Hope for the Self-Righteous and the Dispairing

Hope for the Self-Righteous and the Dispairing

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 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. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. – 1 John 1:5-10

Check out last week’s sermon here.

As you read John’s words, the Word of God, fear may rise in your heart. Sins and regrets of the past, of last night, fill your mind. Maybe you recently failed. Maybe it’s that past sin-filled life you fear is not forgiven. Anxiety builds as your head spins fighting and rationalizing where you stand before a holy God.

“Am I a liar claiming to be on God’s side while walking in darkness?”

“Am I accusing God of being a liar and deceiving myself about the nature of my sin?”

“Is the truth not in me?”

God is light and no darkness is in Him. Therefore to walk in darkness is evidence of a life that has no fellowship with God. God states that all are sinners in comparison to His glory. Therefore, claiming to be sinless contradicts God’s Word. God is the standard of truth. Therefore, only those who have truth are those who are in the light.

Do these words cut to your heart? 

Take courage, friend, for there is only one hope for us, and His power is not dependent on our righteousness.

Flee Self-made Salvation and Flee Despair

In the moment of fear, the Tempter will subtly lead you away from the true Savior to a false one—yourself. 

“I just have to be better.” 

“I can fix this and really have something good to bring to God.” 

“God will love me once my act is back together, but first I need to fix this sin.” 

Despite your ‘good’ intentions, any actions that leave you responsible for fixing the problem of your sin is the creation of a self-made savior. You have become your own savior and now are assuming control of fixing the problem of your failings.

Or, you may respond in despair

“I am too far gone; my sin is everywhere in me.”

The words of John are to you the final nails in your coffin. You feel beyond saving, as you reflect on the darkness you are living in. Your response is to turn deeper away from hope and light, as you see hope and light as unattainable for you anymore.

STOP! 

Would you believe that both responses (self-made savior and despair) are rooted in the same problem? Both have a skewed view of Christ. 

The self-made savior turns to himself to work harder and fix the problem alone. He does not believe Christ is the solution to his sin. He has minimized who Christ is. 

In the same way, the despairing person who fears she is lost has decided in her mind that Christ is not sufficient to save her in the depths of her sin. 

In both situations, Christ has been set limits, and those limits are straight from Hell to keep sinners from seeing Jesus as the true Savior.

Self-made bootstrap pulling will only encourage a cycle certain to end in sorrow. No peace will be found if your first response is, “What must I do…” (Mark 10:17). True peace finds its fulfillment in Christ, so any response without Christ at the center will end in failure.

In the same way, the despairing one who has given up will only find hope and peace in the arms of the Christ who says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).

Surrender yourself to Christ you despairing! Surrender to Jesus you self-made savior!

To Christ!

“If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” – 1 John 1:10

The self-made savior sees that he is already a sinner from John’s words. As he takes steps to fix the problem with his own strength, he effectively makes God a liar. All have sinned including the self-righteous. 

The despairing sinner sees that she is by nature born into sin. The problem of her sin is not new to the world. Thinking that sin is only committed by the low life’s such as her makes God a liar, for all are in a state of fallen sin and desperate for saving.

“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.” – 1 John 1:7

Walking in the light is not defined as self-empowered perfection. We know this to be true because for those who walk in the light, “…the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” Jesus cleanses those who walk in the light. Those in the light are not perfect due to personal righteousness. Those who are in the light see something in Jesus that is all-satisfying, and they are compelled to pursue Him.

The self-made and the despairing must see from this truth that Jesus is the one who does the cleansing, so we should turn to Him. The self-made cannot walk in the light apart from Christ. The despairing will have no hope apart from Christ.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins…” – 1 John 1:9

If 1 John 1:10 is true, then 1 John 1:9 is exceedingly hopeful for the self-made savior. Sin is already a problem and to believe otherwise makes God a liar. Praise God that those who turn to Jesus, away from their self-made work, will find Him faithful and just as He forgives them.

And, the despairing heart finds the sweet nectar of God’s Words to the lost. The forgiveness in the arms of Jesus is not founded in our righteousness. God is the one who is faithful, and we must look to Jesus. God is the one who is just, and we must look to Jesus.

If we turn to God as our hope, fleeing despair and self-made righteousness, He will always be faithful and just to forgive.  

Only Christ

Christ more than anything,
In your fear, doubt and failings
Christ! Only Christ.
God is faithful. God is just.
That is why we call it trust.

What I Learned Last Sunday