1st John Survey
That your Joy May Be Full
The 1st John Survey demonstrates three purpose statements given in Johns first epistle, the first is the overall reason for the writing of the letter, that your joy may be full. The second effects that same joy, written that you sin not, and the last solidifies the wonderful joy becoming full, and that is that you know you have eternal life.
These Things Are Written That Your Joy May Be Full
1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
There is a certainty in the writing of this epistle of 1stJohn that is not found with such declaration elsewhere in the New Testament. That is not to say that those things written therein are not certain, indeed they are absolutes that are eternally dependable, but it is to say that none have the declarative certainty as 1stJohn has.
I will explain in two evidences;
- Is found here in this passage;
1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
I find myself often overwhelmed by such a passage as this. John was there.
I am reading a first-hand account of a man who lived and walked and talked, who had seen with his eyes, who had looked upon Christ, who’s hands have handled him, to whom God had manifested the Saviour and Lord, his Son, the Lord of Lords and king of Kings.
I am reading a letter written by one who can bear perfect witness and testimony of Christ. One who was there.
3That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
- The second evidence of the declarative certainty of this epistle is found in the numerous times John uses the phrase “We know” or “We do know”.
This is vital, for you cannot know only what it is you think is true, or what is the opinion of others, or what is a best guess, you can only know what you know. There are not many who can do this.
The Great Philosopher of the Secular world named Socrates was famous for declaring that the only thing he truly knows is that there is nothing he truly knows. He came to understand that the more he learns the more he realises how much more he has to learn and how little he did know for certain. But this is not the case in Johns Epistle.
I have often asked a question of my employees to which they respond “I think….” And I follow that up by asking “do you think or do you know?”. It’s a question I have asked of sales reps or of even my own clients for a technical detail. The reason I ask in such a way is I need certainty, big decisions need to be made and they cannot be made based on a supposition or a guess or an opinion, the decisions need to be based on a fact, something that is known!
The apostle John uses the Phrase “we know” no less that 12 times in this letter, that is quite frequent when you consider it is used only 52 times in the entire Bible. What is more interesting is that it seems to be Johns nature, the Gospel of John uses the phrase sixteen times. So, between John’s gospel and 1stJohn the phrase appears 28 out of 52 times in the Bible, more than half.
This is important, because those things that are known are given and told us for a purpose and John provides that purpose in the fourth verse; 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
Beloved, I don’t want to make decisions in my life based on a guess or an opinion, I don’t want to institute the changes that I need to make simply because I am told to do so by some temporary fashion, or feeling, or an authority that is as temporary as yesterday’s newspaper.
But when I am told through the certainty of one who is witness to all that was from the beginning, what they had heard and what they had seen with their eyes, and that knowledge is perfectly represented to us in the eternal book of life, given by him that cannot lie…
…and most wonderfully, when the very purpose of the declared writing to us is given that ourJOY MAY BE FULL, then it is worth taking notice.
THAT YOUR JOY MAY BE FULL
This is not a temporary joy spoken of here. Please consider the context of the book when you read it. It does not limit this joy to today, nor is it a promise only for tomorrow or next week. This is joy in an eternal fellowship, that is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ, consider the depth of the declaration.
5This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Nothing is hidden from us about God. He is an “OPEN BOOK”and indeed all things of him that we need to know and learn and grow and hope and joy and have fellowship with, is declared through this everlasting volume known as the Bible and through the blood of Jesus Christ his Son.
If you do have fellowship with the Light of the World, you cannot also be walking in darkness. Johns desire is that your joy may be full, it is one of the declared reasons for the writing of this letter, but your joy will not be full if you say you have fellowship with the God who is light, yet you yourself walk in darkness.
It is an incredible phrase, to “Walk in darkness”; usually we imagine it as one who sneaks about in dark places as a criminal or a thief unwilling to be seen or heard, able to do his evil secretly with no one suspecting anything other than that which is done in the light.
If that is what you imagine, you are not far from the truth at all.
Walking in darkness in this passage, is the efforts we make to conceal our secret self from those who are in the light. It’s the times when you tell your family and friends you are on a strict diet, but secretly dive into the pantry and eat that which you don’t want others to know you are eating.
You desire to “keep up appearances” in the light but hide your true lusts in the dark.
Beloved, I could spend more than one sermon on this issue alone and to encourage you and bless you with the word of God through it. But know that if you can relate to this, and I am sure most of you can to one degree or another, know that Johns desire is for the fullness of your joy and that comes with the OPEN REVELATION OF YOURSELF TO GOD.
TO WALK IN THE LIGHT AS HE IS IN THE LIGHT.
Perhaps the next verse may help you understand;
8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
God has made clear though his word that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).
We can, at least for a time, successfully hide our sin from one another. But it is UTTER futility to try to hide our sin from God.
When I was a child I loved playing hide and seek with my friends. Our house was in a small cul-de-sac, or a court, a closed off street area; and in the summer months we would be allowed to play outside until it got dark. Our favorite game was Hide and seek.
Well, when I first played the game I can still remember that if I put my hands over my eyes really tightly, so that all was in darkness, there is no way that I could be found. If I could hide myself from myself, certainly no one else could find me.
I was the first one caught, and you could imagine my complete shock and surprise. I had totally convinced myself that all I was, was well hidden from sight.
It is not an exaggeration to say that that is exactly what we are thinking when we believe our sin is hidden from God.
Notice the clarity of the text; 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Who did I deceive when I tried to play hide and seek by thinking my body was in darkness, yet in plain sight to my friends?
Who do you deceive when try to live life by thinking your sin is in darkness, yet in plain sight to God?
In both cases the only person in the dark is ourselves.
19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)
46I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. (John 12:46)
9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive usoursins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The confession of our sins to God is not for HIS benefit, it’s for our own benefit.
It is the strangest notion that we think God will be surprised as he learns of our misdeeds.
Beloved, walking in the Light does not refer to a sinless life, it refers to a life that is open and honest before a holy God.One that recognizes and confesses their own nature before the Lord and receives forgiveness for their confession of what God already knows.
To know you are FORGIVEN is when your joy may be full.
These Things Are Written That Ye Sin Not
1 John 2:1-2
1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also forthe sins ofthe whole world.
Written in legal jargon is the introduction to this second chapter encouraging believers to abstain from sin.
Remember the letter is written to believers, but also written in such a way in which they may ‘examine themselves whether they be in the faith’(2 Cor 13:5).
But, he writes in addition to that confession of the first chapter, if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
Few there are that may consider Jesus Christ as an advocate.
It’s a picture of Christ we don’t often think to consider; “really is an advocate needed?” An advocate is one who actively supports a cause or plee on behalf of another. In a Legal form it would be represented by a Lawyer.
Do we need a lawyer?
Well, is there an accuser? Yes, the devil is the “Accuser of the brethren” (Rev 12:10)
The Bible also teaches that Jesus Christ intercedes for us;
34 Whoishe that condemneth? It isChrist that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Jesus does this both as our advocate against the one that accuses us, before the one who could condemn us, God the father. But he also intercedes for us as our high priest before God;
Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
If it were a courtroom you might consider God the father as the Judgein the Judgement seat, Satan as the prosecuting attorneywith all the evidence required for a conviction, but Jesus Christ “The Righteous” as both our defense attorney and our SCAPE GOAT.
Yes beloved, Jesus is not only our advocate, but he is the one upon whom our sins were borne; 1 John 2:2And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also forthe sins ofthe whole world.
All people of the world have the opportunity to avail themselves of the work of Christ!
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ has propitiatedor satisfied, or appeased the wrath of God for all of mankind, and all who have believed the work of his Son by faith avail themselves of that gift.
HOWEVER, ALL who have rejected the work of Christ the Son for themselves, have both the condemnation and the eternal wrath of the Father abiding on them together with the devil and his angels that hate both the Father and the Son.
That is a way of explaining how Jesus can be the propitiation of our sins and for the sins of the whole world.
In the courtroom, he has laid the certificate of validation of a paid penaltyon the desk in front of the guilty accused (YOU), the punishment for the crime committed has been paid for by anotherand, should the guilty avail himself of the gift, he is free to inherit eternal life.
If not, he is damned for his unbelief. WHY? Because Hebrews 10:29 tells us he has trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace.
He essentially believes he can do better than Christ.
Rather than take shelter in Christ, he stands in the middle of ‘No mans land’ with only his eyes covered. He thinks he will live but he is dead where he stands.
He would rather die than admit his sin to God.
Turn to Proverbs 8:34-36
A passage brought to mind by my wife this week well explains the reality of what is happening in such a heart as this.
34 Blessedisthe man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. 35 For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.36But he that sinneth against mewrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
It is vital to walk in the light, hiding your sin from yourself harms only yourself in the end, it does not affect God!
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost have perfect joy and harmony among the Godhead. As a Christian, sin removes from us that harmony and thereby that perfect joy.
John desires that your Joy may be full, if you are the Lords there is nothing that takes away our joy more than sin.
Now this is key to know, especially for those of you not quite certain you are the Lords, that you have availed yourself of the propitiation of your sins.
If you can disregard the commandments of the Lordand remain joyful, you do not know him!
3And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
It is in the keeping of his commandments and the misery of breaking themthat we know, we know him.
Understand this passage is not advocating perfect accordance in the law, John just concluded the first chapter with the vital recognition of our sin, “If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves”. The passage relates to our true desire for the law as distinct from our previous desire to flee from it.
Keeping his commandments is in both the belief and trust and love for them as “The perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25) as well as our“walk in them”. Nothing demonstrates to us more of the knowledge that we are in him than these.
5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
Removing sin from our life is the work of the Holy Spirit within each of those born again. To each there has been things once done and lived in that have not only lost their appeal but have had us desire NOTHING of them.
Recall Peter’s words when he spoke saying;
3For the time past ofourlife may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not withthemto the same excess of riot, speaking evil ofyou: (1 Peter 4:3-4)
Or Paul’s words when he said
1 And youhath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
These passages describe a distinct and identifiable change that has happened in ALL those, not some, ALL those who are born again.
And yet there is a need to command us to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11)
There is the command for us to resist temptation, to flee lusts, to sin not.
1 John 2:15
Love not the world, neither the thingsthat arein the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all thatisin the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
There are many things in the world that, as your love for Christ grows, you will hate.
But if you love the world, and I am not saying “if you love the world more than Jesus”, the text says, If any man love the worldperiod, then the love of the Father is not in him.
For your joy to be full, Believe the Gospel and sin not!
These Things Are Written That You May Know You Have Eternal Life
Chapters 3 and 4 go into detail of the life distinct from the world and what that life in Christ should look like.
We are warned about false spirits come to deceiveus and false teachers and doctrines also in chapter 4, and each item being taught setting you up to know and understand the one most important knowledge that you may know, and this being the third reason John had written all he had written;
1 John 5:10-13
10He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life;andhe that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
that ye may know that ye have eternal life
Nothing of Johns writing in this letter is based on feeling or conjecture, all of that which he writes is for a purpose and for your absolute knowledge and confidence, and to know that you have eternal life is the greatest joy in the world.
No doubt in my mind, this knowledge is the key to your joy being full.
Last week I mentioned to you that it is unlikely you are a Christian if you have never doubted your salvation, if there was never a time when you truly considered, for the sin you endured within yourself, whether or not you really are born again.
I was not speaking of a metal exercise, I was not speaking of a logical effort in deduction, I was speaking of an inner grief for sin that has you wonder in fear if you are truly born again.
That you may even say with Paul, “24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom 7:24) and who answered in the next verse “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord”
Questioning your salvation is not unhealthy, but it is required. We are to;
- “Examine ourselves” (2 Cor 13:5 & 1 Cor 11:28) for this specific purpose.
Nothing is more vital, eternity hangs upon it.
But having done so, John provides all the proofs you need to consider that you “may know that ye have eternal life”
Consider verse 12;
12He that hath the Son hath life;andhe that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
Here we have the nineteen single syllable words that tell the Gospel to all the world.
God wonderfully condescending to man that, with the most beautiful simplicity, all may know their state and come to inherit eternal life.
Life does not exist outside the Son and death has no place in the Son, all who have the Son have life but what is it to have the Son?
1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God:
That is as simple as it can be to be born of God.
In Acts 16:27-32. It’s worth turning there;
We recall the account as the earthquake hit and a terrible shaking rocked the prison and loosed the bands of the prisoners which included Paul and Silas who had been heard praying and singing praises to God;
27And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
Beloved there is no greater question! None greater than this, this is the question of all questions, when a person has come to the end of himself to know that he cannot save himself, to know that unless there is a mediator for him, he is doomed and damned, this now opens the opportunity for his own life.
It is said that there exists a prison from which no man can escape, a prison from which none can ever flee. It is the prison you do not know you are in.
It was not the prison guard sitting and sleeping outside the prison wall that was free, it was the prisoners. It was not Paul and Silas that was bound, it was the prison guard.
And when he discovered his captive state he cried “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
What do you say at this point? How do you answer? The pressure of an eternal soul who might be lost at the wrong answer and you yourself will give an account for him. The next words that come out your mouth could turn the yoke of wood that binds him, to one of ironif you are not careful, so how to answer?
How did Paul and Silas answer such a question?
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
1Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God:
Back to our passage. Consider verse 4,
4For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world,evenour faith.5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
The world is temporal, it cannot last. John Bunyan in his great allegory The Pilgrims progress which I have reproduced for you each week till now in the Newsletter, refers to the world as ‘The City of Destruction’.
The world is set for an end in which “the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Pet 3:10).
But, whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: ….. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
- And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.(1 John 1:4)
- My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. (1 John 2:1)
- These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life (1 John 5:13)