The Power of Christ In You
Text: 1John 3: 4- 10
Proposition: The power of Christ in us overcomes a lawless heart, removes the desire to habitually sin, destroys the works of the devil, calling us to righteousness.
Introduction: Professor John Webster tells a story about two friends who were on a road trip and were listening to a Christian radio station. There was one particular ad that was quite upbeat and ended with the tag line, ‘Because life is better with God.’. After hearing the ad a few times, his friend said, “I can’t stand hearing that! Life isn’t better with God. If you don’t have God, you don’t have life. Period.” As Webster puts it, “Sin brings death because sin destroys that dependence on God which alone gives life. To live is to live in relation to God, to live in communion or fellowship with the One who is our beginning and our end.” One of the things that the Apostle John had in mind when he wrote his epistle was to point Christians to the greater reality of the power of Christ in them, the source of not just life but abundant life. He wanted them to know that though sin abounds in everyone the Christian has the life of Christ in them that abounds even more. This morning we are going to look at just 7 verses of Scripture that describe the power of Christ in you. Have a look at 1 John 3:4-10.
I. The Power of Christ in You Overcomes a Lawless Heart. If there is a word that describes the essence of sin it is lawlessness. Listen to the extreme way that John presents this truth, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” Certainly the law John had in mind was the Mosaic Law, the Ten Commandments being its center piece. Sin not only violates that Law, in so doing it also rejects the very One Who created the Law itself. Sin ultimately rejects God, the sovereignty of God, the will of God and design of God. The typical definition for sin is to fall short of what God desires and that it is but when you regard sin as lawlessness it isn’t just that it causes us to fall short it describes the reason why we fall short. Lawlessness insists that it is right and would even say it has the right to always be right despite the revealed Law It essence it will do what it wants but as it does so it misses the fact that what it thought was confidence and assertiveness was in reality a rebellion that placed desires above truth It was St. Augustine that defined sin as "a word, deed, or desire in opposition to the eternal law of God.”. Until we see sin as that and cease to call it a mistake, a bad choice or something went wrong but own sin for what it is, an act of resistance against God then it will never be seen for the truth of what it really is. Here’s the good news, when you receive Christ that old man, that lawless rebel is put to death and a new man is made alive in you. When Jesus came to this earth He came to do a number of things but foremost among them was to take away our sin. It’s why John reminds the church the way he does in verse 5, “And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.” The lawless heart that was in you before you knew Christ has been put to death, you know that. You once were dead spiritually but now you have been made alive in Christ, you know that. Jesus not only takes away our sin, meaning the record of your rebellion against God is wiped clean, He also makes you a new person, born again is the phrase that describes this. You are a new creation, you have a living hope in you that when Jesus appears you shall be like Him for you shall see Him as he is. You have had a heart transplant, the lawless heart is made to be like His heart. So don’t get sucker punched into thinking you are who you were. Ephesians 2 applies to you, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,”. (Ephesians 2:4-6) So the power of Christ in you has taken away a heart of lawlessness and given you a heart that is alive in Christ. Indeed, without God there is no life!
II.The Power of Christ in You Overcomes Habitual Sin.
John is about to make a statement that seems to fly in the face of one he made earlier in 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” The we that he refers to there is the church. He is saying that even as Christians we sin and yet if we will confess that sin God is faithful and just to forgive us. So as Christians we do still sin but then we run into 1 John 3:6, “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” What John is referring to here is habitual sin, sin that has become a repetitive pattern and has become accepted by me as okay. Johns point is simple, if you are a Christian it is impossible to for you to continue in habitual sin as if it’s no big deal. If the sin is to be foul mouthed, if it is lust, theft slander, anger, or unforgiveness you have to see it as sin and turn from it. Once you are a believer not only will you evidence the presence of the Holy Spirit in you, you will evidence the fruit of His presence. Galatians 5:17 says, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” It goes on to describe what the deeds of the flesh look like then it lists the evidence of the Holy Spirit in you in verses 22, 23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” My point is simple, for the Christian there is no habitual sin that can overrule the fruit of the Holy Spirit continually. Claim and practice Galatians 5:16, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” The power of Christ in you sets you free from habitual sin,
III. The Power of Christ In You Destroys the Works of the Devil.
So what exactly do the works of the devil look like? Consider John 10:10, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” The thief here is a reference to the devil and it is exactly what is at the heart of the works of the devil. He steals, kills and destroys. Ultimately the cross of Christ destroys the works of the devil that would steal life, kill with sin and destroy man’s relationship with the Father. In short the works of the devil were designed to take away life, eternal life in Christ and the life that is present tense that comes from an ongoing relationship with God. The power of Christ in you blocks the enemies attempt to steel, kill and destroy life in you and then it sends you out as an ambassador of Christ that through His power in you the works of the devil are exposed and destroyed. The works of the devil will have this common characteristic, they will be done in the spirit of the antichrist. What I mean is they will continually try to replace the truth of Who Jesus is with what the world would consider a new and better way, truth and life. The examples of this are endless but are becoming more and more confrontational and bold in their opposition to Christ. Last year there were over 40 million abortions done worldwide. That’s more than all the other causes of death including wars, sickness and malnutrition combined. The life that Christ has come to save includes the lives of the preborn. In Canada the drug RU 486 is a two pill chemical abortion device that costs about $400. Stand against abortion for it is about increase even more. The works of the devil happen in this scale and in the smaller scales of poverty and drug use and racism and suicide. The number of ways to be involved in destroying the works of the devil are endless but they all are what the power of Christ in you calls you to see and then engage.
IV. The Power of Christ In You Calls You to Practice Righteousness.
Have a look at verse 10, “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” What do think it would look like to ‘practice righteousness’? Doctors are medical practitioners, this verse is calling you to be a spiritual practitioner, one who offers life in Christ. It begins at the micro level, love your brother or sister in Christ. It begins with how you practice righteousness, not as a Pharisee but as follower of Jesus. It begins by when and how and even where you pray, it involves your willingness to forgive all. The Lord’s Prayer is a short course on practicing righteousness. Is God indeed holy to you, do you tell Him that? Do you really desire to see His will done on earth as it is in heaven? Are you thankful for every bit of food you receive, are you aware of your trespasses? How resistant to temptation are you and is the Lord your strength in that place? Practicing righteousness requires just that, practice. Recognize the orphan and widow in their distress, give cheerfully, embrace the Word, petition the Spirit, give praise daily to the Father and love the Son. The power of Christ in you calls to you, entreats you, commands you, practice righteousness. The power of Christ in us overcomes a lawless heart, removes the desire to habitually sin, destroys the works of the devil and calls us to practice righteousness.