Day 340: God is Life

Psalm 146, Psalm 148, Psalm 150; 1 John 5
(Psalms 147 & 149 were read on Day 273)

Today we end both 1 John and the book of Psalms. We have spent 44 straight days in Psalms!

1 John ends fittingly with John’s purpose for writing…

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 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 (1 John 5:12-13).

In Jesus is life. When we believe in the Son, he gives us new life through His Spirit and equips us to love others and keep His commandments. Because of the Spirit’s power at work within us, John writes that His commands are not burdensome (vs. 3). Rather they are life to the believer!

John’s purpose was encouragement. We, too, should be encouraged by John’s message. It is a message of hope because it’s the gospel!! Our response to the gospel should be a deep internal gratitude – which pours out as praise…

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord! 
(Psalm 150, the final Psalm!)

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Day 339: God is Love

Psalm 143-145; 1 John 4

God is love. In a word I think it means something like: God’s absolute fullness of life and truth and beauty and goodness and all other perfections is such that he is not only self-sufficient, but also, in his very nature, overflowing. God is so absolute, so perfect, so complete, so full, so inexhaustibly resourceful, so joyful, that he is by nature a Giver, a Worker for others, a Helper, a Protector. What it means to be God is to be full enough always to overflow and never to need—never murmur, never pout. God is love.

By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

We love because God first loved us. We love because He has given us His Spirit – and His Spirit is love. If we are believers, we will love others. John commands us to love because he wants us to be more of who God has transformed us to be. We should love so well that the world takes notice. Our love should be sacrificial and bold – just as God’s love for us is sacrificial and bold!

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made (Psalm 145:8-9).

Day 338: God is Truth

Psalm 140-141; 1 John 2:18-3:24
(Psalm 142 was read on Day 108)

John begins this section of Scripture by teaching that false teachers were already in their churches. He called these false teachers “antichrists” because they were “against Christ” (2:22).

John reminded the church to do two things when faced with false teaching… “Abide in what they heard from the beginning.” In other words, abide in the Word of God (2:24). And secondly, abide in the Holy Spirit (2:27). The Spirit should affirm what the Word says. It never gives “special revelation” that contradicts the Word of God.

False teachers were claiming this “special revelation” when they tried to lure the church away from gospel teachings. The primary false teaching John was refuting in these chapters was an early form of Gnosticism, specifically that Jesus did not come in the flesh.* They argued that if Jesus were separated from the flesh, then the born-again aspect of Christians was also separated from the flesh. This false premise led to the wrong conclusion that Christians could sin in the flesh and it didn’t affect their “born-again” spiritual state. In effect, they were permitting lawlessness by proclaiming that all Christians were sinless – because the deeds done in the flesh were separated from the real “spiritually born-again self.” John refuted this teaching by stating over and over again that your “doing” reflected your “being.”

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as [Jesus] is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning (1 John 3:7-8).

John was reminding the church of the truth…that Jesus came in the flesh (1:1), that all Christians struggle with sin (1:8), and when we sin, we have an advocate, Jesus the Son of God (2:1)!!

John exhorts us to examine our lives…carefully, in the light of the truth. If we are truly God’s children, our lives should reflect his righteousness. But we are not perfect, so if we are becoming complacent and falling into patterns of sin, we must run to our Advocate to find forgiveness (1:9)!

John is writing to the church tenderly. He says, “My little children. I write these things to you so that you may not sin” (2:1). And he reminds us of the incredible truth that we have been adopted into the family of God – and given a new nature so that we might be called His children.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are (1 John 3:1).

Friends, this is truth. We are God’s children. Our Father is the King. And our inheritance is vast beyond all measure!

*More information on the false teaching John is refuting can be found in this sermon by John Piper.

Day 337: God is Light

Psalm 138-139; 1 John 1:1-2:17
(Psalm 137 was read on Day 229)

1 John has always made me slightly uncomfortable. I think it’s the apostle’s “all or nothing” style of writing. He says things like:

If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (1:10).

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him (2:4).

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (2:15).

I know I don’t keep his commandments perfectly…does this mean the truth is not in me? And I know that sometimes I love the things of this world more than Christ…does this mean that the love of the Father is not in me?? What does John mean?

Firstly, John is refuting a specific false teaching (which we will cover in-depth tomorrow!) But also, if you read closely, he is not demanding we have to be perfect – because mixed in with all of John’s “all or nothing” statements is the gospel…John reminds us that we will still struggle with sin, but “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9). He also reminds us who rescued us from sin… Jesus, “which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands” (1:1). He is the propitiation for our sins…in other words, He made atonement for our sins to satisfy the wrath of God!

It is in this context, of seeking forgiveness and God’s grace, that John exhorts us to live in the “light” and not in the “darkness.” Living in the light is only possible because of the life of Christ. If we are true believers in Christ, he has regenerated our hearts and empowered us with His Spirit so that we might obey his commands (2:3-6). Without the help of Christ, we are left in the darkness. But because of Christ, we are forgiven; we are able to know him, and we have overcome the evil one (2:12-14).

I’m sure John struggled with sin, so he is not commanding us to be perfect. But he is exhorting us to strive to live in the light – in both knowledge and holiness – to pattern our lives after the light of Christ.

I’m thankful to be reading Psalm 139 on the same day as 1 John! For in this Psalm, David reminds us that – as children of God – we will never be separated from His presence. That even the darkest places are light to God – and we are never hidden from him. He knows us, intimately, and still pursues us. This gives us confidence to draw near and confess our sins as John commands us in 1 John 1:9. He is our loving Father. He is light!

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24).