Preached at the San Diego Rescue Mission on Wednesday morning, September 13, 2017.
Are you tired of feeling defeated? This is the second, third, or tenth time you’ve attempted to get ahead. You’ve tried before, and failed. You’re tired of feeling like you’ve let others down. You’re tired of feeling like you let yourself down. Your tired of being tired. I want you to know that the will of God for you in your life is not defeat. The will of God is for you to have victory in Christ.
Will Smith starred in a film called the Pursuit of Happyness. The movie is a real life story about a guy named Chris Gardner. Chris invented a medical scanner for doctors, but the scanners weren’t selling well. Chris ends up getting arrested the night before an important interview. He makes it to the interview after spending a night in jail, still in his shabby clothes. Somehow, he gets the job, an unpaid internship with a brokerage firm. His wife can’t take the unpaid internship, gets tired of the financial stress, and leaves Chris. She leaves him with their son.
They end up homeless, spending nights in public bathrooms, and in shelters. At the internship, he doesn’t tell anyone that he is homeless. He gets down to twenty-two dollars in his bank account, and a co-worker asks to borrow five dollars for a cab. He gives the man the five dollars. At the end of the movie, Chris ends up getting the job at the brokerage firm.
Sometimes when we are feeling defeated, we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can’t figure out why we are going through what we are going through. Things may not seem fair. We can’t see how God is working all this out. God did not create you for defeat. The will of God is for you to have a victorious life in Him.
In 1 John 2:12-17, John talks about the victory that we have as believers in Christ.
You have victory in Christ over sin.
The first point John makes is that you have victory in Christ over sin. You have victory in Christ over sin.
I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one. 1 John 2:12-14.
John has told us about following Christ’s commandment to love one another. He talked about those who walk in the dark, versus those who walk in the light. A Christian is one who loves people. Now, he is going to talk to us about the power of being a Christian. There is a real consequence to knowing God. We now have victory through Christ over sin.
He knows the church he is writing his letter to. There are new believers, people still young in the Lord and some believers that have matured in the Lord. First, he assures new Christians that your sins are forgiven in Christ.
Sometimes we doubt God’s forgiveness. We put our faith in Christ, but wonder, “Does God really forgive me?” Or, we mess up after we become a Christian, and feel that God must be fed up with me now. Does God really forgive us our sins? John assures the Christians that their sins are forgiven for the name sake of Christ. The reputation of Jesus our King and Lord says that the forgiveness of sin is eternally complete. Christians can be confident that their sins are completely forgiven in Christ.
A preacher named Dwight L. Moody said, “The voice of sin is loud, but the voice of forgiveness is louder.” When God forgives, it is forever. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” your sins are over. He has taken them on the cross for you. When you put your faith in Christ, your sins are forgiven.
John reminds us that we know Jesus Christ, the eternal God, and He makes us strong! We are not strong in our own might or power. We don’t have the power to live this life on our own. We are God’s creation. We need God’s eternal power and loving strength to keep us strong. Knowing God keeps us strong.
We’ve all heard that it’s not what you know, but who you know. To some extent, there is truth to that. If I’m best friends with the store manager of a Walmart store, it’s going to be easier for me to get hired there. If I’m friends with the Walton family, the owners of Walmart, it will be even easier. I can get hired anywhere in the Walmart organization. I’m still limited to the Walmart organization, but I’ll have a good job there. But, if I’m best friends with the President of the United States, President Trump, I’ll have great connections. I can get hired in a lot of different companies and government organizations. There’s truth to the importance of knowing people.
God invites us to know Him. The Bible says that we need to believe in Jesus, and that by believing in Jesus, we can have life, real life, through Him. When we believe in Jesus, the Bible says that the Spirit of God abides with us. When you put your faith in Christ, you know God. If we want to live an exciting life, a victorious life, we need to believe in Christ. Knowing God will keep us strong.
God gives you strength as His word abides in you. John says, “I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you…” (1 John 2:14). God gives us strength as His word abides in us. We need to meditate on His word, and internalize it. Joshua encouraged the people of Israel to meditate on God’s word. He said, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).
As you spend time daily studying and meditating on God’s word, He prepares you for a victorious life in Him. When a rough time comes, when trouble comes, God will bring up scripture to your mind and heart. When you worry and anxiety hits, you will remember how God takes care of His creation. You will remember that Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow, for today has enough trouble. When you are grieving because of the loss of a loved one in Christ, you will remember that they are going to a place of no more crying, or sickness, or pain. When things are rough, you’ll remember that He promised, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). You will live a victorious life in Christ when His word abides in you.
John tells us that in Christ, we have overcome the wicked one. The idea of Satan might make you uncomfortable, but there are fallen angels, one known as Satan. From the beginning he tempted Eve in the garden, and he continues to tempt men into disobeying God. Men are responsible for their disobedience before God. But, knowing Satan’s schemes is important. The devil works to drive men into sin. We must defeat his temptation.
When you are in Christ, you already have had all the victory over the devil, because Jesus defeated him at the cross. You are victorious in Jesus Christ over temptation. You don’t have to fall into temptation. You don’t have to live the life you lived. You don’t have to fall back into drugs, or alcoholism. You don’t have to be a liar, or an adulterer. The strength of Christ is greater than any temptation you will face. Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). The closer you walk with Christ, the stronger you will be in defeating temptation. Jesus will carry you through, always and forever.
You have victory in Christ over sin.
Live for what is eternal, not for what is temporary.
Second, John encourages us to live for what is eternal, not what is temporary. Live for what is eternal, not for what is temporary.
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. For all that is in the world– the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life– is not of the Father but is of the world. 1 John 2:15-16
John speaks of not loving the world. By “the world,” he is referring to a world system that is against God. There is a system of rebellion in the world that is against all that God stands for. People are lured by a world system that is tempting them to break the commandments of God. God says not to commit adultery, something Jesus says includes lust. The world system does the opposite. It encourages people into all kinds of immoral sexual behavior. God says not to murder, something Jesus says includes hating your brother in your heart. The world system encourages hatred. It says that you need to get your respect, and fight others who disrespect you. The world system encourages people to break God’s commandments.
The world system is like that guy who insists on doing everything opposite of what you tell him. If you tell him to where a white shirt, he wears a black shirt. If you tell him to go right, he goes left. If you tell him to walk forward, he walks backward. He does everything in his power to do the opposite of what you say. The world system is like that. It insists on breaking the boundaries of God’s design for man.
And what has the world system given us? A system that disobeys God’s law brings nothing by chaos. We have rampant pornography and drug use in our world. People are filled with hatred towards each other, and towards God. The world system, the system that fights against God at every turn, is destroying people’s lives.
John defines the world system from three different areas: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
What is the lust of the flesh? Lust is a strong desire, a passionate craving for something. People in the world have a strong, passionate desire coming from within their bodies to break God’s law. Think of the alcoholic. When an alcoholic has been without alcohol for a while, they become fixated. They focus on getting that next drink. It doesn’t matter how many times their doctor or family members has told them that drinking is going to kill them. It doesn’t matter the chaos that happens to the people around them from their drinking. There is a laser focus inside the body of the alcoholic to getting that next drink. They will manipulate people, steal, do what they need to do, to get that next drink. Their body is demanding that drink! The lust of the flesh is like that next drink for the alcoholic. There is a laser focus on breaking the commandments of God, because the flesh desires it, and wants it.
Paul said that, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh…” (Rom. 8:5). And what are the things of the flesh? They are the things that our sin nature desires because it seems to bring a temporary pleasure. The pleasure never has good results. Instead, what that momentary pleasure does is create chaos in us and around us. The lying, cheating, adultery, dishonesty, discord, all create chaos. They are the things that create broken families, addictions, and broken relationships. Paul says,
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:5-6
We have a choice on what we set our minds on, and what we have a laser-focus on. People criticize Christians for being “too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.” In reality, if my mind is not set on heaven, I will be no good to anyone here on earth! My mind and my heart needs to have a laser-focus on fulfilling the will of God in my life, on following Christ! It is when I am led by the Spirit of God, not my flesh, that I will see peace flourishing in my life. A life fixed on the lust of the flesh bring chaos. A life focused on the Spirit of God brings peace.
What is the lust of the eyes? The world system entices people. Peter said people have “…eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls” (2 Peter 2:14). We see things that we want, and are lured by it. We need to have it! We are seduced by something we imagine will make things feel better. We get fixated on it.
Advertisers understand the lust of the eyes well. When the new iPhone comes out, they have a big event. They produce elaborate videos about all the craftsmanship that went into it. It’s the thinnest phone yet, with the newest, state of the art chip, and the most amazing graphics. It’s the fanciest phone ever made! The message is that your phone in your pocket, the one were happy with yesterday, is now outdated and old. You need the newest thing!
Then you go to the Apple store, and there it is, the new iPhone. You put your phone next to it, and your phone looks ancient compared to this. This new iPhone promises to make your life so much better! The thought of owning this new iPhone seduces you, and your sucked in.
You buy the phone, and it’s fun. Then the consequences begin. Your paranoid about the screen, so you buy a fancy case. You walk around with the phone glued to your face because you can’t stop looking at the graphics. You realize that you have this huge phone bill to pay now. And what will happen in a year? The phone will old. There will be some new phone, that will cost you more money. Once again you will feel that you need it, because you imagine this time, your life will be better. The lust of the eyes entices people, and disappoints them.
John talks about the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes. He also talks about the pride of life. What is the pride of life? It is a type of boastful arrogance. James talked about “you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:16). The pride of life says that I am the captain of my ship, and no one is going to tell me what to do! It is being unable to admit when we are wrong, no matter how wrong we are.
We see this all the time. “I don’t know why I’m at this stupid program. I’m here because the court made me come. I don’t have a problem. Sure, I do drugs once in a while, I like to party, but I don’t have a problem. My girl stresses me out, so I use to deal with that. I don’t have a problem, so don’t bother me.” Our pride always gets in the way of us living the life God wants for us. It wars against our soul.
How do we avoid the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life? It starts with submitting to the will of God. Humility is hard, but we need to be humble. We need to get the focus off ourselves, and instead focus on what God wants for our lives. And what does God want for us? He wants us to live sanctified lives through Christ. Peter said, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Pet. 2:11-15). We need to treat people well. We need to love people, and do good to them. We need to forgive others, be a healer, a light in the darkness, a witness for Christ by the way we live our lives. We avoid the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, when we submit our lives to Christ. Daily submit to Christ, letting Him do His good work through you.
You have victory in Christ over sin. We need to live for what is eternal, not for what is temporary.
The will of God for you leads you to eternal victory.
Third, the will of God for you leads you to eternal victory. The will of God for you leads you to eternal victory.
And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:17
All the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is put in perspective when we realize that this world is passing away. What matters is what is eternal. What matters is where we are in this life with God. Do we push Him away? Or do we seek Him through faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ? Do we do the will of God by putting our faith in Jesus Christ?
There is only one way to God. Jesus said, “”I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9) We don’t get to choose how we get to God. There is only one path, one way. We might ask, “What does God want me to do? What is God’s will for my life?” It is very clear in the Bible. Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29). We need to believe in Jesus. We need to put our hope and our faith in Him. When we see Christ on the cross, we see God’s forgiveness. When we see His resurrection, we see the new life that Jesus brings.
Are you tired of feeling defeated? You don’t have to be. We have eternal victory in Christ. We have a new life, that can start today, if you believe in Christ. The victory in Christ starts today, and goes on forever. “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
Sin is the killer of mankind. But praise God, you have victory in Christ over sin. We need to remember to live for what is eternal, not for what is temporary. Living for God is about the eternal victory that we have in Christ.
In Christ, you have a new life, and a new hope. The world system will try to bring you down. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, war against your soul. It is tempting you to get away from what you need. The real need for mankind is the eternal hope that we have in Jesus. Put your hope and trust in God. Live for His eternal kingdom. Submit to Christ, and let Him be the King and ruler of your life. Trust Him, today.
God does not want you to be defeated. In Christ, you have the victory. Remember that the will of God is for you to have victory in Christ. Live in His victorious life.