Sermon Notes ~ Don Fortner
1st John is the “we know” epistle. It is written specifically to assure God’s elect of his grace and his salvation in Christ. John wrote these five chapters by divine inspiration to assure every believer, to assure every sinner who trusts Christ of his saving interest in Christ. Eleven times, God the Holy Spirit inspired John to write these two words, “we know,” in this short epistle, so that we might know that Christ is ours and we are his.
1 John 2:3 “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” — We know that we know God because we keep his commandments, that is to say, we trust his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 John 2:18 “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” — We know that we are living in the last time, during the last tick of the clock of God’s purpose for this world, because antichrist is everywhere!
1 John 3:2 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we knowthat, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” — We know that we have a good hope through grace. Oh, what a blessed hope it is! — When Christ comes again, “we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is!”
1 John 3:14 “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” — We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.
1 John 3:19 “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.” — We know that we are of the truth and assure our hearts, by the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, causing us to perceive the love of God for us in the sacrifice of his dear Son and causing us to love one another.
1 John 3:24 “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we knowthat he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” — We know that we are God’s, chosen, redeemed, called, and born again, because God the Holy Spirit dwells in us, giving us faith in Christ, teaching us to love one another.
1 John 5:2 “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.” — We know that we love the children of God because we trust the Son of God, seeking the glory of God and walking in obedience to the will of God.
1 John 5:15 “And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” — We know that God in heaven hears our prayers, that he hears the cries of his children in Egypt; and if our Heavenly Fathers hears us we have the petitions we desire of him.
(Matthew 6:9-13) “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” — We know that that which is born of God cannot sin and cannot be harmed in any way by the wicked one.
1 John 5:19 “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” — We know that we are God’s and that the whole world is wicked. We live in a world that lies in, sleeps in, wallows in wickedness. — Why do we foolishly expect righteousness to arise from this world of wickedness?
Now, watch this…
1 John 5:20 “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”
Do you see John’s object in this epistle? Do you see that God the Holy Spirit has given us this sweet portion of Holy Scripture to give us assurance, not to take it away. He has given us this epistle to assure our hearts, not to disturb them. He has given us these five chapters to make us comfortable with Christ in this world of constant chaos.
With that in mind, I want us to read verses 4-12 of chapter 3. —— 1st John 3:4-12 —— The title of my message is — GOD’S CHILDREN AND THE DEVIL’S — 1st John 3:4-12.
“4 . Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”
“11 .For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 Not as Cain, [who] was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” (1 John 3:4-12)
Proposition: God the Holy Spirit here tells us that God’s children are distinguished from the devil’s and that the two are distinguished and made manifest in time by the grace of God in and upon his children and by the unchanged enmity and wickedness of the devil’s, the reprobate of Adam’s race.
The whole human race is divided into two groups. The division was made by the decree of God in eternity; and nothing in time will change it.
- Elect and Reprobate — The elect will never become reprobate; and the reprobate will never become elect. Jacob will never become Esau; and Esau will never become Jacob.
- Sheep and Goats — Sheep will never become goats; and goats will never be converted to sheep. Some of God’s elect are lost, straying sheep who must yet be found and brought home. Other sheep have already been found. But sheep never were goats; and goats will never become sheep.
- The Woman’s Seed and the Serpent’s Seed (Genesis 3:15) — The woman’s Seed is Christ and all God’s elect in him. God’s elect are the seed of him who is the woman’s Seed. All others are the serpent’s seed.
- Children of God and Children of the Devil — Children of God never become the children of the devil; and children of the devil never become the children of God.
“The good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one” (Matthew 13:38). —
Between these two, between Dives and Lazarus, between Abraham’s bosom and hell “there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us that [would come] from thence” (Luke 16:26). The only way we can know one from the other is by God making manifest who his elect are; and he makes his elect manifest in time by the mighty operations of his grace in them. What we commonly call “salvation” is but “the manifestation of the sons of God.” It is my prayer that there may be some of God’s elect hearing this message for whom “the time of love has come,” that God might now make known to you that you are his…
- By Regeneration!
- By Effectual Calling!
- By the Revelation of Christ in You!
- By the Gift of Faith in His Son!
Divisions: Let’s go back to 1st John 3:4-12. Let me show you five things in this passage.
1. Sin Defined (v. 4)
2. Sin Removed (v. 5)
3. Reigning Grace (vv. 6-7)
4. Satan Destroyed (v. 8)
5. Distinctions made Manifest (vv. 9-12)
First, we see sin defined in verse 4. — “Whosoever committeth sin, transgresseth also the law, for sin is the transgression of the law.” Sin is an infinite evil, because committed against the infinite God. Nothing less than an infinite sacrifice could put it away. Nothing less than infinite righteousness could undo its effects. None but Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s own dear Son could ever make atonement for and save us from sin (Hebrews 10:1-7).
“1 ¶ For the law having a shadow of good things to come, [and] not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those [sacrifices there is] a remembrance again [made] of sins every year. 4 For [it is] not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and [sacrifices] for sin thou hast had no pleasure.”
“7 ¶ Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.” (Hebrews 10:1-7)
(Romans 5:20-21) “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Second, in the 5th verse John shows us how that sin, all the sin of God’s elect, was removed by the sin-atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. — “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.” (1 John 3:5)
(Hebrews 10:8-14) “Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and [offering] for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure [therein]; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [for all]. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”
Third, the Holy Spirit shows us how grace reigns through righteousness in the new birth (vv. 6-7). When God the Holy Spirit gives chosen, redeemed sinners the gift of life in Christ, when he regenerates and sanctifies the elect, he makes the sons of God manifest by making them “partakers of the divine nature,” by creating “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” by imparting to you a new, righteous, holy nature.
(1 John 3:6-7) “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.”
It is by this new creation of grace that God distinguishes the children of God from the devil’s (2 Corinthians 5:17).
“17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
(Galatians 4:4-6) “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”
Fourth, we are told that the object of Christ’s incarnation, obedience, and death was the destruction of the devil’s works. He came here to restore that which he took not away, to undo the works of the devil.
(1 John 3:8) “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
(John 12:31) “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”
(Colossians 2:9-15) “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”
“13 ¶ And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
DISTINCTIONS MADE MANIFEST
Fifth, verses 9-12 show us that in time God makes the distinctions between his children and the devil’s manifest.
“9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”
“11 ¶ For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 Not as Cain, [who] was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” (1 John 3:9-12)
The children of the wicked one he passes by and leaves to themselves. His own children he makes righteous by the gift of his grace in the new birth.
- Made Righteous in Justification by Blood Atonement
- Made Righteous in Sanctification by Being made Partakers if the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:3-4)
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)
There is a war which has been prosecuted through all the ages of time, a war that shall continue until time is no more, between the children of the kingdom, and the children of the wicked one, between God’s children and the devil’s. The war arises from one, solitary point of enmity, an enmity God himself pronounced on the serpent, and his venomous brood: — “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed”(Genesis 3:15). The enmity was first manifest in Cain’s slaughter of his brother Abel; but it is continued through the ages of time, in every corner of the world; and the enmity is always the same. — It is the hatred of man for God, particularly the hatred of man for God’s Son, most specifically the hatred of man for salvation by the righteousness of Christ, salvation by the doing and dying of Christ alone.
- Cain hated Abel because Abel was righteous, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The Jews tried to kill Lazarus because Christ had raised him from the dead.
- And the offence of the cross has not ceased!
(Galatians 5:11) “And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.”
- —Because it addresses all as sinners it this offends man’s dignity.
- —Because it comes as a sovereign revelation it offends man’s lofty thoughts of self.
- —Because it is received by simple faith it offends man’s wisdom.
- —Because it reveals an effectual atonement it offends man’s pride.
- —Because it gives total glory to God it offends man’s desire for praise
God’s children, his elect, Christ’s redeemed ones are made manifest in time by the gifts and operations of his grace in them.
- Being born again, born of God, they do righteousness. — We keep his commandments, trusting Christ. — And believers do right.
- Being born of God, God’s people love one another. — Faith always works by love. — Good works, in the Scriptures, are always portrayed as works of mercy and love (Ephesians 4:32-5:1).
May God be pleased to give you his grace and make it manifest to you and in you for Christ’s sake.
~ Don Fortner ~
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