Being in Step With God
Sunday, October 15, 2017
Back to the Basics of the Christian Life
Part 1: Walking to the Beat of God’s Drum
1 John 1:5-2:6
Introduction: Military Cadence - In the armed services, a military cadence or cadence call is a traditional call-and-response work song sung by military personnel while running or marching.
Requiring no instruments to play, they are counterparts in oral military folklore of the military march. As a sort of work song, military cadences take their rhythms from the work being done (compare sea shanty). Many cadences have a call and response structure of which one soldier initiates a line, and the remaining soldiers complete it, thus instilling teamwork and camaraderie for completion. The cadence calls move to the beat and rhythm of the normal speed (quick time) march or running-in-formation (double time) march. This serves the purpose of keeping soldiers "dressed", moving in step as a unit and in formation, while maintaining the correct beat or cadence.
The word "cadence" was applied to these work songs because of an earlier meaning, in which it meant the number of steps a marcher or runner took per minute. The cadence was set by a drummer or sergeant and discipline was extremely important, as keeping the cadence directly affected the travel speed of infantry.
Do you realize, God created us to do a similar thing? He created us to follow his steps – follow His cadence. Let’s look at our text this morning.
READ 1 John 1:1-2:6
LOOK! 1 John 1:6-7 “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Notice the word walk is used twice in these two verses. John teaches us that a believer will keep in step with God. A believer will desire to walk with God. My goal is to help you understand what it means to keep in step with God. Look with me as we study I John 1 verse 5 through chapter 2 verse 6. These verses identify three ingredients of the person who is in step with God.
I. Being in step with God means you have the right attitude about sin.
In verse 7 of chapter 1 through verse 2 of chapter 2 John mentions the word sin 8 times. This gives us a pretty good clue that sin is an important subject in the life of a believer. What should be our attitude toward sin?
ILL: President Calvin Coolidge went to church, and afterwards was asked by a friend what the minister spoke on. “He preached on sin.” The friend asked what the preacher had to say about sin, and was told, “He’s against it.”
We should agree with God that we are sinners. Rom. 3:23 says, “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
The word "confess" in I John 1:9 basically means to agree. We agree with God about sin. This refers to all people. Even believers struggle against sin. John confronted this subject because there were false teachers spreading false teaching about sin. Some claimed to have no sin. Another group claimed that sin was of no consequence. Either group had a bad attitude about sin. John’s premise is that the beginning place of being in step with God is to agree with God that we are sinners.
If sin were no longer a problem for a believer you would think God would pass over the subject. However, the opposite is true. God includes many examples of believers who struggled against sin. He does not gloss over this subject.
- Abraham lied to protect himself.
- Moses was overcome with anger.
- David committed adultery.
- Noah got drunk and exposed himself.
- James and John were filled with jealousy.
- Peter denied the Lord.
ILL: A pastor finished his message early one Sunday, and he wanted to check his congregation’s understanding. So, he asked, "Can anyone tell me what you must do before you can obtain forgiveness of sin?"
There was a short pause and then, from the back of the room, a small boy spoke up, "You have to sin." (Contributed to Sermon Central by Dana Chau)
All people, even believers, must confront their sin.
The difference between a believer and an un-believer is attitude. The believer understands that sin is a problem. The believer understands that sin separates and breaks our fellowship with God. The believer understands that sin leads to hurt and pain.
Not only does the believer agree with God about sin but he seeks God’s help in dealing with sin. God’s help is found in Jesus Christ.
(1) Jesus Christ came to pay the price for our sin.
John calls him a propitiation (2:2). A propitiation is a person who takes the place of another. Jesus died on the cross to fulfill God’s justice and pay the price for our sins.
(2) In addition, Jesus Christ came to be the advocate for our sins.
An advocate is one who argues the case and defends the accused. John speaks of this in 2:1.
The right attitude about sin means to agree with God’s assessment but also to ask God’s help. Admit that you need Jesus. Admit that he died for your sins.
ILL: Let’s suppose you are accused of committing a crime that you did not commit. In such a situation you would secure the services of an attorney. The attorney would represent you and argue your case. This is what happens in the spiritual realm. Satan wants to accuse you before the Father. He wants to condemn you. He knows God is a Holy, righteous and perfect God. He wants you to feel condemned. However, God is a just God. God loves you and wants to forgive your sin. He sent His son to be your representative and to be your advocate.
If you are in step with God you will have the right attitude about sin. Let’s look at the second ingredient for being in step with God.
II. Being in step with God means you desire to be obedient to Him.
ILL: A business man who was well known for his ruthless behavior once told Mark Twain, “Before I die I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments aloud at the top.” Mark Twain said, “I have a better idea. You could stay in Boston and keep them.” (Illustration 105 in Something to Think About)
Your obedience will be reflected by your consistent walk with God. Sometimes our words and our actions do not coincide.
ILL: A U.S. News and World Report survey found 88% of American adults are certain they are going to heaven. Ironically, only sixty seven percent are actually certain there is a heaven. (Quoted by Patrick Morley in Second Half for the Man in the Mirror, P. 79)
Notice verses 3-6 of chapter 2 of our text. John addresses the subject of obedience. In verse 3 John states “that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” In verse 5 John states that “we know that we are in Him” if we “keep His word.” In verse 6 John states that we must follow Jesus example by “walking just as He walked.” Three different ways of saying the same thing. It would be like saying the airplane is big; the airplane is huge; or the airplane is large. All three phrases are similar.
In keeping the Lord’s commandments, in keeping the Lord’s word and in following His example we are saying the same thing. We desire to be obedient to the Lord and His teachings. The key word in discussing this text is not found in the text. The key word is the word “desire.” Obedience becomes our hearts desire. This is not an easy task!
ILL: This is like the old proverb about eating an elephant. Someone asked how you can possibly eat an elephant. To which one wise person added, “One bite at a time.” Even though obedience to Christ is a challenging task, a believer makes obedience his lifetime quest.
I think there are two key principles that must be acknowledged concerning obeying Christ.
One principle is that God will help us to obey.
- Consider Philippians 2:12-13 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Notice the phrase “it is God who works in you.” God is at work in your heart to help you obey.
- Jesus taught this same principle in Mt. 4:19 when he called His first disciples and said them to “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Our responsibility is to obey. It is the Lord’s responsibility to change hearts, lives and make disciples.
A second principle about obedience involves us following His example.
Vs 6. “whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.”
That is a huge task. The key activity of Jesus life is that He lived a life of obedience to God’s will. Was it easy? Obviously not, it cost Him his life. However, it was the goal of His life to fulfill God’s will. It was the goal of His life to submit to the Father’s way.
Are you an obedient disciple of Jesus Christ?
- Have you confessed Him publicly?
- Have you followed Him in baptism?
- Do you share your faith with others?
- Do you seek to follow His will?
- Do you seek to submit to the teachings of His word?
If you are in step with God you will have the right attitude about sin. If you are in step with God you will obey Him.