22.2 John – Coaching: Right Things, Right Way, Right Path

The Holy Spirit is truly Amazing.  The Holy Spirit is God and has all the attributes of God, but the way He interacts with our life is in such a deeply personal and “pouring into” fashion, that He truly reshapes our lives to make us into something and someone we could not be otherwise.

Our passage today discusses the special job that the Holy Spirit holds to “prove the world to be wrong.”  Furthermore, it goes on to explain this is specifically in the areas of sin, righteousness and judgment.  But what does mean?

In this regard, I think of the Holy Spirit as our perfect coach.  First He convicts us and teaches us about doing the right thing.  What is the right thing?  It is the opposite of the wrong thing.  The wrong thing is sin.  It is “doing” in all ways, in actions, in words, in thoughts.  He not only shows us what is sin, but more vitally, He teaches and coaches us to not sin, to do the right things.

Doing the right things is a good step, but it is not enough.  Every coach knows, it is not practice that improves, it is proper practice that improves.  Doing the right thing the wrong way is not going to make you better at a sport, at life or at eternal life.  The Holy Spirit shows us that our “righteousness”, the way we think we are doing right and that right is “good enough”, is wrong.  He coaches us to put our trust not in our own wits and strengths and talents, but in “the Word.”

In football, a player who trains hard, runs the perfect pattern, catches the perfect pass, perfectly dodges the tacklers and remains on his feet while running at top speed finds that it is all for nothing if he is not also going the correct direction.  The Holy Spirit coaches us not only in the areas of sin (right things), righteousness (right way), but also judgment (right path).  We are all on a path to judgment, just as a football player is on a path to an end-zone, whichever direction he goes.

In the chaos of life, it can become challenging to know which path is the right path.  We can easily get focused on just doing right things.  We can lock ourselves away to attempt to avoid temptation.  We can also easily get focused just on doing things the right way.  We can dedicate day and night to our own spiritual feeding, to taking in the word and memorizing it.  Neither of these things are bad or wrong at times, but we need the Holy Spirit to remind and guide us to the finish line.  That finish line may not be all about us.  Our goal line may be about bringing someone else to faith.  Our goal line may be about strengthening the faith of another.  Our goal line may not involve words, but the kind act that we did to show someone the love of Jesus.  Every day we may have the opportunity to cross another goal line, not for our glory but for His.

My Answers:

3.
a.
He would send the Holy Spirit to them (also, they would be saved from the consequences of sin through His redemptive sacrifice)

b.
As today because He is fully glorified through the sacrifice that He made.  I have Jesus in me and He is simultaneously in millions of others, where at that time He was physically bound to one place and time.

4.
Sin: Convicts the world of the darkness of sin – all have sinned despite denial
Righteousness: To convict that our “righteous acts” are insufficient and incomplete
Judgment: A call to repent and open eyes to the path on which we tread – a path of sin

 

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21.5 John – Rehab

Abigail Van Buren, of Dear Abby fame, once wrote, “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”

I think, however, what we read in 1 John is that it is more of a Rehab Center, than just a hospital.  We are recovering sin addicts.  We are healing from a crippling disease called sin that we were born in to and that is an epidemic that has infected the entire world.

When we accept the gift of Christ, we immediately and fully justified, we are fully and completely saved from the disease of sin.  But, sin has ravished our bodies our minds and our hearts from before the day we were born.  We carry not only our own sin, but the sins of our parents and grandparents (to the third and fourth generations).  Not only that, but we still live surrounded by sin, such as lust and pride.

The role of a Rehab Center is to build us back into what we were created to be.  This is not done by a magic word or a pill or shot, it is something that takes time.  It takes a trained coach to guide us in exercises.  To push us, but also to give us exercise that is within what we can bear, but instead to build us up.  There are times it may be painful, not because the coach is mad at us or dislikes us or even because we have done something wrong, it is just part of the process.  That coach is the Holy Spirit.

When John writes, “anyone born of God does not continue to sin”, we might look at that and say, “but wait a minute,  I sin every day. Does that mean I’m not born of God?” However, if a patient in rehab falls down, we don’t say that they failed.  They are in rehab.  It is expected that they might fall from time to time.  But they get back up and they continue in rehab.  They don’t continue to fall down, they continue to get up and they continue to be rehabilitated.  In the same way, we don’t continue to sin, we continue to follow Jesus!

Our fully rehabilitated state is holiness.  We were created to be holy, to be children of God and to be able to live and love in His direct presence.  We are accepted and admitted the day we put our faith in Jesus, but the Holy Spirit works to rehabilitate us for the rest of our lives.

My Answers:

12.
He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
I see an overflowing of the Holy Spirit in my life and experience joy and peace.

13.
a.
Anyone who believes is born of God, loved by the father as a child.  We love through love of other children and obeying his commands, overcoming the world – through the power of Jesus, the Son of God, who came by water and blood, testified by the spirit of truth (all testify together).  All who believe accept this testimony.  God has given us eternal life in His son.  Whoever has the Son has life, and whoever does not does not have life.

b.
Anyone born of God does not continue to sin (kept safe by Jesus and the Devil cannot harm them)
We are children of God and the world is under the control of the evil one
The Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we can know and be in Him who is True

21.4 John – What is the opposite of sin?

We received some very good advice when our children were little.  The recommendation was, instead of telling them what not to do, tell them what to do instead.

Saying, “don’t touch that”, puts the focus on the negative.  Saying, put your hands here and here when you approach this, is a positive and puts the focus on what to do.

I use this approach every day.  It is a core part of my work and how I lead others.  It is a central part of my teaching.  It is a major influence in working with kids (of all ages).  I even use it with myself.

Above my bathroom mirror, I have a 3×5 card of “insteads” paraphrased from Og Mandino.  Things like, if I’m feeling depressed, sing; if I’m feeling sad, laugh; if I feel afraid, trust in God’s power; If I feel poor, give thanks for blessings…

So, what is the instead to sin?

John answers that in this letter.  The opposite of “to sin” is “to love”!

God is love.  Love God, Love Jesus, Love the Holy Spirit, Love each other, Love Jesus and the Spirit within us.  Love our brothers and sister and God in them.  Love the community of believers.

Yes, we walk in a world filled with lies and lusts and prides and false teaching.  But the focus of our walk is not on avoiding the darkness, it is staying in the light.  It is walking in love.  It is letting our Lord carry us when we don’t have the sight to see the path.  It is remaining, abiding, living in Christ and becoming holier, fixed, repaired, transformed, more and more every day.  It is praying and reading and speaking the Word.

Love!

My Answers:

9.
Great love of God lavished on us, called children of God.  When Christ appears we shall be like him, purified as he is.  This helps because we do not have strength on our own to not sin or be cleansed of past sins, but Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection provides the only hope of purification, to be made holy as he is holy.  We are cleansed of sin by his work not ours.

10.
Love one another because we have passed from death to life.  We know true love because, in love, Jesus laid down his life for us.  We in turn should be willing to lay down our lives (forgo personal gain) for our brothers and sisters and to keep God’s commands.

11.
To (1) believe it and (2) to witness and profess it to others as the truth.

21.3 John – Keep Commands

I love that BSF took us from our study in John 15 to this letter in 1 John.  At the last supper, as we’ve been reading and studying, Jesus over and over again encouraged His disciples to “keep my commands.”

Keeping the commands of Jesus is challenging.  It is something that we all struggle with, not because we don’t want to, but because we are sinners.

As a writer/blogger, I know I often am prompted to write about the things that I’m struggling with and working through.  I think it is a way that the Holy Spirit works in me as I try to put these challenges and struggles into words. It is not that I have the answers, but that I have the questions.  And, I think this letter of John is, in a way, his blog post along the same lines.

He writes it to sons and to fathers and to fathers and to sons and to young men.  But, in part, I think he also writes it to himself.  What does it mean to keep Jesus’ commands?  How do you go about doing it?

First, and foremost, he explains we haven’t arrived yet, we are still on the journey.  If anyone says they haven’t sinned or don’t sin, they are a liar and they call God a liar.  We fall short of keeping the commands every single day.

Second, we cannot just throw up our hands and say “this is impossible” and go on not keeping the commands.  Instead, we are to “not sin”.  It isn’t a “try not to sin”, but just simply, don’t sin.

But, how? Here, John includes the most important part…  It is not on our own and not by our own efforts, but by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.  There is no quick and easy path.  No lies by false teachers that we can say some word or follow some practice.  It is purely by the purifying and sanctifying work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

This takes us directly back to John 15.  The Father is the gardener, snipping off the sucker distractions in our life that take away time and energy from producing fruit.  But as we live and grow, these side branches, the lusts and prides, need to continue to be pruned back as our branches are trained as we mature.  We are nourished by the connection to Jesus and fed and supported by the Holy Spirit inside and out.

We don’t “try” to not sin.  We don’t “try” to be holy.  We just follow.  We just put our faith in God.  We just stay, remain, abide, walk, in the light, the love of God.  We don’t try, we do.  You don’t try to love God.  You love God and let that love grow every day.

It’s not easy and it is a struggle, but it is not a mystery and it is not impossible, not by our strength but because of “The Righteous One.”

My Answers:

6.
We know we have come to know him if we keep his commands.   By observing whether or not we are keeping his commands.  Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

7.
Lust of the flesh – sexual immorality, gluttony, desires only for self gratification
Lust of the eyes –  pornography, consumerism, constantly desiring more and different
Pride of life – self centeredness, self righteousness, self absorption, Existentialism: my will and my choice is paramount

8.
False teachers are real and prevalent.   They try to lead others astray by calling the truth lies and lies the truth.  Hold to what is known.  hold to the anointing of the Holy Spirit, hold to the fact that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the true Father.

21.2 John – We

Did you notice the use of pronouns in this first chapter of 1 John?  John is clearly talking about himself.  He is the one who saw Jesus with his eyes.  He is the one who touched the Lord with his hands.

But he doesn’t say “I”, he says “we”.  Now there are a lot of different “we’s”.  There is the “royal we” where a king or queen is speaking on behalf of the kingdom.  A “papal we”, speaking on behalf of the church.  A “family we”, a “corporate we”.  But John isn’t using any of these.  He is speaking personally, not corporately or congregationally.

But, John is no long just John.  He is John and the Holy Spirit.  So, much so, that his identity is no long his alone, but only his as part of the Spirit and the Spirit as part of him.

God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is “him”, but John is we.  Without the Holy Spirit and Jesus, John no longer has identity.

This release of identity is something John demonstrates again and again in his writing.  Throughout the gospel of John, John refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  This was not to imply that Jesus didn’t love the other disciples, but it is a laying down of self in the recognition of a greater communion.  Without Jesus’ love, John is not John.

Do we think of ourselves this way?  Do we recognize that once we became a Christian we are no longer an “I”, but we are “we’s”, combined with God through the Holy Spirit and Jesus?  If we started transforming our thoughts to this way, how would that change our life?  Would we be less prideful, less selfish, less alone, less self-centered, more aware of our anger and the way we treat and witness to others?

I think “we” might!

My Answers:

3.
Jesus: John had heard, seen, and touched Jesus (both before and after his resurrection).

4.
1. Jesus has/is Eternal life (v 2) and 2. God is light, in him there is no darkness at all. (v. 5)

5.
1. claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in darkness
2. claim to be without sin
3. claim to have not sinned

1. Walk in light, we have fellowship with one another and purified by the blood of Jesus
2. Confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness
3. Don’t sin, but if do, Jesus is our advocate: He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins

20.5 John – Aroma

Why are Christians hated and persecuted in the world?  It isn’t just a targeted response.  It doesn’t come from logical or rational thought, it is deeper, more basic.  We smell.

In the same way that different people have different tastes, food they like and dislike, we learn from scripture that the aroma of faith smells differently to believers and none believers.

Throughout the old testament, there are over 40 verses discussing the pleasing aroma of true sacrifice to God.  This is a recurring theme and one that time and again points to the aroma of how Jesus smells to God.  He is the ultimate sacrifice, one who laid down His life for His friends.

2 Cor 2:14-16 discusses this.  When we are followers of Christ we take on His sacrifice as our own and we take on His aroma.  To God we smell like Jesus.  It goes out before us.  It is present on us whether we open our mouth or not.  It is all around us.

To fellow believers it is a pleasing aroma.  It smells like home.  It smells like Jesus.  It smells like everything we want and desire.

But to those who have rejected Christ, we smell like their future.  We smell like death.

If you have ever smelled a dead animal, you know the smell.  It is repulsive and they can think of nothing but getting rid of it, hating it, getting it away from them.

The smell is not the same because the future is not the same.  The smell is not the same because the “smeller” is not the same.  We smell the perfume that was poured on Jesus by Mary to anoint Him, they smell death that awaits them by participating in rejecting the Lord.

My Answers:

12.
Unbelievers, because they have rejected Jesus and, in so doing, rejected his followers as well.  Do they dislike me or what I represent to them?  If they hate Jesus, shouldn’t they hate me as well, if I’m living a life that reflects His glory?

13.
Luke 5, it is not the healthy who need a doctor…  Our place in this world is to be a servant of Jesus in aiding the spiritually sick to become well, by drinking from the well of salvation.  We are constantly under attack in this endeavor because we stand out, we fight the disease of sin.  I attempt to do this with children who must make their own decisions about faith in their life but currently come under the faith of their parents.  I do this will co-workers and clients and vendors at work.  I do this with family who do and do not believe.

14.
a.
The disciples then and there as well as those of us who are disciples here today.  Me.

b.
Because why would we expect to be treated better than Jesus was treated?  We have less power, less authority on our own, our only real power and authority is that which we channel that belongs to Jesus.  In the same way, the attacks on us are not on us, but on Jesus through us.

 

20.4 John – Making the Intangible Tangible

One of the things I love the most about John 15 is the way Jesus makes the intangible visual and tangible and real.  For example, LOVE.  We know love as an emotion.  We know it is real, but it isn’t something that we can visualize or touch, much less “remain in”.

But, Jesus explains that LOVE is like a HOME, and not just any home, but God’s home.  It is a real and tangible place.  It is a safe place.  It is a place we are with God, in His presence, in His Home.  It is a place for us, where we have our own room, just like home.  It is a safe place.

But, we are a people prone to wander.  The grass appears greener in other places (even though it is dead grass painted green).  And we walk out the front door.  Sometimes we think we are just sneaking out for a short time, other times we reject the Father to His face and run away.  But just as in the story of the prodigal son, the Father keeps our room ready for us to return and be welcomed back.

One other thing I want to point out from this verses is the interpretation of the word “if” in verse 14.  Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command.”  The word here is if, not when.  The other translation of the Greek word used here is “whosoever”.  The message is NOT “when you obey me you are my friend and when you don’t you are not.”  But, instead, Jesus is saying, ‘those who choose to love me show it by obeying my commands (such as loving one another, such as remaining in the Father’s love), and not only will they not be rejected by me, but I will call them my friends.’  Think about this from the perspective of who Jesus is.  He is the King of Kings and Lord or Lords.  But those who choose to come under Him are not only His subjects and servants (as would be the case with other Kings), but He promises that we will be His Friends.

Friends get invited to dinner.  Friends become part of the family.  Friends get a seat at the table and, ultimately, get adopted as brothers and sisters.

My Answers:

9.
Love is a home.  It is a place to dwell in occupied by God.  It is a place to remain.  It is something to share, to bring others in to.  As the song says, it is a big, big house!

10.
It is what Jesus commands.  It is what Jesus did for us (and them).  It is the only way to share the gospel.  You cannot share the good news in hate or as a weapon against others.  You can’t share it by throwing it over the fence, emailing it out.  You share it by sharing Christ’s love.  It is not our love that is the key, it is the love of Jesus Christ.

11.
To be His friends.  We were appointed that we might go and bear fruit, everlasting fruit.  When we ask He will empower us in anything that is needed for that mission.  It starts with Love.