Isaiah 59:21 says: "As for Me, this is My covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring," says the LORD, "from now and forever.”
We have talked a good bit about words: about God’s words & our words & how we are to line up the words of our mouth with God’s words. When we have God’s Holy Spirit in us He will remind us of what God’s word says. It is up to us to speak it out. It is important that we speak it out because it is a declaration in the face of every trial & tribulation that may come at us that God’s word is Truth. Our circumstances are not Truth. God’s word is truth. John 17:17
Our part is found in Job 23:12
I have not departed from his commands,
but have treasured his words more than daily food.
but have treasured his words more than daily food.
There are 2 things here. Firstly we are to treasure the word. The meaning here is to conceal, to hid, to put away for security, to cherish God’s word. It is not to be treated lightly or carelessly, to be disregarded, or diminished.
Look at it this way: why is our world in such moral disarray? Because we have not esteemed God’s word as we should. You will hear people argue that it does not mean what the plain reading of the text says, that times have changed, that we are a more enlightened people, when the world clearly says "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9
The human heart has not changed in all the centuries since Adam’s fall & above all things the bible is a book that speaks to the condition of men’s hearts.
Which brings me to my second point: If we want to please God then we keep His commands but how can we keep them if we do not know what they are? Where do we find them & how do we keep them?
We find them in scripture. In Isaiah 51:16 God says: And I have put my words in your mouth and hidden you safely in my hand. Knowing the word, esteeming the word, treasuring the word, gives us a measure of safety, of heavenly protection, & also a moral compass to guide us so that we know right from wrong.
So we are going to begin today by aligning our words with what God says about us & then we are going to look at what it means to belong to Jesus & how we know whether we belong to Him or not.
I have been redeemed out of the hand of satan by the blood of Jesus.
I have been sealed unto the Day of Redemption by the Holy Spirit.
He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world.
Now 1 John 4:13 says: And God has given us His Spirit as proof that we live in Him & He in us.
Do you confess that Jesus Christ died for you & believe God the Father raised Him from the dead? Then Romans 10:9 says you will be saved. If you are saved then according to Ephesians 4:30 you are sealed unto the Day of Redemption by the Holy Spirit & He is the proof that we belong to God.
And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
We have spoken about how we are grafted into Christ~ He is the vine, we are the branches & God identifies us as belonging to Him by the seal of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit has a varied job description as comforter, teacher, testifier of Jesus, advocate… & much more.
Throughout 1 John, John identifies ways that give us assurance that we actually are who we claim to be.
· 1. If we acknowledge our sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves & not living in the Truth. [1:8]
When we abide in Christ, when we are grafted in, we draw our sustenance from Christ Himself through the impartation of His Holy Spirit. John explains this further in 3:4~6
Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.
We know from the gospel of John that Jesus is the Word & the Word is Truth [17:17], so as we grow to know both the written word & the living word so will the Holy Spirit mould us more & more into the image of Christ & we will understand who He is.
· The 2nd indicator John gives is love ~ specifically love of the brethren.
If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. [2:9~10]
For how can we claim to love God, whom we have never seen yet hate the very people made in his image that He died to redeem? [4:20]
· 3. Throughout scripture faith is tied to action. It is not to enough to merely say we believe. It is by our actions we show whether our faith is genuine or not.
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. [3:18~20]
Now many of us struggle between faith & feelings. We know that Christ came that we might have life & have it in all its abundance. And we know that satan is a thief, a liar from the beginning, one who seeks only to kill & destroy.
Knowing this is enough to help us discern whether our feelings are valid or not. Do they condemn us? Then they are of satan & we know what we are to do; we rebuke him in the Name of Jesus. Do they uplift us? Then they are of satan for the Holy Spirit seeks to uplift Jesus Christ only. Do they comfort us with the Truth of scripture? That’s the Holy Spirit. Do they convict us of sin? Again, a work of the Holy Spirit; there is a difference between conviction & condemnation. It is not our feelings that will justify us or condemn us, but our actions. Our actions show the state of our heart.
However to do the right thing without the changed heart will not help us, so it is absolutely imperative that we have the Holy Spirit within us. It is He who changes our heart & renews our minds & creates in our inner being the new creation.
I found it incredibly comforting to read that God is greater than our feelings ~ whatever those feelings may be. Just as our feelings have no impact on God’s truth they have no impact on His relationship with us. He does not love us more or less. His attitude towards us is always that of lovingkindness, of goodness, of blessing & when we abide in Him what flows out of us is His lovingkindness, His goodness, & His blessing upon others.
The 4th thing is an ability to let go of the things of this world. Do not love this world or the things it offers you…[2:15]
One thing that has become glaringly obvious with the rise of secular humanism is that when you think that this world is all there is & your only opportunity for happiness then you will grasp after those things the world counts as success, happiness, power: wealth, glory, possessions; but the truth is that the one with the most toys does not win. Dead is dead & nothing that belongs to this world can be taken with you into the next. What you can take are faith, hope & love & the greatest of these is love. [1Cor. 13:13] We are to accumulate riches in heaven by how we live here, remembering that though God does not show any sort of favouritism He does give rewards & we will be rewarded accorded to what we do for Him here on earth.
The last thing I want to highlight is something John considered so important he repeats it twice, once in 1 John 2:6 & again in 1 John 4:17.
Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. [2:6]
… but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.[4:17]
We find this same principle in John’s gospel 13:15 I have set you an example so that you should do as I have done for you, & again in 1 Peter 2:21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His footsteps.
The greatest testimony we have is our life. When people look at us they should see Jesus. Mostly they don’t. The biggest reason they don’t see Jesus in us is because we really don’t know Him either & because we don’t know Him we don’t know what He looks like. We don’t look like Him. We don’t talk like Him. We don’t act like Him.
We want to be liked; Jesus wasn’t. We like to be popular; Jesus wasn’t. We are taught to be tolerant & inclusive; Jesus wasn’t. We are told Christians shouldn’t judge yet scripture says we are to judge with righteous judgement [John 7:24] ~ see Leviticus 19:15 or Deuteronomy 1:16 for what that looks like & there are other references if you care to check. We want to be comfortable but Jesus Himself warned, "If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first…. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well; John 15:18/20
The world says, if it feels good & hurts nobody, do it. Jesus says, Go & sin no more.
There is a price to be paid for being like Jesus. The world won’t like it because it becomes convicted of its sin John 16:8 And when he[The Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment.
The flip side to being like Jesus is we will walk in the same power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus walked in: the power to testify; the power to cast out demons; the power to speak in tongues; the power to lay hands on people & see them healed ~ not because we are wonderful but because Jesus is! At the name ~ just the name~ of Jesus every knee must bow ~ in heaven; on earth; & under the earth.
Walking with Jesus means we have access to that name & all the power that Jesus wields. The world may mock but this world & everything in it is fading away. In the end all our surety & safety can only be found in Jesus Christ.
So let us close with another confession.
I declare that with the Holy Spirit’s help I will live like Jesus here in this world. Amen.