Okay. The first thing that I want to point out to you here is this: I cut my teeth as a Christian when I was saved back in 1990, the greater part of the first ten years of my life as a Christian, I read from the King James Version. And I just want you to know that the King James Version and the New King James Version in these verses sounds a whole lot more absolute than what we just read in the ESV. Now listen to these verses. I'm going to quote to you from the New King James which is very similar to the King James. But in 1 John 3:6, the New King James reads this way: "Whoever abides in Him does not sin." Period. "Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him." Again, the New King James in 1 John 3:8. "He who sins is of the devil." Again, 1 John 3:9, "Whoever has been born of God does not sin. For His seed remains in Him and he cannot sin because he's been born of God." Now look, we have to be honest, and we have to admit - let me just clarify something. When the King James Version and the New King James Versions translate those verses that way, they are not doing any sort of injustice to the original. They are translating that faithfully. And I think we all have to admit, when we take those verses at literal face value, honestly, it definitely sounds like it's teaching Christian perfection. I mean, we just have to be honest with it. Like I say, the New King James Version right there, it is not doing injustice to the passages. When it says this - listen to it again - "Whoever has been born of God does not sin." It's not doing injustice, and yet we have to admit, we do have to admit that if we take it, the English words as spoken by the KJV or the New KJV, we have to admit, it sounds like Christian perfectionism. It sounds like that. Right? And you will readily notice if you read from the ESV that these verses do not sound so absolute as they do in the KJV. Think about it again. , "No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning. No one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him." , "Whoever makes a practice..." You see, the ESV is throwing in "keeps on" and "makes a practice..." , "No one born of God makes a practice of sinning. For God's seed abides in him. He cannot keep on sinning because he's been born of God." Now look, most of the old commentators who used the King James Version to lead us away from any idea of Christian perfectionism, to avoid any notion that John was absolutely teaching us that when you get saved, you no longer sin. To avoid that, they always made it a point to emphasize that the verbs in these verses are in the present tense. And here's the thing, in Greek when you have a present tense verb, it implies a continuous ongoing action. The ESV translators have simply sought to make these verses clearer by bringing that out, which that as well is being faithful to what tense verbs we find here. And the ESV translators have just sought to bring that clarity that John is not saying Christians never sin. The idea is they don't continue in a habitual practice of sin. And that's very helpful for avoiding any suggestion of perfectionism. I mean, brethren, I don't know about you, but reading "whoever has been born of God does not sin," where does that put you all? Taken in the literal sense, face value, those words in English, what does that do for all of you? Does that excite you a whole lot? "Oh, yeah, that gives me assurance!" "Boy, I'm in there!" I don't think it does. It's pretty unsettling if we're going to be honest. Certainly, it's not only unsettling, it's absolutely untrue if taken in the strict literal sense of these English words. Of course, those who are born again or are born of God can sin. John himself says so. I mean, if you just remember back in 1 John 2:1, we remember, he says, "My little children, I'm writing these things to you." They're little children. They're Christians. "I'm writing these things to you that you may not sin, but if anyone does sin..." He's certainly allowing the fact that Christians can sin. Stressing the present, continuous action of these verbs like the ESV does is very helpful. "No one born of God makes a practice of sin." Now, brothers and sisters, although the way the ESV expresses this might help us to see that John is not saying true Christians are perfect and don't sin. Even though it's helpful to see that, I think we need to be sure that we do see what John is saying. I mean, if there's any portion of Scripture that ought to seriously elevate our ideas about what God's salvation looks like, it's these. Being born of God puts us on another plane. I hope you see that. We're elevated way above and beyond the rest of mankind. Look, some people come along and they just dismiss their sin assuming that what really matters is that I'm a Christian. What really matters is that I'm saved, but you know, how sin works out and all that it really doesn't matter because if I'm saved, then it really doesn't matter whether there's sin there or not. But John tells us: beware. That's what he's saying here. Don't let anybody deceive you. Why? Because this is a point that a lot of people get deceived. Because your sin does matter. And your sin is every bit an evidence of exactly whether or not you do belong to the family of God or whether you don't belong to the family of God. John tells us to beware of heresy concerning sin just as much as you want to beware of heresies concerning who the Person of Christ is. We must submit our views honestly to Scripture. Brethren, if there's any verses in Scripture we need to come face to face with - be honest - I mean, these are it. This is very defining. We must face Scripture honestly and examine ourselves in light of it. So, I mean, let me ask you all. Have you sat down with these verses and really wrestled with them? Have you looked them straight in the face? Have you wrestled with what John says here? And if you have, what does it say to you? I mean, how do these verses bear on you? How does it leave you? You know why I ask that? You know, as I'm reading these verses, you know what is jumping out at me all the time? You know what it is I hear John in the background saying? See, I've read 1 John a lot of times and I know what comes after. And you know, one of the things that John says as he's finishing out this letter? It's in 1 John 5:13. It's not far away from where you are. Why don't you look at 1 John 5:13. Do you remember this? "I write these things..." What things? The things in this letter, like 1 John 3:4-10. "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God..." For this reason: "...that you may know that you have eternal life." John says, "No one born of God makes a practice of sinning." John looks at you and says, "No one born of God..." No one who's a true Christian makes a practice of sinning. Don't you feel all sorts of wonderful assurance from that? That's what he's saying here. And I've thought pastorally, verses like these mess people up. And yet, John is looking at this with the wisdom of God and he's saying, oh no, no, this is meant to give you assurance, not to mess people up. This is meant to give you assurance. But is this what happens? I mean, we need to take Scripture and bring it down to reality where we live, how we think. Is this what it does for us? Is that what these verses do? I mean, look, if I say to you right now, okay, let's just stop. Let's just stop. Put this service on hold. I'm going to step down from the pulpit right now and I'm going to sit down in that chair, and I want us all to think and look at this straight in the face. "He who abides in Christ..." They practice righteousness. "No one who abides in Christ keeps on sinning." "Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil." "No one born of God makes a practice of sinning." No one. And I sit down there and I say, brethren, just meditate on this for the next five minutes. Reflect. Where are you at? Brethren, if I did that, what would happen in this room? I mean, I come back up to the pulpit and I say, okay, John gave that so that the true Christians here would be flooded with assurance. Hopefully so that those who had false professions would just be exposed and know it on the spot. "Oh, I'm not saved!" And all the saved would say, "Oh, I know I'm saved! And I'm more encouraged and confident and sure of that than I've ever been in my life." But I would ask you, what would happen during that five minutes as the truth of this entered into our minds? Is every true Christian going to be full of assurance? And is it going to destroy the false assurance in all the rest? Is it going to leave the Christians more confident than ever and undeceive the deceived? Is that what's going to happen? And I would say perhaps not. Why? Because I've used these verses. And here's the kind of response that I see come from people. For one, brethren, even the best of us, even the holiest among us have enough sin in our lives that answering this is difficult. That's one thing. You know what else I find? I find some people that look at this and they just say the standard's too high. I mean, it's just too far out there. And so you know what they do? They just dismiss it. Well, it can't really be what it sounds like it's saying. I just dismiss it. Or just ignore it. "I like Romans 7 better. I'm going to ignore that." "Wretched man that I am." Yeah, I like that better. That's what some people do. Or, I find that some people with overly sensitive consciences - true children of God - they just freeze. This just paralyzes them. Or you know what I find some people do? Some people that are these "carnal" Christians? The people in our midst that are always trying to justify their Christian liberties. You know what people like that do? They want to know, well, when do you cross over practicing sin? And so they take all their sins and all their carnality and worldliness, and they want to put in the scales and somehow say, yeah, but the indicator doesn't pass the mark. You know, define for me, what does it mean to practice sin? Because they want to define it in a way that they're safe. See, that's the kind of stuff that happens when you bring these verses out. Rather than finding assurance. You know what it seems to me? It almost seems to me like what John has done is he's given the perfect recipe for producing doubt and uncertainty in those that are frail, that are weak, that are faint-hearted. Look, I'm just saying, pastorally, that's what it seems like to me. Do any of you agree? I mean, you might be one that's sitting there: "No, I've got great encouragement from these verses." That's great because obviously that's what John means for it to do. But why it is that it seems like so often these verses - people have lots of trouble with them? It seems we end up with much confusion. Many Christians perplexed and filled with anxiety and doubt, rather than assurance. But brethren, you know what? I mean, this how I'm thinking about this and I'm thinking, I need light here. How does this help us? Brethren, brothers and sisters, I really believe this. I really believe that if the Holy Spirit is going to encourage us and give us assurance the way that these verses are intended to produce in God's people, if the Spirit of God is going to bring this real, solid, abiding assurance to God's people by way of these verses, then we need to quit approaching them with a humanistic mindset. What I mean is that we need to step back from these verses and look beyond ourselves. One of the problems with verses like this as it isolates us in the bathroom looking in the mirror - I say bathroom because that's where mirrors are - we're looking, we just gaze at ourselves. And we're just consumed by ourself, analyzing ourself. And I don't think that that's what this is meant to do. John isn't telling us in these verses to carefully put all the remaining sin that we can possibly dig up and find in our lives and take it all and put it in the scales and weigh them and see if the indicator falls on the side of safety. I don't believe that's what's happening here at all. Brethren, there's a place for self-examination, but the thing is, it's not about just noticing where the dial is and that's all and stop right there. He's telling us rather to open our eyeballs, step back and get the big picture. There is a monumental battle. And what he's asking is has this battle had anything to do with your life? And you say, what do you mean, this battle? Listen, brethren, I'll tell you what, when you read through these verses, so often we get caught up with: "Nobody born of God continues in sin." They don't practice sin and that's all we see. And we run around looking at the mirror and wondering where the scale goes, and we can totally miss verses 5 and 8 which are the meat of this. Brethren, v. 5, "You know that Jesus Christ appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin." To take away sins in this context is not speaking about Christ paying the penalty for our sins and taking the guilt away. That is not what's in context here. Look, v. 5 is surrounded by v. 3, 4, 6, 7, 8... none of them are speaking about this at all. John is speaking of the practice and purity of our lives. When this says that Jesus Christ appeared, He came into this world to take away sins. Brethren, he's not talking about taking the guilt of it away. He's talking about taking the actual presence of it away. That's clear from these verses. All you've got to do is read the context. Do you see the context? John is not talking about Jesus Christ appearing in this world simply to pardon sin - yes, He does that. Absolutely, justification is absolutely essential in our salvation. All I'm telling you is that is not what he's talking about here. You can see it. In v. 3, it's about practical purity that we purify ourselves by our own efforts, striving to be like Him. It's the practice of sinning. It's the practice of lawlessness. "You know that He appeared to take away sins." What does that result in? "No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning." Why? Because He showed up to take them away. And if it's not taken away, you show that you're not abiding in Him. That's the whole idea here. We've got to see this for what it is. Specifically talking about Christ taking sins out of our lives in a real, in a manifest way, in an experiential way. He's talking about breaking us out of this bondage and shackles and bars of sin and the devil that have us caged up. Look at the second half of v. 8. "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil." Do you see it? The work of the devil is precisely what John describes in the first half of this same verse. Brethren, the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. That's at the end of v. 8. At the beginning of v. 8, "Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil." Do you see what kind of works that Christ appeared to destroy? It's us sinning. It's us being like the devil. It's us sinning like the devil sins. The work of the devil is precisely what John describes as the thing that Christ came to destroy. It's the practice of sin. Jesus Christ came into the world to do battle. That's what we have to see. Whether or not you and I practice sin in our lives has everything to do with this battle. I've called my sermon: "Christ the Destroyer." He came to destroy the works of the devil. I mean, do you see what John's doing here? He sweeps us up into this great cosmic battle. We need to understand. Jesus Christ - you can see Him. Oftentimes, we imagine this baby lying there in the manger. Tawfiq was telling us about this virgin who would conceive without the instrumentality of any man. And there's that baby, a starlit night. You can imagine. All quiet. Brethren, it ought not to surprise us that Herod had every male child two years of age and under slaughtered in Bethlehem. It ought not to surprise you that Haman the Agagite tried to eradicate the entire population of the Jews. They were pawns. There is a darkness behind them that is far more sinister. They knew it had been prophesied. They knew that One who would crush the head of the serpent was coming. It had been prophesied. It had been foretold. And the devil was seeking to keep this God-Man warrior - here He is. He may look like this innocent little babe in a manger. Innocent He is, but He is not harmless, I'll tell you that. He shook the ranks of hell. He came and Satan wanted Him destroyed. Satan wanted to do everything to destroy Him. This is the God-Man warrior. He has come upon the scene. Brethren, Jesus comes to that Gadarene maniac, possessed with demons. Those demons scream: "Ahhhh, have You come to destroy us?" That's what they said. Luke 4:34 - "What have You to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us?" Why would they ask that? Because He is the destroyer. And they know it full well. Of course He'd come to destroy them. You can be certain. Brethren, you can be certain, these demons, they're connected. There's principalities. There's powers. There's networks of evil. Do you think it got readily communicated through their ranks when their chief, their prince, went out there into the wilderness? We don't see swords drawn. Sometimes it doesn't seem to us like combat. Mortal combat. But that's exactly what took place in that wilderness. Jesus Christ fasting for 40 days. And He withstood the onslaught. Satan went away defeated. You know, it rattled through their ranks. Our prince went down. He met this Warrior and he did not succeed. We sent our best against the best of the enemy. And He proved champion, folks. Brethren, Satan, he comes to Adam and Eve. They were putty in his hands. They just gave way right before him. It just took nothing. How easily they fell! Just soundly defeated. And now Satan has come up against the Champion. Brethren, we do not want to imagine Christ simply being on the defensive. He did not just come to ward off Satan's attacks. He came to take an offensive posture. To do what? To destroy the works of the devil. And the thing that you have to see is the work of the devil is in us. The work of the devil is our sin. The work of the devil is our practice of sin. Clearly, all the context around 1 John 3:8 - the works of the devil that John has in mind that Jesus Christ came to destroy, it's not so much that He came to destroy the devil himself, or the sin of the devil himself as much as He came to deliver men and women, boys and girls from this practice of sinning. That is the work of the devil. That is the work of the devil from the beginning. When he came into the garden, what was his work? Brethren, his work was to make Adam and Eve into God-haters. That was his work. Brethren, that's what he's doing in this world. We haven't gotten to it yet, but in 1 John 5:19, "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one." This world out there is in the power of the evil one. They're in his control and what does he do? Well, this is a very important verse back up in v. 4. . I want to show you more particularly what sort of things John has in mind when he speaks of the works of the devil. "Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness." Sin is lawlessness. Brethren, everyone who keeps on doing sin, John points out to us, it's a continuous breaking of the law of God. Men lightly regard their sin. But God is there. The thing that you have to recognize is when we sin, we break God's law. We break what God has told us. It's rebellion. Brethren, what must our sin be like if man and woman lost paradise over one? What hellishness! What rebellion! What insult! What a crime! (incomplete thought) You know what the devil's work is? It's a work of deception. Do you know what he wants us to believe? I can sin and do so with basic impunity. I can sin. Nothing's going to happen. And you know what? Those of us in this place that are saved, you know that's exactly how you thought before you got saved. And those of you who are not yet saved, that's how you think now. It won't be so bad. It's all going to work out in the end. That's the picture I had of God when I was lost. I'm not that bad. In other words, no matter what I've done, God certainly wouldn't throw me into hell. Impunity. This is what the devil is having the world believe. The works of the devil. It's a work of deception. Do you recognize that? What's the deception? The deception is that there will not be a price to pay for your sin. And what else is the deception? The deception is: "God's against you. God doesn't like you. God hates you. God does not have your best interest in mind." That's his work to get you in a place where you believe that you can raise up your fist in rebellion against God. Do you recognize what the work of the devil is? It's to make warriors against God. It's to make fighters against Him. It's to create an army of those who defy God, live in defiance to Him. That is his work. Oh, brethren, in Revelation 12:9, "the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan..." This is what he's called: "the deceiver of the whole world." You know what we find in 1 John 5? The whole world is in his power. And then we find this: he's the deceiver of the whole world. Now, you don't have to turn to this, but listen to this verse. I'm not wanting to get into any kind of eschatology with this, but I want you to hear this. "When the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle. Their number is like the sand of the sea and they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints in the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire." What I want you to hear in this is he gathered them for battle. How does he gather them for battle? To fight who? To fight God. How does he do it? Through deception. This is his work. Do you recognize when you find the media opposed to Christianity; when you find the public school systems opposed to Christianity; when you find Hollywood opposed to Christianity; when you find that Islam is opposed to Christianity; when you find that atheists are opposed to Christianity; do you recognize what is happening? Satan doesn't care what lie it is that you believe, as long as you rise up in defiance against God. And I tell you, God will come against His enemies and God will destroy His enemies. Satan's power is not his own wrath. Satan's power is not any hell he created. Satan's power is not in his ability to cast you away. His power is in deceiving you so that you fight against God. When these people come together to do battle against God, you don't want to think about them marching over some literal plain over in the Middle East somewhere in Canaan. Brethren, this happens in our own streets, in our own hallways, in our own city. Satan gathers us to battle right here, right now. How? In the same way he did with Adam and Eve. In the same way. Law-breaking God-haters. And you know what happened. They didn't trust God. You see, what he does is he comes along and he says: God isn't for you. He has an ulterior motive here. He knows that if you eat of this, your eyes are going to be opened and you're going to be like him. See who He is? He doesn't have your best interests in mind. He's trying to hold some blessing back from you. You know what God's laws are meant to do? They're meant to be safety. They're for our good. They're meant to keep us in this protected realm of righteousness. But Satan comes along and he says: "You can break those. It won't be bad. And plus, who is this God to give you any rules? Look at Him. He doesn't have your best interests in mind." And that's what he's trying to do today. And brethren, don't you see what happens? You see all this defiance against Christ. That is Satan bringing these hordes together to do battle against God. And like I said, it doesn't matter what lie you believe. Brethren, do you see what is happening? They came out to do battle. He gathered them for battle. How do these soldiers come together to do battle? Because they've been deceived. Do you recognize what men and women do? They raise up their fist against Christ. Christ who is their only hope. We saw these deceivers back in chapter 2. You know what they were trying to do? Redefine Christ. "Oh, He didn't really come in the flesh." They're attacking His Person. Why would anybody want to attack the biblical Christ? Don't we recognize that the biblical Christ is our only hope? Do you recognize what God has done? God has sent a Savior into the world, and men - look at the animosity in this world towards Christ. Have you ever just stood back and asked why? Where does it come from? God sends them Somebody who will deliver them from their bondage and bring them into paradise and they hate Him! And they fight against Him! And they kill His people! They raise their fists in disgust. Have you ever just stopped to say: Why? Why? Why? Well, it's because of this, brethren. What deception! What absolute deception that we would try to redefine Christ; that we would rise up in defiance. This is Satan's work. These are the works of the devil. He appeared to take away sin. He appeared to destroy this. If there's anything that ought to convince you that God is not against us, it's this very thing. He sent His Son to rescue us. I mean if there's anything that ought to speak to us about God's kindness towards us, it is this. Christ came into the world to do something. And He did it. Our salvation is entirely dependent upon the something that He came into this world to do. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. Do you realize what madness took place in the garden that day? Do you recognize what crime was committed when men rise up in defiance of God? We don't. But let's look at the consequence. If you want to know the degree to the crime. Condemnation. Damnation. Death. Hell. For the whole human race. One sin. Just ate a fruit. Just did one, (incomplete thought.) Somebody's told not to eat something. You tell your child not to eat it and they get in the cookie jar. It's just little. Do you realize what Satan did? Do you realize the extent of his work? We hear about what happens in the Middle East. Just this open defiance against anything Christian. What's happening in our courts? In our political system? In our media? It should not surprise us. The devil is bringing these people together to do battle against Christ. And the reason they do it is they're deceived. Do you recognize that God is love? And one of the greatest expressions of that love is that His Son actually came into this world to take away the sin that keeps us in its bondage, to take it away. Jesus is jealous for our obedience to His Father. And He came into this world to undo that. To set us free. That's what He came to do. Brethren, we come along, we try to put forth an effort to set ourselves free. It's just like Paul in Romans 7. Oh, I'm not supposed to covet. Let me try to do that. You know what happens when you try to not covet? Satan comes in and beats you down. Because you can't escape him. You don't have the power. There's only One who can free you. And there's only One who can deliver you from his works. And that's why he says God did what the law couldn't do in sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin. It took the Christ to come and do what law can't do. It took the Christ to come do what we don't have power to do. We are up against an enemy who we are utterly unable (incomplete thought) Brethren, what I'm bringing you all to is this. What John's doing here is he's saying: "Children of God, look at the big picture. Jesus Christ appeared. He broke into the darkness of this world. He broke in to this dominion of the devil. And He came to set people free and it took Him to destroy." Those demons said, "Have You come to destroy us?" You better believe He has come to destroy what they've been doing, keeping these people helpless, just dangling them out there, just helpless like little pawns of his. Just keeping them his servants. And you know what? The thing is we don't even feel it. We like it. I mean, the deception runs so deep that we like it. We like our sin. The Scripture talks about loving a lie. We just loved it. Don't you see what he's doing? He has an army around him that are gathered around him to fight God, but he's not for you. He wants to destroy you. He wants to get you to do him service and fight for him and in the end, he will applaud when you get cast into hell. That's the kind of master that controls this world. That's what Jesus comes to set us free. He rescues from the grip. Brethren, what John is saying is do you know something of this reality? That's the picture here. This is not about just sitting down, bringing out the scales, putting how much I still sin in there, and seeing whether the indicator is on the side of practicing sin or not practicing sin. That's not what this is all about. He's telling us, look what Jesus Christ came into the world to do. Do you know something of that? Is something of that a reality in your life? Do you know something of walking through life and you were serving the devil and you were blind and you were quite persuaded that the God of Scripture needed to be redefined? You needed to tone Him down, back Him off, not make Him so severe, redefine Him, create your own Christ? Actually when bad things happened in your life, you found fault with Him. And you were quite pleased to just think, ah, I can sin... which I did. I just drank it like water. And I just thought, but it's going to be okay in the end. Where does that come from? Don't you see Satan behind there? This is his work. You know how it's said that Christians are the workmanship of God unto good works. We are the workmanship of the devil to bad works. And he's just crafting away. And he doesn't care if you live - brethren, he doesn't care if it's atheism. He doesn't care if it's just being a nominal Baptist. He doesn't care what the title is. Just as long as you do not surrender to God and surrender to being saved by Jesus Christ. Just whatever it is. Be deceived by the psychology of this world. Just be deceived and chase after your idols. Folks, what John is asking us is do we know something of this reality? Do we know something of Jesus Christ breaking into this world to destroy the works of the devil? And are you seeing that in your life, it is being destroyed? Where now you recognize there is great consequence for sin. There is hell to be paid for sin. You now have your eyes open to who the biblical God is and who the biblical Christ is, and that He came to do battle and to set people free. And you actually feel that you've been freed. Not only do you recognize now that there is a great wage to be paid for our sin, but you recognize God is for us. God is a friend. God is on your side. You see, when you sit there and you just think: God's against me. Look how cruel He is to me. Look what He makes me suffer. Look what He puts me through. Look what He deprives me of. And you buy into that? You're just like Adam and Eve. (incomplete thought) You see, this is the devil creating his project. Just hard feelings against God. Because you know what? When you have hard feelings against God, it's really easy to say: Oh, He doesn't care for me anyways. If He won't give me this, then I'm going to go get it myself. Isn't that how we think? And what John is saying is Jesus Christ broke into the world to do this. Little children, do you know anything of this reality? Do you know anything of the grip of sin being broken in your life? Not whether your life is perfect or not. Not bringing out all this remaining stuff that needs to be sanctified out of your life and put it in the scales and forever be staring at yourself in the mirror. It's this reality: look, do you know something of this freeing power of Jesus Christ in your life where you see God now to be on your side? You see Him as your Savior? You see Him as doing you good? You see all things working together for your good? You trust Him. You trust Him. You see His love. I mean, if there's anything that ought to show us and convince us (incomplete thought). Brethren, Satan comes along and says "God hates you. God is against you. God loves to keep you down." "No," says the incarnation! "No," says the coming of Jesus; the appearing of Jesus Christ in this world. That shouts that God loves sinners! Satan doesn't want you to see that. Brethren, this is the big picture of these verses. What Jesus Christ has done. Can you enter in? Brethren, I know in my own life, I can look. There's enough in my life that one of the things that happens is we think, well, if we fall short of perfection on a daily basis, certainly that must be the practice of sin. Brethren, that's not what John's talking about here. He's talking about the habitual practice of the life. Just being radically changed. Why? Because now you're God's project, not the devil's project. I mean, have you seen anything of that caliber happen in your life? Where your desires before were to drink sin? Your desires before were to recreate the God of Scripture. Your desire before was to think that sin isn't a big deal and you're not going to have to suffer the consequences of it. Whether your sin was out there in the alcohol drinking, fun-loving crowd, or whether it was in some kind of religious morality that now you look at Christ, and you're not just doing this as a servant under this whip trying to do, meet a standard, rise up and keep these commandments or whatever, because you recognize that there is this God who is out there that's scowling at you all the time that you have to try to please, but now you see Him as Abba, Father. You see He sent His Son into this world, and you recognize, wow, I want to live for Him. I want to be on His side now. I don't want to fight with the devil. I see His purity. I see something of His holiness. And I want to be like Him. And I don't like the remaining sin. It causes me grief. I really do want to be like Him. I really do want to do good. I really do want to live up to Scripture. Oh, I know I have far too many seasons where I'm cold, where I'm dry, but my greatest desire is to have Christ and is to live for Him. And I do trust Him. Oh, help my unbelief! But I mean, brethren, that's what we need to be looking for in all of this. Has something radical happened in your life? Brethren, He appeared! Our Lord did come. He really came. And He came with a purpose. And He came to enter in to mortal combat with the devil. And for what? Is it not, brethren, because He is jealous for our obedience and allegiance to God? And we have to ask ourselves, do I see the God of Scripture now as One whom I am allegiant to? I mean, He is my Father. I'm accountable to Him. You know in Pilgrim's Progress, when Christian came up against Apollyon. Apollyon's trying to lure him back to the city of destruction. And he said, you know what, Apollyon? I like the service of my new Master. I don't want to go back. Because he was promising him, whatsoever I can give you I'll give you. Just come back. We'll give you the full payment. And he said no, I don't think I want that. My new Master, His service is good. I mean, is that where you're at? I want to be in His ranks. I don't like what I still am, but I want to be in His ranks. I see that He's transformed my life. I see that. There's a reality there. I want to be in the ranks of those who live for God and love God and glory in His Son and want to please Him. And I want to practice righteousness. And I want help to do it more and more, but I really want it. Do I have failures? Yes. But I am not held captive where I was before. Where I was just blind and unwittingly went along in this defiance against Him. Just foolishly and blindly thinking that all was going to be well. Brethren, do you know something of this reality? That's the thing here. And if you say, I do. I do. Well, that's the assurance it's meant to bring. There's nothing here about meticulously looking at your last 24 hours performance. I'm not saying that your last 24 hours performance is not going to have a direct reflection on where you are at. Certainly, it will. But it's this big picture about Jesus Christ. He came to destroy the works of the devil. You'd have to ask yourself this: has something been destroyed in you that was very much a reality some time in the past? Do you see Christ at work destroying something that was ugly and defiant? Oh brethren, folks, the very fact that Jesus Christ has appeared just blows Satan's lies away that God is not for us. His appearing tells us more than anything else that God is love and He has good purposes for those who will surrender. Don't fight against Christ. Don't fight against the Christ of Scripture. I mean, just the insanity of this world. Can you imagine? Christ comes into this world to save sinners, and the vast majority of the sinners in this world hate Him. They just hate Him. That ought to wake us up immediately to what's happening all around us.