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1 John 2:28-3:3 "Abide In Him"

Text: 1 John 2:28-3:3

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

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

Two observations in verse 28:

  1. The key to facing Jesus confidently is to abide in Him

  2. Jesus Christ will return and some will shrink back in shame and others will have confidence

Our text begins by stating, “And now, little children, abide in Him”. ‘Abide’ means to continue, be faithful and to stand firm. Let’s begin by giving some practical ways that believers can ‘abide in Him’.

The first way that we ‘abide in Him’ is to receive Christ by faith and then continue in Christ by faith. Last week we considered the fact that the church in Corinth and the church in Galatia had struggled to abide in the message that they had heard. The Corinthians tended to believe anyone who preached a different Christ, a different Spirit, or came with a different gospel. The church in Galatia received Christ by faith but then they tried to perfect themselves by adding a law.

This week our Plethos discipleship group finished our last class. That last study was important. It began with these words, “Salvation comes entirely by the grace of God. It is important to note however, that just as we are righteous in Christ by grace through faith, so in the same way do we live out our righteousness: by grace through faith. Eternal life and the abundant life are both experienced by grace through faith.” (Plethos, p.120)

In regards to these things we can begin with two questions.

  1. First, Have I truly believed in Christ? Have I trusted in Him as the provision for my sin and do I live in total dependence upon Christ for my salvation? Can I say that I ha e a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

  2. Secondly, are you a believer who is continuing to walk each day by the grace of God through faith (Galatians 2:20)? Or have you begun to trust in yourself or something else other than Christ for your sanctification?

The second way that a believer can ‘abide in Him’ is to continue in His Word. We saw this last week in 1 John 2:24, “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He made to us – eternal life.

We are to abide in the teachings, the promises, the commands, the correction, rebuke and admonishments of the Scriptures. The scriptures are spiritual food for our souls and we need to take it in every day to grow and remain healthy.

The third way that a believer can ‘abide in Him’ is to be dependent upon the Holy Spirit who has been given to believers. We read in 1 John 2:27, “But the anointing that you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But His anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie – just as it has taught you, abide in Him.

This past week I listened to a wonderful sermon by Pastor David Ellis on Galatians 5:16-26. In it he brought out four main points concerning walking by the Spirit.

  1. The Christian who walks by the Spirit will experience an inner struggle with indwelling sin,

  2. The Christian who walks by the Spirit will experience positive change (fruit of the Spirit).

  3. The Christian who walks by the Spirit will experience a long process of sanctification.

  4. The Christian who walks by the Spirit will receive an invitation to submit to His work in our life.

The fourth way that a believer can ‘abide in Him’ is to abide in the fellowship of the church. John has already mentioned that there were some who had left the church in 1 John 2:19, “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.

However, consider what John will say to these believers in 1 John 3:14-18, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees His brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth.

It should be one of our greatest joys to gather together among other believers to fellowship, to worship the LORD, to sit under the ministry of the Word and the sacraments, and to see the LORD use each of us to minister and serve the body with the grace that the LORD provides.

Now let’s look at the rest of 1 John 2:28, “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.”

Here John reminds believers that Jesus Christ is going to return one day. This fact ought to engender hope and confidence in us. However, if we do not abide in Him we will not face Him in that moment with confidence but with shame.

James Montgomery Boice has said that the return of Christ is mentioned 318 times in the 260 chapters of the New Testament. Despite how much the scriptures speak about this event we often live as though it is hardly mentioned at all. (Dr. Peter Barnes p.58) If believers will hope in the Lord’s return and live with the reality that it could occur at any moment we will live far differently than if we do not have this hope before us.

As many of you know, I was raised by my mom. She was an amazing mother and I have nothing but respect and gratitude for all the things that she had to endure as a single mom of two boys. We did not always make being a parent very easy for her.

There is one memory of my mother that I can remember very clearly. My mom came up with this great idea to make doing chores at our house fun. She went to work one day while my brother and I were at home. But she wrote a clue and put it on the table for us to see. The clue pointed us to part of the house where a chore needed to be done. But the note promised that in the process of completing that chore another clue would be given. Eventually all of the chores would be completed and the prize would be found. My mom had intended to come home and find all of the chores done which would make her very happy. She thought that this would be a good motivation for us to do our chores and that we would have a nice reward at the end. It did not work out that way.

My brother and I ran to where the first clue had led us and began to look for the clue. We did not clean to find the clue. We did not follow the instructions very well. We simply looked for the clue. When we would find the clue we would go to the next area and do the same thing. We made our way throughout the entire house collecting the clues which eventually led us to the prize. She had bought us a board game to play. We loved the game. We spent the rest of the day sitting in a dirty house playing games and seemed to forget that at some point our mother would come home. When she arrived home I could see two emotions in her face: disappointment and anger. In that moment I felt ashamed.

John says that there will be two different reactions from people when the LORD returns.

  • Some will have confidence and not shrink back from Him.

  • Others will shrink back from Him in shame because they did not abide in Him.

Those who are confident when the LORD appears will have an unwavering, fearless and unhesitating confidence in their communion with God. They have fulfilled their duties and they have held fast to the hope of Christ’s return and as a result fear and anxiety is removed. This word is used of a person who is honored and has a right to speak boldly with a superior face to face. They are people who have been given a high rank and much privilege. When Christ comes they will draw near to Him.

Paul describes this type of Christian in 1 Corinthians 5:6-10, “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

In 1 John 2:29-3:3 we see four motivations for Christians to abide in a close relationship with God while pursuing a life that is righteous and pure.

  1. We remain in close fellowship with God by pursuing righteousness and purity because we know this is the character of God.

  2. We remain in close fellowship with God by pursuing righteousness and purity because of the great love of God.

  3. We remain in close fellowship with God by pursuing righteousness and purity because of what we will one day be like.

  4. We remain in close fellowship with God by pursuing righteousness and purity because of the purifying hope given to us.

Motivation #1 – We know the Character of God. John 2:29, “If you know (intuitively, perception of the mind) that He is righteous (upright and moral), you may be sure (know – through instruction and reflection) that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of Him.

The Puritan Thomas Brooks gives 5 attributes concerning true holiness.

  1. Our attention is given to the holiness of God.

  2. True holiness is diffused to our entire soul.

  3. True holiness is drawn to other holy people.

  4. True holiness always increases.

  5. True holiness will hate ungodliness.

The LORD and His holiness has captivated the attention of a believer and this produces changes in every area of their life. Believers quickly become aware that holiness is being diffused throughout all areas of their life. Or as one commentator put it, “Righteousness is not merely buried in our hearts; it also occupies our feet, hands, eyes and tongues.” (Dr. Douglass O’Donnell, p.94)

In 1 John 2:29 there are two different Greek words that are translated ‘know’.

  • The first word speaks of a knowing that comes through intuition.

  • The second word speaks of a knowledge that is given through instruction and reflection.

All people know certain things about God. Yet, an unbeliever suppresses this knowledge through ungodliness and unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). They will not choose to walk in God’s truth. However, a believer who has been regenerated has had their spiritual eyes opened to see the righteousness of God. That person will pursue holiness and sanctification. When a believer comes to the Scriptures they will submit to it and apply it to their lives. So we can know that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of God.

Motivation #2 – Believers have experienced the great love of God. 1 John 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.

Recently there has been a lot of talk about a couple in the royal family who are experiencing struggles with the royal family. They may have to give up their royal titles.

In contrast to that consider the good news that John reminds believers of here that they have been adopted and are now called ‘children of God’. The security of our relationship with the Father rests upon the work of Christ and the love of the Father. These things are so stable. Our emotions and our confidence may go up and down, but this relationship rests upon the unchanging nature and commitment of God who has given us such a great and amazing love.

Despite the stability of our new relationship with the Father and with other believers, there is something difficult that we experience as a result of this. The world no longer knows us, values our relationship with Christ, or understands the love we have experienced with the Father. John says, “The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.

This world loves successful business people, actors, and athletes. But those who are the children of God are often scorned and held in contempt. Although none of us likes to experience this we can know that God uses even these things to draw us closer to Him and to His people. Consider Psalm 123:3-4,

3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. 4 Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.

Motivation #3 – We know what we will one day be like Jesus. 1 John 3:2, “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.

When I was a child there was a time when I began to believe that I was adopted. Everyone in my family had black hair and mine was blond. Everyone else in the family liked Pepsi but I liked Dr. Pepper. At one point my brother began to tell me that I really was not born into this family. Over time my parents noticed that I was acting weird so they talked to me. I told them what my fear was and they began to promise me that I was truly their child. It seems unbelievable but it took me a while to believe what they were telling me.

I think of that as I read the apostles words here, “Beloved, you are God’s children now…”. You may not act like Christ, look like Christ, or respond like Christ in every moment. In fact, you may see more that looks like the world than what may look like Christ. Just like I needed my parents to tell me that I was truly their child we also need to here what John is saying here.

John began our text by saying that some will see Christ and shrink back in shame. Others will experience that moment with confidence. John’s words here should encourage us that we do not have to be perfect to have confidence. Our perfection will come when we see Him when He returns. In the meantime, we are like a bride who is preparing for their wedding day when the groom will arrive. And in the confident expectation of that day we purify ourselves and prepare. That brings us to the last point.

Motivation #4 – We have been given a purifying hope. John 3:3, “And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.” Our hope can be so confident because our hope is in Him. He can be trusted to fulfill every promise that He has made.

John 14:1-3 says, Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.)

Today is your heart troubled or hopeful? If you are troubled you have forgotten this promise or you have placed your hope in someone other than Jesus who is faithful.

We read Psalm 123:3-4 earlier but let me end this morning by reading the first two verses which will help us refocus our attention back upon the LORD. “To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hands of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till He has mercy upon us.


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