Sunday, August 2, 2015, 10:30 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Just A Closer Walk with Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 John 1 (NASB). Just a Closer Walk with Thee / Unknown I am weak, but Thou art strong, Jesus, keep me from all wrong, I’ll be satisfied as long As I walk, let me walk close to Thee. Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it, Jesus, is my plea, Daily walking close to Thee, Let it be, dear Lord, let it be. The Eternal Life (1 John 1:1-4) What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. Jesus Christ was in the beginning with God, and he is God. He is our creator, i.e. we were made by him. He is life and the giver of life. He is the Light (truth, righteousness) which shines in the darkness. Although he was God, he willingly left his throne in heaven and came to earth, and was born as a baby. When he walked this earth, he was fully God yet fully man (See: Jn. 1; Phil. 2). He suffered like we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). Although he was God the Son, and he was sinless, still he learned obedience through what he suffered so that he could become our perfect Lamb sacrifice to take away our sins. Scripture says, “Once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Heb. 5:9). During Jesus’ earthly ministry he healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, and comforted the sorrowful. He rebuked the rebellious, disobedient and hypocritical. He also confronted sin in sinful human beings, and yet showed great love, compassion and mercy to the afflicted. As well, he called for repentance and belief in the good news of the gospel. He taught that we must deny self, die to sin daily and follow (obey) him if we want to be his disciples. He said his sheep know his voice, they listen to him and they follow (obey) him. He also said we must participate with him in death to sin if we want to have eternal life. Some people loved him and followed him. Others hated him and plotted his death. They hung him on a cross to die, although he had done no wrong. But God the Father raised him from the dead. When he died, our sins died with him. When he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell and death. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. When we come to faith in him, by the Spirit of God, we die with him to sin and we are resurrected with him to new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in transforming our hearts and minds away from living sinful lifestyles to walking in the Spirit, we enter into relationship (fellowship) with God, and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. The Spirit of God then teaches us all things, and he brings to mind all that Jesus taught when he was on the earth. The Spirit counsels, leads, guides, encourages, comforts, empowers, convicts and urges us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling we have received from God - to be his children, his followers, his servants and his messengers. We are now the temple of God, the body of Christ, his church. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and we are to shine the light of Jesus and his gospel to all people so that many may be saved. Walk in the Light (1 John 1:5-10) This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. This fellowship with God is participation with him in death to sin and living to righteousness. It is also a love relationship, i.e. through faith in Jesus Christ we become children of the Father, and members of the family of God. We also, as the body of Christ, become the bride of Christ, with him as our husband. There is, thus, a close intimacy between us and our Lord. Our desire is now for him, and for walking in his ways. We are partners with him in the gospel, both in walking the talk and in talking the walk. We spend time with him each day listening to him speak to us through his Word, and in doing what his Word teaches us. We spend time talking with him in prayer, bringing our requests to him, and inquiring of him as to his will for our lives, for guidance and direction; and in thanksgiving and praise of him for who he is and for all that he has done for us. And, we want to get to know him. God is Light. Light is truth, righteousness and holiness. It is the exact opposite of darkness, which is sin and evil. There is no sin or evil in God, for he is perfect in holiness. So, if we say that we have fellowship with God (Jesus Christ), and yet we walk (conduct our lives) in the darkness (in sin), then we are liars, and we don’t practice the truth. This does not mean we will live in sinless perfection once we believe in Jesus, or that we will never fail, but what it does mean is that we no longer conduct our lives according to what our flesh desires, but we now live our lives for the glory of God, to obey our Lord, and to walk in his truth. When we do sin, we confess our sin, turn from it, and continue to walk in the Light he has given to us. As well, we don’t use lack of perfection as an excuse for continued willful sin and rebellion against God, nor do we claim that God’s grace gives us free license to sin. If we walk (conduct our lives) in the light (in truth, holiness and righteousness), in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us, then we who are walking in the light have spiritual fellowship with each other. This does not mean we will have fellowship with everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian, though, for not all who profess Christ are walking in the light. Many who profess to be followers of Christ are very worldly, and so there is no fellowship between them and us, because their minds are on what is on this earth rather than having their minds set on what is of God. They may even call it “fellowship,” when they get together with others who also call themselves Christians, but there is no fellowship between light and darkness, or even between light and lukewarmness. If Jesus is not a part of what we do, then how can it be fellowship? How are we any different from the people of this world who make no claims of faith in Jesus Christ? So, what does “walking in the light” look like? I believe it begins with faith in Jesus Christ via participation with Christ in death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ, by the Spirit of God. This means that we humble ourselves before God, confess that we are sinners in need of a Savior, own up to our sin, and willingly choose to turn from it and to walk in the truth, in the power and working of the Spirit within us. It involves surrender of our wills to the will of God for our lives. And, it means that we choose to no longer conduct our lives according to (in agreement with) the flesh, but we allow the Spirit of God to transform us in heart and mind away from sin to walks of faith in obedience to Christ’s instructions for godly and holy living. When we do sin, we confess it, turn from it, and continue to walk in the ways of the Lord. When the Spirit of God puts his finger on an area of our lives which needs changed, we don’t resist the Spirit, but we cooperate with the Spirit’s work in purifying our hearts and in making us holy, and in conforming us into the image of Christ. This heart transformation of the Spirit of God in our lives is radical. We don’t kind of inch our way toward God a little at a time while still holding on to sinful lifestyles. I often picture our faith like jumping out of a high-rise building, which is on fire, and into God’s safety net. We have to let go of what is going to burn up so we don’t burn up with it. If we try holding on, or if we try crawling (inching our way) down the side of the building toward the safety net, we will still burn up. The only way to safety is to let go and to jump into the loving arms of Jesus. This means we need to do a heart examination, and take a good hard look at our lives, and at how and for whom we are living them, and we need to come humbly before God and relinquish our wills to his and throw off all that hinders and the sin which so easily entangles, so we can run the race God has planned for us to run with perseverance. We can’t live godly lives and worldly lives at the same time. The two don’t mix. Yet, this does not mean we start off as mature followers of Christ, either. We begin as babes in Christ, and we spend our lives learning and growing and maturing. Sometimes we will trip and fall, but we need to get back up, turn from sin, and keep going forward. If we have been Christians a very long time, but we are still living as though we are spiritual infants, then something is terribly wrong. It could be that we never truly did enter into relationship with Jesus Christ, because we never submitted ourselves to the cross of Christ in death to sin, but we thought we could kind of just make the rules for ourselves, suited to our own desires and will. So, we need to go back and make sure that we have the correct beginning, and then we need to keep growing and changing by cooperating with God’s work of grace and sanctification in our lives. God’s love for us in sending his Son Jesus Christ to take on human flesh, and to die on the cross for our sins, and to be resurrected from the grave in victory over sin, so that we could go free from slavery to sin, should inspire us to want to walk in his light and to want to get to know him more and more each day. Yet, so many who profess the name of Jesus are, instead, using God’s grace as license to continue in sin, thinking that God’s grace entitles them to heaven without them having to walk in the light at all, but thinking they can continue to walk in darkness and still have the hope of heaven. Yet, Jesus did not die just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us. He died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk no longer according to the flesh, but who walk according to the Spirit. So, if you are still conducting your life according to your sinful flesh, but you are claiming to have fellowship with God, remember that God says you lie and don’t live by the truth. So, give your life to him today, and choose to walk in the light as He is in the light. Your Love Inspires Me / An Original Work / April 28, 2011 Your love inspires me to want to know you more. I worship and adore my gracious, loving Lord. Washing all my sin, purify within, Your grace and Your loving kindness save from sin. Because of what You’ve done for me, I praise You, Lord. You freed me from my sin, and made me whole within. As I come to You with a contrite heart, I pray that Your love and mercy, You impart. Jesus died for you, then He rose up from the grave. He conquered death and sin, so by our faith we’re saved. He became a man. This was in God’s plan, So that we might be forgiven, cleansed within; saved from sin.