Thursday, June 25, 2015

Dangers to Avoid

Think about the choices that we make every day: vanilla or chocolate; fried or grilled; spend or save; whether to identify as white or as black; whether to identify as a woman or a man.

Some of these choices may only affect us for five minutes, others for an eternity.

Today we're going to discuss what John wrote about making good choices that lead to life in Christ and walking in the light.

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT

1 John 2:15-27

*** This is our third week to discuss the book of 1 John, a letter likely written by the Apostle late in his life.

*** John warns his readers about dangers believers face: Our relationship with "the world," and "antichrists." These are dangers to followers of Jesus today as well.

LOVERS OF THE WORLD (1 John 2:15-17)

15 Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.

*** John implores us to stay away from things that entice Jesus’ followers away from Him.

*** "The world."

--- What God created is good, and we are meant to enjoy the world as such (the beauty, the fellowship, etc.). But in this usage, “the world” refers to things that we do and create ourselves away from God's will.

*** John uses three lusts as examples:

--- Lust of the flesh - Whether it’s lusting over physical desires such as pornography or the Pizza Hut weenie wrap crust pizza, we have a lot of sinful appetites.

--- Lust of the eyes – The desire to acquire things, the fear of missing out.

--- Pride in one’s lifestyle – The search for power, seek your own ambitions or to be seen as better than others.

*** The world and God are at odds, and we must choose which we will follow. Matt. 6:24 - “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money." To love God is to deny that love to other things.

*** John made it clear in verse 17 that nothing in the world is worth giving up eternity.

*** Ask yourself: With which of the three kinds of temptation do you struggle most? What steps can you take to guard against falling to temptation?

ENEMIES OF THE GOSPEL (1 John 2:18-23)

18 Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard, “Antichrist is coming,” even now many antichrists have come. We know from this that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge. 21 I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Jesus is the Messiah? This one is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son can have the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well.

*** John warned his readers of lusts of the world, then those who promote them.

--- The second danger John warned about was "antichrists."

--- Many Christians view the term antichrist as a single individual near the second coming of Christ who leads people astray. Yet John referred to any person who leads people toward lusts of the world and away from love for Jesus. They are enemies of the gospel of Christ.

*** v. 22 - To deny Him is to be an antichrist.

--- Many “spiritual” persons believe that Jesus had great insight and did good deeds, yet they deny His deity.

FAITHFUL TO THE GOSPEL (1 John 2:24-27)

24 What you have heard from the beginning must remain in you. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that He Himself made to us: eternal life. 26 I have written these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie; just as He has taught you, remain in Him.

*** Remain in God.

John 15:4, Jesus says that if we remain in Him then He will remain in us. “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

--- Knowing the truth of God helps us remain true to God.

--- Knowing the truth of God helps a believer avoid being swayed by deceitful worldly offers based on the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or pride.

--- Knowing the truth of God enables a believer to have reassurance and confidence of salvation and God’s direction for their life.

*** Understanding our defense to antichrists is important, but we also need to know our offense so that we can advance the gospel.

--- The Holy Spirit keeps believers grounded in what is true. We should rely on the anointing we have from the Holy Spirit that provides guidance and counsel as believers interact with the teachings of others. The Holy Spirit is the Truth that leads us to Scripture and helps us understand God’s truth.

--- Remember last week we talked about recognizing counterfeit money. The key to identifying a counterfeit $20 bill isn’t knowing what a counterfeit looks like; it is in knowing what the authentic bill looks like. Those who chase down counterfeiters spend their time studying the real thing. Encourage group members to spend time studying God’s Word so they can spot the lies of culture.

*** Question – What can Christians do to advance the knowledge of Jesus Christ while defending the gospel in today’s world?

TAKE-AWAY POINTS

We get bombarded with promises every day:

“No one can beat our prices and service.”
“It’s so easy a child could do it!”
“Drop 15 pounds in a week!”

Some of them are only telling us half of the truth. They are not outright lying; they just aren’t telling us everything we need to know. Deceitfulness is all around us, to the point that we almost expect it and are disappointed when we don’t encounter it. This same skepticism impacts the church and believers. John gives us some help that will make it possible for us to live a godly life in a deceitful world.

*** Consider how worldly influences impact your life and seek ways to minimize these influences, replacing it with a godly influence.

*** Find ways to stop playing defense with your faith and play offense, taking the gospel to those who would deceive and be deceived.

--- 2 Timothy 2:15 - Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

*** Eternal life is found only in a relationship with Jesus. Period.

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