Lighten Your Load

Series: Preacher: Date: August 3, 2014 Scripture Reference: 1 John 5:1-12

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.
This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.
In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
For there are three that testify:8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.
Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:1-12

I am really burdened this morning! As I have studied this passage and hear stories of people around me struggling with their faith, I am burdened. I am burdened because I see this pattern of young people accepting Christ and being baptized and then a few years later they doubt their salvation. I believe there are many causes to blame for their struggle. Maybe one of the causes is the culture or the world. It keeps blaring a message that contradicts what we believe as Christ followers. Sometimes the lines get blurred and the truth is difficult to see because it seems so close to the truth.

In 1 John, John is writing to a church who is struggling with similar burdens.

I can imagine the people asking, how do I know that I have eternal life? John begins to answer this question by saying, believe in Jesus and obey God’ commands. 

I wonder if all they heard was…follow rules. God wants me to follow all these rules, what a burden!

But John reminds us that God’s commands are not a burden. If all we do is set out to follow some rules then we are not following Christ. We are following rules. That’s not Christianity! Christianity is not being religious! Christianity is about who’s you are. It’s about a relationship with Christ and belonging to a family.

John tells us that a faith commitment to Jesus Christ is a new birth. As we read the Bible we can understand that we enter into a spiritual journey by coming to a faith commitment to Jesus Christ that totally reorients our life.

When we are born again, this makes God our Heavenly Father. God adopts us into His spiritual family. We become sons and daughters of God and this ensures our security and future in His family. That is where we get the position of a relationship with God.

This new found relationship with God should be lived out of love for our Heavenly Father. It’s a love relationship. John also tells us that our love for God should lead us to a love for His other children as well.

Throughout the Bible there is a connection between loving God and loving others.  Jesus said, the great commandment is to love God with everything and love others as yourself (Mark 12:28-31).
Our love for God is intimately tied to our love for other people. This is why the church exists to help people love God and others. It’s the evidence of true devotion to Jesus Christ.

Love is an expression of our obedience to God’s commands.

Some of us do not like hearing the words, “obey” and “command.” They do not sound very relational. But John tells us that obeying God’s commands is how we express our love for God.

Jesus said, if you love me, you’ll obey what I command (John 14:15). God commands are relational. Because we are naturally bent to sin, when we are born again, God begins to transform us through our relationship with Him. He commands us because He loves us and He is leading us relationally.

Maybe our tendency is to think that God’s commands are too burdensome. I have heard people say that church is all about rules. If they become a Christian they will have to follow God’s rules.
God’s commands are to protect us and to make our burdens light.  Jesus said, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

Obeying God’s commands are burdensome when we tie our own rules of legalism on to them. The religious leaders of the time would create rules for not breaking the rules. This made following God’s commands burdensome to the people. Jesus accused the religious leaders of tying heavy legalistic burdens on the people’s backs.

Obedience to God’s commands is not burdensome.

By following God’s commands we will be protected from a painful and difficult path. Our culture promises freedom if we disobey God. But if we follow God’s commands about sexual purity, and the sanctity of human life, it will save us from a life of wounds, disease, not being trusted, life in prison for murder and hating ourselves.  Dallas Willard writes, “To depart from righteousness is to choose a life of crushing burdens, failures, and disappointments, a life caught in the toils of endless problems that are never really solved” (The Spirit of Disciplines).

You can see that God’s commands are principles that He has woven into the fabric of life. His commands are good and obeying His commands will lighten our load.

Apollo 16 Mission Story…
General Charles Duke was one of those who walked on the moon during the Apollo 16 mission. He was asked at a dinner engagement if he wished, when he was on the moon, he could stay out a little longer or go a little further. Duke said he thought a lot about that and would have done so if he did not want to get back to earth. He said everything about being on the moon and getting back to earth safely totally depended on his implicit and complete obedience to NASA. When he and the crew landed on the moon, they had sixty seconds worth of fuel left for takeoff!

Obeying commands can save our life. The reason God gives us His commands in the first place is because He loves us.

Remember the church that John is addressing in his letter? They were discouraged by the pressure to disobey God’s commands. They were discouraged by the false teaching that was tearing apart their relationships. They had once been a close knit community of Christians that looked more like a war zone of conflict and controversy. They were carrying around bitterness, and resentment. They were so beaten up they felt like giving up.

Have you ever felt like that?

John reminds us that the people of God, who have been born into God’s family, are overcomers. John uses this word “overcomer” four times in 1 John. The Greek word used here is the same word a famous shoe company gets their name, “Nike.” Nike means victory. For those who have placed their faith in God are victorious, over the culture they live in.

John is telling his friends that they have the victory, because of their faith in the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus overcame the world by conquering death on the cross and rising from the grave. He lives eternally with The Father in Heaven.

When we place our faith in God we can claim the spiritual victory and lighten our load on the spiritual journey. John say’s, whoever has been born of God has conquered the world by faith in Jesus Christ.
Faith in Christ gives us victory over the world.

Notice that John does not say that we conqueror the world by escaping the world. This view tragically forgets that the world is not only outside of us, but also inside of us. So, withdrawing from the world does not get rid of the world. God teaches us through His Word that Christians are to be in the world, but not of the world.

In 1 John 5:6-12, John is giving further evidence to help Christians know for sure who Jesus is. He gives three elements to confirm God’s testimony of Jesus’ deity.

The Gnostics had created this division of flesh and spirit through their false teaching. They taught that Jesus was just a good man and Christ spirit descended on Him at His baptism, making Him the anointed One of God. The false teachers also claimed that Jesus died as a mere man, not the God-man whose sacrificial death atoned for the sins of all who would ever be justified.

Can you see how the twist details that can create confusion at the core of our faith? Any teaching that denies the efficacy of Christ’s substitutionary atonement is a satanic lie. Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sins. (Romans 3:25, & Heb. 2:17)

John addresses an important theological point with the phrase “not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood.” If Jesus did not possess His divine nature on the cross, Jesus could not conquer sin and death for believers. The truth is, He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21).

John points out three witness’s to the truth of who Jesus Christ is to combat the false teachers. The First first witness was water. At Christ’s baptism, God the Father gave testimony of who Jesus was at the water. God spoke and said this is my son.

The second witness that John points out is the blood. The blood represents Christ’s death on the cross. There was an interaction between Jesus and the Father. One commentary states that there was a “supernatural darkness, symbolizing the Father’s forsaking of the Son as sin-bearing sacrifice.” Jesus cries out “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) When Jesus died on the cross the veil in the temple was split in two.

The third witness that John mentions is the Spirit. The Father testified to the Son through the ministry of the Spirit, who is the truth (1 John 5:6). The Holy Spirit is the source and revealer of divine truth. (1 Peter 1:12 & Acts 1:16) The spirit was at Jesus conception, baptism, temptation, and throughout His ministry.
John gives proof of God’s testimony of who Jesus Christ is. He is God’s Son. He is the perfect sacrifice for your sins and my sins and He took our place on the cross, so we may be forgive of our sins and live eternally with God.

If you have Jesus Christ, you have life.

How do you know you are saved? How do you know if you have eternal life?

Believe God’s testimony of His Son. That Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the grave to take way your sins. Surrender your life to Him in love and obedience.

What do you need to let go of today to lighten your load? God invites you to trust in Him.

God’s free gift of salvation is for you today, will you receive it?

Heavenly Father,
Thank you for John’s reminder to love you and others. Help us to obey Your commands and help us to claim the victory over this world through faith in Your Son, Jesus. It is in His name we pray, Amen.

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