April 26th, 2009
You have all seen it:
“3 steps in 30 days: a new you.”
“Miraculous makeover tricks that will make you a new person.”
“Clothes make the man”
TV shows like
“While you were out”
And something called “How to look good naked”
It is called turning over a new leaf, wiping the slate clean, or starting over.
There are 45,000 books on Google book search that include the words “starting over” in the title.
Today we get to make a fresh start, with a new series of sermons on the book of First John. I’ll cover one chapter each week for 5 weeks. And this first chapter, appropriately enough is about getting a fresh start.
John knows about fresh starts. We believe the John who wrote this book is probably the disciple John, the fisherman who got a fresh start when Jesus called him and his brother James away from their father’s fishing boat to fish for men.
You can imagine how rough a fisherman’s life was. How they looked, and smelled and talked and the kinds of jokes they told. . . Jesus took those rough, smelly fishermen and made them into disciples. This was extreme makeover: fisherman style.
. . . So John knew what he was talking about when he said “There are some who claim to have had a makeover and you can’t see any difference.” Well actually he said “If we claim to have fellowship with him, yet walk in the darkness we lie.” (1:6) In the preceding verse John has declared that “God is light and in him is no darkness at all” Yet there are people who claim to have experienced the Christian makeover whose lives are just as dark as they were before they met Jesus. Do you know people who look no different as Christians than they did before? I do!
None of you would be fooled into believing that I had an expensive makeover this week. After all I look just like I did last week with a couple more grey hairs. Frankly if I had received a makeover and still looked like this I’d demand my money back. Now, neither John nor I are really talking about the outward appearance. God works on the inner person.
Not the skin, but the sin.
Not the hair, but how we care.
Not the makeup, but whether we take up the cross in our lives.
Not the clothes, but how you wear your faith.
If we claim to be Christian- (claim to walk in him) But still live in the darkness no one believes us – because we are lying.
If we claim to be Christian- But hang out mostly with friends to whom we would be embarrassed to introduce Jesus- we are lying.
If we claim to be Christian- But still act in ways that do not reflect God's love – in ways that are not loving toward others- we are lying.
If we claim to be Christian but don’t leave enough evidence that we could ever be convicted of attempted believing – let alone first degree faith- we are lying.
John knows from personal experience that people look different after a makeover- If we claim to be Christian, but no one can see any difference we are lying-- and everyone knows it.
Second, John- has learned that we all need that makeover, but none of us likes to admit it. He says “if we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” If we claim we don’t need a makeover we are just lying to ourselves.
I think this is really interesting that in the preceding paragraph John says that we can’t really fool others. In this if statement he says, when we can’t fool others, we sometimes try to fool ourselves. We often can’t convince others we are without sin because they see through our thin veneer pretty easily. But sometimes we succeed in fooling is ourselves. If you claim that you do not sin, the only person you are fooling is yourself. I know better. Your neighbors know better. Your spouses and children certainly know better.
You are the only one you might be fooling, and to be honest even you probably suspect somewhere deep down inside that you might not be perfect.
1. If you claim to be a Christian without an extreme makeover in your life, you are lying to others.
2. If you claim that you are without sin, you are only fooling yourself.
But it gets worse! Finally, in verse 10 John says, “If we claim we have not sinned we make him out to be a liar.” Who is him? God. I don’t think any of us are in a position to be calling God a liar. I am pretty sure that God holds all the trump cards, and knows the cards that are in our hands. I’m pretty sure that the God who created you, who knit you together in your mother’s womb; the God who gives you every breath you breathe and is nearer than every beat of your heart; the God who is light in the dark corners of your life that you think no one else knows about; the God who is big enough to hold the entire created universe on the end of his finger, and small enough to live in every cell and every atom in your heart knows the truth about you. And the truth isn’t good.
“We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. “
If you deny that, you lie to God. And if you lie to God I think you automatically lose the argument that you have not sinned.
That makes a pretty sad story. God created us for good and we sinned, we failed we blew it, we screwed up. God knows it. We know it. And everyone else knows it. THE END.
The good news is that is not the end. The good news is that our sin is not the end of the story.
Looking back through this first chapter of First John, We have dealt with three “if” statements. There is one I skipped. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
That might sound kind of catholic to you, but maybe that’s because our Roman Catholic friends have the upper hand when it comes to understanding our need for confession. But don’t get nervous, I am not saying you have to come to me with your sins. (Frankly I have my hands full with my own.—I’m just kidding you’re welcome to come to me. But) you can also confess in the pitch darkness of your room at night, in the bright sunlight as you drive away after having cussed out another driver. One of my favorite places is the soft light of this sanctuary late at night when the room is lit only by the cross and the lights behind these panels here. You can confess by yourself or with a friend, at any time, in any place, in any way that seems right between you and God.
The important thing is that you stop lying to God, yourself and everyone else and come to grips with the sin that lives in you.
Then and only then can God show you that “He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Then and only then can you experience the extreme makeover of the Christian life.
You know in the show “extreme makeover, home edition.” They pull the bus up in front of the house so the family can’t see their new house. What do they say?
(Bus driver, move that bus!) Then they all cry.
Maybe we need to take a lesson. Is the big ugly bus of sin blocking your view of the beautiful makeover God has wrought in your life through Jesus Christ? Is your sin sitting right smack between you and the joy of salvation. In order to experience the extreme makeover of forgiveness, salvation and joy in the Lord; maybe you need to kneel down in prayerful confession to God and with sorrow in your heart, and tears in your eyes, say- “Lord Jesus remove my sin.”
“Lord Jesus, Remove my sin.”
PRAYER--We are liar’s lord. We are cheats and fools for trying to pretend that all is well when it isn’t. We are blocked from your forgiveness by our pride- by our stubbornness- by our unwillingness to confess to you. Hear now the sorrowful pleas of our hearts . . .
Lord Jesus, remove my sin
Say it with me please---
Lord Jesus remove my sin.