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Posted By Nan

1 John 2:15-17
In this passage, John exhorts his readers to not love the world. By this he means the sensual pleasures and dependence on self rather than on God. In the Amplified Bible, verse 16 describes the world as the lust of the flesh or craving for sensual gratification, and the lust of the eyes or greedy longings of the mind. I see these greedy longings as seeing something you just have to have, no matter what the cost. It also describes the world as the pride of life or the assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things.
The Message interprets verses 15 - 17 as:
“Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world – wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important – has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out – but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”
Given the materialistic times we live in. The Message holds a timely warning on how to respond to the times we live in. I love the description of these things of the world isolating us from God because that is what love of the world does. It is Matthew 6:24 again. We cannot serve two masters because we will be devoted to one and despise the other.
To live the life of the disciple we have entered the narrow door that is Jesus and we are following Him along the narrow path that leads to an eternity with God. Following that path means we do not skip over to the lovely comfortable broad path with all its worldly attributes. It is a seemingly easier path, but it does not lead to God. This path also is impermanent. It will pass. The path that leads to Jesus requires giving up a lot of things we like to hold on to. For me, the hardest is letting go of my desire to do everything for myself. What is yours?

To follow Jesus we must give up those things we wish to follow and allow Jesus to be increased in our lives. Only then can we truly walk on the path. This path leads to eternity, it will not pass away but when all else passes away, we will be standing in the presence of our Heavenly Father.
So do not love the world, instead look forward with eagerness and delight to an eternity in the wonderful presence of God and seek to follow Jesus every day of your life. Remember, if it gets too hard, stop and ask Jesus for help. He will give it willingly. Know that in following that narrow path, you are with God not isolated from Him.

Posted By Nan

1 John 2:7-14
The first two verses of this section remind the readers that Jesus gave a new commandment, a new old commandment. The new commandment is seen in John 13:34-35 where Jesus gives His followers a new commandment to love one another. Through this others will know we are Jesus’ disciples.
But this is not the first time we have heard this commandment. In Leviticus 19:18 we are told to “love your neighbour as yourself”.
Although the command to love one another is old, its newness is seen in the illustration of divine love on the cross, the way Jesus interpreted Old Testament law, which seemed new to the listeners and the daily experience of believers as they grow in love for each other.
So we stand in the true light of the world. This true light is the gospel as taught by Jesus. We are told not only to hear this gospel, but to live according to it and follow Jesus.
If we claim to be in the light but hate others, we are still in darkness. If we love others then we live in the light and there is nothing to make us stumble. We stumble because we are not following Jesus in the light, but are holding on to the darkness through a refusal to love one another. If we hate others (or hold unforgiveness and bitterness in our hearts) we walk in the darkness and do not know where we are going because we are blinded by the darkness.
In case all this seems too hard and too unobtainable John encourages his readers with the next verses. I write to you because your sins have been forgiven on account of Jesus’ name, because you have known Jesus, because you have overcome the evil one, because you have known the Father, because you have known Jesus as the one who is from the beginning, because you are strong and the word of God lives in you and because you have overcome the evil one. So we may struggle to live our lives as followers of Jesus and require commitment to achieve even a tiny measure of that perfection, but we can do it and we do because we do know God and we do accept Jesus as our Saviour. We won’t get it right all the time, but we know that when we don’t Jesus is always there waiting to guide us back on the path with Him.

Posted By Nan

1 John 2:3-6
In these verses, John tells us that we may know we are becoming better acquainted with Jesus if we keep His teachings. If we say we are in Jesus then we should walk and conduct ourselves as Jesus did. Again John states that if we say we know Jesus but do not walk in His way, we are liars. This is really about living in such a way as to show the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). And to gain that fruit you must live in obedience to Jesus’ commands and seek daily to submit yourself to Jesus’ will. Only then can you start to follow His commands. Read the gospels and look at the way Jesus responded to people, the amount of time He spent seeking God, the fruit of the Spirit He demonstrated. Knowing God is not some mystical insight, as the Gnostics taught, but the simple act of obeying Jesus’ commands.
So what is obeying Jesus’ commands? One thing it is not is legalism. Remember, Jesus spoke out against the legalism of the Pharisees and He would be just as quick to speak out against the legalism of some churches today, if we would listen to Him. It does mean however that Jesus has challenged us to change our way of living. We are to stop self seeking and take up our cross daily and follow Jesus. We are to ensure we have God’s love in us. As John has taught constantly thus far, God’s love is what proves our following of Jesus, not truth, not legalism, but Love. The Greek word used here is agape love. This word is used 18 times in this book. The only other book of the Bible that uses the word agape frequently, is 1 Corinthians, which uses it 14 times. When you consider the length of 1 John, it is extremely significant. Here John is stressing the most important aspect of God, Love, and he wants his readers to understand its prime importance as well.
Agape love is not used very often in Classical Greek. This is because it refers to an extremely noble form of love. This is the highest and noblest form of love. This love sees the object of its love as unendingly precious. Agape love says “no matter what you do to me, I will never seek to harm you, I will never seek revenge, I will always seek nothing but your highest good”. Sounds like meekness to me, one of the fruits of the Spirit. Another definition I have seen states agape is “unconquerable benevolence, invincible good will, a principle for living deliberately with a deliberate principle of the mind and a deliberate conquest and achievement of the will. It is not simply a way of emotion, but a conviction of the mind or a reasoning attachment of choice.”
So when we live in Agape love we choose to relate to other people in a way that is for the other person’s best interest. This also means agape love is patient and longsuffering, another fruit of the Spirit. We do not keep a record of wrongs, we do not envy, we do not boast and consider ourselves better than others. We are not rude or self seeking. We are not easily angered, nor do we hold grudges or keep a score card of other’s wrongs. Sound familiar. I have just gone through 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. A really good exercise to do is to take those verses and put your name in the place of love and recite it daily for a month. Repeat often! A good recipe for reminding yourself of how to love your neighbour as yourself.
Of course, love is the proper response the true follower of Jesus has to God’s great gift of salvation. So that love is also seen in our relationship with God in accordance with Jesus’ commands to “Jesus replied: ’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NIV
So make sure you follow Jesus and obey his commands by loving others, not sticking to some rigid legalism.

Posted By Nan

1 John 2:1-2
What John teaches can seem very confusing. On the one hand he speaks in these two verses of writing so that the readers will not sin (v1) but elsewhere, in 1:8, he speaks of the person who says they are without sin being a liar. What John is saying here is that he wants each believer to be able to admit she/he is a sinner in need of a Saviour. He wants each one of us to be free of the sin of thinking we are without sin. In that way we can become sinless when we humbly accept that we need Jesus as our sinless defender in God’s court and as our sin offering, paying the penalty for our sins. Jesus promise to us is that He will defend us and intercede for us with God. We will always sin. In a way, John is making a distinction between the Christian sinner and the non-Christian sinner. The Christian sinner acknowledges his inability to not sin. He comes before God, acknowledging his sinfulness and acknowledging Jesus as the sacrifice for those sins and his intercessor with God. The Christian sinner will constantly sin and will constantly confess that sin and will be constantly forgiven for that sin. The Christian sinner will not sin because he knows he is forgiven, but will sin because he is unable not to. As he progresses in his walk following Jesus, he gives more of himself to Jesus and more readily recognises his sins when he makes them. Contrast this with the non-Christian sinner who sins perpetually and does not necessarily think there is anything wrong with this. The person may be aware of wrongdoing and feel bad about it but is not able to do anything to deal with that sin. That person will never have his sin forgiven, because he does not acknowledge to Jesus that he needs Jesus to forgive his sins. This is the difference between the two types of sinner.
That knowledge carries a great deal of responsibility. It is not appropriate for a Christian to sit piously in some religious tower and look down on those who do not believe and judge them harshly. We are all sinners. The only difference is one group is forgiven and the other is not. We who follow Jesus need to look on those around us with love and acceptance. After all, Jesus demonstrated to us that we must hate sin, not the sinner (Matthew 5:43-48). So, we must not treat the non-believers harshly and condemn them. Here, we have Jesus’ example to draw on. He loved all people and looked on them all with love. He did this even though each person He encountered was a sinner. I see so many people hurt by those in the church who treat the person who sins harshly. These are the ones who condemn the person the church has decided is a sinner, when the people in that church commit terrible sins. That is not humility. That is claiming to be without sin. However if we approach people with love and show love towards the non believer, acknowledging their sin with love, not judgement, we will do more to demonstrate the love of Jesus and to lead that person to salvation than anything else we can do. It is also important to remember the end of these verses states that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. God does not discriminate. Jesus came to offer salvation to everyone.
So are you are sinner? Or do you claim to be without sin?

Posted By Nan

1 John 1:10
Over the past few blogs, I have looked at three errors that John wished to challenge. The first was contained in verses 6 to 7 and spoke of the mistaken belief that we can have fellowship with God if we continue to live lives that are sinful. Of course the truth is that we cannot have that fellowship while we continue to live a sinful life. He called the readers to live with more than a comfortable religious feeling. He knew they needed to live their lives by testing their feelings against the revelation of God in the scriptures and live righteously with the knowledge that our sins are cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
The second error was found in verses 8 to 9 and spoke of the error that we are without sin. It spoke of trusting that God would forgive our sins and also spoke of us being continuously cleansed.
Today I am looking at the third error which is that we have not sinned. This is contrary to God’s word that speaks of all of as being sinful and in need of a saviour. (See Isaiah 53:6, Romans 3:23). As the Bible is the living, dynamic word of God and it states we are sinners in need of a saviour then denying that we sin is accusing God of lying. If the Holy Spirit dwells within us, how can we say God is lying? So if we say we are without sin then the Holy Spirit is not in us and we are not saved.
I love the way the Amplified Bible translates this verse:
“If we say (claim) we have not sinned, we contradict His Word and make Him out to be false and a liar, and His Word is not in us [the divine message of the Gospel is not in our hearts].



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