the exception.

  • And listen, it's not like John only says that here.

  • This first epistle of John resonates with this reality

  • all over the place.

  • I'm just going to show you one place

  • because I think it's one of the most stark;

  • it's just one of the most obvious portions.

  • If you jump forward to 1st John 3,

  • — I mean, John here is not so specifically pressing us

  • to take what he writes and not sin,

  • as much as he is just indicating the reality

  • that if you are truly a Christian,

  • the pattern of sin in your life will be broken.

  • The practice of righteousness will be the norm.

  • The practice of sinning will no longer be the reality.

  • And if we pick up in 1st John 3:5,

  • "You know that Christ appeared to take away sins."

  • Now, here's the thing: I do not believe

  • he is talking about taking away the guilt.

  • I believe he is talking about taking sin out of your life.

  • He is taking the practice of sin out of your life.

  • Why do I believe that? Well, watch.

  • "You know He appeared to take away sins,

  • and in Him (in Christ) there is no sin.

  • No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning.

  • No one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him.

  • Little children, let no one deceive you.

  • Whoever practices righteousness is righteous,

  • as He is righteous.

  • Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil,

  • for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.

  • The reason the Son of God appeared

  • was to destroy the works of the devil."

  • Now look, I would tie that thought right there,

  • "The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil,"

  • right back with what's said in verse 5,

  • "He appeared to take away sins."

  • The Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

  • And certainly, what's he talking about?

  • He's talking about the practice of sin.

  • Whoever practices sin is of the devil.

  • The devil has been sinning, and those who are his,