HOW TO KNOW IF A CHRISTIAN
The assurance that you've truly believed is not because some leader went to you popishly and declared now you are saved. The assurance will be the enduring work of God in your life. Fruit will come or you are not saved.
How do you know you are saved? [Because I believe]
How do you know that you believe? Ask anyone around OKC and most would say they believe. If you were to go to every door in the city, most would tell you they believe themselves to be believers.
Yet 80% of them don't go to church. And those that do go aren't greatly concerned with holiness, with drawing close to God, or with being separate from the world.
But bless God they're saved.
How can we be sure that we believe when so many people say the same thing and we know they don't?
How can you be assured that you're a true believer? How do you know that you believe?
You will say, "I just know that I know". The bible says there's a way that seems right to man; it leads to death.
You will say, "I know in my heart of hearts that I am saved". The bible says the heart is deceitfully wicked.
Do you really want to trust a faulty mind or a heart that can be wicked?
You will say, "I am saved because the preacher told me so". Since when did men have such authority to declare a person saved?
You will say, "I know because I have walked with God". If you're not walking with God now, you have no assurance you have ever been saved.
Why are you a Christian? Because there was a time in your life when you prayed a prayer, and asked Jesus to come into your heart, yet you look no different than most of the other people in church.
I want you to know, the greatest heresy in the American evangelical and protestant church is that, if you pray and ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart, he will definitely come in. You will not find that anywhere in scripure.
We have assurance not from repenting one time but that we continue to repent today; and that we just didn't believe one time, but that we continue to believe today; and that we didn't at one time walk with Him, but we continue to walk with Him today.
Because He who began a good work will finish it.
We will go through the entire scenario then come back to each one specifically.
- Do you know you are a sinner?
- Do you want to go to heaven?
- Would you like to pray to ask Jesus into your heart?
- Would you like to repeat this prayer after me?
- Were you sincere?
Welcome to the family of God!
This is all popish superstition, and it's done because it works; pragmatism.
Jer 23:16 "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you,(A) filling you with vain hopes.(B) They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.
Do you know you're a sinner? And they say yes, they know nothing. They do not know what that means. Why? Because our culture drinks down iniquity like it was water.
Do you know you are a sinner? That is NOT the question to ask. The Devil knows he's a sinner, and a mighty fine one at that.
The real question is, since you have heard the Gospel, has God so worked in your heart that the sin you once loved you now hate?
Do you hate the sin you once loved? Do you love the righteousness you once hated?
Do you want to go to heaven?
Have you ever heard anyone say, No I'd rather go to hell.
Think about Sunday School classes, or camp getaways, or some special event.
The adult asks, Who wants to go to heaven? The kids say, We do!!
The adult asks, Who loves Jesus? The kids say, We do!!
The adult asks, Will you pray this prayer? Kids do and then get baptized and they are LOST!
The question isn't do you want to go to heaven. Everyone wants to go to heaven. The Devil wants to go to heaven. They just don't want God there when they get there. That's the reason for all the social theory on how can man make a heaven on earth, a utopia free from God.
Do you want to go to heaven is not the right question.
The question is, The God that you hated and ignored, do you now love and esteem and seek?
If someone followed you around for a week with a video camera, would they find you seeking Jesus, studying His word, worshipping Him, praying to Him?
Do you want God?
Do you desire God?
Do you long to be with Him in ever increasing faith?
How many people in our churches never offer prayer or worship to God except on Sunday morning? They are not drawn to God. The concept of living in His presence, desiring Him, dependent on Him is not there.
Do you want to repeat a prayer and ask Jesus into your heart?
Why do we ask this?
Because, "Behold, He stands at the door and knocks, and if anyone will open the door to his heart, He'll come in to them and fellowship with him"; that's why.
THAT'S NOT TRUE! That's not what the Bible teaches.
That's Revelations 3:20 and the door He was knocking on belongs to a church, not your heart. Evangelists use this out of context NOT because they don't know any better but because it works for them; pragmatism.
Do we have Jesus coming in the book of Mark saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; now, who would like to ask me into their heart?"
That's not what it says. He says repent and believe the gospel.
You say, "But what about Romans - Whoever calls upon the Lord will be saved?
TRUE! But that's a lot different than following someone in repeating a prayer and promising them if God does not come into their hearts, that He is a liar.
Yes if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth you'll be saved, but understand the context.
He's talking to a group of believers in Rome.
Chapter 8 we see they were persecuted like lambs, they were dying for worshipping Christ and professing it.
You have to know the context of this issue at hand for such men in such circumstances. They denied Caesar for Christ and they were beheaded, buried alive, covered in pitch and set aflame to light the streets at night
And Paul is saying, "if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that you believe to such a degree that if you are called to die, you die".
That is a little different than what is happening in America today.
Do you see how we have taken the Gospel and reduced it down to a creed? That's why you can have 500 people get saved and baptized and not see them show up to church on Sunday. It's been turned into a vaccination shot. You do it one time and you're cured.
It wasn't really the gospel. Jesus died for you but what does that mean?
If you don't know what that means, if you are unregenerate in your heart, you need a church made up of the latest programs and ideas on how things should be done.
Because if you don't know the gospel, you have only man to rely on. That's why the next question is asked.
Were you sincere?
Is it not amazing that how we are to know we are Christian is based on sincerity? Such psychological tricks are played to convince you that you are well with Christ, when it was man all along that convinced you, who appealed to your emotions, and not the Holy Spirit.
Emotional or mental understanding of the gospel doesn't save you ever.
Salvation based on sincerity? Preachers damn many a soul by convincing doubters they were saved because they were sincere when they said a prayer.
Stop relying on what everyone is telling you. Stop relying on emotions. Stop comparing yourself to others. Examine yourself!
JUST JESUS DOC possibly
What are the Assurances of Salvation?
- It isn't a superstitious prayer
- It isn't a date/stake from a time of that prayer
- Its not being declared by man to be saved
- Its not being told/viewed by others
- Its Matt 7/1 John/2 Cor 13:5
You have to know His word. But we don't know scripture
Because traditions of men (absent from scripture)
Because follow by example (Campus Crusade generation)
Because there's no desire (becomes common/______)
Because we do rather than be (acting is easier than study)
If your lifestyle doesn't reflect what scripture says it should be, not what someone tells you, but scripture, you have no assurance of salvation
-false profession is forbidden according to Ex 20:7
How do we know that we are saved? Because he who began a good work in us continues it (Phil. 1:6). We are new creatures.
I want to look at 2 Corinthians 13:5.
The church in Corinth is infamous. We see a lot of giftedness and carnality in the church. Today, people take the church in Corinth as the standard. We use Corinthians to use that churches have always been as wicked as ours. We justify carnal men who claim to be born again. We are a product of our times, and we have got to put this foolishness away. Paul addressed the sin of those in Corinth; he did not create a doctrine to justify carnal men. He started by saying, Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I implore you. Examine your lives in the light of Scripture to have a biblical assurance. How quickly we depart from Scripture to superstition. How do you know? "I was there . . . I just know it." It is the testimony of the Holy Spirit through the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. The lost doctrine of regeneration is causing so much confusion in our churches.
We have substituted ritual and tracts for preaching and teaching of God's Word. Little things we tell people which are worth nothing.
How do we help people who are doubting their salvation? Struggle with assurance?
Take them to the Scriptures and help them examine themselves in light of it. Consider 1 John 5:13:
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
The purpose is to not let true believers doubt their salvation. It is to show that false converts are not truly saved. John sets out a series of tests throughout the entire book.
Let's begin with 1 John 1. I want to throw in the "great assumption." Like Rome, who used infant baptism to lead many to false assurance, Baptists are using the Sinner's Prayer to lead many to the pit of hell. The great assumption can be found in our bookstores. How many books will you find on the true gospel, on conversion and sanctification? The great assumption has to do with the neglect and dismissal over the gospel. We assume we know how to counsel sinners, to addressing those doubting and/or struggling with assurance. When someone comes to us doubting their salvation, we don't coddle them; we help them.
1 John Tests:
v.5 God is light, and Christians will walk in that light. (test 1)
God has shown you his will; he has revealed to you who he is. If we say that we are believers, and yet the characteristic of our lives do not line up with God in his ineffable light, then we lie to ourselves. Our lives must conformed to what God has revealed about Himself and His will. This is not about perfection, but about conforming our lives in obedience. You can take a snapshot image of me sinning and say, "See, Paul Washer is lost." But if you take a video camera day after day after day, you will find some who is not perfect but someone whose still of life is inclined towards and pressing into what God has revealed in his Word. You will see a difference in the inclination and action. The Christian life is a struggle, but therein lies the proof of conversion-a person pressing into this high calling. You cannot encounter God and not be the same. The Christian may be limping and broken, but he is pressing on.
Can a Christian fall into sin? Yes.
Can he backslide? Yes.
Can he stay there? No.
Why? Because God is his Father, and God will discipline those who are truly His.
Those whom God loves, He disciplines.
v.8 The true Christian will be sensitive of the sin in their lives and live a life of confession and repentance. (test 2)
People who are most broken over their sin are those who are the most committed in your church. Those not bothered about their sin will be those in your church you are not committed to Christ and His Church? The difference? The sheep and the goats. Because one sees their sin, they are more broken, but turning to Christ, they experiencing more of God's mercy and pursue greater measure of holiness. There is a mixture of brokenness and joy that produces a pattern of holiness which is the result of God's saving grace which is also sanctifying grace.
One of the greatest evidences of true conversion is not sinless perfection, but the recognition of sin in our lives that makes us rely on the grace of God alone.
2:3 . . . if we keep his commandments (test 3)
Obedience does not lead to salvation, but is evidence that we have been saved. Do you have a new relationship to the commands of God. To the believer, they are a delight and not burdensome. Here there is a new inclination and lifestyle, and the great concern is the knowing and doing of the will of God. And when we get dull in these areas, the loving discipline of God brings us back to Him.
v.6 . . . ought to walk in the same manner as he walked (test 4)
Yes, I cannot walk like Christ; I cannot walk in impeccability, beauty, and glory of Jesus, but in the midst of following Christ, we should desire to be like Christ in every area of our lives.
v. 9-11 Love for the fellow believer in the context of a biblical church (test 5)
One of the greatest evidences for true conversion is love for one another. I say biblical church because there are churches who will go into a community with questionnaires to ask the pagans how to do church. Biblical discipline has to do with the pulpit; godly people will come, and ungodly people will leave. If the Spirit of Christ is in you, you are going to give your life for the very thing Christ gave his life-the Church.
[excursus on Matthew 25:31-46 and how it is often misinterpreted]
If we believe the Gospel, explain it to God's people, and help them find true biblical assurance, then it will reduce the need for discipline in our church.
It says in 2nd Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 5, Paul had come to a church, many of them professing Christ, many of them walking in carnality, and he doesn't ask them—he doesn't say to them, "Let me ask you something. When was the time that you first asked Jesus Christ into your heart?" He didn't even refer to their conversion experience. He goes right to present tense and he says this: Test yourselves—in verse 5—to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves.
Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you unless indeed you fail the test.
Now what does Paul say to this person? He says, Test yourselves. Test yourselves. Take a test. Test yourself! This is not just some whimsical thing. This is not just something to worry about for a day. We're talking about eternity. Is it well with your soul? If you test yourselves in the light of Scripture, will you be found whole and complete, born again, kept by the power of God?
It's time to take a test and stop relying on your emotions and stop relying on what everyone is telling you and stop comparing yourself to other people who call themselves Christians, because the great majority of people in America who call themselves Christians are lost.
How can we take a test? How can we test our life? How can you test yourself tonight to see whether or not you truly are a Christian? We just have to go to the Word of God to do that. Go to 1st John chapter 5.
First John chapter 5, verse 13. John gives us the reason in his Gospel. In John chapter 20, verse 31, he tells us why he writes his Gospel. He writes his Gospel so that men might believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He's the Christ, that they might have eternal life. Why does he vwrite his epistle? He tells us here in 1st John chapter 5, verse 13: These things--this epistle--I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God--those of you who profess Christ--why?--that you may know that you have eternal life
You want to know whether or not you're born again? Read the book of 1st John, because the book of 1st John is made up of a series of tests, and we're going to take those tests this evening. And I pray to God that God gives you ears to hear.
And I want to tell you something and I want to make it very, very clear. Do not listen to your heart. Listen to the Word of God. Do not listen to what your daddy says about your salvation. Do not listen to what your mother says about your salvation. Listen to the Word of God. Compare what you know about your secret life.
First John chapter 1, verse 5. This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
What does that mean? As in all the writings of John, he leaves things open. He leaves things open. I believe that, as you look through this text, you will find out that there are two things John is saying. First of all, whenever we're talking about light, and we see this in John chapter 3, we're talking about holiness, righteousness. God is a holy God. He is a righteous God, has no sin, no flaw, no shadow, no speck of immorality in Him. God cannot be tempted. You can be tempted because there's still an element of evil in you that is drawn to evil. God has no evil in Him. Evil cannot draw Him. He disdains it. He despises it. He's holy.
But that's not, I think, John's primary meaning here. John is dealing with a group of false teachers who basically are telling everybody that God is a very dark and shadowy and hidden figure, and that knowledge about God is esoteric. It is hidden and dark and only some people know it. And I believe that John is contradicting these false prophets and he is saying this, and you listen very carefully. This is what he is saying. He's saying God is Light. And he means this: God has revealed to us who He is and He has revealed to us His will. He has made it very clear.
What kind of God do we have in America? What is the god of the politician in America? It's this kind of god--it's a god you can pray to, but you cannot define who he is. It's a god you can talk about in a political speech, but you cannot define what his will is. And that's a good god to have. Why? Because you're no longer accountable to a god like that. You don't know who he is and you don't know what he wants, so you just do whatever your carnal, wicked heart wants to do. That's a very convenient god, and that's the kind of god some supposed Christians have.
But John counters that and he says this: No, my friend, God has told you exactly who He is and God has told you exactly what He requires of thee, old man. He's not a hidden god. Now, learning that, let's go to the next verse.
He says this: If we say that we have fellowship with Him. . . . What does that mean? If we say that we are saved is exactly what it means. If we say that we know Him, if we say that we abide in Him. For so many years in America, because of a certain seminary that has propagated this, we have been taught and led to believe that 1st John is talking about the difference between a Christian who walks in communion with God or a Christian that does not walk in communion with God. They take this text to mean that, if we say that we know Him, if we say that we know Him, if we say that we know Him and yet walk in darkness, we're just a confused Christian. That's not what this text means. What this text is saying is this: If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. If we say that we are a Christian and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying. Now, I know what's going to happen in your heart right now. "Yeah, but you don't know my heart, Brother Paul. I know that I know that I know that I'm saved."
I could care less, again, about your heart. Because that's not what John said. John says, if we say that we have fellowship with God, that we are a Christian and yet we walk in the darkness, we are a liar. Now, what does it mean to walk in the darkness? Well, first of all, you need to understand what darkness is. It's the opposite of light. If we say we are a Christian and yet we walk—now what does it mean to walk--peripateo--to walk around; a style of life. If we say we are a Christian and yet our style of life contradicts everything God has told us about Himself and contradicts God's will, we're a liar. That's what it means. That's what this text is saying. It's as clear as a bell.
Now, listen to me. Listen to me. I'm going to tell you again. Look at this, in verse 6. If we say that we have fellowship with Him--if we say that we are Christian and yet we walk—we lead a style of life--in the darkness, we lead a style of life that contradicts the attributes and the nature of God, what God has told us about Himself, our style of life reflects nothing of God's character, and our style of life totally contradicts what God has said to be His will, then we are a liar when we say we are a Christian.
John is saying that, if you say you're a Christian and yet your style of life, the way you are, does not reflect His character and the things you do go against His will as a style of life, he's telling you you are a liar when you say you're a Christian.
Now, let's go on. Here's the next test. Verse 8. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Now, he said, if we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. There have been strains of Christianity or marginal Christianity down through the history of the church that believed in sinless perfection. Well, the Bible doesn't teach that. The Bible teaches that even the most mature, the most godly Christian is still susceptible to sin. What this is teaching us is this. One of the greatest evidences that a person has truly been born again, that a person is truly a child of God is that they will be sensitive to the sin in their life and they will be led to repentance and confession of that sin.
A true Christian is sensitive to sin. Sensitive to sin. Sensitive to sin. Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you wept over your sin? That's frightening. When was the last time you were broken over your sin? That's frightening. Some of you don't even know what I'm talking about. When we are a child of God, God guards us. He talks about his jealous love for Israel. Is it not greater for the church? Does God guard you?
go to 1st John, chapter 1, verse 8. I say, "Do you have a new relationship with sin?
Because, if you don't have a new relationship with sin, you don't have a new relationship with God." Are you sensitive to sin?
Now, third test. It's found in verse 3 of chapter 2. By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Now, listen to this. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. Now, let's look at this test—by this we know that we have come to know Him. You know, in America--I tell you what, I was talking to a Scotsman awhile back in Peru, and he said, "You Americans, your theology is 3,000 miles wide and a half inch deep." He's right.
Look what the Bible says. How can you know that you're saved? How can you know it? Look what he says. By this we know that we have come to know Him. Because our heart tells us? Because the preacher tells us? Because we just feel it? Look what he says. By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. And that keep there is in present tense, as well as many of the other things here in this text. And what he's saying is, if we keep on keeping His commandments, we know that we know Him, if we persevere in His commandments, we know that we know Him.
And then he goes on and says, the one who is opposite doesn't know Him.
You say, "Well, I've kept the commandments before." You forget what he's saying. If you keep on keeping ... perseverance. Why perseverance? Because of the promises of God. He who began a good work in you will finish it, and if the work isn't finished, He didn't do it. Is your lifestyle marked by a keen interest in God's commandments and a desire to obey them?
Now look at verse 4. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
Now, it goes on. Let's go to another test. Verse 6 of chapter 2. The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. The Christian ought to walk as Jesus walked, and you say, "Brother Paul, you've gone too far now. Who can walk like Jesus walked?"
What's the greatest desire in your heart? Is your great desire to walk like He walked? To Again, this is the test. This is the exam. If I were to look at your life, if I were to film the whole thing, would I see since the supposed day of your conversion this desire to walk like Him, or do you desire to walk like everybody else? Do you desire to walk like the world and act like the world and talk like the world and fellowship with the world? Do you identify with the world? Or is it Jesus? Is it Jesus footprints?
The next test. Verse 9 of chapter 2. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who 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. When he says brother, he's talking about believers. If you say that you know God and yet you do not love other believers in a real and practical way and desire fellowship with them, you're lost.
Do you love to be with people who love to be with and talk about and worship and serve God? Or would you rather be with people who have nothing to do with God?
Because you are demonstrating what you are. Like I said, I was raised on a farm. You do not see the chickens over there having a good time with the pigs. Chickens hang with chickens. Pigs do their own thing. It's their nature. You say, "Well, I'm a believer but, man, all my friends are, you know, they're. . . ." Yeah, I know. They're lost.
Do you love other Christians? "Well, I, you know, I, I come to church." Big deal. The devil comes to church. What do you do when you get here? What do you do outside it? Because the church isn't this tent. It's not that building, it's the people. How many Christians are you serving? How many Christians are you reading the Bible with? How many Christians are you praying for? How many Christians are you loving? How many
I want to go through another test. Chapter 2, verse 15. 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. What is the world? Everything in this fallen age that contradicts the attributes and will of God. Everything that does not come forth from God and goes back to God in worship. That's the world. You say, "Well, I love secular music." Let me just share something with you. I don't care. I'm not going there. This is what I'm going to tell you. It doesn't matter to me whether vit's secular or Christian. My question is—what's being said in those words? Because if what's being said in those words contradicts the will of God, you're violating His will, and you're loving it.
Okay, let's talk about your television. You watch things. You expect God to move? You Love the world? You love to listen to the very things that nailed your supposed Master to the tree? Come off of it, man. Become a hellion, give yourself to demons, run wild, but don't come in here saying you're a believer and playing that game. You want to dance with the devil, then dance all night long, but don't come in here dancing with Christ for a moment and then go back out there and share your love. We're talking about loyalty. Love the world that nailed Christ to a tree? Many of you, just by professing faith in Christ, you crucify again the Son of God. You need to realize something. This is the Christ. This is the Son of God. This is the Lord of Glory. Isn't it amazing that we're going to have believers from China, believers from Northern Nigeria that have died as martyrs, dragged through the desert behind camels, some of them skinned alive, but they would not deny Jesus. And here's all these American Christians standing beside them that couldn't even find enough of anything inside them to even attend church on Sunday morning. Does anybody have a problem with that? One man can be skinned alive and not deny Christ, and the other denies him in the smallest of things. And yet, they're all born again? I think not, my friend. I think not. Do you love the world? Look at verse 16. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the [boastful] pride of life. . . . It is not from the Father, but from the world.love those. You love their jokes, their off-color jokes, their humor. You find yourself laughing in wickedness. And then you want God to move in your family and move in your life. Do you love the world?
It goes on. Verse 19. They went out from us, but they were not really of us, for, if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. Now, this does not mean, if someone leaves our church and goes to another, that they're not a Christian; that's not what that means. What it's talking about is this. The true Christian who has entered into Biblical historical Christianity and then leaves, might go into some new stuff, new Christianity, new teachings--they're rampant; they're everywhere; every wind is offered--leaves what is known as basic historic Christianity to go follow after some new stuff that has very little to do with Scripture and nothing to do with Biblical history. They've gone out from us. They don't remain in the body. Or someone who comes in and they might be with the group, you know, with the church, with the fellowship, with the congregation for six months or a year and then they depart and they stay departed and they don't go to another fellowship. What does that mean? They went out from us. And what is it showing? They never were of us. Because once you're in Christianity, you stay in Christianity because He who brought you in keeps you in. It wasn't Noah who shut that door behind himself on that boat. It was God.
It goes on. Another test, verse 22, chapter 2. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.
The true Christian is going to embrace the fullness of the person of Jesus Christ. Now, many of you are saying, yes, that is true. They are going to believe that Jesus is God in the flesh. Yes, that's true. They're going to believe that God became man, that He was a real man. Yes, that's true, but that's not all it means to embrace the fullness of Christ's person. This silly little stuff going around in America today that you can receive Jesus as Savior and not Lord is absolutely absurd. The fullness of His person you believe in, you receive, you embrace. All of it.
Now, finally, look in verse 29 of chapter 2. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of God. Now what is righteousness? Everything that conforms. Everything that conforms to the nature and law of God.
Do you practice righteousness? If we were to look at your life, are you practicing God's law? Are you practicing God's wisdom, God's Word, God's precepts? Are you? Is it a practice in your life, or are you departing from it? Does it have nothing to do--absolutely nothing to do with you? In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus says, Depart from me you who practice lawlessness. That's one of the most terrifying statements in the Bible for American Christianity because basically what He's saying is this: Depart from me those of you who claim to be my disciples and yet you lived as though I never gave you a law to obey. I just described most of what's called the church in America today.
Verse 3 of chapter 3. Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Now, look at this. What is it talking about? The hope for the second coming of Jesus Christ. we'll see whether you believe it or not, because it says in verse 3, Now, he says, verse 4, Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. What does that mean? I'll tell you what it means. He's trying to show you how horrible sin is, because we really don't get it. I love what Watson says in A BODY OF DIVINITY. He's always saying this, he goes, "You have not sinned against an inferior prince. You've not sinned against a small mayor from a small village. You have sinned against the Lord of Glory, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. You know not what you've done. "Now, here's something Christian. It's just going to blow your mind. You know, we are told to purify ourselves, and some of you guys need to hear this who are really, really theological. Not only has God sanctified us in Christ; he calls us to strive to be holy. He calls us to purify ourselves.
We all realize that the Bible's already taught us that believers will sin, but there is a difference between a believer who sins, confesses their sin, and going on to greater holy, being disciplined of the Lord but going on to greater holiness, and someone who just out and out practices sin as a habitual lifestyle.
Verse 5. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. He appeared to take away the very sin that many people relish and love.
Verse 6. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Again, it's talking about a style of life, of practicing sin. Little children, make sure no one deceives you. Now, I'm telling you this. Little children, adults, make sure no one deceives you. Make sure some pastor doesn't deceive you, make sure your momma doesn't deceive you, your dad doesn't deceive you, or some well-meaning carnal Christian does not deceive you. He says, Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. You practice sin as a habitual lifestyle? You love what you can get away with? My friend, you're of the devil.
Now, let's go back to verse 12 of the final chapter, chapter 5. The last test. There's many more, but we don't have time this evening. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus. Jesus. You know, it's almost absurd to ask this question. We've actually come to believe in American Christianity that you can be Christian and Jesus not be all the world to you. Do you love Jesus? What do you think about most? What do you think about most? I know men who love the ministry more than they love Jesus. I know men who love the Bible more than they love Jesus. What do you think about most? Because that's what you love.
There are some struggling believers here tonight that need to realize something. Again, we are not talking about sinless perfection. We are not saying that, if you're a true Christian, Christ will always be at the forefront of your thoughts. We're not saying, if you're a true Christian, you are always going to be practicing righteousness. Again, what we're talking about is a style of life and a struggle. I tell my mother, "Mom, the greatest evidence that you're a Christian is the fact thatbright now you're in the Word and God's pointing out to you your sin."