A “Lackawanna” Lifestyle – [Part Two]

Study Verses: 1 John 3:1-9

WHAT “LAWLESSNESS” ISN’T:

I left off in PART ONE– A “Lackawanna” Lifestyle– on Lawlessness; what it is and what it isn’t.  Lawlessness, pure and simply stated is… “open rebellion against God; having no regard of what GOD thinks or says”:

Those who sin are opposed to the law of God, for all sin opposes the law of God ~ 1 John 3:4.

The Amplified Bible says it this way:

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 commandments and His will).

If we’re really saved, we won’t do that–“practice sin”.  We may disobey GOD once in a while, but a true believer won’t practice sin.

“Steel Guitar Blues”

I can remember when I was about 12 years old, I begged my parents for an Electric Steel Guitar.  Not just a ‘plain old guitar’ but a “Steel Guitar”.  So, they decided to grant my request with the following conditions: “We will get you a “used” one first.  Then, after lessons and ‘practicing diligently’, maybe, just maybe we will get you a newer one with a guitar stand.”

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My First Guitar

My first guitar laid across my lap!  Bummer!!  What will my buddies think?  They won’t think I am playing the ‘genuine’ instrument–without a stand?

If you want to get really good at doing something, you need to practice.  I never liked to “practice”, so the lessons stopped and so did my guitar playing.

If you keep on practicing sin–lawlessness–you will become really good at it.  Do you have an instrument used for sin; laying there on your lap, or if you are really good at it…on a display-stand so everyone can see it?  Do we know someone who says they’re Christian, but keeps on practicing open sin?  John says they aren’t saved!  A true believer can’t do that.

Why not?

John’s 2-part Answer:  1st, we don’t have to sin.

You know that He [GOD] appeared in visible form and became Man to take away [upon Himself] sins, and in Him [JESUS] there is no sin.      (verse 5).

JESUS died on the cross to take away our sins.  And, because He had no sin, He could pay sin’s penalty.  Our sin is gone!

JESUS also took away the power of sin over us.  It may be alive in us, but we’re dead to its power over us:  “No one who abides (LIVES) in Him keeps on sinning.”  (verse 6 (a)).

We don’t have to practice sin anymore.  Why won’t a true believer keep on sinning?  Here comes a terrific Theological Answer to the question:  FIRST, John says… you don’t have to.

There’s a 2nd part of John’s answer–

“No one who [habitually] sins has either seen or known Him [recognized, perceived, or understood Him, or has had an experiential acquaintance  with Him]”  (1 John 3:6 (b)).

A TEENAGER’S DILEMMA:

A group of teenagers were enjoying a party [we’ve probably all been there and could tell some stories!].  Someone in the crowd suggested they all go to a certain “restaurant” and have a really good time!

“I’d rather you took me home”, the girl said to her date.  “My parents don’t approve of that place.”

“Afraid your father will hurt you?”  One of the girls asked sarcastically.

“No, I’m not afraid my father will hurt me.  But I am afraid I might hurt him!”

She understood:  A true child of God knows Father God–

—  They see and know His love.

—  They love God and in loving Him, they don’t want to sin against His love.

Now we have John’s 2-part reason why true believers can’t keep on sinning:

—  1st, they don’t have to.

—  2nd, true believers won’t want to.

When it comes down to practicing righteousness, God’s love HEALED their “Lackawanna”.

GRACE SOMETIMES CAN BE MISTAKEN – (verse 7 (a)):

“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray”

Some in John’s community were arguing over what God’s GRACE meant–it didn’t matter that they kept on sinning.  John is warning us– That isn’t true!  Choosing to do what’s righteous matters!

HOW? – (verse 7 (b).):

“He who does what is right is righteous, just as Christ is righteous”

Has there been a CHANGE in our lifestyle since we were SAVED?  Or, are we still practicing sin?

John is saying we were we were never SAVED if there is no change!  And even more, we’re supposed to be changing for the better– forever.  The apostle reminds us in the Book of Romans,

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, be be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will”  (Romans 12:2 NIV).

That “renewing” Paul is talking about, isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime event.  It is ongoing–everyday of your life happening.  I think that it is the second most important decision you will ever have to make in life; next to your decision of accepting JESUS as Lord and Savior.

We ought to be making PROGRESS…

WHY?  (verse 8):

“[But] he who commits sin [who practices evildoing] is of the devil [takes his character from the evil one], for the devil has sinned (violated divine law) from the beginning.  The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done].”

SATAN (the devil) holds the lost in his power-grip.  A Christian is held by Christ’s POWER.  When a lost person is found–becomes a born-again Christian–Satan’s power is broken.  They don’t have to practice sin any more–and they don’t want to!

JESUS Sets Us Free!

JESUS promised,

[34] “I assure you, most solemnly I tell you,  Whoever commits and practices sin is the slave of sin.  [36] So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free”  (The Gospel of John 8:34, 36 AMP).

If JESUS sets us free from the slavery of practicing sin, we won’t practice sin anymore–no lessons, no instruments available for sinning when we don’t practice.

Just the opposite, we’ll be working hard at becoming more Christ-like.  We’ll love Him too much not to!

GOD PLANTS THE SEED OF JESUS:

“No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him  [His principle of life, the divine sperm (seed), remains permanently within him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born of God”  (verse 9).

In every christian, the SEED is planted.  It’s done at our REBIRTH.  His seed (His holy nature) can’t sin.  And, at our rebirth, we receive a new nature–Christ’s.

His nature can‘t sin because…He can’t.  Whenever we do sin, it’s our old nature sinning.  When we die, our old sinful nature (attached to our sinful physical body) will die too.  It was predestined long ago.

In Christ JESUS, it was put to death at Calvary.  But it’s taking a long time to die.  When JESUS takes us home, all that will be left is our new nature.  The lost (the unsaved) have only the old nature that has never been put to death.  So it still lives to rule and reign in their hearts.  It will have to be JUDGED–THEIR UNRIGHTEOUS SEED IS ALL THEY HAVE.

A Good Tree and its Fruit–

Our study has been focused on 1 John 3:1-9, but I couldn’t stop at verse 9, I had to include verse 10:

“By this it is made clear who take their nature from God and are His children…”

Can there be any doubt on how we live our lives becoming a SALVATION issue?  John isn’t saying it’s our deeds that save us.  BUT, he is saying clearly what JESUS said in Matthew 7:17 and Matthew 12:33:

“Either make the tree sound (healthy and good), and its fruit sound (healthy and good), or make the tree rotten (diseased and bad), and its fruit rotten (diseased and bad); for the tree is… know and recognized and judged by its fruit”  (Matthew 12:33 AMP).

Every Good Tree Bears Good FruitA “good tree” (from the “good seed”) produces good fruit–and a bad tree–bad fruit.  The FRUIT always reveals what kind of tree it is.

When GOD plants His Divine “seed” in us, it produces a desire, even sometimes a passion to SERVE–Obey and Live for Christ.  If we don’t have this desire, we don’t have His “seed” in us.

WHEN JESUS SAVED US…

GOD planted a new seed in us–and it will bring forth fruit–our good works.  And as we mature in Christ, the fruit matures in its appearance; the more evidence there’ll be in our life that we’re SAVED!

According to John, like that expression I heard in the late 1970’s,  “If we were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us?”

GOD GETS THE GLORY!

It comes down to the bottom line on the ‘fruit bearing’ in our lives.  Are we doing so because of the accolades we will receive from others to our self-glory…or the roses we receive laid at the feet of JESUS?

[39] “And some of the Pharisees from the throng said to Jesus,  Teacher, reprove Your disciples!  [40] He replied, I tell you that if these keep silent, the very stones will cry out”  (Luke 19:39-40).

“So then, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you may do, do all for the honor and glory of God”  (1 Corinthians 10:31).

1 John 3:1-9
1 John 3:1-9

FATHERHOOD and PARENTING Principles

A Little Girl’s Conversation with Daddy

And this is how we may discern [daily, by experience] that we are coming to know Him [to perceive, recognize, understand, and become better acquainted with Him]: if we keep (bear in mind, observe, practice) His teachings (precepts, commandments)”  (1 John 2:3–Amplified Bible).

“To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].    You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect”  (Matthew 5:45, 48).

Since we are God’s children; we believe that His Son died for us so that we could be called His children, there is some FATHERHOOD principles laid down for us to follow.  Principles “to perceive, recognize, understand“, as the Amplified Bible gives clarity, in parenting by example.  God will father me in the same way that we father our children’s life.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING DADS CAN DO

After raising my family, along with my wife, I can now look back and see the positives and the negatives of child rearing.  I often said, “There wasn’t a book passed out to young couples about being good parents”.  How wrong I was!  There was always a book available, the Bible, God’s Word for instructions.  I had never truly read it!

Although we had three kids by the time I was 28 years old, I didn’t come to know the Lord until I reached thirty years old.  Discipline was always at the forefront of my teaching as a dad, and as I look back on the experiences, oh I wish that I would have been schooled in God’s teaching and not my own parent’s way of doing things; by the old “seat-of-the-pants” ways! 

With the Holy Spirit’s prompting and the spiritual maturity I’ve grown into, I thought I would share my thoughts on FATHERHOOD and PARENTING.  Some of the principles that might keep you on the right path.

THE IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER

The most important thing you can do for yourself and your family is to make hearing the Word of God one of your greatest priorities in your life and the lives of your children.

Our children must learn the importance of hearing and knowing the Word of God formally and informally.  Hearing, knowing, and obeying the Word is critical! :

1.  To our spiritual growth.

2.  To our walk with God our heavenly Father.

3.  To our ability as parents.

4.  To the lives of our children.

I want to share a little girls conversation with her Daddy, with shinning eyes and a little face aglow:  “Daddy, it’s almost time for Sunday school.  Lets go!  They teach all of us there of Jesus’ love, how he died that we might all have everlasting life, trusting Him!”

Daddy responds in saying to his little ‘sweetie pie’,  “Oh, no.  I’ve worked so hard all week.  I am going to the woods and to the creek.  I’ve heard from others, the fish are biting and it’s a place where I can relax and rest.  I must have one day to rest, the Bible says so!  So run along and don’t bother me.  We’ll go to church some other day!”

Months and years pass by but Daddy hears that plea no more; “Let’s go to Sunday school!”  The childish years are over and Daddy is growing old and life is almost through.  He now finds the time to go to church.  But what does the daughter do?  “Oh Daddy, not today.  I stayed up almost all of last night.  I’ve got to get some sleep and rest.”  Fatherlessness in the young girl’s life had replaced the fatherhood that she needed in growing up.  A father has to be more than just being there for the children, you must be “engaged” with them.

KNOWING GOD

Deuteronomy 6 is often referred to asthe Magna Carter toparenting:

“Hear therefore, O Israel, and be watchful to do them (His commandments), that it may be well with you and that you may increase exceedingly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.    Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord [the only Lord].    And you shall love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being and with all your might.    And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then],    You shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.    And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets (forehead bands) between your eyes.    And you shall write them upon the doorpost of your house and on your gates”  (verses 3-9).

We as parents need to understand how much we lack in the knowledge of God.  We must learn to measure ourselves, not by our knowledge of God, not by how many verses we can spit out from memory, not by our gifts and talents or ministry but by how we pray; how we commune with the Lord in His Word; by what goes on in our heart and our obedience to what we know. 

HEARING GOD

Before a successful building can be erected, a foundation must be poured to make the structure stand.  The same principle is used for FATHERHOOD and PARENTING.

The foundation for obedience begins with listening; hearing the Word.  Deuteronomy 6:3, 4 addresses the nation of Israel.  But in particular, the verses are addressed to parents.  Especially to fathers and grandfathers; the perpetuation of faith in their children (verses 2, 7, and 20).

What’s the point then?  Scripture tell us that we must hear the Word to learn about the Lord.  As the sovereign and holy God of the universe, savior of our lives, the God of redemption and revelation, this is VERY important!  A proper perspective about God is vital and fundamental to our love and obedience to Him.  Without it, we pursue the gods of the world and experience emptiness materialism.  With it, we learn that He is our SUFFICENCY, OUR ONLY ONE!

OBEYING GOD

“HEAR” in verse 4 includes the idea “to hear and obey”.  The point being that we really have not heard unless we are following through with obedience, acting on the Scripture.  We must act in accord with Scripture (6:2b-3a, 4); from the heart, from an intimate understanding and relationship with Him.  Or, we have not truly heard.

Note the words:  “keep all…”  “be watchful to do them“, and “Hear“.  Taking Scripture as our index is the point; we must realize that we can’t guide our own lives:

Proverbs 14:12:  “There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him but at the end of it is the way of death.”

Proverbs 12:15:  “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who listens to counsel is wise.

Jeremiah 10:23:  “I know that [the determination of] the way of a man is not in himself; it is not in man [even in a strong man or in a man at his rest] to direct his [own] steps.”

NOTE the following principles:

1.  Knowledge without obedience is never enough!

2.  Knowledge that is without obedience is only partial knowledge; it’s a knowledge without understanding; it’s information without spiritual understanding and insight!

Having met with the living God is to change.  That means obedience, otherwise we have merely had an encounter with ourselves; religiously and emotionally.

Parents who refuse to obey God.  What will be their teaching?

1.  Teaching their children disobedience.

2.  The clearest and loudest words our children hear are those of our own example.

3.  Children who live with critical parents learn to be critical.

4.  Children whose parents scream and argue learn to do the same.

5.  Children whose parents find all kinds of excuses to miss church, find it easy to do the same.

6.  Children whose parents are not involved in ministry and concerns for others, likewise will be indifferent to the needs around them.

I wish that I had practiced and understood these principles I just listed when I had the chance.  Do you ever have the “If only I would have done s…” in your parenting?  Now is the time to obey and act on the Word of God.  Don’t wait!

When Woodrow Wilson was president of Princeton University, he spoke the following words to a parent group:

“I get many letters from you parents about your children.  You want to know why we people up here in Princeton can’t make more out of them and do more for them.  Let me tell you the reason we can’t.  It may shock you just a little, but I am not trying to be rude.  The reason is that they are your sons, reared in your homes, blood of your blood, bone of your bone.  They have absorbed the ideas of your homes.  You have formed and fashioned them.  They are your sons.  In those malleable, moldable years of their lives you have forever left your imprint upon them.”  (Tan, #4174, p. 960).

In the next blog I will continue in the FATHERHOOD and PARENTING Principles; Teaching and Modeling the Word.