‘Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance’ ~ Isaiah 19:25
In the Bible, Egypt was known for her wealth, agricultural prowess, mighty army, and abundance. It was a powerful empire known worldwide, not only in Africa. When nations faced any trouble, they turned to Egypt not knowing that ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength’ (Jeremiah 17:5). Nonetheless, everyone wanted to be associated with her and none wanted to be an enemy. In fact, God knew Egypt’s ulterior motive and says, ‘Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers of surging waters. She says, ‘I will rise and cover the earth: I will destroy cities and their people’ (45:v8). They were even considered as gods themselves but God reminds, ‘But the Egyptians are men and not God, their horses are flesh and not spirit’ (Isaiah 31:3).
Egypt was also recognized for its notoriety in idol worship, having many gods, full of superstitions and divination. They consulted ‘idols and the spirits of the dead, the mediums and the spiritists’ (19:v3). But God says, ‘Do not learn the ways of the heathen or be terrified by signs of heaven for the heathen are terrified by them. For the customs of the peoples are worthless’ (Jeremiah 10:2-3). Still, many nations were fascinated with Egypt which was described as ‘a beautiful heifer’ (46:v20).
Only God knew that the beautiful heifer wanted more power and control. Egypt wanted to impose her rule and religion throughout the world in some kind of a One World system. They wanted to be god. But the Lord Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth thwarted her plans. God says, ‘I am about to bring punishment on Amon god of Thebes, on Pharaoh, on Egypt and her gods and her kings, and on those who rely on Pharaoh’ (v25). Even after God had showed His undisputed power through plagues, parting of the Red Sea and overthrowing Egypt’s best chariots in order to bring ‘judgement on all the gods of Egypt’ (Exodus 12:12), Egypt still did not revere God. Decades later, God says ‘I am against you Pharaoh king of Egypt, you great monster lying among your streams.
You say, “The Nile is mine; I made it for myself.” But I will put hooks in your jaws and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales. I will pull you out from among your streams with all the fish sticking to your scales’ (Ezekiel 29:3-4). Not only judgement was decreed on Egypt, but all her allies, ‘Cush and Put, Lydia and all Arabia, Libya and the people of the covenant land’ (Israel) will fall by the sword’ (30:v5). Egypt and her neighbours were descendants of Ham (Psalm 78:51). The people living in Cush located in the upper Nile region, were described as ‘a people tall and smooth-skinned . . . a people feared far and wide . . . an aggressive nation of strange speech whose land is divided by rivers’ (Isaiah 18:2,7).
A judgement was decreed for Egypt and the surrounding African nations, as well as its allies. Egypt’s and Africa’s judgement was, ‘I will dry up the streams of the Nile and sell the land to evil men; by the hand offoreigners I will lay waste the land and everything in it . . . I will destroy the idols and put an end to the images in Memphis. No longer will there be a Prince in Egypt, and I will spread fear throughout the land’ (Ezekiel 29:12,13).
During that time, ‘Dark will be the day at Tahpanhes when I break the yoke of Egypt’ (v18). God says to Pharaoh whom He describes ‘like a lion among the nations’ (32:v2); ‘I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over your land’ (v8). In this darkness, Egypt would ‘be the lowliest of kingdoms and will never again exalt itself above the other nations. I will make it so weak that it will never again rule over the nations’ (29:v15). In addition, God says ‘I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries. Then they will know that I am the Lord’ (30:v26).
Isaiah describes in detail when he prophesies, that ‘Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old’ (Isaiah 20:4) will be led captive ‘with buttocks bared- to Egypt’s shame’ (v4). True to the prophecy, Africa has many deserts, was colonised by brutal men and foreigners plundered her wealth, some of her people were scattered in diverse nations through captivity and slavery, monarchies are scarce, and we are considered Third World in the Global map. In fact, we were referred to as the ‘Dark Continent’. All this was so that the African people as God says, may know that I am the Lord.
Keenly looking through the establishment of God’s initial nation, Israel, Africa was also featured. Not only was Egypt mentioned as a source of refuge during times of famine for Abraham and Jacob’s family, but a place of prosperity for some Israelites such as Joseph. In fact, alliances were formed by Israelites with Egyptians, bringing the African heritage into Israel’s bloodline. This happened when Joseph was in Egypt, ‘Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Phaneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Photiphera, Priest of On, to be his wife’ (Genesis 41:45).
Joseph and his Egyptian wife had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh who composed of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Jacob say to his son Joseph regarding Ephraim and Manasseh, ‘they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers’ (48:v6). God also says, ‘Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of my head’ (Psalm 60:7). Moses also had a Cushite wife and ‘Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite’ (Numbers 12:1). God did not take this lightly and ‘The anger of the Lord burned against them’ (v9), and Miriam became ‘leprous, like snow’ (v10) for seven days. Also, King ‘Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the Lord, and the wall around Jerusalem’ (1 Kings 3:1).
Long before the plagues, destruction, and captivity, God had already set a plan to redeem His people, Egypt. He reveals this plan through the Prophets, especially Prophet Isaiah when He says, ‘In that day five Cities in Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the Lord Almighty. One of them will be called the City of the Sun’ (Isaiah 19:18). God continues to say, ‘In that day, there will be an altar to the Lord in the heart of Egypt, and a monument to the Lord at its border. It will be a sign and witness to the Lord Almighty in the land of Egypt’ (v19-20). Currently, the heart of Africa is Christianity, which makes up 49% of the Continent’s population. ‘So the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they will acknowledge the Lord . . . They will turn to the Lord, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them . . . ‘ (v21,22).
In fulfilment of the Prophecy, the Light of Christ started penetrating through the ‘Dark Continent’, as in the rest of the world. The first evidence of this is recorded when God sent one of the Apostles, Phillip, to meet with ‘an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his Chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit told Phillip, ‘Go to that Chariot and stay near it’ (Acts 8:27-29). ‘Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus’ (v35). Since then, the good news about Jesus has caught fire in Africa and is continuing to spread, all to the glory and plan of God.
‘In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth’ ~ Isaiah 19:24
And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. Luke 19:5
On the backdrop of Zacchaeus’ life we saw the first three ways of how we can invite Jesus into our home/life. Here’s the second part on the same topic. Let’s take a look:
Need of a Pure Conscience – Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 1 Timothy 3:9. Without purity no one can see God. Also, to have Jesus come and dwell in our hearts, we need to have a pure conscience. How can we receive purity in our conscience? By allowing the Blood of Jesus to wash away the filthiness and iniquities of sin in us. Zacchaeus also did the same and was delivered of the miserable life he lived. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22
Keep His Word – Soon after Zacchaeus accepted his shortcomings and transgressions before the Lord, we see an immediate change of heart taking place in him. How was that possible? Because somewhere deep in his heart he loved and adored Jesus. Zacchaeus had heard quite a lot about this Teacher before, and that’s how his love for Him grew. Now, on meeting the Saviour, he obeyed God’s Word by restoring everything that he had taken unjustly from people. Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. John 14:23
Fellowship in communion – By partaking in the Lord’s table/having communion, we become partakers of eternal life. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. John 6:56. Flesh here refers to the Bread/Word of God. Jesus said – I am that bread of life. John 6:48. When Jesus called Zacchaeus, who was on the sycamore tree then, he obeyed and quickly came down and welcomed Him with great joy. That day he had a close communion with Jesus and became a new creature in Christ.
Waiting for Him – Zacchaeus waited patiently upon the sycamore tree, to see Jesus when He passed by that way! He was a little man, yet his “little stature” could not stop the deep desire he carried within him — to see Jesus. And Finally… !! Not only was he able to see Jesus, he was even able to welcome Jesus into his house that day!! Hallelujah!
Dear child of God, those who wait upon God will never be ashamed. They will go from strength to strength and appear before God.
They may happen once in a lifetime or not at all. They’re God stories, moments of clarity — those occasions when an individual experiences a profound spiritual change. And suddenly, a long-held, deeply ingrained attitude or behavior vanishes and nothing is the same again.
Confederate Army Gen. Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, who earned the nickname “The Wizard of the Saddle” for his aggressive — and highly effective — exploits on the battlefield, and subsequently served as the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, underwent such a fundamental transformation.
Forrest was born in 1821 in Chapel Hill, Tennessee, the eldest son of a poor blacksmith and his wife. Upon the death of his father 16 years later, Forrest became the man of the house.
A born leader, he seemed to rise to a position of authority in whatever enterprise he was associated with.
Last month, writer David Cloud shared several anecdotes from Forrest’s early life that demonstrate the extremity of his personality.
When his deeply religious mother, whom he loved, was attacked by a cougar, “he got his gun and his hunting dogs, tracked down the beast, treed it, killed it, and cut off its ears to present to his mother as a trophy of revenge,” Cloud wrote in a heavily researched piece for Way of Life Literature, which publishes Bible Study material.
Cloud recounted that Forrest got his start in business with one of his uncles. When he was 24, four brothers “who were seeking payment for a debt” attacked his uncle.
Forrest “shot two of them with a gun and stabbed two with a knife, and only one survived,” he wrote.
According to Cloud, by the time the Civil War broke out in 1861, Forrest had already become one of Tennessee’s richest men. He had earned his fortune through various business ventures, including the ownership of two cotton plantations and a thriving slave trading business.
Due to what Cloud called “his genius as a [cavalry] commander,” Forrest rose through the ranks rapidly. His audacity and his successes were legendary.
Cloud wrote that Forrest “killed 31 men during the war in hand-to-hand combat, had 30 horses shot out from under him, and was wounded four times. In one engagement, he fought four men at once and managed to escape. His brilliant tactics enabled him to defeat the larger Union forces repeatedly. General William Tecumseh Sherman named him ‘that devil Forrest’ and called for his death ‘even if it takes 10,000 men and bankrupts the Federal treasury.’
“His battlefield tactics have been studied in war colleges.”
A History.com biography of Forrest described the most heinous act that occurred under his command. Following their capture of a Union garrison during the Battle of Fort Pillow in April 1864, Forrest’s men are alleged to have killed 200 soldiers after they had surrendered. A large number of them were black.
Cloud wrote that although “the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was formed in 1865 … it didn’t prosper until 1867” when it Forrest became its leader.
The KKK, presided over by its new grand wizard, was very active during the 1868 presidential election, and was ultimately responsible for many political assassinations.
“During the election campaign of 1868, there were 336 murders or attempted murders of blacks in Georgia alone to suppress Republican voting,” Cloud wrote.
According to Cloud, Forrest attended and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in New York City that year. His friend was the Democratic vice presidential nominee, and the party’s campaign slogan was: “Our Ticket, Our Motto, This Is a White Man’s Country; Let White Men Rule.”
The following year, “Forrest left the KKK … and tried unsuccessfully to disband it,” Cloud wrote.
However, it would still be another six years before he would accept Jesus Christ.
In the fall of 1875, while attending a sermon with his wife, a devout Christian, he was especially moved by the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:24-27:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock,” Jesus says in the passage.
“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
In a paper titled “When the Devil Got Saved: The Christian Conversion of Nathan Bedford Forrest,” (a summary of his long-form biography titled “Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption”), biographer Shane Kaster wrote that following the sermon, Forrest spoke to the pastor.
He reportedly said: “Sir, your sermon has removed the last prop from under me. I am the fool that built on the sand; I am a poor miserable sinner.”
The pastor “told Forrest to go home and read and meditate on Psalm 51 and see where it led him,” Kaster wrote.
Psalm 51:1-3, reads: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.”
Kaster wrote that the next night, Forrest knelt with the pastor and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior.
Shortly after his conversion, Forrest spoke before the Pole-Bearers Association, a black civil rights group.
“I came to meet you as friends, and welcome you to the white people. I want you to come nearer to us,” he reportedly said. “When I can serve you I will do so. We have but one flag, one country; let us stand together. We may differ in color, but not in sentiment.”
“Go to work, be industrious, live honestly and act truly, and when you are oppressed I’ll come to your relief. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for this opportunity you have afforded me to be with you, and to assure you that I am with you in heart and in hand.”
Following his speech, a young black girl reportedly presented him with a bouquet of flowers, and he responded by kissing her on the cheek.
Two years later, Forrest died at the age of 56, a changed man.
As Forrest lay dying, he reportedly told loved ones there was “not a cloud that separated him from his beloved Heavenly Father.”
A short time ago, my wife and I were having lunch in a small restaurant on a Sunday, and nearby was a lady pastor, dressed in black clergy garb and collar. She was sitting with several couples around a large round table. It appeared this was a group from her church, having lunch after their service. As they ate, there was a lively discussion about “fundamentalist” Christians, and how deluded they are.
“The problem,” this lady pastor laughed, “is that so many people are stuck in the mindset of what they have always been taught. But now we KNOW so much more. Now we have SCIENCE, which explains so many things that were mysteries to the Bible writers. If only these fundamentalists would open their eyes and adapt to the times!”
Here we had a modern, ultra-liberal lady pastor, (and very likely a practicing lesbian, based on other things we observed), surrounded by adoring members of her congregation, and she was instilling doubt in the minds of her flock — doubt that the Bible could be trusted, and more than that, she was actually holding Biblical Scripture up for open mockery and ridicule — along with anyone who would believe God’s Word. Now, you might think this was maybe a Unitarian Universalist gathering, and it could have been, but it wasn’t. It was a group of people from a MAINLINE so-called “Christian” denomination, and if I shared that denomination with you, you might be surprised. I won’t do that here. I’m trying to be tactful.
But this is an example of what is taking place in our world today. As I sat nearby, overhearing this discussion, the Lord showed me an image of this lady pastor — not as she appeared there in the diner — but as she really is, in her true form: as the serpent we read about in Genesis 3. From the very beginning, Satan’s tactics have been the same… instilling doubt in the minds of God’s people, causing them to distrust God’s Word, and scoffing at people who believe Him. Here was a mainline protestant “pastor,” presumably entrusted to teach and instruct and rightly divide the Word of Truth… openly and proudly lying and planting the seeds of doubt in the souls she is responsible for. Literally, there was NO DIFFERENCE between this lady and the serpent in the garden. Both were betraying the Creator. BOTH will reap the same reward.
As human beings, we do not know everything. We are not omniscient. But we have been blessed with the knowledge the Lord has seen fit to entrust us with. By reading, studying and meditating upon God’s written Word, we have all the information we need to base our lives on this earth upon. If we needed to know more, we can rest assured, God would have told us more. Some things, however, will remain mysteries to us. Some things are not for us to know. It’s not foolish or simplistic of me to say this or accept this. It’s simply a matter of faith. I trust my Creator to provide for me and give me the knowledge, information, discernment, judgment and wisdom I need in this world. As I seek to know HIM more, He reveals Himself and His ways to me. He’s my heavenly Father, and I trust Him. Good grief — why wouldn’t I? And how arrogant and presumptuous to assume I know better!
This is not the topic of my message today. But this anecdote is instructive because it is important to remember, Satan, the serpent, is still here today, and still using the same old tactics he did in the garden…and moreover, sometimes he will disguise himself as an angel of light — or, in this case, as a modern day, liberal protestant pastor.
But it’s easy to see through the devil’s disguise. Because anytime someone tells you or tries to teach you something contrary to God’s Word, or anytime someone tries to get you to doubt God’s Word or as they will say, “think critically” — (which is code for “did God really say…”) — you can be sure you’re dealing with a serpent. Of course, in order to know if something you’re hearing is contrary to God’s Word, you have to already KNOW what God’s Word really says. I’m assuming, here, that you do.
But now, let’s move on, because I want to talk about a few things we can count on, from God’s Word. Specifically, how Jesus said when He returns, the world will be like the days of Noah and Lot. So let’s get started, back in Genesis. Biblical scholars place the time of Creation at approximately 4004 BC. That makes the Earth and all things in it about 6019 years old. And at that time, in the beginning, when God created all things, He declared everything “Good.”
But it wasn’t long before the serpent lured mankind into sin, and this was accomplished first of all by causing Adam and Eve to doubt what God said. One simple doubt, one lapse of faith and good judgment, brought death and destruction upon all mankind. If you read the Bible through from cover to cover, you will see a pattern woven throughout the history of all humanity… all of our woes, all of our sorrows, all our regrets… we bring all these things upon ourselves because we doubt what God said. How many times did Jesus lament, with great sorrow:
“Oh ye of little faith?!”
If only we believed. If only we had the faith of a mustard seed! Indeed.
History moved on. Many centuries came and went. In Genesis, we read about Cain and Abel, Seth, Enosh, Jared, Methuselah, Lamech and finally, Noah. Finally we come to chapter six in Genesis, and I’d like to share that with you, starting at verse 5.
“The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth — men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air — for I am grieved that I have made them.’”
Of course, we all know what happened next. God purified the earth through the flood, saving only eight souls alive, and we began again. Then the Lord promised to never again destroy the earth with a flood. He said:
“I have set My rainbow in the clouds and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.”
It is interesting to note that the rainbow — the symbol the LORD chose as His covenant with us — has today been hijacked by the homosexual lobby, and they’ve turned it into a sign of prideful rebellion against God and nature.
Bible scholars place the time of the flood at approximately 2304 BC, so there were approximately 1700 years between the creation of the earth and Noah’s flood. It was about 406 years later, in approximately 1898 BC that we read another account of God’s anger. You can read about this starting in Genesis 18… the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. God said:
“The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous…”
Yet He promised Abraham that for the sake of ten people who might be found in those cities to be righteous, He would not destroy them. Apparently there were not even ten, because the next thing we read, the LORD sends two angels, appearing as men, to investigate the cities, and to rescue Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family.
As we read the account of the angels visiting Sodom, the way the men of the city of Sodom behave is eerily familiar. These men are homosexuals. They march in unison against Lot’s home. They surround it and make demands. They yell and scream and condemn Lot for “judging” them. They attack and try to break down the door. It sounds very much like the typical “gay pride parade” of today… anytime there is a homosexual “pride” march or parade, there is always anger and hatred, there is always those among them accusing Christians of “judging” them, there is always mockery of God and Christianity, along with vile displays of perverse sensuality, and vicious disrespect of the things we hold sacred. Because the same demonic spirit inhabits modern homosexuals as it did in the days of Lot…Satan is not that bright — he only has a couple of tricks.
Now here we are today. As I write this message, it is literally impossible to keep up with all that is happening in our world, regarding man’s rush to self-destruction. It’s mind-boggling and we have taken the offense of Sodom and Gomorrah to a whole new level. Not only have we used our silly Courts to try to redefine the God-ordained institution of marriage, we have made it mandatory to steal the innocence of young children, and indoctrinate and confuse them about sexuality, and then we’ve made it illegal to counsel them to remain “straight” when they become confused!
We not only kill our own babies for convenience, we then sell their body parts for profit. And we have leaders in power who praise child-rapists and savages who behead and torture innocent victims, while calling humble, peaceful Christians who follow God’s Word “homegrown terrorists.” I can’t imagine it was any worse in Noah’s time or in Lot’s time, can you?
But Jesus said it would be like this. And once again, God’s Word proves true. There will be plenty who laugh it off, and cast doubt. And the Bible even tells us plainly that THIS will happen. There will be those who defiantly boast:
“Where is the promise of His coming?”
But remember how I said to identify a serpent…
We are reliving the days of Noah and Lot right now. Look at the words of Christ in Luke 17: “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.”
He went on:
“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.”
“I will come again,” said Jesus in John 14:3. Really, that is the only solution to this mess. We don’t know when He will come, not the hour nor the day. Only the Father Himself knows the appointed time. But, observing the signs of the times and believing God’s Word, we know that surely, we MUST be at the very brink of eternity.
So how shall we live then? In fear? In dread? Should we hide in our closets, or our churches and just let the wicked world around us burn? No! God’s Word tells us:
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age, looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do good works.”
We can get caught up in the mess, we can put our hope in the leaders of this world, we can hope and pray “our” candidate wins the White House next year and solves all our problems. But we would be wrong. Our hope, our only hope, lies in the Savior, God’s Son — just as it always has. I’m not saying we should resign ourselves to a wicked, evil world. Surely we are still to be salt and light here. We’re still to stand up for God’s Word and Truth, we are to share the Gospel and, like those angels who were sent to warn Lot, rescue as many as we can from the fire. We are to stand in the gap for the innocent, and to minister and love those the world — and the “religious leaders” — choose to pass by on the other side of the street, refusing to look upon. We must still BE that good Samaritan.
But meanwhile, we also have a great hope. We know God’s Word and His promises are true, and we know we need never doubt, nor should we put our trust or our hope in the temporal and vain things of man. Our faith, our resolve and our fortitude will be greatly tested, as through the fire. But we know, the one who endures to the end shall be saved. The rain drops fell in Noah’s time. The fire fell upon Sodom. And now the Grace of God will come from the sky next, riding on the clouds, just as He departed. Luke 21:28 tells us:
“Look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption is drawing near!”
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
The question we will tackle today is how do people who have experienced the miracle of the new birth deal with their own sinfulness as they try to live in the full assurance of their salvation? That is, how do we deal with the conflict between the reality of the new birth, on the one hand, and our ongoing sin, on the other hand? How do you balance the danger of losing assurance of salvation and the danger of being presumptuous that you are born again when you may not be? How can we enjoy the assurance of being born again, and yet not take lightly the sinfulness of our lives that is so out of step with being born again?
John’s first letter, more than any other book in the Bible, seems to be designed to help us in this practical, daily battle. Consider 1 John 5:13: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” This book is written, he says, to help believers have the full assurance that they have been born again—that is, that they have new, spiritual life in them that will never die. John wants you—God wants you—to experience something in this letter that makes you profoundly confident that you have passed from death to life.
First John 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed out of death into life.” Jesus says in John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” So John and Jesus are jealous for us believers to know that judgment is behind us, and death is behind us, because our judgment happened when Jesus was judged in our place, and our death happened when Jesus died in our place. And therefore, new life is in us and this life cannot perish and cannot be taken away. It’s eternal. That’s the assurance John and Jesus want for you. “I write these things to you . . . that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
The Folly of the False Teachers
But something is going on in the churches that John is writing to that concerns him deeply. Whatever it is, it threatens to destroy this assurance. There are false teachers who are saying things that may give the impression of good news and strong assurance, but will have the very opposite effect. In dealing with these false teachers, John shows us how to deal with our own sin in relation to fighting for assurance. What were these false teachers saying?
First, they were saying that the pre-existent Son of God, Jesus Christ, had not come in the flesh. They did not believe in the full union of the pre-existent Son of God with a fleshly human nature like ours. Here is what John says about them in 1 John 4:1-3: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.”
Disconnecting Christ and the Flesh
There is a lot we could go into about this early Christian heresy, but I only want to focus on one thing. These false teachers disconnected Christ and the flesh. See that in verse 2: “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” They did not like the idea of the pre-existent Christ being united with human flesh.
Now here is the reason that’s relevant for our question today. This view of the person of Christ not being united to physical, bodily, flesh evidently had a practical, moral effect on the way these false teachers viewed the Christian life. Just as they disconnected the person of Christ from ordinary physical life, so they disconnected being a Christian from ordinary physical life.
Disconnecting Christians and the Flesh
One of the clearest places to see his is here in our text: 1 John 3:7. John says, “Little children, let no one deceive you [so he has the false teachers in view]. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.” What’s he saying? He is saying beware of the false teachers because what they say is that you can be righteous and not practice righteousness. “Let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous.”
In other words, John opposes not only their view of Christ, that they disconnect his person from his ordinary bodily life of doing things, but he also opposes their view of the Christian life when they disconnected our person from our ordinary bodily life of doing things: “The flesh didn’t really matter for Jesus; what mattered was that somehow, in a spiritual way, he was the Christ and there was no real union of the pre-existent Christ and the physical man Jesus. And our flesh doesn’t really matter either; but somehow, in a spiritual way, we are born again, but there is no real union between that new creation and our physical life that does righteousness or does sin.” Which led directly to the error that John points out in 1 John 3:7, that you can berighteous in some spiritual way, and yet not do righteousness in your ordinary physical life.
Now John has three responses to this false teaching.
Christ’s Incarnation Lasts Forever
First, he insists that the flesh of Jesus and the person of the pre-existent Christ are inseparable. First John 4:2: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” Notice it does not say “came in the flesh,” as though that union with flesh and bones happened for a while and then stopped. He says “has come in the flesh.”
This incarnation lasts forever. The second person of the Trinity will forever be united with human nature. We will always know him as Jesus, one like us, and infinitely above us—the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29). God did not, and does not, despise the physical creation that he made. He has comein the flesh. And the Son of God remains in the flesh forever. So John’s first response to the false teaching is to set straight their view of Christ. His physical being is not a mirage. It’s not secondary. It’s not unimportant. That he has a body marks and identifies him forever.
Christian Doing Confirms Being
John’s second response to the false teaching is to deny emphatically its teaching that spiritual being can be separated from physical doing. John, in fact, insists that spiritual being must be validated by physical doing, or else the spiritual being is simply not real. That’s what we saw in 1 John 3:7: “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.” The deceivers were saying: You can be righteous and yet not practice righteousness. John says: The only people who are righteous are the ones who practice righteousness. Doing confirms being.
That is what John says over and over again in this letter. For example, in 1 John 2:29, he says, “If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.” In other words, the doing of righteousness is the evidence and confirmation of being born again.
Not Practicing Sin: Evidence of the New Birth
Or consider 1 John 3:9: “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” The practice of sin is the evidence and confirmation that one is not born of God. Doing confirms being. Not practicing sin is the evidence and confirmation of being born again.
And the reason the new birth inevitably changes the life of sinning, John says, is that when we are born again, “God’s seed” abides in us, and we “cannot keep on sinning.” That’s how real the connection between the new birth and daily physical life is. The seed may be the Spirit of God or the Word of God or the nature of God—or all three. Whatever it is specifically, God himself is at work in the new birth so powerfully that they cannot keep on practicing sin. God’s seed cannot make peace with a pattern of sinful behavior.
These false teachers who think they can separate who they are spiritually from who they are physically do not understand either the incarnation or regeneration. In the incarnation, the pre-existent Christ is really united with a physical body. And in regeneration, the new creation in Christ has real, inevitable effects on our physical life of obedience.
Rejecting Any Notion of Sinlessness in the Born Again
John’s third response to the false teaching is to reject any notion of sinlessness in born-again people. Evidently, the way this false teaching was working was that, by disconnecting “being righteous” from “doingrighteousness” (3:7), they were then able to say, “Well, even if your body does some things that are sinful, that’s not really you. The real you is the born again you; and that real you is so above daily physical life that it’s never defiled by sin.”
So this disconnection that the false teachers made between who you are and what you do had led them, evidently, to say that Christians never really sin. How could they? They’re born of God. They’re new creatures. They have the seed of God in them. So John levels his guns at this error three times. It’s important that you see them.
1) There Are No Sinless Christians.
First John 1:8: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” We! We born-again Christians. In other words, don’t let the deception of these false teachers work its way into your own self-deception. There are no sinless Christians.
2) The Born Again Have an Advocate.
First John 2:1: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” In other words, John does not assume that if you sin, you are not born again. He assumes that if you sin, you have an Advocate, Jesus Christ. And only those who are born again have this Advocate.
3) There Is Sin That Does Not Lead to Death.
First John 5:16-17: “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.”
Notice that last clause: “There is sin that does not lead to death.” This is why you can see your brother committing sin. He is your brother. He is born again. And he is sinning. How can this be? Because there is sin that does not lead to death. I don’t think he has particular kinds of sins in view, but rather degrees of rootedness and habitual persistence. There is a point of confirmed sinning which may take you over the line of no return and you will be like Esau who sought repentance and could not find it (Hebrews 12:16-17).
How Do the Born Again Deal with Their Sin?
Now we come to the question we raised at the beginning: How do people who have experienced the miracle of the new birth deal with their own sinfulness as they try to live in the full assurance of their salvation? My answer is: You deal with it by the way you use John’s teaching. John warns against hypocrisy (claiming to be born again when your life contradicts it), and John celebrates the Advocacy and Propitiation of Christ for sinners.
The question is: How do you use these two truths? How do you use the warning that you might deceive yourself? How do you use the promise, “If we do sin, we have an Advocate”? The evidence of your new birth lies in how these to truths function in your life.
Here’s the way they function if you are born again:
1) Fleeing Presumption, Flying to the Advocate
You are slipping into a lukewarm, careless, presumptuous frame of mind about your own sinfulness. You are starting to coast or be indifferent to whether you are holy or worldly. You are losing your vigilance against bad attitudes and behaviors—and starting to settle in with sinful patterns of behavior.
When the born-again person experiences this, the truth of 1 John 3:9 (“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning”) has the effect, by the Holy Spirit, of awakening him to the danger of his condition so that he flies to his Advocate and his Propitiation for mercy and forgiveness and righteousness. He confesses his sin and receives cleansing (1:9), and his love for Christ is renewed and the sweetness of his relationship is recovered and the hatred of sin is restored and the joy of the Lord again becomes his strength.
2) Fleeing Despair, Flying to the Advocate
You are sinking down in fear and discouragement and even despair that your righteousness, your love for people, and your fight against sin are just not good enough. Your conscience is condemning you, and your own deeds seem so imperfect to you that they could never prove that you are born again.
When the born-again person experiences this, the truth of 1 John 2:1 has the effect, by the Spirit, of rescuing him from despair: “My little children [he wants to be tender with their consciences], I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
John’s warning of hypocrisy calls you back from the precipice of presumption. John’s promise of an Advocate calls you back from the precipice of despair.
The Redemptive Power of God’s Word
New birth enables you to hear Scripture and use Scripture helpfully, redemptively. New birth doesn’t use the promise “We have an Advocate” to justify an attitude of cavalier indifference to sin.
New birth doesn’t’ use the warning “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning” to pour gasoline on the fires of despair. New birth has a spiritual discernment that senses how to use John’s teaching: The new birth is chastened and sobered by the warnings, and the new birth is thrilled and empowered by the promise of an Advocate and a Propitiation.
May the Lord confirm your new birth by both of these responses to the word of God. May he grant you to embrace both the warning and the comfort and put them to proper spiritual use in preserving the full assurance of your salvation.