Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

1 John: True, Fulfilling Fellowship With God
Part IX: Identifying God's True Spiritual Fellowship By Its Righteousness
(1 John 2:29-3:9)
  1. Introduction
    1. True spiritual fellowship with a perfectly sinless God Who is perfectly separate from sin implies that the one who fellowships with the Lord must also be experientially righteous just as He is righteous.
    2. Thus, righteousness becomes a key evidence of true fellowship with the Lord, and we do well to focus on this truth for discernment regarding our lives and the lives of others around us (as follows):
  2. Identifying God's True Spiritual Fellowship By Its Righteousness, 1 John 2:29-3:9.
    1. If we know that God is righteous, then we also know that every one who practices righteousness is born of God, 1 John 2:29. This statement does not consider the fact that all believers can and have sinned as believers (1 John 1:8-10), but it claims that when one lives truly uprightly, we know he is a child of God.
    2. Upon thus considering the reality of the new spiritual birth in the believer, John called his Christian readers to consider the great love of the Father that produces this new spiritual birth in Christ, 1 John 3:1a.
    3. However, this new birth is not discerned by the lost world, for the world does not know God, 1 John 3:1b.
    4. Nevertheless, regardless if the world is not able to discern that we are God's true spiritual children, when Christ appears, we will be like Him in glorious appearance, a wonderful hope, 1 John 3:2.
    5. If a true believer adheres to this hope of eternal glory, it leads him to purify himself from acts of sin in his present experience that he might be as pure in his life as is his righteous Savior, 1 John 3:3.
    6. However, in contrast to such practical righteousness, John noted that whoever commits acts of sin violates the law of God, for sin by definition is lawlessness, 1 John 3:4.
    7. Such sin is a serious matter, for Jesus was manifested on the earth in His first advent to take away our sin, and in Him is no sin, 1 John 3:5. (Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, p. 894)
    8. Thus, no one who "abides" in God, namely, no one who fellowships with Him, sins in the process, 1 John 3:6a. "Sin . . . can never be a part of the experience of abiding in Christ." (Ibid.)
    9. In addition, whoever sins "hath not seen him (God), neither known him," 1 John 3:6b. This statement in this context does not counter John's 1 John 1:8-10 claim that all believers have committed acts of sin as believers, but it reveals that the new nature born of God in the believer does not and can not itself commit acts of sin, Ibid. The believer sins when he operates by his old sinful nature, 1 Corinthians 15:54-58.
    10. This fact leads to John's often misunderstood statements of 1 John 3:7-9, and we clarify these as follows:
      1. Some who claim the believer can lose his salvation hold that 1 John 3:7-9 teaches only if one acts with sinless perfection is he actually saved, that committing an act of sin causes one to lose his salvation.
      2. However, John already claimed in 1 John 1:10 that if we believers say we have not sinned as believers, we make God out to be a liar, and His word is not in us! Each believer as a believer has thus sinned!
      3. Thus, John must be addressing another subject in 1 John 3:7-9, one we explain as follows:
        1. The "antichrists" noted in 1 John 2:18-19 likely confused sin with righteousness (Ibid.), and the Gnostic heretics who plagued the Church about John's time had low ethical standards, Ryrie Study Bible, KJV , 1978, p. 1770, "Introduction to the First Letter of John."
        2. Thus, John's point in 1 John 3:7-9 was that righteous living rises from a new nature where sin rises from a sin nature and is of the devil, truths not to be compromised, Ibid., B. K. C., N. T. , p. 895.
        3. Christ also appeared to destroy the works of the devil, meaning to destroy all sin, 1 John 3:8b. Thus, that which is born of God does not commit sin, for the nature of God given to the believer at salvation (seed) remains in the believer as the new nature, and it cannot sin since it is born of God, 1 John 3:9. (Ibid., p. 895) [Only the sinful nature we inherited from Adam commits acts of sin!]
        4. John was stating that, opposite what the false teachers taught, sin is never of God as to its origin, but of Satan, and John's readers were not to let anyone persuade them otherwise! (Ibid.)
Lesson: True fellowship with God is a fellowship marked only and always by God's true righteousness.

Application: May we discern true and false fellowship with God by whether the party being evaluated is living in sin as disobedient to Scripture or in righteous as obedient to Scripture!