Bible Study Notes “Practice Makes” (07-05-09)

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Practice Makes….

PRACTICE MAKES…

1 John 3:4-10

This did not come about with much wrestling. This did not come without much pain. I have prayed that what is said here, as long as it lines up with Scripture, will do the work of a skilled surgeon in removing any cancerous growth of sin in your life. I do not bring this to cast any unnecessary doubt on your salvation. I bring this section of scripture to you because it is here. Because it is the inspired, inerrant, infallible, plenary, sufficient Word of God. Because “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,…” (2 Tim 3:16). This message challenges those who confess Christ yet live in patterns of sin. John tells them plainly, “You are not Christian. You are not saved. You are not God’s children. You are the devil’s children.” Now I must ask: What are you? What does your practice make you?

1) What is Sin 4-5 (sin is lawlessness/abuse of grace)

Define Sin (breaking of the law, treason against God,

The first thing that is brought to our attention is the definition of sin. What is sin? The Westminster Shorter Catechism rightly tells us this, “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” Sin is to be without the Law, without God’s perfect moral standard. The quickest thing that can jump to mind is “Well, if I am ignorant that something is a sin, surely God would not hold me accountable!” Yet, just as ignorance of the law is no excuse in an earthly court, so too the Bible makes no room for such excuses. Leviticus 4 and Numbers 15 lay down sacrificial rites in connection with unintentional sin. Nor is there any place for remaining ignorant of the law! In Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, the author poetically cries out “Teach me! I want to know every facet of your law so I may not sin against You!” God’s Word is our source for the definition and delineation of sins and we are commanded to study it, to live it, and to let it live in us. God’s Word is chemotherapy against the sin of cancer and acts by seeking out and destroying sin by exposing it to the light. What is sin? It is any want of conformity to God’s Word. All of Psalm 119 deals with God’s Word and its relation to revealing and healing sin. [[What would happen if we read the Bible and found that it was sin against a holy and righteous God to violate any law instituted by a government in so far as it does not violate God’s laws? Would we still think so lightly of break speed limits, run stop signs and refuse to wear our seatbelts? What would happen if we read God’s Word and found it sin to be lazy? Would we still think lightly of sleeping in for pleasure and sitting in front of the television or computer wasting our lives? What if we read God’s Word and found it sin to speak in gossip and slander? Would we still think lightly of preface conversations with “I shouldn’t really tell you this, but….” What would happen if we read in God’s word that we should not hold grudges? Would we still silently stew over those things that irk us? What would happen if we took the summary the Law “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt 22:37-39) seriously?]] God’s Word shows sin for what it is and in the words of John Bunyan, “Sin is the dare of God’s justice, the rape of His mercy, the jeer of His patience, the slight of His power, the contempt of His love!”

Sin has also been called “cosmic treason” (R. C. Sproul) and this too is sin rightly defined. God created the universe and all things in it. Indeed only God is uncreated. The entire universe is measurable by the span of his hand. Imagine, starting at one end of the universe and traveling at the speed of 670,616,629 miles per hour it would take you 20 BILLION YEARS to reach the other side! As a matter of perspective, it would take a little over a tenth of a second to circle the world at the equator. That’s the God we are dealing with. The universe and all creatures fall under God’s rule and God’s rules. God created the laws governing chemistry and biology and physics and astronomy. God fixed the orbits of the electrons around the atom and the orbits of the planets around the sun. He set the worlds into motion with a word and the stars in their places with a breath. He forms the boundaries of the seas and land and stops sky from encroaching on the highest mountain top. He commands the times and seasons for animals to live, reproduce, and die. He commands trees to grow and grass to wither. All these amoral agents do exactly as they are commanded by the voice and hand of the living God. The problem comes in with the moral agents… Moral agents are sentient and able to distinguish right from wrong. The first man, Adam, was told that right was to work the Garden, eat of any tree but one, and be fruitful and multiply. With these “rights” came obvious “wrongs.” We know the story well, the serpent lied to Eve and Adam. Adam, being the head of all the human race, fell into sin. He bought the lie that he could be like God. He bought the lie that said he could walk up to the throne of the God who measures the universe in the span of his hand and say, “Excuse me, you are in MY seat.” For any lay person to approach the head of state (president, king, dictator, etc.) and say, “No. I rule!” is treason. That is sin. Sin says to God, “I know better than you, my desires are better than yours, I rule the universe NOT YOU!” Treason’s penalties range from a scant 25 year prison term to death and the latter is the traditional punishment. So with God the punishment for cosmic treason was and is death. Upon Adam’s rebellion he and all who came after him (with 2 exceptions) died. Sin is death.

To make matters worse, this sin becomes a point of pride (a sin in and of itself) to the moral agent called man. We have people proud of their divorce, abortion, sexual immorality of most any stripe, thefts, covetings, idolatries, murders, hatreds, lies. Al Mohler said this recently, “The Bible allows no room for finding pride in sin.  Indeed, such pride amounts to further evidence that sin is deceptive and subversive.  Perhaps one of the most horrifying aspects of sin is just this — we will find a way to be proud of our sin and the sins of others.” It seems to be not only en vogue but honorable to see how hard one can slap God in the face and how much one can spit upon Him. I say without any hesitation that to defecate upon the very throne of the Almighty is not beneath any sinful man.

How can I make such a claim? Look at the history of sin. It begins… not with Adam! Look at 2 Peter 2:24, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;…” And Jude 6, “And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—…” How do we know they sinned first? Look back to Genesis 3. In the garden we find a serpent tempting Adam and Eve into rebellion. That serpent was empowered by Satan to do so. (Gen 3:15, Rom 16:20, Nu 22:28-30, Rev 12:9, Rev 20:2) So from whence Satan? Look to Isaiah 14:12-15:

“How you are fallen from heaven,

O Day Star, son of Dawn!

How you are cut down to the ground,

you who laid the nations low!

You said in your heart,

‘I will ascend to heaven;

above the stars of God

I will set my throne on high;

I will sit on the mount of assembly

in the far reaches of the north;

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;

I will make myself like the Most High.’

But you are brought down to Sheol,

to the far reaches of the pit.

The first sin came from Satan, in his anger and hatred toward God he struck out at the jewel of God’s creation, man. The origin of sin belongs to none other than Satan, Lucifer, the Devil. The universe is the creation of the Triune God. Sin is the creation of his enemy.

2) Walking in Sin 6-8 (walking v. stumbling)

The time bomb that John planted back in 1:6, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” It now goes off with the full force of nuclear weaponry with the exactness of a skilled sniper. If your life is marked by sin you are not a Christian. Let’s let the dust settle and clarify matters. There can be no true born-again Christian who walks in sin. Put to death any notion of loving some sin and loving God at the same time. Such an option is never given to us and pure stupidity. It has been since the beginning when the serpent tempted Adam and Eve to defy the Master. On the border of the Promised Land Moses says this (Dt 30:15-20), “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in(H) the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” Joshua then says at the end of his life (Josh 24:14-15), “14 Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” With Elijah on Mt. Carmel we hear (1 Ki 18:21), “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” Jesus tells us this: Luke 16:13, “No [slave] can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Walking in sin is proof positive you are not a Christian. You are a charlatan and you will hear Jesus say as you stand before him and call him “Lord! Lord!”, “Depart from me! I never knew you!” What does it mean to walk in sin? Simply, that there is something you do that you may plot, plan, or prepare to do which you know full well is sin. Not as a onetime event, but as a life-style. You are not fighting against this sin.  You are being led in chains as a beaten slave led by your master to get your wages. This is often times called a “pet sin.” A cute name for something so destructive and deadly. Sin is no pet. In deed the sin you cultivate, be it lust, pornography, sex, gossip, lies, slander, hatred, grudge-holding, murder, drunkenness, drug use, laziness…. Close it up while it is a young pup, keep it home safe. Let it grow by feeding it when it barks or whines. Spend time with it, play with it. This one grows quickly. But it does not listen to you. It controls you. The barks and demands for attention only grow louder. The time it takes to play with it will grow longer. Soon it will become obvious you have this pet. You must find ways to go feed it. It grows and becomes more and more demanding. It is always too late one realizes that the little pet which you held in your arms for comfort now owns you, controls you, and kills you. This is walking in sin, living your life so that you pursue sin rather than God. This is walking in sin, that if you sat down in silence and asked yourself, “Would I give it up?” The answer would come back, “No.” Why? Simple. You are not born again. Your nature is the same as it was when you were born. Though you profess your home is heaven your’s will be kindling in the fires of hell when the day of the wrath of God is revealed against all who trample upon His grace.

“Stop! You are robbing people of assurance!” Some cry. No! I am robbing them of FALSE assurance! Nowhere in Scripture can one be bent on sinning and be called a child of God. He is only called the Devil’s child. But you, dear Christian, who are indeed so, hear me. The falling into sin is vastly different than the walking in sin. A man who passes by a beautiful woman, has a lustful thought, and then quickly rejects that thought and by the Spirit kills that sin has stumbled. Sinned, yes, but he did not love that sin more than the God who created the universe. Peter, the famed apostle stumbled himself when he sided with those who said one had to follow the Mosaic Law in order to become Christian and Paul rebuked him accordingly (Gal 2:11). Did Peter walk in sin? No, the loving rebuke of a brother with the power of the Holy Spirit snapped him out of it.

3) What Stops Sin 9 (God’s indwelling/new nature/quenching the Holy Spirit)

Now, to you Christian I speak. How does one stop from sinning? First, the new nature given to us is the biggest help. One who has been born of God is now a new creation! 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” This new is “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4:24). Recall then how you were one day before God changed you. Recall how you were the next day. Recall how you were a year later. And two. And so on. Do you see it? Do you see the instant change and the constant growing? If you are like me you might say, “I’m a bigger sinner now than I was then! As each day goes by I become more and more aware of my sins. Things of which I didn’t think twice about I now find myself struggling with!” Yet the only thing one can do is remove the eyes from self and place them upon the glorious cross of Christ where all the sins of God’s elect are forgiven! So why would this constant conviction keep happening? It is the second thing to stop sin: The Holy Spirit (God Himself, third person of the Trinity) dwelling in us. As proof of our salvation (Romans 8:9, 2 Cor 5:5, etc.) Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” This indwelling gives us the strength and the power to overcome sin and it is only by this strength and power that we can! Romans 8:13 tells us, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Thirdly, this indwelling of the Holy Spirit does something when we do sin. It gives conviction of sin so that we may recognize it, repent, and avoid such sin again. 1 Thessalonians warns us “Do not quench the Spirit.” This does not mean act like the Charismaniacs and run about like decapitated chickens whenever the urge strikes, but to not suppress or ignore the promptings and the urgings of the Holy Spirit to avoid and kill sin. This is something that can either be matters of personal conscience or biblical mandate. In matters of personal conscience it is always wise to listen to these promptings the Holy Spirit knows us better than we know ourselves and something that would cause one brother to sin may not for another. Issues such as entertainment, to drink in moderation or not at all, which Bible Reading Plan to use, etc. all fall under the realm of conscience and should belong to the individual with any other individual ready to lovingly accept the conscience of another. Biblical issues include such things as regular fellowship and worship with other believers, prayer, evangelism, etc.

4) Evidence 10 (loving others = fellowship, evangelism)

Finally, the clear picture is this. If you are God’s your life is not marked by sin. If you are the devil’s your life is marked by sin. I hope and pray that you will examine yourself in this area to see whether or not you are in the faith. But just as NOT practicing sin is evidence of salvation so the love of other is evidence. First, the love of fellow Christians is proof. If you love God, you must love his people. The early church recognized this Acts 2:42 says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” The author of Hebrews says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb 10:24-25) The deep bond and joy of being with and serving other Christians: learning from the mature in faith, guiding the young in faith, and coming along side all those who are adopted into the family of God can be nothing but joy to the regenerate heart. Lastly, we must not only love the family into which we are adopted, we must love the human family. We do so by telling them the Truth. If you have been listening to this and are one of those walk in sin listen up close. The Truth we have is this: Though Adam sin entered the realm of man. And since all are children of Adam all inherit sin. The Law was given to point to the need of a savior. The prophets came to announce how to recognize him. When the time was right God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus, came to Earth and lived the perfect sinless life that no one could. Jesus spoke of the perfect standard of the Law the need for repentance from sin and the need to trust that Jesus Himself is the only way to salvation from sin’s just punishment of eternal death. At the end of his earthly service Jesus was betrayed by a close friend into the hands of those who sought his destruction. God the Father allowed it and in the process placed upon Jesus the sins of all who would turn from sin and believe upon Him. He was crucified, died, and buried. He suffered the full wrath of God for the sins of those who would repent and trust Him. Three days later he rose from the grave as proof that He defeated death, that He stands over sin, that He is salvation. It is my prayer now that the Holy Spirit be moving over your heart, convicting you of sin and bringing you to a place of repentance. If this is happening do not harden your heart and quench the Spirit, but turn from your sins and trust Christ as Savior now!

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