The Fellowship of God 4: Walk Worthy 1 John 3Video Link
MS Word Link
The Person of Christ and the Purpose of the Letter 1:1-4
Fellowship's Code:Walk In The Light, confess sin 1:5-2:2
Fellowship's Conduct:Walk In Obedience, keep His commandments 2:3-6; Walk In Love, the superseding commandment 2:7-17
Fellowships Creed, Jesus is the Christ 2:18-19.
Fellowship’s Characteristics. 3:1-24.
Fellowship’s Cautions. 4:1-21.
Fellowship’s Cause. 5:1-21. - Modified from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
Now it is natural for us when we are studying or preaching, to outline a passage by looking for themes and key words but don’t get hung up on the outline. I doubt that John wrote his letter according to an outline, any more than you would write a letter today according to an outline. Instead he had some concerns on his heart, there was some encouragement he wanted to share and some warnings he wanted to give, and he wrote as these things came to mind. The main difference between John’s epistle and our writing a letter is that he was inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit in a way you and I will never be. Our unction as John said last week, our anointing, is in understanding and receiving the message John sent to them and to us.
We get a good idea of John’s heart when we look not so much for an outline, that he didn’t have, but instead look for the phrases that tell us why he was writing. These things have I written… 1:3 that ye also may have fellowship with us.
In 1:4 that your joy may be full. Then in chapter 2:1–2 that ye sin not. Later in the same chapter 2:26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. Finally, in 5:13 ..that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
At the end of chapter 2, after John expresses his confidence in who they are and that they will abide in Christ he goes on and gives the characteristics of those in the Fellowship of God. I had I had a tough time getting chapter 3 into a format, I could preach, for its more than just a list of characteristics for Christians. It’s also about encouragement and warnings, about to live and what they believe. Even though John doesn’t use the word, what he is describing we would understand as our Christian walk. And he is encouraging them to walk worthy, to live and act in a manner that befits and show who they are and who they serve.
So let me tell you an almost forgotten story of a once very famous Christian walker, who took literally walked the Christian walk, his name was John Chapman, if that doesn’t sound familiar that’s because you might have heard him called Johnny Appleseed.
A monument in Dexter City, Ohio has inscribed:
Without a hope of recompense,
Without a thought of pride,
John Chapman planted apple trees,
Preached and lived and died.
Johnny Appleseed collected seeds from apple cider presses in western Pennsylvania and using those seeds, he planted orchards and nurseries from the Alleghenies to central Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois. He also gave thousands of seedlings to westward-bound pioneers. Johnny Appleseed lived a nomadic life at harmony with all those he met, including the Indians tribes he came across. He told people he met, “I have traveled more than 4,000 miles about this country, and I have never met with one single insolent Native American.”
He brought them medicinal plants he foraged during his miles of walking. Even hostile Native Americans considered him touched by the Great Spirit, and many hearing his preaching were converted to believe in Johnny’s Savior.
Every description of him notes that he always carried the Bible, which he knew cover to cover. One of his favorite verses was “Blessed are the pure of heart.” He called an apple blossom a “living sermon from God” and often quoted the Sermon on the Mount by heart.
He traveled thousands of miles barefoot and wore a cooking pan as a hat over his uncut, long hair. On his back he slung an old coffee sack as his necessaries bag. Johnny Appleseed had an unconventional and unique devotion to nature and the Bible.
Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, 1871, printed a story in of an itinerant missionary who exhorted in an open-air meeting in Mansfield, Ohio: “All should be living the simple life, getting solely what ye need from He who is your God. … Where now is there a man who, like the primitive Christians, is traveling to heaven barefooted and clad in coarse raiment?” Johnny walked up and put his bare foot on the stump the preacher had as a podium and said: “Here’s your primitive Christian!”
At seventy years old, he was still walking and preaching. One day he decided to visit his old friend William Worth. His friend fed him and offered a place to sleep. He drank some milk and ate some bread. Then he read out loud to William from the Bible. Then tired from all his lifetime of journeys, he laid down on the floor to sleep and woke up in heaven. He died on March 18, 1845.
Upon hearing news of his death, General Sam Houston, one of the first U.S. Senators from Texas, addressed Congress: “This old man was one of the most useful citizens of the world in his humble way. He has made a greater contribution to our civilization than we realize. He has left a place that never can be filled. Farewell, dear old eccentric heart, your labor has been a labor of love and generations, yet unborn, will rise up and call you blessed.”
Now Johnny Appleseed’s barefoot 4-thousand-mile walk was his way of walking worthy of God’s calling. His exact walk is not your exact walk, but all of God’s Children are called to walk worthy of the One who saved and called us as His children. John, the last living apostle, is encouraging the children of God to bear in mind the characteristics that mark them as followers of God, to live their life in the three elements of light, love and truth and to guard against any that would draw them away. In this chapter he gives four reasons to walk worthy of our calling and of our heavenly spiritual fellowship. Walk worthy of who you are, walk worthy of your new nature, walk worthy in love and walk worthy in deed.
Walk Worthy Of Who You Are - 1 John 2:28–3:3
28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. 1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
Be What You Are, A Child of God
This portion of John’s epistle bears a strong resemblance to the same chapter in his gospel. Here John says, “everyone that does righteousness is born of him.” Reminding the child of God that he entered into this family not a natural process but by supernatural one, not by an physical birth but by a spiritual rebirth. You are a child of God, live your life in the knowledge, power and standards of who you are.
When Nicodemus came by night to talk to Jesus, Jesus told him, “You must be born again.” Reborn, born from above. John 3:3-8 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
John, even at almost 100 years of age is still amazed at this rebirth and the change it makes, says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:” The idea here, if I could paraphrase is, “How incredible, how supernatural, how unbelievable is the love that God poured out on us that we have been made the children of God and yet that is exactly who we are!”
We are so much the children of God that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him. We shall see Him as He is, not as Moses did shielded by the cleft in the rock, but we will look directly upon our Father’s face.
This is such an overwhelming reality that John finishes that thought with “Everyone who has this hope in Him, purifies himself, just as He is pure.” And that is the point. If you are a child of God, if you have been reborn, if you have been changed by the supernatural love of God then that hope, empowers, enables you, inspires you to live according to your new family heritage.
Walk Worthy As A Child of God.
Peter, sounded the same theme as his former fishing partner John, in 1 Peter 1:22-23 22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
You and I as children of God can’t walk the way we used to walk, we can’t talk the same way, we can’t think the same way. We have been reborn and are no longer the children of this world, but children of our Heavenly Father.
Paul says it this way in Ephesians 2:1-61 And you hath he quickened (made alive), 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 (the way we lived) 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. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
You know who is sitting right now in heavenly place in Jesus Christ? This guy! And if you have been reborn then that is where you sit as well.
Now how can people who are called by God’s name, born of God’s love and sit in God’s presence not walk in a manner worthy of such grace and such an honor? In truth you can’t. You just can’t, not if you are truly who you are supposed to be.
In My Utmost For His Highest, he wrote, “The answer to the question “How can a man be born when he is old?” is—When he is old enough to die—to die right out to his ‘rag rights,’ to his virtues, to his religion, to everything, and to receive into himself the life which never was there before. The new life manifests itself in conscious repentance and unconscious holiness - Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest.
Being born again of the Spirit is an unmistakable work of God, as mysterious as the wind, as surprising as God Himself… Being born again from above is a perennial, perpetual and eternal beginning, a freshness all the time in thinking and in talking and in living, the continual surprise of the life of God. - Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest:
Transition: John starts the worthy walk of those in the Fellowship of God with the new birth and then builds on that birth by encouraging us to walk worthy of our new nature.
Walk Worthy Of Your New Nature, 1 John 3:4–9
4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
Be Aware Of the New You
John says flatly and plainly, Jesus was revealed to take away our sin, in Him there is no sin. Therefore, anyone living in sin, dwelling in sin, can’t know Christ. He adamantly says that the person who commits sin is of the devil. Just as Jesus was manifested to take away or sin, the sones of God were manifested, revealed that Jesus might destroy the works of the devil. That is our salvation. What Satan began in the Garden of Eden with Adam has been destroyed by what Jesus finished on the Calvary.
Now this principle of walking in our new nature, isn’t hard to understand in its overall meaning but the detail can sometimes leave us with questions. Exactly, what does John mean when he says, “whoever sins hath not seen or known Jesus or he that commits sin is of the devil? Does this mean, like some say that we must reach a state of sinless perfection? A spiritual nirvana where sin can’t touch me? No, of course not. Remember what he has already written earlier in 1 John 1:8–10 8 If 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. He is not contradicting himself just a few paragraphs later.
No, he is not talking about sinless perfection, he is building on what he has already said about being the children of God and about our new spiritual nature, not our old physical body.
The key is in 1 John 3:9 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. Both here and in verse 6 these are absolute statements. One who is born of God does not sin because God’s seed remains in him, and he cannot sin because he has been born of God. “God’s seed” has produced His new nature, that nature received at salvation.
John 1:13 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God
2 Peter 1:4 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
We are the children of God and as children we partake and share in the nature of our Heavenly Father. That part of us, that spiritual part of us, that part of us that is the true and eternal part, can’t be touched by sin. In God’s eyes, because of that new nature we will not face the judgment of wrath, nor ever be at risk of losing our salvation. God’s seed remains in us and sin cannot touch that part of us. If that wasn’t true then none of us would have any hope of heaven, because just one sin, would bring us right back to being under God’s wrath.
Walk Worthy Of Your Incorruptible Nature
What this means to us is that we should understand the truth of our new nature on the inside and walk worthy of that nature on the outside. It is not a license to sin, as those who don’t have the faith in God’s word to believe in His power to save eternally, often accuse us of.
Nor does it mean I shouldn’t be concerned about sin in my day to day life, thinking that doesn’t matter because is only on the outside. What it means, in the way John is using it, is a means to walk away from dominating, the practice of sin. If I believe in my new nature, then sin no longer has the power to control me.
Look at these verses from Romans 6:1-14 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? … 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. …12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
It’s about the control of sin, the power of sin, the desire for sin that has all changed because of your new nature, but it’s not about the total absence of sin. Remember what John said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Illustration: Let me give you a real-life illustration as best I can remember it. My Grandfather Van George was also a preacher and he had a little mission right on the square in Cooper, Texas in an old condemned movie theater. Probably the only time my Grandfather ever went into a movie house was when he started that mission. This is around 1980 or so. In that mission was a lady who faithfully pushed her wheelchair bound husband at least 4 or 5 blocks to come to services every Sunday. I wish I could remember her name, but I can’t, so let’s just call her Sister Spraggins, because that is the name of the first really old person I remember when I was about 3 or 4 in Altus, Oklahoma. To me as a very young child, she seemed really ancient, but she was probably only about 60 or so. So, let’s take her name and use it in this now not as true as it was before story.
Our now renamed, Mrs. Spraggins believed in sinless perfection, that a Christian could reach a state where they no longer sinned, at…all, …never, …not even once. She and my Grandfather would often discuss this especially after church outside on the square.
She would say, “Well, Bro. George, I do believe I don’t sin anymore. It’s probably been 20 or 30 years since I committed any sin.”
Granddad would answer, “Now sister Spraggins, I saw you get very upset and lose your temper just last Sunday when that car almost hit you and your husband on the way home. And what about what John said about he that says he has not sin is deceiving themselves.”
Sister Spraggins countered with, “That was just a reaction last Sunday and anyway you can’t expect me to believe like you Baptists that I can do anything I like and not sin.”
Bro. George smiled and said, “That’s exactly right. You can do anything you like.”
“Bro. George that’s almost heresy”
“Well tell me Sister, do you want to commit adultery? Or rob a bank or murder somebody?”
At this point Mrs Spraggins was getting upset again. (Sorry, I meant she was have a reaction.) “Why Brother George that is offensive. Who do you think I am? I’m a Christian. I don’t want to do those things. I want to come to church and serve the Lord. Just like you do.”
Granddad’s smile got even bigger and he said, “That’s exactly right. You do what you want to do, because if you’re a child of God, what you want to do is what He wants you to do.”
Grandad’s point was made on me if not on Sister Spraggins. If you are a child of God you don’t want to sin, you want to live righteously because that is who you are now.
Transition: Next John is going to return to his favorite subject in this letter, Loving one another.
Walk Worthy By Loving One Another - 1 John 3:10–17
10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. 11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. 13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
Be True To God’s Love
John returns once again to this great concern he has for those he is writing and for those who would follow decades and centuries later, “this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
John had seen the bickering between the apostles while Jesus was still on the earth. He was there when Judas betrayed his Lord, and now at over 90 years old he had seen a lifetime of division, acrimony, bitterness, and recriminations that any church member sees between so called brother and sisters in God’s family. Now once again we read his heartfelt plea, “Love one another!”
The last apostle has lost his family, his friends, his brother James, his pastor Peter and oh so many others of that first generation of Christians. How it must have broken his heart to see this next generation turn on each other. He feels so strongly that he says its as bad as what Cain did to Abel. He says that if you hate your brother or sister in Christ then you are a murderer and there is nothing of eternal life in you.
John says, this is THE commandment, the new commandment of Jesus and it so important to John, that he states this is the way we can know we have eternal life, if we love our brothers and sister in Christ.
“By this we know what love is, He laid down his life for us, and we ought to be willing to lay down our lives for each other.” That’s love, that’s self-giving, self-sacrificing, agape love that can only be possible through our new birth and our new nature. What Jesus did for us we are now able to do for others. As it was in His nature as our Savior, it is now in our nature because that is the new you through Jesus Christ.
Transition: John has one final encouragement for this generation of Christians in vss. 18-23. He wants them to understand walking worthy of who means we actually do some walking, some work, some deeds.
Walk Worthy In Deed - 1 John 3:18–23
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
Be Obedient And Act
John tells them to make sure your walk is more than just an abstract, esoteric, philosophical walk. John tells them, when you walk as a child of God, you need to be doing something tangible. You need to be doing the deeds and working the works of God. It is not just a belief it in your head, it needs to be felt in your heart and it needs to show in your hands.
You know when you work hard on a house or property and it’s called sweat equity? Well this is sweat theology. John once again says this is a test. “herby we know that we are of the truth” In the same way that you can know you are a child of God because you love one another, here and by the same application you can know you are in the fellowship of God because your love isn’t just in words but it is in deeds.
John says this is part of walking worthy, an extension of loving our family in the Lord and it is vital because it give us assurance, confidence before Him.
Now listen to this next verse. I think it is one of the most important verses in the Bible when it comes to dealing with doubt and fear. In vs. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
John is telling them that if you are true to your heavenly family, true to your new nature, true to loving and forgiving one another, true to doing the deed, walking the walking, and working the work of the real Christian life, then we can have assurance, we can grade our own test paper and see that yes we pass.
But what happens when you don’t feel like you are aren’t passing? What happens when the doubts about salvation, eternal life, or the Bible creep in? Then John has this answer for them, for you and for me. “God is greater than your doubting heart. He knows all things. He knows you put your faith in His Son. He knows that you are His child. He knows your own doubting heart and He knows that one day the doubts will pass like clouds after a storm. God is greater than your doubts, God knows all things and He knows He has you in the palm of his hand even when you aren’t sure.
Hear this promise from Jesus as John heard it all those years ago. In John 10:28-29 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
Do you remember the questions that Jesus asked Peter at the last supper by the sea? Three times he asked him Do you love? Twice Peter replied, I love you. The third time Jesus changed the word from agape to phileo, it was like asking do you really love me at all, Peter? Peter’s heart is broken and the only answer he can give is “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You” (John 21:17)
Perhaps John might have been thinking back to an event that happened early in the disciple following of Jesus, when they were still more fishers of fish instead of fishers of men.
Illustration: Jesus stills the storm and the fear of the disciples
Mark 4:37-41 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
If Jesus stilled the storm on the Sea even when the apostles thought they were going to die, He will still the storms in your life, even if doubts and fear seem certain to take you down. God is greater.
That phrase in Mark 4:41, “What manner of man is this” is the same phrase John used to begin this chapter “Behold, what manner of love.” In Mark’s Gospel, John who was in that boat, was exceedingly afraid not of the storm but of the power of Jesus. After the storm he was astounded by the Lord’s power, but now in this letter, after a life of trusting and following Jesus, John is astounded by something even more amazing, His love.
Even though God is greater than our doubts, John says there is a good reason to overcome them and have confidence in God. 1 John 3:21-22 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
Walk worthy and you will have the confidence of being in God’s will and anything that you ask according to that obedient life God will give. One of the greatest hindrances to answered pray is not asking according to His will or asking with a heart filled with doubt. Confidence in God means confidence in prayer and that confidence comes from walking worthy as the child of God that you are.
We are going to use vs 23 as our conclusion.
After telling them confidence comes from following the Lord, John sums it up in 1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
Isn’t that a comforting truth? It’s not difficult to walk the Christian walk. It really just requires two things, the same two things that brought us to Christ in the first place, Faith and love. Faith in believing what Christ did for, in and through us and love the same kind of love that carried Jesus to the cross, the same love that rolled back the stone, the same love that sent the good news around the world, is the love we must have for each other.
If we just hold to Faith and Love, we will walk worthy for our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.