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If we say we have no sin… Part 3

Getting Real

There is one more element we need to add to complete the ‘context’ of 1 John. Four hundred years before Christ a Greek philosopher had taught ideas of form and reality. Plato used a famous illustration to make his point. I’ll leave you follow the link if you want to see it through but it left a residue in thinking that has its part to play in the context of 1 John. For a large part of the Greek thinking and speaking population the word Truth meant not only accurate data but Reality as distinct from Shadow and Appearance. Bible scholars have discussed this for centuries and I’m not going to add to the number other than to say try an experiment. Take some of the sayings of Christ;

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:24 NKJV.

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. John 6:32 NKJV.

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32 NKJV.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6 NKJV.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. John 15:1 NKJV.

“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. John 15:26 NKJV.

And we can continue the theme into John’s epistles…

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 1 John 1:6 NKJV.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8 NKJV.

He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 1 John 2:4 NKJV.

Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. 1 John 2:8 NKJV.

In fact, in John’s epistles he uses the words true and truth no less than 26 times; 1 John 1:6, 8; 2:4, 8, 21, 27; 3:18–19; 4:6; 5:6, 20; 2 John 1:1, 3–4; 3 John 1:1, 3–4, 8, 12. Now the experiment. Try replacing the word true or truth with the words real or reality. I John is a ‘reality check’. John will not suffer the profession of a man or woman whose life does not substantiate that profession. There are technical words for this. Right thinking/teaching is orthodoxy; straight praise, straight thinking. Right action is orthopraxy; straight doing/practice/action. Our word practise comes from the Greek work praxos; acts, doings, practice.

in the cross-hairs

So who are the ‘antichrists’ in John’s cross-hairs? They are manipulators of reality. They are those who deny the historical reality of Christ’s physical incarnation and they deny the moral reality of orthopraxy in harmony with orthodoxy.

50 years or so ago A.W. Tozer had a similar group in his cross-hairs. He attacked what he called ‘textualism’; the notion that because we have the word we have the thing. We are not justified by correct theology but by faith. Or as some of the old puritans used to say ‘we are justified by faith, but faith is justified by practice’. ‘We are’ they liked to say ‘saved by faith alone’ but would often add ‘but real faith is never alone’. The pattern of our life reveals the reality of our faith… or otherwise. To say one thing and live another demonstrates that the faith is not the genuine article.

When writing to Timothy Paul refers to, in the older versions, ‘faith unfeigned’.

Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 1 Tim 1:5 NKJV.

The word translated ‘sincere’ here is literally ‘without hypocrisy‘. Why would Paul need to specify that faith must be ‘without hypocrisy’? Simply because there is another kind of faith that is not the genuine article. There is the continuing danger of fake-faith, pseudo-faith. The Greek word ‘hypocrite’ is the word for someone who is acting, someone who is not being real; we are back to John’s demand for reality. So John will now target those who ‘say’ but do not ‘do’. Those who have all the right words and know them by heart but whose lives do not match their profession.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 1 John 1:6 NKJV.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8 NKJV.

If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:10 NKJV.

He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 1 John 2:4 NKJV.

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. 1 John 2:6 NKJV.

He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 1 John 2:9 NKJV.

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 1 John 4:20 KJV.

Now we are clear as to just who John has in mind, we are ready to expound this passage of scripture.

 


1 Comment

  1. So how can we go on in this new age world and live one day at a time following the ten commandments and being forgiving and giving back to the world yet still feel condemned and in perfect simply because we don’t belong to a church? Am I so wrong if I’m living life the best I can one day at a time this way?

So tell me, what do you think?

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