The Truth We Need

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1 John 1:5-2:2 || April 14, 2024

To understand this text, you have to understand a little bit about what was going on in the region where 1 John was first directed, probably the region of Ephesus. And there was a false teacher named Serenthas who had shown up. And Serenthas’s message was the same as what you would see as a headline on the National Enquirer. The Bible has a secret message. Secret message revealed to you. You’ve seen that, haven’t you? You’ve heard that, haven’t you? And I bet you for some of you who have more gray hair on your head, like me, you’ve seen it a lot of times, haven’t you? So it must be a seller. It must get people’s attention. You see, the reality of the fact is the reality is that the Bible’s message is actually quite simple. Hold that thought. We’ll get into it more over the course of the sermon. But the Serenthas’ message was this. You’ve got to have this special knowledge. And if you have this special knowledge of the Bible, then everything will be great. And here’s part of the special knowledge. Part of the special knowledge is that Jesus wasn’t really God. Jesus was just a man. And that when he was baptized, the Father poured out this sort of Christhood character thing onto Jesus. So Jesus got extra power and he was able to do miracles and stuff as he lived his life. But then when it was time for him to die, the Father took that Christhood thing back. Said on the cross, it was only a human being. You know what the problem with that is, don’t you? If that’s only a human being there on the cross, then you have no salvation. Because only if it’s the God-man there on the cross, only then can there be full salvation for the sins of the whole world. Only then can there be full forgiveness for all of the sinners in the world, people like you and like me. So how does Serenthas deal with it? Well, he basically denies the reality of sin. How does he do that? He says, well, the flesh doesn’t really matter. You see, this flesh life is just kind of illusory. It’s just sort of an illusion. And so it doesn’t matter what you do with your flesh. As long as you have this special knowledge of knowing who Jesus really was, as long as you know that your flesh doesn’t really matter, it’s all okay. Well, what did that mean? That meant that you could do anything with your flesh that you wanted. You want to be a drunk? Go ahead, be a drunk. You want to abuse your body with drugs? Go for it. You want to sleep with prostitutes? Hey, that’s good, because the flesh doesn’t count for anything. You ought to be an arrogant jerk? That’s fine because the flesh doesn’t really count for anything anyway, Serenthas was saying. Can you imagine how appealing a message like that would be to sinful human beings? Wait, I mean, I can go out and be stupid and arrogant and immoral and run wild and just party because my flesh doesn’t count for anything? Serenthas would say, yeah, go for it. Was Serenthas helping people? Not at all. What Serenthas was doing was he was leaving them in total eclipse land. The eclipse was cool, wasn’t it? Tom and Carolyn were down where there was a total eclipse. Alex Paffenroth was down in Kentucky where there was a total eclipse. Seeing their pictures is just crazy. There’s total darkness in the middle of the day. But would you want to stay that way? No, I kind of wanted the sunlight back. Amen? Amen. And Serenthas’s message would have left people in darkness, and so John has to take it on. And he begins his epistle by saying, we have heard Jesus. We have seen him with our eyes. We have touched him and felt him. Serenthas, you’re saying that the flesh doesn’t count for anything. I disagree. Because Jesus came in real flesh. He was a real human being. We could hear him with our ears. We could see him with our eyes. We could touch him with our hands. He was a very real human being who lived a very real life, died a very real death, and rose a very real physical human actual resurrection. That’s why I started the sermon the way I did. Then he goes on. God is light. In him, there is no darkness at all. I couldn’t help thinking about a time in Tennessee. I may have shared this story with y’all already. If I did, I apologize, but it still makes the point. Have you ever been at a place where it was just absolutely completely and totally dark? We took our youth group on a caving trip one time. And when we were way back in this cave, we had everybody turn off their lights. The darkness was amazingly thick. I stuck my hand this far in front of my face and could not see it. I knew it was there. I could feel it. I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see it. It was just like this oppressive blanket was upon us. It was, I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. And then I turned on just one little headlamp. I should have brought it today. Turned on just one little headlamp thing that we wore on our heads. This little flashlight about yea big didn’t throw off hardly any light, but man, it was amazing how it lightened up the whole cavern. I could see the kids. I could see the outline of the cave. Oh, it wasn’t bright, but just a little bit of light drove out that darkness. What’s the darkness? The darkness is sin. The darkness is unbelief. And the darkness is ultimately death. The wages of sin is death. What you and I deserve from God is death. And not just temporal death, but eternal death in hell. That my, brothers and sisters, is darkness. And so thank God that we read in our text was what, not was what. God is light in him. There is no darkness at all. God and his word and his work have the ability to forgive your sins, to drive darkness away. So if we say we have no sins, we deceive ourselves and the truth isn’t in us. Serenthas was lying to people, leaving them in darkness. By contrast, whenever we confess our sins, what will God do? He’s faithful. And just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Wait a minute, that God is just to do that?Yeah, because when Jesus died on the cross, remember what was going on on the earth? Darkness. Because the wages of sin being death was poured out upon Jesus, the savior in its fullness. And because God justly punished Jesus, now God can justly say to you and me, I forgive you because forgiveness was one for you. My brothers and sisters, John went on to say, I write this to you so you won’t sin. Serenthas is telling you you can go out and do whatever you want. But God says something else. God says he wants you to walk in the light. He wants you to follow what Jesus says. He wants you to love him and to show love to one another. That’s what God wants, that you walk in the light even as he is light. But whenever anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, that one who we saw with our eyes and heard with our ears and felt with our hands, we have a very real savior who pleads your case at the throne of the Father. And his death, one forgiveness of sins, not just for a few. But for the entire world. At the end of the day, my brothers and sisters, the message is pretty simple. You and I are sinners who have messed it up. We need a savior. In Jesus, you have exactly the savior whom you need. One who even now is pleading your case. In the throne room of God. Sinner that I am, I have the forgiveness that I need. Let the tabloids throw out their secret knowledge stuff. You know the reality. Jesus has died. Jesus has died. Jesus has risen. Jesus will come again to take you to be with him in heaven. That my brothers is the truth. And that’s the truth that we need. Amen. And Amen.