Preached at the San Diego Rescue Mission on Wednesday morning, November 1, 2017.
Maybe you’re like me… you can’t stand hypocrites. People that say one thing, and do the other. They’re like actors, playing a part. You think you know them by the things they say, but when you see who they are behind the mask, it’s a different story. Too many Christians are this way. You shouldn’t just talk about Christ. You should be about Christ.
One day when I was in the Police Department, I came to work and found out that one of the officers in the Narcotics Division was arrested. I said, “PO Smith” (name changed) “was arrested? What did he do?” When I found out, I was shocked. “He was selling weed.” Really? Good! You think you don’t like crooked cops? There is nothing a cop who is trying to do his job the right way dislikes more than a crooked cop. A crooked cop in the Police Department is like that guy in your room who is hiding the unauthorized cell phone. Here you are trying to do things the right way, and this guy comes along and makes everyone look like criminals. It makes our job harder, and makes us all look bad.
I once got a call about domestic violence. The woman described to me that her boyfriend was a Corrections Officer, and was beating her. I came back to the precinct, and wrote the report. I had to call Internal Affairs, because the guy was a Corrections Officer. The woman on the other line was speaking in a soft voice, like she was concerned that someone would hear. I said, “Yeah, this guy is beating his girlfriend, and take my name down!” I wasn’t going to try to protect this guy. Hypocrites make things bad on everyone.
But, too often in our Christian life, we act like hypocrites. We go to church on Sunday, but in our job sites, and around our friends, do we act like Christ? Does the love of Christ come out of us by the things we do? Are we kind and loving to others? Do we treat others with forgiveness? The world doesn’t need any more Christians that talk about Christ on Sunday, and act like the world on Monday. We can’t just talk about Christ. We need to be about Christ.
John makes that point in 1 John 3, starting in verse 16.
Christians should love sacrificially.
The first thing that John points out is that Christians should love sacrificially. Christians should love sacrificially.
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 1 John 3:16-17
John says that we need to be willing to love like Jesus loved. Jesus loved sacrificially. Jesus loved when it hurt. Jesus gave all that He had to save you and me. Jesus laid down His life for us. His love was perfect, and pure. He said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus loves you with a perfect and pure love that drove Him to the cross. Because of His love, He gave up His life, so that you can have life through Him.
If Jesus was will to lay down His life for us, we should be willing to lay down our lives for our brothers. We need to be willing to love when it counts. We need to love when it hurts.
There are a lot of stories of hero soldiers at war. When soldiers are at war, they are fighting for their country, and they are also fighting for their brothers around them. A 19 year old Army Pfc. Ross A. McGinnis was manning a gunner’s hatch in Iraq, when an insurgent threw in a grenade into the truck. In order to save the lives of the other men in the truck, Pfc. McGinnis jumped on top of the grenade, and pinned it down. His duty and His love saved the lives of the other four men who were in that truck.
The Christian life is a battle. In obedience to Christ, we tell other people about Him. In obedience to Christ, we love others. He gives us the power to love. We see how He gave up His life for us, and His love motivates us to love with all the strength that we have for others.
There was a movie in the 70s called, “The Cross and the Switchblade.” It was the true story of a pastor named David Wilkerson. In the movie, David Wilkerson went out to one of the most dangerous gangs in New York City, and preached to them. He met a gang member named Nicky Cruz. Nicky pulls out his switchblade, and tells David, “You come near me and I’ll kill you!” David Wilkerson responded, “Yeah, you could do that. You could cut me up into a thousand pieces and lay them in the street, and every piece will still love you.”
How can we love our brothers sacrificially? One way John says that Christians should love is through generosity. “Whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” The love of God is shown through our actions.
If we make possessions more important than people, what kind of love is that? If I have enough to feed five people, and you come up to me hungry, but I don’t give you food, how can I have the love of God? The love of God comes out through us. The love of God sees you in need, reaches out, and helps. Whatever we have, our energy, our talent, our time, someone is in need of us. Someone is in need of what God has given us. Love reaches out to the hurting, and gives generously.
Christians should love sacrificially.
Christians should have confidence in Christ.
Second, Christians should have confidence in Christ. Christians should have confidence in Christ.
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 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. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. 1 John 3:18-24
The first thing John says is that Christians should love not just in words, but should show their love through their actions. Actions speak louder than words. A Christian should not just talk about Christ. He should be about Christ. All of the things we do should be a gospel unto themselves. People should see the effect God has had on us by the way we live.
Instead of telling someone they have to change, be the change for someone. Model it by the way you live. Do you want people to be kind to you? Be kind to others. Do good to others. Give someone the seat, while you stand. Be willing to really listen to someone. Be kind to someone you don’t like. Encourage someone. Ask someone if you can help them. Be the loving person in your family.
John says here that love in action gives us confidence before Christ. We can start to see the change that God has made in our hearts through the love that He pours out of us. We know of His work in us through the evidence of love in action that comes out of us. We love because He first loved us.
We have confidence in Christ through love in action. We also have confidence in Christ through keeping His commandments. He lists these commandments as the commandments of Christ: to believe in the name of Christ, and to love one another.
What does it mean to believe in the name of Jesus? The idea here is not simply in knowing His name. It is in giving His name authority. It is in surrendering to the authority of Jesus Christ. He is God, and came in the flesh to free us from our sins. Believing in Jesus is making Him the Lord of your life. It is surrendering completely to Christ, giving Him your all. It is saying, “Jesus, you be the captain of my ship, and ruler of my life. I surrender. Take full control, and be my Lord.” We must believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Surrender to Him, and give Him the proper place as ruler and God.
We are also reminded again to love one another. Jesus said to love God with all of your heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. We can be confident in God’s work in our life through our love for Him, and our love for others.
We have confidence in Christ through love in action. We have confidence in Christ through keeping the commandments of Christ. And we have confidence in Christ through the affirming presence of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible says that when you believe in Christ, the Holy Spirit becomes a present and active part of your life. The presence of the Holy Spirit is a difficult thing to try to explain to the unbeliever. The Holy Spirit works in the experience of each of us. RC Sproul once said that explaining the Holy Spirit to an unbeliever is like trying to explain a rainbow to a blind man. I think John Wesley probably gave the best explanation of what the presence of the Holy Spirit is like. John Wesley said that,
About 8:45 p.m. “while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
God works in each of us individually. He knows how to get our attention. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit becomes a real presence in our life. When I became a Christian, I became excited. I felt this love growing inside of me. I wished I could reach inside of me, and pull out the Holy Spirit and say, “Here it is!” God is real. When you put your faith in Christ, He becomes a part of your life. You have confidence in Christ through the affirming presence of the Holy Spirit in your life.
Christians should love sacrificially. Christians should have confidence in Christ.
Christians should recognize the truth of Christ.
Third, Christians should recognize the truth of Christ. Christians should recognize the truth of Christ.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:1-6
John warns his readers not to believe everything they hear. Christians need to recognize truth from fiction.
He says that many false prophets have gone out into the world. They are people who are looking for power for themselves. They talk about Christ, but they are not about Christ. They use all kind of tactics and schemes. They say things that sound good, but are not based in scripture. They lure people in who do not know the truth about God in His word. God has revealed what man needs to know about Him in scripture. False prophets take advantage of people who do not know the truth of God’s word. We need to know God’s word to protect ourselves from false prophets. We must test what we hear with the truth of God.
John gives us instruction on how to identify false prophets. “Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.” The idea of Jesus coming in the flesh comes from the gospel of John 1:14, where “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God came in the form of a man, to save us from our sin. He is saying that any spirit which does not confess that Jesus is God, is not of God.
Islam is the second-largest religious tradition in the world. There are 1.6 billion Muslims around the world. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 49 different countries. Yet Islam is a religion started by a false prophet. Islam teaches that Jesus was not God. It teaches that Jesus was just a prophet, like Abraham and Moses. It teaches that Muhammad is the ultimate prophet. It is a religion built on lies, yet it fools 1.6 billion people in the world because of their lack of knowledge of God’s word. They are lost because they do not recognize the truth of Christ.
They are lost, but they don’t have to be. John says here that the truth of Christ overcomes the lies of this world! The world speaks in lies. Whether it’s the lie of Islam, the lie of Atheism, or any other lie, the truth of Jesus — that God came as a man, died on the cross, rose again publicly, with power, that He has the power to change your life if you believe in Him — that truth overcomes all of the world’s lies. You have truth to overcome, because “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
Fred (name changed) gave a great testimony a few weeks ago here publicly, that I want to share again with you guys. He said that he was walking down one of the streets nearby here, and found a full bottle of alcohol, still with the cap on. He saw it, and the lies started pouring in. “I could drink this whole bottle, or sneak it in the Mission, and no one would know.” Then he threw away the bottle, and ran. He said the devil will try to trick you. I see it differently. God has been working in your life. God’s truth overcame the lies of this world, because greater is He that is in you, then he that is in the world.
You have spiritual victory over deceit. It’s time to recognize the truth of Christ. That truth needs to work in you, and through you. You need the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, that only comes through faith in Christ. The world doesn’t need more people that just talk about Christ. You need to be about Christ. You need to be about Christ’s love. You need to be about Christ’s power. You need to be about Christ’s healing mercy. You need to be about Christ’s forgiveness. Don’t just talk about Christ. Be about Christ.
Christians should love sacrificially. We need to love with everything we have. We need to love until it hurts. Christians should have confidence in Christ. Showing love in action builds confidence, as we surrender our lives to Him. Christians should recognize the truth about Christ. We don’t live according to the world’s lies. We live according to the truth of Christ.
The world doesn’t need any more half-hearted, not fully into it Christians. We are in a battle that has already won. We have the truth of Christ on our side. We have spiritual victory in Jesus. There is nothing that can stop you, until God takes you home.
The world needs Christians who are strong, who are full of the love of God. It needs people who are kind, who are generous, who have surrendered all to Christ, and let Him live the love of God through them. Don’t just talk about Christ. Be about Christ.