Skip to content


June 23 2024

Book: 1 John

Scripture: 1 John 2:18-3:10

Thank you for reading this sermon from Christ Fellowship. I hope and pray that this sermon will be a blessing of grace and truth to you. With that said, let me encourage you not to use this sermon as a replacement for your local church. Christ Jesus did not establish his Church simply for us to consume content. Instead, He calls us to be part of a real, covenant family. 

Let’s get back into 1 John.

18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

Some people think that John and the other apostles thought Jesus was coming back very soon, in their own lifetimes, and that this is an example of them being wrong. Clearly Jesus did not return soon, at least by our standards.

Instead, the last hour is better understood as the entire period of history between the resurrection and the second coming. We’ve been living in the “end times” for 2,000 years, which is nothing to God and nothing compared to eternity. And yet, the New Testament talks about it with a sense of urgency. The point being, don’t waste your time.

We also need talk about the word “antichrist”, which means “against Christ” or “instead of Christ”. John is the only person to use this word in the entire Bible. My belief is that John is simply referring to heretics or false teachers and those who follow them. And the very next verse supports that idea.

19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

There’s a lot of doctrine in this verse. First is the idea that people can be with us, but not of us. It’s possible to be a member of the church and not be a true child of God. We call this the visible and the invisible church. Only God knows who are truly saved.

Second is the idea that true children of God will persevere. God always finishes what He starts. True salvation can never be lost.

In context, John is trying to help this church understand why some of their members left. They were led astray by false teaching, and they became deniers of Christ. This is a church that split over heresy, something that has happened over and over again throughout history. Lest we romanticize the early church… but John offers some encouragement.

20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.

Anointed means “set apart or chosen for a purpose”. In other words, God picked you and you know the truth.

21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

This is an important verse. John is NOT writing this letter to cause everyone in the church to start doubting their salvation or to start a witch hunt for weak believers. He’s writing to encourage them in their faith, not to create more doubts!

22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.

This is a simple test of knowledge. Is Jesus the Christ? This is basic Christianity. But the people who left this church denied it, probably because of an early version of the Gnostic heresy. They denied that Jesus was God. And John says, they aren’t Christians anymore.

23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.

In other words, you can’t have a relationship with the Father unless you accept Jesus. To be clear, this test excludes Jews and Muslims from the kingdom. They claim to worship the same God as us, but they deny Jesus. John says, they can’t know the Father unless they embrace Christ.

24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.

John uses the word “abide” 16 times in this letter. It’s one of my favorite Bible words. It means to make yourself at home. Lay down roots. Stay put. Rest. “The dude abides”… if you get that reference, then you’re out of your element.

But read the verse again with that definition. Let what you heard from the beginning make itself at home in you. If what you heard from the beginning puts down roots in you, then you too will stay put and rest in the Son and in the Father. You’ll be at home with them.

25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.

You’ll be at home with them FOREVER! I want you to see something here. Once again, John moves from talking about an idea or a belief to a relationship… a fellowship. Safety. Permanency. Rest. In a word… Home.

Christianity is not just an empty set of beliefs. It’s life and light and love. It’s eternal promises that we begin experiencing now. Put down some roots!

26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.

27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.

In other words, be with Jesus now so that you will recognize him when he returns.

I love this quote from Herman Bavinck. “God is only known in proportion to the extent that He is loved.” Do you want to know God? Trust Him. Love Him. Abide in Him. Be with Him.

To illustrate, I want you to think of your favorite celebrity or athlete. I don’t really have one, but the Celtics just won the NBA Championship, and Jaylen Brown was the finals MVP, so I’ll use him as an example.

If Jaylen Brown is your favorite player, then maybe you know he’s from Marietta, Georgia. Maybe you know he played one season at California before entering the NBA draft where he was selected 3rd overall by the Celtics. You might even know that outside of basketball, Jaylen is a vegetarian and he loves chess. You can know a lot about him, but that doesn’t mean you know him. You don’t have a relationship with him.

And this is the point John is making. Knowing some things about Jesus does not mean you have a relationship with him. Doctrine without love is empty. Faith is a direct, personal knowledge of God. It’s not a cold, distant acceptance of truth that may change if someone convinces you otherwise. Do you know God? Do you love Him? How can you tell?

The answer is you will become more like him.

29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

You’ll become more like your Father in heaven by abiding in Christ, the righteous One. Just as every child takes on some of the traits and characteristics of their parents.

3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

John here begins to make a distinction between the world and the children of God. He’s describing what it looks like to practice righteousness. And notice the context is the love of the Father. Living a righteous life is somehow deeply connected to the love of the Father.

2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

God’s work in us is not finished, but He is transforming us – making us more like Him over time. The more we are exposed to the character of God, the more like Him we become.

3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

This is the opposite of righteousness. John defines sin as lawlessness. This is not making mistakes. This is willful rebellion… intentionally breaking God’s law. He’s making a distinction here between the sin we struggle with as believers and the sin that characterizes the world. Children of God do not practice, or intentionally and repeatedly break God’s law on purpose.

We fail, but we are burdened by our failures. It breaks our heart when we realize we have broken God’s law. We hate the struggle with sin. We know sin is a problem. The world does not.

5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.

6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

That verse, by itself and taken completely out of context, makes it sound like true Christians never sin. But John has already corrected that notion. He clearly teaches that Christians still sin.

The difference is conviction and repentance. Our relationship with God stops us and holds us accountable. Notice he uses the word “abide” again. If you’re at home with the Father, you’re not going to be comfortable with your sin.

Imagine watching something on TV that you know you probably shouldn’t be watching and then your mom or dad walks in the room. It would make you very uncomfortable. And that’s the idea here. Does your sin make you uncomfortable in the presence of God? If it does not, that’s a problem.

Let’s finish reading.

7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.

10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

John adds this bit at the end, loving your brother, as a further test of righteousness. It’s something we will look at closely in the coming weeks.

But I want us to see that there are only two groups of people here. There are children of God and there are children of the world, also known as children of the devil.

There’s no such thing as 50% child of God and 50% child of the devil. No one is 1% child of God and 99% child of the devil or 1% child of the devil and 99% child of God.

You are either born of God or you are not born of God. You are abiding with Him or you are not abiding with Him. You know the love of the Father or you do not know the love of the Father.

And I want to be clear, because this is easy to get twisted. John does not focus our attention here on outward signs of holiness. It’s tempting to make it about that, but that’s not his point. He is clearly talking about something that happens in the heart of a Christian – something only we can see on the inside. Are you comfortable with your sin?

If you are comfortable with your sin, then you are lost. You can’t be in the presence of God and be comfortable with your sin.

If you know God… if you love Him… then you will start to hate your sin. It’s not going to disappear overnight. And it won’t go away entirely until Jesus returns. But it will bother you. Your love for God will make you want to change. Knowing the Father’s love for you will make you want to change. That’s kind of the point of Christianity. Love demands sacrifice and sacrifice is uncomfortable.

My uncle Tim was recently diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. He’s almost 80 years old and he knows the Lord. But he’s also a perfect example of what I mean when I say that love demands sacrifice. Many years ago, Uncle Tim gave one of his kidneys to save his brother’s life. That’s not an easy thing to do. But some people do it – willing to sacrifice and endure pain because of love.

Imagine giving a kidney for a stranger! Very few people are willing to do that, but we have one in our own church. Now imagine donating an organ to an enemy! That’s crazy talk. What about giving up the life of your only son for enemies? Now you’ve arrived at the Gospel.

And if you love God, it’s because He loved you (an enemy) to the point of great sacrifice – enduring the pain of the cross and suffering the curse of sin and death for you. And John says He did that from a place of love for you and hatred of sin.

If you know that love, then sin will make you uncomfortable. As it should.