THE FAITH THAT SAVES (and the faith that does not)
Text: I John
The purpose of John’s first epistle is to help believers to know for certain of their salvation and eternal life. He spells this out in the thirteenth verse of chapter five. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13) Throughout the letter he encourages the readers to examine themselves, and he provides several “tests” to determine if they are indeed saved.
Test YOUR faith “That you may know you have eternal life”
An admission of a continual struggle against sin. (1:8-10)
An obedience to His commands (2:3)
The practice of righteousness, by loving others (2:9-10)
The manner with which sin is dealt (3:4-10)
When he writes about self-examination he challenges believers is several ways: (1) regarding their sins; (2) regarding their obedience; (3) regarding their righteousness and love. In this passage he encourages them to test themselves regarding their practices. Has unrighteous behavior become a normal part of their lives? What are their normal practices? Are they righteous or unrighteous? Are they truly repentant and struggling against their sin?
Get the right Understanding
When John uses the verb “sins” or “practices sin” or even “practices righteousness” in this passage it is most often in the present participle tense, meaning continuous and repeated action.
As students of the Word we need to be careful regarding the reading of this passage. It would be too easy to imply that a true Christian can never sin, taking some of these passages at face value. However, a careful study will show that John is talking about continual repetitive sinful behavior. A Christian will not embrace a pattern of continual sin.
John’s clear teaching Christians DO NOT practice sin
Because it is acting contrary to God’s law
He came to take away sin, releasing us from the bondage to sin
Because it is contrary to the work of the Spirit within you
Christians do not willfully engage in continual sin. They will not (cannot) because of three reasons: (1) Sin is against God’s Law; (2) Continual sin denies the power of Christ’s work to defeat and destroy the works of the devil; (3) Repetitive sin is contrary to the work of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.
What is your practice?
Saving Faith Fruitless Faith
Faith in Jesus Faith in a prayer
Repentance from sin Unrepentant
Obedience to the Word Disregard for God's Word
Desire to be Christlike Continual sinning
Opposing the world Embracing the world
Resisting the flesh Living according to the flesh
Trusting Jesus Assuming forgiveness
Righteous Living Unrighteous life
We ought to examine ourselves, and our faith. There is a belief and faith that leads to life, and a faith that is dead. Which we hold is evident in what we practice. Fruitless faith, dead faith, is a belief that saying the “right prayer” is all that is required for me to be saved. It is banking on a religious tradition, rather than trusting in a Person to save you. Fruitless faith is a faith that seeks forgiveness, but not cleansing from unrighteousness. It is an attempt to avoid punishment, but to still be driven by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. It is a faith that desires forgiveness while embracing the world. The Bible does not recognize this as a faith that saves.
Saving faith, living faith, working faith, is a life-giving trust in Jesus Christ. It is a firm belief in the reality of the historical sinless Jesus, who died a substitutionary death on the cross, who was buried and rose again to life, and who lives today, standing at the right hand of the Father interceding for those who truly trust Him. It is a living and life-transforming relationship that is real and personal.This new life is evidenced in the desire for righteousness, a commitment to love, an obedience to the Word of God, a resistance to sin and the lusts of the flesh, and a growing intimate relationship with The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The POPULAR Deception
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
It is unbiblical to teach that sins are forgiven, whether or not they are forsaken. Belief in the reality of Jesus and what He has done is insufficient for salvation. The demons know much more about Jesus than we do, they even believe the truth about Him, but their existence is marred by a desire for unrighteousness, and they stand opposed to all He does. (James 2:19) Saving faith is more than intellectual assent to religious propositions. It is a dynamic relationship with God through the work of Jesus Christ and manifested by the indwelling of His Spirit. This new relationship is life-transforming. The “believer” whose personal practices and life are not transformed, has not likely experienced the relationship that is the mark of true salvation.