We all have all experienced times when things just seems to go wrong. It may be a conflict with someone close to us, an illness, or any one of a number of issues or events that seem bent on bringing us down. How do you respond in these times? As believers, we do not need to live a defeated life. Though we may face persecution, physical pain, or sorrow, there is joy that overpowers it all because God has put His Spirit within us. Join Pastor Dave Row as he continues in this teaching series through the book of 1 John and learn more about possessing a potent faith that is available to all believers.
The Christian life requires a certain dynamic and power or strength. It requires an ability to conquer and move forward. Scripture does not portray believers as a weak group of people who cower in a corner while waiting for the world to run them over. In contrast, the Bible portrays Jesus, through His death on the cross and submission to the Father, as One who possessed deep love and real power that was tempered and controlled.
Chapter 5 of 1 John starts by pointing out that if you love God, you love His family, too. If you love the Creator, pray to Him, and spend time with Him, there must be a side of you that loves His family.
In order to truly be a Christian, we must be born of God. This includes an intellectual sense that Jesus is Messiah, the Son of God, as well as a deep and abiding reality in the way that we live our lives. We must allow our lives to be changed by His Spirit in a way where others can actually see that we've put our trust in Him.
Loving God, keeping His commandments, and loving His family can be difficult at times. Those who pray for the body of Christ, extend grace to our Christian brothers and sisters, gladly identify themselves with other believers regardless of the surroundings, will realize that they are, in fact, believers. It is not enough to say that we really don't mind Christians -- the real statement is that we absolutely love them as our family. Christians cannot be separated one from another, therefore, if one member of the family is hurt or victimized, the entire family has been assaulted.
Believers are to watch over or guard the Lord's commands. Matthew 22:34-40 tells us exactly what we are to obey – we are to love. This includes loving God our Creator to whom honor is due, and loving our neighbor in the same way that we would love and care for our own selves. John 15:10-14 takes this a step further by telling us to keep His commandments, just like Jesus kept the Father's commandments, so that we will have His joy in our lives. This is accomplished by having love for one another. We are truly His friend if we love one another. This will give us fullness of joy, because there is no greater joy than that found in loving others.
Notice that verse 3 of today's text tells us that His commands are not burdensome. Loving our brothers and sisters in Christ should be something that completely fills us with joy. Every family has commandments, those unwritten rules of your house. These rules may include loyalty, kindness toward one another, cooperation, and consideration. These rules are all based on relationships. If we truly have a relationship with God that is based on abiding, living, dwelling, and spending time with Him, and His desire is that His joy may be in us and that our joy may be full, complete, and overflowing, then we should think of all the things He has taught us as an easy and accessible way to express our love for Him. This is obedience. There are times when family members may put tough demands upon us. The deeper our relationships are with these family members, the easier or less burdensome these demands become. Think of the commandments of Jesus and His laws in this same manner. It is easy for us to obey His commands because there is real relationship.
We must get involved with other people and give of our time, our inner being, and our life. As we begin to divulge ourselves to those in the body of Christ, they get to know us. This allows us to start praying for one another and develop a real dynamic that just amazes the world. Real love is marked by activity. It is visible and tangible.
Whoever is born of the Spirit of God overcomes or overpowers the world. This concept implies that there is a war going on that we as believers are engaged in. This is a spiritual war taking place on a spiritual battleground. Second Corinthians 10:3-6 adds additional insight into spiritual warfare. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. If we step onto the spiritual battlefield in our flesh, we will be thoroughly beaten. We read in Ephesians 6:10-11 identifies the enemy of the believer and the protection we have against him. Not only do we have our fleshly enemy, but also a real enemy who is out to destroy our faith.
The world's system creates corruption, death, wars, sensuality, and destruction. It is obvious that there is another force at play. Satan works hand-in-hand with our flesh, the portion of us that is a little bit sneaky and has desires that are not necessarily good. Satan capitalizes on these desires to produce the strongest and the worst destruction possible. He does this because we are the objects of God's love and we stand in defiance of his rebellion. Each time we experience something bad, yet we continue to repent of our sins, walk in humility, and rely heavily on God, we stand in defiance against this enemy. We triumph because we have a true and tangible faith.
No matter what the world tells us about ourselves, no matter what our past tells us about ourselves, no matter what our friends say about us that may be negative, or the thoughts that we might have, or the feelings we might struggle with, greater is He who is in you. Because we are born of the Spirit of God, He has given us the ability to overthrow the enemy that comes against us. We do not need to live a life that is defeated by sin. Give it to God and walk away from it. God has promised us the ability to conquer this enemy.
There are two noticeable characteristics between the works of God and the works of the flesh identified in Galatians 5:17-23. The works of the flesh bear no fruit, but are diseased. If we find ourselves consistently involved in the types of activities listed in verses 19 through 21 of this passage, we must realize that this is a work of the flesh that will bring destruction to our lives. On the other hand, there is no law against the fruits of God that we find listed in verses 22 through 23 of this same passage. This is the fruit of actually overcoming every evil act in the world. The love of God conquers all things. Gentleness, patience, self-control – these are just a few of the weapons of our warfare. Note that these weapons are not carnal and that they are absolutely contrary to our fleshly desires. Faith that overcomes this world comes out of love and the fruit of the Spirit. Overcome wickedness with the internal power and fruit of the Spirit that is available to all believers.
Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. This is our defensive weapon. Our ability to use His Word as a sword is in direct relation to the amount of time we spend in the Bible. The more we are in His Word, the more He can use us as a mighty force against darkness. Scripture makes it clear that believers are not hapless victims on the side of the road of life just waiting for God to come along to help us because we are helpless victims. We should see God's overcoming power in us.
Those who believe, who have put their full trust in and given full thought and expression of hope in Jesus Christ, have overcome the world. The question is whether or not we live this lifestyle. This world is fraught with trouble, pain, and sorrow, but the faith and belief that is in the life of the believer is unstoppable. Death, war, and weaponry will never control the spirit of a believer because it is God's Spirit who is in us. Though we may face persecution, physical pain, or sorrow, there is joy that overpowers it all because God has put His Spirit within us.
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