This is how we know that we have known him: if we keep his commands. 4The one who says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:3-4 –EHV)
We spend much of our lives trying to fit in. When we were younger we wanted to do what everyone else is doing—and be where everyone else was. You begged your parents to buy you the name-brand clothes so you’d look cool. How many countless hours have you spent trying to perfect your look in front of the mirror? We worry constantly about what everyone else thinks about you. It’s a natural inclination—the feeling of wanting to fit in and be like everyone else.
But here’s the thing—you’re different! At least, that’s what God expects of us. He wants us to be different; he expects his believers to live differently than the rest of the world. When someone looks at your life and compares it to others, it should be clear that you are a Christian; everyone should be able to tell that you live differently then the rest of the world.
But do you? Sadly, not all the time. Far too often you join in the wicked practices of the people around us. You are filled with hatred toward others and try to get even to those who do you wrong; you lust; you lie; you are selfish and self-centered; you are greedy; the Lord often takes a back-seat to everything else going on in our lives—the list goes on and on and on. Sadly, you often don’t live differently, you try to fit in and be like the rest of the world and go along with your sinful practices.
And then you read the text above—the one who does not keep God’s commands is a liar and the truth is not in him. And you know how often you have failed to obey God’s commands—you sin against him too many times a day to even count! Does that mean that you don’t have the truth?
There is another passage a few verses before those above, that also speaks of being in truth, If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness ( John 1:8-9). Did you notice what John says? Being part of the truth means confessing and acknowledging your sin before the Lord. And when we examine our lives, we can’t help but confess those sins to him! And what is the Lord’s response? It’s not to hurt or harm us, or even condemn us—but his response was to send his one and only Son to pay for those sins, shedding his blood on the cross and covering over our offense. It is through his sacrifice on the cross that our sins are forgiven and our guilt is covered-over. By the perfect life that Christ lived—and gave to us, we are considered perfect and Holy in the sight of the Lord.
As a just God, he demands a payment for our sins, and that payment was made by his Son, Jesus, by shedding his blood on the cross! The Lord is faithful to his promises—his promise to send a Son to forgive and save us is fulfilled in Christ. And he will be faithful to his promise of a perfect and glorious life in heaven through faith in his Son.
And so what is our response to being freely forgiven through the work of Christ? It is to offer up our selves as living sacrifices—that is, it’s to live a life according to his Word, doing our best to show our love and thanks to him by obeying his commands.
So yes, you are different. And that’s okay! You live differently because you have been brought to faith in the Son and know that you are fully and freely forgiven. You strive to show your love for the Lord by obeying his commands. And when you fail—and you most certainly will, instead of doubting your faith, in faith cling to the faithful promises of the Lord—which he gives us to assure us of righteousness before him.
Pastor Andrew Frey
On Sunday mornings, Pastor Gartner is leading a study on the practice of Stewardship—how God wants us to use all the gifts that he has graciously given to us—whether it’s the use of our time, our talents, our treasures, our bodies, his great creation, etc. Plan on joining us for this study on Sunday mornings at 9:15am.
On Monday mornings and Tuesday evenings Pastor Frey is studying the letters of John the Apostle. In his first letter John expertly weaves doctrine with practice—a practical letter filled with passages on the love and mercy of Christ. Please plan on joining us as we study these interesting letters to God’s people.
NOTE: We do have audio recordings and the Lesson Sheets of these Bible Classes. If you have been unable to attend and would like these sent to you, please email Pastor Frey or Pastor Gartner.
School of Outreach
There are a few extra spots available to join us for the School of Outreach. If you thought about signing up but didn’t pull the trigger, you still have time to do so. If you are at all interested, please talk to Pastor Frey or Pastor Gartner. More information is below.
Saturday February 8, a School of Outreach will be hosted at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Schofield, WI. A School of Outreach is a one-day WELS workshop to assist churches with putting together a plan on how to reach out with the Gospel in their communities. Since we just established a Board of Evangelism here at St. John, we have decided it would be a good start for us to attend this School of Outreach. If you are interested in reaching out to the lost with the Gospel or want to learn more about Evangelism and Outreach, this is a great opportunity.