We Know We Belong to God

 

What Do You Know for Sure” Series
We Belong to God
1 John 5:19; 2:3-11
 
“What do you know for sure?” Hopefully, you have a least three things in your mind and memory to say the next time someone asks you that question. We have discovered already in this series that “We know we have eternal life, we know God answers prayer, and we know victory over sin.”

This morning I want us to look at the fourth thin in the list. It’s found in
 
1 John 5:19
 
This verse, as I mentioned last week, is very closely related to what we read in verse 18. Last week we looked at our victory over sin, and how there are only two groups of people in the world. There are those who commit sin and those who practice righteousness. 
 
This verse reiterates that in another way by describing those two groups as either belonging to God or being under the power and control of the evil one. 
 
Notice again those two realms: there's the world, and there are the people of God. We are God’s. We belong to God; He bought us with a price. We are His by virtue of His gift of salvation.
 
On the other hand, the whole world belongs to the evil one, Satan. If you’ve never been saved, you are the possession of the devil. 
You may not be demon-possessed, but you are the possession of a demon.  So we have here a very dramatic picture.
 
As Christians, we are in the embrace of God, therefore we're not in the embrace of Satan. There are two distinct realms and only two. The whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And by that he means the whole human system. There's nothing in it. There's nothing about it that is not under Satan's control.
 
Its economics, its politics, its religion, its education, it's everything, its entertainment, its athletics, it's everything. There are elements of the world that we can enjoy because of God's creation and we can see the image of God and we can see the creative glory of God manifest in the world, but the system that functions within His creation is a system that is completely contaminated.
 
We can see that rather clearly in 1 John 2:15-17
 
See it? Two groups of people, one passing away, one abiding forever. 
 
And John says one of the things you can know for sure is that you belong to God. As I’ve mentioned to you, the word "know" is used 39 times in five chapters in I John. Again and again he talks about knowing; he talks about being assured. I like the fact that God is not a God of doubt, but God is a God of assurance; God is a God of belief; God is a God of faith. 
 
 
 
Assurance of salvation is so fundamental to the Christian life and so important to the Christian life because your joy is based on your assurance. You'll never have the joy that John writes about when he says, "I want your joy to be full," until you have the assurance that the Holy Spirit of God lives in you and that you are indeed a child of God, and nothing in this world or in the world to come will ever change that. Not only that, but also your growth depends upon whether or not you have assurance. 
 
D. L. Moody, the great evangelist, once said, "I have never seen an effective Christian who did not have the assurance of his salvation." Assurance is necessary if you're to grow in the Christian life, if you're to be an effective witness for Jesus. If you're to bring anybody else to Christ, it's important that you know beyond any doubt that you're saved. That's fundamental. It's important. 
 
I just say to you, if you don't have this assurance, then you shouldn't leave this place until you do have it. If you don't know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you're saved, then you should not leave this church today until you know. If you know that you're saved and you have that assurance, then I invite you to just reaffirm what you know through this message and just praise the Lord that the Bible confirms the assurance that God has already given to you.
 
Now remember, 1 John is a summation of what has already been written in the letter. So it does us good to review a little and see more fully what these summary statements are talking about. I’ve already got you in 1 John 2 so let’s spend some time there. 
 
1 John 2:3-11
 
Notice that three times in this passage, John uses the phrase, "He who says." It's talking about professions that people make, the profession of faith in Christ. Three times when he uses this phrase, "he who says," he uses it to introduce a test whereby you can know that you belong to God. 
 
The early believers knew that they were Christians. I just can't imagine walking up to Peter or Paul or John and saying to them, "Are you a Christian," and having them reply to me, "Well, I hope I am; I'm working to get there; I hope somehow I'll be saved." Can you really imagine walking up to one of the apostles and having them say to you, "Well, I sure hope so; I think I might be; I'm praying that I am." Why, no, you can't even feature that. That's because they had an assurance based on a real experience, a personal experience with the Lord Jesus Christ. 
 
So John, better God, wants us to have that assurance, and he gives us these three tests. So let’s look at them one at a time, and today, you can know whether you belong to God or you are under the power of the evil one. 
 
The first test is
 
1. The Test of Attitude 
 
1 John 2:3 
 
The word "keep" here is a word which means "to carefully guard, as one would guard a treasure, as one would guard something very precious to him." He's saying here that the child of God has within his spirit, within his mind, within his very being, an attitude of carefully guarding the commandments of God. He's not saying that a child of God can perfectly keep the commandments or will always perfectly keep the commandments. Remember, we looked at that last week. 
 
A child of God can sin and will sin, but it is the exception to his life rather than the rule of his life. Here we discover the same thing; the attitude of the heart and life of the child of God is to keep God's commandments. 
 
That's in contrast to the lost man. 
 
Verse 4
 
The lost man could care less about the commandments of God; the lost man could care less about the will of God; the lost man doesn't care what God wants him to do; the lost man cannot relate to the will of God. It has no relationship to his life. But a Christian is one who is so concerned and so careful about what God wants him to do the he guards the commandments of God as he would guard a treasure in his life. 
 
I want you to see what he says about not only keeping his commandments, that’s verse 3; but notice also what is said about keeping His word down in verse 5
 
In one point, he says keep His commandments; in another he said keep His word. Is there a difference in keeping the commandments of God and in keeping the word of God? 
Let me illustrate it this way: 
 
Suppose your child comes in from school, and you say to your child, "I want you to carry out the garbage; I want you to make your bed; I want you to clean the house." You've given him three specific commandments. He understands that's what you want him to do. When he does those things, he has kept your commandments. 
 
But suppose he comes in from school, and he hears you talking with a neighbor. You're saying to the neighbor, "I feel so awful today; I just can't get my work done. I wish I had somebody that would take out the trash; I wish there was somebody that would clean the house for me; I wish I could get some help with all of these things that need to be done." And he overhears what you've said. 
 
So he does all of those things that you mentioned and even more. He busies himself taking care of all those things - not because you have specifically commanded him to do so, but because he loves you and wants to do that which pleases you. 
 
What John is saying is this: You know you're a child of God when you want to keep not only His commandments but also His word. As you read the Bible, you find many, many things that are not spelled out in commandments. You find some things that please Jesus, but He doesn't actually say "thou shalt" or "thou shalt not." 
 
He didn't write everything He wanted us to do down specifically, not everything. But we find great spiritual principles in the Word of God.   
 
There is something about a true believer in Jesus that makes him want to find out what pleases Jesus, and he wants with all of his heart and with all of his soul and with all of his strength to that which pleases the Lord Jesus Christ. He wants to keep His word. That's the attitude of his mind; that's the attitude of his heart. Not only to keep the "thou shalts" and "the thou shalt nots," but also to read the Bible, to listen to the Spirit, to find out what pleases Jesus Christ and to do that which is pleasing to the Master.
 
Is that the attitude of your life? If your life is a constant rebellion against God's will, a constant rebellion against God's commandments, a constant rebellion against pleasing Jesus, if you want to please self rather than please God, then it's an indication that you need to check up on your salvation experience. 
 
But if down deep in your heart there is that genuine attitude, "God, I know that I'm not perfect, but Lord, I thank you for Jesus Christ, my advocate. God, with all of my heart, I want to keep your commandments. I want today, dear Lord Jesus, to please you in everything that I do and everything that I say. I want to please you, Lord." That's the attitude of a child of God. 
 
The second test is
 
2. The Test of Action
 
1 John 2:6
 
The word “abides” carries the idea of rest or trust; to  rely upon or continue in. 
 
So “he that says ‘I'm a Christian’"; he that says, "I'm in Jesus," he that says, "I'm trusting the Lord." he that says, "I'm a born-again believer," he that says, "I am filled with the Holy Spirit," he that says, "God is in control of my life," ought to walk even as Jesus walked. 
 
In other words, if our profession is the Spirit of God is in control of our life, and we’re abiding in His word, we're resting in His word, we're depending upon His word; we're trusting in His Spirit; we're relying upon Him to control our life", then the actions of our life will be like the action of Jesus. We'll walk as Jesus walked.
 
Think about the daily life and actions of Jesus. When he was a child, he was in submission to his parents. When he began His earthly ministry, He went about doing good. When it was time to die, He set his face like a flint to go to Jerusalem. 
 
The Bible says that the action of our life will be like that of Jesus. Only the Spirit of God can produce that. The world can't produce it; man can't produce it.   Only the Spirit of God in a born-again believe can produce the walk of Jesus. Our walk ought to match our talk; John has said that again and again and again. What we say with our lips ought to be consistent with the way we live. 
 
I read about an evangelist the other day back in the days when they used to shout. The evangelist appointed a shouting committee. It was the duty of the shouting committee to watch who shouted in the church. If a person shouted in the church in the meeting, then the next day the committee would check out his life. 
If they found that this person was not living a Christian life and not walking a Christian walk, then that person was not allowed to shout in the meeting the next night. Do you get the picture? That's what the Bible is saying: He that says he's abiding in Jesus ought to walk as Jesus walked. The Bible has that principle again and again. 
 
Christians are to live and act and walk like Jesus. 
 
The word Christian came to the disciples at Antioch, and it meant little Christ. The unbelieving unregenerate pagan world looked at the people in the New Testament church and said, "You remind us of Jesus. You look just like Jesus; you're a bunch of little Christs." They said it sneeringly and snarling and in derision. But they were paying them the highest compliment they could have paid them. 
 
That's what the world ought to call us today,” little Christs”, because our walk is so much like the walk of the Lord Jesus Christ and so different than anything this world has ever seen. 
 
That’s what got the new governor of Alabama in trouble this week. He had the audacity to say that anyone who is not a believer in Jesus Christ is not his brother or sister. He wasn’t the first one to say that. John said it right here in this letter that we’re studying.
 
We ought to compare our lives not to the lives of other human beings but to the life of Jesus. We ought to care less what the Muslim community or the Anti-defamation league has to say. I praise the Lord for an elected official who is willing to walk like Jesus walked. 
Can you imagine Jesus doing some of the things that we do sometimes as believers? Can you imagine Jesus saying some of the things we say sometimes? Can you imagine the Lord Jesus being as critical as we are sometimes? Can you imagine the Lord Jesus being frustrated and confused and just totally out of sorts with His personality? 
 
Why of course not, that's an absurdity. We know that all those kind of things that come in our life are from the devil and not from Jesus Christ. Our life is to be a duplication of the life of Christ as the Holy Spirit of God lives within us and we trust Him and rely upon Him and honor Him and submit to Him in our life and yield to Him. Then, and only then will our life take on the characteristics of the life of Jesus. 
 
There's the test of our attitude, the test of our actions, and the last test is
 
3. The Test of our Affection
 
1 John 2:7-11
 
This is interesting, because it seems like a contradiction, but it's a wonderful truth. In 1 John 2:3, John used the word "commandments”, plural. He talks here about a commandment. He's boiled the commandments down to one commandment. 
 
You remember when the man came to Jesus, and he said, "What's the greatest of all the commandments?" 
 
 
 
Jesus boiled the commandments down into two commandments:   "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul with all thy mind with all thy strength, and the second is like unto it, Love thy neighbor as thyself." He boiled it down to two. 
 
, didn't He. Then Paul writing to the church at Rome, boil all the commandments down to one. He said that love is the fulfilling of the law. Paul boiled it all down to love. 
 
So John now comes along and says, "I'm not writing a new commandment; I'm just writing the old commandment that you've had from the beginning."    The world has always known the truth that God is love.   God's people have always known that they were to love. That's a commandment as old as time itself.    That's basic. 
 
But now 1 John 2:8 says, "I'm going to give you a new commandment." In 1 John 2:7 he says, "I'm not going to give you a new commandment; I'm going to give you an old commandment." But in I John 2:8 he says, "But then again, it's not just an old commandment; in a sense, it is a new commandment." 
 
Now he's talking about the commandment to love. 
 
Why is it a new commandment if it's been around for so long? It was new because when Jesus came - watch this - when Jesus came, He gave a new emphasis and a new example and a new experience to the commandment of love.    Folks, the world had not ever seen the love of God like they saw it when Jesus came to this earth. 
 
The word of His lips were love; the actions of His body were love; the touch of His hand was the touch of love; every move of His life was the move of love.   Jesus embodied the love of God, and He gave new meaning and new purpose and new dynamics to the old commandment to love. Jesus Christ showed this world what it was to really love. The people of God are to love. 
 
Jesus said to His disciples, "A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples when you have love one to another." 
 
If there's any place in the earth where people need to see love, it's in the church of Jesus Christ. They're not going to see it in the world. The world is dog- eat-dog, who cares about you, I'm thinking about me.   The world needs to see love in the church; that's what he's talking about here. 
 
He's saying that the love of God is perfected in the life of a believer; it's completed in the life of a believer. The love of God, the way it was expressed in Jesus, was new. It was new in example; it was new in experience. 
 
So notice what he says in verse 9. 
 
He's saying this kind of person doesn't know anything about the love of God in his heart. He says he's in the light, but he hates his brother; he's blind to his own condition, he's blind to the needs of others. Just like it's impossible for light in darkness to be in the same place at the same time. It's mutually exclusive. 
 
So it's mutually exclusive for a person to say that he's a child of God, that he has the love of God and yet he has hatred in his heart for people at the same time. Friend, it cannot be. That is the test of your affections. 
 
Listen: there are a lot of people strutting around God’s churches today bragging about what they don’t go and how holy they are and how much they pray and read their Bibles. After all they keep the commandments of God. 
 
But they flunk out when it comes to the test of affection. They have no love for others. 
 
So let me show you what John says results when you flunk the test of affection: 
 
First of all, when you have hatred in your heart,
 
- You cause others to stumble
 
1 John 2:10
 
When you allow hatred and bitterness to be in your heart, you cause lost people to stumble; you cause other believers to stumble. 
 
And second,
 
- You stumble yourself
 
1 John 2:11
 
 
 
 
Listen: there is no telling where the darkness will take you.  When a person walks in the dark physically and doesn’t know where he’s at and where he’s going, you wind lost.
 
Understand? If you don’t know where you are at and where you are going, and you just keep stumbling around in the dark, there’s no telling where you’ll wind up spiritually speaking.  
 
You will lose your sense of direction, your sense of purpose, your sense of feeling for things. Pretty soon you don't even know where you're going. 
 
I want to tell you, when there's bitterness and animosity in your heart for anybody, there's no telling where that bitterness and hatred and animosity will take you. But I will guarantee you this: it'll take you away from God. It'll take you away from the will of God. It'll rob you of all peace and joy. You won't have the right mental attitude; you won't have the right outlook on life; you won't have the right grip on things. 
 
That attitude of animosity and bitterness in your heart and in your life will just consume you, and you'll be like a man walking in darkness. There's no telling where you end up. 
 
What you need is the touch of the love of God. When the love of God floods into a dark soul where there's animosity and bitterness and hatred and grudges and fault-finding, and the love of God shines in there, it just takes all of that out. You begin to see for the first time. You begin to see others' problems and not your own problems. 
 
The love of God finds fulfillment; it finds completion in the heart of a believer. It takes a believer and makes him what God wants him to be. It changes your life.
 
Years ago a man came to the Moody Tabernacle in Chicago. They had in that tabernacle the old gas lamps blazing in large letters, GOD IS LOVE. He came in and sat through the service. The singer sang; D. L. Moody preached; the invitation was given; the man came down the aisle and gave his life to Jesus. 
 
Mr. Moody said to him, "What was it in the sermon that caused you to wake up and see your need of Christ?" He said, "It wasn't anything in the sermon." 
 
"Oh? What song was it that caused you to see you needed Jesus?" "He said, "It wasn't a song. 
 
It was those words up there, 'God is love.' That's the very first time I ever really understood that God is love, that God loves me, that God cares about me."
 
Dear lost friend I want you to know that God loves you today whether you're a believer or unbeliever, God loves you. God cares about you. God hurts with you. God feels with you. God knows where you are. God knows the need of your life tonight. And you need to understand God's love coming into your life is the answer for that need, just letting the love of God flood your soul, letting the love of God possess your life, letting the Spirit of God take control.
 
 
But dear friend who professes to know Christ, you can’t belong to God and not love others. I don’t care what you say. The Holy Word of God declares that you are lost in the dark.
 
And I’ll tell you something else: You may profess to know Christ, but if you can’t pass the test of action, you don’t belong to God. If you don’t consistently act like Jesus what makes you believe that Jesus is living in you. 
 
And if you can’t pass the attitude test, if there is not a desire to follow the teachings of God, there is a real problem with you profession. 
 
So this invitation is for both the person who knows they’re lost and needs Jesus, and the person who says they are saved and either wants to improve their walk with Christ in action, attitude and affection or sees no evidence in their action, attitude and affection that they belong to God.
 
If you want to know for certain today that you belong to God, then I have good news for you: you can
 
Let’s pray.
 
 
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