When we look at letter from Yochanan known as 1st John, we see a startling statement:
1 John 2:6 (CJB)
6 A person who claims to be continuing in union with him
ought to conduct his life the way he did.
This is an If / Then statement:
“IF” a person (says, speaks, claims) to be (in union with, abiding in, dwelling, enduring, continuing, remaining) in him or with him,
“THEN” that person (is indebted, ought to, owes, is obligated) to (walk, go about, conduct oneself, live) as HE (walked, went about, conducted himself, lived).
The logic of this is inescapable. It is sound – it is lucid – it makes perfect sense! Nods of affirmation are easy to come by. After all, He is the word, He is the truth, He is the life . . .
However, problems arise when we start comparing HIS life to our own lives – when we compare how HE lived HIS life to the way that WE live OUR lives.
And yet, we are told in this simple declaration from Yochanan that we are INDEBTED to live as He lived – that we are OBLIGATED to walk as He walked. If we are going to CLAIM that we are in union with Him, then . . .
I am going to ask some startling questions of my own in relation to the above verse from the text. These questions may not be comfortable. In fact, it is my experience (more times than not) that people do one of two things when I ask them:
- They get angry
- They rationalize their behaviors/actions (attempt to make the unreasonable sound reasonable)
To do this, let’s bring Yeshua (Jesus) into 2013 so that we can visualize the ramifications of the lives we are living contextually to the above verse. Let’s pretend for a moment that He is alive and walking the earth as a man today – in this age instead of 2000+ years ago.
Shall we start with some simple questions to get warmed up?
- 2500 sq-ft home with a mortgage, lawn service, 2+ baths, 3 bedrooms, hardwood floors and a bay window – – – would he have one?
- Church on Sunday (maybe small group on Wednesday too). Would this be his life? Would he volunteer to bring the bagels and dough nuts? Maybe serve as a greeter at the door?
I am not trying to make little of these things. I am trying to get you to think beyond the life YOU live, to contemplate the life HE might live were he here now, so that you can consider the verse above in a meaningful and thought provoking way. Let’s ask some harder questions that are based on conversations I have had or things I have heard from those that claim to be in union with him . . .
- Would Yeshua watch School of Rock and proclaim in church to other believers how funny and talented Jack Black was? How cool Jack Black was?
This happened to me with a worship pastor. If you haven’t seen that movie, there is a short video (3+ minutes) called: Prop 8 – The Musical that also stars Jack Black (as Jesus), Neil Patrick Harris and John C Reilly. I warn you before watching it, that it is irreverent on many different levels. So I will ask a simple question before those that choose to watch it do so:
- Would Yeshua watch the video below and say, “That Jack Black is a funny guy!?”
If the above video doesn’t unblur the lines concerning Jack Black . . . contrasting how Yeshua would conduct his life vs how we conduct ours, then I am not sure I can ask any other questions that will be any more compelling . . . but I will try because it is important – so very important!
- Would Yeshua conduct his life by attending a Black Sabbath concert? Would he rave about how cool Tony Iommi’s guitar riffs were? Would he hold his hand up in the horns sign as they played Sabbath Bloody Sabbath or Iron Man or War Pigs? Would he lament about Ozzy leaving the band? Would he have long discourse with others over how they began as the band Earth?
I am sorry if this is jarring. How about Halle Berry? ABC News reported that she got a $500,000 bonus to her 2.5 million salary to bare her breasts in the movie. In an interview with Cinema.com, she states it is “totally not true” and that she “would sell these babies for way more money.”
- Would Yeshua purchase a ticket to this movie? Would he watch it?
You see, it is easy to say something isn’t really a big deal until we consider the way Yeshua would conduct his life if he was here in the flesh today. And yet, many claim to be in union with him while doing these very things. Yochanan deals with that too when he states LIAR! LIAR! Pants on Fire!:
1 John 2:4 (CJB)
4 Anyone who says, “I know him,”
but isn’t obeying his commands is a liar
— the truth is not in him.
We are talking about obeying his (commands, orders, decrees, injunctions) – literally commandments as in :
Matthew 5:19 (CJB)
19 So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot (commandments)
and teaches others to do so
will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven.
But whoever obeys them and so teaches
will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
This is important for those that think the Torah – instruction – law is no longer applicable. Notice the context:
Matthew 5:17-18 (CJB)
17 “Don’t think that I have come
to abolish the Torah or the Prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to complete. 18 Yes indeed!
I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away,
not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah
— not until everything that must happen has happened.
Only one question need be asked: Has heaven and earth passed away?
So what does the word complete here or “fulfill” in most other translations mean? The word they are translating is πληρόω plēroō . It means: to make full, to accomplish, to bring about, to place on firmer footing.
In both secular and Biblical Greek, plēroō carries the idea of attaining a standard of measurement or reaching the saturation point or level of containment. The idea of totality or fullness is always present. Thus, the word means “to fill something completely” or “to complete a measure” (cf. Liddell-Scott).
New Testament Usage
Jesus came not merely to maintain the law of God but to fulfill it completely (Matthew 5:17). He is the actual embodiment of the ideal stated in the Old Testament institutions and revelations. The full measure appointed by God himself was reached in Christ.
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “3997. πληρόω,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Pi-Rho, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “3997. Ï€Î»Î·Ïá½¹Ï‰”.
In fact, Yochanan tells us a WAY WE CAN BE SURE WE KNOW HIM:
1 John 2:3 (CJB)
3 The way we can be sure we know him is if we are obeying his commands.
This isn’t the only time that Yochanan cries LIAR! LIAR! Pants on Fire! Notice the following:
1 John 1:6 (CJB)
6 If we claim to have fellowship with him
while we are walking in the darkness,
we are lying
and not living out the truth.
Contextually, there is a reason for Yochanan’s stand here that can NOT be argued. Notice the context:
1 John 1:5 (CJB)
5 And this is the message
which we have heard from him
and proclaim to you:
God is light,
and there is no darkness in him
If we are walking in darkness, we are not in union with him because there is NO DARKNESS in him! The text couldn’t be more clear. Sadly, people twist this to justify their lifestyles just like they did when Yochanan wrote this letter.
Yochanan says if you claim to be in union with him while hating your brother – LIAR! LIAR! Pants on Fire!:
1 John 2:9 (CJB)
9 Anyone who claims to be in this light
while hating his brother
is still in the dark.
Are you starting to understand the message here? If not, then this next one is going to be a to be hard to ignore because Yochanan says if say you are in union with him and you love the world or the things of the world, LIAR! LIAR! Pants on Fire!:
1 John 2:15 (CJB)
15 Do not love the world
or the things of the world.
If someone loves the world,
then love for the Father is not in him;
If you deny that Yeshua is the Messiah? LIAR! LIAR! Pants on Fire!:
1 John 2:22 (CJB)
22 Who is a liar at all,
if not the person who denies that Yeshua is the Messiah?
Such a person is an anti-Messiah
— he is denying the Father and the Son.
Yochanan explains something that is also hard to ignore – – – CONTINUAL PURIFICATION which in Greek is the word ἁγνίζω hagnizō:
1 John 3:2-3 (CJB)
2 Dear friends, we are God’s children now;
and it has not yet been made clear what we will become.
We do know that when he appears,
we will be like him;
because we will see him as he really is.
3 And everyone who has this hope in him
continues purifying himself,
since God is pure.
Let me ask you something? Why do we have to do continual purification? I know, I know, it is in the verse above. I am just checking to make sure you saw it because it is very important to understand: BECAUSE GOD IS PURE! Worldly is NOT pure! Love of the world means no love of God. God is light and the world is dark – – – worldly is darkness. There is no darkness in God – He is light – He is pure . . .
The following is just one of the ways to purify yourself:
1 Peter 1:22 (CJB)
22 Now that you have purified yourselves
by obeying the truth,
so that you have a sincere love for your brothers,
love each other deeply, with all your heart.
- to claim to be in union with him while impure is lying.
- to claim to be in union with him while while not trying to conduct his life like his is lying.
- to claim to be in union with him while hating your brother is lying.
- to claim to be in union with him while walking in darkness is lying.
- to claim to be in union with him while loving the world and things of the world is lying.
- to claim to be in union with him while not purifying himself continually is lying.
Now Yochanan gives us a sock in the gut – especially if we think we can willfully sin with no consequences:
I am going to give you several versions of the text because it is important:
1 John 3:4 (CJB) 4 Everyone who keeps sinning is violating Torah — indeed, sin is violation of Torah.
1 John 3:4 (NIV) 4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.
1 John 3:4 (AMP) 4 Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violating of God’s law by transgression or neglect—being unrestrained and unregulated by His commands and His will).
1 John 3:4 (KJV) 4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
1 John 3:4 (NASB) 4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.
The NASB version of the text follows the Greek in stating “practices” or ποιέω poieō. This is a important word to understand because in the Greek it has a connotation of creating:
In classical Greek the verb poieō primarily means “to make” or “to do.” It frequently appears in relation to man and his work, e.g., the making of a grave, the building of a house or temple, or the production of a work of art. In Greek mythology poieō describes the creative activity of the gods (cf. Liddell-Scott).
New Testament Usage
Poieō can have a wide variety of meanings depending on its object, e.g., “establish” peace (James 3:18); “prepare” meals or banquets (Luke 14:12); “produce” fruit (Matthew 3:10); “practice” virtues (John 3:21; 1 John 1:6); or “commit” sins (John 8:34).
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “4020. ποιέω,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Pi-Rho, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “4020. Ï€Î¿Î¹á½³Ï‰”.
Yochanan continues by explaining further. In fact, he cries LIAR! LIAR! Pants on Fire! again:
1 John 3:5-6 (CJB)
5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins,
and that there is no sin in him.
6 So no one who remains united with him
everyone who does continue sinning
has neither seen him
nor known him.
- to claim to be in union with him while willfully sinning is lying.
Yochanan gives us a 2nd litmus test – this time so that we can tell the difference between:
- God’s children
- The Adversary’s children
What is this litmus test? Again I will use several versions:
1 John 3:10 (CJB) 10 Here is how one can distinguish clearly between God’s children and those of the Adversary: everyone who does not continue doing what is right is not from God. Likewise, anyone who fails to keep loving his brother is not from God.
1 John 3:10 (NIV) 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:10 (AMP) 10 By this it is made clear who take their nature from God and are His children and who take their nature from the devil and are his children: no one who does not practice righteousness [who does not conform to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action] is of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother (his fellow believer in Christ).
1 John 3:10 (KJV) 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
1 John 3:10 (NASB) 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
“Practice Righteousness.” The Greek word for righteousness is δικαιοσύνη dikaiosunē. It is used to translate many Hebrew words including Tzedakah which has the meaning a justice that results in aiding those in need – acts of charity.
Yochanan is saying:
- to claim to be in union with him while not practicing charity is lying.
- to claim to be in union with him while not practicing justice is lying.
Yochanan is saying that if you say you are in union with him and do not do theses things: LIAR! LIAR! Pants on Fire!
Every one of the versions above say NOT OF GOD! A child of of the Adversary . . . the devil if you doesn’t help his brother out – love his brother as himself – practice charity – justice. The text couldn’t be more clear.
Brother and sisters, I am sorry if you have bought into the “I was saved” momentary salvation thesis that requires nothing from me anymore since once I am saved, I am always saved. That was a teaching of John Calvin called Perseverance of the Saints or Eternal Security. I am not here to debate Calvinism as many of my brothers and sisters in Messiah follow Calvin’s teachings. What I can tell you is this:
Salvation is not static, it is dynamic. It is a relationship with our savior that requires us, as you learned above, to continually purify ourselves since he is pure. It requires us not to hate our brother . . . I won’t go over them all again other than to say the following:
- You are either turning to God from sin or turning to sin from God
- You are either walking in the light or walking in the darkness
- You are either living the truth or living a lie
Cain came to God on his own terms instead of God’s terms. I have even heard more than one pastor say that Cain was saved since God put his mark on him . . . read the following verse and tell me what you think:
1 John 3:11-12 (CJB)
11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning:
that we should love each other
12 and not be like Kayin,
who was from the Evil One
and murdered his own brother.
Why did he murder him?
Because his own actions were evil,
and his brother’s were righteous.
And if you say you are in union with him but without love, LIAR! LIAR! Pants on Fire!:
1 John 4:8 (CJB)
8 Those who do not love,
do not know God;
because God is love.
In fact Yochanan proves to us that if we don’t love our brother that we are liars in a simple, logical and elegant way:
1 John 4:20 (CJB)
20 If anyone says, “I love God,”
and hates his brother,
he is a liar.
For if a person does not love his brother,
whom he has seen,
then he cannot love God,
whom he has not seen.
And for those of you that think you no longer have to follow his commands which are his laws, precepts and commandments, Yochanan calls us out yet again with yet another litmus test:
1 John 5:2-3 (CJB)
2 Here is how we know that we love God’s children:
when we love God,
we also do what he commands.
3 For loving God means obeying his commands.
Moreover, his commands are not burdensome,
- to claim to be in union with him while not obeying his commands is lying.
Most people I know think they can be worldly and be saved – that they can be in God’s presence and walk in darkness even though he is light – that they can be impure even though he is pure – that they can love the world . . . that they can do these things and be in union with him. Yochanan says NO! You can’t! He says to think you can is to be a liar. He says:
LIAR! LIAR! Pants on Fire!